Swindon Stitch and Bitch Salute the RAF with a Knitted Spitfire

Swindon Stitch and Bitch Salute the RAF with a Knitted Spitfire

Swindon Stitch and Bitch

Saluting the RAF with a Knitted Spitfire

Swindon Stitch and Bitch Salute the RAF with a Knitted Spitfire

knitted spitfire

Knitted Spitfire

Swindon Stitch and Bitch have been working away on a knitted Spitfire display to celebrate and commemorate the RAF Centenary and for the British Legion Poppy appeal.


The display was installed today at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town, between the reception desk and the gallery entrance. The display itself is a spitfire with a plume of poppies in the jet stream that swirls over the corridor and down the wall, as if the spitfire has swooped by. Tracey Major from Swindon Stitch and Bitch said that the group wanted to create something spectacular for the RAF Centenary, “we always commemorate remembrance Sunday with a poppy display, and with it being 100 years of the RAF we wanted to knit their most iconic aircraft, and have the poppies all tumbling out of the back in a wave to create a waterfall effect.”

The spitfire itself was knitted by one lady, Eileen Ashmore who said, “once I’d figured out how I was going to make it came together alright; and I’m really pleased with how it looks.”

The spitfire is knitted, and the stuffing and structure is achieved with balsa wood and bubble wrap. Eileen said, “the bubble wrap was great when you were shaping the aircraft, because if it looked a bit big, you just had to pop a few of the bubbles.”

The jetstream out the back of the plane is made with a length of silver chiffon. Over 400 poppies were used to decorate the fabric. Tracey Major explained that the members of the group had helped in the making of the poppies for the museum display, and for two other poppy displays that the group have in the pipeline.

The display looks amazing and will be hanging around until the end of the month, so if you are in Old Town, do a quick flyby.


See also the Big Knit at Orbital 

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30th August 2016


Blue Plaques to honour Harold and Norman Starr

Blue Plaques to honour Swindon’s brave WWII Fighter Pilots to be unveiled

When: 3pm on Thursday 8th September 2016.

Where: Savoy Pub, 38-40 Regent Street, Swindon, SN1 1JL

I’m so happy to be able to put this post out. I share a birthday with Harold Starr! On Thursday the 8th of September I’ll be 60 years old. And it’s thanks to Harold and his ilk that I’m here to celebrate that milestone.

So when I raise a glass to toast my birthday I’ll raise one to toast Harold and his brother too. Starrs in every sense of the word!

‘Two of Swindon’s bravest sons will be honoured on Thursday 8th Sept 2016 when the Swindon Heritage Team www.swindonheritage.com unveils not one but two commemorative blue plaques in the heart of the town. 

Brothers Harold Starr and Norman ‘John’ Starr were born in the Central Hotel, Regent Street, Swindon. The hotel was replaced with a cinema in the 1930s and today the Art Deco building houses the popular Weatherspoon’s pub, The Savoy.

As soon as www.jdwetherspoon.com were approached about the idea of having blue plaques on The Savoy they immediately said yes and have been assisting with logistics ever since.

Squadron Leader Harold Starr (1914 – 1940) was born and raised in Swindon. He bailed out of his burning Hurricane during the Battle of Britain in 1940 but was gunned to death by a Messerschmitt as he floated down to earth in his parachute. His wife was carrying their unborn child. He is buried in Radnor St Cemetery in Swindon in a Commonwealth War Grave. He was 25 years old.

Here’s a young and handsome Harold on his wedding day:

old photograph of Harold Starr

Harold Starr on his wedding day

Wing Commander Norman John Starr DFC and BAR (1917 – 1945) was born and raised in Swindon. He was shot down and killed whilst piloting an Avro Anson over Dunkirk in 1945. He was flying back to England to get married to his sweetheart the following day. He never made it back. He is buried along with his three crew members in Dunkirk Town Cemetery in a Commonwealth War Grave. He was 27 years old.

