Terry and Theresa Davies are marking 40 years since they were the first people to move to Swindon’s new ‘western expansion’ on 14 March 1976.
Builders had been on site for over a year installing the roads and sewers and constructing the first group of houses in Markenfield, Toothill. Theresa was expecting her first baby on 16 March and when a council house exchange fell through they had little choice but to accept Toothill. It was a brand new house surrounded by building sites and lacking any community facilities.
Looking back Terry said: “For the first few days in 1976 we were all by ourselves, in the wilds of the countryside until other families moved in. There were no street lights and only a muddy footpath to the closest bus stop on the old Wootton Bassett Road nearly a mile away. It was a bit scary with Theresa expecting any moment.
“But it was great to have our own home, ready for Janice who arrived on 16 April.”
The couple brought up three more children in Toothill, Christine, Mike and Kate and now have 7 grandchildren. Before Toothill Primary School was built children were either taken by taxi or were bussed to the Parks area.
As the children grew and moved out Terry and Theresa wondered about moving but never found anywhere suitable. “We’ve looked at houses elsewhere in Swindon and even the Isle of Wight a few years ago, with the children in the town and the housing recession, there never seemed a good time.
“We’ve always liked it in Toothill. It was a bit difficult in the first years, but the pioneers helped each other out and gradually facilities arrived like a shop with a post office, the primary school, the community centre and lots of play parks for children.
“Then West Swindon Centre came along and now we have four supermarkets close to us.
“Toothill is really well positioned, but we’re all saddened that there is so much litter everywhere. The area is not being looked after.
“The one thing we’ve noticed over the last few years is that we see a lot more children around as the area has changed. It’s nice to hear the sounds of kids playing out again.”