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:

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.


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

See also:

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 or call 01793 855550.

Series of free events aims to help Swindon businesses

Series of free events aims to help Swindon businesses

15th June 2018

Series of free events aims to help Swindon businesses

Rombourne hosting Free events for Swindon businesses


Rombourne serviced offices in Swindon are to stage a series of free events to support businesses across the area, as well as those based in the centre.

Shirley Hensher - The Change Agent

Shirley Hensher – The Change Agent

The first event will be on July 3, and is a two-hour afternoon workshop with business and career coach Shirley Hensher, of the Change Agent, focusing on helping business owners rediscover their direction and priorities so they can manage their time more effectively.





On July 18, Jo Smyth, who runs PR and copywriting agency Word Worker, will hold a drop-in copy clinic, where business owners can call in and ask for help and advice on anything from how to write and where to send a press release, to tips on blogging and crafting web copy.

Jo Smyth - Word Worker

Jo Smyth – Word Worker. Photo credit Stuart Harrison Photography

Other events will be planned in for later in the year.

“I am keen to integrate and support the local business community. I really wanted to try something different and I have the facilities to accommodate varying size workshops,” said Danielle Mottram, business centre manager at Rombourne’s Kingston House, Lydiard Fields, West Swindon. “Shirley Hensher is one of my newest clients at Kingston House, and this is a great opportunity for us to work together in supporting the local business community. I also hope Jo Smyth’s copy clinic appeal to the businesses in our centre and further afield.”



Shirley Hensher, who helps provide fresh perspective to her clients so they can shape their working lives, spent 25 years in corporate life, as an employee then freelance project manager, before starting a coaching business. She said: “I am really looking forward to running the workshop in July and helping business people rediscover their sense of direction and purpose so they can align their daily activities with what is really important to them and to their business.”

Jo Smyth works with SMEs and uses her journalism skills to craft press releases which hit the mark with online and offline media. She said: “I always enjoyed copy clinics when I was a young journalist, and received some really fantastic advice from my editors, so I am looking forward to helping business owners unlock their own writing potential.”


Danielle Mottram of Rombourne Serviced Offices

Danielle Mottram of Rombourne Serviced Offices

For more information about the events at Kingston House, email or call 01793 683550.





14th June 2018



Well this is something of personal interest dear listeners, having recently written a book myself. Mine though is a different sort of a paperback being non-fiction. Secret Swindon is out mid-July and you can find out more about it here. 

Now to the purpose of this post which is to tell you that another Swindon author offers help to would-be writers.



Naz and Sarah

LOCAL author and radio presenter Naz Ahsun has launched a new publishing company which aims to help would-be writers get into print.

Naz has teamed up with graphic designer and illustrator Sarah Ray to launch Vision Maker Press, which offers authors a variety of packages to help them on their self-publishing journey from manuscript to book.

The company aims to be an independent publisher with a difference, offering writers a bespoke service to help them produce the best book that they can.

Naz, who presents the paranormal show, The Outer Limits and The Good News Show on Swindon 105.5, has recently published her own second book, The Little Book of Animal Wisdom – through her own company.

She said: “Sarah and I have known each other for some time and a chance remark led to the creation of Vision Maker Press. Our skills work well together, and we realised we could help others who want to self-publish – yet be efficient and effective in doing so.”

Vision Maker Press will specialise in working with first-time or second-time authors who are serious about writing and publishing their book yet need some guidance to take the right steps.

‘We’re looking to work with anyone who feels they have a story to share which could help or inspire someone else. It can often feel, when you are going through an experience, that you are the only person going through it and knowing someone else has been through something similar can be very empowering and open up new possibilities,’ Naz said.

Sarah said: ‘I work with many authors already in my graphic design business. As I got to know Naz, I found her books to be well written and fluent with strong content and, in my experience, this is unusual. I made an off-the-cuff comment that we should help other authors as I’m the visual person and Naz is the content person. Here we are some months later, launching our publishing company for those who wish to self-publish their stories. It’s amazing.’

Naz, who lives in Faringdon, and Sarah, who is from Llandissilo in Pembrokeshire, have worked together on several projects since 2012 but had not met in person until May! For more information visit

NB: In The Little Book of Animal Wisdom, Naz Ahsun explores how observing how animals overcome obstacles in their environment can give us clues as to how we can overcome ours

It is £6.99 from or from www.visionmakerpress.comand Amazon. £1 for each copy sold will be donated to Oak and Furrows Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cricklade.


