Sunday, March 25, 2012

Looking down on Cheney Manor Road in the 1950s

Designated a Conservation Area by Thamesdown Borough Council in 1990, Rodbourne Cheney can boast St Mary's, a Grade II listed church and a late 16th century Manor House with stables - and apparently several ghosts including a spectral coach and four horses.

The parish of Rodbourne Cheney once included a village originally called Hreod Burna and Moredon, Haydon and Haydon Wick hamlets.  When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086 the name had become Redbourne, a corruption of 'reedy-bourne.'  Finally a 13th century lord of the manor, Ralf Chanu added his name to complete the modern appellation Rodbourne Cheney.

Early Ordnance Survey maps show just a handful of houses along what was once known as Telford Road, renamed Cheney Manor Road in 1929 when Rodbourne Cheney became part of Swindon Borough.

In 1900 Bessemer Road, named after Victorian steel maker, Sir Henry Bessemer who invented a process for converting iron into steel, contained just ten properties.

The industrial commemorative theme continues with Churchward Avenue built in 1936 and named after George Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer at the GWR Swindon Works from 1902-1921.  Collett Avenue, built in 1938, was named after his successor, Charles Collett.

This aerial shot of Swindon taken fifty years ago shows the first stage in development at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate.

One of the early occupants at the 1950s Cheney Manor Industrial Estate was Plessey.  The radio component maker's first Swindon address was a factory in Kembrey Street where they relocated to during the Second World War, employing a largely female workforce.  Other member companies of the Plessey Group moved to Swindon during the 50s and 60s.

By 1965 the estate at Cheney Manor contained various small engineering and casting factories, clothing firms, a GPO engineering depot and various warehouses.

Today the Cheney Manor Industrial Estate is home to Swindon Commercial Services and the Borough's Household Waste Recycling Centre where in 2010 the Council announced controversial plans to build a £8.3 million 'incinerator.'  The Council claimed that the new facility would be capable of producing enough energy to power 6,000 homes.

Images - St Mary's Church; 1901 OS map of Rodbourne Cheney and Plessey's factory are published courtesy of Swindon Local Studies - visit for more views.

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