Our Meetings

Swindon Society Meeting Review

Wednesday 9th May 2018


Once the formalities of the AGM had been concluded, we were treated to a talk by Jennie Bridges and Diane Everett. They took a different route to one that we have seen before and went to the West of Swindon.

The fifth slide was one of Diane’s favourites and you have to agree when you see it. The picture is taken at the top of Kingshill Road standing in the middle of the road. It shows a peaceful idyllic scene looking out towards the west and, apart from the edge of Clifton Street, all you can see are fields. Now it is a different scene, you would risk life and limb standing in the middle of the road. Cars and buses would be speeding past you and as far as you can see are houses and retail units.

Gone are the tranquil days when you might only meet a horse and cart, see the steam coming from a train on its way to Bristol, London or beyond or hear the gentle chugging of the barges laden with their wares going to and from Semington. The busiest time on the road would be Market Day with carts laden with wares and animals for market.

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Old Town you would enter into farmland, intercepted by the Great Western Railway and the Wilts & Berks Canal. Then past Ladd’s Mill (now the site of The Runner) under the railway bridge past the wood yard on a lonely track to Wootton Bassett.

It is hard to imagine what it was like and this talk took us back to how it was. The Western Expansion only started in the late 1960’s early 1970’s when the M4 was built. The farms are now all built up areas with houses, schools and shops. If you look closely you might see the odd house which was once the old farm house. Noisy, busy roads clogged with traffic transporting people to and from their houses, to work, school and play.

All the little hamlets are now joined up as one, no way of knowing where one part ends and another starts. Jennie showed us this by going from West Swindon to Moredon. The Boundary House was the end of Moredon and the start of the fields. Now it just extends onto the Western Expansion.

At one time you only had to walk a short distance from the town centre to countryside but now you have to walk a bit further. Thank you Diane and Jennie for a thought provoking talk. It certainly highlighted how our sleepy market town is growing. I just hope that in time we will not be swallowing up Royal Wootton Bassett or Highworth.

Nicky Shackell - July 2018

Swindon Society Meeting Review

Summer Outing - Wednesday 13th June 2018

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As agreed, we all met up at 7pm near the entrance to the Outlet Village walkway in Bristol Street. From there, we split into smaller groups and were led around the Railway Village by one the guides; my group’s guide was David Bedford.

We started our walk by crossing the road and taking in the sorry sight of the Mechanics Institute. Desperately in need of repairs but what a lovely building it still is, full of character. We carried on down Bristol Street, looking up at The Wall as we went. Gina pointed out the open window. In a wall with no buildings on either side it looked very odd and quite funny.

Further down and we arrived at the UTC (University Technical College) which is right next to the old water tower, and partly housed in the Great Western Railway Company’s old school building. Opposite, we looked down one of the back-alleys; it was like a scene from Coronation Street!

From here, we wandered into Church Place and entered the GWR Park to see the large green area laid out in front of us. David reminded us of the famous children’s parties that used to be held here many years ago. Then back out and onwards towards Faringdon Road, passing by the impressive building that is Park House.

Then it was off down Taunton Street, passing all the quaint little terraced houses on the way. We eventually arrived at the Community Centre, which was once the GWR Medical Fund Hospital. It’s lovely to think that this old building still has a purpose even now. Crossing the road, we arrived at The Platform, which was the old Wesleyan Church, and previously housed the Railway Museum some years ago. A lovely building, which brought back memories of school trips for some of us. Next door was the Railway Cottage with its very tall chimney, looking very historical. Finally, we walked down the alley between these two buildings, along past The Glue Pot and the Mechanics Institute again, and then back to where we started.

The evening was dry, if a bit on the fresh side, and all in all, it was a very enjoyable walk. Thanks to David and all the other guides who collectively helped to deliver our lovely Summer Outing.

Angie Phillips - July 2018

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