This week’s photograph of Swindon 50 years ago is dominated by the former GWR works.
Visiting Swindon Junction in 1840, Brunel, pictured, and his superintendent of locomotives, Daniel Gooch, decided this would be an ideal place to establish a repair and maintenance depot. The works opened in January 1843 with 423 men on the books.
It is difficult to believe that at the time this aerial photograph was taken in the 1950s, the railway industry was officially in decline.
Today the Churchward estate occupies what was once the site of ‘A’ Shop (1), completed in 1920 and reputedly one of the largest covered workshops in the world. These were the heady days of the GWR when more than 14,000 worked ‘inside’ and the vast railway factory complex occupied over 320 acres.
Redcliffe Street (2) was built in 1891 to house the ever increasing workforce. Mark Sutton, author of Tell Them Of Us, Remembering Swindon’s Sons In The Great War, was born in Redcliffe Street and Betty and Tom Wheeler lived at number 142 for 55 years. If you have memories of Rodbourne during the 1950s we’d like to hear from you.
Newburn Crescent (3) built in 1936 takes its name from Newburn House, home to successive GWR Locomotive Superintendents and built in 1873 for Joseph Armstrong.
Buildings preserved along Rodbourne Road include the former ‘V’, ‘P’ and ‘O’ Shops (4) which reopened in 1997 as the Designer Outlet Village. Archers Brewery occupies the old Weighbridge House (5) and in 2007 the restaurant chain, Bottelino’s, opened in the former Pattern Store (6).
1 ‘A’ shop, which was completed in 1920. The Churchward estate now stands on this site 2 Redcliffe Street, originally built to house railway workers 3 Newburn Crescent, named after Newburn House, home to GWR Locomotive Superintendents 4 ‘V’, ‘P’ and ‘O’ shops – this site is now occupied by the Designer Outlet Village shopping centre 5 The old Weighbridge House, which is now Archer’s Brewery The Pattern Store – now an Italian restaurant