One of the entries in Swindon in 50 Buildings,is The Crumpled Horn pub over in Eldene. So, I figured this blog series of Swindon in 50 More Buildings should include a pub too. And this news about the Hall & Woodhouse pub out at Wichelstow is a good enough reason to make it this one.
NB: When this place first opened, the website had stock photos of a country house that wasn’t Lydiard House. And a steam engine absolutely not made by the GWR. People were upset – with good reason. Lazy and unnecessary. Ergo, I’m happy to report that the local attractions page on their website does now feature actual Swindon places.
The Hall and Woodhouse Canal-side Hostelrygets national recognition for innovative pub in Swindon
Hall & Woodhouse at Wichelstowe, Swindon, has won the coveted ‘New Build Award’ in the prestigious CAMRA Pub Design Awards 2020.
A CAMRA award – Campaign for Real Ale
The awards, held by CAMRA, in conjunction with Historic England, celebrate exceptional pubs across the country. These are pubs that have undergone conversion or conservation work. That or they’re newly built.
Hall & Woodhouse in Wichelstowe first opened its doors to guests in February 2019. This follows a £5million investment. The canal-side pub sits in the new housing expansion at Wichelstowe and has become a flagship symbol of the emerging community.
The pub’s designers took inspiration from its surroundings, looking at creative ways to:
A. Incorporate the canal B. Reflect industrial Swindon’s architectural heritage into the pub’s interior and striking exterior.
An innovative, purpose-built canal boat named Lady Rose protrudes from the front entrance of the building. It contains self-serve beer pumps in sectioned booths that can seat up to 20 people.
Mark James, Property Director at Hall & Woodhouse, said: “It’s important to us to create a welcoming atmosphere that makes guests feel at home. A place where they can relax over a coffee or a meal, or enjoy a drink with friends.
A labour of love
Hall & Woodhouse, Wichelstowe was a real labour of love for our design team. They spent months sourcing unique features to enhance the pub’s iconic appearance. A walk around the pub surrounds you with pieces of Swindon’s history and artefacts conveying our 240 years of brewing heritage.
Glazed drinking and dining areas extending along the canal frontage, represent a terrace of traditional boathouses. The gabled roofs opening onto the water’s edge, form an extensive area of covered outdoor space. And the taller accommodation block symbolises traditional canal-side warehouses.
Juxtaposition in the internal decor
The internal décor is a juxtaposition of industrial structure and soft furnishings. The walls are adorned with images of local boatbuilding, the Hall & Woodhouse family and the company’s brewing heritage.
We sourced with care, knick-knacks from all over the country to enhance the building’s atmosphere.
Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Award judging panel, added: “The New Build Award is rarely awarded. It’s a testament to the quality of Hall & Woodhouse at Wichelstowe that it has won.
“The commitment Hall & Woodhouse make to individual, location-specific design is praiseworthy.”
About Hall & Woodhouse
Hall & Woodhouse is an independent Dorset family company. They brew award-winning Badger Ales and run an estate of high-quality pubs in the south of England.
35 years and counting for pioneering Swindon web company
DMJ Computer Services is 35! A Swindon based web development company, created right at the start of the computing boom, is a phenomenal 35 years old!
DMJ Computer Services, headed by Martin Jarvis set up the business in 1985. In the first instance, offering programming and software development services. Martin jokes that he’s been programming “for as long as Bill Gates”.
Under Martin’s stewardship, DMJ has evolved. It now specialises in end-to-end website service for small businesses. From web design to hosting and aftercare, Martin’s service, based in offices in Chiseldon, runs the gamut.
The firm has worked on hundreds of websites. Clients include dog walkers and a chateau owner, a professional football club and a design agency which brands international airlines.
Weathering the storms
The company has weathered many storms including recessions in the 80s, 90s, 2008. And now the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic, to become a strong entity with a loyal client base across the UK and more than eight other countries.
