A Brief History of S. Mark's Church
In 1832, members of the Bristol Merchant Venturers and the Bristol Corporation proposed a rail link between London and Bristol. By 1840 the line was in use and Daniel Gooch and Isambard Kingdom Brunel decided that a locomotive depot would be ideally situated in Swindon. An estate of stone houses in neat rows, back to back, were built for the workers to live in and the need for a Church was considered an urgent necessity. When George Henry Gibbs, head of the firm of Anthony Gibbs & sons of London, died in 1842, he left the sum of £500 towards a Church and school in Swindon. In February 1843, the Great Western Railway appealed for “individual contributions from the proprietors to promote the means of religious instruction and worship for the men and their families to be located there”. Soon a fund of £6000 was available for the building of the new Church.
St. Mark’s was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott who later went on to design the Foreign Office, St Pancras Hotel and Station, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh and the Albert Memorial.
The Church was dedicated on the feast of St. Mark, 25th April, 1845.
In 1985 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway Works, and to commemorate the many years of co-operation between Church and Works, a splendid hanging pyx was made in the Works by British Rail Engineering Limited from an old brass Victorian Sanctuary Lamp. However in May 1985, the year of the anniversary, it was announced that the Railway Works at Swindon would close completely in May 1986 with the loss of 2,300 jobs.