Sing Something Swindon: a round up of some of Swindon’s choirs

Sing Something Swindon: a round up of some of Swindon’s choirs

Sing Something Swindon: a round up of some of Swindon's choirs

A lovely guest blog post focusing on Swindon’s singing opportunities

Thanks to Jo Garton for this lovely guest blog post focusing on Swindon’s singing opportunities. Which are many and various. This is your note – sing it! Swindon’s lungs are bursting with singing opportunities.

Sing Something Swindon

The Big Sing Thing - Swindon's choirs

The Big Sing Thing 

Swindon is a city of choirs. Well – ok, it’s a town, but it feels like a city to many of us.

There have been many health and psychology studies which show that singing is good for your health. this easy form of self-expression helps maintain sound (pun intended) mental health. Swindon is the place to be if you want to sing, because thousands of people sing here every week and not just in the shower!

Of course, we have a history of singing here; the Mechanics Institute had a resident opera company, which famously made Swindon theplace to be in the UK if you fancied a bit of Russian opera! If you want to know more about that then I suggest you read Secret Swindon by Angela Atkinson, in which she tells more about that.

Mlada:programme of Swindon Musical Society

Mlada:programme of Swindon Musical Society

Nowadays we have highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between.

Probably Swindon’s longest established choir is the Swindon Male Voice Choir, founded in 1919. They meet weekly in Gorse Hill and have about fifty members. Over the years they have toured internationally and won many competitions and Eisteddfods.

The Swindon Choral Society is another long-established choir. It has roots right back to the 1920s. They also tour internationally with a repertoire that includes Requiems of Brahms and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. The choral society has 110 singers and they meet in Freshbrook.

The indomitable Sheila Harrod started the well-known Kentwood Choir in 1964. 

 Like many of the choirs in Swindon they have raised a lot of money for charity – over the fifty-three years of their existence over £1 million. Their president is the internationally renown jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine. Their thirty-five women members have sung on national television and abroad.

Newer kids on the blog are The Magnificent AK47s formed in 2008They meet in Ashton Keynes, but many of their members are from Swindon, some are not even members of the Spooner family! They have enjoyed success at the Derry International Choral Festival and the Cork International Festival. The AK47s are an all male choir who, for reasons not entirely clear, sing quite a lot about beards!

Swindon Community Choir started in 2000 as the Scratch Choir but over the years have changed their name. They favour a ‘natural voice technique’ which believes that singing is everyone’s birthright. They meet in the Central Community Centre in the railway village (what was the medical fund society hospital) on a Monday evening. This is a mixed choir, which welcomes new members without an audition. They have a wide ranging taste, singing folk, pop and international songs.

Running for twenty-five years and also raising money for good causes is the Thamesdown Ladies choir. The choir has around fifty members and a wide-ranging repertoire.

Finally, the BigSingThing has been running for seven years and meets in West Swindon on a Monday evening. Roughly ninety men and women sing each week. They perform concerts locally and have raised over £10,000 for charity. BigSing claims to be Swindon’s friendliest choir and sings  pop songs old and new as well as some songs from musicals.

If you want to sing in Swindon there is plenty of choice!


Swindon Male Voice Choir:

Swindon Choral Society:

The Kentwood Choir:

The Magnificent AK47s:

Swindon Community Choir:

Thamesdown Ladies Choir:

The Big Sing Thing:



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Event: The Big Knit at the Orbital

Event: The Big Knit at the Orbital

Event: The Big Knit at the Orbital

The Big Knit at the Orbital is on Saturday 27th of October from 2pm till 4.30pm
Paula Nunnery set up the Big Knit in Swindon just over two years ago. It’s now an established group meeting every six months or so. True story – no spinning yarns on this blog!

The group meet up to knit or crochet eight inch squares. They then sew them together to make blankets for the homeless. Though keeping the homeless warm isn’t the only thing this craftwork achieves. The knitting brings people together, bonds the community and boosts wellbeing. So it’s as good for the crafters as it is for the blanket recipients.

Tracey Major coordinates the Big Knit at the Orbital. She saw the Big Knit at Lydiard park in the summer of 2018 and  found inspiration in the project.  She knew that she wanted to be involved and to help sew the blankets together and to provide an opportunity to bring the group together more regularly.

