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Renowned for being the heart of the Great Western Railway, the origins of the National Health Service, the first lending library and the Magic Roundabout - I am, of course, talking about Swindon. Until 1848, Swindon was a small market town that began with an Anglo-Saxon settlement atop a limestone hill, known today as Old Town. This small market town has become a pillar of growth for the UK with its rich history, thriving business and vibrant communities. Isambard Kingdom Brunel met Daniel Gooch in 1836, and by

Robert Buckland QC MP Member of Parliament for South Swindon

1837, Sir Daniel (as he later became) was the ‘Superintendent of Locomotive Engines’ for the Great Western Railway. In 1841 after a legendary picnic and the allegorical throwing of a sandwich, construction began of the famous Swindon Works and the rest is, well, history. Beloved by Betjeman, reconstructed by David Murray John and re-invented by Honda, Nationwide and many other firms large and small, Swindon continues to spring wonderful surprises. Swindon175 is an opportunity for the town to take pride in our heritage and achievements, and the events being planned for next year will be a fitting celebration. As the Member of Parliament for South Swindon and as one of Daniel Gooch’s political successors, I look forward to seeing our extraordinary town move from strength to strength as we approach our bicentenary.

At the age of just 21, Daniel Gooch was the first Superintendent of Locomotives for the Great Western Railway.

Next year, 2016, marks a momentous occasion for our town as we celebrate what is effectively Swindon’s 175th birthday. Back in 1841 we were a rural hamlet with little to shout about until Great Western Railway directors gave the railway works the go ahead. This decision put Swindon on the map, creating an industrial powerhouse - the reason our economy is as strong as it is today. Swindon’s location has always been one of its strengths right back to 1841 and remains so today. We are in a prime position for not only industry and commerce, but also a stone’s throw from the outstanding natural beauty of the Wiltshire and Cotswold countryside. We have a widely acclaimed art collection and a truly talented cultural and arts community. I am privileged to chair the Steering Group of Swindon 175 which presents a great opportunity not only to celebrate our heritage, but to use it as a springboard for future growth. The railway works put us on the map but Swindon175 can raise the profile of our town as a place to live and work and with business backing we can use the momentum to stimulate another 175 years of growth. The anniversary gives us a chance to showcase Swindon’s track record as a place of economic innovation, with a thriving business community which will help us enhance ‘brand Swindon’ to attract new waves of investment. At the same time we wish to ensure that our celebrations encompass not only our heritage and business, but most importantly education and our local community groups. We very much want all businesses in Swindon to be involved, whether its financially supporting one of our events, staging your own Swindon175 event or initiative, getting your employees involved or just featuring our logo. This will all contribute to the success of a year the whole of Swindon can be proud of.

The City of Truro became the first steam locomotive to reach over 100 miles per hour, 30 years before Flying Scotsman.

Ian Larrard

Director of Business West in Swindon & Wiltshire

MADE IN 175 years of industry, KING GEORGE V

The most powerful and most beautiful loco from the golden age of steam. Built in Swindon, 1927.

Graham Carter, editor of Swindon Heritage, chooses some of the highlights from the town’s rich and proud history




A blueprint for the NHS, founded 101 years earlier, in Swindon, in 1847.

One of the finest collections of 20th century British art outside London. Established 1944.

One of Britain’s leading contemporary dance agencies. Founded in 1979.




South Marston-built jet that set a new world speed record in 1953.

A revolutionary and highly efficient way to relieve urban congestion. Opened in 1972.

Home to some of the biggest companies in the world, and some of the most innovative.




Founded in 1943, Swindon had one of Britain’s first public arts centres.

Swindon-based GWR engineer William Dean introduced the first all-corridor train in 1890.

Since the 1950s Swindon has designed and built cars, including over 2,000,000 Hondas.




The Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS, who was born in Swindon in 1876.

Swindon’s oldest company, and one of the UK’s oldest family brewers. Founded in 1843.

Founded in 1848 and still family-run, timekeepers for the GWR.

