The first family to arrive in the new West Swindon development – and who still live in Toothill – has welcomed news that the area is to receive at least £1 million to support the community over the next ten years.
Terry and Theresa Davies were the first people to move to the area in March 1976. They had hardly any time to settle in when West Swindon’s first baby Janice arrived three weeks later.
The Davies household, and those of their neighbours who arrived that summer, were surrounded by a huge building site as houses in Markenfield and Longthorpe Close were being built. A mobile shop would stop by several times a week before one opened in a hut, and a church worker would bring a typewriter to help send letters on behalf of families. Residents without a car faced a trek to the nearest bus stop on the old A420 Swindon to Wootton Bassett road on the other side of the present Tewkesbury Way.
Thirty four years later the Davies clan is much bigger. Two daughters and a son followed Janice and in time four grandchildren appeared. A fifth is on the way.
Pictured right, Terry and Theresa Davies with their children, from left, Kate, Janice, Christine, Michael and his wife Lauren. Front, Kate’s daughters Maddy and Lauren, with Michael’s daughter Alicia in the centre. Not pictured, Janice’s daughter Amy
Theresa said they’ve enjoyed living in Toothill and the need to move somewhere else was never that great. “We’ve thought about going from time to time; we were quite a long way down the line in 2008 but the recession started and we decided we were happy to stay in Swindon where the children are.”
Christine lives at home whilst Kate, Janice and Michael live closeby. Family get-togethers are a regular feature for the Davies family. “This part of Toothill built in the first few years is a good area. It’s quite settled and like us some of the original families are still here,” said Terry. “There isn’t trouble but we’re not very impressed by the condition of the play parks. They used to be around every corner but most have been removed or not looked after.”
Terry and Theresa welcomed the allocation of £1million by the National Lottery through the Big Local fund. Toothill is one of the first fifty of 150 areas identified as having obstacles towards community improvement.
Both are taxi drivers for V cars and are in a good position to hear comments about the area. “It’s now quite old and needs improvements but nowadays I get very few negative comments, not like in the first few years when many Swindon people didn’t have a kind word to say about all the expansion going on,” said Theresa. “In fact it’s amazing how West Swindon as a whole has developed. We’re very impressed by the range of groups we take people to by taxi.”
But she’s worried that the council will try to get hold of the lottery money to pay for things that it’s responsible for, like cutting down hedges or picking up litter. She said, “we’d like to see more spent on young people at Toothill Farm youth club and perhaps improving play areas. It’s important that residents have a very clear say about how money is spent. It’s important the right projects are chosen; the last thing you want is money being spent on the wrong things and creating resentment in the community.”
The Big Local funding will start in 2011 after a trust has been chosen to administer the money which includes setting up a process of local discussion on projects that will benefit the community in the long term.