The origins of the Railway Village
In 1841 the Great Western Railway Company began construction work on a major new engineering works which would become, in their heyday, one of the largest industrial complexes in the world. The chosen location was open farmland some two miles from the small hilltop market town of Swindon. The lack of existing housing in the vicinity of the works meant that it quickly became necessary to provide accommodation for the influx of workers.
Shortly after the establishment of the works, a planned village to accommodate the GWR’s early work force was built nearby, to the south of the works on the other side of the railway. The terraced stone houses of this railway village, most of which still stand today, are an excellent early example of a “model village” development for an industrial work-force. Planned as a self-contained community, the intention was to provide all the necessary facilities (as perceived from a 19th-century point of view) for a ‘decent’ life.
The original conception and plan for the village belonged to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer selected by the GWR to oversee the construction of the London to Bristol railway, who was to become one of the greatest of the Victorian engineers.
Further historical information about Swindon’s Railway Village is available here.
The Railway Village Today
The Trust has a keen interest in the Railway Village community today. We have undertaken a range of activities and projects in the area and continue to be a key stakeholder for both those living there and the physical environment of the Conservation Area.
Current work in the area consists of the following:
The Central Community Centre
GWR Park Committee
The Children’s Fete Committee
An audit of heritage assets in the Conservation Area
Anyone interested in the above work or has other ideas or issues within Railway Village please contact us and we will be happy to hear from you.