The Swindon County Ground Hotel

The Swindon County Ground Hotel

19th January 2019

Hello lovely listeners. On the heels of Secret Swindon, I’m now in full flow with research and writing for my second book from Amberley Books, Swindon in 50 Buildings. It’s come as no surprise at all to me that there’s a cornucopia of potentials for this book. For every building I’ve put on the list, I could quite easily have selected several more. So I’ve 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, I’m definitely featuring Swindon’s County Ground in the book. 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 do I have room for it? No I do not. For now it’s on the reserve bench – and in this blog.

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.

The Swindon County Ground Hotel is 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 include a portrait of Queen Victoria who happened to be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee that year.

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:

County ground screenshot
Image from the Swindon County Ground website
The Gifted Exhibition at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

The Gifted Exhibition at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Hello listeners. The Museum and Art Gallery in Swindon’s Old Town has had a changeover in its exhibition. As indeed it is wont to do. The current exhibition bears the title: Gifted! And is well worth popping along to.

The Gifted exhibition at Swindon museum and art gallery

The images below, of text accompanying the exhibition, explain what the exhibition centres around. But of course there’s more – and many more paintings too. #Obvs

The Bomford and Phelps Gift

Read about the Swindon collection of modern art here.

Some of my old favourites – and there’s nothing wrong with that – are on display in the Gifted! exhibition. Like, for instance, the Lowry below. But it was fab to see some that I’d not seen before. Or at least that I don’t recall.

I think a sticker book would be a bit good here. Pictures of each painting in the collection and a sticker of it to put on when you see the painting in the gallery.

L S Lowry - Winter in Pendlebury
L S Lowry – Winter in Pendlebury 1943

About the Art Fund

The Art Fund
Radnor Street Cemetery blog

Radnor Street Cemetery blog

Radnor Street Cemetery blog - image shows a gravestone.

Listeners! I have grave news for you. No apologies for the pun. I can’t help myself, I can’t stop digging – they’ll be the death of me.

Esteemed Swindon historian, Frances Bevan, has got a new blog. And it promises to be a rather riveting combination of research and fictionalised stories with which Frances will tell the story of Radnor Street Cemetery in Swindon. And, I guess, its inhabitants.

Radnor Street is, amongst being a regular cemetery, a Commonwealth War Graves site.

Photo of squadron leader UK airforce

It’s also the resting place of Harold Morley Starr.

Read more about him here.

Frances is a co-founder of Radnor Street Cemetery Society  so you can be sure she knows a tomb from a crypt. And even more about who is inside them!

To give you a further idea of what the blog is about – this is taken from the blog’s home page:

‘Every death touches someone; a husband, a wife, a friend, a lover, a stranger, leaving a mark on history itself. Each of these blogposts begin with the re-imagined stories of that unknown witness and continues with researched facts supported by contemporary accounts. Sources include books, emphemera etc held at Local Studies, Central Library, parish registers, Radnor Street Cemetery burial registers, Wills, census returns and the British Newspaper Archives website.’

I’ve read Frances’ first post and it leaves you wanting more. So I urge you to follow Frances on Twitter and keep up to the date with her graveyard goings on.

Lis McDermott: Author

Lis McDermott: Author

30th December 2018

Lis McDermott: Author

Lis McDermott author facebook page header

As we enter a new year, it’s pure delight to feature Lis McDernott to the ‘Made in Wiltshire’ section of Born again Swindonian. Writing is creating. And creating is making. So writing fits here as well as anything else.

Lis’ writing and business personas cross over somewhat. As the Headshot Diva, Lis does what it says and takes great headshot photographs. The crossover comes because Lis has written a book on that very topic – and you can find out more about that here. 

Lis McDermott author

Yet her output is much broader than that and I’m in awe. I mean, I do a spot of writing myself. There’s this blog for a start. And this year I became a published author for the first time with Secret Swindon. Plus, I’ve now got ‘Swindon in 50 Buildings’ underway. But the prolific Lis is three books ahead of me. And fiction? No. That’s not me at all. I don’t have that sort of creativity.

This is Lis’ author Facebook page:

And here are images of her varied publications:

About Lis

Hailing from Leicester, Lis now lives in Royal Wootton Basset with her husband, Conrad.

Lis is musically trained, with a thirty-four year long career in music education under her belt. During this period, along with Mary Edwards she co-authored (under the pseudonym Lis Fletcher), Nelson Music. Nelson Music being a three-volume music scheme for primary schools.

2008 saw Lis change career and turn to photography. This allowed her to bring together her two passions: pictures and people. Complementing the photography, Lis gives talks on the topic and on writing and changing career at a later stage in life. (I sure as heck know all about that! What with necessity being the mother of reinvention. Baby boomer deprived of state pension and all that jazz)

Lis became an author in her own right in 2014 with the publication of ‘Headshot Diva‘. A proud moment came with a short story she penned being included in a short story anthology.

In 2017 Lis published her own book of short stories, ‘Changing Lives: 8 short stories’. Her latest book is, ‘Mixed Feelings‘, an autobiography.

Amazon Links

Should you be interested in buying any of Lis’ books – and why wouldn’t you be – here are links to them on Amazon.

  1. Mixed Feelings (Wordcatcher Real Life Stories and Biographies)
  2. A Tilted View: A collection of poetry (Wordcatcher Modern Poetry)

  3. Headshot Diva: Why Your Business Profile Affects Your Bottom Line: Volume 1 (Lis McDermott Photography Series)

  4. Changing Lives: Eight Short Stories (Wordcatcher Modern Fiction)


Get Business fit with Business Village

Get Business fit with Business Village

29 December 2018

Get Business fit with Business Village

Free event will help businesses and their owners get fit for 2019

Getting fit for 2019, in personal and business life, will be the focus of a free event kicking off the New Year for breakfast networking group Swindon Business Village.

Ian Locke and Shirley Hensher will jointly deliver a presentation: ‘Fit for business: achieving personal wellbeing is key to your business success’ on Thursday January 10.

Get business fit for business village

Ian is a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He runs Thrive Personal Training, helping people move, eat and live in ways which improve their health and wellbeing. Shirley, under her business banner The Change Agent, enables corporate professionals and business owners to shape working lives which fit with their values and aspirations.

Shirley said: “The presentation is aimed at helping business owners who want to manage their health and fitness with the same level of energy and focus with which they manage their business. In other words, business owners who need motivation or support to create the opportunities for more ‘me time’ in their working week.”

Ian added: “For many of us, we are the most valuable asset our business has but we often ignore our own wellbeing in favour of the needs of the business. At the heart of our presentation is the question, your business needs you, but are you fit for business?”

The event, on Thursday January 10, is the first after the group’s Christmas break, and is free to anyone wanting to attend, as well as Business Village regulars.

It runs from 7.30-9am at The Campanile, West Swindon, and includes networking, one-minute introductions and breakfast. The usual charge for each weekly, Thursday meeting is £10 for booking online in advance (£9 early bird) or £12 on the door. The group charges no membership fee.

For more information and to book for the presentation, and other events on the Swindon Business Village calendar, visit

In their separate businesses, Ian and Shirley both work with corporate executives and business owners seeking personal transformation.

For more information about The Change Agent visit and for Thrive Personal Training visit