5 More Swindon Books

5 More Swindon Books

April 2020

Having written 5 Swindon books to Read Now a few weeks back, here we have 5 More Swindon books.

I could go on almost ad infinitum with this as there are many Swindon books! But I’ll keep it to these two posts. But with a ‘See Also’ at the bottom of this one.

So, as with the first post, in no particular order here we go with 5 More Swindon Books worthy of your attention. Both during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

5 More Swindon Books - Richard Wintle, One Hundred views of swindon, Legacy of a rag and bone man and Struggle and suffrage in Swindon
5 More Swindon Books

1. A picture is only the start of the story – Richard Wintle

Richard Wintle: Photographing Swindon's History - front cover of Richard's book - A picture is only the start of the story - Richard Wintle

This one is, I believe, the newest addition to Swindon’s very own literary canon. It’s super.

As you’d expect for a press photographer, Richard has a VAST archive of photographs. And he’s put some of them into a book: A Picture Is Only the Start of The Story

Read more about Richard’s book here.

2. Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon – Frances Bevan

Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon - Frances Bevan - cover of book

Published by Pen & Sword Books, this is a lovely book.

What’s so fab about it is that it celebrates the ordinary women as well as Swindon’s ‘names’ – such as Diana Dors and Edith New.

From the Brown’s Books for Students website:

Following the incorporation of Old and New Swindon in 1900 innovative women stepped up to the plate; women like Swindon born suffragette Edith New who challenged political conventions and Emma Noble, Swindon’s first female councillor, who campaigned to improve living conditions in the town.

During two world wars Swindon women worked in the railway factory in jobs once considered beyond their strength and endurance …

… The story of Swindon women includes artists and actresses, political activists and social reformers and the ordinary women who worked in the factories, raised their children and made a difference.

3. One Hundred Views of Swindon – Tim Carroll

This collection of Tim Carroll’s 100 Views of Swindon is a joy.

Fear not if you lack wall space to display all your favourite Swindon views. For they’re all here in this delightful little book.

4. Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man – Eastcott Community

Book cover - legacy of a rag and bone man

For too many years James ‘Raggy’ Powell was an unsung Swindon hero. But then the amazing people at Eastcott Community Hall on Savernake Street set about celebrating him.

And one of the things they did was to produce this gorgeous little book: Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man.

And now there’s a plaque on the community hall to celebrate him.

5. The Woman in the Golden Dress – Nicola Cornick

Book cover - the woman in the Golden Dress by Nicola Cornick

A bit of a departure here in that, all the other books covered, in both posts, are non-fiction. Here though we have fiction.

When not writing, Nicola Cornick sits on the board of Trustees of the Friends of Lydiard Park (Swindon).

Previously published as The Woman in the Lake, the novel’s plot is set in the dual timelines of present day Swindon and Georgian London. It revolves around three women and an evil gorgeous golden gown. Lady Isabella Gerard has a love-hate relationship with a stunning new gown, an unexpected gift by her unloving, abusive husband.

And the ‘See Alsos’but not also rans!

Like I said at the top of this post, there’s an awful lot of wonderful output BY Swindonians about so many aspects of Swindon and Swindon life.

So what follows is a very few more not covered in this and the previous post. Not because they’re not worthy – they absolutely are.

Richard Wintle: Photographing Swindon’s History

Richard Wintle: Photographing Swindon’s History

March 31 2020

A Picture Is Only the Start of The Story

Richard Wintle, known to many Swindonians as the man photographing Swindon’s history through the decades, has been busy! As you’d expect for a press photographer, Richard has a VAST archive of photographs. And he’s put some of them into a book: A Picture Is Only the Start of The Story.

NB: Not only Swindon of course. Richard’s work took him far and wide.

