As I write this I am sat an a slanted bench, designed to discourage rough sleeping, in the notoriously drab town of Swindon. Now of the 15 minutes experience I have had of this town so far I would say not a lot really except it feels “modern”. I come from a place mentioned in the Domesday book that has remained virtually unchanged since the Second World War and perhaps would have looked the same in 1866 as 1066. Therefore, I have always found towns like Swindon utterly uninspiring.
However, sitting here at the highly practical, conveniently placed bus station I am starting to have rather profound feelings about the place. This town has the uniformity and logical feel of a lot of post war spaces. Concrete 60s architecture prevails despite many noticeable attempts at modernisation. These things have a result of a rather tragic air and as I sit on my slanted bench I have started to realise why. When Swindon was designed it was designed with hope, with aspirations for the future of Britain. This was what we wanted Britain to be. People looked to the future and tried their hardest to create a world where life would be easier for us all.
The result…. I’m not so sure. The truth is I feel bad that so many people’s work and passion is now viewed as mundane, lacking imagination, drab. As with a lot of attempts at a modern look it has dated terribly like shoulder pads and perms. It feels as if it lacks character. But does it? Surely the story of the people who conveniently placed the bus station next to the train station is just as worthy of being told as the stories of roof thatchers and “the old post office mews”? Will concrete one day be slate roofs and bus stations village squares?
Anyway, my bus is here.