The Nervi Football Stand that Swindon almost got

The Nervi Football Stand that Swindon almost got

Knowing that I have a passing interest in architecture, someone tagged me on Twitter with a link to an article.

From a blog called Calcio England entitled:
‘Florence, Rome, Swindon: How the Grand Master of Italian Stadium Design Nearly Made His Mark in England’. The article had my interest piqued.

Below is an extract from it. Do follow the link above and read the whole thing. Fascinating stuff.

It turns out that:

In June 1963, at the height of his appeal, Nervi received an unexpected piece of correspondence. It came from the municipality of Swindon, England.

Swindon was a mid-sized railway town, located 80 miles west of London in the rural county of Wiltshire. The letter from Mr Laurence Robertson explained that he‘d received authorisation from the local Council. It explained that they wished to engage an “illustrious” architect to produce plans for a new grandstand at the County Ground. The home of Second Division Swindon Town FC.

The project was to be funded by the Council as landowners and repaid over time by the tenant football club.

The letter from Swindon Council described their admiration for Nervi’s Olympic portfolio, making particular reference to the Stadio Flaminio. They wanted to bring a piece of nuovo-Roman chic to Wiltshire.

The precise identity of the visionary on the Swindon Development Committee remains a mystery. The employment of Nervi represented a shift in the town’s traditional architectural style. To that point had been more Industrial Revolution than Italian Modernism.

This was to be Britain’s first Nervi monument.’

Who knew?

Swindon county ground - Nervi football stand that Swindon almost got

Swindon’s County Ground – not with a Nervi-designed stand.

NB: Image supplied by STFC for use in
Swindon in 50 Buildings.

See also this post about the County Ground Hotel.

Local company helps Abby get to South Africa for the U21 Indoor Netball World Cup

Local company helps Abby get to South Africa for the U21 Indoor Netball World Cup

Latest news from Smarter Media: Smarter Media supporting Swindon athlete.

Elite athlete Abby Miles from Swindon has spent months training and trialling. Her hard work has paid off and the England Netball U21 team have selected her for the team. And digital marketing agency Smarter Media are helping her get there. 

Abby is taking part in the World Cup championship in Cape Town, South Africa in August. She will play a defensive positionin the tournament between Sunday August 4 and Saturday August 10. 

But to get to South Africa Abby needs to raise £3,000 to fund her ticket and her stay. She contacted local Swindon companies asking for sponsorship and Smarter Media decided to help.

Robert Curtis, operations director of Smarter Media, said: “We admire Abby’s achievement– we are all quite sporty in our office and she impressed us with her persistence and passion for her sport. We’ve donated £500 towards her trip and we will be keeping in touch to see how it goes. We’re proud to support someone who is out there putting Swindon on the sporting map.” 

Abby, aged 20, said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be selected as one of 13 girls to represent England U21 in the Indoor Netball World Cup in my chosen sport. It’s an achievement. It’s been a lot of hard work but I am thankful to all those who’ve supported me along the way, especially Smarter Media – this company didn’t know me yet have not hesitated in taking me under their wing.”

All sponsorship and donations will pay towards the costs of flights, accommodation and travel, as well supporting Abby’s many preparation training sessions and weekend camps leading up to the event.

 “I’m very thankful to be receiving financial support from local businesses to help with this tour. Without their support it would be a struggle to find the money myself.”  

Abby started playing netball aged eight. She then joined a club when she started at Lydiard Park Academy. The club didn’t have a child section so Abby played and trained with the senior team. 

 “I love playing competitively and I love the teamwork aspect of the game.  I’ve never been to South Africa and I believe that Cape Town is a lovely place, this is a lifetime opportunity. I will continue to work hard in trying to achieve gold for England.”

To find out more about Abby visit:

1. The County Ground Hotel Swindon

1. The County Ground Hotel Swindon

19th January 2019

The County Ground Hotel Swindon
Hello lovely listeners. Hot on the heels of Secret Swindon, came my second publication for Amberley – Swindon in 50 Buildings – published in 2019.

The cornucopia of potential entries in that book, came as no surprise at all. For every building I put in it, I could quite easily have selected several more. So 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.

For instance, featuring Swindon’s County Ground in the book was a no-brainer. After all – a tale of any town or city couldn’t call itself complete without mentioning the town’s sporting life. A natural complement to that listing then is the County Ground Hotel. But did I have room for it? No I did not.

