POST-WORLD WAR TWO SECTION:
Drakes Way to Shaftesbury Lake (1.5 miles / 2.4km)
POST WAR EXPANSION

Swindon’s history has been one of growth and expansion, even the historic Railway Village was once built on green fields to house the workforce for Brunel’s railway works. In 1952, Swindon was designated as a London overspill town, and this triggered a massive expansion of new housing developments to the east of the town.

Over 1,000 acres were acquired for housing development, almost entirely made up of the farmlands of the Goddard Estate, namely of Upper and Lower Walcot farms and of Park, Church, Manor Coate and Prince’s farms. First came the estates of Walcot East and Walcot West separated by Queens Drive, a new dual carriageway built in 1953, followed by Park North and Park South.

From the Drakes Way underpass, follow Marlowe Avenue, past some small shops on your left before carefully crossing Greenbridge Road. Pass the new housing development at Oakfield and Buckhurst Field is to your right.

Buckhurst Field

On the opposite side of Marlowe Avenue is Buckhurst Field, part of a much larger recreation ground stretching to New College and Queen’s Drive. This was the site of Little Walcot Farmhouse, one of the many farms whose land was developed to create housing in the 1950s and 1960s.

  • The Parish Council are undertaking several landscape improvements to Buckhurst Field to increase amenity value as well as biodiversity in the area:
  • At the northern end of Buckhurst Field, South Swindon Parish Council planted its second Tiny Forest in early 2022. A Tiny Forest is a densely planted woodland using native species that helps to mitigate the effects of climate change, support urban wildlife, and reconnect people with nature.
  • A new Community Orchard, using appropriate fruit cultivars, has been planted in partnership with the Great Western Community Forest’s ‘Trees for Climate’ project.
  • Parish Council-maintained strips of long grass form a wildlife corridor all the way across Buckhurst Recreation Ground providing a habitat for wildflowers, bees, and other insects. These areas are left unmown until late summer when they are cut, and the clippings removed.
  • Planned perennial flower borders will use densely planted herbaceous plants and grasses to create a tapestry of colour, as well as providing a valuable food source for bees and other insects.
ALTERNATIVE ROUTE: to The Lawn

Walk southwards across Buckhurst Recreation Ground towards New College. Lower Walcot Farmhouse still stands close to the skate park. Cross over Queens Drive and walk away from the town centre, past Upham Road junction and the school field, to the path leading to The Lawn. The Lawn is a 50 acre site, with woodland, fields and two lakes. Once owned by the Goddard family, Lords of the Manor of Swindon from 1653–1927, it was the grounds of a manor house, demolished in 1952.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE: to Queen’s Park

At Queens Drive, cross at the pedestrian crossing, walk away from the town centre and turn into Upham Road. At the end of the road, cross Drove Road. In front of you at 148–150 Drove Road are two ‘catalogue houses’ built in 1899 by brick-maker Thomas Turner to display the variety of local, distinctive dark red bricks, tiles and terracotta ornaments his company manufactured. Walk through the gates into Queen’s Park.

Queen’s Park was opened in 1950 by Queen Elizabeth II on the site of a Turner’s Brick & Tile Works – from the 1870s clay was dug out and fired in kilns on-site to create the building materials for Swindon’s rapid expansion

For more information please visit our Queen’s Park page.

Continue to walk along Marlowe Avenue, past Holy Family Catholic Church before turning into Tyndale Gardens. Cross over the footbridge and follow the path south into the Richard Jefferies Parkway public open space. Follow the footpath with Dorcan Brook on your right towards the lake at Shaftesbury Avenue. As you approach the lake, cross over the footbridge to your right where an information board can be found marking the end of the Trail.

Richard Jefferies Parkway

Named after the local, Victorian author, Richard Jefferies Parkway is a linear area of public green space stretching northwards from Coate Water and sandwiched between the housing estates of Park North, Park South, Nythe and Eldene.

Richard Jefferies (1848 – 1887) was born at Coate. Passionate about the environment, he became a well-known writer on country matters. A museum dedicated to the life of Richard Jefferies can be found at Coate Water Country Park. See the Green Trail’s Canal Reservoir section for more information.

The open space, created as part of the landscaping of the new housing estate of the 1950s and 1960s, has now matured into a number of well-established and varied habitats including woodland, hedgerows and areas of amenity grass managed for biodiversity.

Dorcan Brook runs through Richard Jefferies Parkway and Shaftesbury Lake. North of the Green Trail it turns east towards Nythe, Eldene and Covingham to join the River Cole near Lotmead Farm in the new Eastern Villages development.

Shaftesbury Lake

Shaftesbury Lake was created as part of the post-war development of Park South. Several streams flow into the lake from Coate Water and the new development at Badbury Park. Water is held back in the lake before being released into Dorcan Brook and eventually into the River Thames.

The lake supports a variety of wildlife, in particular Canada geese, mute swans, moorhens, coots, mallard ducks and if you are lucky, you may spot a kingfisher flying past.

With support from Parish Councils, a ‘Friends’ group helps to look after and improve the area for people and wildlife. Improvements include the provision of new dipping platforms, a wildflower meadow, flower beds, bulb planting and pollinator-friendly shrubs and fruit bushes.

This section of the Green Trail ends at the southern end of Shaftesbury Lake.

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