Marlborough’s position on the main London to Bristol road made it a centre of trade and industry.
In the Middle Ages burel, a coarse woollen cloth was manufactured as clothing for the poor and the cloth industry continued to the 19th century. A major tanning industry also began in the Middle Ages, processing sheepskins and cow hides from animals reared in Savernake Forest. From the 1600s hemp, or flax, was processed and made into rope, sacking and sailcloth until the 1960s. Pin making also took place from the 16th to the 18th centuries and luxuries – clay pipes, bone lace and clocks were manufactured for transport to urban markets. Cheese was also made for the London market and seven cheese factories were recorded in 1797 and 1844. Despite less demand from London from 1680 onwards, Marlborough remained a centre for the sale of cheese until at least 1907.