A tale of two stones

I’m not sure which I find more ridiculous: the leader of the New Mechanics Preservation Trust, bewailing the loss of some sarsen stones at Wharf Green, that were barely noticeable to most shoppers. (She does seem to have a fixation with large stones in parks.)

In trying to create new Swindon they are trashing old Swindon. I feel quite sad and disappointed this has happened. Apparently they were too heavy to move. They are a local material and they had tremendous presence. They could have been used in a car park or put in a park.

Or our council leader, eulogising on the return of the facade of the Baptist Tabernacle that will be nothing more than an out-of-place token gesture to the past in a modern development.

It is nice to see the stone back. I did see the stones all jumbled up in Northampton. But to see them here, sorted, in boxes, and being put into slots, has been quite a moment for me. Of course now it’s just a gigantic jigsaw puzzle for someone to start putting back together. I wanted to get the stone back because I thought it could be an important symbol in the regeneration of Swindon, but all along I have thought that to bring this off would be nothing short of a miracle.

Between them, they illustrate why the preservation of Swindon’s industrial past has fared so badly.

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