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Swindon

From Academic Kids

Swindon is a large town of Wiltshire, England, located in the South West of the UK (between London and Bristol). Swindon lies on the M4 Corridor - Sunrise Strip - part of the UK. The town is easily accessible from either junction 15 or 16 of the M4 motorway, or by rail (Swindon Station). Swindon has a population of 180,000 (and rising). It is one of the fastest growing towns in the UK (along with Milton Keynes) and has a very low unemployment rate. It is in the borough of Swindon, which has been a unitary authority since 1998.

Swindon motto is 'Salubritas et Industria' (Health and Industry).

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McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, a shopping centre built in the disused Swindon railway engine works
Contents

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, a name believed to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon word swine and British word dun meaning literally pig hill, or possibly Sweyn's hill where Sweyn would be the local landlord. Swindon remained a small market town, used mainly for barter trade, until the mid-1800s. This original market area of Swindon is located on top of the hill in central Swindon and is now known as Old Town.

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

The industrial revolution was responsible for a great acceleration of Swindon's growth. It started with the construction of the Wiltshire and Berkshire canal in 1810, and then the North Wiltshire canal in 1819. These two major routes brought more trade to the area, and Swindon's population started to rise.

Probably the most significant event in Swindon's history occurred in 1840, when Swindon was selected to house the large engineering works for the Great Western Railway by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Legend has it that Brunel and his assistant were surveying the route of the London to Bristol line, and had stopped on a hillside for lunch. The assistant asked Brunel where he thought the railway works should be built,and Brunel threw a sandwich in the air, declaring that it would be wherever the sandwich landed. Construction of the works was completed in 1842 and the new jobs created brought many people into the town to work. Along with the railway works a small railway village was created to house some of the many railway workers. This area became the present day area known as New Town (or the Town Centre). The original Railway Village houses are still standing and are occupied, and several of the original buildings which comprised the engineering works also remain (though many are vacant). The Steam Railway Museum now occupies part of the old works.

In the second half of the 19th century the new area (Swindon New Town) created by the railway works and the original area from the market trading years (Swindon Old Town) were merged to become Swindon.

During much of the 20th century the railway works was the largest employer in the town. In the late 1970s however, a large portion of the railway works closed down. The job deficit was quickly filled by jobs in many new and upcoming industries. Swindon is often cited as a "boom town" and new housing continues to be built. Among major employers are Honda, Retrac, BMW (Swindon Pressings Limited) car factories, Cellular Companies such as Motorola, several insurance and financial services companies (such as Nationwide Building Society and Zurich), and the retailer W H Smith (which has its distribution and headquarters in Swindon).

Geography and Climate

The town itself has a total area of approximately 39.70 km˛ (15.33 mi˛). The unitary authority (created in 1996 as the 'County of Thamesdown', but renamed in 1997 as the county of Swindon) has a much larger area as it encompasses many surrounding villages and land.

Swindon has a temperate climate, meaning it has roughly equally long winters and summers. The temperature in Swindon varies slightly more than areas on the coast.

Demographics

As of the census of 2001 [1] (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/profiles/00HX-A.asp#housing), there are 180,051 people and 75,154 occupied houses in the Swindon Unitary Authority. The average household size is 2.38 people. The population density is 780/km˛ (2020.19/mi˛). 20.96% of the population are 0 to 15 years old, 72.80% are 16 to 74 years old, and the remaining 6.24% are 75 years old or over. For every 100 females there are 98.97 males.

The ethnic makeup of the town is 95.2% European, 1.3% Indian, and 3.5% other. Of the population, 92.4% were born in the UK, 2.7% in the EU, and 4.9% elsewhere in the world.

Tourism and Recreation

  • McArthur Glen Designer Outlet - Built using the structure of the disused railway engine works and adjacent to the Steam Museum.
  • Swindon has a large roundabout surrounded by several smaller roundabouts known as the "Magic Roundabout" (which became the subject of a song by the local band XTC).
  • There are two leisure centres, 'The Link Centre' and 'The Oasis'.
  • The Football League One team Swindon Town F.C. play in Swindon, at the County Ground.
  • Broome Manor Golf Complex - one of the best golf courses in the region. Set set against the backdrop of the Marlborough Downs.
  • Public parks include 'Lydiard Country Park', 'Stanton Park', 'Barbury Castle', 'Queens Park' and 'Coate Water'.
  • Pagoda Palace is the largest Chinese restaurant in Britain, and unique since it is built in traditional Far Eastern style and colours to create a authentic heavenly temple style. It is loacted next to the Peatmoor Lagoon in West Swindon.
  • Great Western Maze - A giant maze near the M4 motorway.
  • National Monuments Record Centre (NMRC) - Home of English Heritage. Next to Steam Railway Museum.
  • National Trust

Museums and cultural institutions

  • Museum of Computing (http://www.museum-of-computing.org.uk) is based at Oakfield Campus, University of Bath in Swindon, Marlowe Avenue.
  • Richard Jefferies Museum (http://www.swindon.gov.uk/heritage/heritage-richardjefferies.htm) - Dedicated to the memory of one of England's most individual writers on nature and the countryside.
  • Steam Railway Museum (http://www.steam-museum.org.uk/) - Located next to McArthur Glen Designer Outlet.
  • Swindon Arts Centre (http://www.swindon.gov.uk/artsandculture/artscentre.htm) - Home of the Swindon art scene.

Facts

Swindon in fiction

Further reading

  • Swindon, Mark Child, Breedon Books, 2002, hardcover, 159 pages, ISBN 1859833225
  • Francis Frith's Swindon Living Memories (Photographic Memories S.), Francis Frith and Brian Bridgeman, The Frith Book Company Ltd, 2003, Paperback, 96 pages, ISBN 1859376568

External links

Tourism / Swindon Information

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Entertainment / Nightlife

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