MY STREET CHALLENGE - PIPERS WAY
As most of you know, I try and make the information interesting when I write about a particular road or street – but there doesn’t seem to be much information with regard to the origin of the name of this road. Pipers Corner, which is at the junction of Marlborough Road and Broome Manor Lane is thought to be named after the Piper family, who owned land here from about the 13th century.
Pipers Way (with no apostrophe!) is a road that runs from the Old Town area of Swindon, to the village of Wroughton crossing the M4 motorway, and passing on its way:
· The Marriott Hotel, which is not actually on the main Pipers Way
· A new housing development, known as Marlborough Park, off Pipers Way
· Headquarters for the global IT company, Intel
· A golf course
· Allotments or Leisure Gardens as it says on the sign
· The headquarters for Nationwide, a major building society in the UK
· Croft Woods - a woodland area – with a Mountain Bike Trail
· Park & Ride car park
but interestingly, there are no actual houses ON the main Pipers Way.
I believe that Pipers Way was constructed in about 1972, at about the same time that Burmah Castrol decided to locate its headquarters on land to the east of the main road. Part of this land was then sold off some years later to form the new housing estate, Marlborough Park, which is not yet complete, according to the sign, so other phases may be built later, but there is no indication of when that will be.
The Marriott Hotel says on its website that it is “surrounded by lush woodlands on the edge of Swindon’s historic Old Town – this 4 star hotel is a perfect choice for a relaxing break in Wiltshire.” In the sunshine today, the surroundings were certainly very pleasant and you would hardly know you were on the outskirts of a large town.
Looking down Pipers Way, is a wonderful view across the motorway and up towards Burderop. On both sides of the road are a number of allotments – or “leisure gardens” as they are termed on the locked gate and only to be accessed "by plot holders”. I understand that Pipers Way cut through the road that was an extension of Drove Road and Marlborough Lane and was used by drovers moving their cattle from Swindon to Marlborough, possibly from the Cattle Market, which was formerly in Marlborough Road. A small portion of Marlborough Lane now exists now between Evelyn Street and Pipers Roundabout and this eventually becomes Ladder Lane, which is now just a dirt track and can get very muddy when the weather is wet.
Just past the allotments was a slaughterhouse or abattoir, which was obviously in a convenient position for the cattle market, and there was also a sewage works nearby. The lady who gave me this information seemed to think that the “night soil” from the sewage works was often used as fertiliser on the allotments. In case you are wondering, “night soil” is a euphemism for human faeces collected at night from cesspools, privies etc and a “night soil man” was a person whose occupation it was to collect the contents of chamber pots every morning from domestic households, mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries. I wonder if we realise how fortunate we are in this country today? Many people, of course, who live in under-developed countries still do not have access to the modern sanitation that we have.
The Broome Manor Golf Course, which is a public course, accessed from Pipers Way, is well used and is the only one actually in Swindon – it is beautifully kept with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside, looking up to Liddington Hill, and those of you who are familiar with sport may have heard of David Howell, Swindon’s finest ever golfer. It is Mr. HCB’s claim to fame that David was in his Cub Pack in the early 1980s.
Nationwide Building Society is a “British financial institution and the largest building society in the world”. As well as its headquarters in Swindon, it has an an office in Threadneedle Street, London and also administration centres in other parts of the country. This very large and modern building, was built in the early 1980s and I remember when it was being built, because it looked very stark and white, it was given the nickname “The Blot on the Landscape” because at the time that was just what it looked like – a large, white concrete monstrosity in the middle of green countryside. This has softened over the years, and today, when we walked around, I must say that it looked very different, being surrounded by grass and trees with a lake in front of the building, which you can see at the bottom right of the collage.
Mr. HCB spotted a heron on the lake, so it was a bonus to stand and watch it for a while, although we didn’t see it catch its lunch - however, it has pride of place in the middle of the collage. I believe that about 3,000 people work in this building and there are many traffic issues, even though there is a Park & Ride facility just down the road!
As we walked back to the car, we noticed that there was a large board showing a “Lifestyle Trim Trail” obviously for employees to keep fit, perhaps in their lunch break, with various places for them to stop and do sit-ups, press-ups, step-ups, straddle jumps and parallel bars and the instructions encourage people to “jog or walk between stations for a full work-out”. It also says “Remember, if it hurts, STOP!” It doesn’t say it is only for employees, but I don’t think we will be trying it any day soon – sounds a bit too strenuous for us!
Across the road at Croft Wood car park is a lovely area with picnic tables, which sounds more suitable for us. There are also mountain bike trails for beginners and more experienced cyclists and whilst this is on land provided by the Council, it has been constructed by volunteers and is funded by donations – not that we are into mountain biking, but at least it is off-road and safe. We did notice a young couple, with their mountain bikes laid on the ground, taking a break, so stopped to chat with them and they were interested to learn about Blip and also my Street Challenge.
A little further down is another part of Croft Wood, which is full of bluebells in Spring, but at the moment has a carpet of autumn leaves and Mr. HCB obligingly walked down one of the footpaths, so I could take a photograph.
This part of Swindon is a patchwork of copses and footpaths through the woodland and we couldn’t help thinking what a beautiful place it must have been before the motorway, concrete corporate headquarters, the new development and the hotel were built, but having said that, it is away from the noise and pollution of the town and it was a lovely place to visit on a sunny day – all in all, a lovely morning – with some unexpected bonuses.
“If you want to understand
what's most important to a society,
don't examine its art or literature,
simply look at its biggest buildings.”
P.S. Just realised, having been alerted to it by a Blip friend - pink helmet and bike - that I hadn't asked you to click on this link so that those who cannot afford to pay can have a free mammogram. Thank you.