2017 December: Bumper edition closes Swindon Heritage magazine

By Roger Ogle - 30 December 2018

Photo ArchiveCommunity

Publication that told the town's story shuts down with 120 page number

Swindon Heritage has been published for the final time. And to ensure it leaves its mark on the Swindon scene, the last magazine will come out as a hefty 120 pages.

Launching a print publication on heavyweight paper in Spring 2013 was a massive risk for the three committed local historians behind the project. Yet, Graham Carter, Frances Bevan and Mark Sutton believed there was an untapped need to explain the town's past in an easy to read, visual way. Published quartly, the twenty editions over the last five years have resulted in 1,736 pages covering Swindon's fantastic story.

"There was a lot of scepticism about what we were doing," said Graham, who edited and laid out the magazine. "The  financial risk was one we were willing to take, but Swindon Heritage has covered itself. Many people also thought we were going to run out of material, but that's not been the case at all; we had to hold over features from every edition. The wealth of history and heritage here is remarkable."

Swindon Heritage has always been more than just a magazine recounting stories and publishing interesting photographs from the past. For Graham it's been a quest to highlight the town's heritage to the population and to show policy makers that it is an under-rated resource that makes Swindon unique. "Yes, it's sad that the magazine is ending. We set out to make more people aware of, and just as important, proud of our town's heritage. I would like to think it is 'mission accomplished.'

"However, I personally concluded that it is 'mission impossible' when it comes to changing the attitudes of decision-makers and some heritage professionals in Swindon. That's a shame because, although our heritage is neglected and under threat, it should be a big selling point for the town, an effective weapon in transforming its poor image and boosting self-confidence."

The members of the Swindon Heritage team will continue to work on their own history projects, including delivering an exciting project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to show off the Dixon-Attwell Collection, a fascinating archive of a Swindon family which will lead to a book in 2018.

They will also continue the blue plaque scheme to mark the birthplace of famous Swindonians.

The theme of the final Swindon Heritage will be the magnificent photographic archives focussed on the town and will include a number of newly discovered and previously unpublished images, as well as a series documenting the demise of the old market in 1977.

Graham added: "We're also delighted to have been granted a very rare interview with a local celebrity*, who gave us his thoughts on Swindon's heritage, and essentially is the last word in the magazine. His message is that our heritage is something to enjoy and be very proud of, and it therefore deserves far better."

All editions of Swindon Heritage can be viewed in the local studies section at Swindon Central Library.
A few back copies of the magazine can still be bought; see www.swindonheritage.com for contact details.

See information about Swindon Heritage on Facebook

*Colin Moulding of Swindon punk band XTC

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