The Novichok events of recent months have brought Salisbury greater worldwide attention and added an extra dimension to the need to plan a positive future for the city.  Salisbury’s ambitions are for a vibrant future – a new Maltings development, a stronger skills-base, and civic life involving every age-group. This was the message from the recent ‘Ideas Meeting’ of the Salisbury RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).  The event took place at the Friends Meeting House in Salisbury on Thursday, 1 Nov 2018.


Proposals ranged from a University for Wiltshire to a cluster of ideas to enrich our City’s skills-base and capacity to engage all age-groups in the economic and cultural life of the City.


The Salisbury RSA Network has long advocated for increasing the availability of higher education and greater engagement with universities in our area and the idea from our Local Enterprise Partnership of a future multi-centre University of Wiltshire could be important for the City.


The Harnham Water Meadows Trust shared plans to record and promote rural crafts across the District. New grants will help the Trust to engage with the community and to preserve and tell the story of local rural crafts.


Peter Thompson FRSA in partnership with the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and the Salisbury Journal has set up Our City 2020 Vision a stimulating competition for school students to think of ideas and ways in which the city can develop and prosper.


In response to the employment needs of less academic young people, George Brutton FRSA offered his ideas to provide construction site training for 16+ school-leavers.  There were also initiatives for older people. A new organisation called ‘I’m not Done Yet are You?’ established by Andrew Middleton FRSA, is now actively encouraging greater self-sufficiency among people over 50.


Some local people will recall the days when a water-driven generator beneath what is now the Bishop’s Mill in the Maltings powered the lights of central Salisbury.  The good news is that Salisbury Community Energy, established with the aim of driving the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency locally, hopes and plans to restart the generator project.


Finally, process is as important as product. Salisbury’s Democracy Café chaired by Dickie Bellinger FRSA propose to develop local Citizens Juries for extending ways in which local people can have a more active say in local concerns.


Further details on all these ideas are below, together with contact details of the presenters if you wish to follow up with them. Finally, we include information on RSA support available for taking ideas from Fellows to the next stage.


Our next quarterly meeting will be co-hosted with Sarum College in March 2019 and focus on education. If you’d like further information about the Salisbury RSA Network and future meetings please contact Neil Beagrie at


Report by John Potter FRSA, Val Potter FRSA and Neil Beagrie FRSA (Past Chairs and Current Chair, Salisbury RSA Network)



Neil Beagrie – A University for Wiltshire

The Salisbury RSA Network has long advocated for increasing the availability of higher education and greater engagement with universities in our area to promote local research and innovation. Ideally in the long-term establishing a “University for Salisbury” or elements of a university here, but pragmatically in the short-term through any means that help these aims. Recently this has focussed on supporting Wiltshire College in its aim to enhance its Salisbury Campus and expand it HE offering on site with funding from the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP). This September, SWLEP approved in principle its Higher Education Strategy. This updated the board on progress towards developing a proposal for a ‘multi campus university’ in Wiltshire, scoping the various options available to achieve this, and developing a ‘Prospectus’ which outlines the vision, business case and approach to move this forward. The prospectus will outline its USP and why it is different, that is, the employment outcomes, the global research functions, the wider societal benefits, the clustering and innovation catalyst brought about by co-location of business, research and education at significant sites. Potential sites may include; Salisbury (Boscombe/Porton), Corsham/Chippenham, and Swindon. Further details can be found on pages 102-107 of the SWLEP board papers for September 2018 on its website.

Contact Neil Beagrie:



Dickie Bellringer – A Citizens’ Jury

We want to enhance democracy in our city by creating a Citizens’ Jury in which ordinary people – chosen by stratified random selection – deliberate on important local issues in an informed and fair way. Join the Salisbury Democracy Alliance to help make this a reality.

Contact Dickie Bellringer: or call 01722 323453.


George Brutton – Construction Site Training for School Leavers

Enabling non-academic 16+ school leavers to gain construction knowledge without further academic study. Some students do not thrive in classrooms but would make (have made) excellent builders. They are compelled to endure the classroom environment until they are 16 and are often a disruptive presence. At 16, they are able to leave secondary school but must then by law find employment or undertake further education or training until they reach 18. If the 16yr old chooses construction as a career, he will invariably be channelled into a further education (FE) college. Apprenticeships are very difficult to find unless the student has industry connections. Just 50% of Wiltshire College construction students have apprenticeships. At FE college and without an apprenticeship the student will have no prospect of industry accreditation, just a diploma after say 2 years. Practical exercises will be limited. There needs to be an alternative, perhaps as follows:

  • A new inspirational organisation led by seasoned (some retired) builders which would compete in the local Salisbury market.
  • Team members would not be apprentices in the formal sense as this depends on attending college and compliance with a strict monitoring process.
  • School leavers would instead learn on site full time.
  • Success would be measured as much by team spirit /growing confidence/enthusiasm as by profitability.
  • Established educational systems mustn’t be allowed to smother talent.

