Conserving our railway past at GWR Park

By Jamie Hill - 26 March 2021

Heritage

A Conservation Management Plan (CMP) has been put in place to help return GWR Park to its former glory as part of The Heritage Action Zone looking at regenerating the Railway Village for future generations.

  • A view of the ornamental bedding scheme with the park keeper’s lodge and glass houses in the background  © Swindonstory.uk

    A view of the ornamental bedding scheme with the park keeper’s lodge and glass houses in the background © Swindonstory.uk

GWR Park has been an important part of Swindon’s Railway Village life since the 1840s when it became a cricket field for its residents.

The park became a beautiful open space that once contained a great range of facilities including a drinking fountain, a cricket pavilion, glasshouses and a bandstand.

Community events became an important part of the park’s calendar and from 1866 it hosted the annual Children’s Fete at which every one of the 30,000 children attending received a slice of cake. This was such an undertaking that a special cake slicing machine had to be invented.

Today the park is managed by Central Swindon South Parish Council. The park lies within the Swindon Railway Village Conservation Area, which has been designated by Historic England as a Heritage Action Zone. Over a period of five years Historic England will bring funding and expertise to support Swindon Borough Council in delivering the regeneration of the area.

One of the projects that the Heritage Action Zone will deliver is the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) to help explain what matters and why, and how to best conserve and manage the park. Over the coming months a team led by landscape architects Cookson & Tickner will be carrying out research and a series of surveys to better understand the history of the park and its importance.

They will also be seeking people's views in May to ask why GWR Park is important and ask if there are any improvements people would like to see. They would also like to hear people's comments on a draft CMP in July that will set out a vision for the future.  Please look out for further announcements via social media, an online survey and displays at the park.

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