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Swindon town centre from Radnor Street Cemetery
Swindon is located in Wiltshire
 Swindon shown within Wiltshire
Population 185,609 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid reference
   – London  81 miles (130 km) 
Unitary authority Borough of Swindon
Ceremonial county Wiltshire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SWINDON
Postcode district SN1-6, SN25, SN26
Dialling code 01793
Police Wiltshire
Fire Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament North Swindon
South Swindon
List of places

Swindon (   ) is a large town within the Borough of Swindon and ceremonial county of Wiltshire, in South West England. It is midway between Bristol, 40 miles (64 km) to the west and Reading, 40 miles (64 km) to the east. London is 81 miles (130 km) to the east. In the 2011 census, the population of the built-up area of Swindon was 185,609.[1] The larger borough had a population of 209,000, including the small town of Highworth and the large village of Wroughton, an increase of 16.2% since 2001.[2]

Swindon was named an Expanded Town under the Town Development Act 1952 and this led to a major increase in its population.[3] Swindon railway station is on the line from London Paddington to Bristol. Swindon Borough Council, is a unitary authority independent of Wiltshire Council since 1997. Residents of Swindon are known as Swindonians. Swindon is home to the Bodleian Library's book depository, which contains 153 miles (246 km) of bookshelves.[4]


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • Railway town 1.2
    • Modern period 1.3
  • Governance 2
  • Geography 3
    • Climate 3.1
  • Demography 4
    • Polish community 4.1
  • Economy 5
  • Transport 6
  • Tourism and recreation 7
    • Events 7.1
    • Shopping 7.2
    • Green spaces 7.3
    • Other 7.4
  • Media 8
    • Print 8.1
    • Radio 8.2
    • Television 8.3
  • Education 9
    • Secondary schools 9.1
    • Further education 9.2
    • Higher education 9.3
  • Museums and cultural institutions 10
  • Sports 11
    • Football 11.1
    • Ice Hockey 11.2
    • Motor sports 11.3
  • In popular culture 12
  • See also 13
  • References 14
  • Further reading 15
  • External links 16


The Wilts and Berks Canal near Rushey Platt

Early history

The original Saxon settlement of Swindon sat in a defensible position atop a limestone hill. It is referred to in the Domesday Book as Suindune, believed to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon words "swine" and "dun" meaning "pig hill" or possibly Sweyn's hill, where Sweyn is a personal name.

Swindon was a small market town, mainly for barter trade, until roughly 1848. This original market area is on top of the hill in central Swindon, now known as Old Town.[5]

The Industrial Revolution was responsible for an acceleration of Swindon's growth. It started with the construction of the Wilts and Berks Canal in 1810 and the North Wilts Canal in 1819. The canals brought trade to the area and Swindon's population started to grow.

Railway town

Swindon Community Centre - Railway Village

Between 1841 and 1842, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Swindon Works was built for the repair and maintenance of locomotives on the Great Western Railway (GWR). The GWR built a small railway village to house some of its workers. The Steam Railway Museum and English Heritage, including the English Heritage Archive, now occupy part of the old works. In the village were the GWR Medical Fund Clinic at Park House and its hospital, both on Faringdon Road, and the 1892 health centre in Milton Road – which housed clinics, a pharmacy, laundries, baths, Turkish baths and swimming pools – was almost opposite.

From 1871, GWR workers had a small amount deducted from their weekly pay and put into a healthcare fund – its doctors could prescribe them or their family members free medicines or send them for medical treatment. In 1878 the fund began providing artificial limbs made by craftsmen from the carriage and wagon works, and nine years later opened its first dental surgery. In his first few months in post the dentist extracted more than 2000 teeth. From the opening in 1892 of the Health Centre, a doctor could also prescribe a haircut or even a bath. The cradle-to-grave extent of this service was later used as a blueprint for the NHS.[6]

The Mechanics' Institute, formed in 1844, moved into a building looking rather like a church and included a covered market, on 1 May 1855. The New Swindon Improvement Company, a

