Blaylock’s Shoe Shop – Old Town

Blaylock’s Shoe Shop – Old Town

Blaylock's Shoe Shop

Old Town - Swindon

It’s a mildly curious thing that Swindon’s Old Town has, within a few yards of one another, three long-established family businesses. On Wood Street there’s Deacon’s Jewellers,  founded in 1848 and now in its sixth generation as a family business. Then there’s Gilbert’s furniture store on Newport Street. I’ll cover that one in another post, so for now suffice to say that. this business was established in 1886, becoming a fixture on its present location from the early 1870s.

Then there’s the subject of this blog post: Blaylock’s shoe shop on the corner of Bath Road. This business is a youngster compared to the other two, being started in 1920 when the senior Blaylock – Robert – opened a shoe repair business in Swindon’s Gorse Hill. This brilliant business remains one of the south of England’s leading independent shoe businesses, with a wide range of brands for adults and children.

I lOVE this shop and I do buy most of my footwear from it. It’s what I call a proper shoe shop – with shelves in the shop itself stacked with boxes and boxes of shoes. Going in there is a great nostalgia trip – with some good old fashioned service.

The business is now directed by Robert’s grandson David, and managed by David’s son Mark. In this 2014 feature in the Wiltshire Business Online News, David said:

‘In terms of how we run the business, we have tried to maintain the same principles. We believe people come to us because of our stock, our staff and the service we offer.

We still endeavour to give personal service and carry a range of stock you wouldn’t find in a normal High Street store.”

NB: When Robert Blaylock’s business moved to Old Town in 1928, it was first situated in what is now Pizza Express in Bath Road before it later moved to where it stands today.

Now – with a nod to Mark Childs, author of The Swindon Book from where (well – actually The Swindon Book Companion) I sourced this material – though it’s in my own words – is a potted history of this wonderful Swindon business:

Established by Robert Blaylock (1896-1955 – from Bowness, on Windermere in Westmoreland), this Old Town shoe store is four generations old.

When a youngster, young Blaylock contracted rheumatic fever. The condition left him with heart problems and medical warnings that he should do nothing manual. Warnings that he appeared not to heed given that the age of 15 saw him apprenticed to a local boot and shoe repairer.

WWI brought Robert to Swindon and a billet at the Chiseldon Camp where he repaired army boots. Come the end of the war, he remained in Swindon and opened a boot repair workshop at 254 Cricklade Road. In his spare time Robert was an active lay preacher at Florence Street Mission Hall. There he met Lilian Skinner, whose father, Daniel Skinner, ran the mission. The couple wed in 1921, moved into 158 Cricklade Road and produced seven children. One wonders if they were the worst shod …. ?

By 1928 Robert moved his business to No 5 Bath Road, Old Town where, at the rear of the premises, the operated a shoe repair business.

The landlord of No 5 refused to give Robert Blaylock a lease, though Randolph Pollard, gent’s outfitter next door at No 3, had a long lease. When No 5’s landlord decided to sell, Pollard bought it, moved his business in and transferred his lease at No 3 to Robert Blaylock.

By 1949, Robert Blaylock had failing health and not one son willing to take on the business. Yet, his son Robert Arthur resigned from his position in the National Provincial Bank to take it on. Shades of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ there methinks!

Thus, when the property came up for sale, Robert Arthur bought it and the adjacent property on the corner of Devizes Road, along with a little lock-up called the Corner Cabinet which sold antique glassware. In so doing, he expanded the business.

Robert Arthur’s son, David John Blaylock, was also not inclined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Yet, like his father, he too relinquished his clerical work with Swindon council to keep the business going. (More George Bailey heroism!) He ran it from 1988, and in 1997 his son, Mark Adam Blaylock joined him.

As well as shoes, Blaylock’s also sells handbags, polishes, shoe trees and laces.

