YOUNGSTERS from schools across Swindon visited the Outlet Village yesterday to find out more about the historical significance of the Long Shop.
The shopping centre is expanding into the Grade II listed former railway building as part of a £35m investment to relaunch the centre as a key retail destination in the South West.
As well as taking part in a tour, the children were also encouraged to enter a poetry competition organised by the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet.
A spokesman for the outlet, said: “One in ten families in Swindon have an ancestor who was involved with the railway works, which is part of the reason why we wanted the children to come in and have a look around and find out more about our history.
“McArthurGlen were keen to take on the restoration project to help preserve the building as well as provide a fantastic backdrop to a new shopping experience.”
Among the schools visiting the site was St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.
Rachel Weaver, a class teacher at the school, said: “It has been a fantastic opportunity for the children to visit the Long Shop and to experience some history of Swindon.
“We have been learning about the foundry in class and invited Mr Wheeler, a former GWR worker, to talk to us about what it was actually like 70 years ago.
“Today has brought everything to life and we are now looking forward to going back to school to write some poetry based on what we have learned about the Long Shop and how our great grandparents used to live 100 years ago.
“We are looking forward to seeing the transformation and I’m sure the children will remember this day for a very long time.”
Caelam Hammerton, 11, from Sparcells, and 10-year-old Jack Long, from Stratton, were two of the Year 6 students from St Mary’s taking part in the tour.
Jack said: “It was really nice to be able to look at the Long Shop and learn more about the foundry because we want to find out more about the history of the town.
“It’s also been really good inspiration for our entries into the poetry competition.
“I think it’s really important to make sure we use buildings like this and protect them, because otherwise they disappear forever.
“Wood can be burned away into nothing and so will these buildings over time if we don’t look after them.”