  • Swindon travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Borough Council website
  • Visit Swindon Official tourism website
  • Swindon at DMOZ

External links

  • Swindon, Mark Child, Breedon Books, 2002, hardcover, 159 pages, ISBN 1-85983-322-5
  • Francis Frith's Swindon Living Memories (Photographic Memories S.), Francis Frith and Brian Bridgeman, The Frith Book Company Ltd, 2003, Paperback, 96 pages, ISBN 1-85937-656-8

Further reading

  1. ^ a b "2011 Census – Built-up areas".  
  2. ^ "2011 Census summary p15 Accessed 16 July 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Great Britain Historical GIS Project. "Swindon: Total Population". A Vision of Britain through time. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  4. ^ "Vast bookstore opens as famed library runs out of space". BBC News. 6 October 2010. 
  5. ^ a b John Chandler, Swindon Decoded, The Hobnob Press 2005, ISBN 0-946418-37-3.
  6. ^ ‘’Background’’ – The Mechanics Institution Trust, Swindon. Retrieved on 23 July 2007. Reference updated 12 December 2013
  7. ^ – The Mechanics Institution Trust, Swindon1850-1870. Retrieved on 23 July 2007. Reference updated 12 December 2013
  8. ^ – The Mechanics Institution Trust, SwindonBackground. Retrieved on 23 July 2007. Reference updated 12 December 2013
  9. ^ — 1996 lecture by Swindon labour movement historian Trevor CockbillThis is Our Heritage. Retrieved on 23 July 2007. Reference updated 12 December 2013
  10. ^ – The Mechanics Institution Trust, SwindonBackground. Retrieved 23 July 2007. Reference updated 12 December 2013 Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ — the Swindon, Marlborough & Andover RailwaySwindon's Other Railway. Retrieved on 23 July 2007.
  12. ^ , Railspot ReloadedThe Midland & South Western Junction Railway.Retrieved on 23 July 2007.
  13. ^ picture galleryGWR Museum. Retrieved on 23 July 2007
  14. ^ Leonard Clark, Alfred Williams – His Life and Work, David and Charles 1969
  15. ^ Alfred Williams, Life in a railway factory, first published 1915, 2007 edition published by Sutton Publishing ISBN 978-0-7509-4660-5
  16. ^ Evening Star — Steam Locomotive, BBC, 29 November 2006. Retrieved on 21 July 2007.
  17. ^ "SwindonWeb – Brunel Tower David Murray John". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  18. ^ The 20 best places to buy a property in Britain, The Times, Property pages, February 2008
  19. ^ More councils expected to ban speed cameras, The Times, October 2008.
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ Weaver, Matthew (23 October 2008). "More councils expected to ban speed cameras". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  22. ^ New Swindon.
  23. ^ Scott D'Arcy. "The curtain falls on town Big Arts Day". Swindon Advertiser. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  24. ^ "The Wiltshire (Borough of Thamesdown)(Structural Change) Order 1995". 11 August 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  25. ^ BBC News – Election 2011" (BBC News)accessed 6 May 2011""". 10 May 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  26. ^ a b c d Crittall, Elizabeth; Rogers, Kenneth & Shrimpton, Colin (1983). "Geology". A history of Swindon to 1965. Wiltshire Library & Museum Service.  
  27. ^ "1990 August maximum". Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  28. ^ "1971-00 Annual average warmest day". Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  29. ^ "1971-00 >25c days". Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  30. ^ "1982 minimum". Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  31. ^ "Climate Normals 1971–2000". MetOffice. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  32. ^ "Climate Normals 1971–2000". KNMI. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  33. ^ "Swindon UA". Census 2001. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  34. ^ "Vision proposes 35,000 new homes". BBC News. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  35. ^ "2011 Census". 27 March 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  36. ^ Swindon and Milton Keynes top the UK broadband league – Computer Weekly, London, 23 May 2007. Accessed:2007-08-21.
  37. ^ , Swindon Advertiser, 31 May 2000Community celebrates its golden anniversary.Retrieved on 23 July 2007.
  38. ^ – Swindon Advertiser, 1 April 2007Polish club closes doors for last time. Retrieved on 24 July 2007
  39. ^ , BBC NewsBorn Abroad.Retrieved on 23 July 2007.
  40. ^ Multicultural MattersPolish Community Focus– .Retrieved on 23 July 2007
  41. ^ – Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Swindon Primary Care Trust and Swindon Borough CouncilModernising Services for Older People in Swindon.Retrieved on 24 July 2007.
  42. ^ – Swindon Advertiser, 1 April 2007Polish club closes doors for last time. Retrieved on 2007-27-24.
  43. ^ LTC Rolt, Isambard Kingdom Brumel, Penguin 1957.
  44. ^ "Car Parking – General Information". Transport & Streets.  
  45. ^ Aerial view from Google maps
  46. ^ Swindon Mela.
  47. ^ "Family fun at Summer Breeze festival". Swindon Advertiser. 3 July 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  48. ^ "Toploader to headline Swindon's Summer Breeze festival". Swindon Advertiser. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  49. ^ "Catch the Breeze". Swindon Advertiser. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  50. ^ Richard Craven (26 July 2007). "Swindon Shuffle 2007 – A Retrospective".  
  51. ^
  52. ^ , Cable — Swindon View Point — The Local Channel. Retrieved on 21 July 2007.


