I moved to Swindon about 20 years ago with my then 12 year-old daughter. We left a small village in Derbyshire, a part of the country left ravaged and war-torn (and that’s not too strong a term) by the miners’ strike and the Tory government. Not only were there no jobs and no prospects there was nothing to do and nowhere to go unless you had a car which I didn’t. Once Meadowhall and Cystal Peaks opened in the Sheffield areas, our local town of Worksop, simply died.
So imagine then, how it felt to pitch up in a town that offered, within a ten-minute walk of my home: a cinema, and a swimming pool. Even more exotic than that though, a bowling alley, an ice -rink and a Pizza Hut! All in one place. Wow. You can’t begin to imagine the excitement. Add to that a decent shopping centre – a Debenhams, a C&A and an M&S and many more besides, a mere 15 minute bus ride away instead of the two buses and very lengthy trek to Sheffield for a similar shopping experience. Chesterfield and Mansfield were more accessible but it was Sheffield you needed for C&A and Cole Brothers and the like. So this was a metropolis indeed! Moreover there was the almost zero unemployment of that time. I simply could not believe the ease with which I found work! Not only a metropolis then, but, as far as I was concerned, the land of milk and honey. And all of this contributes enormously to the affection I feel for this town.
Furthermore of course there’s the Oasis and Dorcan and Croft and Milton Road. And there’s all the parks and green spaces and a theatre and an arts centre. Of course since my arrival here there’s been the Greenbridge and Orbital developments and soon we’ll have the new set-up at Regent’s Circus. A veritable cornucopia indeed.
So yeah, I know the town is not without its problems and faults but I’ll never forget how it felt to arrive here and find so many wonders right on my doorstep. I thought it was wonderful then and, even though the town centre is perhaps not what it once was, I still do.