Did you spot it?
There were four winners: Steph, Graham, Ray and Adrian – many congrats to them
The featured detail is from the Bandstand in Old Town Gardens, a park which has been described as ‘a gem of Victoriana’. The Town Gardens themselves are public gardens laid out in 2 stages (1894 and 1902) on Okus Field, the site of the old Purbeck stone quarries and formerly owned by the Goddard family. The early part was laid out in 1894 by Mr Morris who was the Old Swindon Local Boards surveyor at the time and opened in May 1894 by Mr Reynolds, chairman of the board.
The bandstand and rose garden were part of the improvements added later and were a plan by Borough Surveyor and Engineer John B L Thompson. The cast iron octagonal bandstand is listed grade 11, with an aluminium and lead roof and forms the focal point of the Gardens. It was provided by Mssrs Allan of Glasgow with the addition of the clock and turret coming later. It has cast iron columns and balustrade with large curled brackets to ground level.
For many years now it has been the venue for Sunday Afternoon Concerts by various brass bands, recently sponsored by Henry George Estate Agents. I used to take my Mum there and she loved them. The concert programme for 2018, with the performance running from 3.00 to 4.30pm is:
20/5 Royal Wootton Bassett Brass
27/5 Big Brunch Band
3/6 Pegasus Brass Band
10/6 Ramsbury Brass Band
17/6 Swindon Concert Band
1/7 Swindon Brass Band
8/7 Salvation Army Band
15/7 Cricklade Band
22/7 Wroughton Silver Band
29/7 Ukebox Jury
5/8 Highworth Silver Band
19/8 The Stable Yard Jazz Band
(Info from Steph Trinci, budding Swindon historian)
Many people will know this as the Mission Nightclub building (from when their children were teenagers!). It was originally the Belmont Brewery, built by Swindon’s John Phillips in 1873 and was owned by William Godwin, associated with the Bell Hotel. Their original, and smaller brewery was located in the building next to the pub which was, until recently, Barclays Bank Old Town. The name Belmont Brewery is still engraved above the entrance. The new Belmont Brewery was constructed of stone red brick and some decorative blue stone and is now listed.Amongst its products was Belmont Indian Pale Ale. It had fallen into disrepair when, in the late 90s it was was repurposed as the Mission, then the Studio, and now as Swindon Rendevous Chinese Restaurant (info courtesy of Steph)
Our fourth ‘Where Am I’ view in Old Town
The blue plaque is located on the side of Monahans, in Newport Street; not a glorious spot but there we are. I couldn’t find any detail about the schools it commemorates but they must have been built by local benefactors for children whose parents could not afford school fees. The Education Act of 1944 finally enabled universal free schooling. There are a number of other blue plaques in Swindon, erected by the Heritage Society. One is on the house where Diana Dors was born in Eastcott.
The winners were Tony Pickett, Ray and Steph . Many congrats to them.
Our third ‘Where Am I’ view in Old Town
The last puzzle featured a beautiful mosaic piece. It is located at the entrance to Pizza Express as the photo shows. These mosaics were popular in the early C20th century in retail outlets and large department stores because they were decorative, long lasting and reasonably easy for artisans to install. There are other examples in Old Town eg the entrance to Balulas in Wood Street and also Blaylocks, although this latter has seen better days. Many of the Victorian terraced houses in Old Town have retained an open entrance and if you look closely you will that they also have a mosaic tiled floor , and also ornate ceramic tiles on the two entrance walls.
Our second ‘Where Am I’ view in Old Town
About the sign itself; there is a growing interest in this traditional type of advertising, many of which cling on in the face of indifference and building development. They are termed ‘ghost signs’ and most are over a hundred years old; they could also be thought of as a time capsule reflecting a different way of life , now long gone. Sam Roberts , who leads the interest in ghost signs, has a website : ghost signs.co.uk to which I will submit the Ushers advert. There is another good one above the old Citizens Advice Bureau in Faringdon Road.
Our first ‘Where Am I’ view of Old Town Swindon
These beautiful ceramic tiles would grace a palazzo in Venice but here they are in Old Town, still in pristine condition.
But why they are there, and whose hand put them in place is a mystery. Beauty can be found in unlikely places.