Thus this blog series Swindon in 50 More Buildings came about. To fill some of the inevitable gaps.

The County Ground Hotel back in the day.

There’s lots more images of it on the Arkell’s website for the hotel and this Flickr stream has some too. And below are some shots taken by Born Again Swindonian photographer-in-chief: Chris Eley,

The County Ground Hotel Swindon
The County Ground Hotel

The Swindon County Ground Hotel lies a mere few yards from the stadium of the home team – Swindon Town football club. Hence its name. It’s a popular watering hole for fans whenever Swindon Town are playing at home.  And, according the website, a down-to-earth ‘local’ when they are not.

Boxing Clever

Curiously, for a watering hole associated with a football ground, the pub has strong associations with pugilism. ‘In fact, the pub’s favourite sport in modern times has been boxing, having been equipped with a gymnasium and former licensee Pete Neal a well-known former boxer. Who knew? Well not I!

A bit of County Ground Hotel History

Taken from the pub’s website:

‘Regulars in the County Ground Hotel celebrated a special anniversary on 2nd November, 1997 when this grand old pub notched up a century of service to Swindon drinkers. 

Commemorating its opening year is a terracotta plaque on side of the building. The plaque include a portrait of Queen Victoria who happened to be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee that year.

Arkell’s bought the land from C Williams the year before and had a ready-made licence thanks to the demise of a pub in Highworth. The Rampant Cat was closed by a relieved James Arkell – son of John Arkell – who lived nearby at Redlands and was annoyed by the rowdy behaviour of some of the regulars. So the County Ground got the licence and one of the town’s landmarks was born.

Outwardly, The County Ground Hotel is largely unchanged from how it looked a hundred years ago, though alterations and extensions in 1921 and 1954 mean that it is not wholly Victorian.’

Find the County Ground Hotel on Facebook.

For the actual County Ground go here:

County ground screenshot
Image from the Swindon County Ground website
Discovering Swindon

Discovering Swindon

12th July 2017


With the Switch on to Swindon initiative in mind I’ve been asking friends and clients of AA Editorial Services to write guest blogs for me sharing their Swindon stories. This time we have Sandra Trusty who is owner of the Fab Gift Boutique, an event/wedding venue stylist and personalised gift shop.

I think it’s fair to say that some people pitch up in Swindon because it turns out to be the only place for miles around where they can afford to buy. This, I think, was the case for Sandra. But don’t quote me on that!

As she describes, she came up against the prejudices about Swindon with which we’re so familiar. But! Sandra has been out and about getting to know Swindon.

She’s discovered Nordic walking on The Lawns – who knew?! Sandra is also a big fan of Fenella Elms’ flow pot. I can’t lie – it gives me the eebie geebies. *Shudders*  Though I can appreciate its technical brilliance.  You can see the flow pot below in the rather fab image she did for the recent Civic Day ‘I care about where I live campaign’ run by Swindon Civic Voice.

I’m rather fond of that Swindon Jubilee clock too I have to say.

Sandra Trusty and images of Swindon

Thanks Sandra for your delightful account of discovering Swindon. It’s just the sort of thing we Born again Swindonians love to hear!

See also:

Carol Aplin, Pink&Green Skincare: Nature on my doorstep – Swindon’s abundance of nature

Jo Rigden,  4Points Leisure: – the charity dragon boat racing event on Coate Water

Tim Perkins, Wild Goose Gear: – a walk near Wroughton

Discovering Swindon

‘We moved to Swindon back in 2014.  We had lots of comments about why were moving here, there is nothing in Swindon except the Swindon Outlet Centre, so what were we going to do with ourselves. How wrong were these detractors!

We settled in and went through the painful renovation process. Oh the dust and dirt and many many trips to the local DIY shops.  One consequence of being a frequent visitor to any establishment is that they get to know you.  Because of this we were able to get help with a multitude of issues we faced in our new job as “excited fixer-uppers” Thankfully it’s over now and we can now get time to explore Swindon and its localities.

I love Yoga and have found a fab class located in the Dojo Café.  The class is run by Eunice, a really caring teacher who can make my joints and limbs think  and do wonderful things

At the launch of one of the Swindon Open Studios  I discovered the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and was transfixed when I saw the display cabinet containing a piece by Fenella Elms.  I could stand and stare at her flow pot for hours, following the ebb and flow of the lines and images and forms the pot creates. My imagination runs riot as I stand and explore the forms of this pot.  It’s totally beautiful and I’m so glad the Swindon museum and art gallery  has acquired it. Pop along to the museum and have a look. See if it floats your boat.