See also

Swindon is home to the punk/pop band 'XTC', which has scored hits like 'Dear God', "Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" and 'the Disappointed" in both the USA and Britain. The group occasionally takes a musician's holiday to appear incognito as 'The Dukes of Stratosphear'. Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding are accomplished songwriters who share an original point of view with David Gregory and other bandmates.

Books set in Swindon include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, and the Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde. Fforde's Thursday Next novels feature an alternative-universe Swindon that includes a parodic "Seven Wonders of Swindon". Robert Goddard's Into the Blue, Out of the Sun and "Never Go Back" feature the central character of Harry Barnett from Swindon, and all three novels start in the town. Terry Jones, the former Monty Python member gave Swindon a backhanded reference in one of the short stories in his 2011 collection, "Evil Machines". The story "The Lift that Took People to Places They Didn't Want to Go" ends with the section "...But actually... the evil elevator hadn't changed at all. In fact it went on secretly taking people to places they didn't want to go. For every time the lift took the inhabitants of Swindon back down to the ground floor, they stepped out of the department store and onto the streets of Swindon, and so found themselves somewhere they didn't want to be."

In popular culture

  • Swindon Robins — a speedway team competing in and the current champion of the Elite League. The team has operated at the Abbey Stadium, Blunsdon since the mid-1949. There are proposals to redevelop the stadium. Speedway operated at a track in the Gorse Hill area of Swindon in the early days of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Swindon Robins ended a 45-year wait for a league title by winning the Elite League in 2012 following a 95–89 aggregate victory over Poole.
  • Foxhill motocross circuit is 6 miles (9.7 km) south east of the town and has staged Grand Prix events.

Motor sports

The Swindon Wildcats play in the second-tier English Premier Ice Hockey League (EPIHL). Since their inception, the Wildcats have played their home games at the 2800 capacity Link Centre. The club was founded in 1986.

Ice Hockey

The town also has two non-league clubs: Swindon Supermarine F.C., playing in Southern League Division One South and West, and Highworth Town F.C., based in Highworth and playing in the Hellenic Football League.