As featured in the Swindon Heritage Magazine, these will be the second and third of our ongoing Blue Plaque scheme. Our first plaque unveiled was earlier this year in North Street, Old Town and is dedicated to Swindon born suffragette, Edith New.

Funding for our heroic pilots’ plaques was made possible by donations from the public and Starr family members via:



  • The www.swindonheritage.com Magazine is a quarterly publication. £4.99 per edition.
  • Plaques will be installed by Chris Garrett. He also fitted the Edith New plaque.
  • Unveiling the plaques will be by the pilots’ nephew, 93 year old retired Squadron Leader Peter Starr Mills and Great Niece Sue Giles.
  • Location: Savoy Pub, 38-40 Regent Street, Swindon, SN1 1JL
  • Date & Time: Thursday 8th September 2016 at 3pm.
  • Contact: Noel Beauchamp nbeauchamp@amcs.co.uk 07980720593

Read more about Harold Starr here: https://swindonian.me/2015/07/11/harold-starr-one-of-the-few/

and here: https://swindonian.me/2015/09/16/swindon-remembers-the-few/

Read the Swindon Link magazine article about the Spitfire sculpture proposed for the Orbital Centre in Swindon: http://swindonlink.com/2016/08/spitfire-sculpture-at-orbital-shopping-park-to-celebrate-swindon-aviation-heritage/

About the English Heritage blu plaque scheme: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/about-blue-plaques/


Swindon Open Studios – a microcosm

Swindon Open Studios – a microcosm

13th August 2016


Sending out an SOS

I’m sending out an SOS. Swindon Open Studios that is: https://www.facebook.com/SwindonOpenStudios/

Swindon Open Studios

Swindon Open Studios

Like so many things in Swindon, the super Open Studios ‘thing’ only appeared on my horizon in recent years. Before starting this blog, about 3 years ago now, I was in full time employment. So, as many of us do – I got up, went to work, came home, had my tea, got washed and went to bed. And repeated that for the next 17 years.

Ha! But now my eyes have been opened. Now Swindon is well and truly under my skin. Now I’m a tad more aware of just what how much goes in in this town where nothing happens. Allegedly.

And one of those things that goes on is Swindon Open Studios. Now in its umpteenth year (20 odd??) it gets bigger and better all the time. It hasn’t always been the case mind. Carole Bent tells of a year when only 3 artists – David Bent being one of them – took part to keep the concept going.

This year, 2016, there are 43 artists taking part. Yes – FORTY THREE. How amazing is that? The whole thing is a huge credit to Linda Kasmaty and her associates that get the thing organized. I can barely organize a meal out let alone an art event.

The artists cover just about every genre you can conceive and it’s definitely worth making the time to visit at least some of them.

Open Studios Microcosm

But looking around my own little house it occurs to me that I have my very own SOS here in my humble semi-detached abode. So here’s a tour round my home – apologies for the lousy pictures – and some of the SOS artists.

The numbers indicate their number on the SOS guide map.

Conservatory: Scattered around this room I have Tim Carroll (45) (, Lynette Thomas (o4), Paula Sullivan and postcards of Susan Carr/Terry Humphries. (39)


Sitting in the exalted company of a finger painting by my great-nephew Bosco, and drawing down by my then 7 yr old daughter we’ve got David Bent (42). Also in the lounge is Tim Carroll (45) and Caroline Day (35).

Kitchen:Lynette Thomas. No 04. The Beehive.

teapot with mosaic and darth vader on it

May be the force be with you!

Bedroom: Nathan Peglar. South M4 and David Bent. No 42: The Old Nursery, Marlborough Lane.

The Guest room: Ken White. No 40. 20 The Mall, Swindon and Lynette Thomas with her marvellous mosaic magic roundabout


Ken White


10 things to celebrate about Swindon. No 5: Ken White – Swindon’s mural man

David Bent



Nathan Peglar


Caroline Day


‘Old Town Gardens’ Art Work – Swindon’ – Living the dream

Lynette Thomas



Susan Carr and Terence Humphries



Tim Carroll


Caroline Day:





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