BARRY LEIGHTON WRITES WHAT HE WANTS... EVERY WEDNESDAY

It’s not about Al... it’s about music

Swindon Advertiser: Surrounded by tapes, albums, a turn-table and a mic, Alan is in his element as he is pictured in 1989 at the BBC Wiltshire studios in Old Town. Today Alan can be heard every Saturday on Swindon 105.5

5:30am Wednesday 16th April 2014

DURING a sold out show at Swindon Arts Centre around 18 months ago Andy Fairweather Low, former Sixties pop star turned exquisite guitarist who for many years toured as a member of both Eric Clapton and Roger Waters’ bands, took a couple of minutes out to make an announcement.

The time an outrageous pub landlord managed to get Swindon into the New York Times

Swindon Advertiser: Noel Reilly in his natural habitat, behind the bar at The Beehive in Prospect Hill where his idiosyncratic nature came to the fore. He banned punters for being boring or having the wrong hair

12:11pm Wednesday 9th April 2014

CHEERFULLY nursing a pint of stout while a tot of Bushmills sits on the bar within reassuringly easy grasp, Noel Reilly is regaling us with tales of his exploits behind the Iron Curtain.

Not quite what the Yanks were expecting

Swindon Advertiser: The elegant classically styled façade of Lydiard House was added to the original medieval structure when it was fashionably remodelled in 1743 by the once wealthy and royally connected St John family

5:19pm Thursday 3rd April 2014

WHEN American military bigwigs arrived in Swindon to prepare for D-Day they were no doubt as happy as clams to learn they would be billeted in nothing less than a genuine, historic mansion that many an English toff had called home for the best part of 500 years.

Pewter mug from Swindon ends up in Minnesota

Swindon Advertiser: Researching the origins of her new mug, along with the mysterious location of New Swindon, led Shari Jarett to our piece, ‘Sup Up….Before it’s Too Late’ which we ran in February last year commiserating the number of Swindon taverns that had vanish

9:41am Wednesday 26th March 2014

IN the Mid-West city of Rochester that is strung along Minnesota’s Zumbro River, Shari Jarett became intrigued by a box crammed with an eye-catching assortment of pewter vessels which was going under the hammer at auction.

Don’t drop any more bricks ... of the red variety, of course

Swindon Advertiser: Redbrick Even Swindon School was flattened in December and cracks are appearing in Prospect Hill’s quaint 120 year-old Baptist Chapel. But at least Swindon’s former technical college, pictured here, built at the foot of Victoria Road in a Flemish-Baro

9:46am Thursday 20th March 2014

FROM elaborate Edwardian edifices and cavernous industrial structures to grand Victorian institutes of further education, leisure and pleasure… not to mention shops, pubs, schools, places of worship and row upon row of terraced houses.

BARRY WRITES: Dave’s signed up for life as a Swindon Town fan

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon Town Dave displays the tattoos on his torso

4:08pm Tuesday 11th March 2014

WHENEVER Swindon Town hire a new manager, as they are sometimes inclined to do, the immediate reaction of the avid fan formerly known as Dave Clark is not to agonise over what players the boss is likely to sign up or wonder whether he will go for a different formation or switch tactics.

Lounging around at Joy’s

Swindon Advertiser: Rob Beckinsale played material from his excellent auralcandy CD including the aptly titled Drinking Song watched, on the stairs, by Francesca Chiarini (top) and Joy.

5:30am Wednesday 5th March 2014

PERCHED on stairs, crammed into the kitchen, squatting on the floor, sinking into the settee, circled around the dining table and occupying just about every other mode of seating that she has resourcefully amassed… it is another full house down at Joy’s Joint.

Our little treasure is 20 this year

Swindon Advertiser: Datingback to the 1840s the former nerve centre of the GWR Works, the Chief Mechanical Engineer's Office has, for the past 20 years, held the English Heritage Archives

1:44pm Wednesday 26th February 2014

THERE is a treasure trove sitting in the middle of Swindon – something so unique and irreplaceable that you could say it makes the Crown Jewels look like small change.

Train-spotting...and how

Swindon Advertiser: Donations of railway furniture, engines and rolling stock were always gratefully received. For 44 years this shunter transported  cigarettes from Swindon’s Wills factory to the main line before it was presented to the society in 1981

12:40pm Wednesday 19th February 2014

NEXT to a sign that amusingly reads ‘Old Codgers Sidings’ a handful of men-in-overalls, having spent the morning embroiled in oily labour, give us a grin as they quaff mugs of tea and eat sandwiches.