Said Tracey: ‘I love working with yarn and I love meeting new people with a similar passion for arts and crafts. I do love a charity project and the homeless are so deserving, the ladies who have tirelessly been making over 165 blankets for the homeless are an inspiration and have such generous hearts, I’m thrilled to be part of their group and to continue their work.’

Tracey has found a new location for the group to meet at the Orbital Customer Service Hub at the Orbital shopping park. It’s just opposite the library.

Tracey explained ‘It’s a lovely new building, and nice and airy and light. It’s perfect for crafting in and has plenty of space for all the ladies to meet and come together. There’s chairs, tables and two sofas, so we shall be very comfortable and there’s a tea urn, so we can provide refreshments.’

But the Big Knit at the Orbital isn’t a closed group. They would love for more knitters and crocheters to come forward to pool their skills and to enjoy the vibe of the group.

The first ever Big Knit at the Orbital will take place on the Saturday 27th of October from 2pm till 4.30pm. There’s another Wednesday afternoon event in the pipeline for November, but yet to be confirmed.

If you would like to go along and join the group or simply have a look and see what it’s all about, the group will welcome you warmly.

They can provide yarn but it would be helpful if you could bring knitting needles or a crochet hook.


Latest Swindon Ramblings

I’m always looking for new and interesting angles to share when out and about in Swindon.

A word about our sponsors

When I’m not being Born again Swindonian and writing Swindon-related books I offer proofreading, editing and writing services as AA Editorial Services.

Blog Categories

Wise Bookkeeping Swindon

Wise Bookkeeping Swindon

Beat the Street

Beat the Street

September 2018

Beat the Street

Beat the street image

I love a bit of urban exploration around Swindon me – just some of which is covered in posts in this category:

So this Beat the Street Swindon challenge sounds like fantastic family fun. Read more about it all below.

Swindon is set to be transformed into a giant game this autumn as thousands of residents compete to see if their school, community or business can walk, run or cycle the furthest.

Beat the Street Swindon

Running from 12 September to 24 October, Beat the Street is a free, fun challenge where people are rewarded with points and prizes for exploring their town on foot or bicycle.

More than 160 special sensors called ‘Beat Boxes’ will appear across Swindon. Players tap the Beat Boxes with cards and fobs to track their journey and earn points for themselves and their team – the more Beat Boxes people swipe the more points they earn.

Schools and community groups across Swindon will be competing against each other to see if they can travel the furthest, climb the leaderboards and win hundreds of pounds worth of sport and fitness equipment.

Families are encouraged to play for their local school. While the wider community can create their own teams by

Beat the Street is being funded in Swindon by Sport England and Swindon Borough Council.

Bring your community together to explore your area by walking, cycling or running.

Visit their website at:  

And find Beat the Street on Facebook.

Twitter: @BTSSwindon

To get involved:

Beat the Street runs from Wednesday 12 September 2018 – Wednesday 24 October 2018 and anyone living, working or going to a school in Swindon is eligible to take part.

Pick up a card near you. Selected supermarkets, libraries and leisure centres will start distributing cards from 6 September. 

Beat the Street is being delivered by Intelligent Health and is funded by The National Lottery through Sport England, and Swindon Borough Council.

Want to find out more or set up a team? Email


Baker’s Community Café

Baker’s Community Café

29th August 2018

The Baker’s Community Café

It’s been sometime in the coming – you know how it is with building works – it always takes longer and costs more than you think. But at last it’s open and getting underway and, best thing of all, it’s a lovely bit of good news for Swindon’s heritage and the railway village conservation area.

What am I talking about listeners? The Baker’s Community café of course.

the bakers arms community cafe

From guns to buns 

Or as suggested on social media:

From riot to quiet

From thugs to mugs 

Moving on!!

I’m pretty ignorant of the history of this ex railway village pub, but it seems it had a reputation for being ‘a bit rough’ – to understate the case. As this article in the Swindon Advertiser explains:

‘The Bakers Arms will reopen as a community café this week after a makeover that saw builders rip out moulding bar and restore historic fireplaces in the 150-year-old pub.

It will prove a major reversal of fortune for the Emlyn Square pub, which was once a source of anti-social behaviour and ire for residents.

