Weaving Trade

The wool industry grew in the 16th century with the river Avon being used for fulling mills and the small islands used for drying the cloth on racks.

By 1604 there were 129 burgesses houses which mainly fronted onto the High Street and Market Place. The plague struck in 1611 and 1636, combined with the recession in the wool industry, causing hardship to the town's population. During the Civil War Chippenham did not play a principle role and was only involved in small scale skirmishes between the Royalists and Parliamentarians in 1643 and 1646. During the Civil War the main market for the Chippenham weavers was London, this was severely disrupted as a result of a Royalist proclamation banning the export of cloth to London.

At the end of the Napoleonic wars Chippenham's cloth trade began to decline due to the loss of military contracts for uniforms, there was also a series of bad harvests between 1815 and 1820 which caused widespread distress in Chippenham. The arrival of the Great Western Railway gave a short stimulus to the weaving trade but by the 1860s it was again in decline.