Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In which I engage in a bit of name dropping!

Quite frankly I think it's time to name names. People might not thank me for it, but I think Swindon in the Past Lane readers deserve to know who you are.

So what has sparked this outburst? Funnily enough it was having a jolly nice time at the official opening of the new Arkell's hotel at The Sun Inn, Coate overlooking historic Jefferies land. It was a super event with a posh ploughman's lunch and scrummy scones.The Swindon Heritage team were among the invited guests along with members of the press, civic dignitaries and the people who designed, built and colour co-ordinated the beautiful rooms. And quite naturally the conversation turned to all things heritage - well it would with us there!

We started talking about shared acquaintances and the valuable research work being undertaken by volunteers and I decided there and then to name on this blog just a few of the people I know who work so hard to promote Swindon's wonderful heritage.

So, let's hear it for Clive Carter, Chairman of Wiltshire Building Records, who is painstakingly plotting the former farms on which our town is built.

And put your hands together for Jan Flanagan. Jan is not only recording the history of the Wilts and Berks Canal but she is also creating an archive of Swindon's brickyards and brick makers.

Take a bow Mike Pringle, arts and heritage maestro, who in recent months secured a £30,000 Heritage Lottery Fund to help develop a dedicated Trust at the birthplace of celebrated nature writer, Richard Jefferies. Mike is also one of the key figures behind the Swindon in the Great War project with a whole raft of innovative events lined up to commemorate the 2014 centenary.

Next in the line up is poet Hilda Sheehan, the driving force of the poetry scene in Swindon, already burning the midnight oil as she plans next year's Swindon Festival of Poetry - with a dash of heritage thrown in!

Have you heard about Alfred Williams, Swindon's Hammerman Poet? If you have it's probably thanks to Graham Carter, editor of Swindon Heritage, who regularly gives talks about his own personal hero.

Students at the Commonweal School have just returned from a visit to the Great War battlefields and cemeteries in the company of Mark Sutton. Mark has spent a lifetime researching and commemorating Swindon's sons who served. Three cheers for Mark!

Next we have the unsung heroes of the local history groups and societies.

Stand up please, Andy, Diane and Bob from the Swindon Society who give talks to groups and societies across the town on subjects as diverse as the Beaney collection and A Man With A Stick. Then there's Gordon, Sharon, Brenda - and not forgetting Ernie - with their walks and talks about and around Rodbourne. 

And don't think I've finished there - let's take a trip to Wroughton where Hilary, Alan, Danny and company have garnered material for no fewer than nine books on the history of their village. And Sheridan in Royal Wootton Bassett, we salute you. Meanwhile over in Chiseldon Lynn, Elaine and members of the local history group are gearing up for the unveiling of the Chiseldon Cauldron.

From Purton to Highworth and beyond, members of the Swindon and District History Network are researching, writing and recording the history of this neck of the woods. And how much do they earn from this - the clue is in the job title - volunteer.

So there we are - consider yourself named!


A Man With A Stick - published courtesy of Swindon Local Studies, Central Library and  history super sleuths Darryl, Katherine and Jon

Jan and her brick collection


Hilda Sheehan

Andy, Diane and Bob embarking on a heritage walk with Lethbridge Primary School pupils - you should have seen them when they got back!

Gordon taking a well earned break

A collection of Carters - Graham left and Clive right - Paul Williams (middle) is custodian of the William Hooper archive
one of the beautiful rooms at Arkell's new hotel

And a poetic doorway 


Mike Pringle - read all about him!
Mark Sutton tells the story of Swindon's men who served

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