Aerial view of Swindon's Railway Village

Swindon’s Railway Village becomes a Heritage Action Zone © Historic England 29615/042
Swindon’s Railway Village becomes a Heritage Action Zone © Historic England 29615/042

Swindon’s New Heritage Action Zone is Launched

Today (6 June 2019) sees the launch of the Swindon Heritage Action Zone, an ambitious five year plan to revitalise the town’s unique heritage and unlock its economic potential.

The Swindon Heritage Action Zone will breathe new life into the town’s Railway Village, an area rich in heritage and full of promise, to make it a more attractive place to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.

The HAZ will pool the skills and resources of a number of partners to regenerate Brunel’s 1841 Great Western Railway Works and the village built to house its thousands of employees. It will restore and repair neglected public buildings and bring them back into use, improve public spaces and connections between the village and the town centre, and promote and celebrate the area’s special qualities, helping to instil a sense of local pride.

Indoor swimming pool
The Health Hydro was one of a number of facilities designed to promote good health and a good standard of living to the Great Western Railway workforce. Through the Heritage Action Zone this building will be enhanced to maximise its potential. © Historic England AA98/10418

Over the five year programme Swindon Borough Council and Historic England will jointly invest £7.6m in this special area.

Sixteen separate projects - from repair schemes to place branding and public engagement – will add up to make a big difference to Swindon’s future prosperity.

Key projects

  • Reviewing the Railway Works and Railway Village Conservation Areas, to better understand issues affecting them and to plan for their future management
  • Producing updated list descriptions for some buildings, and gathering evidence for a Local List
  • A shopfront improvement scheme to help local businesses stand out and thrive
  • Improving the condition of the Health Hydro and its immediate surroundings
  • Refurbishing the Grade II Cricketers’ and bringing it back into use
  • Repairing and reusing the Grade II Carriage Works as a new co-working business hub and a Cultural Heritage Institute
  • Securing a sustainable future for the Grade II* Listed Mechanics’ Institution
  • Producing and putting in place a management plan for the GWR Park
Building covered with scaffolding and surrounded by hoardings
One of the aims of the Heritage Action Zone will be to secure the future of the Railway Mechanics’ Institute, the architectural centrepiece of the Railway Village © Swindon Borough Council

With the appointment of Project Officer Karen Phimister, work is set to begin with a review of listings, a Conservation Area appraisal and key research work.


The HAZ brings together established groups and partnership who share a passion for the potential of Swindon’s heritage. They include:-

  • Mechanics Institution Trust
  • Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • National Trust
  • Swindon Designer Outlet
  • Swindon Business Improvement District
  • English Heritage
Carriage Works in Swindon
As part of the HAZ, the Grade II Carriage Works will be repaired and become new employment and higher education space © Swindon Borough Council

The Swindon Heritage Action Zone will capitalise on the town’s proud railway heritage and make it easy for investors and developers to bring jobs, homes and visitors here.. Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director, Historic England

The Heritage Action Zone will enable Swindon’s prized assets to flourish for years to come Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council

Get involved!

There will be many opportunities to get involved in the Swindon HAZ and to celebrate Swindon’s railway heritage through events, exhibitions, publications and tours.

Keep up to date by following the project on Twitter @HE_SouthWest and @SwindonCouncil and by checking the project web page.

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