Having seen a talk that Richard gave to Swindon Civic Voice members, I’ve a good idea of the gems that you’ll find in this book. See one extract from it below:

Extract from A Picture Is Only the Start of The Story - The Hungerford Massacre. Richard Wintle: Photographing Swindon's History
The Hungerford Massacre

In Richard’s own words:

Surrounded by my archive of about four million film-based and digital images, gathered over more than four decades of press photography in Swindon, I’ve discovered connections that run through the archive that weren’t obvious at the time.

In the book I reveal the connection between the Magic Roundabout and the Seekers pop group. And the connection between a Eurovision Song Contest entrant and a flight over the North Atlantic. I show how a work experience boy saw history made, as well as the story behind finding an unknown Swindon pop idol.

Then you’ll see how come there were twelve winners of a Miss Thamesdown competition.

During the book’s meander I explain too, the pictures we took that were published at the time but can’t be published now.

Diana Dorssee more on her here on the blog

Extract from A Picture Is Only the Start of The Story - Diana Dors. Richard Wintle: Photographing Swindon's History

A Picture Is Only the Start of The Story takes you on a voyage. A voyage of picture stories covered by Calyx Picture Agency. The journey traveres the decades, linking the protests, as the Railway Works closed, to Honda announcing it closure.

Richard Wintle: Photographing Swindon’s History, meanders through a series of interesting links as it wanders the modern-day Swindon story. As it goes it visits many events and places. At the same time it explains some of the technological changes to the industry during and the back stories associated with the agency.

“Richard’s life as a press photographer gave him with an excellent vantage point to document major local events.Drawing on his vast archive of images, Richard has created a truly unique book, capturing local life in a way unlike any other publication “ The Local Studies team, Swindon Libraries

Richard Wintle: Photographing Swindon's History - front cover of Richard's book

How to get hold of the book

The Covid-19 pandemic has rather put paid to a physical book launch. But fret not!! For you can still get a signed copy of the book through the Calyx website by following this link here.

It costs  £14.95 + £2.50 P&P (UK only). NB: At the time of writing Richard has only about 20 copies available.

Contact: richard@calyxpix.com

£1 from every sale goes to Neuroendocrine Cancer UK. The book will be available through local outlets when COVID-19 passes and life as we have known it returns to something like normal.

Unsigned copies for international sales through Amazon by following this link here.

The mock up of the F35 stelth fighter on show at RAF Fairford as the worlds largest military air show gets under way at the Gloucestershire air base. - Clayx media.
©Calyx Modern day Teridactor? The mock up of the F35 stelth fighter on show at RAF Fairford as the worlds largest military air show gets under way at the Gloucestershire air base.
5 Swindon Books to Read Now

5 Swindon Books to Read Now

March 2020

5 Swindon Books to Read Now – and yes two of them are mine … to pass pandemic purdah time

So, we’re in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic and at best are faced with a prolonged period of social distancing. Or at worst, lockdown, as we have at the time of reading.

So here’s five of the MANY Swindon books out there, fiction and non-fiction, written by Swindonians, with which to pass some fruitful time. Well, in fact, the title’s a bit of a cheat. Cos it’s four books and a DVD!

If you haven’t got them on your bookshelves now (and you might but not have read them) then head to the shop in Swindon central library as soon as you can. That said, some of the books included are available on mail order.

So – in no particular order:

1. A Swindon Wordsmith – George Ewart Hobbs

A Swindon Wordsmith - George Ewart Hobbs

By Noel Ponting & Graham Carter

‘George Ewart Hobbs’ vivid writing provides us with a unique and brilliantly observed insight into everyday and so-called “ordinary” life in Swindon a century ago.

In normal life you can find this book in the central library. It is though also available on Amazon. Click here to buy.

See also: https://swindonian.me/2019/12/14/a-swindon-wordsmith-george-ewart-hobbs/

2. Secret Swindon

When we’re not on lockdown you can find Secret Swindon in our central library and Waterstones in Swindon. I have some copies, so if interested contact me on my Born Again Swindonian Facebook page – link below – or via this blog.

It’s also on Amazon here.

