Like a stainless steel naturist the first signs of Swindon’s Millennium Clock have made a return to the town as part of the £1.75 million revamp of the forecourt at Swindon railway station.
The clock was much criticised at the end of Year 2000 when it was unveiled in the Town Centre, at the junction of Regent Street and Canal Walk.
The Duke of Edinburgh started it ticking, but there is no record of any off-the-cuff remark he might have made at the time.
The clock told the time on its four circular sides, but the design was regarded as a bit too modern for Swindon. It was removed in 2007 in yet another town centre regeneration project, to be replaced by a modern steel water feature, which was equally reviled by people complaining about the cost and design.
As the advent of the railways in the early 19th Century forced the country to standardise time keeping, and with IK Brunel’s Great Western Railway works being the reason Swindon became the modern industrial powerhouse of the south, perhaps the modern looking timepiece at the station will have finally found its proper home.
The new Welcome to Swindon feature is being managed by Forward Swindon. Their website describes the project:
‘Swindon station’s forecourt area will be transformed from a heavily traffic dominated area to a prestigious pedestrian focused arrival space whilst incorporating transport links and improved facilities.
The forecourt will be paved with high quality granites to define a large pedestrian space to the front of the station entrance and this material will continue across Station Road, defining the pedestrian route leading into the town centre. Around this space, lighter colour granite continues the high quality feel and defines areas with access to transport links (buses and taxis). Running through the granites are sinuous bands of Pennant sandstone which suggest intersecting rails, provide a sense of movement and help to delineate the various usage areas.
Rail Replacement Service (RRS) buses require access to the forecourt and this has been integrated into the design to achieve a safely delineated route whilst not dominating the pedestrian space at other times.
A new taxi rank is organised in three stacking lanes (14 taxi’s) merging into one for pick-up and an additional lane for taxi drop off’s and emergency vehicles only. The design also proposes to change the flow of traffic in Gloucester Street and introduce a taxi feeder rank (11 taxi’s) along the South West side. To the east of the forecourt along Station Road an extensive lay-by provides for service deliveries and pick-up/ drop-off for disabled passengers.
The Swindon Station Forecourt proposals will result in a prestigious, open and pedestrian-priority space, providing a durable and maintainable public realm whilst enabling the full range of transport links and facilities.’
Design started in December 2009 and construction commenced in August 2011 with completion scheduled for July 2012. A Forward Swindon spokesperson was not available to provide an updated completionn
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