First World War Memorial: GWR Park

First World War Memorial: GWR Park

I’ve been meaning for long enough to get some photographs of the GWR Park First World War memorial on the blog. It had its unveiling back in November 2018.

Some photographs of the unveiling here, on the South Swindon Parish Council website.

The memorial commemorates the centenary of the cessation of WWI hostilities. Designed by Dr Mike Pringle (of the Richard Jefferies Museum), it depicts different aspects of the First World War.

The location in the northwest corner of the GWR Park was selected because that’s where the sun goes down.

Made from five steel panels, GWR Park first world war memorial sculpture features cut out designs of: a horse’s head, a Lee Enfield rifle, a gun carriage wheel and the red cross of the Swindon Royal Army Medical Corps.

Artist Mike Pringle said ‘the pointed steel panels would be redolent of the sharp rooftops of the GWR works, described by soldier and Swindon author Alfred Williams as looking like the teeth of a giant saw blade.’

The GWR Park is an integral part of Swindon’s GWR Railway Village Conservation area – voted England’s favourite in 2018. Read more about that here on the Swindon Civic Voice website.

Aside from this sculpture in an agreeable green space, there are other good reasons to visit the railway village. The Mechanics’ Institution trust, run regular volunteer-led tours around the village. They usually post the dates and times etc on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mechanicstrust/

They also manage the Baker’s Cafe, central community centre and the railway cottage museum. For opening times for that see their Facebook page above.

The Glue Pot pub in the village is always worth a visit for their real ales. And now there’s the Baker’s Community cafe too, formed from the old Baker’s Arms public house.

Check out their Facebook page for opening times, menus etc: https://www.facebook.com/bakerscafe.sn1/

The Baker’s Community Cafe in the GWR Railway Village
Tickets are flying for Swindon’s only pop music festival as full line-up is confirmed

Tickets are flying for Swindon’s only pop music festival as full line-up is confirmed

Latest news from the MFOR Festival team

https://www.mforfestival.co.uk

TICKETS for the first MFor Festival are selling faster than anticipated as the team behind this inaugural event confirm the full music and activity line up.

Taking place at Lydiard Park in Swindon on Saturday July 27 between 11am and 1o.30pm MFor will be both a music festival and a family-friendly community event. 

Graham Stobbs, co-organiser and founder of Synister Music, said: ‘We’re so thrilled with the support we’ve already seen in ticket sales from across Swindon, Wiltshire and the surrounding areas – and also from local businesses and organisations – who are queuing up to support this unique community music festival.’

The music line-up features headline act Years & Years who will be appearing as part of their Palo Santo World Tour. Other acts include special guest Ella Eyre, HRVY, Becky Hill, Toploader and opening the music will be Swindon’s own Jahmene Douglas.  Jahmene will open the line-up at about 3pm and the headline act will take to the stage at about 9pm.

Latest news from the MFOR Festival team

A second stage has now been included and there will be DJ sets, street dancers and other local music acts. One of those will feature local DJ, Jay Hayden. 

Co-organiser Debra Collins. ‘MFor is not just about the music. Fun, family and community is at the heart of this great event and everything we do. Axe throwing, archery, crossbow, assault course, inflatables and so much more are included free to guarantee an exciting day for everyone. We are truly humbled by everyone’s support.’

Experiences on offer include climbing walls and a huge inflatable assault course, go-karting, a rifle range, axe-throwing, a funfair and a dedicated children’s area including activities such as face-painting, workshops and entertainment from street performers.

There will also be a food and drinks area (operating a Challenge 25 policy around alcohol consumption), community participation and a charitable element with money being raised for veteran charity Walking With The Wounded and other local projects. The Wiltshire-based Red Devils, the official parachute display team of the British Army will also be parachuting in at about noon. 

Many businesses have already lined up support the event.  These include:

  1. Sky’s The Limit Entertainment – providing the inflatable assault course. 
  2. Farrs Catering of Swindon – for providing food vendors and a fun fair.
  3. Bring The Game Over – providing virtual reality games’ experiences.  

