Old Town, the original Swindon, was a small settlement on top of a hill, home to a close-knit community of farmers and rural workers. The coming of the Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal in 1804, followed by the Great Western Railway Company in 1840, led to the birth of modern Swindon at the foot of the hill and the commencement of its steady climb up the hillside.
However, Swindon Old Town clung to its heritage, not through fear of change but for love of the rural way of life, which was sorely threatened by the Industrial Revolution and the higher wages offered by the railway company.
The two settlements didn’t really meet until 1971, when the M4 motorway opened and catapulted Swindon to fame as a super-power in the age of technology. Today Swindon houses the headquarters of some of the major technology-based enterprises in the country, yet it has managed to keep the feel and beautiful architecture of a country town.
Join Mark Child in a look back at what has been lost of the original settlement, but also a celebration of how many of the area’s houses, shops and landmarks have been carefully preserved for future generations.
Mark will be signing copies of his book at Pen & Paper Bookshop on Victoria Road, Old Town, at 12noon on Saturday 29 September.
Mark Child is the author of Abbey House & Gardens Malmesbury and The Windrush Valley: a Guide to the River, Towns and Villages, also published by Amberley. He is a historian, and an architectural and topographical writer. His other books include Discovering Church Architecture; Discovering Churchyards; The County Guide to Wiltshire; English Church Architecture: A Visual Guide; and Churches and Churchyards. He has edited a publication on archaeology and ancient history, written three books about historic boats, and three more − Aspects of Swindon History, Swindon An Illustrated History, and Hometown Swindon (for children) − on his home town. He is well known for his articles over many years on towns and villages for Archant Life magazines, particularly Cotswold Life.