TICKET sales at the Neeld Community and Arts Centre hit 93 per cent of available tickets last year, compared to 51 per cent for comparable venues in the UK.

Staff at Chippenham Town Council’s entertainment venue are celebrating the successful year with bookings and audience satisfaction on the rise - and almost 30 shows booked in already for 2019.

Venues manager Julie Hook said: “We work really hard on coming up with something for everyone. I get offered acts and I’ll run them past my team. We have a good range of ages and interests among us and we have a great idea now of what audiences in Chippenham want.”

Mrs Hook, who has been at the venue for six months, has a team of four full-time staff – a marketing and box office co-ordinator, technician Kieran Moore, venues bookings co-ordinator Helen Bywater and facilities supervisor Chris Ruddell.

The Neeld, added to the town hall in 1850 by MP Joseph Neeld, has been a corn exchange, a cheese hall and, during the First World War, a military hospital. In the later 20th century it was converted to an entertainment venue that in the 1960s hosted the likes of The Who and The Kinks, who played the week You Really Got Me went to number one, and in the 1970s, Roxy Music.

“We are a small team but we provide a really high quality, professional service and we get incredibly good feedback for the acts that play here,” said Mr Moore, who joined five months ago after years of gig promotion in Bath, Chippenham, Devizes and Swindon.

Mrs Hook is expanding the programme with more youth events and sports stars coming to share their life stories, as well as senior citizens’ afternoon singalongs.

Town council leader Sandie Webb said: “The team is wonderful and they work incredibly hard to put on professional shows that really add to the town and its economy."