Part of Swindon’s proud industrial heritage has been given a new lease of life by the town’s soon-to-open University Technical College (UTC).
The iconic water tower, which forms part of the UTC’s historic Bristol Street site on the edge of the Railway Village, has been newly restored ahead of the opening of the college next month.
The Grade II listed, cast iron tower was built in 1871 when the nearby Swindon Works was the epicentre of the UK railway industry and had made the town a centre for engineering innovation.
UTC Swindon has converted the site, originally a training centre and workshops, into a forward-looking educational establishment to link the town’s engineering heritage with its engineering future.
It will have 600 students aged 14 to 19 who aspire to a career in engineering. The college will teach skills across all parts of the engineering industries, providing Swindon firms with a pool of skilled labour at a time when many struggle to fill vacancies.
The new-look water tower was unveiled this week by UTC principal Angela Barker-Dench and Swindon Council leader David Renard, pictured right, who said it would become a symbol of the town’s ambitions to be a modern engineering centre with a proud history.
UTC Swindon will be run by a trust sponsored by Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells and Oxford Brookes University. Industry partners include BMW UK Manufacturing Ltd, Alcatel-Lucent, Halcrow Group Ltd, Honda of the UK Manufacturing, Intel Corp UK, Network Rail, Nationwide Building Society, and Thames Water. A link is also being developed with the proposed new Ministry of Defence Technical Support Unit to be based at Lyneham.