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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > History > Archive Films > Swindon's Baptist Tabernacle

The Swindon Baptist Tabernacle

The Swindon Baptist Tabernacle

Swindon's Baptist Tabernacle

The imposing historic building which was torn down in 1978 looks set to be making a return to the town. Watch cine footage of when it once stood proud in Regent Street in the 1960s.

One of Swindon's most well-remembered buildings  - The Baptist Tabernacle was demolished in 1978. It stood at the top of Regent St where The Pilgrim Centre is now situated.

But The Tabernacle, or at least some of it looks set to return to Swindon. Local man Stanley Frost purchased the portico of the building after it was torn down and planned to use it as the frontage of a house he was building in Malmesbury.

When his planning application was rejected he hoped to sell what bits of the Tabernacle he had in his possession, but one setback after another also prevented him from doing so.

The Tabernacle

His loss looks like being Swindon's gain as the local council are in the process of having the portico returned to the town to be incorporated into the architecture of a new museum or art gallery.

What is left of the building which was built out of Bath stone, are six columns, the roof, the facade, and the stone wall surrounds.

AVP Studios in Swindon who previously supplied us with video material of Swindon filmed over the last 50 years, have given us access to some newly acquired silent colour cine footage of The Baptist Tabernacle from the late 1960s.

The two clips below show how the top of Regent Street - which at that point had yet to be pedestrianised - looked very different with the imposing coliseum-like Tabernacle at its centrepiece. There is a also a fascinating glimpse inside the building itself as a service is conducted.

last updated: 17/10/2008 at 10:30
created: 21/04/2006

Have Your Say

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I remember it well and I believe I was one of the last people to marry there in 1975. I still have the cine footage. I was sad to see such a structure demolished.
I was in the choir of St Mary's Rodbourne Cheney and we attended a recording of Songs of Praise at the Tabernacle, it must of been in the early sixties, I stayed away from Even Song when The BBC showed it on TV.Church attendance was poor that evening in the Swindon area. Derek Cox.

chris passmore

Gordon Murray-John
I remember the Tabernacle well. Attending services there with Dad. Unfortunately with Mother's illness Dad chose to stay home and spend time and care for her. This led to an ultimatum with the Church authorities. Atend church, or leave the church.In my opinion Dad did the correct thing and stayed home with Mother.Thank goodness a little enlightment has set in.When did the town library cease to to be? How about the Cinema? When did that go?Too much nostalga. I had better get home.

David Wainwright
I am really pleased to read that the facade of TheTabernacle is to be restored to the people of Swindon , it was a sin that it was ever removed standing as a Temple over the Centotaph, another sin was the removal of TheToc H building at the entrance to the lawns , it was the most beautiful building and setting in Old Swindon .

Andrew Jones
does anyone know if the tabernacles history has ever been written?

Richard Aplin
I attended the Sunday morning service at the 'Tab' quite regularly from the late fifties until about 1967. The children would all leave part way through the service and go to 'Sunday school' in the rooms behind the main church. I was quite upset to see it demolished. The red brick house across the road, between the tobacconist and the Rifleman's Hotel, was owned by a cousin of my father until it was compulsorily purchased by the council around 1960. I believe they are still using it as offices. When I was small Regent Circus was the bus 'hub' of Swindon, as most of the Corporation bus routes, as well as the green Bristol buses, ran from there. There were lots of shops and a cinema around the Town Hall but then Regent Street was pedestrianised, the Parade was built and, later on, the Brunel Centre, and Regent Circus was slowly taken over by the building societies and estate agents.

Adrian Moore
This was a wonderful building, which should never have been demolished. Sadly other significant buildings, such as the Corn Exchange in Old Town, are now under threat. Swindon has never been good at preserving its heritage.

The Revd H Derryck Evans`
If this facade is used without removing the inscriptions refering to the Baptist Tabernacle this could result in a Court Case

Val Pettefar
I attended the Tabernacle in the early 70's and remember the beautiful blue ceiling. I witnessed a baptism there which was very moving. The Revs John and Ruth Matthews were the ministers then.

Nick Pettefar
I came to live in Swindon in 1969 I think, aged 9, with my RAF father. I remember attending services at the Baptist Tabarnacle as a boy. I was into electronics and sometimes operated the PA system and remember all the tall skinny speakers on the columns. It always seemed like a cathedral to me! How ridiculous that it was removed. I'm looking forward to seeing at least part of it restored. I hope they sort out the Mechanics Institute next and don't let that disappear too. Swindon needs all the culture it has!

june wood
my grandfather was born in 1905,in 47 regent place,swindon,ud his father was called william henry mother was mary jane,but i cant find out any more about this family,maybe you could help me.yours faithfully,june wood

Nick James
Whomsoever of the town fathers who authorised the demolition of this place...still, probably gone now. Personally,I am irreligious swine, but remember this building as being of great family significance. Visited many times, and it appears in our photo albums.

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