Swindon

Swindon town centre, viewed from Radnor Street Cemetery

Swindon is a large town in Wiltshire, in southern England, with a population of approximately 200,000 people. It doesn't have very much to offer from a historical perspective, although it does have a great deal of heritage from the British Railway system in which it played a central part during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Understand

The town began its existence as a Saxon village, and it is likely that its name is derived from the Saxon words 'swine dun' or 'swines down' meaning 'pig hill'. The small hilltop village subsequently expanded around the site of a quarry, with a 19th-century canal facilitating trade.

During the mid 19th century, the introduction of the Great Western Railway and the associated railway works fully transformed Swindon from a village into a thriving industrial town, which drew workers from across the United Kingdom.

Swindon experienced a population boom after World War II. New housing areas were built due to a shortage of housing in London following the mass destruction caused by the war. This population growth has continued and the town remains one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Get in

By plane

Swindon is served by international airports in the south of the United Kingdom. For travellers coming directly to Swindon, the following airports are most convenient:

Airport Car Public Transport
Heathrow Airport 1 hour 10 minutes via the M4 motorway 1 hour and 25 minutes using National Express coach service NX403
Bristol Airport 1 hour 10 minutes via Bristol city centre, the M32 motorway and the M4 motorway 1 hour and 20 minutes, using the shuttle bus to Bristol Temple Meads railway station and the train to Swindon thereafter.
Southampton Airport 1 hour 10 minutes via the M3 motorway, the A34 and the M4 motorway 1 hour and 15 minutes by train, via Reading railway station.

Arrival points involving greater travel times include London Gatwick Airport, London Stansted Airport, London Luton Airport, Bournemouth Airport, Birmingham Airport and Cardiff Airport.

By train

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

Swindon has one railway station, located centrally within the town - Swindon Station. It is located on Station Road, immediately north of the town centre, offering four platforms for arrivals and departures.

By bus

National Express Coaches are available from the central bus station. Tickets can be purchased from the bus station office for all major cities and airports (bus transfers may apply - visit the website for more information).

By car

Driving along the M4, take junction 15 or 16 into Swindon. There are no direct Park and Ride depots near the junctions, one one is available is entering Swindon via Wroughton (traveling from Devises or Avebury) National Park and Ride Directory.

Get around

Foot

The town centre is small enough to walk through on foot, as is the shopping areas of Old Town, the Great Western Designer Outlet Village, the Orbital Retail Park and the Shaw Ridge Leisure Park & West Swindon Shopping Centre. Although it is a great way of seeing Swindon, it is not recommended as most attractions are more than 45 minutes walk from the centre of the town - it is advisable to travel by bus. The attractions within 15 minutes walk of the town centre include the Steam Museum, the Railway Village, the Wyvern Theatre, the civic council offices and central Public Library, the Swindon Hydro Centre, the main bus station, the railway station, and some hotels.

Bus

Swindon has an extensive local bus network, with the vast majority of routes radiating outward from the town centre (either from the bus station or the Fleming Way bus stands).

The two main bus operators in the town are Thamesdown Transport and Stagecoach West.

A full list of routes can be found at the Swindon Borough Council bus information website

Bicycle

Swindon has extensive support for bikes, with paths following major roads split between pedestrians and cycles.

For more detailed information about cycle routes to and from Swindon, see the SwindonWeb Cycle Route website.

Car

The road network in Swindon is comprehensively signposted. To get from one side of Swindon to the other, locals have the option of driving through town, or jumping on the motorway from junction 15 to 16. This method of getting across Swindon has recently been somewhat superseded by the recently built and almost unused link between Drove Road/Wroughton and the Rushy Platt junction.

The Magic Roundabout

One of the major attractions when driving around Swindon is the Magic Roundabout, named after the 1960's television show. This sprawling junction contains five mini roundabouts, each situated around a bigger, but less obvious, central counter-clockwise roundabout (which houses a very bright street light for night driving). Each mini roundabout has three junctions, two leading on to the next and previous mini roundabout, and one acting as an entry/exit junction. Many visitors are immediately intimidated by local drivers who use it proficiently, but the local secret is "to treat each mini roundabout as normal", rather than looking at the daunting mass of concrete and cars.

See

Museums

Galleries

Architecture

Parks and Woodland

Do

Festivals

Sporting Events

Other Activities

Buy

Swindon town centre contains the main retail core of the town, primarily served by four pedestrianised shopping streets (Bridge Street, Regent Street, Canal Walk and The Parade). The shops are around 150 metres from the bus station and approximately 300 metres from the railway station.

The Brunel Centre is accessible from Canal Walk, comprising a two-story indoor shopping area.

At the end of western end of Canal Walk is the Swindon’s Tented Market .

Two shopping destinations exist within walking distance of the town centre. 0.8 km west of the town centre is the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, Europe's largest indoor designer outlet in the unique setting of restored Victorian railway engineering buildings. 1.1 km south-east of the town centre is Old Town.

Further afield are Greenbridge Retail Park, the West Swindon Shopping Centre and the Orbital Retail Park. These are accessible from the town centre by bus, taxi or car.

Eat

There are plenty different types of places to choose from, including traditional English and Irish pubs, Chinese and Indian restaurants, and cafes and bars.


Drink

For really good pubs it is advised you head out of town into the countryside a bit, however several of the more popular pubs are:

Sleep

The hotel sector in Swindon has seen increased growth in the past decade as the town continues to urbanise and establish itself as a base for tourism in the centre of southern England.

Town Centre

For many years there was only one hotel in the town centre but competition arrived and there are now three main players, with more rumoured to be on the way. This increased competition ultimately benefits you, with reduced room rates on offer.

Bed & Breakfasts can be found on Manchester Road and County Road.

West Swindon

Another cluster of hotels can be found in West Swindon, a convenient stopover point due to the proximity of the M4 motorway at Junction 16.

Old Town

The pace of life in Old Town is much slower due to its distance from the railway station and town centre. However, one large hotel does exist:

Bed & Breakfast accommodation can be found on Bath Road and Victoria Road.

Elsewhere

Other places to sleep include:

Go next

Routes through Swindon

Cardiff Bristol  W  E  Reading London
Bristol Temple Meads Bath Spa  W  E  Reading London Paddington


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 05, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.