Swindon Civic Voice has republished a new and updated version of its highly regarded ‘Surprising Swindon’ Guide, a treasure trove of information for residents as well as visitors to the town.
It focuses on the New Swindon area of the town centre at the base of Swindon hill, which grew from the first cottages built by the Great Western Railway Company, spreading up the hill to eventually join with the ancient but tiny ‘Old Swindon’ in 1900.
Several maps outline the many changes in that area up to the modern day. Civic Voice is preparing a further Guide to Old Swindon, and the other ancient settlements within the modern urban landscape for a more complete picture.
A particular feature of Surprising Swindon is the maps comparing 1888 and 2015, highlighting the remaining heritage buildings. It also offers an opportunity to explore the Railway Village, with a close-up layout, for those who have not yet explored Brunel’s legacy.
The original uses of many premises are detailed, and mention is made of the community initiatives by railwaymen to establish the facilities which an unchartered but densely-packed town desperately needed in the 19th Century, shops, healthcare, recreation and education and inspiration. In particular the density of churches and chapels is remarkable.
Martha Parry, Chair of Swindon Civic Voice, said: “The guide has been in preparation for two years with the help of many local people and reference books. We particularly want to recognise Trevor Cockbill, the local historian who died in 1999, as the inspiration and source of much of the information that motivated this effort.
“We have guided many groups around the railway village over the past 15 years to widespread interest and appreciation. We hope this new editiion shares the experience more widely, both locally and with visitors.”
The new pocket sized guide updates the version published in 2000 as a fold out map. It costs just £1 from Swindon Central Library.
Swindon Civic Voice Autumn talks
Thursday 8 October, 7pm: Swindon Civic Voice Annual General Meeting, followed by a talk by John Chandler, author of Swindon Decoded which was published in 1995. His talk will focus on Central Community Centre and the first 100 years of ‘New Swindon,’ from 1840 to 1939.
Thursday 12 November, 7pm: John Cattell of Historic England (formerly English Heritage) is co-author of Swindon: The Legacy of a Railway Town and will talk about Edward Snell, an early resident of the Railway Village who designed and painted a large aerial perspective of Swindon railway works and the village as they were in 1848. He will digitally relate Snell’s early pictorial record to present features and describe a part of the town which is said have had a touch of the Wild West about it.
Both events take place in Central Community Centre in Emlyn Square.
Entry is £2 for members of Swindon Civic Voice, £4 for non-members.
Membership is £5 (£2 concs). New members may join on the night.
For details of the AGM and talks, contact Martha Parry on 01793 520592 or: firstname.lastname@example.org