Swindon in Wiltshire has ancient beginnings as well as an amount of regeneration to rival Doctor Who. Alongside quiet courtyards and alleyways, traditional pubs and shops, sits the Brunel Shopping Centre and the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet. Mentioned in the Domesday Book as Suinedune, from the Anglo Saxon for swine and dun meaning hill – what you get is ‘Pig Hill’. It has to be admitted that Swindon does sound better.
Swindon’s success is mainly down to being chosen by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the site for railway works for the Great Western Railway. Swindon Junction station opened in 1842 and all trains passing through stopped at Swindon for at least 10 minutes – which is why the station possessed the first railway refreshment rooms every recorded. ( Thus starting the enduring British tradition of soggy, expensive sandwiches on the go).
Swindon saw the writing on the wall as regards the demise of steam and managed to make the transition to business centre by attracting some of the UK’s biggest companies into the area.
P.S. Little known Swindon fact – Liam Gallagher chose the name for his band after seeing Swindon’s Oasis swimming pool and leisure centre on a poster.
SWINDON'S TOP 10
10. Wyvern Theatre – for comedy, music, dance and burlesque and seats no further than 70 feet from the stage.
5. Coate Water Country Park – get back to nature, perfect for twitchers with a hide to watch the herons.
9. Queen’s Park –oasis of tranquillity minutes from the centre of Swindon.
4. Swindon Arts Centre – join local luvvies and catch up on culture – bohemian.
8. Lydiard House and Park – a 17th country seat with grounds so large you can hire bikes to get round them.
3. Uffington White Horse – ancient graffiti – 2000 years ago someone decided to carve a 365 foot long horse into chalk hills. Who knows why?.
7. Steam- Museum of the Great Western Railway – not just for trainspotters with the chance to take the controls in a brilliant simulator.
2. Swindon Museum and Art Gallery offers local history plus one of the finest collections of British art outside London. Oh, and a 5 metre crocodile.
6. Bowood House is home to one of Napoleon’s handkerchiefs amongst other things. Capability Brown designed the grounds.
1. The National Monuments Record Centre is housed in Swindon – over 7 million photos of from the 1840s to the present day – some photo album.
The Swindon Bicycle Carnival in May is where people in crazy costumes dress up their bikes and enjoy all things pedal-powered.
The Swindon Kite Festival takes place in May where you can see colourful kites of all shapes and sizes take to the air.
Bookworms flock to the Swindon Festival of Literature in May for 12 days of literary fireworks with the best brains of our times.
There’s fun for all the family at the Swindon Railway Festival in September, with famous locos, stalls, real ale and a celebrity DJ.
The Swindon Old Town Festival in June is a great traditional event with jazz bands, street entertainers and parades. And you can’t miss the crowning of the Festival Queen.
Swindon Mela in June is a colourful celebration of all things Asian with music, dance and exotic stalls.
You cannot miss the Swindon Beer Festival in October if you are in town, but be wary of local brews named Pig Swill and Old Stoatwobbler.
Join 5000 revellers at the Swindon Invincible Festival in August for dance music mayhem with world class DJs.
Swindon’s Summer Breeze in July is family-friendly and a great place to chill out. Enjoy the live music, yoga in the healing field and vintage stalls.
Festival on the Farm in July is the Swindon’s version of a mini Glastonbury with fields of music and plenty of fun-seekers.
WHEN TO GO
· Swindon has a temperate climate, with summers and winters of roughly equal length. Winters are generally mild, with summers a little chillier than might be expected from its latitude.
· The maximum temperature recorded is 34.9°C, but summer days do not usually experience temps of above 25°C or so. The minimum temperature during winter is around 3-4°C, however night frosts are a common occurrence.
· Swindon experiences around 1600 hours of sunshine a year which is typical for an inland Southern town, with 123 days a year when it rains, quite a lot so don’t forget to pack appropriately.
· Regular train services run into London Paddington from Swindon – a journey of less than an hour. There’s also a direct rail connection to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Cheltenham. First Great Western are the operator.
· National Express runs a coach service from Swindon to London via Heathrow, as well as to Gatwick airport. Swindon is bordered by the M4 motorway at junctions 15 and 16.
· Swindon’s nearest airport is Bristol – but Heathrow is only 75 minutes’ drive away too.
The ceremonial county of Wiltshire in southwest England is home to many fine points of interest and a tidy collection of lovely towns. With over 150,000 people, Swindon is one of the most populous and is almost halfway between Bristol and Reading. As such, the small city is a convenient gateway and is only 130 km from London.
One could however, spend several days in Swindon amid some wonderful attractions. The ancient Saxon settlement has plenty to offer visitors, from the Wilts & Berks Canal to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. The National Museum of Science & Industry is one of the best in the United Kingdom and Lydiard Park is a first-rate public recreation space. As a former railway town at the zenith of the Industrial Revolution, the Swindon Steam Railway Museum is a must. Pre-eminent festivals in the city include the Swindon Mela and Swindon Festival of Literature.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Swindon has a temperate climate, with moderate weather throughout the year.
- Winter (December to February) 2-9°C
- Spring (March to May) 4-18°C
- Summer (June to September) 11-24°C
- Fall (October to November) 5-15°C
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