TechSwindon is a Switch on To Swindon (SOTS) branded project. It will work with organisations and business groups to run a series of meet-up events for start-ups, micros, SMES and larger companies. These companies either provide digi-tech products and services or are reliant on it to do business.
The year-long campaign will culminate in a two-day summit in spring 2020. The summit will have high-profile speakers from Swindon and around the world. In venues across the town it will welcome up to 1,000 visitors a day.
The aim of the campaign is twofold:
To work with partners to enhance Swindon’s digi-tech cluster
To showcase its impressive capability to attract inward investment and a pipeline of additional skilled staff to allow business growth.
DigiTech is a strong and growing industry. Swindon boasts the UK’s 3rdmost productive tech sector with over 2,800 companies. In Swindon and Wiltshire there are over 25,000 companies delivering digi-tech products and services. And over 25,000 companies reliant on digi-tech to operate.
Jenny Groves, Chair of Switch on To Swindon said “We use the Switch On brand to promote Swindon as the destination of choice to live, work and do business.
Our 600 plus passionate ambassadors provide their time and support to share these positive messages. Both local businesses and new investors are set to benefit from the TechSwindon focus on attracting and developing additional talent. This alongside the timely recent announcement of Institute of Technology funding for Swindon College and partners”.
After the last SOTS event, local design company Bravedog won a competition to develop a Big Idea. They have worked in partnership with Ambassadors and Swindon Borough Council to create the concept of TechSwindon.
A number of businesses have already signed up to support the campaign, and lots more opportunities for business engagement and promotion will be announced over the coming weeks.
Switch On To Swindon is proud to unveil Nationwide Building Society as its first TechSwindon sponsor. Last night, Nationwide confirmed its support and sponsorship of the year-long campaign to build and promote Swindon’s tech capability.
Also at the Switch On To Swindon event, over 400 delegates heard Nationwide Building Society’s latest news and a business in the community round up from Shirley Ludford of Swindon 105.5.
They were wowed too by demonstrations from some of Swindon’s digi-tech community.
Councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Economy and Place, said: “Advances in digi-tech are essential to Swindon’s industrial growth in all of its key sectors, particularly advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, business finance and professional services and logistics.
“I am delighted we have launched the TechSwindon campaign, which will keep Swindon at the forefront of this dynamic sector.”
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.
‘ … 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.’
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.
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.
If you’ve been paying attention at all listeners, you’ll have noticed that, over the last few months I’ve shared stories from friends and clients that I felt fitted with the notion of Switch on to Swindon. I had every intention of doling a round-up at the back end of last year but never got round to it. So, seeing this article from the Swindon Advertiser on social media kicked me into action. Just about a whole year has gone by since the SOT campaign launched. Yikes! Happy anniversary SOT! Pop the corks!
2017 has been a busy old year for me. With personal, blogging and business stuff via AA Editorial Services. The high point for me came late in the year with a contact, via this blog, from a Glocs based publishing house. The upshot of all that being I now have a commission to write a book about Swindon. Double yikes!
Anyway, simply so they’re all in one place, and starting with my own (and why not?!) are some SOT stories. Some of them, like myself, are SOT ambassadors. But all of them have positive things to say about our fabulous town.
And finally a couple from the Switch on to Swindon website. David Bent – because he’s a friend and I can. But also because I like what he says. Below is the strapline from his SOT story. I like that because it is. Swindon IS surprising and has so much going on. He’s not wrong!
A Community Library Launches at the Swindon Hindu Temple
To be fair, ‘A community library LUNCHES at the Swindon Hindu Temple’would have been an appropriate heading being as how this event was celebrated with a food festival. Oh such scrummyness. Sadly for me, I’m getting over a virus and my normal appetite for Indian food – well food in general – is not, at the moment, up to scratch,
But that’s all a digression. I’ve been to the temple before so though it was about time it got a mention on this here blog. Because y’know, the overall vibe at the temple is never anything but welcoming and inclusive. It’s just lovely.
The temple came on to my horizon via Carole Bent – the photographs below are hers. Thanks Carole. I do try with photographs but they never come out right. Harrumph!
I had no idea, until Pradeep spoke at the event, that the community library that the temple has set up is part of the town’s library network. I though it was cool anyway. But when I heard that I thought it was even cooler! It was super fab to see Liam with the book bike there reading to the children!
Some pictures from yesterday’s library launch and food festival:
Pradeep, Swindon Hindu temple chairman
Library Liam with the book bike
Gujarti books in the library
Smiling, happy ladies serving food
You have to take your hat off to Pradeep Bhardwaj, chaiman of Swindon’s Hindu temple trust, and his associates. What they’ve achieved with a run-down industrial unit on the Cheney Manor estate can be described as miraculous. And a testament to what can be achieved with will and passion.