Phone: 01793 534271

See also: https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/8790518.Muriel_retires_from_shoe_shop_after_50_years/

 

 

 

 

Latest Swindon Ramblings

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

The Swindon County Ground Hotel

Hello lovely listeners. On the heels of Secret Swindon, I’m now in full flow with research and writing for my second book from Amberley Books, Swindon in 50 Buildings. It’s come as no surprise at all to me that there’s a cornucopia of potentials for this book. For every building I’ve put on the list, I could quite easily have selected several more. So I’ve had to make choices. And it’s been tough I tell ya! There’s no shortage of interesting material in Swindon as we all know.

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

Fabulous Functions UK

Fabulous Functions UK

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’

in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment

Press release:

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book by world-renowned experts in living in the moment 

Latest news from Vision Maker Press

Wiltshire author talks ‘transformation’ in new book

NAZ ASHUN, Vision Maker Press

Wiltshire author and publisher Naz Ahsun has contributed to a new book, published this month, which aims to inspire readers to live more fulfilling lives.

Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment, is filled with inspirational tales from people of all ages, nationalities and professions, covering topics from career goals to parenting. It’s the latest book from award-winning authors Ariel and Shya Kane, from New Jersey USA, and will be available from Monday (November 12).

Naz, who is co-founder of publishing firm Vision Maker Press and is known to many as the presenter of The Outer Limits show on Swindon 105.5, says a series of coincidences led to her involvement in this book. In her story she talks about how she’s transformed her relationship with her body image, food and nutrition.

“Way back in 2011, I was heading for Spain for an Easter break. At the airport, I wanted to get a light, easy read to take on holiday with me. That’s when I spotted Men, Money and Chocolateby Menna Van Praag.  On my first night in Barcelona, I opened the book and didn’t put it down until I finished it at dawn. I knew when I finished that I just had to meet the author, who touched me so deeply.

“However, it wasn’t until 2013 this became a reality when I spotted a social media post by the same author. She was holding a writing workshop in London. I immediately signed up and was not disappointed. I also got more than I bargained for as I also met my, now, fiancé who had been facilitating the workshop with Menna Van Praag!”

Naz discovered the author and her fiancé were part of a growing movement known as the ‘Transformation Community’ which holds seminars all over the world where she met fellow authors Ariel and Shya Kane.

In 2016, members of the community were invited to contribute to Being Here…Too, sharing their experience of transformation in their day-to-day lives.

Naz, who earlier this year published her own second book, The Little Book of Animal Wisdom, said: “I was thrilled my story was chosen as one of the ones to appear. My chapter is called Frolicking with Frittatas and it shares my story of how I experienced instantaneous transformation about my body image and diet – all it required was a little help from ruby red peppers, succulent egg, spongy courgettes and a dash of transformative fairy dust.”

The book’s publication will be celebrated locally on November 12 at an event called How to Access Enlightenment in a Busy Modern World, when Naz will read her chapter to the audience at The Henge Shop, Avebury from 7-9pm and entry is £5.

Details are available directly from The Henge Shop on 01672 539229.

 

Latest Swindon Ramblings

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

The Swindon County Ground Hotel

Hello lovely listeners. On the heels of Secret Swindon, I’m now in full flow with research and writing for my second book from Amberley Books, Swindon in 50 Buildings. It’s come as no surprise at all to me that there’s a cornucopia of potentials for this book. For every building I’ve put on the list, I could quite easily have selected several more. So I’ve had to make choices. And it’s been tough I tell ya! There’s no shortage of interesting material in Swindon as we all know.

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

Fabulous Functions UK

Fabulous Functions UK

Press release: Swindon sports commentator in running for national award

Press release: Swindon sports commentator in running for national award

Swindon sports commentator in running for national award

Chris Dawes nominated for award to find the UK’s favourite motorsports commentator

Swindon sports commentator in running for national award

Swindon businessman Chris Dawes has been nominated for a national award to find the UK’s favourite motorsports commentator.

Chris is a professional commentator, who also runs Open Dawes Training, providing public speaking and presentation training, as well as media training for sports people. He’s in the running for Commentator of the Year in the annual awards run by Motorsport Media, which broadcasts Motorsport Radio.

Chris is a regular commentator at Wiltshire’s Castle Combe circuit where his commentating career started.