Graham said: ‘We would especially like to thank Tom Falding, Bailey Farr, Swindon Borough Council and Lydiard Park, who have really become part of the organising team and supported us in getting this first event off the ground.’

The MFOR Music Festival takes place on Saturday July 27. Gates open at 11am and the finish time is 10:30pm.  

Ticket prices were tiered and now cost £37.99 per adult until the end of May.

Children’s tickets are £12.99 (aged five to 13 inclusive) and must be accompanied by at least one full-paying adult.

Under fives go free – one young child per full-paying adult. VIP tickets for fast track access and extra benefits are £70 each. 

 Information and tickets are available on the website at  https://www.mforfestival.co.uk

See also: https://swindonian.me/2019/03/29/toploader-joining-the-line-up-for-swindons-mfor-festival/

Toploader joining the line-up  for Swindon’s MFOR festival

Toploader joining the line-up for Swindon’s MFOR festival

Toploader, the band which had one of the most successful songs of the last 20 years Dancing In The Moonlight, has been named among the line-up for the MFOR Festival at Lydiard Park in Swindon in July. 

Formed in 1997, the band has sold over two million albums and had a string of top 20 hits in the UK and overseas. Their debut album Onka’s Big Mokasold over a million copies. 

In the year 2000 they released their most successful song to date – Dancing In The Moonlight– which was a global hit and stayed in the European Airplay Charts for over a year. It was re-released in 2013 and had millions of hits on YouTube making it one of the most successful songs of recent times. 

In 2013, they also released two singles Turn It Aroundand This Is The Night, the latter becoming their first No 1 in the Radio 2 Airplay Charts. 

Toploader will join the acts already announced. They include headline act Years & Years. They released their latest album Palo Santo last year and their debut album Communion was the fastest selling debut album of any UK based band in 2015. 

Forming part of the line-up is the singer songwriter Ella Eyre currently best known for her collaborations with Rudimental on their UK number one single Waiting All Night. That track won the 2014 Brit Award for British Single of the Year. She released her debut album Feline, in 2015.  Joining the line-up too, is local singer songwriter and X Factor finalist Jahmene Douglas.


Graham Stobbs, member of the organising team, said: “I’m thrilled to be able to confirm another act in the line-up.  We’d like to thank all of those who are supporting us and buying tickets. Prices go up again from Monday April 1 so please get your orders in quickly!”

The event will also offer a range of other experiences including a climbing wall and an inflatable assault course. There will also be a food and drinks area, community participation and a charitable element raising money for veteran charity Walking With The Wounded and other local projects. The Wiltshire-based Red Devils, the official parachute display team of the British Army who will be parachuting in. 

The MFOR Music Festival takes place on Saturday July 27. Gates open at 11am and the finish time is 10:30pm.  Ticket prices are tiered – the earlier a ticket is booked, the cheaper the price.

Tickets booked up to this Sunday March 31 are £32.99 for adults (aged 14 upwards), rising then to £37.99 until the end of May. Children’s tickets are £9.99 (aged five to 13 inclusive) rising to £12.99. Under fives go free – one young child per full-paying adult. VIP tickets for fast track access and extra benefits are £70 each.  Information and tickets are available on the website at  https://www.mforfestival.co.uk

Marilyn Trew Artist

Marilyn Trew Artist

Where many creatives that I speak to have a shared tale of, if not parental antagonism to them pursuing art, then at least apathy and lack of support. But not so for Marilyn Trew artist. For her dad was a creative chap – so it’s in the blood as it were. A sign-writer, for a pastime, Marilyn’s dad cut shapes from linoleum to frame and Marilyn would help him with that.

puffin on rocks

Marilyn Trew Artist on Facebook: The Puffin Shack

Schooldays – Artistic Days

Failing her 11+, aged 13 Marilyn got the chance of a grammar scholarship studying art. Twenty-eight places were available and Marilyn’s painting of Hull fish wives won her one of them. So off to study art she went. She had one English lesson and one maths lesson per week – the rest of her school hours she spent studying all the artistic disciplines. Through all this Marilyn had her parent’s support and encouragement. Marilyn says she had the great good fortune to have parents that only wanted for her to be happy so gave her their blessing.

