The first time I heard of Trowbridge it was in a joke. “Why did the Romans call Bath ‘Bath’? Because it’s next to a toilet called Trowbridge”.
Now. First off, this is pretty rich coming from someone from Bath, a place that has one single distinguishing feature - a bath - and thus had to stop there in the naming process and almost by proxy name itself 'Bath'. Secondly, Trowbridge’s moniker derived from the Anglo-Saxon name 'Treow-Brycg' meaning 'Tree-Bridge'. That’s two things. Trowbridge had a tree and a bridge. I would take that any day over a bath. I think.
As our project about the town and our research began, we became very quick to defend Trowbridge. Much like the places that we hail from, it feels like a town which has fallen into the furrow of being the butt of a joke, and has heard it all so many times before that it has almost nonchalantly accepted the stereotype. There’s a faded glory in these sorts of British towns, places where industry once thrived and then buggered off to capitalist pastures greener leaving the community and infrastructure to bear the weight of what it has lost without so much as a wave goodbye. Trowbridge was dropped, and that sucks. Dropped places need to be picked up.
It sounds like this will be an easy and uplifting story - town struggles, go to town, make something funny, everyone dances and remembers how brilliant their town is, everyone pulls together, hooray hooray civic pride is restored and everyone celebrates. This is not the case.
When we first went to Trowbridge we interviewed a number of residents and watched a lot of footage of locals being interviewed at different town events. I think we were expecting a lot of 'we’ve had it rough here, but let me tell you this - Trowbridge is a diamond in the rough' or 'sure, the posh people in Bath laugh at us a lot but who cares? We have each other and we love our town'. What we actually saw was about 15 people in a row say that they thought Trowbridge was 'a shithole' and then laugh it off. This offers a really strange starting point for a project meant to celebrate Trowbridge in all its glory, however if anything it makes it all the more exciting. We never were very good at easy stories anyway.
Maybe we’d be better off making a song about this bath we keep hearing so much about.