29th June 2024

My Mayoral week started at eight o’clock in the morning last Tuesday when I was down at the Albany Palace on Park Road.  

I’d been invited to come and cut the ribbon on the totally refurbished, extended and remodelled town centre pub that sits opposite the old Town Hall’s Sensory Garden on the way down to Trowbridge Park. The “new” Albany Palace is a much improved and enlarged version of the old pub. The bar has moved from the old central island over to one side where it now forms a traditional long bar. The indoor bar space extends into what was the Alzheimer’s Support building next door and the gravelled parking in front of that has been walled and paved to form a very attractive outdoor space. Large bi-fold doors/windows now form both the access out into this new walled courtyard and the large full height window looking out onto Park Road from the front of the “old” part of the building.  

Inside, the remodelled interior is very welcoming and attractive with some very eye-catching artwork on display. There are some nice local touches as well, with local artists’ work and nods towards the town’s history etched into the odd tabletop. Even the toilets have received a significant and attractive upgrade.  

The extensive food menu on offer is typically Wetherspoons, offering all the usual “pub grub” favourites at very reasonable prices. It was therefore almost inevitable that after I’d cut the ribbon and officially opened to pub to the public, I’d want to sample the legendary Wetherspoons’ breakfast, so Deputy Mayor Stewart Palmen and I sat down to enjoy a very good “full English” whilst we watched the place, quite quickly, get busy with punters wanting to sample the food and enjoy an early morning tea or coffee.  

And yes, there was at least one punter determined to have the first pint as soon as the bar opened on the dot of 9:00am.  

By the time Stewart and I left sometime after 9 o’clock, the kitchen was working at full pace and there was a steady stream of folk still coming in through the front doors! 

All in all, the Albany Palace has been wonderfully reinvented and it’s a great improvement on the old pub. Wetherspoons have obviously not spared any expense in trying to make this town centre pub a family friendly venue.  

Let’s just hope that along with this transformation comes a decrease in the late-night antisocial behaviour that on odd occasions used to spill out from the old pub onto the nearby streets of the town centre. 


Wednesday lunch was spent at Trowbridge Future’s Seymour Hub on Charles Street.  

This was one of the fortnightly “Cultural Cooking Experiences” run by the charity and hosted by Nariman Ismaiil. Nariman is a Community Support Worker who’s been with Trowbridge Future since 2020. She’s a native Arabic speaker and a qualified Arabic teacher who holds a BA in Philosophy from Alexandria University. If you get the chance, take time to get to know her, she’s a really fascinating, and incredibly empathic, person who epitomises everything that is positive and empowering about a multi-cultural society. 

Anyway… the point of these session is so that Nariman can share her love of her native Egyptian cuisine. Every session features a different traditional dish and takes the “audience” (who ARE expected to get involved) through the whole preparation and cooking of the meal. Of course, there is the added bonus that once the meal is ready, all present, get to sit down together, have a chat and get to eat a very enjoyable lunch. 

Wednesday’s offering was a dish of roasted whole chicken prepared with spices and stuffed with fragrant basmati rice flavoured with cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and garlic (Egyptian rice is better, but harder to get hold of in the UK). This was accompanied by a mixed salad and more rice, and then dressed with a thick, garlic and lemon yogurt dip. 

It was absolutely delicious, but I probably ended up breathing garlic fumes over everyone I met for the rest of the day! 

Now, I’ve probably got some of these culinary details wrong, but never fear… if you attend one of these sessions, you’ll also get a printed sheet with all ingredients, preparation and cooking instructions included. Remember, they’re every fortnight on a Wednesday lunchtime, so the next one is at 12:30 on Wednesday 10th July at Trowbridge Future’s Seymour Hub on Charles Street.  


Then, later on Wednesday afternoon, the Trowbridge Fairtrade Group held its Annual General Meeting. I’ve previously explained that, as Mayor, I’m the Honorary president of this group, so my role at this meeting was really mainly ceremonial.  

As it was the AGM the main purpose of the meeting was to receive the outgoing Chair’s annual report, sign off the accounts for the last year and then elect the incoming Chair and officers. 

Lyndsey Wright was retiring as Chair after serving the Trowbridge Fairtrade group diligently and with zeal. She gave a moving address on why she’d been inspired to get involved with Fairtrade and promised to stay involved even though no longer at the forefront of the town’s activities. 

Denise Bates was then duly elected Chair, and the mantle of leadership was therefore effectively passed to her. The meeting quickly reaffirmed its faith in the rest of the serving officers and committee and after a brief discussion concerning future events and activities, we all went our separate ways. 


That was it for my “official” week. From last Thursday onwards I’ve been away from Trowbridge visiting my son and his wife in Lancashire and attending a family funeral in Derbyshire. I won’t be back in Wiltshire until the day of the General Election, but I know there are already a few things in my diary for the end of the week! 


That’s it for now, so until next time, keep safe and please, be kind to each other. 

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