The Railway Village Swindon: England’s Favourite Conservation Area 2018

25 October 2018

The Railway Village Swindon: England’s Favourite Conservation Area 2018

The Civic Voice Trophy - The Railway Village Swindon: England's Favourite Conservation Area 2018

So! We did it. The Railway Village Swindon is England’s Favourite Conservation Area 2018!

Following a huge amount of support on social media the public vote for our nominated conservation area outstripped the competition by miles. That result was made possible by a small number of people getting behind our social media campaign with zest and gusto! They shared, and shared and cajoled and reminded. And did all over again several times a day for several days. It was a magnificent effort that left us here at Swindon Civic Voice in awe and astonishment.

But of course, it’s only right and proper that we understand that Swindon Civic Voice – sometimes in collaboration with other people and organisations – put in a great deal of groundwork leading up to this wonderful moment. Most notable of all that behind the scenes work being the last two Civic Days.

Image railway village Big Conversation Civic Voice

Civic Days 

Swindon Civic Voice is a part of the national civic voice movement. Read their press release about our award here:

For the last two years at least, Swindon Civic Voice has taken part in Civic Day. These days are designed to focus on your conservation area. 2018’s centred on ‘Why your Conservation Area Matters’. 

in 2018, SCV focused on the Health Hydro or Milton Road Baths.

The Milton Road baths are an historic and unique Victorian health facility, a heritage asset right in the middle of Swindon and an integral part of our proud Railway history. And of course the central community centre, managed by the Mechanics’ Institute trust, was once the GWR community fund hospital.

The arms of New Swindon’s conservation area don’t officially embrace Milton Road baths but they do hug the Railway Village, the Central Community Centre, the Baker’s Arms,** the Platform and the Mechanics’ Institute.

** Now a community cafe:

Were you aware that?

  •  The Health Hydro and Swimming baths have been serving the community for 125 years.
  •  The GWR Medical Fund Society, an entity that influenced the formation of the NHS, was already 100 years old when it was handed to the NHS.
  •  2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the NHS
  • The Victorian Turkish Baths at Milton Road are now the oldest, extant of their kind in the world.
  •  Swindon Amateur Swimming Club, the third oldest swimming club in the county, has been based at Milton Rd since it first opened.’

Many people worked VERY hard to make these events a success: all the small businesses who sponsored the day, who baked biscuits and helped out. And not forgetting the SCV chair at that time, John Stooke, who worked alongside the rest of the committee in Trojan-like manner to make it all happen.

So that was the heavy groundworks toiled and sweated through. Then of course, we have the somewhat last minute decision by SCV to enter the Big Conversation about Conservation – and try saying that after a glass or two of Prosecco! From a field of 249 the civic voice people put our amazing railway village on a shortlist of 18! Wow. A coup. We were overjoyed yet hardly dared to hope for a top three placement let alone top spot. And that is down to myself galvanising Swindon’s social media community into frenzied activity. And the rest you know.

So last weekend myself and Martha Parry attended the Civic Voice national conference in Birmingham. A brilliant experience all round. So wonderful to talk to so many great people and to hear a large amount of support for Swindon.

Here’s a nice write up – and a lovely mention of Swindon from the Grimsby Ice House representative of the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust: Great GIFT. Find them on Facebook:

And finally – a few photographs of the Swindon Civic Voice table at the conference:

Read what the Swindon Advertiser had to say.


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