Swindon began as a Saxon village, which grew to a small market town over the centuries. The coming of the railway in the 1840s transformed Swindon to the largest town in Wiltshire, with much of its industry based on the growth of the railway system. The end of an era came in 1986 when the railway works closed but, by then, the town was no longer dependent on it. Today Swindon’s railway heritage lives on in the form of museums. “Steam”, the Great Western Railway museum, opened in 2000.
From 1952 to 1960 Swindon was designated an “overspill” town for people and industry moved out of London. About 14,000 people moved there from the Capital, as well as an influx of immigrants from other areas, causing Swindon to expand rapidly.
Today, industry in Swindon is diverse and the main employers are car manufacturing, insurance, hi-tech companies, banking and building societies, engineering, pharmaceuticals and food distribution. The town has developed quickly over the last few years, mainly due to its location close to the M4 motorway and with easy links to London. The population is around 180,000 and it is one of the fastest growing towns in Europe.
Swindon is often regarded as just factories and office blocks but it does have a well -preserved history, as well as being a good base to explore the surrounding countryside. The Old Town is situated south of the modern pedestrianised shopping area. The main shopping centres are: the Brunel Centre, The Parade and The Big Top Market Place. There is also a designer outlet in the old Brunel works.
There are restaurants, cinemas, clubs and pubs and leisure centres, as well as parks, museums and the Wyvern Theatre. The Science Museum in Swindon is the largest dedicated science exhibition centre outside of London. It is based on the site of an old airfield and the museum focuses on the history of flight, space and transport. Swindon also has its own museum and art Gallery.
Just outside the town there many places to explore, including the stately home Lydiard House and parkland. A trip to Avebury World Heritage site is also recommended as it is the largest stone circle in Europe. Made of 200 stones and stretching for over a mile, the stone circle surrounds the picturesque village of Avebury. It also includes West Kennet Long Barrow, one of the most impressive and well-preserved Neolithic burial grounds in the country.
The links on the sidebar will take you to some useful websites outside of the Deanery's control. The Severn Deanery is not responsible for any of the information published by external websites.