The Vale’s Volunteer Army

The Vale of Pewsey lies in a very rural part of England and volunteering forms an important part of keeping things running.  We are very lucky to have places of heritage and leisure that provide an important part of the visitor experience in the Vale, and which rely wholly or in part on volunteers.

We think the visitor experience is all the richer for our volunteers.  Volunteers always have a keen interest in the place that they serve and this shines through in the work that they do.  You only have to visit The Merchant’s House in Marlborough, Pewsey Heritage Centre, Crofton Beam Engines or Wilton Windmill to witness the dedication, knowledge and enthusiasm of the guides.  They will beguile and intrigue you with stories from the past, talk about how people’s lives were shaped by the landscape and their livelihoods and really make your visit memorable.

Here are some of the ways in which volunteers help keep things running across The Vale and beyond – be sure to visit them and find out more - or perhaps if you live locally, you could get involved too?

The Merchant's House in Marlborough

The Merchant’s House Trust restores and refurbishes the 17th Century historic house, taking the visitor back in time to around 1680, when Thomas Bayly, a prosperous silk merchant with grand ideas and a leading citizen of Marlborough, lived here with his family and servants.   There are many aspects to the running of The Merchant’s House, providing stimulating educational, social and creative activities for its many volunteers and the local community – whether it be the house itself, its events or the recent addition of the Marlborough Museum.

Owned by the town of Marlborough and run by The Merchant’s House Trust, its volunteers are an integral part of allowing the Merchant’s House to run as a Charitable Trust with a prosperous trading shop that Thomas Bayly would be proud of!  Certainly, the Merchant’s House couldn’t run without its volunteers. 

Volunteers receive full training, so no experience is required, and there are several areas where help is always needed, including the house, the shop, the garden, events, the office, the Marlborough Museum and if you dare - dressing according to the period and getting the customers in (don’t worry – you won’t be on your own!).

If you'd like to volunteer:

If you feel you have what it takes, want to find out if your skills are needed or indeed would like any further information at all, please get in touch with the Merchant’s House on 01672 511491.

If you'd like to visit:

The House and Garden are open from 5th April 2019 (closed Easter Monday) until Saturday 29th October 2019 on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with timed tours at 10.30am, 12 noon, 1.30pm and 3.00pm (tour by informed guide takes approximately 1hour 30 minutes).  There are no more tours after 3.00pm. The House is also be open on Mondays for one guided tour at 10.30am.

More information on The Merchant's House

Crofton Beam Engines

Crofton is a fascinating place and internationally famous as having the oldest steam beam engine in the world that still works in its original location and still performs its original task. It is a wonderful heritage site, tourist attraction and community asset - a place to have fun and enjoy being part of a fantastic registered charity.

Like the Kennet & Avon Canal itself, which was itself restored by volunteers to be a wonderful leisure waterway and tourist attraction, volunteers are also the life-blood of Crofton Beam Engines.

Crofton Beam Engines is a living testament and a tribute to what can be achieved when people group together over a sustained period to volunteer to work on a worthwhile project.

Crofton celebrated their 50th anniversary of being a volunteer organisation in 2018. and are always pleased to hear from anyone who would like to get involved. The sort of roles that are available include:

  • engineering, undertaking technical work looking after the historic engines,
  • gardening and grounds care,
  • visitor welcome, front of house and giving visitor tours,
  • working on our archives and oral history,
  • education, and supporting tours and activities for school groups and other educational and learning visits
  • administrative support, and helping to organise events, activities and visits
  • specific tasks such marketing, social media, advertising

If you'd like to volunteer:

If you would like to learn more about volunteering at Crofton, please contact:

Simon Hobson

Crofton Site Manager

Kennet and Avon Canal Trust

Crofton Pumping Station, Crofton

Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 3DN

Tel: 01672 870300

If you'd like to visit:

The Engine House, Engineman’s Rest café and gift shop will be open from the week before Easter until the end of September every day (except Wednesdays) from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Crofton also runs a number of events throughout the year.
Admission to the grounds and Engineman’s Rest Café is FREE except for the Steam Gala when there is a small charge to enter the grounds to see the many outdoor attractions.

More information on Crofton Beam Engines

Wilton Windmill

The Windmill is a distinctive feature of the Vale of Pewsey landscape and is run entirely by volunteers.

The roles are varied, ranging from millers, flour-baggers, guides and cake makers to working in the shepherd’s hut shop or helping on the committee.  Wilton Windmill is open from 2pm to 5pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays from Easter to the end of September when the shepherd’s hut shop is open and guided tours are provided to visitors.  The windmill also runs one or two special events each summer and so welcome any help on these very busy days.

If you'd like to volunteer:

For more information on volunteering, email

If you'd like to visit:

Wilton Windmill is open from 2pm to 5pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays from Easter to the end of September when the shepherd’s hut shop is open and guided tours are provided to visitors.  Open days are also held in the summer months.

More information on Wilton Windmill

Pewsey Vale Craft & Community Tea Rooms

This delightful café is run entirely by volunteers and is in a lovely location in the centre of Pewsey on the banks of the River Avon.

All profits from the cafe are donated to local charities.

The cafe is open from Monday to Saturday and you only need to commit to a half day a month - either from 9.30am to 1.30pm or from 1.30pm until closing (normally about 4.45pm).

The work includes making hot drinks, serving cakes, taking orders and handling cash or working in the kitchen making light snacks, washing up, cleaning and tidying etc. 

You will always be working as part of a small team and training is given on all aspects of working in the Tea Room.

And if you can't commit to a specific day they always need emergency cover or people to bake cakes.

There's also alot of chatting to customers - in fact, it's a great way of meeting new people, especially if you are new to the area and has proven to improve physical and mental well being.

There is no age restriction as long as you feel able to manage.

If you'd like to volunteer:

For more information on volunteering, email Kerry Pycroft.

If you'd like to visit:

Pewsey Vale Craft & Community Tea Rooms are open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4.30pm (last orders at 4.15pm). Closed on Sunday.

More information on Pewsey Vale Craft & Community Tea Rooms