Swindon’s growth really started in the mid 1800’s with the coming of the Great Western Railway and Brunel’s decision to site the Railway Works there. Local myth has it that this happened when he was surveying in the area and dropped a sandwich whereupon he announced that this would be the site.
The town grew rapidly, the Works employing up to 14,000 people in its heyday with workers housed in the newly built railway village. This continued until the closure of the main works in 1962 but the construction of the M4 in 1971 kick started the growth again with a number of major international companies moving to Swindon.
During the 1990’s Swindon was reputed to be the fastest growing town in Europe and that growth still continues today with planned expansion of the urban areas and the exciting regeneration of the Town Centre.
Swindon’s position between London and Bristol means that there are excellent links to most area of the country with two junctions of the M4, J15 and J16, within minutes of the town and easy access to M5 going north or south.
Rail travel is also well catered for with times to Paddington around an hour. Check out train times here: www.nationalrail.co.uk
Just a quick mention for Swindon’s famous (or infamous ) Magic Roundabout, a set of five mini roundabouts replacing one large one, honestly it really does work well, just a little daunting the first time.
In addition to the vibrant Town Centre shopping area Swindon has the MacArthur Glen Designer Outlet Village built on the site of the old Railway Works hosting lots of well known brands.
Commercial Road, as its name suggests, is host to banks, building societies, estate and letting agents.
Old Town, regarded as aesthetically the nicest area in Swindon also has interesting individual shops as well as a sprinkling of estate and letting agents .
Swindon has a wealth of restaurants of all shapes, sizes and styles. In West Swindon you will find the Oriental Buffet while in the Town Centre you have the award winning Indian Restaurant The Jewel in the Crown or for excellent food and ales try the Weighbridge, set in the building originally used for the final finishing of the great steam trains before being put into service, it now house a spacious restaurant as well as its own micro brewery.
There are a number of attractive villages in the surrounding area with cosy pubs serving a variety of modern and traditional meals, try the Royal Oak at Bishopstone for the best in organic foods or for fine dining Whatley Manor.
Swindon is well served with all sorts of leisure facilities, local and national fitness centres, the Oasis leisure complex, an ice rink in West Swindon which is home to Swindon Wildcats two multi-plex cinemas. Nightlife is also well catered for in the vibrant Town Centre with lively bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
For the quieter side of things we have the Cotswold Water Parks between Swindon and the historic town of Cirencester. There you will find waterskiing, dinghy sailing, coarse and trout fishing as well as beautiful walks with an abundance of wildlife. The Thames has its head near Kemble and by the time it gets to Lechlade it is a navigable waterway with all sorts of leisure craft on the water.
There are some wonderful walks in the area, the Ridgeway Britain’s oldest road starts at the World Heritage site at Avebury and on its way passes such local landmarks as the White Horses at Hackpen Hill and Uffington as well as another Heritage site at Waylands Smithy, a Neolithic long barrow reputed to be the home of the Saxon smith-god Wayland.