Swindon Town F.C. play at the County Ground near the town centre. They have been Football League members since joining the then new Third Division (southern section) in 1920, and won promotion to the Second Division for the first time in 1963. They won their only major trophy to date, the Football League Cup, in 1969 beating Arsenal 3-1, at Wembley Stadium, and won the Anglo-Italian Cup the following year as the Football Association forbade Swindon from competing in the European Cup because they were in Division 3. They won promotion to the First Division in 1990, but stayed in the Second Division due to financial irregularities, only to reach the top flight (by then the Premier League) three years later. Their spell in the top flight lasted just one season, and then came a second successive relegation. A brief spite saw them promoted at the first attempt as champions of the new Division Two, but they were relegated again four years later and in 2006 fell back into the fourth tier for the first time since 1986, although promotion was gained at the first attempt. They were relegated again four years later. Notable former players of the club include John Trollope, Don Rogers, John Moncur, Fraser Digby, Duncan Shearer, Paul Bodin, Alan McLoughlin, Paul Rideout, Mike Summerbee, Shaun Taylor, Neil Ruddock, Jan Åge Fjørtoft and Phil King. Notable former managers include Lou Macari, Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle, John Gorman, Steve McMahon, Jimmy Quinn (a former player of the club), Colin Todd, Roy Evans, Andy King, Dennis Wise and Paul Sturrock. Under the charismatic reign of manager Paolo Di Canio, Swindon became League Two champions in 2011–12 and currently play in League One, the third-highest tier.



Museums and cultural institutions

A University Technical College is opening in Swindon Taking Year 10 and Year 12 pupils in September 2014.

The University of Bath in Swindon was established in 2000, with its Oakfield Campus in Walcot, east Swindon, although the campus has now closed.

However, Oxford Brookes University has its Ferndale Campus in north-central Swindon, containing its School of Health and Social Care (now known as the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Clinical Health Care) since 1999.

Swindon is the UK's largest centre of population without its own university (by comparison, there are two universities in nearby Bath, which is half Swindon's size). In March 2008, a proposal was put forward by former Swindon MP, Anne Snelgrove, for a university-level institution to be established in the town within a decade, culminating in a future 'University of Swindon' (with some touting the future institution to be entitled 'The Murray John University, Swindon', after the town's most distinguished post-war civic leader). In October 2008, plans were announced for a possible University of Swindon campus to be built in east Swindon to the south of the town's Great Western Hospital, close to the M4-A419 interchange. However, these plans are currently mothballed.

Higher education

Swindon also has a foundation learning programme called Include, which is situated in the Gorse Hill area. This is for 16–19-year olds who are currently not in education or work.

New College and Swindon College cater for the town's further education and higher education requirements, mainly for 16–21-year olds. Swindon College is one of the largest FE-HE colleges in southwestern England, situated at a purpose-built campus in North Star, Swindon.

Further education

Secondary schools

Swindon has 53 primary schools, 11 secondary schools and two purpose built sixth-form colleges. Two secondary schools also have 6th forms. It does not have an independent school; though Maranatha Christian School is located in nearby by Sevenhampton.


Regional news programmes covering Swindon include Thames Valley Tonight replaced by Meridian Tonight for the second time in February 2009 and The West Tonight from regional ITV1 stations and South Today (Oxford) and Points West from BBC One's regional variants.

Between 1973 and June 2000, Swindon had its own cable television channel. It was called Swindon Viewpoint, a community television project run mainly by enthusiasts from the basement of a Radio Rentals branch on Victoria Road. It was followed by the more commercial Swindon's Local Channel, which included pay-per-view films.[52] NTL (later Virgin Media) took over the channel's parent company, ComTel, and closed the station.


Local radio stations include Jack FM and Heart Wiltshire in the commercial sector, with BBC Radio Wiltshire as a publicly funded alternative. A new community radio station was launched in March 2008, SWINDON 105.5, which is the only station in Swindon to broadcast totally locally all week. Brunel FM ceased broadcasting on 24 March 2010 as it was one of five stations owned by YMC Ltd closed by administrators. Although a new radio station has since opened on the same frequency, 107.7 Total Star FM which in June 2011 rebranded to become More FM, and changed again in 2012 to become Jack FM.


