19th January 2019

The County Ground Hotel Swindon
Hello lovely listeners. Hot on the heels of Secret Swindon, came my second publication for Amberley – Swindon in 50 Buildings – published in 2019.

The cornucopia of potential entries in that book, came as no surprise at all. For every building I put in it, I could quite easily have selected several more. So had to make choices. And it’s been tough I tell ya! There’s no shortage of interesting material in Swindon as we all know.

For instance, featuring Swindon’s County Ground in the book was a no-brainer. After all – a tale of any town or city couldn’t call itself complete without mentioning the town’s sporting life. A natural complement to that listing then is the County Ground Hotel. But did I have room for it? No I did not.

Thus this blog series Swindon in 50 More Buildings came about. To fill some of the inevitable gaps.

The County Ground Hotel back in the day.

There’s lots more images of it on the Arkell’s website for the hotel and this Flickr stream has some too. And below are some shots taken by Born Again Swindonian photographer-in-chief: Chris Eley,

The County Ground Hotel Swindon
The County Ground Hotel

The Swindon County Ground Hotel lies a mere few yards from the stadium of the home team – Swindon Town football club. Hence its name. It’s a popular watering hole for fans whenever Swindon Town are playing at home.  And, according the website, a down-to-earth ‘local’ when they are not.

Boxing Clever

Curiously, for a watering hole associated with a football ground, the pub has strong associations with pugilism. ‘In fact, the pub’s favourite sport in modern times has been boxing, having been equipped with a gymnasium and former licensee Pete Neal a well-known former boxer. Who knew? Well not I!

A bit of County Ground Hotel History

Taken from the pub’s website:

‘Regulars in the County Ground Hotel celebrated a special anniversary on 2nd November, 1997 when this grand old pub notched up a century of service to Swindon drinkers. 

Commemorating its opening year is a terracotta plaque on side of the building. The plaque includes a portrait of Queen Victoria who happened to be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee that year.

Engraving showing Queen Victoria and the date on the County Ground hotel.
Photo from Emma Williams

Arkell’s bought the land from C Williams the year before and had a ready-made licence thanks to the demise of a pub in Highworth. The Rampant Cat was closed by a relieved James Arkell – son of John Arkell – who lived nearby at Redlands and was annoyed by the rowdy behaviour of some of the regulars. So the County Ground got the licence and one of the town’s landmarks was born.

Outwardly, The County Ground Hotel is largely unchanged from how it looked a hundred years ago, though alterations and extensions in 1921 and 1954 mean that it is not wholly Victorian.’

Find the County Ground Hotel on Facebook.

For the actual County Ground go here: http://www.swindoncountyground.com

County ground screenshot
Image from the Swindon County Ground website
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