I’m amazed that I can just walk into someone’s garden and find street art.  And this is in fact what you can do. In West Swindon, part of the West Swindon Sculpture Trail,  there’s a front garden with a stone carving of ‘Hey Diddle Diddle” on show. You can drive or walk past and admire it.  I’m told you can go right into the garden to get a closer look.  I haven’t done that yet, but one day!

The countryside in and around Swindon is amazing. I love driving around and not being surrounded by concrete. I drove from Swindon to Pewsey recently and discovered some fabulous countryside out there.  We’ve also discovered the Cotswold water park and took a long leisurely Sunday afternoon walk along the towpath and getting sort of lost. 

There’s some excitement in not knowing where you are going to end up.  Then finding your way and joining the dots to link one place to another and realizing you weren’t lost after all. I hope I never become de-sensitised to the beauty around me.

Talking of the outdoors and countryside, I’ve also discovered that Swindon has a Nordic Walking group that meets on a Saturday morning and also twice in the week. I first heard about this sort of walking exercise about 10 years ago but only just had the opportunity to take it up.  I’ve met some lovely people in the group and discovered The Lawns –  a fabulous green space right in the middle of Swindon. It has hills and valleys and lakes, woodlands and wildlife right here in the middle of town. So I Nordic walk up and down and around on a Saturday morning and then retire with the rest of the group for a very restorative coffee/tea/hot chocolate.  We sit outside a coffee shop at the top of Wood Street in Old Town, enjoying our drinks and spend the next five minutes putting the world to rights.

It’s a great way to start a Saturday and leaves me energised for the rest of the day.  The people I’ve met have been open and welcoming and have amazed and delighted me with their kindness and generosity. From my neighbours who welcomed us to the area to total strangers.  There was the lady who bought a teddy for a little girl in the queue behind her and the young man who gave me his phone charger because he had just bought a new phone – I needed a charger and he had one spare.

 I have lots more to discover about Swindon and am looking forward to it.’

Here’s some super pictures from Sandra of her yoga class and her comrades in the Nordic walking:

The website for Nordic walking UK:


Going Wild for the Swindon Wildcats

Going Wild for the Swindon Wildcats

6th April 2017


Going Wild for the Swindon Wildcats: a purrfectly good evening

Twitter: @SwinWildcats

Well! Here’s a how-do-you do listeners! A post in the ‘This sporting life’ section of the blog. And, even more bizarrely, written by moi. Who’d a thunk it?

I put that category on the blog because I wanted Born again Swindonian to represent all aspects of Swindon life and culture and so forth. Even if a thing is not MY thing I wanted it represented on the blog.  The problem with anything sport related being – I HATE sport. So unless I can manage to get a guest blog post it doesn’t happen.

So how come I’m sat here tapping on my MacBook writing about a sporting event?! Good question. The short answer to which is that the opportunity came along for a Business Village jolly to see the Swindon Wildcats and I thought to myself: ‘Why not?’

Sally Price who does marketing and PR type stuff for the team comes to Business Village and kindly offered to organise us a visit. How cool. Did you see what I did there? 😉 I’ll try to keep the skating/ice related puns to a minimum. Or we’ll be skating on thin ice …

When I texted my daughter to give her this information, back came the reply ‘It’s called a puck Mother’. Bloody cheek. I do know somethings! And surely knowing that the slippery rubber thing the players chase round the ice is called a puck counts as general knowledge? Doh! I’m not sure how she thinks I’ve got to the age I have.

So anyway, chopsy daughters aside, a happy band of us Business Village networkers met up at the Link Centre last week (I think) to enjoy the corporate viewing lounge and the stands too and soak up some Wildcats action.

Two of our party are seasoned ice-hockey fans and Wildcats supporters. So they offered some explanations as to what was going on. Though for the most part I decided not to bother trying to take that in and to just enjoy the action and the friendly atmosphere. Ergo there’s not much point me trying to say anything about the game as I don’t actually have a clue. *embarrassed face*

It was good to see families there – albeit it finishes rather late. It was way past my bed time!  The hot dogs were disgusting (as indeed is only right and proper), there was a drum (loved the drum) and some good natured chanting and stamping when goals were scored. In short all you need for a good evening or Saturday afternoon.