Swindon has a daily newspaper, the Swindon Advertiser, with daily sales of about 21,000. Other newspapers covering the area include Bristol's daily Western Daily Press and the Swindon Advertisers weekly, the Gazette and Herald. The Wiltshire Ocelot (a free listings magazine), Swindon Star, Hungry Monkeys (a comic), Stratton Outlook, Frequency (an arts and cultural magazine), The Great Swindon Magazine, the Swindon Business News and The Swindon Link (for information on the goings on in Swindon).

King George V pulling the 'Bristolian' passenger train at the Swindon Steam Railway Museum.



  • The English Heritage Archive is based in Swindon. The Science Museum has its large objects stored on the disused airfield at Wroughton as well as housing the Museum's Library and Archives.


Green spaces

  • The Brunel Centre and the Parade are shopping areas in the town centre, built along the line of the filled-in Wilts and Berks Canal (where a canal milepost can still be seen).
  • Swindon Tented Market located in the Town Centre, close to the Brunel Centre, was built in 1994. It reopened in October 2009, having been closed for several years.
  • Retail parks include Greenbridge, West Swindon Shopping Centre, Stratton and the Orbital Shopping Park with shops ranging from Marks & Spencer to Comet and Mothercare. Food outlets include KFC and Pizza Hut, as well as Frankie and Bennies and Starbucks Coffee.
  • McArthur Glen Designer Outlet is an indoor shopping mall for reduced price goods (mainly clothing), using the buildings of the disused railway engine works. The outlet is adjacent to the Steam Museum and the National Trust headquarters. The Swindon Designer Outlet has around 100 shops and is the biggest covered designer outlet centre in Europe.
  • Craft shops within Studley Grange Craft Village, inside Blooms Garden Centre, just off junction 16 of the M4 motorway.
  • Small specialist shops within BSS House in Cheney Manor Industrial Park and Basepoint Business Centre.
McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, a shopping complex built within the disused Swindon railway engine works


  • Swindon hosts a number of festivals such as the Swindon Festival of Literature, the annual Swindon Mela (an all-day celebration of South Indian arts and culture) in the Town Gardens – an event which attracts up to 10,000 visitors each year.[46]
  • The Summer Breeze Festival has been held annually in the town since 2007[47] with headliners ranging from Toploader[48] to KT Tunstall.[49] The family-friendly music event is run by volunteers on a non-profit basis with any funds raised going to charity.
  • An annual Gay Pride Parade called Swindon And Wiltshire Pride is held in the town. The parade has been held in the Town Gardens since 2007. Popular Swedish DJ Basshunter performed in the 2012 celebrations which c.8,000 people attended.
  • The town has a live music scene, venues such as The Beehive, Riffs Bar and The Victoria attract local acts as well as touring national acts. Collectively they host an annual music festival the Swindon Shuffle.[50] The Oasis Leisure Centre and the County Ground are used for some major events. MECA is a 2,000-capacity music venue in the former Mecca bingo hall.
  • The Arts Centre is a theatre in Old Town which seats 200 and has music, professional and amateur theatre, comedians, films, children's events, and one-man shows.
  • The Wyvern Theatre has film, comedy, and music.
  • In 2012 Swindon: The Opera was performed at the STEAM Museum in Swindon by the Janice Thompson Performance Trust,[51] after a successful 2011 Jubilee People's Millions Lottery bid. It charted Swindon's history since 1952 until the present day. Over twenty songs were written by Matt Fox, with music by internationally acclaimed composer Betty Roe MBE.
Swindon Mela in the Town Gardens


Tourism and recreation

The town contains a roundabout called Magic Roundabout. This is not one roundabout but five, the central point of which is a contra-rotational hub[45] at the junction of five roads: (clockwise from South) Drove Road, Fleming Way, County Road, Shrivenham Road and Queens Drive. It is built on the site of Swindon wharf on the abandoned Wilts & Berks Canal, near the County Ground. The official name used to be County Islands, although it was colloquially known as the Magic Roundabout and the name was changed in the late 1990s to match its nickname.

