In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Swindon like this:
SWINDON, two towns, a parish, and a sub-district, in Highworth district, Wilts. The towns are Old S. and New S. Old S. stands on an eminence, near the Wilts and Berks canal, 1 mile SSE of S.-Junction r. station, and 17 NE by E of Chippenham; was known, at Domesday, as Svindune; commands extensive views into Berks and Gloucestershire; presents a picturesque appearance, with old house s of red brick and stone; is a seat of petty-sessions and a polling place; and has a head post-office,‡ two banking offices, and two chief inns. ...
New S. stands around S.-Junction r. station, on the Great Western railway, at the forking of the lines toward respectively Chippenham and Gloucester; originated in the removal hither, in 1841, of the entire locomotive department of the railway from Wootton-Bassett; occupies ground which previously was all waste; contains erections of the railway company, constructed at a cost of nearly £500,000, including a great r. station, refreshment-rooms and hotel, a shed 490 feet by 72, an engine-house 290 feet by 140, and extensive workshops; and includes great ranges of neat dwelling-houses, a mechanics' institute, a library and reading room, and a public park. The two towns, for all ordinary business purposes, are practically one. A weekly market is held, and a weekly newspaper published, on Monday; and fairs are held on 21 March, 3 April, 23 May, 25 Sept., and 11 Dec. A spacious corn exchange, with a conventional classic front, was erected in 1866. St. Mark's church, in New S., was built at a cost of £8,000; and is in the decorated English style, with tower and spire 140 feet high. The Independent chapel in Victoria-street was built in 1866, at a cost of £3,000; and is in the Lombardic style, with a tower 60 feet high. There are also a church in Old S., three dissenting chapels, an endowed school with £54 a year, and charities £108. Pop. of New S. in 1861, 4,167. houses, 716.The parish comprises 3,136 acres; and is ecclesiastically cut into Old S. and New S. Real property, £37,769; of which £14 are in quarries, £1,559 in canals, and £172 in gasworks. Pop. in 1851, 4,876; in 1861, 6,856. houses, 1,204. The Lawn, contiguous to Old S. town, is the seat of the God dards. A Druidical stone is at Brome. The living of Old S. is a vicarage, and that of New S. is a p. curacy, in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol. Value of Old S., £302;* of New S., £120.* Patron of Old S., the Lord Chancellor; of New S., the Bishop of G. and B.The sub-district contains 8 parishes. Acres, 26,608. Pop., 12,224. Houses, 2,346
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Swindon has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Swindon. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Swindon and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Swindon in Wiltshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 31st January 2015
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