Located along the Great West Way between Reading and Bristol, Swindon is a small town surrounded by Wiltshire countryside. With good shopping and a thriving arts scene, Swindon has more to offer than you might think.

Swindon can trace its history all the way back to the Domesday Book. Its name, as you might imagine, means “pig hill” and it started out as a market town. But in 1840, this sleepy town was transformed.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel built his Great Western Railway works in Swindon. In addition to the factory (which today is home to the English Heritage Archive), Brunel built an entire village to house his workers.

This influx of people and technology changed Swindon forever. The Great Western railway connected the town to Bristol and London, bringing in a diverse range of people to the town. But its heyday wouldn’t last.

Its connection to the railway meant that it declined along with British Rail. But unlike so many dying northern towns, Swindon bounced back. Diversification and growth continued at a rapid pace and the town you visit today has all the features of a successful British town.

Its fully pedestrianised shopping centre is the focal point of Old Town. Here you can take time to wander through quiet courtyards and alleyways, explore the Town Gardens and, shops, pubs and cafes.

You will also find a thriving arts scene in Swindon. The town hosts events at the Wyvern Theatre, Arts Centre and Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

There are lots of things to see and do in Swindon including a visit to Lydiard House, an elegant Georgian abode set in rolling parkland.

You can discover the history of the Great Western Railway at STEAM Museum. You can also explore the Museum of Computing or visit nearby farm park Roves Farm or the butterfly world and craft village at Studley Grange.

So, if you find yourself in north east Wiltshire with time on your hands, discover what Swindon has to offer.