A Commercial Rd Photo Essay
There’s no denying that something bad ails the high street. Not only in Swindon but in general. From January 2021, this Guardian article, Retail is at death’s door – and tinkering with business rates won’t save it, tackles at least part of the problem. The pandemic hasn’t helped of course, but problems have been apparent for a while.

‘Around 25,000 people are likely to lose their jobs as a result of the failure of Arcadia and Debenhams. And while online groups are expanding – Boohoo is opening a warehouse in Wellingborough with 1,000 jobs – the online model requires far fewer employees than do sprawling department stores.’

And, as the article points out, all these closed stores leave physical scars too. For sure Swindon has scars right up its thorax. What with Debenhams gone along with Morrisons and most of the restaurants in the Regent Circus development. It’s a worry.

It’s a not such a new thing though

The high street is dead – long live the high street.

This blog from Just Clear states that the problem isn’t new and has been a prevalent issue for some years. Further, that this past year has simply pressed fast forward on a tape already running. They go onto say: ‘We are not seeing the death of the Highstreet. We’re seeing a change in the high street with shops looking to downsize, become more boutique and focus on the experience of the visitor.

Green shoots in Swindon

As I said earlier, Swindon isn’t without problems. But an interesting thing is happening on Commercial Road in the town. Once, as the name implies, the street was the location for solicitors, insurance and numerous job agencies. And indeed some of that still exists. But now, it’s reinventing itself as a world food – as Asda irritatingly insists on grouping particular food stuffs – shopping centre.

A Commercial Rd Photo Essay - Da Paolo Italian deli in Swindon

The lovely DaPaolo Italian delicatessen at the bottom end, by near the Rolleston and the Prospect charity shops, has been there for some time now. And often frequented by yours truly. But now there’s a whole range of most everything imaginable up and down the street. Now this is interesting – of tradition Manchester Road and the Broadgreen area was the place to go for this sort of thing. I’ve not been to that part of town for ages. #obvs But I daresay this is an addition rather than a supplanting. All of which is as you’d expect in such a multi-cultural and diverse town.

And here, thanks to my chum Chris Eley, here’s a photographic tour of them all. I may not necessarily have got them in the right order – but you get the idea.

And on a related topic:

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