So, I’ll say this much: it was all great fun and I would go again – if only for the ice maintenance team cabaret. Those guys should be on TV. So I reckon this ought to be a fixture in the BV extra curricular calendar.

Here we are at the end of the match – sadly Swindon lost – on the red carpet with the entire team. Get us!

Business Village and the Swindon Wildcats ice hockey team

Business Village and the Swindon Wildcats

Hugest thanks to Sally for organising it for us. We all had a fab evening.

See their promo video on YouTube – A Day in the Skates


Golf in Swindon

Golf in Swindon

9th April 2016

Golf Fore All!

All about golf in Swindon. Now Mark Twain famously referred to golf as a ‘good walk spoiled’. I’m not entirely in disagreement I won’t lie. Many quips and quotes surround golf and here’s a couple more of my faves:

“Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.” Tiger Woods. And if you hark back to the way golfers dressed in the 1970s in particular you can see exactly what he meant.

“I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.” 
― G.K. Chesterton

Golf in Swindon

Now this golf in Swindon blog is a guest post from Lee who I ‘know’ from Twitter. I’m delighted to have it. Because I do like to cover as many aspects of Swindon life on this blog as I can and golf is surely one of them?

I gotta say that I hesitate to refer to golf as a ‘sport’. Surely it’s not reasonable to call a sport, any game where you can progress in a motorised cart, and that can be played by overweight middle-aged men with cigars in their mouths. But, for the sake of argument, I’ve categorised this post as ‘This Sporting Life’. Reluctantly.

Lee’s interests in sport

Lee takes an interest in sport. He’s written for the blog before about Swindon Town Football Club for a start. So thanks to Lee for being my roving (coughs) sports correspondent and sending me these lines and the photographs. Lee also has a keen interest in history, which is reflected in his musings.

Among his photographs is one of Swindon’s own golfing success story: David Howell. Now I hail from Worksop – home of another very successful golfer: Lee Westwood – his mother used to be my chiropodist. She was always full of stories of ‘R Lee’. Time was I had a partner that was a keen golfer – I used to threaten to get a T-shirt printed with ‘David who? on one side and ‘I HEART Lee’ on the other. But I thought we might have been blackballed or whatever it is.

Anyway – with no further ado – Lee’s words:

“I love golf but to be fair I’m not that good at playing – not exactly a natural you might say.

In the Swindon area we’re spoilt for golf courses. There’s Ogbourne, Marlborough, Bowood and the lovely Wrag Barn at Highworth. Then of course there’s Brinkworth and South Carney. The 9-hole course in Highworth presents quite a challenge but the courses at Moredon and Coate are 3-par and friendlier.

All these courses have their histories but none so much as the jewel in Swindon’s Broome Manor Golf Complex. 

Ancient woodlands

Here there are hidden acres of woodland not far from the ancient villages of Hodson and Coate. It really is a golfer’s paradise. Will it remain so with the plans currently afoot for a 50 room hotel at the complex?

Many good players have paced the fairways at Broome Manor – or Broome as it gets called.

A well-known name in the golfing world is that of Swindon born David Howell. Continuing to shine, David fine-tuned his game at Broome Manor. A six times winner in Europe he still is in the worlds top 130….with power to add hopefully when he returns from injury. David’s achievements with the niblick have been recognised at the club with an annual Pro-Am in his name. Here he is action. Oh and it’s in the rough … !  😉

David Howell
David who?

The driving range at Broome was opened by none other than Ian Woosnam – and to throw in a bit of history, the Old Broome Farmhouse still stands – a remnant of the 1000 year old manor.’

There’s lots of fab information here about Swindon’s various manors. I was going to quote some bits but the coding on the site won’t allow it. So if you’re interested you’ll have to visit it.  

The train now standing … the Locomotive Broome Manor built in Swindon in 1938

‘In filthy condition ex GWR 1938 built 7805 Broome Manor lies parked at the back of Tyseley shed.

Although the back of Tyseley this and a parallel line extended to the main Warwick Rd in Birmingham affording a view of several locomotives that were in steam without the need to trespass. The shed had two turntables and these overflow lines were an extension from them. 7805 had certainly visited the coal drop before being stabled here.’

Says Lee: ‘This is a negative that I found in an old envelope, I think someone gave it to me in around 1969.’

Straight down the middle

Now to round this off, and despite not being a huge golf fan, I can take pleasure in a novelty song. And here we have Bing Crosby and Bob Hope from 1957 and ‘Straight down the Middle’. They wish. As the man says: Fore!