Contact: George Brutton


Hadrian Cook – Reviving Rural Crafts of South Wiltshire

Harnham Water Meadows Trust have been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Salisbury Area Board for £25,100, which will help the Trust to tell the story of the local rural crafts which once supported the Harnham Water Meadows and surrounding area.

This project will call on the community to gather information, and experience the artisanship involved, encouraging where possible hands- on opportunities to practice and continue the knowledge. It will be a valuable preservation and celebration of life related to the prosperity of Salisbury.Filmed interviews and oral histories will be collated by volunteers, and the crafts will be researched and documented, showing their rise and decline and their place in the rural calendar. Once completed, the information will be freely accessible on a touchscreen at Rose Cottage along with an exhibition, ensuring the learning experience lasts beyond the life of the project.  The project will culminate in a display and demonstration of local rural crafts in early summer of 2019.

Contact: Hadrian Cook



Alison Craig and Caroline Lanyon, Salisbury Community Energy – Re-energising Salisbury

Our aim is to restore hydro-electric power at Bishops Mill, and embed state-of-the-art low carbon innovation and architecture in the Maltings redevelopment. Imagine you are back in 1898, Victorian Salisbury. This era saw the dawn of electricity, the lightbulb, and a new alien resource, harnessed for domestic settings: safe electric power. A small, innovative company with vision had just set themselves up: the Salisbury Electric Light and Supply Company (SELASC).  They knew they could transform Salisbury. Indeed, they did, with a new power line to the Infirmary in 1899, and electricity-lit street lights throughout the city centre. In 1935 they flood-lit the Cathedral spectacularly, for the Jubilee of King George V. Gas supply challenged them, especially in 1906, and steam, powered by coal, was added, to supply increased demand.


Fast-forward to 2018. A small, innovative company with vision has just set themselves up: Salisbury Community Energy, with the aim of driving the uptake of renewable energy, and energy efficiency, locally. Climate change now threatens us all, increasingly, especially in Salisbury which floods every hundred years. With extreme weather events increasing, risks to the city are higher.SCE is particularly interested in restoring hydropower at the Bishops Mill site (as a community, grant-aided project), and in launching their first community share offer for solar PV on Diocesan schools locally, in 2019.


Would you have bought shares in the Salisbury Electric Light and Supply Company, SELASC, in 1898?  Would you please consider buying SCE shares, and supporting the Bishops Mill restoration project, now?

Contact: Alison Craig



Peter Thompson – Salisbury – Our City 2020 Vision

The events of recent months have brought Salisbury greater worldwide attention and added an extra dimension to the need to plan a positive future for the city. Our City – 20/20nvision therefore carries on the challenge to think of ideas and ways in which the city can develop and prosper. We need students’ views of what is good and not so good about our city, the problems we are facing and how things can improve. Through 20/20 Vision, we would like them to think of ideas and projects that can make a difference and:

  • enhance Salisbury’s image across the country….and globally
  • give visitors of all ages a very positive experience and
  • improve life for all its residents.

We are looking for ideas to make some impact by 2020. There will be trophies and cash prizes to win, vouchers to spend in Salisbury as well as vocational visits across the area. All participating teams will also receive certificates from Salisbury Chamber of Commerce. Entry deadline Friday 22 March 2019. For further information please contact either: telephone 01722 322 708 or telephone 07850 754 066


RSA Project Support: turning great ideas into reality

Information about the RSA project support can be found here;

There are three schemes:

RSA Crowdfunding support Let RSA know about your Fellow-led crowdfunding campaigns, and RSA can champion it on the RSA pages on its crowdfunding partner platforms, Kickstarter and Spacehive, and across its networks

RSA Catalyst Grants provides support for Fellows’ projects at different stages of their development. There are two different grants, the £2,000 Seed Grant and the £10,000 Scaling Grant, which are open applications for 3 times a year. The next deadline for RSA Catalysts is 22 January 2019.  The rough figures are RSA have five times as many applications as it can fund, so it is very competitive.

RSA Transform is an ambitious programme supporting projects that have the potential to transform society by mobilising the RSA’s unique resources behind the bold visions of our Fellows. The current campaign is Community Banking – we have previously heard details of Avon Mutual our local regional component of this initiative.