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Five reasons to love … Swindon

Billie Piper, The Magic Roundabout, XTC and more: five reasons to love the Wiltshire town, according to our vendor on the ground.

Vendor Ian Tanner. Photo: Exposure Photo Agency

Swindon can be found just off the M4 in Wiltshire. In the last 40 years the town has grown faster than any other in the West Country.

Sadly, this mixing pot of rural Wiltshire and urban living  has been much maligned in the popular press as a place where nothing happens.

How wrong they are. Life in Swindon is eventful and wonderful. As a citizen of this fair town I would like to use the pages of The Big Issue to put the record straight.

In the beginning Swindon was a small Saxon hill town. The translation of the name at its most basic is Pig Hill. So, we got off to a bad start on the marketing side of things! However, Swindon soon got going, and good things have been happening ever since. 

The Great Western Railway. Photo: Granger/Shutterstock

The Great Western Railway

Isambard Kingdom Brunel brought the Great Western Railway to Swindon and decided it was a good place to build the Great Western locomotive works.

Opened in 1843, during its almost 150-year history it provided jobs and housing to many a Swindonian.

The GWR put Swindon firmly on the map. Sadly run down and closed in the 1980s, the quality of design and engineering used on Swindon-built locomotives is fondly remembered and some are still in use today.

XTC. Photo: Fin Costello/Redferns

XTC

One of the most progressive and interesting art-rock bands from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

XTC had six singles and nine albums in the British Top 40 and enjoyed success in North America and Europe.

Great songs included Making Plans For Nigel, and my favourite album is Oranges & Lemons.

Swindon Town Football Club

Swindon Town was formed in 1879 by a vicar. It’s had many trials and tribulations over the years. At its height the club won the League Cup.

This was in 1969 when, as a third division side, they defeated first division Arsenal 3-1 at Wembley Stadium. Local hero Don Rogers scored two of the goals. He is still alive today and can be found in his sports shop in town. 

Ian Tanner Pitch: Swindon. Photo: Exposure Photo Agency

One of the other highlights for Swindon Town was promotion to the Premiership in 1993 under the guidance of Glenn Hoddle, who shortly thereafter left the club only for his assistant John Gorman to take charge.

Since then, managers have come and gone with the most publicised, Paolo di Canio, gaining the club promotion from League Two in 2012.

Nowadays Swindon has a new owner who I met recently, an Australian called Clem Morfuni.

Famous People ‘Billie Piper’ Photo: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

The Magic Roundabout

Swindon is famous for the magic roundabout a system of mini-roundabouts that make perfect sense to the driving population of Swindon, but not to the rest of the world.

If you want the perfect life challenge, attempt to drive through The Magic Roundabout!

Famous people

Swindon has produced its fair share of famous people. Famous Swindonians include Desmond Morris, Diana Dors and Billie Piper.

Ian Tanner sells The Big Issue outside TSB, The Parade, Swindon

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