School demolition dismays residents

Swindon Advertiser: destruction of The Old Even Swindon Primary School, in Rodbourne Road destruction of The Old Even Swindon Primary School, in Rodbourne Road

WORK to pull down a former primary school which was gutted by a fire earlier this year is well underway – despite protests from conservationists.

The demolition of the old Even Swindon School in Hughes Street began last week but disappointed campaigners who had hoped that Swindon Council would try to save the Victorian building as an historical landmark.

Unfortunately a fire on February 16 this year tore the empty building apart, destroying one of the rooms and part of the roof.

In August Swindon Council announced plans to pull down the derelict building, which had become a local eyesore, to make way for new housing.

A council spokesman said: “The school building was deemed to be unsafe following the fire last February.

“It had become a hive of anti-social behaviour with numerous break-ins.

“We had no choice but to demolish the building and we expect the work to be completed in the next few weeks. “Following a public consultation, it was decided that the site should be used for housing and plans will be drawn up in the New Year.”

Coun Steve Wakefield (Lab, Mannington and Western) said he was sad to see the building go.

He said: “It’s sad when you see something like that from the community. “There has always been a school there since 1880 and lots of people living in Swindon are familiar with the school.

“It’s a shame because we’ve managed to save some of the old schools in Swindon but in this case it wasn’t possible.”

Swindon Civic Voice, the group which campaigned in vain to try and save the building, are disappointed that the decision was taken to pull it down.

Martha Parry, Civic Voice chairman, said the building should have been saved because it is part of the town’s heritage and is a landmark in the area. She added: “The council are launching a new heritage strategy but they are tearing this building down.”

Even Swindon Primary School moved to Pasture Close in 2007 and the site was taken over by the Primary Care health trust which closed down its operations there a year ago, leaving the building empty.

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