September 2018

Deacon’s Jewellers

Deacon’s Jewellers Old Town Swindon
Well listeners, you can hardly have failed to notice that this summer saw the publication of my first book, Secret Swindon.  So now it’s onto the next project: Swindon in 50 Buildings. To that end I’ve compiled a list of suggested buildings for the edification of the publisher, Amberley Books.

The buildings I’ve selected for my next project aren’t necessarily there because they’re fabulous architecture, or old or listed – though sometimes that’s part of it – but because they have a part in Swindon’s story. Many, many buildings do that of course – and far more than fifty of them too.

One that I might include in my next project is Deacon’s Jewellers Old Town Swindon

170 years old

The business remains family-owned – now in its sixth generation. That’s rather cool isn’t it? Besides that though, the business has a rich history – one wrapped up in Swindon’s railway past. Given that 2018 marks their 170th anniversary (Established 1848), it’s fitting to give them a mention on this blog.

Their website has their history on it so here’s a couple of extracts:

‘ … The catalyst for bringing the name of Deacon to Swindon was undoubtedly the arrival of the Great Western Railway. As an ambitious 26 year old George Deacon, having moved from his home town of Westbury, realised the need for time-keeping in a fast growing town of the industrial revolution. The business was able to expand, winning one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea from the early 1850s until 1893 … 

Around 1865, Deacon & Son Ltd made the Regulator Clock that stands to this day in the jewellery, clock and watch department of the shop. At that time the company held one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea.

Before radio and the telephone gave universally available time, local means were designed to maintain accurate time-keeping And this tended to be done by means of a regulator clock.

The dead beat escapement in this movement causes less friction and dampens vibration, giving greater accuracy. The self regulating mercury pendulum, which changes volume equally with the changes in temperature, keeps the clock on a constant steady beat giving better time keeping.

Deacon’s workshops made extensive use of the the regulator clock for clock timing and regulation fo rmany years. In 2011, radio controlled timing from the nuclear caesium clock at the National Physics lab in Rugby.

Deacon's Jewellers Old Town Swindon

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These boots are made for walking

Of course, Deacon’s is not the only long-standing, family-owned business in Old Town. I’m really rather fond of Blaylock’s – the shoe shop on the corner of Bath Road and Devizes Rd.

Blaylock’s is what I call a ‘proper’ shoe shop – though you’d need to be of a certain again to even know what I mean by that. And, what I mean by that is, that the shoes are stacked in boxes on shelves in the shop itself. Exactly as I remember shoe shops!

There’s no going out the back somewhere with an iPad and a headset on. Pfft. It’s friendly service and I love it. Not quite as old as Deacon’s they’ve been around for somewhere in the region of 100 years. Still, to my knowledge, this is a family-run business and an independent shoe shop. Fabulous.


Having bought your super comfy carpet slippers in Blaylocks – where better for your actual carpet than Gilbert’s on Newport Street,  Gilbert’s have been in Old Town since 1866 so must have furnished a few Swindon homes in the intervening 152 years. What an astonishing thought.

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