RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes

RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes


Latest news from Revolution Performing Arts

16th September 2020

RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes. And young people in Swindon who love singing, dancing and acting are getting back to the studio after many months of online classes. 

One of the town’s leading voices in performing arts, Fi Da Silva Adams, worked hard with her team to return to socially-distanced performing arts classes last week.

“Our online classes were a life line for many young people during lockdown,” said Fi. Fi is the MD and founder of Revolution Performing Arts which, as a rule,supports around 350 young people on a weekly basis. 

“Young people still had an outlet and an opportunity to experience our empowerment through the arts experience. So they got a thrill from seeing their friends, even if it in the virtual world.

“Now we are doing a phased, Covid-safe return to classes so that children can get back together in a mindful manner and it’s been wonderful.”

RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes - in-person session

In-Person Session – RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes

One of the first parents to attend an ‘in-person’ session at Shaw Church in West Swindon was Emma King. Her daughter Darcy felt excited to attend a real-world class. RPA are soon to launch classes are in Freshbrook and Shrivenham too. 

Emma said: “What a return! First class back after summer and lockdown and it was amazing!  The measures to ensure the safety and happiness of the children and us parents was outstanding, from entering the building to leaving. You could see the smiles from the children and they were so excited to be back.”

Revolution Performing Arts, founded in 2007, has felt the effect of lockdown with half of the business based in schools.  Fi knew she’d have to innovate. So her team offered online classes and now a phased return to distanced classes. 

She said: “As schools are still reluctant to have external clubs in I had to diversify. So we decided to launch a programme of new sessions. These new session include more performing arts open classes, circus theatre arts, musical theatre, ballet for fun, RPA Sing, RPA Dance, RPA Street and RPA Act.  We’re now offering some of these classes in person at venues around Swindon.

“It’s so exciting. I’m so grateful for the Covid19 Emergency Fund Grant from Arts Council England. And the hundreds of parents who stood by us and kept us going all through lockdown.”

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts runs sessions in after school clubs and also open classes in church halls.

It specialises in empowering young people to celebrate their individuality through the power of performing arts.

For more information, contact email: office@revolutionpa.co.uk or visit www.revolutionpa.co.uk

See also – Revolution Performing Arts

Speaking of donning dancing shoes:

Heritage Open Days 2020

Heritage Open Days 2020

September 2020

Heritage Open Days 2020: 11 to 20 September

Heritage open days 2020 is England’s largest festival of history and culture. It brings together over 2,000 local people and organisations and thousands of volunteers. Every year, in September, places across the country open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history.

This is your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences. And – ta da – it’s all for free!!! Or rather it would be were it not for a little thing called Covid-19. Oops!

So what CAN you do in Swindon?

Heritage Open Days 2020 - the GWR Railway village

Well a number of things – and not all of them virtual experiences. Although, for obvious reasons, the offering is a bit more limited than it might be under usual circumstances, there are some worthwhile offerings.

You can visit St Mary’s Church at Lydiard Tregoze (featured in both Secret Swindon and Swindon in 50 Buildings) and the Church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham.

Besides that, you can take a guided tour of Old Town’s Prospect Place (also in the aforementioned books) on 19th September.


Virtual tours

Take virtual tours from your sofa of:
The Railway Village: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/self-guided-tour-of-swindons-railway-village

The GWR Railway Village

Exciting things are happening in Swindon’s Railway Village which is currently being revitalised by Historic England, Swindon Borough Council and other organisations through the Heritage Action Zone.

Built in the 1840s to Isambard Brunel’s design to house employees of the Great Western Railway (GWR) Works, the village is the UK’s best preserved example of a model railway village. Planned as a self-contained community with all the necessary facilities for a ‘decent’ life (according to the times), it comprises 300 railway workers’ cottages. All laid out in charming terraced streets, a church, pubs, shops, a school and a park.

Additional communal buildings of interest include the Mechanics’ Institution and the Health Hydro. Long before the National Health Service this provided a comprehensive health and wellbeing service for GWR workers and their families.

