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Calne shown within Wiltshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Dialling code||01249 (Chippenham)|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Calne shown within Wiltshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Dialling code||01249 (Chippenham)|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
The town lies on the River Marden, the Wilts & Berks Canal and the A4 road 19 miles (31 km) east of Bath (the closest city), 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Chippenham and 13 miles (21 km) west of Marlborough. Wiltshire's county town of Trowbridge is 15 miles (24 km) to the southwest, with London some 91 miles (146 km) to the east. According to the 2001 Census, Calne's population numbered 13,606 inhabitants.
In AD 978 Anglo Saxon Calne was the site of a two-storey building with a hall on the first floor. It was here that St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury met the Witenagemot in order to justify his controversial Church reforms, which involved the secular priests being replaced by Benedictine monks and the influence of landowners over churches on their lands being taken away. According to legend, at one point Dunstan called upon God to support his cause, at which point the floor collapsed killing most of his opponents, whilst Dunstan and his supporters were in the part that remained standing. This was claimed as a miracle by Dunstan's supporters.
Calne had a significant woollen broadcloth industry in the 18th century, and evidence of this can be seen on The Green, where many buildings remain, such as Georgian era clothiers' houses and some of the 20 original cloth mills along the River Marden. St Mary's parish church was built by the generous donations of rich clothiers and wool merchants in the 15th century.
Subsequently, Calne's best known industry was the Harris pork processing factory that dominated the town architecturally and provided employment directly and indirectly to many of the residents until the early 1980s - at its closure in 1983 for example it employed over 2000 people out of a town population of 10,000. It is said that the pork curing industry developed because pigs reared in Ireland were landed at Bristol and then herded across England on drovers' roads to Smithfield, London, passing through Calne. The factory started in the second half of the 18th century when brothers John and Henry Harris started businesses which merged in 1888 as C. & T. Harris & Co. The factory has now been fully demolished and its site redeveloped as shops, housing and a library. As a result of the closure, unemployment in the town increased considerably and during much of the 1980s Calne suffered many of the economic restructuring problems more usually associated with large cities.
The Porte Marsh Industrial Estate on the north side of the town now provides the bulk of the town's internal employment. It is home to around 100 companies in predominantly light industries and information technology. The Belgian company Deceuninck has invested considerably in this area and operates two large facilities at Porte Marsh, notably a modern production and distribution centre which now dominates the industrial area. Another significant employer is the Exception Group, a large electronics company. In 2006 plans to build a sizeable cement production plant on the Porte Marsh site were vigorously opposed by local residents and planning permission was refused by the council.
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During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Calne was considered one of the fastest-expanding towns in the South West England region, with a population projected to peak at around 16,000 by 2012. The Lansdowne Park housing development (completed in late 2008) has substantially increased the physical scale of the town, creating an entirely new northwestern suburb, including a new primary school, a medical centre and a small shopping area. This area in particular has attracted professional workers from traditionally more expensive areas such as Bath, Bristol, Marlborough and as far afield as the 'silicon valley' towns of central Berkshire. Lansdowne Park's name reflects the development's proximity to the seat of the Marquess of Lansdowne, whose family have resided at the nearby Bowood House country estate since 1784.
Aside from the final completion of Lansdowne Park, there are pockets of new housing, but on a far smaller scale. In October 2007, the go-ahead was given for the creation of a major new £1m Football Foundation outdoor facility at Beversbrook on Calne's northern edge, which was officially opened in April 2009.
The draft South West Regional Spatial Strategy, published in 2008, recommended the building of 13,700 additional dwellings within the District of North Wiltshire during the period 2006 – 2026. Of these, some are designated for Calne. In a survey conducted for the 'Calne Connection' in early 2010, some 90% of respondents agreed that the town should remain as a market town rather than expand significantly beyond 20,000 inhabitants.
Notable buildings in the town include St Mary's Church, an array of houses on The Green and the Town Hall. Of particular note is the new Library which has won awards for its innovative design and was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.
However, since the demolition of the Harris pork factory and the completion of the first phase of redevelopment/regeneration in 2001, Calne has, in general, been successfully transformed into an attractive setting compared to its run-down image of the 1980s and 1990s. A substantial amount of scaffolding materialised across Calne town centre throughout 2007-2008 with a view to the renovation of several prominent buildings.
