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Corsham Almshouses in need of more tourist guides
1:00pm Saturday 9th March 2013 in News
Volunteers at Corsham Almshouses are appealing for more people to donate their time to help keep one of the town’s oldest attractions open to the public.
The Almshouses, which were built as 17th century social housing for the poor and were extensively renovated in 2002, are staffed by volunteer guides.
But Peter King, chairman of the volunteer group, is concerned the dwindling number of helpers may force the restriction of opening hours.
He said: “We have around 20 part-time volunteers, who man the site on a rota, but as with so many organisations we are all getting more and more aged and less agile, so some of the volunteers have had to step down.
“When the building was renovated one of the conditions was that we opened to the general public, but there was no stipulation of the number of hours and we’re completely reliant on volunteer guides to stay open.
“People often come in saying they’ve driven past the building before and never known what was inside, and they’re amazed how much there is in here.”
Mr King regularly volunteers at the Almshouses, in Lacock Road, with his wife Marian. She said: “The guides would just be here to show people round if they want a tour. Tours can take 45 minutes to an hour, and they would always be in here with someone else.
“They would get full training and they’d shadow an experienced volunteer until they were happy to take groups round.”
The six almshouses were built by Lady Margaret Hungerford to accommodate poor people from the town, and are still occupied today. The adjacent schoolhouse and former master’s quarters were opened to the public after a grant from English Heritage.
To volunteer, contact Ron Smith on (01249) 701255.