SWINDON innovation and excellence CITY OF TRURO

Built in Swindon, the first vehicle of any kind to reach a speed of 100mph (in 1904).




Swindon-based inventors of the record changer, and world leaders for generations.

A key activist during the Votes for Women campaign. Born in Swindon in 1877.

The world’s most iconic plane, manufactured at South Marston, near Swindon, from 1943.




The world’s first commercial hovercraft were developed by Vickers at South Marston.

‘The Adver’ was a pioneering local newspaper when it was founded in 1854.

A major step towards cashless transactions, developed in Swindon in the early 1990s.




Britain’s first public access TV station; still running on the web after more than 40 years.

Conceived and partly designed by Brunel in the 1840s, restored in the 1970s.

Built in 1919, Pinehurst was one of Britain’s first complete social housing projects.




Founded 1844. One of the finest examples of co-operation in a fledgling community.

Swindon’s pioneering buildings include Sir Norman Foster’s Renault Building of 1983.

Development and equipment for Concorde, nuclear power and the first heart transplant.

On September 13th, 1840 Daniel Gooch penned this letter to the Great Western Railway’s Chief Engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel recommending Swindon as the location for the GWR’s ‘principle engine establishment. The GWR board of directors approved Gooch’s plans and on February 25th, 1841 they formerly approved them, construction began immediately and a new railway town was born. Brunel and Gooch, were building the greatest railway the world had ever seen, dubbed ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’ the construction of the railway between London and Bristol was full of engineering feats of excellence and innovation. Their architectural beauty is matched by that of their engineering ingenuity and it is testament that they still form an integral part to the workings of the modern GWR. Initially designed as only a ‘repair shed’ the first locomotive, ‘Premier’, was built in 1846 in just two weeks and fittingly renamed ‘Great Western’. But it wasn’t just locomotives that Gooch built, he inspired a new social way of life. His donation of £1000 kick started the revolutionary GWR Medical Fund, a system whereby workers contributed to their own medical well being.

The ‘Hooters’ called the men and women of the GWR to work for nearly 120 years and sounded 10 times to announce the start of the Great War.

And it wasn’t just their physical condition that the GWR looked after, again from worker subscriptions the Mechanics Institute improved their education and it was here that the very first lending library was created. The GWR quickly got a reputation for having the best educated workers in the land. So Swindon quickly expanded and with it small companies sprang up with the same approach of innovation and excellence. The reputation of the GWR workforce spread and in turn larger companies moved to the area to tap into the skilled workforce and the Swindon DNA of business, innovation and excellence. Over the following 175 years Swindon has played an important part in this nation’s history, building Spitfires, shaping the Mini and making over two million Honda cars. Become home to the European Headquarters for Intel, to Nationwide – the largest building society in the UK and Zurich, one of the largest insurance companies in the world. Along with a host of small innovative companies they are the reason our economy is as strong as it is today.

Over 120 Mark XXI Spitfires were made in Swindon from 1943 following the bombing of the Supermarine factory in Southampton.

Picture: King George V at the Swindon Works.

Two heroes return home for Swindon175 celebrations STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway is thrilled

Designed by George Jackson Churchward, the City of Truro

at the return of two of the most iconic locomotives to be

became the first vehicle to travel at over 100 miles per hour

made in Swindon, King George V and City of Truro.

on May 9th, 1904.

No.6000 King George V (KGV), the first King Class

Recorded by Charles Rous-Marten at Wellington Bank in

locomotive, was designed by Charles B Collet and was

Somerset, the GWR did not want the record publicised as it

the most powerful 4-6-0 engine made by GWR.

was thought this could put people off travelling by train.

Probably the best known

The two

‘King’ Class locomotive, it was

locomotives will

built in June 1927 and almost

feature in refreshed

immediately shipped to the

displays at STEAM

United States to feature in the

to celebrate

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

Swindon175 and will

centenary celebrations.

include three new

There it took the US by

exhibitions to mark

storm, out-performing all

the huge role Sir

others during the celebrations

Daniel Gooch played

and was presented with a bell

in creating the GWR

and gold medals which it still

Railway Works.

carries today.