Swindon bus operators are Thamesdown and Stagecoach. The local council acknowledges the need for more car parking as part of its vision for 2010.[44] Swindon is one of the locations for an innovative scheme called Car share. It was set up as a joint venture between carpool or ride-sharing rather than a car share scheme, seeking to link people willing to share transport.

Swindon railway station opened in 1842 as Swindon Junction, and, until 1895, every train stopped for at least 10 minutes to change locomotives. As a result, the station hosted the first recorded railway refreshment rooms.[43]

At the junction of two Roman roads, the town has developed over the centuries, with the assistance of the GWR and the canals, into a transport hub. It has two junctions (15 and 16) onto the M4 motorway and is on the ex-GWR main line to London.

Swindon Magic Roundabout


Other employers include all of the national Research Councils, the British Computer Society, Alcatel-Lucent, eCommerce provider Shopatron, divisions of Tyco International, consumer goods supplier Reckitt Benckiser and a branch of Becton Dickinson.

Swindon businesses include banks such as Barclays, Natwest, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and Handelsbanken, all having a commercial presence. The town also has a number of professional legal firms such as Clarke Holt, Thring Townsend, Lemon & Co, together with accountants such as Dennis & Turnbull and RSM Tenon and iSys Intelligent Systems.

Major employers include the Honda of the UK Manufacturing car production plant at an old Vickers factory site on the former World War II RAF base of South Marston, BMW/Mini (formerly Pressed Steel Fisher) in Stratton, mobile phone companys Alcatel Lucent and Nokia Solutions and Networks, Dolby Labs, international engineering consultancy firm Halcrow Group Limited and retailer W H Smith's distribution centre and headquarters. The electronics company, Intel, has its European head office on the south side of the town. Insurance and financial services companies such as Nationwide Building Society and Zurich Financial Services, the energy company RWE (which includes the well known retail brand npower), the fuel card and fleet management company Arval, pharmaceutical companies such as Canada's Patheon and the United States-based Catalent Pharma Solutions and French Medical Supplies Manufacturer Vygon (UK) Ltd have their UK divisions headquartered in the town. Swindon also has the registered Head Office of the National Trust.

Retail in the centre of Swindon.
A Swindon-built locomotive (Hagley Hall) on display in the eating area of the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, Swindon.


The town's Polish ex-servicemen's club, which had run a football team for 45 years, closed in 2012. Barman Jerzy Trojan blamed the decline of both club and team on the children and grandchildren of the original refugees losing their Polish identity.[42]

In 2004, NHS planners devising services for senior citizens estimated that 5 percent of Swindon's population were not 'ethnically British'[41] and most of those were culturally Polish.

The 2001 UK Census found that most of the Polish-born people had stayed or returned after serving with British forces during World War II. Swindon and Nottingham were parts of this settlement.[39] Data from that census showed that 566 Swindonians were Poland-born.[40] Notes to those data read: ‘The Polish Resettlement Act of 1947, which was designed to provide help and support to people who wished to settle here, covered about 190,000 people ... at the time Britain did not recognise many of the professional [qualifications] gained overseas ... [but] many did find work after the war; some went down the mines, some worked on the land or in steel works. Housing was more of a problem and many Poles were forced to live in barracks previously used for POWs ... The first generation took pains to ensure that their children grew up with a strong sense of Polish identity.'

After the end of World War II, Polish refugees were temporarily housed in barracks at Fairford RAF base about 25 km (16 mi) north. Around 1950, some settled in Scotland and others in Swindon[37] rather than stay in the barracks or hostels they were offered.[38]

Polish community

In May 2007, 65.3% of households in Swindon had broadband Internet access, the highest in the UK, up 5.5% from June 2006.[36]

The majority of Swindonians (70.3%) identify themselves as Christians. This is followed by those of no religion (19.2%), Muslims (1.0%), Sikhs (0.6%), Hindus (0.6%), other (0.2%) and Jews (0.1%). In addition, 8.0% of people chose not to answer this question in the 2001 census.[35]

It is forecast that there will be a 70,000 (38.9%) increase in Swindon's population by 2026 from the current 180,000, to 250,000.[34] The ethnic make-up of the town was 95.2% white, 1.3% Indian and 3.5% other. 92.4% were born in the UK, 2.7% in the EU and 4.9% elsewhere.