He’s just completed his seventh professional year of commentating and is one of the most sought-after, with only one weekend away from the microphone between March and November. He commentates and presents at events held at circuits across the world, with UK venues also including Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Snetterton, Oulton Park, and Cadwell Park.

“I am completely blown away to have been nominated,” said Chris. “I’m a huge motorsports fan and to have been able to turn my hobby into a career as a commentator is a real honour.”

Chris first fell in love with motorsports as a child, when he visited the races at Castle Combe with his father. He was encouraged by his wife, Claire, to apply for a commentator’s role eight years ago, and has never looked back. In fact, he’s now a member of the Board of Castle Combe Racing Club.

Chris is up against nine other finalists. These include the likes of BTCC, DTM, and Formula 3 commentator Chris Hartley, ITV’s British Touring Car Championship commentators David Addison and Paul O’Neill, TV’s Superbike commentator and former rider James Whitham, and highly respected national and international commentator Mark Werrell. The winner will be announced on December 9, during a live show on Motorsport Radio.

Chris added: “The winner is based on online voting. I think it will be rather a large ask to win, considering the other, fantastic commentators in the running, many of whom I have always looked up to. I am so fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with and being mentored by many of them too. I am just so chuffed to have been nominated.”

To vote for Chris, visit https://motorsportawards.com/commentator-of-the-year/. For information about Chris’s commentating visit https://chrisdawescomms.co.uk/, or for Open Dawes Training, visit https://www.opendawestraining.co.uk/.

 

Latest Swindon Ramblings

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

The Swindon County Ground Hotel

Hello lovely listeners. On the heels of Secret Swindon, I’m now in full flow with research and writing for my second book from Amberley Books, Swindon in 50 Buildings. It’s come as no surprise at all to me that there’s a cornucopia of potentials for this book. For every building I’ve put on the list, I could quite easily have selected several more. So I’ve had to make choices. And it’s been tough I tell ya! There’s no shortage of interesting material in Swindon as we all know.

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

Fabulous Functions UK

Fabulous Functions UK

Deacon’s Jewellers

Deacon’s Jewellers

September 2018

Deacon’s Jewellers

Well listeners, you can hardly have failed to notice that this summer saw the publication of my first book, Secret Swindon.  So now it’s onto the next project: Swindon in 50 Buildings. To that end I’ve compiled a list of suggested buildings for the edification of the publisher, Amberley Books.

The buildings I’ve selected for my next project aren’t necessarily there because they’re fabulous architecture, or old or listed – though sometimes that’s part of it – but because they have a part in Swindon’s story. Many, many buildings do that of course – and far more than fifty of them too.

One that I might include in my next project is Deacon’s jewellers on Wood Street in Old Town.

The business is still family-owned – now in its sixth generation – that’s rather cool isn’t it? Besides that though, the business has a rich history – one that’s wrapped up in Swindon’s railway past.

Given that his year is their 170th anniversary (Established 1848), it seems fitting to give them a mention on this blog.

Their website has their history on it so here’s a couple of extracts:

‘ … The catalyst for bringing the name of Deacon to Swindon was undoubtedly the arrival of the Great Western Railway. As an ambitious 26 year old George Deacon, having moved from his home town of Westbury, realised the need for time-keeping in a fast growing town of the industrial revolution. The business was able to expand, winning one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea from the early 1850s until 1893 … 

The Regulator clock which stands to this day in the jewellery, clock and watch department was made by Deacon & Son Ltd around 1865 when the company held one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea. Before radio and the telephone gave universally available timing, accurate time keeping had to be maintained locally and this was usually done by the means of the regulator clock.

The dead beat escapement in this movement causes less friction and dampens vibration, giving greater accuracy. The self regulating mercury pendulum, which changes volume equally with the changes in temperature, keeps the clock on a constant steady beat giving better time keeping. This clock was used extensively in our workshops for clock timing and regulation for many years, until its retirement in the 1960s. In 2011 the same task is performed by radio controlled timing from the nuclear caesium clock at the National Physics Laboratory at Rugby.’