Picture: City of Truro

Moving a large, heavy and extremely precious cargo

The job of moving these icons of the railway by road was the responsibility of renowned heavy haulage specialists, Moveright International.

Formed in 1984 by Andrew Goodman, they specialise

in moving the odd, the awkward and the difficult, not only across the UK but across the world including taking Stephenson’s Rocket to Japan. Moving King George V and City of Truro seems quite routine, however it still required months of careful planning. Travelling down from the festival at Tyseley the locomotives travelled at a speed of 31 miles per hour with the low loaders averaging 2.9 miles per gallon. For more pictures of the locomotives returning home visit To see more of what Moveright International have moved visit

King George V swaps places with Lode Star Picture courtesy of Calyx.

As well as being jewellers to Queen Victoria, Garrard record decks were exported the world over.


Swindon175 arts culture &

Swindon175 is proud to be opening its doors to performers,

exhibitors and creators giving the opportunity to showcase talent and wares. We have so much to celebrate when it comes to culture and the arts, with numerous dramatic, dance and musical societies in Swindon some with a very strong foothold. Probably our most historical theatre company and one born out of the Great Western Railway is the Western Players. Originally known as the “Mechanics’ Institute Amateur Theatrical Club in 1854, several name changes later it became the Western Players in 1949. The Swindon Light Opera Society (SALOS), have been performing since 1951 and the Swindon Gilbert and Sullivan Society since 1969.

Ken White – No regrets

Sixth Sense, Swindon’s only professional theatre company, will celebrate its 30th birthday next year and Swindon Festival of Literature is now 20 years old. Relative newcomers to the circuit, Liberatus School of Performing Arts with patrons Arlene Philips and Bruno Tonioli, The Chocolate Theatre Company, the Shoebox Theatre and Theatre Ink are also very prominent on the map and there’s simply not enough room to mention them all. Swindon is also very proud of its extremely talented art scene and with great names like Ken White and David Bent. Ken’s talent for murals is famed and his work for Virgin Group still survives today, with his famous Scarlet Lady adorning Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft. David’s reputation as an aviation artist is recognised across the world and his work has been exhibited widely including private showings for the Royal family. Our local artists are a very important asset for the town and exhibitions large and small are always found on display.

Swindon has been shaping the Mini since the seventies and has made over two million Honda cars.

David Bent – Timeless

What’s being planned... Through Swindon175, we can celebrate with great pride our past, present and future and certainly raise the profile of our town, our community and our region. It’s very clear that we have an abundance of talent in our town and who want to be involved with us as we celebrate Swindon’s birthday. We are looking for business involvement to help us achieve our programme of events and showcase the town, its people and its culture. We have already teamed up with Swindon Arts Trail which will see a month long exhibition of great works by a plethora of Swindon artists. The Swindon Fringe Festival, which will run for ten days and will feature various acts from comedy to plays to music gigs. One of our largest events, so far in the diary, is when the Swindon Symphony Orchestra raise the roof at STEAM. We are also working with the Janice Thompson Performance Trust to stage the aptly named Youth and Community Opera ‘Brunel: The Little Man in the Tall Hat’. Away from the stage but very much part of Swindon’s past and present, Arkell’s Brewery will be brewing three new 175 Celebration ales, and Deacons Jewellers have commissioned a limited edition Swindon175 pocket watch. For model rail enthusiasts, Hatton’s Model Railways have produced a STEAM Museum ‘00’ gauge model ‘King George V’ which is due out in February 2016. Not only will we be celebrating the previous 175 years, we are looking to the future as well with a series of Distinguished Speaker events which will include key business leaders, economists and politicians. If you would like to know more about Swindon175 and the events we are planning or if you want to get more involved please contact me, Caroline Black Project Manager of Swindon175 on

Swindon Dance is dedicated to creating and developing the dance, dancers and audiences of tomorrow. Firmly embedded in the national dance sector, with a 35-year track record and national reputation for providing high-quality dance training in Swindon and the South West.


