WHEN Princess Margaret Hospital's demolition began on February 4, 2004, it was a day mixed with sadness and expectation.

For more than 40 years, the hospital had served as a backdrop to the lives and losses of Swindon's people.

That's why, at Bloor Homes, the company was determined to deliver a development that lived up to the hospital's legacy and exceeded everyone's expectations.

Now that vision is coming to fruition at Angel Ridge, with a selection of attractive properties in a beautiful, natural setting. From the carefully designed streets, to the forthcoming landscaped sunken garden at its centre, Angel Ridge is becoming something special.

What's more, trees, hedgerows and wide open spaces throughout complement the homes' traditional stylings to create a calming environment.

John Lusty, regional managing director, Bloor Homes South West.


THE foundation stone for the Princess Margaret Hospital was laid by the princess in May 1957, but it was 1966 before she returned to declare the main part of the building open.

Cheering Swindonians lined the route from the hospital when she left after a four-hour visit. PMH was the first new hospital to be built in Britain after the Second World War.

Designed by Sir Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya, the glass and concrete structure of the hospital echoed the style of high-density housing developments for which the two architects became well known.

Neither lived to see the demolition of the hospital, whose 524-bed capacity was sometimes regarded as inadequate, particularly during flu outbreaks in winter.

The fabric of the building deteriorated to the extent that £50 million of repairs would have been necessary. This was deemed too expensive and so the hospital closed in 2002 - the year that also saw the death of the princess after whom it was named.

The land was sold to developers Bloor Homes.

Swindonian Ernie Austin won the competition to choose a name for the new housing development there, which is called Angel Ridge.

HERE are just some of the events that occurred at Princess Margaret Hospital over the years, as reported by the Swindon Advertiser...

  • January 1960:

The first stage of the new hospital opened, comprising X-ray and pathology departments, half the operating theatres, a temporary 59-bed ward, and casualty, outpatients and physiotherapy wards. The total cost was £670,623.

  • October 1960:

The second stage, due to cost £2.75m, started.

  • August 1965:

The main ward block and the nurses' training and accommodation units opened (almost two years behind schedule).

  • April 1966

PMH was officially opened by Princess Margaret, who arrived by helicopter.

  • February 1972

The new accident and emergency department opened. The £1m extension to the hospital was designed to be able to cope with accidents along a long stretch of the recently opened M4.

  • December 1980

A flu epidemic forced the closure of wards at the PMH. It affected staff, and only six of the 20 beds in the Schofield Ward were in use. The ward was forced to shut on Christmas Eve after 70 nurses fell ill.

  • February 1987

Insurance giant Allied Dunbar and Southern Arts stumped up £1,000 to buy the metal cow sculpture permanently for the hospital. The animal had been loaned to PMH by its creator, artist Tom Gleeson.

  • January 1995

For the first time in its history PMH cancelled all scheduled operations because of a lack of beds. The closure was owing to a record number of emergency admissions - about 100 extra a week - including heart attacks, pneumonia and asthma.

  • August 1997

Staff at the hospital appealed for help to look after their pond - and its 120 fish. Built outside the outpatients' department, the pond was home to a number of carp, but urgently needed maintaining.

  • December 2002 Princess Margaret Hospital closed at 7am on December 3 - and the new Great Western Hospital opened, a minute later. Costing £132m, the Great Western covered 55,000 square feet over six floors, had 460 beds, 516 toilets and 1,222 wash basins. The £32m Brunel NHS Treatment Centre was added later, and was opened by the Princess Royal on February 28, 2006.
  • Royal patient

One Saturday night in March 1986, visitors to PMH got a right royal smile from a prince with his arm in a sling. Prince Charles was rushed to the hospital after he broke and badly gashed a finger at his home, Highgrove House, near Tetbury.

  • Rock 'n' roll star

In October 1990, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, 43, broke both his legs in an accident near junction 15 of the M4. He was flung in the air and on to the outside lane after a car hit him while he tried to direct traffic around his broken-down BMW. He spent two nights on Barbury Ward.

SWINDON is a town Bloor Homes holds close to its heart. Launched in 1988, Swindon-based Bloor Homes South West belongs to one of the largest privately owned housebuilding groups in the UK.

"We started with just three members of staff," recalled John Lusty, regional managing director. "During our first year, we sold 47 homes. Today, we have a 50-strong team, and build and sell more than 300 properties a year."

We're proud to be part of town'