Marilyn’s Social Media Activities

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarilynTrew
Facebook:
Swindon Art Venues: https://www.facebook.com/oldtownart/
Visual Art Swindon:
https://www.facebook.com/VisualArtSwindon/

Map twigs community gardens

Marilyn’s gorgeous map for Twigs Community gardens

A Rich and Varied Tale and a Life Well-Lived

Marilyn’s back story is so varied that I’ll have to leap forward to her Swindon activities or this post is going to be waaaaay too long as fascinating as it is. Suffice it to say, that Marilyn’s experiences encompass designing flooring for the Armstrong Cork Co and flying high as a stewardess for British Eagle Airlines. In that role, Marilyn flew Brian Epstein (the Beatles’ manager), the London Symphony Orchestra and once threw Acker Bilk off a plane for being drunk in charge of his cabin bag! There’s also been a graphic design business in Spain and HR and counselling training. Not much then eh?

Stepping into Swindon’s Art Scene

Since making a full-time return to art five years ago, Marilyn has been super active in Swindon’s super active art scene.

Asked to start an art group by by Stratton Parish council at Grange leisure centre, the group is now thirty people strong. Marilyn told me how she loves working with this group because it uses so much of her experience. Well – maybe not designing floors. With a grant to get it off the ground, this group is now self-funding.

Savernake Street Hall – Eastcott Community 

Together with fellow artist Ruth Wintle, another super lady, Marilyn runs a further art group at Savernake Street Hall – a great community centre run by a bunch of gorgeous community minded people for whom Marilyn is full of praise. And quite right too. They’re great. Marilyn explains that many people come to the group purely for the companionship. They learn about art, go on trips and they make friends. And that’s what it’s all about.

Marilyn, Ruth and their art group worked on windows for the community hall as part of Eastcott’s wonderful Window Wanderland project.

Mapping Swindon

Being the wonderful community minded individual that she is, a year or so back Marilyn drew the most beautiful map for the Peatmoor Community woodland.

In the image below you see the gorgeous Marilyn, her husband Chris and the map.

Marilyn Trew with her husband Chris and her fabulous Peatmoor map.

I happened to see that map on social media. #Obvs And a bell clanged in my head. ‘Ooh’ I thought, ‘I could ask Marilyn if she’d do a map of the Richard https://swindonian.me/2015/03/29/richard-jefferies-old-town-walk-part-1/Jefferies Old Town walk for a project I’m trying to get to!’ She did – and it’s amazing. And since then the whole map painting malarkey has grown like topsy, with maps of the garden at the Richard Jefferies museum, the Twigs garden that you see above and more. I’d really love for her to do one of the railway village conservation area. She has produced one for me to go in Swindon in 50 Buildings – hitting bookshelves near you in a few weeks’ time.

When not running art groups and mapping Swindon she’s busy with her own thing – mostly nature and wildlife.

In the photos you see below there are cards drawn/painted by Marilyn at The Core juice bar in Old Town, the WWI mural she was part of in Haydon Wick, a map of the Richard Jefferies museum garden and the Eastcott windows.

Marilyn is a wonderful person. She’s warm and kind and community minded. And, she not only draws maps for me but she brings me sweeties. So y’know … 😉 Long may she continue mapping Swindon and painting in it.




Eastcott Window Wanderland

Eastcott Window Wanderland

March 4th 2019


How wonderful it is to be writing about Eastcott window wanderland – yet another brilliant community ‘thing’ organised by the better than brilliant Eastcott community group – based at Savernake Street Community Hall. They’re jolly good at ‘things’ it has to be said.

