It was one of the villages in the West Leicestershire coalfield where coal was extracted from the 13th century, well before the advent of Coalville itself in the mid 19th century.
The Leicester to Swannington Railway, engineered by Robert Stephenson after a survey by his father George, was one of the world's earliest railways and opened in 1832.
Much of the line still operates as a mineral line, although reopening for passengers has been promised for many years. A reopening date was widely publicised as 1997, and this is being written in 2008.
The Swannington Incline, originally used by stationary engines, is a remnant of the earliest phase of the railway.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Swannington for groups.