Local Studies at Swindon Central Library: A 2014 Roundup

New Swindon in 1849

A view of New Swindon in 1849

2014 was another busy year in Local Studies. Here’s a quick summary of our activities in the last year:

  • We staged the latest 4 meetings of the Swindon & District History Network (also known as the S&DHN) which reached has now reached its 5th year. This informal meeting of representatives from dozens of local heritage groups, societies and institutions seems to be going strong, with many new groups attending this year.
  • We hosted 9 of our regular talks and drop-in advice sessions by the fantastic team of archivists from the Wiltshire & Swindon Archives (at Chippenham).
  • There were more evening talks: on the experience of Swindon men in the First World War, on life in the trenches, on notable Swindon writer Ralph Bates – and even a talk on the enigma of Swindon’s many tunnels.
  • We hosted the meetings of the Swindon in the Great War Committee, of which we are a part.
  • We partnered with the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre on their “Collecting Cultures” HLF-funded project – more to come on this in 2015!
  • We partnered with Create Studios on their excellent HLF-Funded “100 Stories” project.
  • We had stands at the Vintage Weekend in the Brunel Centre and events at the Swindon Museum & Art Gallery.
  • We reached 13 million views on our online history gallery on Flickr.
  • Our Facebook Page passed 300 “likes”.
  • On our Twitter account we now have over 2700 followers.
  • We continued our seasonal “memory box” project – local history images and other visual materials prepared for use in events at residential care homes and related groups. We hope to develop and expand this idea further in 2015.
  • We gave many tours of the Local Studies collection to many groups, including Lethbridge School, Wroughton History Group, and Create Studios MassMedia Group. Always feel very welcome to ask if this might be of interest.
  • We continued hosting our series of family history drop-in help sessions. These are staffed by the knowledgeable and hard-working team of volunteers from the Wiltshire Family History Society (Swindon Branch). More of these on the way in 2015.

We continue to collect all new local history books, including the following from 2014:

  • Elaine Arthurs & Felicity Jones (of STEAM Museum): “Wartime GWR”.
  • Graham Carter & Caroline Ockwell: “In the Shadow of the Workhouse”. The launch event for this fantastic new book about the Swindon & Highworth Union at Stratton was held here at Central Library, attended by Mayor Cllr. Page.
  • Mark Child: “The Swindon Book Companion” – a brilliant follow up to “The Swindon Book” with even more local history entries.
  • Michael Gray: Architect Michael kindly supplied us with 6 detailed academic studies, covering a number of local architectural topics, including Brightwen Binyon, the Mechanics’ Institution, the Baptist Tabernacle, Lydiard House and Prospect Terrace.
  • Sheridan Parsons: “Wootton Bassett in the Great War”.
  • Mike Pringle: “Great War Britain Swindon: Remembering 1914-18” – and his Wilfred Owen-inspired novel “Five Chances”.
  • Barrie Telling: “My memories of the Rodbourne Rockets Cycle Speedway Club”.
  • Karin Thompson & Paul Williams: “From Farming Fields to Muddy Trenches: Bishopstone and Hinton in and around the Great War of 1914-1918.
  • Peter Timms: ”Swindon Works: 1930-1960”.
  • Mike Yates: “Ralph Bates – Swindon’s Unknown Author”.
  • We continued collecting the excellent Swindon Heritage magazine, which completed its second year in 2014.
  • Working with STFC historian Paul Plowman, and with the help of the Swindon Advertiser, we continued microfilming Swindon’s “Football Pink”. We have now completed 1929-1939 and 1957-1973, which leaves 1945-1956 and some of the very last issues in the 1970s.
  • As always, we continued to collect and microfilm the Swindon Advertiser, which we have complete from 1854.
  • 2014 was a fantastic year for donations to our collection – copies of many of the above books were also kindly donated by their authors. Received from many different people and organisations, this year’s donations included: hundreds of old photographs and postcards, sets of 1920s & 1930s maps, 1920s Swindon schoolgirl diaries, Victorian post office directories of Wiltshire, early Swindon vinyl records, a 1930s scrapbook on grasstrack racing at Wroughton, a 1918 GWR photo album, Wiltshire-related acts of parliament from the 1720s, and much, much more. We really can never tell what might come through our doors!

A Happy New Year to all of our customers and we hope to see you in 2015. Thanks for reading!


Local Studies

Swindon Central Library, Regent Circus, Swindon SN1 1QG

(01793) 463238



Our opening hours:

Mon, Tue & Wed:  10:00am – 4:00pm.

Sat:                        10:00am – 1.30pm.