3. Swindon in 50 Buildings

Swindon in 50 Buildings

There’s a map in the front of this one. The buildings are divided into areas. So, maintaining social distance of course, you could always go exploring with book in hand.

More info on Swindon in 50 Buildings here.

In non Covid-19 times you can get this book from Swindon central library and Waterstones.

I have a few copies for sale. If you’re interested contact me via my Born Again Swindonian Facebook page which I’ll post below.

It’s also available on Amazon here.

You can contact me via my Born Again Swindonian Faceboook page here.

4. Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon: Frances Bevan

cover of struggle and suffrage in Swindon

From the website of Pen & Sword books:

‘As the industrial revolution and the coming of the railways transformed the Wiltshire countryside Swindon women were on the front line of change, shaping the new industrial town and transforming the old market one.’

It’s a great read is this one.

5. Railway Town: Martin Parry

Okay – so this isn’t a book it’s a DVD. I bet some of you have got DVD players gathering dust. Dig them out!

Available via mail order from Swindon Viewpoint.

More on Swindon Viewpoint Community Media here.

5 Swindon Books to Read Now

5 Swindon Books to Read Now - covers of books
A Swindon Wordsmith – George Ewart Hobbs

A Swindon Wordsmith – George Ewart Hobbs

A Swindon Wordsmith: The Life, Times and Works of George Ewart Hobbs

Well here’s a bit of a novelty, as Graham Carter himself commented. What is? Me attending someone else’s book launch for a change. Rather than them being at mine – info on my own publications here.

For today saw the launch, at Swindon Central library of a new Swindon book by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter: A Swindon Wordsmith: The Life, Times and Works of George Ewart Hobbs.

And a wonderful addition to Swindon’s own, extensive, literary canon it is.

In this short video, Darryl Moody of Swindon’s fab Local Studies and Noel Ponting talk about the book:

https://youtu.be/zB8GVVo0X64

Who was George Ewart Hobbs?

A Swindon Wordsmith - George Ewart Hobbs - front cover of the book.

The blurb on the book’s back cover tells us that George Ewart Hobbs deserves a place in the hallowed ranks of fellow Swindon writers, Alfred Williams (see Secret Swindon for some information about him) and Richard Jeffries – see also Secret Swindon and Swindon in 50 Buildings.

Our man Hobbs was no exception to the general Swindon rule: for over half a century he worked as a Great Western Railway engineer.

That aside, he wrote prolifically – largely in weekly columns for the Swindon Advertiser.

This book then is more than an account of his life and times. It also, as the title suggests, republishes some of his works. Including articles about religion, philosophy and more.

As the book blurb says: ‘George Ewart Hobbs’ vivid writing provides us with a unique and brilliantly observed insight into everyday and so-called “ordinary” life in Swindon a century ago.’

You can find the book in Swindon Central Library and also on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Swindon-Wordsmith-times-works-George/dp/190697876X

A Swindon Wordsmith - George Ewart Hobbs - Graham Carter and Noel Ponting

A few words from Graham Carter:

https://youtu.be/3PMZrPuXgOE

A few more photos – and for once we have visual storyteller Royston Cartwright in a photograph. A rare sight indeed.

See also – Other recent Swindon books:

Last Orders – by John Stooke

Legacy of a Rag & Bone Man – Eastcott community


Last Orders – by John Stooke

Last Orders – by John Stooke

Wow! Yet another Swindon-related book. How fantastic. Hot on the heels of Swindon in 50 Buildings and the Ken White Bio/retrospective – both by me – and France Bevan’s recent book we have Last Orders by John Stooke.

John Stooke’s new book, Last Orders, is launching at Swindon Central Library at 11am on Saturday 19th October. You’ll be able to buy the book in the library shop after the launch.

About Last Orders

Last Orders is the result of four years of meticulous research by John – and hours spent writing in The Blunsdon Arms. Well it would have to be a pub where John worked wouldn’t it?

