Old Town Main Streets in Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Despite having grown from an insignificant market town to major industrial centre in a remarkably short time, and then having the heart of the new town obliterated by 1960s redevelopment, Swindon has a surprisingly large number of interesting buildings. This page gives some views of three of the four main streets of the Old Town.
The four main streets when Swindon was tiny formed a very rough square, with High Street along the east side, Devizes Road roughly parallel to it, Wood Street joining their northern ends and Newport Street making up the set. The Square is offset on the east side of High Street, and the old manor house and parish church were a little apart from and beyond it.
The first photo (30,829 bytes) shows High Street looking south from the Wood Street junction. The Goddard Arms is on the left, and immediately beyond it Lloyds Bank. The clock tower of the old Corn Exchange (on the far side of the Square) can be seen protruding above another building which is also on the Square. The second photo (25,773 bytes) is the reverse view, looking north from the Square and showing much of the west side, including the Bell Hotel. The third photo (24,193 bytes) is looking in the same direction but from opposite the Bell Hotel, only an extension of which into the adjacent building (with a disfiguring sign) is visible. The red brick and white building in the distance is a bank on the far corner of Wood Street, formerly the Wilts and Dorset Bank, later a branch of Barclays.
Wood Street was once a mix of businesses and residential property, quite a number of the buildings being thatched cottages. It was for a time known as "Blacksmiths Street", a reference to the fact that there were no less than three such businesses there, often doing their work in the street outside their premises.
The first of these photos (24,835 bytes) shows the building which was for many decades Limmex ironmongery shop; the business was established on part of this site in the 1870s. The present building was in use by 1905 and has changed little in the intervening century, although the Limmex business was replaced relatively recently.
The second photo (27,455 bytes) is a view along Wood Street looking west from the High Street junction, while the third (32,816 bytes) shows many of the same buildings on the south side from the other direction, looking from about half way along the road.
The fourth picture (29,415 bytes) also looks east, but this time from the other end, at the junction with Devizes Road. The Kings Arms can just be picked out half way along on the left, while the Goddard Arms can be seen facing down the road from the far end. The white Georgian building at the extreme left of the picture is one of the few buildings in the road which survives from that time.
Devizes Road was once known by the quaint name of "Short Hedge"! The first of these photos (38,539 bytes) shows a building on the east side of Devizes Road, near its junction with Wood Street. The next two (28,513 and 26,193 bytes respectively) some old buildings with modern ground floor shop fronts which face it. The fourth (25,784 bytes) shows the junction of Devizes Road and Bath Road, taken from the opposite corner of Wood Street; above the modern shop-fronts, the Georgian facade reveals the age of a whole series of buildings in Bath Road as well as the corner shop and its immediate neighbour in Devizes Road.
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This page last updated 7th March 2004