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Terminus Cafe 

Building work on a shop in Rodbourne Road has given a tantalising glimpse of bygone Swindon
 
When the sign above the door on the old Clough Typewriters shop opposite Bruce Street bridges was removed during a complete renovation of the building, it exposed an old sign relating to the building’s previous existence as The Terminus Café.
 
Terminus Cafe, Rodbourne, Swindon
Covered up for 40 years:
the sign over the former Terminus Cafe
at Bruce Street bridges
 
Motorists passing under the bridges and along Great Western Way may have been wondering what sort of terminus was once here to inspire the name of the café, but if they are looking for clues at the site today, they won’t find them.
 
The terminus that was here has long gone, although older residents still refer to the area as ‘The Terminus’.
 
Many believe the name derives from the fact that it was here that some of Swindon’s busiest bus routes terminated, and it is true that the Bruce Street/Rodbourne Road area was the end of the line as far as many buses were concerned.
 
This was because the bridge that took the railway over Bruce Street’s junction with Rodbourne Road had insufficient headroom for buses to pass underneath.
 
However, there was a terminus here, long before buses first ferried passengers around Swindon streets in 1927.
 
It was also the end of the line for electric trams, which operated in Swindon between 1904 and 1929.
 
The age of the tram 
 
The hub of the small network of tram lines was the Tram Centre in Fleet Street (which, again, older Swindon residents still refer to as ‘The Centre’). From there, one of three separate routes took passengers to Rodbourne Road, where it terminated (the other terminuses were at Cricklade Road and in Old Town).
 
It was a long time before anybody had the idea of cashing in on the passing trade of either tram or bus passengers by opening a café at 124 Rodbourne Road.
 
Tram Terminus Swindon 1925
Tram Terminus 1925:
what is now the major junction at the end of Rodbourne Road at
the twin roundabouts at Bruce Street bridges
 
Built in 1925 as part of a terrace of three shops, number 124 housed a general store at first, and the first record of it as a café is not until 1948 – 21 years after the first buses stopped outside.
 
The first keeper of the café was almost certainly a Gertrude E Shadbolt, who ran it in 1948, and by 1951 it had been officially christened The Terminus Café.
 
Swindon folk might have expected the café to have a short life because the potential for trade was dealt a major blow in 1956.
 
That’s when the old brick-built bridge was demolished and replaced by a modern design, which was at last high enough for buses to pass under it, thereby effectively ending the area’s claim to be a terminus.
 
But it must have been a popular place with loyal customers because it survived until 1969, when the telephone directory lists the Terminus Café and its telephone number - Swindon 3898.
 
Bruce Street Bridge, Swindon pre 1956
End of the line:
Bruce Street bridge as it was pre: 1956.
The height of the bridge meant buses couldn't continue past
this point - hence the Terminus. Only when it was demolished
did it allow for the development of West Swindon as we know it
 
Sadly, when the next directory was produced in 1971 it was gone, and the sign that suddenly became visible again in 2009, therefore probably hadn’t seen the light of day for nearly 40 years.
 
The building was eventually be taken over by Clough’s Typewriters, but not until the late 1970s, when they moved their business from 1C Rodbourne Road.
 
In the meantime, a second bridge under the railway was built in 1990, further emphasising the junction’s new role as a busy interchange for cars where few people stop - in complete contrast to its two separate periods as a terminus.
 
So the exposure of the old Terminus Café sign is a rare glimpse into the past – albeit a fleeting one.
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