Saturday, October 13, 2012

Link Centre

Today the Link Centre in West Swindon is shrouded in scaffolding during a £1 million five month programme of much needed repair work.  Although the swimming pool will be closed until February 2013, the centre with its multiplicity of sporting facilities attracting more than 800,000 users a year, remains open.

Development at the West Swindon District Centre began in 1974 under Thamesdown Council. The Link Centre opened eleven years later in April 1985 with an evening at the ice rink for new residents.  The second stage of the project opened across the following two months and included a library, swimming pool, snooker hall, sports hall, community rooms and an art and drama studio. The name, chosen by public consensus, reflected the diversity of recreational facilities on offer at the centre.

The West Swindon District centre is built on the former Whitehill Farm, once part of what was known as the Charterhouse Lands. In 1611 high ranking civil servant Thomas Sutton founded a hospital for pensioners and a school for forty poor boys at a former Carthusian monastery near Smithfield in London.  He bought various properties, the rents of which funded this charitable venture, among them Whitehill, Mannington and Toothill Farms in the parish of Lydiard Tregoze.

In 1616 Thomas Sadler farmed 203 acres at Mannington and Robert Cole 188 acres at Toothill while John Lawe farmed 65 acres at the much smaller Whitehill Farm.  In 1799 Richard Dore King signed a twelve year Lady Day lease on the farm where the wealthy King family remained in residence for much of the nineteenth century.

The three farms continued in the ownership of the Charterhouse Trustees into the 20th century. They were eventually sold in 1919 to Wiltshire County Council and broken up into small holdings for the use of returning ex-servicemen following the end of the First World War.

With the adoption of the Town Development Act 1952 Swindon embarked upon an ambitious post Second World War development programme.  Further boundary changes added a large part of the old parish of Lydiard Tregoze and with it the former Charterhouse lands.

‘A 300 acre site at Toot Hill south of the A420 Swindon to Wootton Bassett road will provide the homes in a new urban village,’ the Advertiser reported on Wednesday November 17, 1971 as Thamesdown Council received approval for the western expansion of the town.

Today Whitehill Farmhouse stands on the corner of Beaumaris Road and Rowton Heath Way in Toothill, and remains a Swindon Borough Council owned property.

Whitehill Farmhouse today

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