MAJOR improvements to Chippenham Museum have seen an increase in shop sales and more positive comments from visitors says its staff.

Owner Chippenham Town Council has added a new entrance and visitor shop to the museum to provide increased space for souvenirs and products by local craftsmen and artists. In the four months it has been open, shop sales are 72 per cent up on the same period last year and are close to matching the total sales from all of 2017/18.

Curator Melissa Barnett said. “They (visitors) are always impressed and now that we have the new entrance and shop sales of gifts and souvenirs made by local artists have gone up and the visitor experience is just so much better.”

Numbers have also been boosted by the new gallery, partly funded by a £49,000 Arts Council grant.

This year has seen a project to design and make a First World War tapestry, which involved dozens of groups and schools from the town, and the research project into the Unity and Loyalty wards of the Red Cross hospital based in the town hall and The Neeld.

“Both projects were wonderful. With the hospital research, everything we found was new,” said Mrs Barnett, who has been at the museum for eight years.

“We had people coming forward with photographs and even one of the relatives of the cook brought in the hospital’s cookbook. It was fascinating to hear about what may have been Chippenham’s finest hour.”

The research will be published by the museum in a new book about the hospital.

Mrs Barnett is always on the lookout for new objects for the collection. At present she is also on the lookout for Brexit posters so people in the future can get an insight on the mood of the country.

The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Visit