Pluses and minuses: what did 2017 do for Marlborough - from shops to housing and, of course, the school?

Written by Tony Millett on .

St Peter's School - rear view: what will happen to this iconic Marlborough building?St Peter's School - rear view: what will happen to this iconic Marlborough building?2017 has seen some pretty positive developments for Marlborough. Foremost was the long awaited primary school opened in a fine new building - Marlborough St Mary's Primary combining St Mary's Infants and St Peter's Junior schools.


 After Wiltshire Council closed the town's Youth Centre, it was saved by the Town Council and become a gleaming new Marlborough Community and Youth Centre.  This has involved a lot of hard work by Town Council staff and councillors, a lot of charitable and volunteer involvement - and, as far as we can tell, not even a letter of congratulation from Wiltshire Council.


Looking forward, the best news during 2017 was that Marlborough will soon be getting a cinema again.  The old - and Grade II listed - chapel in The Parade is due to become a fulltime cinema, the town's first cinema for thirty years - since Waitrose took over the former Corn Exchange building.

Businessmen Orlando Harris and Bob Benton's plans include a café and licensed bar.  This could revive The Parade which still has The Crown Inn lying empty and what was once a sandwich shop turned into a residential dwelling. 

One of the important decisions for 2018 will be the future of the empty St Peter's School building on The Parade.  This is owned by Wiltshire Council who have promised to consult with the town about the building's future.


Amongst other good news is the move of Ducklings Toy Shop across the road into the roomier premises of the former Laura Ashley shop - which had closed in August.


As promised, work started in November - right at the end of November - on the major, 168-home Salisbury Road development by Redrow Homes.  The site entrance towards the foot of the A346 hill will get much busier as the months go by.

The minus side of 2017 includes the closure in the High Street of the HSBC branch (on May 5) - the building has not yet been let.  This will be followed in the summer by the closure of the High Street's NatWest branch - although for a while this has not been operating as a fulltime branch. 

This leaves Barclays and Lloyds.  Let us hope they are not playing chicken to see who will be last to leave. 

Banks are important to communities' economic welfare.  After Lloyds Bank closed its Pewsey branch, the fishmonger saw footfall along that high street drop suddenly.  In the end he had to close.


Pewsey's fish shop - closed Pewsey's fish shop - closed    100 Chai Street - closed 100 Chai Street - closed

The latest High Street closure in Marlborough was 100 Chai Street where Aarti and Sudip Roy served proper Indian tea and a wide variety of Indian street food and curries.  Part of the problem they faced was the difficulty in finding staff - it became 'almost impossible'.

The latest opening is Young Jamieson Fine Art between the G. Hatto Barbershop and Lloyds Bank - a contemporary and modern art gallery offering work by established and new artists.  To show they love being in Marlborough, at present their window has a wonderfully gaudy 2015 Valentine by Sir Peter Blake. 

Elsewhere things are not quite so positive.  There is still no sign warning HGVs not to go down Kingsbury Street.  There is still a sign warning people to drive carefully past St Peter's School!  George Lane is still vying to meet third world highway standards. 

The Sure Start Centre in the George Lane car park is still lying empty and idle.  Moffat House social housing building in London Road is still lying empty.  Goodness knows what is happening to the Bridge Garage - rumours abound.


And nothing at all is being done to alleviate Marlborough's air pollution black spots.