At this point I feel I should give mention also to SAPAC – another Asian organisation/group that Swindon is blessed to have in its midst. They too open their doors, their activities to anyone that is interested regardless of culture.
There’s lessons for us all from both these groups I feel.
Catherine makes lovely jewellery, which to some extent she can tailor to you – your wrist size, the type of fastener you prefer – that sort of thing. Her contact details are on her Facebook page – link above. These plaited bracelets are among my faves of her work:
Anyway, like so, so many people, Catherine pitched up in Swindon for economic reasons.
Finding self and community in Swindon – and a business to boot!
Like so many others before and after me, I came to Swindon for economic reasons.
At the end of 2000 I left my home town of Northampton to relocate to Swindon as my partner had got a promotion here.
There was some trepidation in this move as I can’t say Swindon as a town had received great recommendations from colleagues. Indeed, they were pretty negative about it.
I remember the first time I took a wander in the town centre and felt that I definitely didn’t want to move here. Yet somehow when the job offer came in and I found myself saying “yes”. Within a month or two we were selecting a new home on the Taw Hill estate. This was in the days before the opening of the Orbital Centre and the Thamesdown Avenue road.
In the main those days revolved around my workplace. I made friends, including some native Swindonians all of whom proved welcoming and friendly.
After a while we moved to Devizes for a couple of years. But then found that we were travelling back to Swindon so much for shopping and socialising that it made sense to return. After doing the rounds of showhomes we plumped for a house in Haydon End. We were the first people on the building site to move in.
We had children and it was when they were small that I became more aware of my need for local community. So I joined a baby and mum music group at Bath Methodist Church in Old Town.
A positive recollection I have of Swindon’s people revolves around an incident in Boswell’s café with my baby girl. She was sick, not only all over the floor but all over herself as well. Not being the most organised of mums I hadn’t got a change of clothes for her. To cut a long story short a fellow diner disappeared and returned with a new top for my baby. She refused payment from me. What a wonderful act of random kindness that was.
Lydiard Park is a fantastic place to go with children. I have loads of happy memories of times there. In particular, my daughter’s 1st birthday when a group of us mums and my mum had a wonderful afternoon playing with the kids on in front of house.
Around this time, the friend I’d met at the music club asked me to be God Mother to her little boy. Being asked was such an honour. Although I did feel a little coy about the fact that outside of Midnight Services, I hadn’t been to church in years. The Christening was at St Saviour’s in Old Town. It’s s a beautiful church with an interesting history to it.
John Betjeman, once said of it: “I would sooner be on my knees within the wooden walls of St Saviour’s than leaning elegantly forward in a cushioned pew in an Oxford college Chapel.”
This event proved to be turning point for me. I felt something spiritual – or at least felt I’d come home. I knew then that I wanted the church to be part of my life.
Twist and turns
Life took a further twist when I left my banking career in 2013. I’d worked for the company for seventeen years. But now, with two small children, I craved a meaningful way of life with a more equal work/life balance.
I felt a drive to do something more meaningful to me – that meant something creative.
The great thing about being in Swindon is the community of like-minded businesses women I’ve been able to connect with.
I’m a regular attender at ‘Ladies who Latte’ – a free and supportive networking group. The friendships formed at this and other groups have been invaluable.
In 2013, life took another turn with the unexpected death of my mum.
Around this time, getting to St Saviour’s to worship proved too much with two small children and I’d decided on a move to St John’s in Haydon End. The homegroup and Sunday school were super welcoming and gave much-needed succour at a difficult time.
What I like about St John’s is its community involvement. It offers practical services such as the rock café on Fridays and a pram club on Mondays. There’s a craft club to that I run together with another lady.
For me the church is more than a building and a place of worship. It’s a community and it’s important that it’s open to people.
I have over the last few years developed my passion for beaded jewellery. I’m still in the process of working out which way to take my business, but one regular feature of my calendar is a jewellery evening at Stanton House Hotel held in November. I have a collection of jewellery for sale, but the evening is as much about being social as it is about shopping.
Gosh, September is here and autumn is now fast approaching. So here’s a nice opportunity to share a few lines and photographs from Odile Motte that are a perfect evocation of long, sultry summer evenings from earlier this year. Particularly on days like today when it’s raining cats and dogs out there.
‘It is 9 pm on Sunday. Such a lovely warm evening, following a lovely warm sunny day. Far too nice to be inside. Time for a walk around Old Town.
Two minutes from my front door and I am in The Lawn. So pleasant and quiet at this time of night. The birds are still singing. The outline of North Swindon and Stratton in the distance on one side, the silhouette of Christ Church standing peacefully on the other side as night falls.
Walking back I enjoyed the contrast of Wood Street where drinkers also enjoy the warm weather or the band playing in one of the pubs.