Refurbishments are ongoing or planned for the Cricketer’s pub, the Carriage Works, the Health Hydro and the Mechanics’ Institution. 

Explore the Railway Village for yourself guided by our free map, downloadable from the HOD website. It’s full of information about Swindon’s rich history. Then come back next year to see inside the buildings and check how the regeneration is progressing.

The Pattern Store

The interior of the newly refurbished Pattern Store:

1897 saw the completion of this imposing 4-storey building, built to house the GWR’s collection of patterns. And later the pattern-makers themselves. It was designed to be fireproof with a steel frame and minimal combustible materials. All loading and internal doors and stairways are metal. On the roof are four massive steel watertanks capable of holding 1.1 million litres of water.

See all that in this lovely film by CREATE Studios:

The Richard Jefferies Museum

Also online is the wonderful Richard Jefferies museum.

Our small but perfectly formed museum is going all out to reach our visitors through a mix of virtual and ‘real’ activities.

On Friday 11th September, a brand new section on our website will go live with a host of wonderful resources, and entertainments. All designed to help folk make the most of the museum in these strange, limited times.

Our new online activities include:
Downloadable art/heritage activities for adults.
Fun and easy-to-do crafts for children.
Videos of musicians who have been commissioned to play/sing for the museum.
Educational activities for children to engage with the museum in all its different ways.
And a wonderful collection of nature photographs by Sarah Singleton.

old house and garden richard jefferies museum
The Richard Jefferies museum Coate, Swindon

Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage

Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage

August 2020

Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage in all its glory

Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage to contribute to a ‘virtual history book’ about the town. With prizes on offer for the best shot.

Photographers invited to snap Swindon's heritage  - the art deco diving platform at Coate Water
The Art Deco diving platform at Coate Water

Photo opportunities abound

Swindon abounds with photo opportunities. Consider the English Heritage listed GWR Railway Village. Or the Art Deco diving platform at Coate Water. Then there’s heritage buildings like the Mechanics’ Institution or The Locarno and Swindon boasts picturesque canals steeped in industrial history. And the old GWR works reimagined as the Designer Outlet.

Whatever it is, if you’re a photographer you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fascinating and beautiful buildings to snap.

Visit Swindon, the organisation formed to showcase the best the town has to offer, has launched the Heritage Photo Challenge. And there’s terrific prizes on offer. 

They’re urging everyone from serious amateurs with professional camera kit to Instagrammers armed with mobile phones to get snapping. 

And what do photos make? Prizes!

The winning photographer will receive a prize package of a £100 voucher from independent photographic retailer T4 Cameras, plus an A3 print of their work.

“Swindon is steeped in history. And that history is a photographer’s dream said Julia Stuckey, business and economy manager at Swindon Borough Council. 

“To give yourself the best chance of winning your photo should capture something special about Swindon’s heritage. Or something eye-catching with a historical backdrop. 

“We’re looking for great buildings. Be they beautifully preserved or with an air of fading grandeur. Or wildlife engaging with architecture. Or scenes of photogenic people with heritage backdrops. We’re looking for beautiful but quirky, pseudo abstract or laugh out loud. Any of that could put you in the running.”

What the organisers are looking for

For a chance to win one of the prizes this what you have to do:

1. Follow Visit Swindon’s Instagram page at @visit_swindon.
2. share your photographs on the platform using the hashtag #SwindonHeritage2020

The competition runs until October 16, 2020 and a panel of judges will choose the winners. The best entries will appear on the Visit Swindon website and social media platforms.

You’ll find a full list of terms and conditions, as well as some handy photography hints from Visit Swindon’s in-house photographers at:


7. Shaw House – Old Shaw Lane

7. Shaw House – Old Shaw Lane

August 2020

Shaw House – Old Shaw Lane

It’s ever curious is it not – how stuff pops up on social media relevant to somewhere you’ve not long since been to? In this instance the co-incidences relate to Shaw House, on Old Shaw Lane.

