Our Meetings

Swindon Society Meeting Review

Roving Around Rodbourne by Gina Deyager
11th April 2018


Tonight Gina gave us a first-hand account of living in Rodbourne. On the approach to Rodbourne from Park Lane to Rodbourne Road you go through the tunnel made by the railway bridges between the Old Iron Foundry and the Pattern Shop. If you look closely you can see doors in the walls where the workers used to go into work.

Rodbourne is unique as it was enclosed by the wall of the Railway works, and houses were built to accommodate the workers. The tram used to run down the length of Rodbourne Road with the terminus just before Bruce Street Bridge. There was only a track going towards Royal Wootton Bassett and a single road to the sewage works and the corporation tip. Now it is hard to imagine with the volume of traffic that goes through this area.

Shops down The Lane in Rodbourne, the Co-op and other independent shops, served the residents well. Ron’s Stores is always a good spot to shop for all your hardware and gardening needs. Today this shop is still going well. I can remember my Gran going there for her seed potatoes.

Towards Mannington Rec was The Echo which is a water pipe under the road towards Sainsbury’s. Gina recounted one day, whilst sitting in her lounge in Redcliffe Street, seeing cows walking up the street. The farmer was moving them to their summer pasture - thought to be somewhere near The Echo. Not a sight you would expect to see in a town.

Redcliffe Street was, and still is, the longest straightest street in the town with no turnings off on the left. It housed the Famous Ale House, also known as The Grot, which has sadly been made into flats. Railway workers used to go to The Grot in their lunchbreaks.There was a hole in the wall at the back of Redcliffe Street which they used to go to and from work. Gina witnessed this one day and couldn’t understand where these men were disappearing to. It is now blocked up but on the other side in the corner of Paddington Drive you can see the steps up to the door they used to go down into the works. Redcliffe Street’s wall was at the back of A Shop. Walking around Rodbourne you can still see signs of the former works - the wall, and if you are lucky a signal or two.

Gina first showed this collection of photographs about 15 years ago and there have been some changes to Rodbourne since but not many. Even Swindon School has been demolished and houses have been built on the land in keeping with the houses further up the road. Jennings Street School is no more and the site now houses the Community Centre - home of the library, a playgroup and meeting rooms for other users.

Even with these changes Rodbourne still has the homely feel it has always had. The Dolphin Pub still stands on the main road and now a sign has been erected showing where The Lane is.

Next time you go through Rodbourne don’t whizz through like the trains, stop and see what you can discover and maybe pay a visit to Ron’s Stores (I’m not on commission).

Thank you Gina for a lovely insight into this special area of our rapidly growing town.

Nicky Shackell - May 2018