Heritage lovers can discover the hidden corners of Swindon’s Railway Village this weekend with Swindon Civic Voice.

But they’ll be walking through a historic landscape that almost didn’t make it through the 1960s.

The cottages and pubs were built in the 19th century to house the workers at Great Western Railway’s engineering works.

But by the 1960s there were plans to raze the area to the ground. And it was only saved following a campaign by famous poet and architecture buff Sir John Betjeman.

The village was declared a conservation area in 1975. And this weekend, more than 40 years on, buildings across the village will open their doors as part of celebrations organised by Swindon Civic Voice.

Martha Parry, chair of Swindon Civic Voice, said: “People can see parts of these buildings that aren’t normally open.”

They include hidden corners of the Health Hydro baths and the upstairs flat of historic Bakers Arms – closed for several years and soon to be renovated.

People can also join tours of the Railway Village museum. It is only the second time the time portal-like cottage has been open this year.

“Nowhere else has the kind of heritage that we have,” Martha said. “There’s nothing like it in the whole country.”

Daniel Rose, director of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust, agrees: “It tells a really important local part of the Swindon story, but it’s also a nationally important example of a planned model village.

Daniel, who will be leading tours of the area at 11am and 3pm, added: “Lots of people have many connections to the area, whether they had family who worked on the railway or they lived there.

“The Railway Village has played an important part in Swindon’s story.”

In total four properties will be open as part of the celebrations. The event is one of dozens arranged across the country by Civic Voice to mark the 50th anniversary of conservation areas.

Swindon boasts 28 conservation areas, designed to protect the character of historic and architecturally important areas.

The celebrations take place on Saturday, June 17, from 11am-4pm. For more, visit: www.facebook.com/swindoncivicvoice