I tend to think of Old Shaw Lane as being a bit of bygone Swindon. But of course it’s not – not really. Because this side of town – the western expansion – wasn’t Swindon. Back then Swindon was the settlement on the hill. Old Swindon – Old Town as we call it now.

I wrote about the western expansion where I live, in Secret Swindon. And Frances too has mentioned it in this blog post. ‘Development on the western expansion of Swindon began in the mid 1970s. First came Toothill, then Freshbrook, Grange Park (where I live) and Westlea. Shaw and Middleleaze followed in the 1980s.’

Covid Constitutionals

During this whole lockdown and Covid carry on I’ve taken to meandering around on what I call Covid constitutionals. During lockdown in particular I couldn’t get any further than my bladder would take – so that meant roaming West Swindon. I did feel a bit like I was in the Truman Show…

And one of my recent meanderings took me down Old Shaw Lane past the house that you see below – Shaw House.

Frances Bevan again:

‘The lane that runs between the former Lydiard Millicent parish boundary and the tributary of the River Ray dates back to the Middle Ages.  Building was slow along the thoroughfare known as Shaw Street in 1668 and two hundred years later there were just two farmhouses beside the lane. Shaw Farm, once owned by Viscount Bolingbroke, stood at the south east end and Lower Shaw Farm near the west end.  A further 13 houses and cottages straddled the verges.’

Shaw House, Old Shaw Lane

Social Media Strikes

A mere few days ago, this blog by Frances Bevan appeared on my Twitter stream about one Mary Tuckey. And where did Mary Tuckey live? In none other than Shaw House!

Frances wrote about Mary’s great niece, Jane Helena Tuckey, in her splendid book Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon. It’s a great book – I heartily recommend it to you – and you can find a bit more info on it in this post on Born again Swindonian.

Across the lane from this house is Lower Shaw Farm – another old farmhouse that Frances writes about on her blog.

On and around and about Old Shaw Lane

Remnants of rural life are all around us if we take the time to look. As the photographs above testify.

Indeed, with #LookdownLookaroundLookup that’s the thrust of my new publication, my Born Again Swindonian guide book.

And my last word, and staying on this particular snatch of days gone by and linking to Frances one last more (as my granddaughter says) she has a blog post with the most appropriate name – Rural Remnants

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner

August 2020


Latest news from Fiona Da Silva Adams of of Revolution Performing Arts

AS PARENTS prepare for their children to return to school parent, here’s some helpful back-to-school advice from Revolution Performing Arts owner, Fiona Da Silva Adams. She shares her top tips for getting back into a school routine. 

Fiona (known as Fi) runs Revolution Performing Arts, which offers after school clubs and classes across Swindon offering drama, dance and singing for children of all abilities. The ethos of RPA is one of inclusion. 

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner - Fiona Da Silva Adams
Fiona Da Silva-Adams owner of Revolution Performing Arts based in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Fiona (known as Fi) runs Revolution Performing Arts, which offers after school clubs and classes across Swindon offering drama, dance and singing for children of all abilities. The ethos of RPA is one of inclusion. 

“I’m a parent to two children myself,” Fi said. “Although many children are looking forward to going back to school, some may not be and some may worry about what school is now going to look and feel like. It’s my belief that, as parents ,we can support them around this new ‘unknown’.”

Looking forwards

It’s important we start thinking about the future. Our children are living through the same challenges we have. Life isn’t going to return to what it was. Yet with the opening of schools, parents and children alike need to try and get back some structure.

These tips might help some parents to prepare their children for this change,” Fi said. 

Fiona’s Top Tips

Sleep Routine – If your child has been sleeping in or establishing a nocturnal lifestyle it’s time to start restoring a regular sleep pattern.  Start by encouraging them to go to sleep half an hour earlier until they’re into a new healthier sleep pattern.  Returning to school will bring its own challenges – sleep deprivation will make the perspective that more enduring.  It’s proven that a regular sleep pattern is good for your mental health. So it’ll be a great start to the new academic year.

Anxiety/Social Interaction – school will look and feel different and some children may be anxious about this.   There may be one way systems in school, children may not be able to get physically close to teachers and adults may be wearing masks.  Children may even worry about hugging their friends.

