Wilts & Berks Canal
This section of the Green Trail follows the route of the Wilts & Berks Canal. It carried goods to and from Swindon from 1810 – including the building materials to construct the Great Western Railway, which ironically eventually led to its decline. As railways moved freight more efficiently than canal barges, the canal slowly fell into decline and was officially closed in 1914.
The canal ran for 52 miles / 83.6 km joining the Kennet & Avon Canal at Semington to the River Thames at Abingdon; it reached Swindon in 1804, six years before opening. It initially prospered carrying its main cargo of coal from Somerset. The construction of the Rushey Platt section of the canal was fraught with serious engineering difficulties caused by the wet, marshy land. Decades later, the same problem was encountered in the construction of the railway line, though the canal provided a cost-effective route to bring in large quantities of building materials needed for the railway which ran close to much of the canal route.
The Canal at Cambria Bridge Road
The Cambria Road Bridge was built in 1877, modified in 1893 and refurbished in 1978. One of iron plates that protected the brick abutments from wear is still in place on the left side. This was the tow-path side of the canal and several grooves made by tow-ropes can be seen.
There was a large wharf and timber yard here, roughly where the playground and kickabout area are now located.
A more recent addition in front of part of the mural is a community fruit garden containing several different types of fruit bushes which was planted in Spring 2021 by local residents.
David Murray John Tower
Rising above the Brunel Centre, dominating the Swindon skyline, is the David Murray John Tower, which opened in 1976 – it has 21 storeys and is 272 ft / 83 metres high. It was named for the long-serving Clerk of Swindon Borough Council, who was a driving force in the post-World War Two regeneration of the town. His last act in office was to sign the tower’s construction contract – he had long campaigned for a landmark as a centre point for the town centre.
Indian Bean Tree
In the centre of The Parade is a large Indian Bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides) which, despite its common name, is native to the southeast of the United States. It produces large leaves and attractive flowers followed by long, thin bean-like pods that often stay attached to the tree during the winter months.