What’s being planned... Janice Thompson Performing Trust To celebrate SWINDON 175 the JTPTRUST charity is proposing a fresh production of the Youth and Community Opera ‘Brunel: The Little Man in the Tall Hat’. The sixty- minute opera was originally commissioned for the Brunel 200 South-West celebrations and features 100 singers and performers. It tells the story of the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, through the eyes of the a fictitious Swindon family of Railway Workers (the ’Beddows’) who are off on the annual Railway Works ‘Trip Train’ to St Ives. Swindon Arts Trail The Swindon Arts Trail will feature some of the very best art Made in Swindon, displayed at venues across the town. The trail is organised by two local artists and developed as a natural ‘spin-off’ event of the popular, well-established Swindon Open Studios weekends. Venues hosting the trail range from the historic (Steam Museum, Swindon Dance, The Beehive, The Glue Pot) to the modern (Darkroom Espresso, Artsite, the Central Library). Visitors to the trail will be able to enjoy fresh and exciting ceramics, textile art, a new community mural, fine art drawing and painting – all of which have a close link with Swindon. Many of the artists featured draw inspiration from our industrial and urban heritage (Ken White, David Bent, David Robinson, Tim Carroll, Mark Worrall, Juliet Wood, The Visual Drop). Others highlight Brunel: The little man in the tall hat.

the natural beauty and open spaces to be found across Swindon (Beverley Greig, Caroline Day, Terry Humphries, Susan Carr).

Swindon Station by Tim Carroll

Swindon Fringe Festival The Fringe is now in its fourth year and has gone from strength to strength. From an event which featured 3 local companies in 2013; the Swindon Fringe hosts performances from local, national and international companies. The Swindon Fringe 2016 will run between the 1st and 10th April in venues including STEAM, The Shoebox Theatre, Swindon Dance, The Vic, MECA and Swindon’s primary theatre The Wyvern. This year’s fringe schedule is being finalised and features a wide mix of drama, music, comedy, dance and one person shows, which cover the entire breadth of theatre styles and tastes.

The Swindon Fringe 2016 is a very special one as it falls

2015’s Fringe featured shows from companies as far

in the year of the Swindon175 celebrations that run for the

afield as Serbia and Sardinia, and this year’s includes

whole of 2016 and celebrate the 175th anniversary of the

companies from India, Italy & Eastern Europe.

opening of the Swindon Railway works.

The Works Hooter From around 1867, the beginning of the working day was

The authorities eventually allowed the matter to drop, as

marked by the mournful sound of the Works hooter, as

it was noted the GWR were capable of duplicating hooters

domestic and personal timepieces were beyond the pocket


of the many. The hooter was sounded for 10mins at 5.20am,

Two hooters with their distinctive sound have continued

3mins at 5.50am, and 1min at 6.00am. Men would walk

to raise Swindon from its slumbers at 6.45am, until the

from outlying villages, including Highworth, Cricklade,

closure of the Works on 26th March 1986, when the iconic

Wootton Bassett, and in the case of our own Hammerman

sound was heard for the last time. With prevailing wind

Poet Alfred Williams, from South Marston. The Hooter

conditions the sound was reported to have carried over

signaled lunch and finishing times, 6 days a week, totaling

twenty miles.

54hours of the working week. In 1872 Lord Bollingbroke complained that it woke him

THE hooter house survives today, a listed building in the Outlet Village, but no longer vibrates to the sound of

prematurely at his Lydiard Park estate some 3 ½ miles

the hooter, nor sends clouds of steam into the air. Part of

away. Through Government Board action the Hooter was

our 175 celebrations next year will be to re-create the live

silenced, but the solution for the GWR, was promoted by a

steam hooter for Swindon, and remember the closure of the

local MP, which saw a duplicate Hooter placed to the side of

works 30 years ago.

the disused one.

Swindon175 launch is sponsored by

Swindon175 logo and brochure designed by Paul R Gentleman Associates Ltd

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