Speak to the school and find out what school will now look like.  Depending on the age of your child a Worry Monster can be perfect for ‘eating up’ worries or check out the book “The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside. Both are fantastic as a starting point to ease anxieties in children.  

If your child’s a little older, plan a ‘Yes Day’ with one parent/carer, if you can manage it.  This involves you saying yes to everything for a day.  Most young people understand there are financial restrictions to this – no, a new X Box is not part of a ‘yes’ day. You’ll find that most simply want you to share your time and their experiences and favourite hobbies. It’s a  perfect opportunity for a child to open up about any worries while they have your undivided attention. 

Practicalities – Check out that school uniform and shoes as some stocks can get quite low and your child won’t need that extra stress. In particular as they have to be ‘the right shape’ trousers or ‘the correct shade of grey’!  

Getting there – Did you book the school bus?  Are there rules about social distancing on the bus? Is your child aware of them?  Do they need to wear a mask on the bus?


If they have to wear a mask, treat them to one they’ve chosen – from their favourite band or matching head wear – as long as school allows it. Or, if you drive, there are loads of road works currently planned for Swindon.  Make sure you are ready and prepared to take an alternative route or allow extra time.  Your stress levels will thank you for it!

And finally!

Celebrate and re-connect – Finally, no matter how the first days go, celebrate with your child and plan a treat with the family! They did it!  They got through the first day and survived!  You can all breathe a sigh of relief.  

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts was set up in September 2007. Although Fi has more than 20 years’ experience as a qualified performance artist with a BA Hons in Performing Arts. She is a mum to two children, Zavier, aged 17 and Angel aged 14. 

Fi set the group up in the first instance as Drama Babes (drama for toddlers and preschoolers) in September 2007. A year later the demand was so great the business moved on to offer sessions for primary school age children and Drama Babes was then sold on.  The emphasis for RPA is on fun, confidence building, boosting self esteem and developing individual potential. 

Today Revolution Performing Arts supports 100s of children across Swindon to enjoy the arts and express and embrace who they are and what makes them different. To find out more visit: https://revolutionpa.co.uk/

For more posts about Swindon arts, culture and heritage go here: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/

See also:

A Covid Compliant Library Shop

A Covid Compliant Library Shop

Hello Swindonians.

Well, it’s been a while since you’ve been able to access the shop and information desk in the central library on Regent Circus. That sad state of affairs is, of course, thanks to us being in the grip of a pandemic.

But lo! I bring you tidings of great joy. No – a son isn’t born unto us but we do now have a Covid compliant library shop.

Swindon central library - a covid compliant library shop

The current arrangements

The library is not physically open. BUT – from 18th August they’ll have a Shop, Select & Collect service.  That lets you browse their stock via their Instagram feed here or their blog here: here https://libraryshop.wordpress.com/

You can then email askthelibrary@swindon.gov.uk with your telephone number and someone will call you back to take your order and payment. Then you can collect what you’ve bought from the library during their opening times.

Caveat Emptor: There’s no walk in access. You can collect your books/purchases from the foyer where staff will put them ready for you. 

For more info on the phased re-opening of the library go here: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20026/libraries/1132/covid-19_-_reopening_our_libraries

So it’s not ideal no. No one is pretending it is. But it’s something. And it does mean you now have the means to support the shop in buying gifts and books from them.

Dona Bradley and Simon Webb are among those with fabulous gift products on sale in the Covid-compliant library shop. Not to mention of course, dozens of fabulous books. Yes – those I’ve written. To pretend otherwise is daft. But lots more besides.

Early in lockdown I wrote a couple of posts highlighting a range of books to read over the summer. So here’s a recap of those:

5 Swindon Books to Read Now – or whenever:

And … drum roll please …. 5 More Swindon Books to read – or just as soon as you can:

Every single book I’ve mentioned in those posts are great. But one if my fave reads of this summer had to be the one below. I blooming loved this:

A Covid Compliant Library Shop - screenshot of books from instagram account