Former Liberal Club

5 St Margaret’s Street, Bradford on Avon


former Liberal Club, St margaret's Street, Bradford on Avon


Number 5 St Margaret’s Street is a small clothier’s mansion house that was built at the very end of the 17th or beginning of the 18th with an ashlar stone fa├žade of two storeys and five bays with a triangular pediment over the central three bays. There is central ornate doorcase under a broken serpentine pediment. The rear was later extended with two higher wings that had venetian windows in the gable and triple windows below them, all now blocked up. This may have been built as cloth workshop of store. Probably because of the raised platform in front of the building, the railings were spared from removal in World War 2, including the wrought iron overthrow that once held a lamp over the entrance steps.

rear of former Liberal Club, St margaret's Street, Bradford on Avon

The house was built by clothier Zachariah Shrapnel (1662-1723), but was let after he built Midway Manor in Wingfield.

It became a surgery at the end of the 18th century and was home and surgery of James Pearce in 1811 when his son Joseph was born and he grew up to take over the practice, while building up a large collection of fossils, local and world-wide, in a museum in the building.

In May 1888 the building became a the Liberal Club, opened at a ceremony attended by George Pargiter Fuller of Neston Park, Liberal MP for North Wiltshire, the lord of the manor Sir Charles Hobhouse and “a large body of the leading Liberals of the locality, accompanied by the Avonvale Band. They proceeded to the Town Hall “which was nicely decorated, and where an excellent dinner was provided” (Bristol Mercury, 7th May). Fuller opened another liberal Club in South Wraxall two years later. In the club’s time, bar and committee rooms were opened up and the rear became a skittle alley. Membership declined and the premises were sold off in the 1990s.

Recently, the building was occupied in 1994 by Odournet, the UK branch of a Netherlands-based company that analysed smells and scents. After it relocated to Bristol, the building was sold to RN Real Estates Ltd and altered to be the premises of National Health Service dentists who were previously based at the Bradford on Avon Health Centre; it opened late in 2019. In the course of the work, a wooden panelled room of the listed building was unlawfully ripped out without permission and had to be reinstated.

Heritage and Design & Access Statement for the reinstatement of the panelling 2019