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Guide to Penhill
BACK in 1843, Penhill was one of the sites that supplied water to Arkells Brewery when it was established. The site of the well head was in Inglesham Road, Penhill.
Between 1952 and 1955, Penhill was built and it seems the meadows had a lucky escape since a plan shows that Penhill was originally intended to be built across the Nature Reserve and playing fields, ending at the Bridle Track, rather than upon the hill.
Here, Swindon resident Kenneth L Bryan reminisces about Penhill:
After the Second World War, Swindon started expanding and became one of the "London Overflow Towns" that took all the excess people. Swindon started building several new estates: Walcot, Park North, Park South, Covingham etc.
Penhill was built to the North East of the town and the boundary was extended from Whitworth Road northwards for about 1/4 mile. Cricklade Road continued for about another mile until it reached Penhill Farm. The farmhouse was on the right-hand side of the road whilst the farm buildings were on the left. Whilst the farmhouse was not touched, all the farm buildings were demolished. This incidentally is where the two blocks of multi-storey flats are now. It was originally intended that the Southern entrance to Penhill was to be via Crossways Avenue and Inglesham Road to join with Penhill Drive but then there would have been too much traffic to cope with it, and so it was decided to build another entrance off Cricklade Road opposite Merton Avenue.
The big trouble now was that no sites had been planned for the houses to be built with the consequential loss of house numbers. To try to make it easier for postmen and delivery boys, new houses that were built afterwards between number 131 and Durnford Road had an "A" added to make it easier. This happened until the houses reached Cricklade Road and at the same time the road between Inglesham Road and Crossways Avenue was closed and became a cul-de-sac.
The next trouble started when it was realised that the houses did not have spaces allocated for garages and so, as more people had bought cars, spaces had to made for off-road parking. Several spare plots of ground were found and some were quite a distance from the houses that were allocated them.
When it was decided to run a bus service to Penhill a temporary entrance was built via Marston Avenue and round in a circle and back out the way that they had entered. It had been decided originally that Penhill Drive should be the main road round the estate which measured 1 and 1/4 miles in length.
A public house was built on Penhill Drive named The Deers Leap which was the trademark of the brewers. Opposite the pub was a block of shops that, at that at the time, seemed ample.
There are two schools in Penhill, the Infants in Inglesham Road and the Penhill Primary in Alton Close. The original senior school has now gone and has been renamed St Luke's.
Headlands School has also been renamed The Acadamy. At the same time, all 3 Pinehurst Schools are being closed down, rebuilt, and becoming part of The Academy.
Meanwhile, a new estate is being built to the North and adjoining Penhill called Abbey Meads which is to be larger than Penhill.
David Lock contacted us to say he lived in Somerford Close, Penhill, between 1957 and 1974. He said: "Both of my children went to Sevenfields Junior School. I was chairman of the Parent/Teachers association at the time. "The association was thriving and very active which included an annual fete on the first Saturday of every June. Money was raised and with the support of a local authority grant for the school to build its own swimming pool. The alternative was to transport children by bus to the swimming baths in Faringdon Road. "The Committee was very pleased at the end of the school year after the pool was built when the headmaster announced that every child leaving that year had been taught at the school and was able to swim."
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