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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > History > Archive Films > Video: Old Town in the 1960s, Queens Park and Swindon's canal

Newport St in Old Town in the 1960s

Newport Street in Old Town in the 1960s

Video: Old Town in the 1960s, Queens Park and Swindon's canal

Watch yet more vintage cine footage of Swindon, this time showing Old Town in the 1960s, the opening of Queens Park in 1953 and the long-since closed canal.

Local TV production company AVP Studios are slowly sifting through donated cine footage in order to produce the third volume in their popular DVD series 'Swindon Through the Decades'. The DVDs each feature never before-seen film of the town shot over the last 50 years.

AVP Studios have supplied us with this latest raw footage, highlights of which will be included on the forthcoming third volume. These particular film clips are of a very high quality and are another great addition to our online collection of cine footage documenting Swindon's bygone era.

Old Town

The first piece of cine footage is silent and runs for just over 18 minutes. It is undated but appears to be from the early-mid 1960s and shows many familiar locations around Swindon's Old Town area.

Wood Street, the High Street, Newport Street and Cricklade Street are featured as well as The Planks area by The Corn Exchange near the entrance to The Lawns.

Old Town High Street in the 1960s

Old Town High Street in the 1960s

As evidenced from the footage, the Old Town district is one of the few parts of the town which has been left relatively untouched by successive Swindon Borough Council administrations over the years.

Queens Park

The second film which is also silent and runs for just over five minutes is easier to date as it features occasional captions.

It opens with a pan around Town Gardens in Old Town but the main sequence of clips which provide most interest document the opening of Swindon's Queens Park Gardens just outside the town centre.

Noel Arkell opens Queens Park in 1953

Noel Arkell opens Queens Park in 1953

It shows the then High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Sir Noel Arkell officially opening the park in the Coronation year of 1953.

As with the preceding film of Old Town, this footage shows another cherished area of Swindon's heritage has been preserved immaculately over the years.

Swindon's canal

Something which has been in the news of late with talk of a restoration is the North Wilts Canal which ran through Swindon for much of the 20th century.

For years the canal prospered but when the Great Western Railway finally reached Swindon, the canal quickly became obsolete and finally ended up as an expensive embarrassment.

Swindon's canal

Swindon's canal

With the last of the boating traffic making its way through the centre of town in 1906, the canal quickly became weed choked and silted up and by 1914 was officially abandoned.

Soon after the Great War, a mile and a quarter of the urban stretch of waterway was filled in and largely forgotten.

This last piece of footage which runs for just under two minutes shows the canal shortly before it was finally filled in.

last updated: 05/12/2008 at 14:47
created: 30/10/2006

Have Your Say

Tell us what you think of the vintage Swindon cine footage.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

john kent
just pipe dreams swindon will never have a canal running down fleming way down the parade past cabria bridge did not work first time and yes i am from swindon and i do remember them filling in the canal by were garrards was the film is very good it looked so peace ful then thanks for the memerioes

ken wallace
I CANT BELIEVE THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE SO SELFISH THAT THEY WANT TO DESTROY PEOPLES QUALITY OF LIFE BY DIGGING A REDUNDANT DITCH FULL OF STAGNANT WATER AND RUNNING IT PAST PEOPLES FRONT DOORS. NOT TO MENTION THE REROUTING OF TRAFFIC DOWN WHAT ARE NOW QUIET STREETS IN THE TOWN A DITCH TO NOWHERE COSTING HOW MUCH EVENTUALLY ? FIVE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS ?

Liz
Encouraging;particularly for us supporters of Wilts&Berks.

chris passmore
great to see vintage swindon my home town

Kerry
I agree, get the canal back and lets bring back some tranquility into this busy town

David Wainwright
How beauteous was our lost canal,How tranquil was her way,Swindon without its water nowless bounteous in many ways ,it spoke of times less fast and furiousits languid walks and peaceful days ,with wildflower and bullrushes , How soon we seek to bury fast ,The journey from our early past , no token left to remember by the gentler more placid times ,a commerce of horse and groomand Market town,forgotten now all to soon, methinks we may travel this way again soon, by the by and bye.

roy elliott
i have lived in swindon for 27 years.it would be realy good to see the canels back up and running. even if they have to be rerouted a little.lets stop talking about it and get digging them out. they may of closed in 1914, but fingers crossed we can get them opened in 2014.

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