As a relatively modern town, Swindon doesn’t have medieval walls or standing stones or the ancient cathedral that its neighbour in Salisbury boasts.

But it does have a proud and important industrial history, and that is reflected in the official list of protected buildings designated by Historic England.

Some are well-known and might be expected but others might surprise you....

Spectrum Building

This 1980s warehouse and distribution centre, built for the Renault car company in 1982, has a Grade II* listing. That means it’s deemed as historically important as The Mechanics’ Institute or Christ Church in Old Town.

Swindon Advertiser:

Historic England said: “This is a particularly important building of the early 1980s by Sir Norman Foster, one of Britain’s foremost contemporary architects, and embodies the key features and characteristics of the British High Tech Movement.

“It is a highly innovative industrial building using new materials, technology and design solutions, built for a forward-thinking client that demanded a fully flexible and highly prestigious building which promoted the company and reflected the advanced design and technology of its products.”

The fact that the building is largely intact today, with its original fixtures and fittings also adds to its interest, according to the heritage organisation based in Rodbourne.

The Dockle Farmhouse

It’s one of the better-known pubs in Swindon, largely because it’s a landmark on a major route in Stratton.

But there can’t be that many Wetherspoons pubs that have a Grade II listing.

Swindon Advertiser:

The popular pub dates back more than two centuries to the start of the 19th century, although its exterior looks like a modern pub.

According to the Historic England listing, the pub deserves its classification for its slave valley roof, its gable-end brick chimneys and a “central pilastered doorpiece with flat hood”. The rear of the pub dates back to the mid 1800s.

Highworth High Street

Five separate buildings in Highworth High Street have the accolade of a Grade II* listing.

Swindon Advertiser:

Numbers 2a and 3, 10, 23 and 24 all make the cut.

The 18th century buildings are listed for their historical and architectural value.

Number 24, an imposing early 19th century, red brick building is described as: “A fine town house. Called Inigo House and wrongly attributed to Sir Roger Pratt.”

Number 23 has an interesting history. It is formerly a pub and a post office it is famous for sub-postmistress Mabel Shranks who vetted secret agents heading to Coleshill House during the Second World War.

GWR Chain Testing House

Churches and stately homes like Lydiard House make up Swindon's Grade I listed buildings. But it is the town's Victorian industrial heritage that is responsible for many of those with protected status.

Swindon Advertiser:

Buildings such as the Pattern Store and the workshops in London Street and Bristol Street are listed – and even the turntable outside the Pattern Store is on the list.

One of the lesser known Great Western Railway structures on the Historic England listing is the Chain Test House on Rodbourne Road.

The building dates back to 1873 and was used for testing the heavy metalwork so necessary in the work of constructing a railway and the engines and carriages it carries.

The reasons for its Grade II* listing include: “The testing room at the south end is lit from above, the chain tester is in the floor of the corridor to the north. The testing room has largely original fittings and a very Victorian atmosphere.

"The Ransome’s chain tester of 1874 has a hydraulic pull of 130 tons and is probably the oldest such working machine in the country. There are also a later tensile tester and an Izod’s Patent tester by Avery’s. A fine collection of Victorian testing machinery in original setting and in working order, the whole now extremely rare.

"Part of the great expansion of the works in the 1870s and one of an important group of industrial buildings at the GWR works.”

The Paragon Laundry

It’s shuttered and something of a target for graffiti artists but the former Paragon laundry building on the corner of Aylesbury Street and Station Road is Grade II listed.

Swindon Advertiser:

It began life in the mid-to late century as a cheese factory before being converted into a steam laundry in the 1890s.

It is listed because of its architectural and historical interest.

Historic England says: “It is a rare and early survival of a 19th century cheese factory, and later industrial scale steam laundry, displaying good quality architectural detailing and external decoration.

“It illustrates the early development of the food processing industry following the introduction of refrigeration techniques and the expansion of the railways, with its later use as a large, industrial scale steam laundry adding to its special interest.

“Despite the loss of the rear part of the building in the 1960s, the main rooms survive and continue to illustrate the industrial processes that took place here.”

The experts also think it adds value to its surroundings near the station as it was a part of the expansion of the new town in the 1870s: “Standing in a prominent position opposite the Railway Station, it forms an important group with the Grade II listed former Great Western Hotel.”

The Hilton hotel chain has recently been given permission to use the building as the basis for a 112-bedroom hotel.

It is possible to change, renovate, restore or update listed buildings, but a separate permission must be obtained along with normal planning consent.