Sunday, 13 December 2009
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Highworth is a small market town north east of Swindon. It once had a larger population than Swindon and was a more prominant town - until Brunel built his railway which started Swindon's expansion. Highworth continues to remain separate though the rural green belt between it and the outskirts of Swindon is gradually shrinking.
Apart from the church there is much of the old market town still in evidence; I found myself walking past cottages that date back to 18th century before walking up Sheep Street to the town square (below).
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Graham Carter, a journalist at the Swindon Advertiser is largely responsible for this superb website. He also compiled the evening's handout which described Alfred Williams as - author, linguist, soldier, hammerman, builder, artist, naturalist, scholar, folk song collector, poet, historian, philosopher and ... local hero - quite a list.
Alfred Williams is probably most well known for his book Life in the Railway Factory; a while back, however, I wrote about his excellent little book Villages of the White Horse (on my other blog)
Alfred Williams has been mentioned several times before on Hidden Swindon. Local artist Ken White dedicated a wall mural to Alfred Williams for the centenary of his birth back in 1977 and, still living and working locally, he repainted it this year.
I am sure I will be adding to this post on a regular basis, happy to join forces with the people I met this evening, from all walks of Swindon life - to help this unsung man of distinction gain the acknowledgement he so richly deserves.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Monday, 2 November 2009
The Village Pond, Wroughton
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
A tranquil autumnal walk around the Lawns, so full of colour at this time of year. On this occasion, however, I walked downhill behind Christ Church to the little copse. A small footbridge over a stream fed by one of the natural 'iron' springs around the Lawns (this one is by the far wall of the Christ Church churchyard) leads to a path from the Lawns through to Cirencester Court on Drove Road.
Away from the path, I had a stroll around the copse which has a sense of being secret and, oddly, while all the trees on the Lawns are mostly gold/brown these were still completely green, well watered by underground springs. I have not written about this place before; it is typical, however, of the many hidden pockets of woodland off the beaten track around Swindon.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Another sarsen placed in the small Mesothelioma Memorial Garden in a corner of Queen's Park. Opened in 2003 in remembrance of the railway workers of the town who died of mesothelioma. But if the while I think of you dear friend, All losses are restored and sorrows end (Shakespeare)
Monday, 26 October 2009
Today I did something I used to fantasise about when working full time; I went down to the bus station to see which buses were in and just picked one at random … the one I chose was the 70 going to Marlborough. I hadn’t been to Marlborough for a while; I think it is true to say that although geographically quite close, there couldn't be two towns more different - although Swindon was once a small Wiltshire market town. (To illustrate the vast difference of today's Swindon I would need do an analysis of its economic history for the previous 170 years.)
An enjoyable couple of hours in Marlborough was spent ...
When I went to catch the bus home, a bus with 48a and Swindon on the front was waiting to leave. The driver looked very relaxed when he told me ‘this one goes by the scenic route’ so I jumped aboard.
What a lovely journey, the afternoon was still golden as we left Marlborough; the winding road seemed to follow the river Kennet for a while as we headed for the villages of Axford and Ramsbury. This is a part of Wiltshire I don’t get to see often as am usually heading in the Avebury/Devizes direction. The landscape was one of gentle undulation, grazing sheep, meandering river and the rosy pink of a late afternoon sky. We went through copper beech woods and ‘tunnels’ of autumn trees. By the time the bus reached Aldbourne, the silver-grey light of dusk was starting to settle over the timeless pastures. The country road ran parallel with the M4 for a few minutes and the views from either side of the bus were something of a sharp contrast. Baydon and Wanborough, the final two peaceful Wiltshire villages on our route before the bus sped down towards the bus station. Swindon seemed very busy and cosmopolitan after such peaceful, rural journey - the light was fading fast, it was good to be almost home.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Siegfried Sassoon 1886 - 1967)
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
The market town of Wootton Bassett has recently become well known for the saddest of reasons. Because of its proximity to RAF Lyneham, this is the high street that comes to a halt as a show respect to the young soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Just four miles west of Swindon and, until the arrival of the Great Western Railways in the 1840s, of far greater importance as a town, Wootton Bassett dates back to Saxon times; the first reference to it was recorded was in 681 AD. The name comes from Wodeton or Woodeton meaning settlement in the wood - possibly a clearing in Braydon Forest.
It was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. For more on its history see below.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Someone mentioned Plaum's Pit and today I went back to find it. What a beautiful and much hidden little spot ... I have lived in Swindon for a decade but have never visited this unsung place before. Unfortunately I am unable at present to track down the origins of this place and am assuming it used to be a quarry of some sort.
A favourite spot for anglers
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Today as summer wanes, the meadow grass was being cut by a large municipal grass cutter - it must have been lovely a few days ago with wild grasses in abundance. I wandered through small copses and crossed a stream which no doubt feeds into the river Ray at some point.
Friday, 14 August 2009
One of Arkell's drays returning back to the brewery
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Sunday, 2 August 2009
The dolmen and wild flowers
Friday, 31 July 2009
Recently as the bus I was travelling on swung around the Fleming Way roundabout I noticed a white haired man on a scaffold quietly re-painting his original wall painting which has achieved some fame. It was of course Swindon's own Ken White who, like Alfred Williams author of Life in a Railway Factory, brilliantly portrayed life in the Railway Works through his paintings.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Thursday, 2 July 2009
A man came along with his two dogs - as I walked alongside him for a few minutes he told me he was homeless and lived in a tent in a field on the land known as the Front Garden. He seemed content enough, however, as we talked about nature, his morning solitude waking up with just deer, foxes, rabbits and birdsong for company. We talked about the stream by his tent which is Swindon's own river Ray, and the misty moon which he said was currently its closest to the Earth. By now the light was fading so I said farewell and retraced my steps back along the canal path. A lone brown bird on a hedgerow branch sang out with clarity into the evening.
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Bugle and and buttercups
Information board for Bruddel Wood, just off Marlborough Road (click on photo to enlarge for information)
At the bottom of the Lawns, beech nuts already on the trees
Bruddel Wood - nettles