Sunday, October 28, 2012

Princes Street

Swindon has been a work in progress since Brunel and Gooch sited an engineering works for the maintenance and repair of locomotives here in 1840.  Of course the industrial new town grew bigger and was more successful than anyone could have possibly predicted.  Pretty much the same could be said for the development that came after the railway boom.

Victorian development on Princes Street, the site of construction work pictured here, began in the 1870s as building projects swallowed up fields of pasture right to the door of Eastcott Farm.  Among the builders at work on Princes Street were the entrepreneurial James Hinton, John Webb and one time publican at the Dolphin Inn, Rodbourne Charles Williams.

The street that stretched from Regent Circus to the canal was named in honour of Albert Victor, eldest son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII.  The scandalous Albert Victor, once in the frame for the Jack the Ripper murders, died  from influenza just a week after his 28th birthday in 1892.

By the time of the 1891 census Princes Street numbered 135 terraced houses occupied mainly by railway workers - engine stokers, fitters, riveters, platelayers - and their families. George Dibbs was licensed victualler at the Red Cow at the Regent Street end of the road while Thomas Garland was behind the bar at the canalside Whale Public House.

Today building continues apace on the first phase of the ambitious Union Square project.  Work begun in June on an 850 space multistorey car park and 45 apartments on the site of the old 1960s police station and this is only the beginning.  The whole caboodle has a 10-15 year time frame but then Rome wasn't built in a day.

1968 view of Princes Street courtesy of Swindon Collection see

Taken from Victoria Road

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