Calne's former railway station opened in 1863, the terminus of a branch line of the Great Western Railway from Chippenham. There was initially one intermediate stop: Stanley Bridge Halt. The opening of another quite late in the line's history - Black Dog Halt - was not enough to slow the inevitable decline of the line. The branch closed as a result of the Beeching Axe in September 1965, having achieved the dubious distinction of making the biggest loss per mile of track of any line in the country.
The town centre suffers from heavy traffic congestion with large queues stretching along Wood Street, Curzon Street, Oxford Road and The Pippin most of the day. This is caused by North Wiltshire Council's decision to allow only single-file traffic between Curzon Street and Wood Street, with traffic heading towards Wood Street having priority. The A4 through the town is usually close to gridlock during rush hours because of this.
Calne is equidistant (12 miles/19 km) from the M4 motorway at Junction 16 (Wootton Bassett/Swindon West) to the north east of Calne, and the westbound M4 junction 17 just north of Chippenham to the northwest. The closest main passenger airport is Bristol Airport, 38 miles (61 km) to the south west. Calne is also one the largest UK towns not served by a rail station, nor does it have a bus station, though in March 2007 it was designated as a National Express stop on route 403 from Bath to London via Heathrow Airport once a day. This service runs with wheelchair-accessible coaches.
Calne hosts Sainsbury's, Co-operative and Iceland supermarkets. The town has witnessed a number of transient enterprises in recent years and several units on the dated Phelps Parade remain empty. However, an expansion of the Somerfield (Now Co-operative) store in the town centre was completed in September 2007 and a Tesco Express store opened in the Lansdowne Park district in December that year, replacing the former One Stop outlet.
As part of the 'New Heart of Calne' initiative, a section of the outdated Phelps Parade was redeveloped in 2009 and new mixed-use building constructed in its place, part Cotswold stone and part red brick. This was originally intended as a Woolworths outlet but during Summer 2011 became home to fashion retailer M&Co. Domino Pizza has purchased a unit within the newly developed 'New Heart of Calne' which opened in mid December 2011. A new glass roof section and roof lining was installed at Phelps Parade in 2009 to improve its appearance, and although a future large-scale redevelopment/replacement is anticipated (which may include the complete removal of the existing buildings), no firm plans have been confirmed.
Tescos is also looking to develop a site just off the bypass to build a supermarket equivalent in size to Morrisons in Chippenham. This would provide around 150 more jobs to the local community should they get planning permission.
Many schools have been associated with Calne over its history. St Mary's, Calne is an independent school for girls. The John Bentley School is the local comprehensive high school on the southern periphery of Calne, and is a noted languages centre. Its history goes back to the original Bentley's School, opened in 1664 using an endowment left by John Bentley in 1662. In 1901 this was amalgamated with Calne Technical School as a school of science for boys aged 9–17. This became known as Calne County School and later Calne County Secondary School. Girls were admitted from 1903 and in 1908-9 new buildings were added to the nucleus of buildings dating from 1842. The school was later called the Bentley Grammar School. In 1957 it moved to a new building in the angle of the London and Melksham Roads. In 1974 the grammar school merged with Fynemore School in Silver Street, and to form the John Bentley Comprehensive School, later the John Bentley School. Until 1998 both sites were used. After the buildings in Silver Street were given up new buildings were erected in the angle of the London and Melksham roads and existing ones improved.
Historically, Calne had a number of other small schools, some based in houses (e.g. one in Curzon Street in which girls were trained for domestic service). Another example was a small boarding school for boys open in 1842 on the site of a former factory in Silver Street. Notably, this school was attended by Reg Birkett, the dual-code international sportsman, who played football and rugby for England in the 1870s.
The closest higher education institution is the University of Bath campus at Claverton Down in Bath, 18 miles (29 km) to the west. The university's Oakridge campus in east Swindon is 20 miles (32 km) to the north west. Bath Spa University lies 24 miles (39 km) away at its Newton Park campus, west of Bath.
The town is covered by several different media providers, on a number of formats.