Supporting Charity

Some of the book’s proceeds are going to support Swindon Women’s Aid. The charity will receive a direct donation of £3 from each £10 selling price.

The book runs to 400 pages, includes 800 images and is an impressive heritage record of Swindon’s best known disappeared alehouses.

Natasha Moyles, spokesman for SWA said, “We at Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service are delighted to have been chosen as the beneficiary of this fascinating project. It is a continuing challenge to raise adequate funds for the essential work we do locally. Initiatives such as John’s enable us to continue to help more victims of domestic abuse within Swindon”

Other Events

John is giving a talk to Swindon Civic Voice on Thursday the 7th November – more information on that here: https://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk/2019/10/talk-john-stooke-last-orders/

The Swindon Civic Voice talk aside, John book sales and signings at:

  1. The Designer Outlet Centre: November 16th
  2. The West Swindon Centre: November 23rd
  3. STEAM Museum: November 30/31
  4. The Brunel Centre: December 8th
  5. The Old Town Co-op: December 14th

An ideal gift for the CAMRA and real ale lover methinks. And one that supports such a splendid cause.

Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school

Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school

September 2019

Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school – Well this has been a wonderful development.
A week or two back I received a contact from Sally Clarke, the head teacher at Nythe Primary school. She’d seen my posts on LinkedIn about my most recent book, Swindon in 50 Buildings.

Well, I say most recent. In actual fact another book, about Swindon-born artist and mural man Ken White, hit the bookshelves a few days ago.

As you can see from the image below, I’ve very nearly got an entire catalogue now. Find all of them here: https://swindonian.me/my-publications/

Images of three books - Swindon in 50 buildings, Secret Swindon and Ken White.

But back to Nythe and Swindon in 50 Buildings Going to School

The ever-so-lovely head, Sally Clarke, at Nythe contacted me asking me to meet her. The upshot of that meeting was myself, a barrow-load (well eight) of copies of Swindon in 50 Buildings and my ex-teacher friend, Jo Garton heading over to Nythe school to speak to Sally and her lovely staff about this blog and my books and how they might be used as a teaching resource to teach the children about Swindon and having pride in where they live. And there’s SUCH a lot to be proud of.

I’m so delighted that Sally spotted my book and make contact. It’s great to sell some books of course – I won’t lie to you. But it’s also lovely to see their potential recognised. Thank you Nythe!

Swindon in 50 Buildings goes to school

All three of these books, in their own way, constitute good resources for schools as well as excellent general interest – though I say it myself.

Secret Swindon – here’s a short YouTube film of me attempting to describe Secret Swindon. The book gives a good overview of Swindon’s cultural past and present, tells the story of the medical fund society, Swindon’s spitfire involvement and more.

A bit about Born Again Swindonian

It’s quite a tale about how this blog came into being – one which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say if you’re interested enough, the Born again Swindonian backstory is here. The main thing is that this blog is here. It’s free. And it’s a resource for all of you to use. I’ve been writing it for six years now (I think) and I’ve covered a lot of stuff. The image below gives you some indication of the topics covered.

Born again swindonian blog topics

Where to Buy

All three books are available at:

  1. The library shop in Swindon Central library
  2. Waterstone’s Swindon
  3. At the website of the publisher, Amberley books.
  4. On Amberley’s Amazon store.

On the subject of civic pride

In yet another hat I’m chair of Swindon Civic Voice. In 2018, we led the GWR Railway Village conservation area to victory as England’s conservation area – and more on that here: https://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk/2019/06/conservation-area-award-official-presentation/

The GWR railway village is one of many, many things that Swindon and its people should cherish and be proud. Winning that award played a big part in the railway village being awarded a Historic England action Zone.

That was/is a fab achievement yet there’s much to be done. So, I’m sneaking in a plea here for members! Either active or simply willing to pay £6 a year to help support us. Can you? https://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk/2019/08/swindon-civic-voice-needs-you/

Thank you.