Local Heritage

Surprising Swindon: Past & Present Explorers’ Guide

‘New Swindon’ 1840 – 2015

Swindon – this is Swindon.

Though not intentionally planned that way, it turned out to be rather timely that my friend Jess (@swindondriver) and I should go on an EXPOTITION and go exploring the New Swindon ‘trail’ put together by Swindon Civic Voice just a few days ago. How so? Well because just last week there was a launch event to announce and to kick off the 2016 events that will happen in celebration of ‘New Swindon’ being 175 years old. Read more of that here: http://swindonian.me/2015/11/19/made-in-swindon-celebrating-175-years/

Loving a bit of urban exploration and discovery as we do, Jess and I – and Daisy the dog –  set out on a blustery day last week to photograph a few elements of the explorers’ guide. It’s a wonderfully detailed leaflet that lists 100 points of interest/interesting facts all related to New Swindon.

If you wanted to follow the whole thing round it could very easily take a day – maybe even more- what with coffee stops and lunch breaks etc. Not having that much time to spare we simply selected bits of it and took some photos of things marked on the trial and a few that aren’t – and you can see those below.  But really the best thing to do is to get a copy of the leaflet from Swindon central library and check it out. It’s only a £1! It really is a mine of information. For instance, and in no particular order:

  1. I hadn’t previously noticed the flying pig gargoyle adorning Radnor Street chapel.
  2. The Brunel Centre was an award winner in 1975 being the first mall in the UK. Who knew?
  3. The 1843 brick built market was demolished in the 1970s because it was ‘out of character’ with the new Brunel Centre. *sigh* – not that Swindon is the only town guilty of such crimes! And old and new can exist perfectly well together – UTC being a fabulous example.
  4. The Cenotaph erected in 1920, replaced an earlier wooden one burned down by protestors in 1919 who felt that a wood structure was not sufficiently respectful to the dead servicemen. Prior to that there’d been a horse trough on the site. Clearly there used to be a radical element in Swindon, what with this and the flagpole riots: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01qb45n  –  a really amazing story.

Photos here from Swindon Local collection of the Cenotaph being unveiled: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/swindonlocal/tags/cenotaph/

I can really see this thing as an app for mobile devices – we had terrible trouble controlling the leaflet on such a windy day!  It would be great to have it mapped out properly so you could know the distance and how long it would take to do the whole thing.

The trail starts and ends at Swindon Station. Swindon – this is Swindon:

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