Swindon’s Listed Buildings List

15th September 2017

Swindon’s Listed Buildings List

Thanks to Martin Newman, member and friend of Swindon Civic Voice, and heritage professional, for this fabulous blog post about Swindon’s listed buildings – well the list of them – if you follow?

Way back when, in their comic opera The Mikado, Gilbert and Sullivan wrote of him having a ‘little list’. Well – we’ve got a list of listed buildings in Swindon that’s far from being little! To find out more read on.

NB: There’s a brief bio of Martin at the bottom. Thank you Martin for a great post.

We’ve got a little list

2017 is the 70th anniversary of the Town and Country Planning Act. This might not immediately seem to be something worth celebrating. Yet this led to the first historic Buildings being listed.

Listing wasn’t the first heritage protection in England, Scheduling of archaeological sites had begun in 1882, but listing remains the best well know of the designations published on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) as well as the one with the greatest number of entries.

At the time of writing there are 37,7675 Listed Buildings in England making up the majority of the nearly 400k sites on the NHLE.

Listing has also had an important impact on the Swindon where it has helped shaped the town as we know it today. The bar for listing is set quite high as a building has to be of ‘national importance’ following the principles of selection published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and further clarified by Historic England’s Selection Guides.

So, bearing this in mind, it’s impressive that Swindon contains 659 Listed buildings. AND fifty-three Scheduled Monuments and three Registered Parks and Gardens!

Fig 1 - map

The first buildings to be listed were not in Swindon however. That honour goes to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

It took the inspectors four years to get to Swindon and on the 2nd October 1951 twenty buildings were listed in the town which remain on the list today:

  • Bath Road Museum Apsley House and Gate Piers
  • Tritton House
  • Manor House and Manor Cottage
  • Stables 6 Metres North of Manor House
  • Church of The Holy Rood
  • Corn Exchange and Town Hall
  • Church of St Mary
  • Goddard Arms Hotel
  • 18 High Street
  • Richard Jefferies Museum
  • Park Farmhouse
  • Square House
  • 8 and 8A High Street
  • Christ Church
  • 6 High Street
  • 16 High Street
  • Westlecot Manor
  • 8-12 Bath Road
  • Church of St Mark
  • Villetts House

As you can see there were some notable exceptions. The buildings of the Railway Village for example were not listed till 1970.

Listing continued to be a slow and process by 1959 only 931 areas completed with 73,310 buildings listed.

At this time lists were published by local authority areas and a resurvey began in 1968. Lists continued to be published this way until the process was computerised in a project lasting from 1994-7.

The area of Swindon was covered by two volumes and the lists published for Swindon before the process went digital were the 14th List for Thamesdown in 1986 with twelve later amendments and the 8th list for Thamesdown (Former Rural District of Highworth) in 1979, twenty-seven amendments.

Booklets - listings from DoE

There are a number of misconceptions about listing, one of which is that all the entries are buildings. Yet, as the example below shows, this milestone on Canal Walk is a listed building. One which you could easily trip over if you weren’t looking where you were going!

Possibly Swindon’s most unlikely listed building © Martin Newman - old canal distance marker

Possibly Swindon’s most unlikely listed building © Martin Newman

Swindon’s most recently listed building isn’t exactly a building either, it’s a red telephone box in Bishopstone (listed 17/01/17).

Bishopstone red telephone box

Bishopstone red telephone box – Photo copyright of Historic England

Another common misapprehension about listed buildings is that they are all ‘old’. A building can be listed after thirty years, or ten years for the higher grades. When the Renault (now Spectrum) building was listed in 2013 it was one of the youngest Listed Buildings in the country and took pride of place on the cover Designation Yearbook.

The Spectrum Building, Swindon - swindons listed buildings

Listed buildings from Swindon’s Railway Village also adorn the cover of a Historic England publication giving guidance to owners of Listed Buildings.

Guide for owners of listed buildings

Last year Historic England launched a new initiative, ‘Enriching The List’.

This scheme invited the public to share their knowledge about and photos of listings, or simply their personal reminiscences and family stories. Once moderated these contributions then appear with, but separated from the official list entry.

So far 581 contributions have been published for listings in Swindon – a good indication of how much people in the town care about the historic buildings around them.’

A bit about Martin:

Martin is the Listing Information manager at Historic England. He’s worked in the heritage sector since graduating from Bradford University with a BSc in Archaeological Sciences in 1990.

Although starting out his career as an archaeologist he now spends more of his time involved with historic buildings.

He is a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2010. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts where he is an ambassador for their Heritage Identity and Place project and a Chartered Member of CILIP – Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Martin has lived in Swindon for over 20 years and is a member of Swindon Civic Voice.


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