“We recognised back in the early Noughties that many smaller companies were not benefiting from quality website services because they couldn’t justify the ad hoc consultancy fees charged by specialists. Nor were they able to justify the expense of employing their own in-house staff,” said Martin. “We launched a boutique website service, aimed at delivering the quality service offered by larger companies at an affordable cost.”
Early interest in computing
Martin, who grew up in Swindon had an interest in computing from his teenage years. He began his career in 1978 as a computer programmer. He worked first with a factoring company, before moving to Burmah Castrol and then on to Intel.
At the age of 25, with a young family, he decided to leave corporate life and set up DMJ Computer Services.
“It was a risk, but when you’re in your twenties it doesn’t seem like a risk. I suspect it’s a lot braver to do this when you’re in your fifties,” said Martin. “I wanted to get a better deal for my family and the gamble paid off.”
DMJ Computer Services then concentrated on project work, including programming and software development for a range of businesses, including PHH and BMW.
The Millennium didn’t bug Martin
In the early Millennium, Martin steered DMJ towards web development for smaller business. He began building websites from scratch and then becoming an early adopter of WordPress, created in 2003 as a blogging platform.
“I was looking at a way to build websites smarter. I predicted that all businesses were going to need a website. And, at the same time, I realised that not every business was going to be able to afford the cost of a bespoke website. WordPress provided the perfect solution for my clients.”
As well as web design, DMJ offers hosting and support packages for website. Martin hosts the websites on servers based in West London, in premises powered by 100 per cent green-source renewable energy.
Martin is now expanding DMJ’s website support packages. His offerings will include a premium website spam protection product, with more benefits to come during 2020.
The GWR Weighbridge Swindon on Penzance Drive – near the Outlet Centre and the Pattern Store – soon to be the Pattern Church.
Once the home of Archer’s Brewery – now a restaurant.
Photograph taken during the Covid-19 2020 lockdown. This road is never normally quiet like this.
Swindon’s GWR Weighbridge
This GWR weighbridge – part of ‘A’ shop, came into life in 1906. Penzance Drive is now a busy thoroughfare, with housing on the opposite side, going to the Outlet Centre – itself once part of the mighty GWR Works. But imagine the area as it was – packed with railway sidings and full of rolling stock.
Locomotives came into this building for weighing and balancing along a single track.
A few years later came a breeze block extension and a 1920s interior refurbishment.
The Swindon Book by Mark Child tell us that, photographs taken in the place, over the next decade, depict balancing machines named ‘Henry Pooley and Sons, Birmingham and London – and dated 1930
Between the GWR period and the the buildings’ current use, Archer’s brewery inhabited the place.
According to Quaffle (love that name) Archer’s beer first was brewed in London Street before moving to the weighbridge.
Founded in 1979, by former RAF pilot Mark Archer Wellington and his wife, Wendy, they set up up their brewery in an industrial unit, that once was part of the GWR carriage and wagon works on the aforementioned street.
The Pattern Store and the Turntable
A few yards down the road from the weighbridge, and on the opposite side of the McArthur Glen Outlet centre, is the Pattern Store – becoming the Pattern Church and the turntable.
As the Pattern Store, that building features in Swindon in 50 buildings. As part of a triumverate with the turntable and the water tank on its roof, it features too in my forthcoming Born Again Swindonian Guide. I hope to have that out in the summer.
‘Windmill Hill Business Park is an imaginative collection of high quality office buildings. It’s set in a beautifully landscaped business park setting. It overlooks the Wiltshire countryside and lies less than 20 minutes from Swindon town centre and the railway station.
The environment is peaceful and relaxed, with lakes and pedestrian walkways to the local shops. Easy connections to the Wiltshire cycleway and direct access to J16 of the M4 a quarter of a mile away.’
But what about the windmill?
As a 2015 Swindon Advertiser article explains: ‘This graceful structure, with its majestic sails, originally adorned the fields of Chiseldon around six miles away before its dramatic though not unproblematic rebirth.’ Onto Windmill Hill that is.
Built in the 1820s, next to Chiseldon church, local historians claim the windmill still did its thing as late as 1892.