The Window Wanderland is the latest, super fab initiative from the Eastcott group. I’m ever in awe of what they achieve there. They are such a vibrant, imaginative and well-organised group – what they achieve leaves me impressed, breathless and exhausted in equal measure!

During the two nights of 2nd and 3rd of March, over 130 window makers dressed windows in well over fifty of Swindon’s streets and transformed them into an illuminated art gallery. Images of a small few in the gallery below.

But where did this wonderful idea come from?

The window wanderland concept began in in Bristol. Eastcott resident, Helen Ganberg spotted it there and approached the Eastcott community group to sound them out about bringing it to Eastcott.

Eastcott realised the project in Swindon with the help of a £6,500 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund. The chairman of Eastcott group, Caroline Davis-Khan told the Swindon Advertiser, that they’d worked on the project for six-seven months.

As group trustee Laura Holmes said, it’s a nice creative way to bring people together, that showed how many artistic and creative people there are around. And she’s right – there’s a staggering amount of creativity in Swindon.

To make the exhibition more inclusive, the group used the grant to set up workshops.

Mayor of Swindon Junab Ali, who was at the launch, said: “It’s a fantastic idea, this is just bringing the whole community of the area together. In some places, neighbours don’t talk to neighbours and there is no activity in the community, so this event is fantastic.

And now a few photographs purloined from Facebook (I’m a terrible photographer, trust me it’s best this way) of a small number of the windows. See also this from Swindon Viewpoint:https://www.facebook.com/SwindonViewpoint73/videos/401411213925244/

Especially for Laura Jane Lowry – her gorgeous contribution to the Eastcott Window Wanderland.

Marilyn Trew and Ruth Wintle are two super artistic ladies that run art workshops at Savernake Street Hall. Here’s the windows they all worked on:

If anything sums up the event it’s this – seen on Twitter:

To find out more about the Eastcott area, its community and history read their gorgeous book Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man.

Swindon’s Stylish Art Gallery

Swindon’s Stylish Art Gallery

As some of you will know, I’m right now embroiled in writing my second publication for Amberley Books, Swindon in 50 Buildings. You can imagine I’m sure, how much material I’m amassing. All of it fascinating and entertaining but not necessarily suitable for the book. So it’s great to have this blog as a vehicle to share some of what I can’t put in the book.

A recent visit to Apsley House, home of Swindon’s Museum and Art Gallery, to research the building for the book unearthed some wonderful details – a couple of them featured in this post.

A New Art Gallery Annexe

Photo of a model of Apsley House and the 1964 art gallery annexe.

Obviously I’m not going to reveal too much here about the building. #spoilers But I simply loved learning that, when the new art gallery annexe opened in 1964, it was furnished with tables and chairs from none other than Conran Associates. Yep – THE Conran of Habitat, the Conran Shop and more.  Before ever Ikea invaded our shores we had Conran. This was the bees knees. The last word in interior design.

These days that gallery annexe might look of its time – on the outside at least. Indeed I’m never sure how I feel about its exterior. Some days I like it and some days I don’t. But of course what matters most of all is what goes in the building. Which, as it happens, is lots. Lunchtime talks, childrens’ activities and trails, evening talks etc. You can find out what’s on at the museum here.

But the point here being that, in its day, Swindon evidently created a chic and stylish venue for its art collection. 


And on the subject of the gharial …

The Museum’s Inspiration: Charles Henry Gore F.G.S

The first honorary curator, for thirty-one years, and the man behind the setting up of the museum was one Charles Henry Gore.

Gore developed an interest in archaeology as a child. Over time he built up a collection of specimens, becoming a well-respected geologist and a fellow of the Geological Society.

Gore was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Swindon in October 1933 – only the fourth person in the town’s history to receive such an honour. Moreover the first museum curator to be so honoured.

Charles Henry Gore dies in 1951 aged 84. He’d held an ambition to be curator at the museum until he was 90. He almost managed it.