We live and work in an old Georgian house that's set incongruously just off the Melksham bypass on the outskirts of the town. This morning, I'm going to share with you an article I wrote for the newsletter that's circulated in the suburb that we border.
Have you even wondered about those tall old buildings hidden behind the trees off "The Spa" roundabout?
I used to commute regularly from Devizes to Bristol and pass by, wondering as to what they were and to their history. Now I'm lucky enough to both live and work in one.
In the early 1800s, Chalybeate waters were discovered in the area and a scheme was proposed in Melksham to rival Bath. A ballroom was built, and a well head building. And in 1813 and 1814 a start was made on a 'crescent' of six lodging houses at which visitors to the town, coming to partake of the waters, could stay. They were built under a Tontine
scheme that's a system where a number of people contribute, and as each passes away his interest passes to the remainder until just one is left. There weren't too many takers for the scheme, and just three of the Georgian blocks were built, as you can see to this day. The ballroom building is still here in the trees, and the Well Head is now under one of the more modern looking bungalows.
"Melksham Spa" didn't rival Bath as a town to take the waters; on one hand it was said that the fouler waters tasted, the better they were for you but on the other hand it was said that they tasted so foul that no-one wanted them. Within a very few years, the lodging houses closed their doors to their original trade, although the water was bottled and distributed until late Victorian times. We know of two "Melksham Water" bottles in existence; when in the possession of a collector in Bristol, he brought them here to show us.
The houses are "semi"s. Spread over four floors, they're really too large to be used as family homes, and too small for big business purposes; they've had a variety of uses over the years. During the second world war, they were taken over for the war effort and used as officers quarters for RAF Melksham. Post war, at least some of them were converted into flats. By the time we bought No. 404 in 1999, it had been converted back into a single residence but was - shall we say - in need of a great deal of attention. And it was (and remains) a listed building to add to the paperwork. Both the attached house, and also the next neighbour, had somewhat reverted to their original use as they were B&Bs (Springfield has since been sold and the new owners no longer offer accommodation though, leaving just The Spa B&B
where many of our customers stay), and folks worked from home in at least some of the remaining three properties.
At long last, we're getting to the beginning of the end of our repair work to bring 404 back from the semi-dereliction that we bought. Works have ranged from laying trenches to bring in a new water supply (we had a single tap on a lead pipe coming through from next door when we moved in) and major waterproofing through to removing woodchip paper that was holding walls and ceilings together. Lisa and I work from home here, running high tech computer training courses in this elegant setting - at this stage in its history, would you believe that people come to Melksham to learn the programming languages used on the internet, and the languages used to progress research into genetics to help find the reasons and cures for diseases. I'll never forget the day a few months ago when we took a small class to Lee's for lunch
. One lady on the course was wheat intolerant - a condition that was scarcely understood a few years back but which is far better understood today - and the gentleman across from her was actually undertaking research in the same genetic area to help others like her better live with and treat the condition.
Download of our accommodation list
Some interior pictures (written 2004-11-15, updated 2012-11-04)
|Jamie:||hi i am new and dont no what this place is i just found it lookin for when the horse was discovered. lol hi|
(comment added 2005-03-08 16:36:38)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesG211 - Well House Consultants - The story of our Georgian HQ and Edwardian Hotel 
Out of doors (mostly) at Well House in Melksham - (2013-07-12) 
Guest Guide for Well House Manor and Melksham - (2012-09-18) 
The Accidental Hotelier - (2012-08-24) 
Memorial to a day in 1999 - (2010-10-06) 
Well House Manor - the history of the hotel - (2010-09-20) 
01225 707126 to 01225 344596 to 01225 899360 - Well House Fax - (2010-08-26) 
Bright day, snowy day - (2010-01-06) 
Ten years ago, we moved to Melksham Spa - (2009-12-24) 
Ten years in Melksham - looking forward to ten more. - (2009-08-11) 
On the roof of a Melksham Spa House - (2009-05-05) 
Christmas is coming very early - (2007-11-24) 
MacFormat - Me and My Mac - (2007-03-31) 
Butterflies in a Wiltshire garden - (2006-08-12) 
Melksham in Bloom - (2006-07-22) 
Gardens, Well House Consultants HQ - (2006-05-13) 
Contrast - the storm and the calm. - (2005-01-10)
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