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Property developer submits detailed plans to reinvent former Swindon Museum

29 November 2023
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Arthur Dallimer

Entrepreneur Arthur Dallimer has submitted plans to Swindon Council setting out his future vision for the town’s former museum and art gallery, Apsley House.

The 28-year-old, who bought and sold his first property at the age of 18, is asking for full planning permission for the iconic Old Town building to bring it into the 21st century with the aim of creating a destination building in the heart of Old Town.

The plans have submitted to Swindon Borough Council for consideration over the coming weeks.

Plans unveiled to attract new businesses to former Swindon museum

He’s asked for permission to create a flagship 90-cover restaurant within the former gallery.

The full refurbishment of Apsley House will hopefully allow for two new retail units on the ground floor of the main house and ‘we work’ style co-working and meeting space for businesses within the local area.

Work will also begin over time on upgrading several retail units on Victoria Road which are all part of Apsley House.

“I’m hopeful these plans will be welcomed by local planning authority,” Arthur said.

“Swindon to crying out for investment to improve its heritage assets., I was born and brought up here and I want to create something we are all proud of, which benefits the residents and the economy of Old Town. My intention is to make this a go-to venue for our vibrant community.”

Apsley House is a Grade II listed building which was built around 1830 and was initially the home of surgeon Charles James Fox Axford. It changed hands a few times before becoming the home of the Toomer family from 1870.

The family, who made their wealth as coal merchants, stayed there for over 50 years before it became the property of the local authority. In the 1960s a modern extension was added.

The decision to close the museum was made in September 2021 by Swindon Borough Council as it was considered to be unviable and all exhibits were removed in March the following year. The building was put up for sale in June 2022.

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“As soon as I saw the property I knew it had potential for the future. I’m a believer in heritage being a catalyst for the future if it is embraced, respected yet also made fit for a modern purpose," said Arthur.

"If we don’t have the vision to update such properties and create a new use for them, eventually we will lose them altogether."

Arthur is the founder of William Arthur Property and is an experienced and successful property developer concentrating on developments, both commercial and residential in Swindon, Wiltshire and Bristol.


Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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