Monday, October 22, 2012

Looking Down on the Civic Centre in the 1950s

Two buildings in this aerial view of Swindon fifty years ago are testament to the town's continuing record of expansion.

Clarence Street School on the corner of Euclid and Clarence Streets was build in 1897 at a cost of £12,091.  With accommodation for 885 children by the beginning of the new century the school was already overcrowded.

The building of Euclid Street Higher Elementary School in 1904 eased the pressure somewhat.  School log books reveal that around this time Clarence Street School was divided into a separate girls' and boys' section.

In 1907 J.J. Stafford was the headmaster with Miss C.J. Stiles in charge of the girls and Miss L.M. Kent, the infants' mistress.  Just two years later and the average attendances numbered 891.

Fifty years later and Clarence Street School accommodated the children of Swindon newcomers moving to the new estates at Walcot and Parks.  In 1958 there were approximately 1,000 children on the roll.

With a population topping the 60,000 mark the Town Hall building in Regent Street was proving to be inadequate accommodation for the increasing number of local government officers.  In 1936 a small recreation ground in Euclid Street was ear marked for the site of the new civic offices.  Designed by Oxford based architects Bertram, Bertram and Rice the Civic Offices opened in 1938.

Watering holes along this stretch of town included the Red Cow, closed and demolished in 1968.  Originally situated in Cow Lane, the Red Cow public house was rebuilt in Princes Street in 1879.  At the other end of Princes Street next to the Whale Bridge was the Whale Inn.  Terraced housing along Islington Street was demolished to make way for the Courts of Justice opened in 1965 while Cow Lane, reduced to a back way when Princes Street was built in the 1870s, disappeared altogether.

Civic Offices now and then

Clarence Street School

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