In December 2011, police raided the Bakers Arms and found a shotgun and a large amount of what officers suspected was cocaine. The pub was closed three months later after a review by the council’s licensing panel. .. ‘

Huge congrats to everyone at the Mechanics’ Institute Trust – I’m sure it will be great asset to the central area and to Swindon as a whole. Goodness knows Swindon’s heritage areas need some uplift. So this is super welcome.

Find them on social media:




Swindon stuff to do on the cheap

Swindon stuff to do on the cheap

August 2018

Swindon stuff to do on the cheap

National Cycle Network 45 sign - Swindon stuff to do on the cheap

National Cycle Network 45 sign
The sign shows a person and bicycle icon, with the letters “45” underneath. The direction shown reads:
Swindon Station 3
Chiseldon 8
Avebury 18

A couple of years ago I published a post –  Some of what follows is repeated from the old post – but not all so take a look. But some of it is new stuff.

The best way to see a town is on foot. Indeed it’s astonishing what you see and a learn about a place if you get of the car. So do exactly that and try some of these things out:

  1. The West Swindon Sculpture trail: on the face of it looking at sculptures doesn’t sound much of a family activity. Yet following the West Sculpture trail takes you across acres of West Swindon’s green spaces. It traverses play parks and outdoor gyms. It’s a 5-mile walk that can be cycled and is push chair friendly.

how the mighty fall

Download a map of the trail here. And explore blog posts about the sculptures here:

2. Explore the River Ray Parkway walk. I’ve thus far only done half of this week. We started at Moulden Hill and walked across to Mannington. Fabulously green, this walk follows the Route 45 cycle track. If you’re short enough and the water is low – which it was and my companion and myself are – you can walk right under the Great Western Way.  The map is downloadable here and is courtesy of Swindon Local Studies.

Kissing gate

Old kissing gate along the River Ray Parkway

3. Pack up a picnic and visit one of Swindon’s parks and open spaces.  The above two are perfect for a picnic. As too are the following parks. These are only a few of astonishing number of parks, green spaces, walks and cycle paths that Swindon offers. Google is your friend here.

A. Queen’s Park

B. The Lawn – or Lawn if we’re going to be really proper. And I’m not sure I was in the post I link to. Must edit.

C. Town Gardens

D. The GWR Park – or Faringdon Park

E. Coate Water – where you can find quite the best miniature railway I’ve come across.

See also this post about the Coate Water Diving platform

Mention of the Coate Water railway leads to:

4. The Richard Jefferies Museum:

Free to enter, this museum and its gardens are simply a delight. The museum has its own halt for the Coate Water railway. In the summer there’s cream teas in the garden, sometimes with music of some sort, and they put on all sorts of children’s activities. Visit their website (link in heading above) to find out what’s going on.

So you can find out about this particular writer’s life in the museum. You can also see locations where he lived and worked and went to school by following the

5. Richard Jeffereries Old Town Trail. Here’s a downloadable text file of the trail with a map.

Read about the trial here:

Part 1: 

Part 2:

6. For further urban exploration walk around the town in search of the blue plaques in Swindon. Find a map of them all by following the link to my post about them.

Health Hydro plaque - one of the blue plaques in swindon

Milton Road Baths

7. Try the Explorer’s Guide to New Swindon – get the map produced by Swindon Civic Voice (£2 from the central library) and explore ‘New Swindon.’

8. Go to the Museum and Art gallery in Old Town: they have lots of activities for children in school holidays. Get your #crocselfie taken with the gharial. It’s tradition! Lots of cafe/pub/eating opportunities in Old Town. Combine with a visit to Ton Gardens, Lawn, Richard Jefferies Old Town trial – there’s options!

swindon museum and art gallery






Event: Summer Workshops at Swindon’s Museum and Art Gallery

Event: Summer Workshops at Swindon’s Museum and Art Gallery

11th August 2018

Summer Workshops at Swindon’s Museum and Art Gallery

Doing what it says on the tin – a poster advertising stuff to do with the kids, in the form of summer workshops at Swindon’s museum and art gallery up in Old Town. The activities are sponsored by the friends of Swindon museum and art gallery– an organisation well worth joining.

If you’re the sociable sort then check out Facebook: and Twitter:

And Instagram too:

Summer workshops at museum and art gallery