THERE was a bit of drama in the run up to Wilton’s big Christmas lights switch-on.

The lights are left up all year round on the tree in the town centre, which is thought to be one of the tallest living Christmas trees in Europe.

But when they were tested on Sunday, smoke began pouring from the cables.

The junction box at the top of the tree is thought to have caught fire at some time, melting the cables and blowing the transformer.

Luckily, town councillor Peter Edge had a spare transformer and his neighbour Matt Holder climbed the 100ft tree to carry out a partial repair.

“Unfortunately, not all the lights could go on,” said fellow councillor Andy Kinsey, “but they managed to get the star and three or four strings of lights going. It was touch and go, but we had a valiant team working in the dark. It couldn’t have happened in a worse place, could it?”

The depleted display was switched on by the mayor, Ivan Seviour, and it is hoped the rest of the lights will be up and running by the weekend.

Rainbows, Brownies, Cubs and Beavers and pupils from Wilton and Barford Primary School performed a nativity tableau, and there was entertainment from Sarum Morris and Wilton and District Youth Band, while Wilton Rotarians kept the large crowd supplied with mulled wine to keep out the cold.