Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking down on Fleming Way in the 1950s

This 1950s aerial view of Swindon shows the town centre on the threshold of an earlier regeneration project.

Demolition had already begun with a small cluster of terraces on the corner of Weymouth Street.  Built in the 1870s, the site of the former housing was used as an unofficial car park when this photograph was taken in 1959.

The transformation would continue with the creation of Fleming Way, named in honour of former Swindon Town striker, Harold Fleming.  This busy bus terminus cut a swathe through housing in Cheltenham and Gloucester Streets.

Today the Zurich Tri Centre buildings stand on the site of houses once bounded by Wellington and Gloucester Streets.

Farnsby Street, at the top of the photograph, numbered fifty-seven houses.  The Wesley School Rooms stood on the corner of Faringdon Road, now dominated by the refurbished Bridge House.

Catherine, Carr and Vilett Streets all made room for the multi-storey car park and the Murray John building.  Named after Swindon's visionary Town Clerk, David Murray John, today this iconic 1970s building dominates the Swindon skyline.

Still recognisable today is the distinctive building at the Bridge Street crossroads, once home to Burtons the tailors in 1959.

In 1957 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told the British public they had 'never had it so good.'  While Regent Street was dominated by super store old timers McIlroys and Morses there was a myriad of other smaller businesses in neighbouring streets.  Harry and Sidney Godden had a tobacconists in Cheltenham Street while E.D. Major ran a cycle repair workshop from 1 Weymouth Street and Sidney F. Radford had a dance school at 71 Cheltenham Street.

Today changes continue to take place with the demolition of the Whale Bridge roundabout and more work planned to alter Fleming Way.

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