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.’
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.
‘This work was commissioned just before the Swindon rail works was closed and made in association with the British Rail craftsmen. It was commissioned by the then Thamesdown Borough Council with financial assistance from Sun Alliance Insurance Group, Southern Arts, British Alcan and Metalfast Limited.’
The sculptor was Jon Clinch and were formed from Foundry cast aluminium alloy (LM6).
What that doesn’t say is that this sculpture was the absolute last thing made in the once great GWR works. That singular fact surely affords this sculpture a special significance?
It’s derided by many but I love it. And I STILL miss it. It’s soooooo joyful.
I recently chanced upon some photos on Facebook of Swindon-based artist Tim Carroll restoring the sculpture when it was moved from its original home in Wharf Green to its current location in a play park in Gorse Hill. This was some time ago I should add.
Now I had no idea that Tim had restored this fabulous, gorgeous sculpture – or if I did I’ve forgotten. This is quite likely.
Anyway, they’re great photos that deserve sharing. So thank you to Gordon Dickinson for letting me use them.
This wonderful, exuberant sculpture used to have a prominent position in Wharf Green. Now they’re in a play park in Gorse Hill. I do feel that’s a huge shame. I’d love to see them somewhere prominent once more.
Here they are duly titivated and in situ in Gorse Hill.
But you can be assured listeners that there are groups and people in Swindon that care about Swindon, about its history and its heritage and do all they can in whatever way they can. Always. But never more so than at the moment. So, in no particular order, we in Swindon are blessed to have – and no doubt there’s others not mentioned here:
Swindon Civic Voice and the Mechanics’ Institute Trust.Note that although I just happen to have written about the two together in this particular blog post – https://swindonian.me/2016/02/26/swindon-civic-voice-the-mechanics-trust/ – they ARE separate and quite different organisations. Both are charities and both need your membership subscriptions to continue the work they do. Their websites and Facebook pages are below.
So, with a little help from a conveniently handy (geddit) piece of Swindon’s public art standing proudly outside the Arts Centre – see below – a round of applause for all their sterling efforts. Thank you – all of you.
Given that our town’s name ‘Swindon’ is ‘apparently derived from the Old English words “swine” and “dun” meaning “pig hill” or possibly Sweyn’s hill, where Sweyn is a personal name’ – see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swindon – why oh why is there not, SOMEWHERE, a sculpture of a pig?!
I’m not for a moment suggesting that there shouldn’t be a ram but surely there ought to be pig too? Come ON!
We’ve got a bloody gorilla and a cow and a ram and a lion and whole host of other public art but no flipping pig in a town purportedly named Pig Hill. I mean – this is rash surely? Hells bells there’s even an elephant now! Shouldn’t someone be sheepish about this omission? The baaaaaa faced cheek of it.
Project Details : Commissioned by Thamesdown Borough Council through the Percent for Art Policy and funded by Trencherwood Homes (Western) Ltd. The ram is placed on the site of the old livestock market.
Directions: Travelling north on the Marlborough Road, Dewell Mews is on the left before Newport Street.
(Source : The Works, Exploring Public Art in the Borough of Thamesdown leaflet, 1993)
And here he is – a handsome beast albeit minus the wellies that some wag has relatively recently dressed him in.
And here he is sporting his Hello Kitty wellies! A case of mutton dressed as ram?!
‘Today I went to a field in Wiltshire to witness the unveiling of a life-sized plaster elephant.’ A sentence I expected to utter never.
But life is full of surprises huh? So. We have an elephant. in Swindon – well Liddington. But that’s close enough for government work. Sadly not called Nellie – what’s the world coming to? 😉
Created by yet another Swindonian – well Swindon area resident at least – that I’ve never heard of: David Lomax – this ‘ere elephant is the Hoarusib elephant bull.
Once you get over the incongruity of an elephant in Liddington it does, as you can see from the pictures below, look rather magnificent. It was most splendid to see and I’m so glad I got the chance – via trunk call! (see what I did there?)
I do hope it’ll be warm enough. It was a tidy nippy in that there Coombe today. Thank goodness for the mulled wine and hot soup that’s what I say! A cold day it was but it was sunny and bright so that was a big bonus for sure. And what a great opportunity this was. Amazing.
‘David Lomax is married with four children and lives near Swindon in Wiltshire, U.K.
He was brought up in the horse racing world on a farm, and now works from Bishopstone, Wiltshire. Over the years his work has been quite varied in subject matter and in the use of materials.
Whether exploring the individuality of a particular animal in the portrait sculpture “Hoarusib Bull” or working more freely in “Plant Torso” , his work is underpinned by an interest in the continuities between species and an attempt to understand and celebrate the natural world.’
A bit about the elephant
The Hoarusib Elephant Bull
On Sunday 4 December Robert Buckland MP unveiled the Hoarusib Elephant Bull, a tour de force sculpted by the talented Swindon sculptor David Lomax.
David was commissioned in 1992 by the UK zoo owner John Aspinall to go to Namibia to observe and photograph this elephant, and then on return to the UK to sculpt a full-size portrait in the Pangolin Foundry in Gloucestershire.
The four ton sculpture was then cast in bronze, three copies of which were acquired by millionaire collectors in Los Angeles, Australia and Mexico. Imagine the logistics of the transport!
The elephant is now sited overlooking a green meadow in Swindon, where it gazes at a flock of Wiltshire sheep. (Goodness only knows what they make of it – ‘what the flock?! I shouldn’t wonder…)
Oh listeners. I AM ashamed. All the years I’ve been in Swindon and have walked past the town hall – now the home of Swindon Dance – I’ve never noticed the Swindon town hall railings and how beautiful they are. How on EARTH have I missed them until now? It’s shocking!
And I can’t actually lay claim to ‘noticing’ them even now. I’m only aware of them because my good friend Carole Bent mentioned them on Facebook so I made a point of going to see them.
“Avril Wilson is a craftsperson, designer and artist, whose specialism is in blacksmithing and steel fabrication.
Avril Wilson was the first female artist-blacksmith to be awarded a bronze medal by The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths in recognition for her contribution to architectural metalwork. Her work explores identity of place through commissioned work in the public realm and gallery exhibitions.”
NB: Swindon town hall is now the home of Swindon Dance. The building also houses the sculpture of Charlotte Corday and a mural by Carleton Atwood creator of The Watchers at Toothill village centre – part of the West Swindon Sculpture trail.