History buffs, or lovers of Swindon can get a glimpse into some unknown gems, or see familiar sites with new eyes as they open their doors for Heritage Open days.

The week in September sees venues across the town open up parts of their buildings that are not normally seen, or add tours and talks to their normal attractions.

Naturally, the town’s industrial heritage as a major centre of railway production features highly

Here’s six in Swindon, and one nearby we think might be of particular interest.

Carriage Works, Swindon

Swindon Advertiser: The GWR Carriage WorksThe GWR Carriage Works

Built 1876 as part of Brunel’s Great Western Works, once the largest carriage works in the country, standing at the forefront of Victorian innovation. Carriage Works is transforming Brunel's legacy into a place where heritage meets digital & creative

A self-guided tour of the Workshed at the Carriage Works. Including information about the history of the site and its place as part of the Great Western Works and also the current businesses based at Swindon Borough Council’s renovation of the building as a workspace for digital start-ups.

Coleshill Victorian Farm

Visitors will have access to the Victorian model farm and discover how this site is being brought back to a productive life as a heritage skills Centre. There will be talks and walks and demonstrations of building and heritage skills.

Built as an exemplar farm to demonstrate the most modern farming methods of the high farming period in the 1850s, it is a unique site, built on a hill to harness gravity when moving food and manure around the site. Visitors will be able to meet experts, take part in guided walks of the buildings, and visit the foaling house and working watermill.

Cultural Heritage Institute, Royal Agricultural University

Swindon Advertiser: The Royal Agricultural University Cultural Heritage InstituteThe Royal Agricultural University Cultural Heritage Institute (Image: Aled Thomas Newsquest)

The new Cultural Heritage Institute of the Royal Agricultural University is located in the former GWR carriage works. Visitors are encouraged to look around the conversion and see how the heritage of the building has been retained within a modern education development. There will be displays about the history of the carriage works together with demonstrations of some of the research work currently being undertaken.


Prospect Place Conservation Area

Swindon Advertiser:

The Prospect Place Conservation Area was developed to provide housing, schools, shops, and churches for people working for the Great Western Railway during the 19th Century. The area has a rich history of non-conformism, artisan trading and small scale manufacturing reflected in the numerous architectural styles of the buildings. The local trust offers two guided tours of the area that range from academic discourse to anecdotal stories of local people.

Lower Stratton Conservation Area

Swindon Advertiser: Unveiling a blue plaque to Canadian spitfire pilot Norman BarbeauUnveiling a blue plaque to Canadian spitfire pilot Norman Barbeau

A guided walk of the Lower Stratton Conservation Area led by Nigel Chalk and Clive Carter.

The walk will highlight the history of the local area including Roman history by crossing Ermin Street built nearly 2,000 years ago and more recent military history such as the Spitfire crash in 1941 which killed a young Canadian pilot and which is now marked by the first blue plaque in the local area. The walk will be led by local historian Nigel Chalk.

Pattern Church

Swindon Advertiser:

Renovated by the Diocese of Bristol, the 1897 GWR Pattern Store is now home to Pattern Church. See how the historic fabric has been restored and given a new lease of life.

Tours of the building will include the upper floors not opened to the public since the railway works closed in the 1980s.

Venues are open at differing times and days during the week of September 9-18. For all venues in Swindon taking part visit https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/search and put Swindon in the search box.