The Prosecco Party

The Prosecco Party

The Prosecco Party: Making a Party Pop

One can’t have failed to notice how, over the last five years or so, the Italian tipple Prosecco has out-popped big brother Cava in the affordable-celebration-fizz stakes. Before we have a look at how that’s happened let’s be clear on what Prosecco is.

Prosecco, like it’s big sister, Champagne, takes its name from its place of origin. In this case the village of Prosecco, a suburb of Trieste. Even if you knew that you may not know that, as this Vine Pair blog all about the stuff points out, ‘the name ‘prosecco’ is actually Slovenian, from prozek, or “path through the woods.” Prior to being called Prosecco, the region was known as Puccino. Today, Prosecco production extends beyond the small village, but that’s where it all began.


DOCG and DOC are quality classifications. Italian wine law states that DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantia –  is the highest quality designation.

DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata – is an Italian assurance of quality for wine and food. To get this label a product must stick to the quality assurance rules and the location defined in the rules. Since 2009 Prosecco has had to have at least DOC accreditation.

Fizz is fizz right? What makes Prosessco different to Champagne?

The chief difference here is the method of production. For a bottle of bubbly to call itself Champagne it has to be made with the MÉTHODE CHAMPENOISE. And Prosecco isn’t.

Having made that statement I now need to explain that there is one exception to that rule. Isn’t there ever? The Conegliano Valdobbiadene in the DOCG may use MÉTHODE CHAMPENOISE – the rest though uses the charmat method – aka the tank method.

Tanked up

In the tank method, the fermented wine goes through its secondary fermentation in steel tanks rather than the bottle. According to Vine Pair.Com this production method means there’s less contact with the ‘lees’ or yeast sediment. Though a winemaker might make intentional contact to create a particular flavour.

The pound in your pocket puts more Prosecco in your glass

The tank method of secondary fermentation is an efficient one. Because of it, the resulting Prosecco is less expensive to make and therefore more affordable. As the astonishing rise in the popularity of #FizzFriday demonstrates.

Even though Prosecco is kind to your pocket your palate doesn’t need to suffer. Don’t think that the tank method produces uncomplicated wines. Au contraire – or whatever the Italian equivalent of that is. Prosecco is made with gorgeous aromatic grapes and this cleaner tank method lets those aromas effervesce their way to top of your flute glass.

Three fun Prosecco facts

Vine Pair blog is stuffed with great information about Prosecco. Here’s three things you might not know:

  1. The original Bellini recipe used Prosecco and not Champagne.
  2. Not all Prosecco is bubby. ‘Prosecco comes in three levels of “perlage,” basically a fancy word for delicious bubbles. There’s the bubbliest,spumante, the second-most, frizzante, and the entirely still (that’s right) tranquillo.’
  3. Prosecco didn’t fizz until the 19th century. ‘ … it wasn’t until Antonio Carpenè first subjected the still white wine to a second fermentation that Prosecco acquired it’s now lasting association with bubbles. The Carpenè Malvolti winery was the first to produce Prosecco as we know and guzzle it today.

Prosecco Party time

So we’ve established that Prosecco is a Champagne alternative that is cost-effective and delizioso in its own right. We know too that for an end of the week treat perfectly presentable Proseccos are available at a range of prices on every supermarket shelf. But what to do when you want to serve Prosecco for a special event? Big birthday, wedding, graduation or even a corporate function? It’s a big job buying enough Prosecco, keeping it perfectly chilled, serving it and having enough glasses and the rest of it. In this situation the catering cavalry – aka the Prosecco Party is called for!

Based in Wiltshire, The Prosecco Party is a gorgeous mobile bar service crafted from a Tuk-Tuk van. As you can see from the images below, The Prosecco Party is a fun yet sophisticated addition to your special event that saves you, or a family member, from being on bar duty leaving you free to have a good time. And I’ll drink to that!

They offer a range of packages the details of which you can find here:  And check out these gorgeous photos to get a feel of what they offer and the WOW factor The Prosecco Party will bring to your event! 

The Prosecco Party van

The Prosecco Party van


Contact them on their web form –  Alternatively get in touch via email on: or telephone 07432 628545 or 01672 540874.

Find them on social media:

PS: If you’re in the habit of drinking Prosecco on a regular basis at home then why not do it in style with one of these gorgeous crystal flute glasses from The Fab Gift Boutique?