The 2001 census shows there were 180,061 people and 75,154 occupied houses in the Swindon Unitary Authority.[33] The average household size was 2.38 people. The population density was 780/km² (2020.19/mi²). 20.96% of the population were 0–15 years old, 72.80% 16–74 and the remaining 6.24% were 75 years old or over. For every 100 females there were 98.97 males. Approximately 300,000 people live within 20 minutes of Swindon town centre.

Christ Church


Climate data for Lyneham, elevation 145m, 1971–2000, extremes 1960–
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.7
Average high °C (°F) 6.6
Average low °C (°F) 1.2
Record low °C (°F) −16
Precipitation mm (inches) 70.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 55.2 72.3 108.5 156.9 196.2 194.1 212.4 197.5 144.6 107.3 71.7 48.4 1,565
Source #1: Met Office[31]
Source #2: KNMI[32]

Annual rainfall averages slightly under 720 mm (28 in) per year with 123 days reporting over 1 mm of rain.

Sunshine, at 1565 hours a year is typical for inland parts in much of Southern England, although significantly higher than most areas further north.

The absolute minimum is −16.0c (3.0f),[30] recorded in January 1982, and in an average year 45.2 nights of air frost can be expected.

The absolute maximum is 34.9c (94.8f)[27] recorded during August 1990. In an average year the warmest day should reach 28.7c (83.7f)[28] and 10.3 days[29] should register a temperature of 25.1c (77.2f) or above

Swindon experiences a maritime climate type, as with all of the British Isles. This results in comparatively mild winters, and comparatively cool summers compared with what might otherwise be expected of its latitude. The nearest official weather station is RAF Lyneham, about 10 miles (16 km) west south west of Swindon town centre. The weather station's elevation is 145 metres, compared to the typical 100 metres encountered around Swindon town centre, so is likely to be marginally cooler throughout the year.


Swindon has a temperate climate, with roughly equal length winters and summers. The landscape is dominated by the chalk hills of the Wiltshire Downs to the south and east. The hill that makes up what is known as Old Town consists of Purbeck and Portland stone; this was quarried from Roman times up until the 1950s.[26] The area that was known as New Swindon is made up of mostly Kimmeridge clay with outcrops of Corrallian clay in the areas of Penhill and Pinehurst.[26] Oxford clay makes up the rest of the borough.[26] The River Ray forms the town's western boundary, including its tributary of the River Cole.[26]

The town has an area of approximately 40 square kilometres (15 sq mi).


Swindon is represented in the national parliament by two MPs. Robert Buckland (Conservative) was elected for the South Swindon seat in May 2010 with a 5.5% swing from Labour and Justin Tomlinson, also Conservative, represents North Swindon after a 10.1% swing at the same election. Prior to 1997, there was a single seat for Swindon, although much of what is now in Swindon was then in the Devizes seat.

The executive comprises a leader and a cabinet made up from the Conservative Group. The council as of the 2011 election has a majority of Conservative councillors.[25]

The borough consists of parished and non-parished areas. Parished areas include Bishopstone and Hinton Parva, Blunsdon St Andrew, Castle Eaton, Chiseldon, Covingham, Hannington, Haydon Wick, Highworth, Inglesham, Liddington, South Marston, Stanton Fitzwarren, Stratton St Margaret, Wanborough and Wroughton. In 2015 Nythe will be granted its independence from Stratton St Margaret and become a new parish in its own right.