Radio - BBC Wiltshire, Heart Wiltshire, and locally based Community Radio station - Eartunes . The town was served by Brunel FM, before the station went into liquidation. The frequency has since been taken over by Total Star.
Calne is listed under British Telecom's 01249 STD prefix, which includes Chippenham. It is within the Bath & West Wiltshire BT Phonebook area and lies just inside the Swindon Yellow Pages area.
As a result of boundary changes, Calne has become part of the North Wiltshire constituency, currently held by Conservative James Gray, at the 2010 General Election. It is the constituency's largest town and lies at its southern edge.
Notable people from Calne include Saint Edmund, John Pym and the athlete Walter Goodall George who held the world record for the mile from 1886 to 1915. George also held more than 13 world records for running at the time and still holds a world record simply for holding the mile record longer than anyone else. There are two plaques in Calne to commemorate his life, one in front of the Town Hall and one at ground level just inside the recreation grounds.
The country estate of Bowood House lies near Calne. It was here that Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in 1774; there is a plaque in the town centre commemorating this. Jan Ingenhousz repeated Joseph Priestley's experiments and found it was sunlight which acted upon the plants to create oxygen. There is a pavement display outside the Millennium library in Calne in his honour.
There is also a plaque on the wall of the house where Samuel Taylor Coleridge stayed from 1814 to 1816 as part of the Morgan household whilst writing his Biographia Literaria.
The singer-songwriter-author Julian Cope resided in a small village 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) east of Calne, towards Avebury, until 2006, and lived in Calne itself for some years before he moved with his family to the village.
The actor David Hemmings lived in the Old Mill in Calne for many years up until his death in December 2003. His funeral was held at St. Mary's Church.
In 2008 the singer-songwriter Robbie Williams purchased a £7 million property in the nearby Parish of Compton Bassett. Compton Basset House came complete with gamekeeper lodgings, tennis court, helipad and extensive grounds. The property is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) to the east of central Calne. Compton Basset House was also previously owned by the famous architect Sir Norman Foster (now Baron Foster of Thames Bank) of "Gherkin" fame, but was sold by him in 1992.
The family seat of the 9th Marquess of Lansdowne, Bowood House is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of the town.
Blackland Lakes is a large camping site on the southern edge of Calne which is popular with anglers and tourists alike. The 'lakes' themselves are in fact large angling pools.
Founded in 1886, Calne Town F.C. play in the Western Football League Premier Division and finished in 5th position (of 20 teams) in the league table at the end of the 2005-2006 season. Their Bremhill View ground is located on the north side of the town close to the A3102 bypass.
According to the club website  the rugby club is rumoured to have been formed in the late 1920s, in part due to the influx of Welsh to the area during the depression. The Junior Imperial League, forerunners of the Young Conservatives formed the club under the presidency of either Mr Drewett or Mr L. Taylor. The team's first match was probably in Drewett’s field where now stands Braemor Road. Their inaugural game against a Bath XV team was played on the Recreation Ground to which Calne returned in the late 1970s as a permanent home, which despite ground disputes and uncertainty - remains their home to date. It appears that a lack of local interest forced the club to fold in the late 1930s however, in 1960 the club was re-formed as “Old Bentlians”, though it was not exclusively an “old boys” club it did use the pitches at Bentley Grammar School. The club currently fields a 1st and 2nd XV, alternating home games on Saturday's, and also a junior team who play on Sunday's.
Founded at the beginning of 2008, Calne Divers was formed by a group of local divers to provide training to local people. The club is a member of the Sub-Aqua Association and offer try-dives to all that are interested. Training is available up to Dive Supervisor level, and all training fees are included in the club membership. The group is partly funded by the National Lottery. In 2007 Calne divers found the lost village of Mannings Hill at the bottom of the lake at Bowood.
As of 2011 Calne is also represented in the West of England Basketball Association, (WEBBA) although home games are played at the Olympiad leisure centre, Chippenham, home of the 'Olympiad Flames' with which Calne basketball is officially affiliated.
Quemerford, Lansdowne Park, Curzon Park, Castlefields, Calne Marsh, Lickhill.
Calne is twinned with the towns of :
Calne is surrounded by numerous settlements including :
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