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.
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.
In 1840, Isambard Kingdom Brunel chose Swindon as the site for the railway works he planned for the Great Western Railway. Eastwards towards London, the line was gently graded, while westwards there was a steep descent towards Bath. Swindon was the junction for the proposed line to Gloucester.
Swindon Junction station opened in 1842 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. There were three storeys to the station in 1842, with the refreshment rooms on the ground floor, the upper floors housing the station hotel and lounge. That building was demolished in 1972 and replaced by the present multi storey office buildings with a single-storey modern station under it.
The history of Swindon’s immense and justifies your further research. As described, a major part of Swindon was the Great Western Running Sheds from which in 1919 emerged a Male Choir formed by half a dozen workers who had moved to Swindon from South Wales for work and to make a living.
The Choir has survived and grown and is thriving today as strongly as ever. Original Choir rehearsals were held in the Railway Works, moved on to various Swindon Churches and Halls.
Our present rehearsal hall is The First Floor Function Room, New Century Club, Carpenter’s Lane, Gorse Hill, Swindon SN2 8BU.
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