The rationale for putting the windmill there it that, it seems, there used to be a medieval post mill on the site. That traditional business activity gave the name to the centre and the reason to move the Chiseldon windmill to where it stands now.
In the absence of any archaeological remains of the windmill there is one compelling piece of pictorial evidence.
Among the St John monuments in St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Tregoz is the Golden Cavalier. That’s a tribute to Sir John St John’s son Edward who died from wounds received at the 2nd Battle of Newbury in 1644.
On the base of the statue there is a relief carving of the Cavalier leading his troop . Alan Turton, writing in English Civil War Notes And Queries 1985 about the presence of a Post Mill (windmill) in the carving says:
‘the whole design may show Captain Edward St John parading his troop in the park, hence the railings, of his family home at Lydiard Tregoze where there is also a Windmill Hill on the estate.’
Another remnant of Swindon past
Close by to this windmill is another hidden remnant of Swindon past – now serving as the site office for the business park.
Now office accommodation, this is the Marsh Farm, Farmhouse.
The 101-acre dairy farm, once part of the Lydiard Park Estate belonged to the St John family.
The tithe map apportionments, produced in 1841, record ancient field names such as The Shannells and Picks Mead.
Fitness Fanatic Graphic Designer Fundraises. Fitness Fanatic Graphic Designer Supports Swindon Charity. Graphic designer Mike Land is well-known for his nifty artwork. But he’s also been putting his fitness fans through their paces during Covid-19 induced lockdown.
This week he’s been doing his free virtual classes – filmed in his back garden – for Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service. This action is part of the national drive to raise vital charitable funds which would have come from the Virgin Money London Marathon.
The cancelled event, which should have taken place last weekend, is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event. Last year it raised £66.4 million for thousands of charities.
Many of these charities have had to reduce or stop services at a time when vulnerable members of society need them most. What’s more, thousands of staff are now on furlough. Some may simply not survive.
Apropos domestic violence, it’s estimated that calls across the UK to various relevant support organisations have increased by 700 per cent.
As a result of the cancellation of the marathon, many people have, instead, taken on the 2.6 challenge. It involves taking part in any activity. From running 2.6 miles to holding an online workout with 26 friends and donating to charity at the same time.
He said: “In the business community I’m known as a brand strategist – in other words a creative behind a desk. But by night I’m a lycra-clad fitness junkie focused on making the fat cry for those who attend my classes.
“With no London Marathon last weekend, we decided to do our own challenge and raise a few pounds for a local charity in need of support right now. It’s well known that domestic violence increases dramatically during holiday periods. So who knows what lockdown is like for those who are suffering?”
Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA)
Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA) is a free and confidential serving Swindon and the surrounding area. It supports victims of domestic violence.
The team also work with young people aged 16-25 years who may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
For the love of fitness
Mike is using his love of fitness to look on the bright side of life. Although he has more than 25 years’ experience in brand and graphic design, working with large brands like Texaco, he took the brave move to go self-employed at the beginning of 2020. Only to find himself pushed into lockdown a few weeks later.
During isolation, Mike has been live-streaming his workouts for free. They’ve proved popular.
It’s been fun, I have to admit that standing in front of the camera for the first time, without getting feedback and banter from the group was weird. But, this is week six and I am beginning to get into a flow.
My friends know me, my style of fitness and yes, some say I am a taskmaster, but they’ve returned week after week.”
As part of his 2.6 Challenge. Mike wrote a ‘ bring a bottle’ workout and asked his members to donate £2.62 for SWA. The target was set at £262 and to date he’s raised more than £450. “I am so proud of my group of fitties and my friends. They enjoy the workouts, post, tag and share them every week. They voted for a refuge charity for the challenge and I am so glad that we’ve reached the target goal in such a short time”.
Mike is a qualified L2 Gym Instructor, kettlebell, suspension training (TRX) and spinning instructor. He now takes pleasure in helping others improve their strength, power, fitness and endurance.