March 9th 2020

So yesterday afternoon, I spent the most delightful time at Eastcott community centre, in readiness for the unveiling of the James ‘Raggy’ Powell plaque.

Eastcott community centre is truly one of Swindon’s gems. Not only is it a place and site with tons of historical and social history, it’s a thriving and well-run community centre.

There’s an art group run by Marilyn Trew. Then there’s repair cafes, Sunday afternoon music and all the other activities you associate with a community centre. In recent years they’ve done so much fab stuff up there and by them.

They put on a heritage exhibition at the museum and art gallery. And not long back published a book: The Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man. And listeners, that rag and bone man is what yesterday’s events were all about.

Who was James ‘Raggy’ Powell?

You do well to ask. And to answer that question, I point you to Graham Carter’s column in the Swindon Advertiser.

As Graham says: ‘If you don’t know his story: he was nicknamed Raggy because he was a rag-and-bone man. Yet, he was good enough at it to become rich and obtain various artworks, which he was only too happy to share with the people of Swindon.’

He gave a large statue of Charlotte Corday, which still stands in the foyer of the Town Hall. And many other objects that eventually formed the basis of Swindon Museum. No wonder he was made a Freeman of the Borough.

During his lifetime this extraordinary man even gave a plot of land on which Eastcott Community Centre now stands – which is where you will find the new plaque, posthumously thanking him for his immense generosity.’

James Powell: Rag and bone man turned Alderman.

Biographical info of James Raggy Powell
James Raggy Powell Plaque
The James’ Raggy’ Powell Plaque at Eastecott Community Centre

The recycled metal mentioned on the plaque came from old fryng pans donated by Ash Mistry of Eggelicious. No finer material!

Group photo taken at Eastcott community centre
From left: Andy Binks (Swindon Society, Cllr Kevin Parry (Mayor), Caroline David-Khan, Graham Carter, Noel Beauchamp, Angela Atkinson (Born again Swindonian) and Toby Robson – he who made the plaque!
Toby Robson and the Mayor cut the plaque
Toby Robson and the Mayor, Cllr. Kevin Parry, cut the ribbon on the plaque

Congratulations to Eastcott Community Centre on doing this. Well done guys! Great work as ever! A more fabulous and fitting to Raggy Powell it’s impossible to conceive.

Swindon and your community were so lucky to have first him, and now you.