 

Deacons on Wood Street

Find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deaconsjewellers/

These boots are made for walking

Of course, Deacon’s is not the only long-standing, family-owned business in Old Town. I’m really rather fond of Blaylock’s – the shoe shop on the corner of Bath Road and Devizes Rd.

Blaylocks Old Town

Blaylock’s is what I call a ‘proper’ shoe shop – though you’d need to be of a certain again to even know what I mean by that. And what I mean by that, is that the shoes are stacked in boxes on shelves in the shop itself. There’s no going out the back somewhere with an iPad and a headset on. Pfft. It’s friendly service and I love it. Not quite as old as Deacon’s they’ve been around for somewhere in the region of 100 years. Still, to my knowledge, this is a family-run business and an independent shoe shop. Fabulous.

Gilberts

Having bought your super comfy carpet slippers in Blaylocks – where better for your actual carpet than Gilbert’s on Newport Street,  Gilbert’s have been in Old Town since 1866 so must have furnished a few Swindon homes in the intervening 152 years. What an astonishing thought.

 

Event: Closing a sale – a free presentation at Business Village

Event: Closing a sale – a free presentation at Business Village

August 2018

Spotlight will turn on closing a sale at free business presentation

A free presentation to Swindon networking group Business Village will focus on avoiding mistakes that cost businesses a sale.

The breakfast event, on Thursday September 6, is the first after the group’s summer break, and is free to anyone wanting to attend, as well as Business Village regulars.

Story-led marketing coach Sarah Archer will deliver a talk entitled ‘How to avoid the three biggest mistakes businesses make around customer objections that cost them the sale.’

Sarah, who is based in Royal Wootton Bassett, said: “So many business owners lose the sale to hot prospects at the last minute. So in my presentation I’ll look at the three most common mistakes made, why they happen and how to avoid them.”

Sarah Archer - Closing a sale - presentation at Business Village

Sarah has a background in comedy and acting. She is an author and playwright, with more than 20 years in corporate life, and she is on a mission to make business owners less boring and more successful.

The event runs from 7.30-9am at The Campanile, West Swindon, and includes networking, one-minute introductions and breakfast. The usual charge for each weekly, Thursday meeting is £10 for booking online in advance (£9 early bird) or £12 on the door. The group charges no membership fee.

For more information and to book for Sarah’s talk, and other events on the Business Village calendar, visit https://businessvillage.org/.

See also: http://www.lemon-squeeze.co.uk

And – Swindon Business Village

Event: Transport company’s drive to raise charity funds arrives at fun day

Event: Transport company’s drive to raise charity funds arrives at fun day

10th August 2018

Transport company’s drive to raise charity funds arrives at fun day

Akcess fun day August 19th at Coate Water 
Akcess fun day August 19th

Akcess Medical NEPTS transport

They say you wait for one bus then three come along – well that’s just what’s going to happen when the team at Swindon-based transport company Akcess lay on a bumper fundraising fun day.

As part of the festivities at the event, which takes place at Coate Water on August 19, visitors will be asked to guess the combined weight of three vehicles. The vehicles are from Akcess CIC, a not-for-profit community transport company, and its sister company Akcess Medical, which operates hospital transport.

As well as guess-the-weight, there will be everything from fun fair rides to tombolas and sweet stalls, displays, and old-fashioned races like egg-and-spoon. There will also be a raffle, with local business people generously donating prizes ranging from Swindon Town tickets and swimming lessons, to chocolates and Bluetooth speakers.

All the profits from the event, which starts at midday, will be split between Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Uplands special school in Swindon.

Organising the fun day is Akcess Medical’s crew manager, Tracey Mason.

“Originally, we were going to run a fun day for staff, as we employ about 200 people across the businesses, but then we decided to open it up to everybody who wants to come along and to help charity at the same time,” she said.

“We picked Uplands as we provide transport for a lot of the children to get to and from school, and for school trips, and they are really wonderful. Wiltshire Air Ambulance fits with Akcess Medical, although our ambulances are firmly on the ground!”

Tracey is still looking for people who want to run stalls or displays at the fun day. To get in touch or for more information email info@akcess.co.uk or call 01793 855550.