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.

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.

Published by Hobnob Press the book 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
Swindon Spring Festival Update

Swindon Spring Festival Update


Swindon Spring Festival update. Organisers of the Swindon Spring Festival take seriously the present Coronavirus situation and their responsibilities to festival followers. And, of course, the public at large, and the importance of heeding Government advice.

Swindon Spring Festival Update

In the light of all this, plans for the Festival are proceeding as follows:

We’ll launch the Festival programme, in hardcopy and on our website as planned at midday on Thursday 26th March. But not, as intended, in a theatre, indoors, with food, drink, lots of Festival followers crowded together, and even hugging and kissing one another. No, absolutely not. 

Instead, hot off the press, we’ll launch this year’s Festival programme in the open air, in a field, with a backdrop of birch tree and birdsong, at Lower Shaw Farm.

Festival banners will mark the spot. From there, for two hours, from 12midday to 2pm on Thursday 26th March, you can get a programme, or even a bundle to share with neighbours and friends, from a table in the middle of a field, far from the madding crowd. 

Come one by one, or two by two, keeping far apart, as you like, making the right decisions for your own wellbeing and that of all others. 

That way you can get a festival programme and read about more than twenty books and their authors who are or were due to appear live at the Festival in May.

Live appearances? Probably not?

The likelihood that many of the programmed visitors may now not appear live is a real one. Yet, there are other ways of enjoying the fruits of their labours and those of the festival organisers. As this Swindon spring festival update explains.

Festival followers:  buy or borrow books described in the programme and read them. In particular if you’re in enforced isolation. What better companion, to lift the spirits, than a good book?!

And, in these tricky and troubling times, there is still more good news from the festival.

Watch the Festival website, Facebook, and twitter accounts for details of these virtual Festival events as they emerge.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SwindonSpringFestival/

Twitter: @SwinSpringFest

A new Swindon book

Last but by no means least, the most exciting news, is that on 5th May, the Festival will launch and mark the publication, by a prizewinning author, of a brand new book titled A Saint in Swindon!

It’s brilliant, topical, wise, entertaining, serious, funny, set in Swindon, and a fabulously-good read. 

If anyone needs to know more, at any time, please contact the Festival at www.swindonspringfest@lowershawfarm.co.uk or call 01793 771080.

A film of the 2019 Swindon Spring Festival: https://youtu.be/IqoT06NHd4

Swindon Spring Festival Update

For more posts about arts, culture and heritage go here.

James Raggy Powell Plaque

James Raggy Powell Plaque

March 9th 2020

So yesterday afternoon, I spent the most delightful time at Eastcott community centre, in readiness for the unveiling of the James ‘Raggy’ Powell plaque.

Eastcott community centre is truly one of Swindon’s gems. Not only is it a place and site with tons of historical and social history, it’s a thriving and well-run community centre.

There’s an art group run by Marilyn Trew. Then there’s repair cafes, Sunday afternoon music and all the other activities you associate with a community centre. In recent years they’ve done so much fab stuff up there and by them.

They put on a heritage exhibition at the museum and art gallery. And not long back published a book: The Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man. And listeners, that rag and bone man is what yesterday’s events were all about.

Who was James ‘Raggy’ Powell?

You do well to ask. And to answer that question, I point you to Graham Carter’s column in the Swindon Advertiser.

As Graham says: ‘If you don’t know his story: he was nicknamed Raggy because he was a rag-and-bone man. Yet, he was good enough at it to become rich and obtain various artworks, which he was only too happy to share with the people of Swindon.’

He gave a large statue of Charlotte Corday, which still stands in the foyer of the Town Hall. And many other objects that eventually formed the basis of Swindon Museum. No wonder he was made a Freeman of the Borough.

During his lifetime this extraordinary man even gave a plot of land on which Eastcott Community Centre now stands – which is where you will find the new plaque, posthumously thanking him for his immense generosity.’

James Powell: Rag and bone man turned Alderman.

Biographical info of James Raggy Powell
James Raggy Powell Plaque
The James’ Raggy’ Powell Plaque at Eastecott Community Centre

The recycled metal mentioned on the plaque came from old fryng pans donated by Ash Mistry of Eggelicious. No finer material!

Group photo taken at Eastcott community centre
From left: Andy Binks (Swindon Society, Cllr Kevin Parry (Mayor), Caroline David-Khan, Graham Carter, Noel Beauchamp, Angela Atkinson (Born again Swindonian) and Toby Robson – he who made the plaque!
Toby Robson and the Mayor cut the plaque
Toby Robson and the Mayor, Cllr. Kevin Parry, cut the ribbon on the plaque

Congratulations to Eastcott Community Centre on doing this. Well done guys! Great work as ever! A more fabulous and fitting to Raggy Powell it’s impossible to conceive.

Swindon and your community were so lucky to have first him, and now you.

Curiouser: A dance adventure

Curiouser: A dance adventure

Curiouser: A dance adventure for 3-6 yr olds – Swindon Dance

Flexer & Sandiland (UK) & dybwikdans (Norway) bring Curiouser: A dance adventure – a delightful dance and digital show to Swindon Dance: 22 February at 10.30am and 1.30pm.

Swindon Dance reside in the Town Hall on Regent Circus. The town hall features in both Secret Swindon AND Swindon in 50 Buildings. The town hall houses the fab Charlotte Corday statue and has the most amazing railings outside it.

Curiouser: A dance adventure  - poster for the show

In this show, children and adults embark on a delightful journey of curiosity and wonder. Guided by two friendly dance-performers, you’ll delve into magical caves, explore leafy forests, soar through starry night skies, and meet playful characters. All loosely inspired by the children’s classic Alice in Wonderland.

This is an interactive performance. One where you can choose to sit back and watch. Or you can get up and get-involved. Incorporating animated hand-drawn projection, dance, sound, text and interactive digital objects, Curiouser immerses and surrounds the audience to create an intimate yet spectacular experience. The show invites curiosity about what it might mean to view the world from a different perspective. 

Adults become little and children become great in this interactive imaginary world of ever changing proportions.

Treat your little ones to an adventure with award-winning dance & digital artists Flexer & Sandiland and Norwegian company dybwikdans, both companies renowned for their intimate immersive works for young audiences. Recommended age 3+.

Where to get tickets

You can get tickets from:  https://www.swindondance.org.uk/event/curiouser/  or telephone 01793 601700

Photo credits: Morten Berentsen 

See a short promo of Curiouser: a dance adventure on YouTube here.

About the dance company

First an international tour of Disappearing Acts in 2016. Next recent success of The Hum (2017) the company’s sited mobile phone App commissioned by Brighton Festival 2017 and touring across the UK and as part of Without Walls. Then Flexer & Sandiland began their UK tour of Curiouser with a sold out premiere at The Lowry Theatre and now they are touring the UK.