Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Old Cattle and Corn Markets

Still occupied, some of the original stone cottages on the busy Marlborough Road next to the site of the Cattle Market which were built in the early 1800s. A Cattle Market was first established in Old Swindon as early as 1780 by William Dore and was relocated to various positions until finally being built by William Dore III between Marlborough Road and the Old Swindon Station. Marlborough was the most important nearest town to Old Swindon for banking and trading.

The above scuplture of a ram by Jon Buck is The Old Wiltshire Horn which once one of the most important breeds in the county. It was commissioned by Tencherwood New Homes and Thamesdown Borough Council (now Swindon Borough Council) to commemorate the redevelopment of the Old Cattle Market which previously stood on the site of Dewell Mews.

The Old Corn Market

The sad and derelict Old Corn Market - used in the 1960s for roller-skating and pop-groups. The Locarno was the venue for groups such as the Kinks and, I do believe, the Rolling Stones in the mid-60s. Later it became a bingo hall and more recently was almost completely destroyed by fire, however, it is ear-marked for future development which will hopefully retain at least the historic tower.

Part of the now derelict Old Corn Market (also known as the Locarno)

Most newcomers to Swindon think of its history solely in terms of it railway heritage. In fact, Swindon started out as a small market town which also had its own stone quarry (Purbeck stone). One of the main routes up to Old Town, where the cattle and corn markets were situated, is called Drove Road and there are photos in existence of livestock being herded along what was then a rural road. Also in the area are roads named the Weavers, Old Mill Lane (Swindon had its own water mill at the Lawns) and Hooper's Place which provide clues to Swindon's agricultural and rural origins.
Acknowledgement to Mark Child's 'SWINDON An Illustrated History' for the information about the cattle market.