Sunday, March 11, 2012

Looking down on Newport Street in the 1950s

Newport Street is probably the oldest recorded thoroughfare in Swindon and was first mentioned in documents dated 1346. 

In 1874 Thomas Hooper Deacon and his business partner Thomas Edmund Liddiard signed a lease on the mansion house, garden, yards and stables on the corner of High Street and Newport Street, formerly occupied by John Harding Sheppard.

Under the same agreement they also acquired various other properties in the area behind the two streets to further extend their VWH Horse and Carriage Repository. The business flourished and in 1879 1,872 horses were entered for sale across the year.

Today Thomas Hooper Deacon is commemorated in the naming of Hooper Place, a lane close to the site of the Newport Street entrance to the former Vale of White Horse Repository.

This 1950s photograph shows Newport Street almost unrecognisable today with the Co-op Store occupying the former corner site of Sheppard’s mansion house.

Upham Road marks the divide between old Town and the interwar year’s development at Walcot in this 1950s aerial view of Swindon.  Built in 1928 Upham Road was named after the 16th century ancestral farm home of the Goddard family.

And on Bath Road, pictured bottom left, the Gothic Revivalist Bath Road Methodist Church, complete with turrets, was designed by Liverpool architects Bromilow and Cheers in around 1879 and seats 600 people.

Next door the Grade II listed Granville House hides its multicoloured brickwork and stone dressings beneath a coat of whitewash.  Built around the same time as the Methodist Church, Granville House was once the home of Levi Lapper Morse, businessman, Liberal Party politician and Mayor of Swindon in 1901.

Old Swindon’s Market Hall, pictured bottom right aerial view, was built in 1852.  The adjoining Corn Exchange opened in 1866 subsequently served as a skating rink, cinema, ballroom and bingo hall and is better known at the Locarno.  Ravaged by fires in 2003 and 2004 the old Locarno building has been the subject of various failed planning proposals and is today a very sorry sight.

The Hermitage was an apt name the neo Tudor House Charles Anthony Wheeler built nestled up against the Goddard family’s secluded parkland.

By the 1890s Swindon solicitor Henry Kinneir owned the property, but it was with the death of J. L. Calderwood in February 1960 that the house passed out of private ownership and into the public sector.

In 1964 it became a nursing home but despite a protest by local residents, the Victorian property was demolished in 1994.

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