History – The Twentieth Century

World Wars, Spitfires & the demolition of the Manor

The Census population figures are:

1911 387
1921 363
1931 396
1951 374
1961 540
1971 533
1981 529
1991 703
2001 859

1914-18: 8 South Marston soldiers died in World War I & are commemorated on the War Memorial near the Church.

1918: the 1918 Auction Catalogue &; Map for the disposal of the Bell Estate can be compared with the 1840 Tithe Map & Apportionments Register to show the changes & new buildings in the village over that period.

The Bell Estate included 709 acres, the Manor House (built c.1860 in “the Tudor Style”, possibly imitating the original manor house & re-using some of its materials & features) & Lodge, 8 farms & 30 cottages, almost half of the land & buildings of the village:

Farms: Manor, St. Julien’s, Church, Rowborough, Priors Farley, Stones, South Marston &; Longleaze, all built c.1700-1800;

Cottages: Gordon, Leaze (2), built c.1750; Red House, Fairthorne (4), Old Post Office, Exton (2), Elm (2), River (4), all early 1800’s; Rowborough (2), St. Mary’s, Meadow, Manor (6), a ll1840-1870; Dryden (2), St. Michael’s, c.1890.

The following are Listed Buildings: the farmhouses at Marston, Longleaze, Hunts Copse, Nightingale, Church, Manor, Burton Grove (& Barn) & Priory Farms, Lock Keeper’s Cottage,  Red House & Gordon Cottage.  The Council’s Listing Descriptions give full details of these buildings & suggest that Priory Farmhouse is the oldest, built c.1650.

The Church also is Listed & the description refers to “doors C12 from earlier church, C13 chancel, C15 tower, West door [porch] & South Chapel 1886, 1886 restoration, Memorials [Duke, Freke, Southby] 1719-1770”.

The National Archive holds photographs of the School (1900) & Manor Farm (1920) & the National Monuments Record in Swindon holds more than 50 aerial photographs of the village from 1942 to 1988 (produced on 7 days notice if you telephone first & quote ref. 15980).

1938-45: the Air Ministry chose South Marston as a new site for aircraft production which began in 1940 with the Master & then Stirling Bombers & Spitfires for World War II.

1945-1985: Vickers-Armstrong purchased the aircraft site, built Spitfires, then Attackers, Swifts & Scimitars until 1961 & component parts for aircraft, hovercraft & the railway before selling the site to the Honda car manufacturer in 1985.

1985-2008:  Honda car production began in the 1980’s & continues today.  Part of the former Vickers site is a multi-business industrial park.

1980’s: the Victorian Manor house was demolished in the 1980’s & replaced by estates of new houses built in its grounds &; the adjoining fields.

We especially welcome any contributions to this section, maybe a project from the school, memories of those who lived through the war years, stories or photographs; in fact anything of interest during this century !

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