Discovering Swindon

As a well established Swindon dental practice we have seen many changes over the years in our town and community. One thing never changes, though - we love Swindon! Today’s bustling Swindon town offers the best in modern living, culture and recreation. Yet few may guess its ancient pedigree as they enjoy Swindon’s contemporary places, parks and people. The town may not be the shoutiest of places but ‘Swindonians’ are quietly proud of what it has to offer.

Where is Swindon?

Nestled in the south-west English county of Wiltshire, Swindon is now a large town of some 222,000 people. It sits halfway between Bristol to the west and Reading to the east, yet it is easily reachable from London’s Paddington station via a one-hour train journey. In fact, it’s proximity to these cities makes Swindon a popular commuter choice leading one recent survey to hail it as “the most affordable town in Britain.”

Things to do in Swindon

From amazing art and iconic buildings to smart shopping and public green spaces, everyone can find something to enjoy. Just a few of the places to visit include:

  • Arts & History – Visit the Old Town area for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. In a listed building, it houses mainly 20th and 21st century British art, displays local archaeology, geology and history as well as hosting Swindon's annual Festival of Literature.
  • Museums – culture and history buffs can visit the fascinating National Museum of Science & Industry or Swindon’s Museum of Computing the very first computer museum in the UK. The literary-minded will enjoy the Richard Jefferies Museum, dedicated to the memory of the Swindon-born writer on nature and the countryside.
  • Architecture - The Spectrum Building was designed by renowned architect Norman Foster originally for car firm Renault who have long since moved out. The building was used in the 1984 Bond film. ‘A View to a Kill’ and was given Grade II listed status by English Heritage to protect ‘post-war architecture’.
  • Green Spaces – Visit one of Swindon’s many green spaces from its town gardens with traditional bandstands, to The Lawns stately home and estate or Queen’s Park in the town centre with its Garden of Remembrance, officially opened by Princess Elizabeth in 1950. The 260-acre Lydiard Park is also a fabulous park with a lake and a manor house with medieval origins. Another outdoors option is to take Swindon’s canal walk to visit its green living wall, the first of its kind in the country.
  • Shopping – If shopping’s your thing, you can choose from several retail places. There’s the Brunel Centre and The Parade in the town centre or the newly built Regent Circus with its superstores, cinema and restaurants. Bargain hunters may enjoy the Swindon Designer Outlet for its discounted offerings in around 100 shops specialising in clothing – it’s reputed to be the biggest covered designer outlet centre in Europe.

Swindon’s railway history

Swindon was famous for being the site of engineer Brunel’s Swindon Works for the repair and maintenance of locomotives on the Great Western Railway. You can appreciate Swindon’s strong railway link at the Museum of the Great Western Railway. From 1843 to 1986 the old Swindon Works, one the largest in the world, was based in the Museum’s listed building – in its glory days, three locomotives a week were produced here. In 1960 it rolled out the last steam engine to be built in the UK and finally closed over the 1970s and 1980s.

Famous people of Swindon

Swindon has been forever immortalised in the UK TV comedy The Office - the ‘Swindon branch’ is frequently referred to by staff of the ‘Slough branch’ before they are awkwardly merged. Apart from fiction, Swindon has its own real-life claims to fame:

  • Singer and Dr Who actress Billie Piper was born in Swindon.
  • The cult post-punk band XTC got together in Swindon in 1972 and went on to score three hits in the top twenty.
  • 1970s singer and songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan was Irish-born but raised in Swindon.
  • The author of the James Bond books, Ian Fleming, was buried in the churchyard of Sevenhampton village, near Swindon.
  • Swindon-born ’blonde bombshell’ actress, Diana Dors, is immortalized in a statue outside the cinema at Shaw Ridge, West Swindon.
  • After finishing his A-levels, actor, comedian and writer Stephen Fry was arrested in a hotel in Swindon for using a stolen credit card and, as a result, spent three months in prison on remand.

Is it true about Swindon’s Norman the Conquer connection?

Yes, Swindon was originally a sleepy Anglo-Saxon settlement perched on top of a limestone hill. ‘Suindune’, as it was known, was important enough to be included in William the Conqueror’s famous 11th century Domesday book. After his conquest of the area, King William gave Swindon to an important knight called Wadard.

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