‘Swindon has a rich history, especially when you consider how instrumental the town was in the railways. But even if we forget the significance of GWR in Swindon’s history there are still a huge amount of places of historical significance to visit.
If you’ve been living in Swindon all your life, or if you’re just here to visit, there are lots of must-visit destinations in our town. We’ve outlined a few of them below, but we’re only just scratching the surface!’
And indeed they are but it’s a good start to such a list for sure. Nice one Total Swindon!
Transport company’s drive to raise charity funds arrives at fun day
Akcess fun day August 19th at Coate Water
Akcess Medical NEPTS transport
They say you wait for one bus then three come along – well that’s just what’s going to happen when the team at Swindon-based transport company Akcess lay on a bumper fundraising fun day.
As part of the festivities at the event, which takes place at Coate Water on August 19, visitors will be asked to guess the combined weight of three vehicles. The vehicles are from Akcess CIC, a not-for-profit community transport company, and its sister company Akcess Medical, which operates hospital transport.
As well as guess-the-weight, there will be everything from fun fair rides to tombolas and sweet stalls, displays, and old-fashioned races like egg-and-spoon. There will also be a raffle, with local business people generously donating prizes ranging from Swindon Town tickets and swimming lessons, to chocolates and Bluetooth speakers.
Organising the fun day is Akcess Medical’s crew manager, Tracey Mason.
“Originally, we were going to run a fun day for staff, as we employ about 200 people across the businesses, but then we decided to open it up to everybody who wants to come along and to help charity at the same time,” she said.
“We picked Uplands as we provide transport for a lot of the children to get to and from school, and for school trips, and they are really wonderful. Wiltshire Air Ambulance fits with Akcess Medical, although our ambulances are firmly on the ground!”
Tracey is still looking for people who want to run stalls or displays at the fun day. To get in touch or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01793 855550.
So. My first book, Secret Swindon, had a gorgeous launch event at Swindon central library on the 28th July. I’ve been meaning to post about it since then but stuff got in the way. Namely some security stuff being done on the blog which was affecting access. So I figured I’d hold on until that was done. And now the lovely Linda Kasmaty has beaten me to it with her super blog on Gardens, Galleries and Walking Around. So I reckon I might as well share that, a few photos and one or two rather lovely reviews and job done.
First up is Linda’s lovely blog post here. She has thoughtfully included a photo of me having a sip of wine so now you’ve all got exactly the right impression of me!
Now for a few photographs:
Secret Swindon in the library shop – Secret Swindon Book Launch
Cutters made by SED developments
biscuits on baking tray
Me, Sam Whittingham and Kris Allen
Me with Mariadele Boccardi – UWE
David Bent, Chris Barry and Pradeep Bhadwari
The Swindon-building shaped biscuits were super scrummy. Baked by Sam Whittingham with cutters created by SED Developments. The cutters are on sale in the library shop in the central library. You can choose from: the Locarno, the town hall, the Mechanics’ Institution and the David Murray John Tower.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed this read, gaining knowledge of many aspects and artistic properties of Swindon I could’ve driven past and only causally pondered their history. From the wonderful mural on the side of the house near Lion Bridge, which I pass, like, but seldom aspire to seek any knowledge of its artist or background, to the thought process of the contemporary architecture which Swindon holds, with all its 1970s futurism; the Meccano-fashioned “Renault” building, or the curvaceous landmark David John Murray tower. All of these popular sites of Swindon are featured and detailed, with fascinating facts you never thought to ask about. And yeah, the Magic Roundabout is covered too!’
Prime Theatre wins major support for new Swindon history play called This is our town.
Prime Theatre has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £27,000 for an exciting new performance project based on Swindon’s people & places at the turn of the century.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project ‘This is Our Town’ will allow young actors & writers to partner the town’s heritage organisations & create live & digital performances & exhibition.
’This Is Our Town’, brings to life figures & events from between 1903 & 1913. After this first production, new young writers & historians will be able to join another creative project with digital stories & an exhibition in the autumn.
