Wiltshire is renowned for its prehistoric monuments, yet its industrial heritage is also surprisingly rich and diverse. Sites of national importance include I K Brunel’s Great Western Railway and Box Tunnel, once the longest in England, or the Kennet & Avon Canal with its majestic flight of locks at Caeon Hill, fine aqueducts and the oldest working Boulton & Watt steam engine in the world at Crofton.
Trowbridge had important textile mills, Wilton is known for its carpets and there were also silk industries. Underground quarries at Corsham furnished building stone; there were limekilns, brickyards and even blast furnaces for Wiltshire iron ore. Farming has left remarkable water meadows, and industries based on agricultural produce were malting, brewing and corn milling by water or wind, and the dairy, condensed milk and bacon industries. Heavy industry was represented by the Swindon Railway Works which employed thousands in its heyday. The Swindon workers’ village is one of the best of its type in the country. Military camps, stores and airfields were also significant. Goods were transported by turnpike roads, canals and railways, which all had an impact on Wiltshire’s landscape and economy.
This copiously illustrated book examines these and many other aspects of Wiltshire’s history in the industrial period, while the archaeology illustrates how the physical remains of industry are a fascinating legacy of the past, whether in the town or country.
Dr Peter Stanier is author of the companion volumes Dorset in the Age of Steam and Somerset in the Age of Steam. He is editor of Industrial Archaeology News.
ISBN 1841145491, hardback, 297x210mm, 160 pages. Published April 2006.