Gorsehill Forms part of the Parish of Stratton St. Margaret
The Church of St. Barnabus
History of Gorse Hill
Originally a small hamlet of Stratton with just a farm, the first buildings were a large house and The Tabernacle public house built behind where The Duke of Edinburgh is today. The long straight road through the area was used for foot-race handicaps over 100 and 200 yards, there were also dog races and shooting matches, in fact there was something most weeks.
In 1863 John Brunsden, a corn factor, was Conservative voting member.
1876 saw the opening of a Money Order and Savings Bank office, (The Star, 4/11/1876). It was burnt down in 1895, believed arson, Postmaster Mr. R. J. Walker. (The Western Daily Press 25/9/1895.)
The area was taken over by Swindon Council in 1891 when expansion of the area followed by the building of St Barnabus Church in Cricklade Road meant that it became a parish in it’s own right. The first streets to be built were School Street which became Avening Street, Chapel, Hinton, and Bright Streets. December 1912 saw the opening of the Cinema. Gorse Hill was the only area of the original Stratton to see trams, In December 1920 the Borough Council adopted the scheme and just had to wait for parliamentary agreement, the service started in 1904, the last tram - Tramcar No.1, driven by motorman George Cathcart, made Swindon's last tram journey over the Gorse Hill to Rodbourne route on 11 July 1929. December 1929 saw the formal opening of a new Police Station in Gorse Hill, first Superintendent, J. J. Meaney, first Inspector, Betteridge, also a Drill ground was added to rear at cost of £798 16s, the station has now been converted to flats. During the war Kembrey Street was bombed and several people killed, Italian prisoners of war were kept in some of the buildings of Kembrey Estate. Bright Street was demolished in 1973 to build a Residential Home.
Swindon Society YouTube video can be seen here.
Buildings and Land
Hinton Street in Gorse Hill Built 1890 by James Hinton (b. 1842) who was a wealthy Swindon builder and Mayor of the Borough in 1903-4.
In 1937 Malvern Road was added and the extension, over a small bridge, in 1963 on site of pig farm.
The gap on the south side of Beatrice Street, was caused when two houses, numbers 152 & 153 were demolished due to subsidence in about 1980.
Electra Palace Knocked down in 1990's and replaced with Thomas Edward Coard Building
Gorsehill Farm (97 acres) - Originally sited near where Iceland is now, a new farm was built where Beatrice Street is at the end of the 19th century by the entrepreneurial George Whitehead. Work began in 1897. It was also known as Furze farm for 1860 sale when owned by Thomas Tuckey.
Tabernacle Farm (23 acres) - Bought by Arkell’s in 1870’s from A T Reeves to build new pub. Original farm cottage still exists as 5 Argyle St.
General Building Items
In 2017, 4 New houses were built behind Majestic Wine in Caulfield Road.
Property for Let
Property for Sale
Read more about the Public Houses of Gorsehill by following the link
Carpenter’s Arms, (now renamed the Swiss Chalet)
Originally opened as an Off-licence in 1874 108/110 Cricklade Road, and was run by a local carpenter named William Penny.
Duke of Edinburgh
At the back of the pub, on 4th August 1928 the first 'dirt track' meeting took place at the 'Swindon Auto Drome', in a field formerly used for other sports (the Corinthians football team lost their pitch). The stadium, built by 'Swindon Sports Club Ltd.', had a 356-yard cinder track. The venue was never used for team racing and was re-named 'Swindon Speedway Stadium' in 1930, closing the same year. Tiverton Road was built on the site and remains of the cinder track ran along the end of the gardens that back onto the small field by the stream. Underneath the cinder was a hard layer predominantly chalk as it was nearly impossible to dig into the cinder most residents built sheds over the track.
The Princess Hotel
Beatrice street, later renamed The Meerkat, now closed.
The Kembrey Inn
Built 2005 by Chef & Brewer.
Crime & Legal Matters
Employment and Business
1875-1878 John Aplin a butcher
1877 John Taylor, milkman
1878 William Easley a shoemaker of Hinton Street.
1879 Richard Hayward a grocer
1880 Joseph Goodman a draper, James Hibbert a smith
The original Swindon Gasworks was on Gypsy Lane, housed behind a high brick wall, it was eventually closed completely when Natural Gas was rolled out across the country in the 1970's, a new British Gas depot was built on the site but that too has now been demolished.
1955 saw the first laundrette in Swindon area.
Argyle Street Pet & Garden Centre - 1988 to 2018 replacing an existing Garden Wholesaler. The buildings were originally pig sheds later used by a Coal distributer.
New Swindon Industrial Co-op Society
They also had a Furniture and white goods store next to cinema.
Known then primarily as a manufacturer of radio components, opened its factory in Kembrey Street, Gorse Hill, in 1940, now a business estate.
Non Conformity and Other Places of Worship
Incumbent 1965 Rev. P B Philipson
Salvation Army Citadel
The Citadel is located in Chapel Street. In 1936 the band joined with others at Chippenham for their 50th Anniversary. Leaders - 1961 Major W Pontas, 1963 Major J Riddle, 1965 Major T F Snowball. Has been rebuilt after a fire in early 2000's.
13 January 2002: Swindon’s Sikh community opened its first purpose-built temple in Kembrey Street, called the Shri Guru Nanak Gudawara. It replaced much smaller premises in North Street that it had taken over from the Salvation Army in 1972.
People and Parish Notables
For entries in the 1868 Poll Book please refer to the main Stratton St. Margaret Page.
War, Conflict and Military Matters
On the evening on December 19th1940 167 Beatrice St that took a direct hit at around 8 o'clock from a German bomber traveling in a North Westerly direction. There was one fatality, 57-year-old Jane Hobbs who died the following day at Victoria Hospital
British Red Cross/VAD Volunteers