Friday 14th November 2014
I wrote a post about Swindon’s Outlet centre around this last year – just as it had been announced that the longshop was to be converted into further retail space. Since then there has been much drilling, hammering, crashing and banging to bring about this transformation. Though not completely finished, it opened to the shopping hordes a few days ago so I figured it was time to pop in and have a nose around and get a few photographs.
I have to say I’ve always liked the Outlet Centre for all the reasons I talked about in the first post I published about it.
Because it’s not a purpose-built pastiche but a fabulous re-working of a unique piece of railway history. Together with the new UTC the outlet centre is a good example of how old and defunct buildings can be spectacularly regenerated. As it says on the McArthur Glen website, this is a strategic and historic location:
“In 1835 Parliament approved the construction of a railway between London and Bristol – the Great Western Railway. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the Chief Engineer of the project and works became operational on 2 January 1843. This turned Swindon from a Market Town into a railway town boosting the population and becoming the main employer in the area. In 1997 the building was transformed into a regional shopping destination.”
But now, with the latest addition, I like it even more. There’s all sorts of different seating areas dotted around and long benches with power outlets and USB ports should the need or fancy take you. The food court has had an overhaul though of course the train is still there – as is only fitting. Additionally Giraffe is on its way – the eating chain not the long-necked animal and yet more retail choice. So now there’s even more reasons to visit Swindon’s outlet centre – for me personally it’s the much improved Marks and Spencer’s Outlet. That’s now much bigger and airier and a lot less squashed than it was. Even better it now has Autograph and Limited Collection – though to be honest that one is a bit…well….limited.