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Chippenham in Pictures

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Chippenham is strategically placed at Junction 17 of the M4 and near the M5 and Fosse Way routes from the Midlands to south coastal towns, and is an excellent tourist base for exploring Georgian Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, the South West of England, the Cotswolds and South Wales. Historically, Chippenham was a market town, being on the edge of the Cotswold sheep farming community, and on the route from London to Bristol (then a major port) and the West of England. North Wiltshire has been noted for pig production since Saxon times, and the now-defunct Royal Wiltshire Bacon Company in Chippenham and Harris Pork factory in Calne acquired a world reputation for Wlitshire Cured ham. 
Dairy farming has also prospered in North Wiltshire, supplying London with fresh milk and cheese. The riverside Anglo Swiss (later Nestlé) Condensed Milk factory (now an office building) near the town bridge commenced production in 1873, producing sweetened condensed milk until 1956 Drovers roads from Wales and the port of Bristol (importing Irish pigs) and the old mail coach route from Bath to London (later to become the A4) passed through Chippenham, probably because the townsfolk had the foresight to build the best bridge for miles around over the Bristol Avon, which often floods. 
As a newspaper reporter, Charles Dickens travelled the coaching route to the West Country, and became friends with Moses Pickwick, who ran a London - Bath coaching business from what is now the Hare and Hounds pub in Pickwick, a village a few miles west of Chippenham. It is said that many of the characters in Dickens' novels were based on local folk, and that he was so taken by 'Pickwick' that Samuel Pickwick became a character in the Pickwick Papers. 
The Buttercross dates from the 16th Century. It was sold for £6 to a private buyer in 1889, to be used as a gazebo in the kitchen garden of Castle Combe Manor House. In 1995, with help from many local societies and individuals Chippenham Civic Society rescued it from oblivion and disrepair, and lovingly restored it to occupy a place of honour in the town's pedestrianised centre. 
Chippenham viewed from the railway. The advent of Brunel's broad gauge Great Western Railway brought not only fast communication with London, South Wales and the West of England, but gave birth to a major railway engineering industry, specialising in railway signalling and train braking systems. (Evans & O'Donnell, later Saxby & Farmer, and now Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company). Today the railway offers London commuters the opportunity to live in a 'green and pleasant land'. Surrounding villages rank among the most beautiful in the country. On coming home from London, urban sprawl is replaced by colourful, interesting, historic towns (all still separated by green fields) such as Bradford on Avon, Calne, Corsham, Devizes, Malmesbury Melksham and Trowbridge. 
The Yelde Hall is a medieval timber framed building, probably built before 1554. Starting life as a Guild Hall and Market Hall, it has been variously used as a Savings Bank, a Fire Station, a Museum and a Tourist Information Centre 
Sustrans Cycle Route 404 passes through Chippenham, offering ramblers and cyclists a (mostly) off-road route to picturesque and historic Lackock - much used for filming period dramas - along the path of the (defunct, but now in the process of restoration) Wilts and Berks Canal, and to to Calne (and on to Avebury) along the bed of the old Great Western Railway branch line. 
A street Ceilidh. An annual event adding colour and excitement is the Chippenham Folk Festival. Every year for the last 40 years the town has been taken over towards the end of May by folk dance and music enthusiasts from near and far afield. Many evening events and ceilidhs are ticket-only, but any visitor to Chippenham can enjoy so much for free throughout the weekend just by wandering around the High Street and parks. 
Some beautiful buildings are to be found in St Mary's Street. Discerning visitors will appreciate the rich contrasting collage of half timber, red brick, cool, formal Bath stone, and warm picturesque random Costswold stone buildings with traditional Cotswold slate roofs (small tiles at the top, graduating down to large tiles at the eaves) 
Monkton Park. This beautiful riverside park is the venue for many of Chippenham's outdoor social events. The Olympiad Leisure Centre is at one end, with public Golf and Crazy Golf courses at the other.