|Area: 40 kmē|
Swindon is a large town in Wiltshire in the South West of England. The town is situated approximately halfway between Bristol and London, and is accessible from junction 15 or 16 of the M4 motorway, or by rail using Swindon station. It was a designated Expanded Town under the Town Development Act 1952, which led to a vast increase in the population of the town. It is in the borough of Swindon, which has been a unitary authority independent of Wiltshire since 1998. According to the 2005 census the population of the Swindon urban area was 161,228, whilst around 180,000 lived in the borough.
A resident of Swindon is known as a Swindonian. Swindon's motto is "Salubritas et Industria" (Health and Industry).
The original Saxon settlement of Swindon sat in a defensible position atop a limestone hill. It is referred to in the Domesday Book as Suindune, a name believed to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon words swine and dun meaning literally pig hill, or possibly Sweyn's hill where Sweyn would be the local landlord. Swindon remained a small market town, mainly for barter trade, until the mid-1800s. This original market area of Swindon is located on top of the hill in central Swindon and is now known as Old Town.
A section of the Wilts and Berks Canal near Rushey Platt, Swindon.The industrial revolution was responsible for an acceleration of Swindon's growth. It started with the construction of the Wiltshire and Berkshire canal in 1810, and then the North Wiltshire canal in 1819. These two major routes brought trade to the area, and Swindon's population started to rise.
Probably the most significant event in Swindon's history was in 1840, when it was selected to house the large Swindon railway works for the Great Western Railway by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The works was situated at a point where engines would need to be changed. Eastwards towards London the line was gently graded, while westwards there was a steep descent towards Bath. Swindon was also at the junction of a proposed line to Gloucester.
Construction of the works was completed in 1842. Along with the railway works a small railway village was created to house some of the railway workers. This area became the present day area known as New Town (or the Town Centre). The original Railway Village houses are still standing and are occupied, and several of the original buildings which comprised the engineering works also remain (though many are vacant). The Steam Railway Museum now occupies part of the old works.
In the second half of the 19th century the new area (Swindon New Town) created by the railway works and the original area from the market trading years (Swindon Old Town) were merged to become Swindon.
During much of the 20th century the railway works was the largest employer in the town. In the late-1970s a large part of the works closed.