Churchward House, now housing offices, is named for George Jackson Churchward CBE ( 1857-1933). He served as the GWR’s mechanical engineer from 1902-1922.
This imposing Grade II listed stone building sits adjacent to the Outlet Centre and isn’t far from Swindon’s railway station.
Listed in 1984, the entry on the Historic England website describes the building as squared rubble with brick and ashlar dressings. The original part of the building served as the manager’s office in 1846. Sir Daniel Gooch was most likely the designer and builder of Churchward House.
Sturrock, Minard C Rea, Armstrong and Dean as well as Churchward would also have used the building when they served as Works’ manager.
The building’s architectural interest stems from it being part of the original GWR Works designed by Brunel and Gooch. It opened in 1843 and saw extension in 1855-6. The great expansion of the 1870’s saw the building altered and extended.
The 1846 expansion of the Works produced a new iron store with two rooms to serve as offices for Archibald Sturrock, the first Work’s manager. His first office had been a cubicle under the stairs in the office suite on the yard’s east side. 1849 saw enlargement of the iron stores and the addition of two more rooms for Sturrock and his staff.
Further building work in the 1890s saw the building of a new iron store with rail access in the north yard. This allowed for the conversion of the existing iron stores into offices. The 1889 expansion provided the new offices with a central atrium and a fine staircase, still in situ today. cast iron columns with acanthus leaf capitals cast in the Works iron Foundry support the top floor. This spacious office block has since provided accommodation for successive locomotive Works managers, their assistants and staff who’ve been responsible for the locomotive factory accounts, time keeping, piecework, pay bills and stores invoices.
The Swindon Works closed in 1986. Since then there’s been much demolishing of buildings. But, along with the original core of workshops, the manager’s office block, Churchward House, had extensive refurbishment that retained its original architectural features.
Immediately to the east of Churchward House you’ll see a traversing table – the only one left on the site. I do in fact mention this in my Born Again Swindonian’s guide book as part of the GWR heritage trail wot I wrote.
A brief mention of Churchward’s tomb at Christ Church in Old Town. The Historic England list entry describes it just so:
A polished, black marble headstone and kerb with a bronze plate. The inscription reads: ‘In memory of George Jackson Churchward CBE, JP, Chief Mechanical Engineer, Great Western Railway Company 1902-1921. First mayor and first Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Swindon died 19 December 1933, aged 76 years.
The list includes the tomb for its historic interest.
It’s location: CRICKLADE STREET. SU 1583. NE SWINDON (east side) 8/61 Churchward tomb, 60m east-north-east in churchyard of east chancel wall.