Celebrating the award, Prime’s Associate Director Emma Barr said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for Prime Youth Theatre and any actors, producers, writers, researchers, technicians and directors between the ages of 10-17 to develop skills alongside professionals while learning more about local heritage. In our research we have come across dramatic stories and visionary people, giving us plenty of reasons to be proud of our town.’
Cast member and young writer, Jenna said: ‘I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the history of Swindon. Getting to be involved with both the writing and the performing has been so interesting and so much fun!’
Prime Theatre will support up to 150 young participants from across Swindon to get involved with heritage professionals from Swindon Local Studies archives, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, STEAM Museum, Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre & Swindon Heritage.
The show features William Morris, editor of the town’s newspaper, then called the “Swindon Advertiser and Wiltshire, Berkshire and Gloucestershire Chronicle”. Other glimpses of history include suffragette Edith New, James ‘Raggy’ Powell the Swindon Councillor and philanthropist and events such as the tram crash of 1906.
Daryll Moody from Swindon Local Studies said: ‘We are proud to be involved in this fantastic project, which will allow Swindonians to step back in time and glimpse life in ‘our town’ a century ago. We always welcome the opportunity to share the treasures of the Local Studies collection with the widest possible audience.’
‘This is Our Town’ will be performed at STEAM museum on Thursday 26 to Saturday 28 July at 7pm with a matinee on Saturday at 2pm. Tickets at £7 are available through the Wyvern ticket office on 01793 524481 and www.swindontheatres.co.uk
‘Continuing our occasional series, “Jess and Angela wander interesting parts of Swindon”, we ventured out on a sunny day to discover what the River Ray Parkway was all about.
If you live or have wandered in the south-west/south-east parts of Swindon you may have come across the odd dark green metal signpost, some of them still contain actual signage – as in the image below. This one is at the Kingshill end of the canal towpath. It reads:
Coate Water Country Park
Lydiard Country Park
Old Town Rail Path
They’re labelled,where they’re readable: River Ray Parkway.
stump of river ray parkway sign
The Parkway is a green walking and cycling route, introduced in 1991 as part of the Great Western Community Forest scheme, it ran for 8 miles from Coate Water to Moulden Hill. It was expanded from the original effort to create the Swindon Old Town Rail Path, developed with the help of Sustrans, then a small Bristol group formed to create better walking and cycling routes. Today the route is mostly maintained as National Cycle Network route 45, started by Sustrans with a National Lottery grant in 1995.
We started out at the Moulden Hill end, and wandered along the route of NCN45, looking for the first sign. The purpose built NCN signs are quite obvious in the landscape …
National Cycle Network 45 sign
National Cycle Network 45 sign
The sign shows a person and bicycle icon, with the letters “45” underneath. The direction shown reads:
Swindon Station 3
But the green Parkway signs tend to blend into the trees, it took a while to find one. After leaving the roads we walked through a long leafy corridor, spotting our first Parkway sign as we were almost at Shaw Forest Park (Shaw Tip on the River Ray Parkway map!). The route from here follows the edge of the Shaw Forest Park (pop in for a wander across the hill), past the Swindon Lagoons which have signs describing the habitat readable through the fence. Continuing south east, we catch up with a tributary of the actual River Ray, and follow it underneath the Great Western Way dual carriageway, around the giant Mannington Rec sports ground + park and into Bridgemead retail park.
River Ray Brochure (map side) Brochure copy scan courtesy of Swindon Local Studies, Swindon Library
From the map, you will notice that the River Ray Parkway follows two routes from Wootton Bassett Road to Rivermead, we followed the eastern route. The western route follows the western tributary of the River Ray, via Westlea Park and alongside Westlea Primary school, it follows the current NCN route 45, and the Western Flyer, a newer route created recently to provide a cycling-commuter route into the town centre.
We ended up this first half of the route with a cuppa at John Lewis, which is on the western part of the route. On the embedded map you can see our route, follow the green markers from the north west corner (darker green marker), clicking on the markers will show images of the signs we found. The blue markers are the signs on the western route, as found by Jess the previous week.