This entry in the blog’s Swindon in 50 More Buildings series features Radnor Street Chapel – and a little about the cemetery. Well – the two intertwine don’t they? #Obvs
Built in 1881, the non-denominational, used for funerals only, Radnor Street Chapel was the design work of popular local architect, W.H. Read. He also designed the long-gone Baptist Tabernacle, the Victoria hospital and the alms houses at Christchurch. Those amongst others. Meanwhile, Messrs Phillips and Powell and George Wiltshire provided the building work in the Gothic revivalist style.
The site does in fact have three buildings. There’s the chapel itself, the caretaker’s lodge at the Radnor Street entrance and a mortuary building.
In recent years, with much thanks to the efforts of the late historian Mark Sutton, the chapel has become a sort of treasure trove of artefacts. Memorials and plaques that no longer have a home elsewhere. Prime examples being the RAFA propellor (see below) and the war memorial from Sanford Street School.
It’s fitting then that Mark, who established a Remembrance Day service at the chapel before he died, is to get a plaque in his memory. It’ll be installed during this year’s service.
Laid out in 1881, the cemetery was a response to a lack of burial space and a proposed closure of the graveyard at St Mark’s church in the railway village – the first of the so-called railway churches. Within 100 yrs this too was full and closed to new burials.
Swindon is fortunate that a small group of nameless volunteers – as in they’ve not formed themselves into an organisation – are active in the eleven and half-acre cemetery site. Included in their number are Frances Bevan, Graham Carter and Andy Binks of the Swindon Society.
Between them they:
- Conduct guided cemetery walks
- Find graves for people engaged in family research …
- … and care for the 104 Commonwealth war graves plus family memorials with military inscriptions.
There are 33,000 burials in the cemetery, including 104 Commonwealth war graves. Though it’s closed to new burials there are still burials in family graves where there’s room. It’s also an LNR – local nature reserve.
Find the group on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/radnorstreetcemetery
The RAFA propeller
Frances Bevan has put together a splendid blog entitled The Airspeed Oxford propeller unveiled. Never one to reinvent the wheel, I’ll share an extract below and suggested you read the rest by following the link you see here.
‘Following the closure of the RAFA Club in Belle Vue Road the propeller mounted on the front of the building faced an uncertain future. Then a group of concerned Swindonians, among them Carole and David Bent, Neil Robinson, Toby Robson and Graham Carter, stepped in to rescue it.’
At Sunday’s event Air Commodore Keeling cut the ribbon. He then led the assembled visitors into the chapel to view the propeller, now mounted above the door. Cemetery volunteer Kevin, a member of the Eyes On Hands On team, gave an informative talk about the history of the Airspeed Oxford to a packed chapel.’
Related – see: