Communities sprang up as result of railways – and World War
As with so many other areas of the town, the arrival of the railway was the catalyst for immense change.
Until about the mid-19th Century, Rodbourne consisted largely of rich farmland roughly bisected by Rodbourne Road.
Historically the area wasn’t known as Rodbourne but as Even Swindon, reflecting the contrast between its relatively flat landscape and the more undulating territory found in Swindon proper.
The first housing for the influx of Railway Works staff was in what is now the Railway Village, but there was never any doubt that far greater expansion would be needed.
The first Rodbourne properties built for Works staff were in Rodbourne Road itself, but an entire network of new streets followed. Historians of Swindon generally agree that the basic shape of the suburb as we now know it was complete by the outbreak of the First World War.
People new to the area are sometimes confused between Rodbourne and Rodbourne Cheney, but they are separate entities historically as well as in terms of the way they are laid out. The latter community has its roots not in the decades-long frenzy of expansion that followed the arrival of the railways but rather in a later phase of Swindon’s growth.
Maps of the area at the start of the 20th Century show a small cluster of buildings around a rural T-Junction, some distance from the farm which would one day give its name to Pinehurst.
The programme of building which would produce Rodbourne Cheney as we know it now began in the late 1920s. The Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, built later, is a major economic hub.
The history of modern-day Moredon started even later. Moredon itself was originally a tiny community with a few houses, a farm and an inn.
Its growth into a neighbourhood which is home to thousands was prompted by another wave of population expansion a century or so after Brunel. During the Second World War, many industries relocated to Swindon, attracted by the low risk of bombing compared to major cities, and also lower operating costs.
Those industries needed staff, the staff needed to be housed – and so did many other people who were relocated from poor housing in London after the conflict.
The old Swindon Corporation acquired Moredon in 1948 and within two years so much progress had been made that the then Princess Elizabeth, our future Queen, was able to visit one of the newly completed council properties on Akers Way.
- The Adver Roadshow is in Rodbourne and Moredon this week. We will be at the Manor Garden Centre from 11am until 1pm every day. Why not pop along and meet the team?
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