MELKSHAM Town Football Club played their last ever game at The Conigre recently following 96 years at the ground.

They went down 2-1 against Hengrove Athletic in the semi-finals of the Les Phillips Cup on Saturday, May 7, but the ground has a rich history of successes and triumphs down the years.

Melksham Town itself was formed in 1876 and The Conigre is, in fact, its third home. They moved to the ground in 1920 after The Avon Rubber Company purchased Melksham House in the same year. Joint president of the club David Phillips said: “The Conigre has had a long and rich history in its time as the football club’s home.

“It will always remain in the hearts of all those who have had an association with it but as far as the future of the club goes it is definitely the right move.

“The facilities will meet all the requirements to run the club. I mean it will be sad to leave The Conigre as I have spent 40 years there but needs must.”

When Avon Rubber took over Melksham House it was turned into a social club for company employees and the grounds, including The Conigre, were to be used for sporting activities.

The only condition imposed on the football club for the use of The Conigre was that it be renamed Melksham & Avon Utd FC.

However, in 1926 the club reverted back to Melksham Town and over the next 47 years in the Wiltshire League, the club finished runners-up on several occasions and won it in 1994.

Mr Phillips added: “During the first season at The Conigre the Avon Rubber Company spent £1,000 on providing a stand and fencing around the ground.

“In the late 1960s The Conigre, as we know it today, took shape with the erection of the covering standing enclosures on two sides.”

Further construction of the ground continued as the clubhouse was built in 1976 followed by the installation of floodlights in 1986.

In the early 1990s the old wooden stands had to be dismantled, a legacy of health and safety measures following the Bradford fire in 1985. A new stand was built in 1994.

Over the past 96 years The Conigre has staged many ties in various Cup competitions with the first FA Cup tie taking place on September 10, 1921 when Melksham & Avon Utd drew 1-1 with Frome Town.