Go Away: Swindon Town

The front cover of an AtoZ street atlas of Swindon on a red background

Swindon is the biggest town in Wiltshire, a boast akin to being the tallest of Snow White’s seven dwarves. However until the 19th century it existed only as a small market town, which dealt primarily in barter. Stand down, Richard Keys, we said barter.

The appearance of Swindon dramatically changed in the middles of the 19th century when Isambard Kingdom Brunel arrived here; for a start, hats got much taller. The town became the home of the Great Western Railway’s main works, prompting GWR to construct a model village for its local workers. So grateful were the workers that none of them had the heart to point out to the railway company that these model homes were far too small for any of them to fit in.

Swindon’s most famous attribute is a road junction, The Magic Roundabout, a series of six interconnected roundabouts. This has led to many to label the town as being a little on the boring side, but those people clearly haven’t taken into account that Swindon is also home to the head offices of thrilling high-octane companies like English Heritage, Nationwide, WHSmith, Zurich Insurance and the National Trust.

If all that excitement isn’t too much, Swindon is also home to the Bodleian Library’s book depository, which reportedly contains 153 miles of bookshelves. So if you’re looking for a collection of Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry you’ll find it just outside Carmarthen.

Swindon Town were formed in 1879, going under the name Spartans for a few years, before everyone agreed this was far too exotic and they deferred to ‘Town’. The team’s finest hour came in 1969 when, as a Third Division side, they defeated Arsenal at Wembley to win the League Cup. They also had a single season in the Premier League in 1993-94, the bloody show-offs.

What’s it famous for?

For a nondescript railway town Swindon boasts a surprisingly high turnover of blonde bombshells with Diana Dors, Melinda Messenger and Julian Clary all having roots in the town. Slightly darker roots naturally.

How to blend in

Put on a stove pipe hat, get yourself some breast implants, break out the peroxide and ruminate on the complex geography of road lay-outs and town-planning.

What’s the stadium like?

Floodlights, Proper floodlights. Four whacking great pylons, one on each corner of the ground, visible from most of Wiltshire. This is how a football ground should look. When you’ve stopped gazing lovingly at the metal lattice-work in the corners you’ll eventually notice that the County Ground has got two whacking great stands as well. They really are spoiling us. 

Behind one goal time is kept on a large Rolex clock. At one time this was the largest Rolex timepiece to be found in a UK football ground, that is until Robbie Savage started flashing his bling about whilst doing 606. Rovers fans will be housed in the corner of the older Arkells Road Stand from which, according to the Football Ground Guide, ‘you even get a view of the rolling Marlborough Hills’. So, you know, something to look forward to at least.

One thought on “Go Away: Swindon Town

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s