Canals and Railways

The Chippenham traders and burgesses negotiated for a spur off the Wiltshire & Berkshire canal in 1748. The principle commodity arriving at the wharf (now the bus station) was best Somerset coal. The few surviving records show that flour, bricks and tiles was the main commodity being shipped out. The canal was never very prosperous and it was used by the Great Western Railway company to move bricks around for the construction of the new railway.

The arrival of the Great Western Railway from London to Bristol reached the town in 1841 and it certainly gave the town a much needed stimulus to local industries of weaving and cheese production. By the late 1840s the railway also attracted new industries ranging from butterchurn manufacturing, Nestles milk products and pork products. The major sector of Chippenham's industrial past grew up on the north side of the railway line with the arrival in 1842 of Rowland Brotherhood's railway engineering works. In 1894 Evans O'Donnell Limited built a new factory to the north of the old Brotherhood works and in 1904 they merged with Saxby & Farmer. During the First World War Saxby & Farmer was a major producer for the war effort and in 1920 they merged with Westinghouse. In 1935 the company was named Westinghouse Brake & Signal Co Ltd and was the major employer in Chippenham and area up to the mid 20th century.