explore the stories our young people uncovered through interviews and archive research
‘Swindon’s Story’ is one of hard working, ambitious people coming from all parts of the UK to create a world class industry. What makes this story even more special is how they used the same ingenuity and drive applied in the their work to create a totally new town and to address its social and cultural needs. They worked together to create amazing institutions and organisations for the benefit and betterment of the people of this new town – and made it a success.
Click on the timeline below to find out about the individual stories that make up ‘Swindon’s Story’…
'New Swindon' Begins
The development of New Swindon begins with a repair shop for the engines. This grew to become the biggest factory in Europe.
The Railway Village was built from 1842. The first houses on Bristol Street were occuied by workers from the North East.
Swindon’s railway workers created the Mechanics’ Institution as an organisation in 1843. The building was built in 1854, once they’d raised the funds.
In 1844, land to the west of the new Railway Village, between Faringdon Road and St Mark’s Church, was purchased by the GWR from a local landowner for use as a recreation ground.
medical fund society
The workers clubbed together to create a sick fund in 1847, paid for out of their wages. This later inspired and was handed over to the NHS.
The first Trip was organised by the Mechanics’ Institution to Oxford in 1849. This became an annual event transporting thousands of Swindonians to all over the South West.
The Children's Fete
Originally called the ‘Juvenile Fete’, 1,500 people attended the first year in 1866. This also became an annual fixture, described as ‘The event of the season’. The busiest year on record was 38,000 in 1904.
In 1871 an accident hospital was opened in Faringdon Road. This is now Central Community Centre.
Milton Road Baths
In 1891 the Milton Road Baths were built, including large and small swimming pools, turkish baths and a range of medical services. This is now called the Health Hydro.
In 1893, the Mechanics’ was extended and the Market Hall replaced by a new southern wing, housing a beautiful Reading Room.
In 1893, the Cricket Pavillion was built at the County Ground, as sporting culture developed in Swindon.
In 1900, ‘New Swindon’ and the old settlement joined to become one town – ‘Swindon’. The Town Hall was built and the town’s first governing Council was formed.