How Much Does It Cost To Park At Old Sarum A Guide to the 5 Biggest Towns in Wiltshire – Facts and Figures

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A Guide to the 5 Biggest Towns in Wiltshire – Facts and Figures

County Wiltshire is one of the richest historic counties in the country with a wealth of prehistory on display, including the famous sites of Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill. Although not densely populated, the county has many prominent settlements and this two-part article looks at the different profiles of the five largest. In the first part we will review the top five while we take a look at the history and culture of each town in the next part.

Swindon

Swindon is a town located in the north of Wiltshire. It is by far the largest town in the county with a population of over 155,000 according to the 2001 census and is the only town in Wiltshire to have witnessed large-scale industrialization in its role as a major transport hub ; initially with the canals, more significantly with the railways and more recently with the M4 corridor which runs from London to Bristol and on to Swansea. Along with other towns on the M4 corridor such as Slough, Reading, Newbury and Bristol, it has become a hub, particularly for the service and technology industries. Although it lies within the boundaries of the ceremonial county of Wiltshire, it actually belongs to the borough of Swindon and is therefore separate from the government of the rest of the county.

Salisbury

Known as New Sarum, Salisbury is the only town in the county of Wiltshire and is the second largest settlement after Swindon with a population of around 40,000. Formerly the center of the Borough of Salisbury, it is now under the control of Wiltshire Council Unitary Authority, with the City Charter held by Salisbury Council. The town lies in the south of the county at the confluence of the Salisbury/Hampshire Avon with Bourne, Nadder, Wylye and Ebble, close to the Hampshire border. Notably, it also gives its name to the chalk expanse, the Salisbury Plain, which stretches north and covers the interior of the county. It has been a town since time immemorial and due to its proximity to Stonehenge, the New Forest and a number of historic attractions such as its famous cathedral and Old Sarum, it is a notable tourist destination as well as a thriving market town.

Trowbridge

Despite being only the third largest town in Wiltshire with a population of over 28,000, Trowbridge is also the ceremonial and administrative capital of the county. In a county where the two largest settlements are located in the north and south, the city was considered the ideal place to locate the administrative functions of the county due to its more central location in a cluster of settlements in the west . Trowbridge sits on the River Biss with the Kennet and Avon Canal also running through it, and is just 12 miles from the historic spa town of Bath.

Chippenham

In north-west Wiltshire is the fourth largest settlement, Chippenham, with a population of around 28,000, just behind Trowbridge. The historic market town is situated on the River Avon (Bristol Avon), roughly halfway between the relative metropolis of Swindon and Bath. As such, it serves largely as a commuter town, but with a growing industry due to its healthy transport links.

Melksham

The smallest of Wiltshire’s five main towns is Melksham, with a population of just 21,000. The town is another Wiltshire settlement that lies on the Bristol Avon in the west of the county and, like nearby Trowbridge and Chippenham, is just across the border from the county of Bath. As with its close neighbours, the profile of the town is that of a small market town with growing business estates due to its proximity to the M4 corridor.

Having highlighted and introduced the five main settlements in Wiltshire, the second part of this article, soon to follow, will delve into the rich history and culture of each in a little more detail.

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