MAGIC ROUNDABOUT SECTION:
Newbridge Square to Drakes Way (1.4 miles / 2.3km)

After the closure of the Canal, Swindon’s road transport history of trams, buses and cars has shaped this section of the Green Trail to the Magic Roundabout, when the trail returns again to the quieter days of the Canal.

Fleming Way Bus Boulevard

It was electric trams, not buses that got public transport moving in the early 1900s connecting the outlying districts of Rodbourne, Gorse Hill and Old Town with the town centre: the different routes converged at the tram terminus at the junction of Bridge Street and Fleet Street. The last tram ran on 11 July 1929 to be replaced with buses.

Ever since, this area has been a centre for the local bus network, and a number of bus station developments have been built over the years. The most recent development is due to start in 2022 with the creation of a new Bus Boulevard along Fleming Way. The Boulevard will create a single bus interchange for all bus services in the town centre along with new pedestrian and cycle routes, and new areas of landscaping to improve biodiversity in the town centre.

On the north side of the subway turn right to walk along Fleming Way where bus stops line both sides of the road. Walk to the Whale Bridge junction, and cross over Corporation Street to Medgbury Road.

Golden Lion Bridge Mural

The mural was created by local artist Ken White in 1976 and is based on a photograph taken in the early 1900s of the Golden Lion Bridge across the canal. The mural was repainted in 1983 and fully restored in 2010.

Whale Bridge

The original Whale Bridge was a hump-backed bridge built in 1804 over the canal to carry a farm trackway that would eventually become Princes Street. The bridge was modified in 1893 and demolished during the construction of Fleming Way in 1963 – to create a large, landscaped roundabout with two sunken pedestrian subways meeting in the middle. Fleming Way follows the course of the canal. In 1967, it was named in honour of the Swindon Town footballer Harold Fleming who made 336 appearances for the club, scoring 204 goals, and was capped for England 11 times before retiring in 1924.

In 2011, as part of town centre regeneration, Whale Bridge Roundabout was filled to leave the modern junction that we can see today.

Continue along Fleming Way past the small retail park, this was formerly the site of the Garrard’s factory, and on to the pedestrian crossing.

Garrard’s

Garrard’s was a world-famous manufacturer of record player turntables, known for their high quality and performance. The company arrived in Swindon in 1919, taking over an existing factory building with 30 employees – it grew to employ over 4,500 people. The company’s heyday in the 1950s and 1960s was marred by Swindon’s worst-ever fire in 1958. Garrard’s ceased production in 1982 and the factory was demolished in 1983 to make way for new houses and the retail park.

York Road Canal Bridge

At the Fleming Way pedestrian crossing, the brick abutments of York Road Canal Bridge still stand. Built around 1907 the bridge, which took the road over the canal, was demolished in the 1960s during the construction of Fleming Way.

Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout, opened in 1972, consists of five mini roundabouts arranged around a sixth central roundabout – it can be navigated in both a clockwise and anticlockwise direction. It has been voted one of the scariest roundabouts in Britain despite its excellent safety record. Originally named County Islands, it was always known locally as The Magic Roundabout, after an animated children’s TV series set in an eccentric, nonsense world – in the late 1980s, its official name was changed.

Swindon Wharf and Fairholm

The Magic Roundabout is built over a section of the old Wilts & Berks Canal whilst the Fire Station, which opened in 1959, stands on the site of Swindon Wharf, coal yard and Canal House (also known as Wharf House and later Fairholm) which was home to the clerks and superintendents of the canal company.

Walk round the corner, past the service station for the pedestrian crossing to the County Ground, then over Shrivenham Road. The Green Trail continues north-eastwards up the track behind the bus stop on Queen’s Drive, again following the line of the Wilts & Berks Canal immediately to the rear of the back gardens of Shrivenham Road.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE:

At the County Ground walk across the car park and around the football stadium to walk around the sports pitches.

The County Ground

The County Ground is home to Swindon Town FC, Swindon Cricket Club and Swindon Harriers Athletics Club as well as providing a popular and well-used area of public open space in the centre of Swindon.

Swindon Town FC was founded in 1879 and have played at the County Ground since 1896. The Cricket Club, founded in 1844, is one of the oldest clubs in the UK – it’s home is a fine, Grade II listed, brick and wood pavilion built in 1893.

Marsh Farm and the River Cole

Widely spaced double hedgerows and a grass verge lead up to Marsh Farm Bridge which provided access over the canal to the adjacent Marsh Farm and access to Shrivenham Road. The bridge, dating from 1805, is one of the oldest canal bridges in Swindon and typical of the design of many of the canal bridges in Swindon from that era.

Cross over Ocotal Way at the pedestrian crossing and continue along the path. On your right-hand side you can catch glimpses of the River Cole through the hedgerow.

The Cole rises in the Walcot area although much of its upper course through Swindon is now underground and built over. The river joins the Thames near Lechlade.

As the Green Trail bears right you cross the River Cole over a bridge. Follow the path through the subway under Drakes Way and into Marlowe Avenue.

The old Wilts & Berks Canal continued north towards Oxford. Just to the north was the where the feeder water supply from Coate Water entered the canal.

If you need some help please call us on 01793 317410 or e-mail admin@southswindon-pc.gov.uk