4:10pm Tuesday 5th May 2009
By Frances Bevan
The Town Development Act of 1952 set Swindon on an expansion that continues today and this 1950s photograph takes a bird’s eye view of the two Parks estates under construction.
With plans for Penhill taking shape, the Corporation soon turned its attention to developing the east of the town where it had bought more than 1,000 acres of farmland, mostly belonging to the Goddard estate.
In all seven farms – Upper and Lower Walcot, Park, Church, Manor, Coate and Prince’s were swallowed up.
As Penhill neared completion in 1955 work began on the two Park estates.
To the top of the photograph the distinctive loop of Welcombe Avenue (1) in Park North can be seen while Cranmore Avenue (2) in Park South is more densely built along. Roads built in 1957, such as Caxton Close, Farnborough Road and Knolton Walk were named after engines in the GWR “Hall” class.
The second phase of building had roads named after British villages and towns such as Amersham Road after the Buckingham town.
If you were one of the first new residents at Parks we’d like to hear from you. Write to aerial memories at the Swindon Advertiser, 100 Victoria Road, Swindon, SN1 3BE or email us on email@example.com.
The houses went up at a cracking pace. Official records reveal that between 1961-2 the corporation built nearly 1,200 houses with a further 738 built by private enterprise, but amenities for the new residents were somewhat lagging behind.
The Civic News, the local authority’s official news sheet, reported in the May 1962 edition that Park Shopping Centre was making rapid progress with the first shops due to open sometime in the summer.
In July of the same year it was announced that Frederick Gibberd, the designer of the iconic Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool and the less than beautiful Didcot Power Station, had been asked to prepare designs for the second stage of the Park Neighbourhood Centre.
This would add ten more shops to the complex, maisonettes and a large block of flats. Cavendish Square, named after a picturesque village in Suffolk, would be built on green fields bearing the shadow of ridge and furrow, the marks of medieval open field farming methods (3) with Park schools opposite.
Sadly the 1980s saw the beleaguered area blighted by vandalism and in need of modernisation. Despite a revamp at the end of the decade, a more vigorous makeover was deemed necessary. Major demolition work has since taken place
1. To the top of the photograph is the distinctive loop of Welcombe Avenue, in Park North
2. Cranmore Avenue, in Park South is more densely built on
3. Cavendish Square, named after a Suffolk village would be built on green fields bearing the shadow of ridge and furrow, the marks of medieval open field farming methods.
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