Surrounded by some of England’s finest countryside as well as a number of famous attractions, Swindon is one of the South West’s best kept secrets. As the largest town in Wiltshire, Swindon is enriched with Victorian parks and gardens, multiple museums (including the award-winning Steam Museum), art galleries and much-loved shopping centres.
History of Swindon
Mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, Swindon began as a Saxon Village. For centuries after, Swindon was just a small and quiet market town however it was the introduction of the railway in 1840 which transformed the area from a small and sleepy market town into the largest town in Wiltshire.
The town’s St Mark’s Church was consecrated in 1845, the first shops opened in 1846 and from the mid 1840s houses were built on Bridge Street and Fleet Street. It was also within the 1840s that an iron rolling mill was built in the town. As more and more ironworkers moved into the area for work, new houses were built what is now known as Cambria Place and Cambria Bridge. Over the next 40 years, many more roads, including Regent Street, Queen Street, Henry Street, Reading Street and Oxford Street, were built upon and by 1881 the population of Swindon exceeded 15,000. The town was however still in two settlements – the old town and the new town – divided by fields.
By 1900 the two towns, Old and New Swindon had fused together into one. The growth of the new town continued at an impressive rate in the years after, with an isolation hospital, an electricity generating station and a system of tramways built soon after.
After WWII, Swindon was designated an overspill town. As a result, the town expanded rapidly as around 14,000 people moved to the town from London during the 1950s. Swindon was still very much a one-industry town at this time; however, the end of an era came in 1986 when Swindon’s railway works closed.
Today the town’s railway heritage lives on in the form of museums, while its industry is far more diverse than it was those many years ago. In the 21st century, the main employers within the town include insurance, banking and food distribution.
Things to do in Swindon
There are plenty of things to do in Swindon, from shopping to steam railways, museums to meadows and country parks. Some of the highlights include:
- STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway
- Swindon Designer Outlet
- Coate Water Country Park
- Roves Farm
Primary and secondary schools in Swindon
Swindon is home to over 70 primary schools, around 20 secondary schools and 14 further education establishments. For children aged 5 to 11, both Wanborough Primary School and Lethbridge Primary School are sought after institutes, with a high percentage of students meeting the expected standard. For pupils in key stage 3 and 4, Swindon Academy and The Ridgeway School & Sixth Form College have proven to educate students to a high level. For those looking into higher education, Oxford Brookes University has a campus in Swindon. The Joel Joffe Building, with its purpose-built facilities, opened in late 2016 and is the home of the university’s healthcare-related courses.
Transportation in Swindon
Swindon is situated close to the M4 motorway. As such, it provides easy access for those commuting by car to Bristol or Bath or travelling to other major cities across the UK, including London. Heathrow Airport is also located around an hour and a half away by car, via the M4.
How to get to Swindon
- By road: Swindon is around an hour drive from both Bristol and Bath, or just over two hours away from London, via the M4.
- By rail: Swindon railway station sits on the London Paddington to Bristol line with services running frequently and covering many surrounding towns. The central bus station is also only a short walk from the train station.
Place to live in and near Swindon
For more information about some of the most popular areas to live in and around Swindon, ask in branch.
- Abbey Meads
- Broome Manor
- Cheney Manor
- Gorse Hill
- Grange Park
- Haydon Wick
- Old Town
- South Marston
- Stratton St Margaret
- Swindon New Town (a.k.a. Swindon Town Centre)
- Taw Hill