The Laverton is an imposing (Grade II listed) Victorian building built by Abraham Laverton in 1873, it is now owned by the Laverton Institute charitable trust. Since 2003 Westbury Town Council has been the sole trustee of the Trust when the building was taken over from the West Wiltshire District Council. Westbury Town Council offices are housed within the building.
Work was started to modify the building for 21st Century use, making the Laverton building more accessible for community uses. Two main heritage elements are presented throughout and within the building, namely the history of Westbury and also the Laverton Story.
History and Development
In 1873 Abraham Laverton opened the Laverton Institute. At of a cost of £4,000 the building was designed by William Stent and built by W and W Keats. The Laverton Institute is an example of a Venetian, gothic style, revival building with red brick elevations with Bath stone dressing. The original roof featured an illuminated clock and incorporated a steeply pitched central Mansard roof (due to repairs is no longer in place). The keystone above the canopy on the entrance is a carved pelican crest which appears on the coat of arms for Abraham Laverton.
The Laverton Institute was designed to provide a place for educational, religious, philanthropic, scientific and political purposes. Part of the building was set aside for a elementary school for boys. The large stained glass window dominates the main hall. The panes depict William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, James Watt and Sir Edwin Landseer. Across the top is Laverton and Westbury coat of arms and a picture of a train and mill which were sources of wealth for Abraham Laverton. There are also two mottos inscribed in the window ‘Industry brings Wealth’ and ‘Knowledge is Power’.
(Information from Abraham Laverton JP MP 1819-1886, The Rise and Rise of a Westbury Woollen Mill Owner by Anthony Laverton 2011)