A Swindon Time Capsule


Swindon Heritage (the magazine) ended with the Winter 2017 edition, but in the long-term we will continue to be involved in various heritage projects, and we have just published a new 160-page book as part of a project promoting The Dixon-Attwell Collection.
Called A Swindon Time Capsule: Working Class Life 1899-1984, it can be purchased at Swindon Central Library, costing just £10, and profits from the book will be reinvested in local history projects in Swindon.
The Dixon-Attwell Collection is made up of thousands of documents, ephemera and photographs, and came about because generations of the Dixon and Attwell families never seemed to throw anything away, so they left a fascinating record of the life of an ordinary working class family in Swindon in the 20th century.
After donating the collection to the Local Studies department of the Central Library, Mike Attwell got together with us and staff from the library to put together a project promoting the collection.
Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the collection is being digitised to make it more accessible; there have been a series of talks, delivered by Mike; and there will be school packs, plus an exhibition at the Central Library (from noon on Saturday, April 7 until the end of the month).
The 21cm-square book breaks the collection down under various headings, dealing with many aspects of Swindon life. They range from courtship to the Co-op; from sports to savings; and politics to penfriends, all illustrated by samples of the ephemera squirrelled away over the years, and some of the large collection of pictures taken by the family, several of whom were keen photographers.
“The collection covers such a wide range of different things relating to Swindon life,” said Swindon Heritage editor Graham Carter, who edited the book. “What I think is most fascinating is how much life has changed, often without us really noticing it.
“So for older people there is a lot of nostalgia in the book, but younger people will get an insight into things that have either disappeared or changed beyond all recognition, because of technology and changing attitudes.
“The family were just the kind who didn’t throw stuff away, so I don’t think they intended it, but they were laying down a time capsule for us to open in the 21st century and pass on to future generations.”

A selection of pages from the book are shown below.






If you have any queries, please email Darryl Moody, Local Studies Librarian at Swindon Central Library, at localstudies@swindon.gov.uk