Swindon is a large town around midway between London and Cardiff. It is not a particularly interesting place to visit but it makes a convenient base for exploring the surrounding area.
Despite being considered by many to be a modern town, it actually dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and was referred to in the Domesday Book. Swindon was a small market town up until the 19th century, at which time the Industrial Revolution brought about several major changes that transformed the town. Firstly the Wilts and Berks Canal was built in 1810 and in 1819 it was joined by the North Wilts Canal. These two canals made Swindon a major trading centre but it was the railway that made the biggest impact on the town.
Swindon’s location around midway along the Great Western main line made it the natural choice for Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Swindon Works where locomotives using the line were maintained and repaired. The works were built between 1841 and 1842 and GWR built a village to house some of its workers and from 1871 the company began providing healthcare for its employees and this scheme was used as a model for the NHS. STEAM The Museum of GWR is an excellent railway museum located on the site of Swindon’s old railway works and the former railway works is also home to a large McArthur Glen Designer Outlet.
The town doesn’t get a lot of tourists and most visitors come either on business or they stop here to break the journey between London and the West Country. If Swindon is famous for anything, it is the Magic Roundabout, a complex roundabout with five mini roundabouts surrounding a larger roundabout running in the opposite direction.
As you would expect from a town best known for a roundabout, Swindon isn’t the most interesting place to visit. However, it is the largest town in Wiltshire with excellent transport connections and a good choice of reasonably-priced accommodation. Because of this, many travellers on a budget stay in Swindon and use the town as a base for exploring the surrounding region.
Swindon is on the Great Western main line, which links London Paddington with Bristol and it has excellent transport connections to London, Gloucester, Wales and the West Country. The railway station is located at the northern edge of the town centre.
The bus station is only a three-minute walk from the railway station and there are direct coach services operated by National Express to Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Gloucester, Leeds, Leicester, London, Newcastle upon Tyne and Northampton. Swindon is also served by Megabus coach services to Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Hereford and London but these stop at an inconveniently-located stop on the edge of town.