IT takes more than 300 work hours and a logistical operation worthy of a military campaign to put up the thousands of bulbs and dozens of decorations that make up Chippenham's Christmas festive display.

Staff at Chippenham Town Council are busy putting everything in place in time for the lights switch-on, which this year is November 24.

Will Tidmarsh, the council’s service delivery manager, said the work actually starts in January. “As soon as the lights come down we inspect every bulb to make sure they are working so that they are stored in good order ready for the next year,” he said.

At the end of October work began on installing the lights all over again. A two-man team got down to the painstaking process of putting up the illuminations, street by street - the project represents an investment of around £100,000.

The team allows three weeks to get the main body of the lights into place. Bad weather and high winds can slow things down. The council uses its own staff rather than contractors because it is more cost-effective. The lighting duo’s usual work is covered by other staff or they are covered by colleagues if they really need to be at their usual post.

Some 80 wrap-around festoons of lights are strung around lampposts, each containing 2,000 bulbs, and 25 six-foot decorative motifs are hung, along with six large lights to be arranged across the High Street.

The Town Bridge also gets its own display, which takes an entire day to install.

In addition to the lights, at least 65 small illuminated Christmas trees have to be installed above town centre businesses, as well as the town’s own giant Christmas tree, which was selected months ago to ensure Chippenham gets the best.

The main tree doesn’t go up until as late as possible to ensure it stays fresh and watered for maximum greenery.

The lights themselves are, in the majority, wired into lampposts and each installation has to be carefully inspected as coated in weather-proof sealant to ensure it works.

The pressure is on the team to make sure that when the ceremonial button is pressed at November 24’s big switch-on the town is bathed in a sea of light.

“There is a lot of pressure to get it right,” said Mr Tidmarsh, “and the staff really take a pride in doing a good job. They spend a lot of time PAT testing the lights and inspecting them once they are up.”

Even when the lights are shining and the switch-on crowds have dispersed the council is still focused on its display.

“Our team go out every evening and check to see all the lights are on. If they can do a repair on the spot they will but otherwise they are back first thing to see what the problem is,” he added.

He regularly tours other towns to check on their displays to look for innovations that might benefit Chippenham.

Council leader Sandie Webb said: “We get good feedback on the lights but we are always looking to see where we can improve. We want to do the best for Chippenham.”