A Guide to the 5 Biggest Towns in Wiltshire – Facts and Figures

A Guide to the 5 Biggest Towns in Wiltshire – Facts and Figures

The county of Wiltshire is one of the richest historical counties in the country with an abundance of prehistory on characterize including the world famous sites of Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill. Although not densely populated, the county has many settlements of observe and this two parted article looks at the varying profiles of the five largest. In part one we’ll run down the top five whilst taking a look at each town’s history and culture in the following part.


Swindon is a town located in the north of Wiltshire. It is by far the largest town in the county with a population of over 155,000 according the 2001 census and is the only town in Wiltshire to observe large extent industrialisation in its role as an important transport center; initially with the canals, more considerably with the railways and latterly with the M4 corridor stretching from London to Bristol and on to Swansea. Alongside other M4 corridor towns such as Slough, Reading, Newbury and Bristol, it has become a centre, in particular for the sets and technology industries. Whilst it sits within the boundaries of the ceremonial county of Wiltshire it truly belongs to the borough of Swindon and consequently except the governance of the rest of county.


Otherwise known as New Sarum, Salisbury is the only city in the county of Wiltshire and is the second largest settlement behind Swindon with a population around 40,000. Formerly at the centre of Salisbury District it now sits under the control of the Unitary Authority of Wiltshire Council, with the city’s charter being held by Salisbury City Council. The city is located in the south of the county on the confluence of the Salisbury/Hampshire Avon with the Bourne, Nadder, Wylye and Ebble, near the border with Hampshire. Notably, it also lends its name to the area of chalkland, Salisbury Plain, that stretches north and covers the interior of the county. It has been a city since time immemorial and due to its closeness to Stonehenge, the New Forest and a number of historical attractions such as its famous Cathedral and Old Sarum, it is a notable tourist destination in addition as a thriving market town.


Despite being only the third largest town in Wiltshire with a population of over 28,000, Trowbridge is also the ceremonial and administrative capital of the county. In a county where the two largest settlements are found in the north and south, the town was deemed the ideal place to locate the county’s administrative roles due to its more central location in a cluster of westerly settlements. Trowbridge is found on the river Biss with the Kennet and Avon Canal also running by it, and is only 12 miles from the historic spa city of Bath.


In the north west of the county of Wiltshire is the fourth largest settlement, Chippenham, with a population of around 28,000, fractionally behind that of Trowbridge. The historic market town is located on the river Avon (Bristol Avon), approximately mid-way between the relative metropolis of Swindon and Bath. As such it largely serves as a commuter town but with growing industry due to its healthy transport links.


The smallest of Wiltshire’s top five towns is Melksham with a population of just 21,000. The town is another of Wiltshire’s settlements which sits on the Bristol Avon in the west of the county and, similar to both nearby Trowbridge and Chippenham, it is found only just across the county border from Bath. As with its near neighbours, the town’s profile is that of a small market town with thriving business estates due to its closeness to the M4 corridor.

Having highlighted and introduced Wiltshire’s top five settlements, the second part of this article, which will follow soon, will delve into the high history and culture of each in a little more detail.

leave your comment