A YEAR-LONG project delving into Swindon’s past and looking ahead at plans for the future has been funded by the National Lottery.

Swindon Civic Voice will explore the development of the town from its origin in the mid-1880s to its mid-1970s transformation and up to the present day.

A £10,000 grant from the lottery’s community fund will pay for the project. It will use information from historic records, maps and memories to focus on how Swindon’s shops and traffic circulation have changed over the decades.

Chair of Swindon Civic Voice Angela Atkinson said: “The aim of Swindon Civic Voice is to bring information and people together to air both their concerns and their future wishes.

“We would especially like to meet and work with some of the more knowledgeable social media contributors, whose sharing of photos have been inspirational to Swindonians interested in the evolution of the town centre since 1945.

“It’s time to share and shape our town centre for the future.”

The material gathered together for this ambitious project will be displayed at an exhibition in Swindon’s Central Library in early February.

This will be followed up with a second exhibition illustrating the range of proposals floated in recent years that each aim to improve the range of housing, shopping and cultural facilities in the town centre.

Finally, the project will conclude at the end of next year with an exhibition on future proposals which are still in the pipeline.

Swindon Civic Voice hopes that this last effort will offer an opportunity for residents to give their opinions about the future character of the area.

Angela added: “This project is timely, due to the range of recent proposals, including the current Local Plan development which looks ahead to 2036.

“We intend to work closely with Swindon Borough Council planners to understand their approach to the issues of our town centre.

“Our attention to the town centre will dovetail with the Heritage Action Zone project on the GWR Railway Village Conservation Area.

“We’ll use our social media platforms and our website to share the learning gained from this project.

“It’s our aim and hope to engage residents in shaping the future of their town, with further discussions based upon the knowledge pulled together throughout the exhibition process.”

Full details of how to contribute to the project or become a member of Swindon Civic Voice will be available on Swindon Civic Voice’s Facebook page, facebook.com/swindoncivicvoice, and website swindoncivicvoice.org.uk