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Construction work starts on research site at Swindon's historic Carriage Works

The Business Magazine article image for: Construction work starts on research site at Swindon's historic Carriage Works
22 April 2022

Construction work to transform part of the historic Grade II listed Carriage Works in Swindon into a UK-leading sustainability research facility for the University of Bath has started.

The £11 million regeneration scheme at the Victorian Great Western Railway has moved to Phase 2 which includes the conversion of the West Shed in London Street into modern work spaces.

One of the largest spaces will be occupied by the Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST), a research and development centre based at the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies, to support and expand its renowned work.

The iCAST conducts research into manufacturing and engineering materials, biobased feedstock, biodegradable circular plastics, and other sustainable technologies to help deliver a step-change in the innovation strategies of companies working in green growth industries.

Work to create the new facility is expected to complete in six months. Four other units for commercial use are also being developed as part of the 15,000 - 20,000 sq ft project.

Ingleton Wood, an Oxford-based property and construction consultancy, has been appointed to provide mechanical and electrical (M&E) services for Phase 2 at the Carriage Works.

Peter Webb, director, building services engineering at Ingleton Wood, said: “The project will create a state-of-the-art research facility to help expand the scope and scale of the sustainability work carried out by the University of Bath. We are also undertaking vital conservation work to the iconic 19th century railway sheds which had been on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register.

“With our experience of delivering considered and appropriate designs to help to save at-risk buildings, we are confident of not only preserving the legacy of Brunel but bringing this beautiful early Victorian-era industrial facility back into purposeful modern use.”

Phase 2 is being funded by a £4 million grant from the government’s Getting Building Fund.

iCAST also brings together industry with expertise at the universities of Bath and Oxford, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s Sustainability Partnership (National Composites Centre and Centre for Process Innovation), innovation experts at SETsquared, the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), and investors.

Matthew Davidson, iCAST director, said: “It is fantastic for iCAST to have a dedicated facility at the Carriage Works in Swindon. It sits midway between Bath and Oxford but is also very well connected to the rest of the UK and is an iconic and historic building in which to be located.

“We already have over 50 companies as part of iCAST and we hope the joint industry projects that we are developing with them will help bring industry back to the Carriage Works.”

Built in around 1876 as part of Brunel’s Great Western Works, the buildings were once the largest carriage works in the country and remain a symbol of Victorian industrial innovation. Network Rail transferred ownership of the Carriage Works to Swindon Borough Council in a land swap agreement in 2018 to pave the way for the multi-million-pound regeneration.

The Carriage Works is already home to the Royal Agricultural University’s Cultural Heritage Institute and the Workshed business hub as part of earlier Phase 1 work.

Bailey Partnership is providing Lead Consultant services including project management, quantity surveying and principal designer services for the Phase 2 project.

Shaun Wells-Burr, lead consultant at Bristol-based Bailey Partnership, said: “It is great to bring the Grade II listed railway sheds back into use and support Swindon in its ambition to create a modern educational hub providing modern educational facilities for the future of Swindon whilst honouring its historical heritage."

London-based Metropolitan Workshop has been appointed as the architects and Guildford-based Perega is providing structural engineering services.

Ingleton Wood has also been appointed to provide M&E services for future Phase 3 work in which the East Shed will provide around 60,000 sq ft of workspace for a mix of businesses, technology firms, creative and digital start-ups, and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).



Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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