So Friday 6th December saw me at the Swindon RAFA club in Old Town for a Swindon Folk Club evening.

Now, before I go much further I have to confess that folk music is not particularly my ‘thing’. I’m more than happy to confess that my tastes are middlebrow in all things: music, art, literature, theatre. There’ll be odds and sods that I like from other genres – but for the most part I remain middlebrow.

But ages back now, Bryony Gramont messaged me on my Born again Swindonian Facebook page asking me to come along. And because Born again Swindonian aims to be all things to all people I was delighted to agree. But then life got in the way as life does. And then I got ill – for ages ….but at length I managed to get it together.

Thus, thanks to the kindness of club member Alan Rothwell who gave me a lift, I made a visit to the club.

Swindon folk music - black and white graphic of musical instruments.

Swindon Folk Club: Traditional, modern and accoustic folk music in Swindon.

About Swindon Folk Club

I was somewhat surprised to discover from the club’s website, that it came into being in 1960! Who knew?! Not me. As the website says, ‘Founded by Ted & Ivy Poole and friends in 1960, the club (formerly Swindon Folksingers’ Club) has a long history of keeping traditional music alive in this busy town in north-west Wiltshire.’

Anyhow, off I went with eyes peeled for beards and fingers and ears!

So what did I find?

Well listeners, there was a noticeable and, slightly disappointing, lack of fingers in ears. But, you’ll be pleased to hear, good news on the beards front. Phew!

Aside from beards though, the other thing I found was a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The night I attended was an open mic affair with a guest band. It being an open-mic-everyone-that-wants-to-having-a-go evening some of the voices were not – how shall I put this – recording contract quality. Not that I can talk mind you – my three year old granddaughter tells me to stop when I sing!

Anyway! That didn’t matter at all. Because what shone through was what a wonderful, welcoming, inclusive and safe environment Swindon Folk Club offers. This group is a wonderful place for anyone with an interest in folk music to have a go. And that’s a wonderful thing wouldn’t you say?

So if having an interest in folk music – whether listening or participating – I’d urge you to pay a visit to this lovely bunch of people.

Taken from the group’s Facebook page is their own write-up of the evening which will give you a good flavour of one of their events:

‘On Friday 6th December at Swindon Folk Club, we welcomed The Marsh Starlings, a folk/bluegrass trio performing a range of songs as well as their own material. A great mix of laid back and up-beat folk tunes. Singer & guitarist Lynn Marie Bateman, Banjo player Kevin Starling and Guitarist & singer Ian Marsh. Thank you, we really enjoyed your two sets, and are still chuckling at Kev’s solo singing spot, ‘In the Morning!’

The evening started with the usual singaround from club members, starting with Dave our MC for the evening. It was nice to have one of our youngest members Lucien (12) singing for us whilst his older brother was at home ill. Great to see Trevor back again to play and sing for us now that his hand is healing well. Che gave us a couple of numbers and was joined by Lynn and Kevin for an impromptu session for his second one. 

The dreaded lurgy was still playing havoc with some of our singers but Steve Anderson managed a couple of beautiful instrumentals on his guitar and a vocalzone for Chris Turpin helped him give us a rousing song in the second half. 

Bryony, who usually prepares this write-up, is also still under the weather so this one is much shorter than usual. Despite the inclement weather the turnout was quite high and an enjoyable evening was had by all, even those that just came into the RAFA club for a drink, paid, stayed and enjoyed, made favourable noises about returning.’

A few photographs of the night

When and where and all that stuff

Swindon Folk club meets on the FIRST and THIRD FRIDAY of every month from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

The venue is the RAFA Club, 41-43 Belle Vue Rd, Swindon SN1 3HN. The club has a licensed bar, car parking (at the rear) and level access.

You can e-mail the club at

And now a few short video clips

Alan Rothwell at Swindon Folk club

Alan Rothwell does a much-loved blast from my childhood past, Messing about on the River:

And Goodnight Irene

Alfred Williams

If you’re not aware, Swindon polymath Alfred Williams took it upon himself to cycle around Wiltshire transcribing Wiltshire folk songs before they were lost. They’re all on stored on this database.

I wrote about Alfred’s life in Secret Swindon. And Ranikhet featured in Swindon in 50 Buildings.

More on Alfred Williams here in this petition opposing proposed development in front of Ranikhet.

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