The local council was created in 1974 as the Borough of Thamesdown, out of Swindon Borough and Highworth Rural Councils. It was not initially called Swindon, because the borough covers a larger area than the town and encompasses villages and land. It was eventually renamed to Borough of Swindon in 1997, however. The borough became a unitary authority on 1 April 1997,[24] following a review by Local Government Commission for England. The town is therefore no longer under the auspices of Wiltshire Council.

Swindon Town Hall, now a dance theatre


[23] Swindon hosted

In 2001 construction began on Priory Vale, the third and final instalment in Swindon's 'Northern Expansion' project, which began with Abbey Meads and continued at St Andrew's Ridge. In 2002 the New Swindon Company was formed with the remit of regenerating the town centre, to improve Swindon's regional status.[22] The main areas targeted are Union Square, The Promenade, The Hub, Swindon Central, North Star Village, The Campus and the Public Realm.

In October 2008 Swindon made a controversial move to ban fixed point speed cameras. The move was branded as reckless by some[19] but by November 2008 Portsmouth, Walsall and Birmingham councils[20][21] were also considering the move.

In February 2008 The Times named Swindon as one of "The 20 best places to buy a property in Britain".[18] Only Warrington had a lower ratio of house prices to household income in 2007, with the average household income in Swindon among the highest in the country.

David Murray John, Swindon's town clerk from 1938 to 1974, is seen as a pioneering figure in Swindon's post-war regeneration; his last act before retirement was to sign the contract for Swindon's tallest building, which is now named after him.[17]

Swindon in 1959 - grid squares are 1km
Swindon in 1933

Modern period

The Community Centre in the Railway Village was originally the Barrack accommodation for Railway Employees of the GWR. The building became the Railway Museum in the 1960s, before this was moved to the newly completed STEAM Museum in the 2000s.

The works' decline started in 1960, when it rolled out Evening Star, the last steam engine to be built in the UK.[16] The works lost its locomotive building role and took on rolling stock maintenance for British Rail. In the late 1970s, much of the works closed and the rest followed in 1986.

During the first half of the 20th century, the railway works was the town's largest employer and one of the biggest in the country, employing more than 14,500 workers. Alfred Williams[14] (1877–1930) wrote about his life as a hammerman at the works.[15]

On 1 July 1923, the GWR took over the largely single-track M&SWJR and the line northwards from Swindon Town was diverted to Swindon Junction station, leaving the Town station with only the line south to Andover and Salisbury.[11][12][13] The last passenger trains on what had been the SM&A ran on 10 September 1961, 80 years after the railway's first stretch opened.

During the second half of the 19th century, Swindon New Town grew around the main line between London and Bristol. In 1900, the original market town, Old Swindon, merged with its new neighbour at the bottom of the hill to become a single town.[5]

Swindon's 'other' railway, the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway, merged with the Swindon and Cheltenham Extension Railway to form the Midland & South Western Junction Railway, which set out to join the London & South Western Railway with the Midland Railway at Cheltenham. The Swindon, Marlborough & Andover had planned to tunnel under the hill on which Swindon's Old Town stands but the money ran out and the railway ran into Swindon Town railway station, off Devizes Road in the Old Town, skirting the new town to the west, intersecting with the GWR at Rushey Platt and heading north for Cirencester, Cheltenham and the LMS, whose 'Midland Red' livery the M&SWJR adopted.

When tuberculosis hit the new town, the Mechanics' Institute persuaded the industrial pioneers of North Wiltshire to agree that the railway's former employees should continue to receive medical attention from the doctors of GWR Medical Society Fund, which the Institute had played a role in establishing and funding.[10]

It had the UK's first lending library,[8] and a range of improving lectures, access to a theatre and a range of activities from ambulance classes to xylophone lessons. A former Institute secretary formed the New Swindon Co-operative Society in 1853 which, after a schism in the society's membership, spawned the New Swindon Industrial Society that ran a retail business from a stall in the market at the Institute. The Institute also nurtured pioneering trades unionists and encouraged local democracy.[9]


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