All in all... it’s a brilliant view of the Wall

Swindon Advertiser: The wall came tumbling down in 1989 ……but not before the immortal slogan ‘Swindon Town FC’ was added to the spaghetti-like squiggles and graffiti art on the West Berlin side of the partition

5:30am Wednesday 12th February 2014

All in all... it’s a brilliant view of the Wall

Swindon bus driver Jeff was a living, breathing, ceremonial pipe-smoking Native American

Swindon Advertiser: With Sioux blood running through his veins Jeff Starr looked the part when swapping his bus driving uniform for full Native American regalia

3:39pm Wednesday 5th February 2014

AS A Swindon bus driver Jeff Starr’s route regularly took him to all corners of the borough but as he ferried passengers through the estates of Penhill, Freshbrook and Moredon his mind was usually elsewhere… around 4,000 miles away on the Great Plains of North America where his forefathers once hunted buffalo.

Bid to put us on the world map

Swindon Advertiser: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

12:43pm Wednesday 29th January 2014

THE Great Wall of China, the Pyramids at Giza, the Grand Canyon, the Coliseum, the Rose Red City of Petra, Niagara Falls, Pompeii, Machu Picchu, the Parthenon, the Tower of London, the Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal.

Jolly barbecue weather

Swindon Advertiser: This picturesque shot of Coate Water is from 1998 but the timeless image has hardly changed since the reservoir was created in 1822. During the 1830s Coate Water was described “a fine sheet of water.” Who’s arguing?

10:46am Thursday 23rd January 2014

IT is impossible to imagine such a scenario today – the boys and girls at Swindon health and safety would blow the mother of all fuses at the very notion.

The Mummy returns

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon's oldest resident the boy priest Hatemui is comfortably ensconced in his colourful coffin

2:40pm Wednesday 15th January 2014

HAVING tragically died before the full bloom of youth, the body of the boy priest Hatemui was meticulously prepared for that final journey through the darkest chasms of the Underworld in anticipation of attaining the ultimate, eternal goal… a place in the Afterlife.

Sorry tale of the strolling stones...after Mr Frost was frozen out

Swindon Advertiser: The remnants of Swindon's 'lost temple' were stacked in a Northamptonshire field for four years after being acquired by developer Neill Taylor from the Frost family in 2002

2:32pm Wednesday 8th January 2014

STANLEY Frost – ex-prisoner of war, artist, electricity board employee and, as it transpires, a true romantic - is walking through Swindon shopping centre when he is stopped dead in his tracks. He cannot believe his eyes. He is aghast.

PC Webb - a man who made a difference

Swindon Advertiser: PC Richard Webb, a respected and popular local bobby. This photograph was used on a leaflet circulated to publicise his scanner appeal in May 1986

10:55am Wednesday 18th December 2013

PROPPED up in bed at Princess Margaret Hospital, old school bobby Richard Webb is in all likelihood wondering what has happened to his life after it has been turned upside down by a particularly savage blow.

Waxing lyrical about vinyl

Swindon Advertiser: Eric Stott checks the latest second-hand vinyl arrivals at Blood on the Tracks

3:30pm Wednesday 11th December 2013

AS THE needle drops onto The Family That Plays Together, a long playing record by the Los Angeles-based Sixties hard rock psychedelic blues quintet Spirit, Eric Stott proclaims, with a mixture of conviction and satisfaction: “You can’t beat vinyl – there’s nothing like it.”

Drums and face... that’s our Mr O’D

Swindon Advertiser: Pete drumming at a recent Teddy White gig at The Vic. How does he cope with playing so many drumming styles for so many bands? “It’s not easy at first. You just have to adapt,” says Pete. “I listen to a lot of records too, and that helps.”

10:22am Wednesday 4th December 2013

HARVEY and The Rent Boys, Bantu, Ska Trek, Up Yours, Pignose, The Mill, Erin Bardwell Collective, Vindaloo Brothers, The Unmistakable Paul Cooke, The Michael Alexander Express, Sneaky Feet, at least half-a-dozen varied incarnations of the Teddy White band; mustn’t forget greasy rocking rodents The Hamsters From Hell.

The Robins are not welcome in the forest

Swindon Advertiser: Sir Jonathon Porritt

1:52pm Wednesday 27th November 2013

THE country’s foremost environmentalist is striding over a lumpy, unkempt former rubbish dump where countless thousands of tons of household waste and builders spoil has been buried or tipped.

Last tango in Swindon...

Swindon Advertiser: When the golden age of cinema is in full bloom from the Thirties to the Fifties Swindon has nine cinemas, including The Palladium in Jennings Street, Rodbourne

9:24am Wednesday 20th November 2013

NOT for the first time – but certainly the last – protesters are brandishing banners and chanting slogans outside a cinema in the middle of Swindon. Like their heroes John Wayne and Clint Eastwood they have a cause worth fighting for.

The shop that time forgot

Swindon Advertiser: The shop that time forgot

9:18am Wednesday 13th November 2013

HE walks past that fading, threadbare little shop, with its cracked and rotting wooden frames, grimy windows, crumbling plaster and peeling pink paint, at least a couple of hundred times. Glenn Mason nearly always stops and stares in, even though nothing ever changes. The box of Whiskas Cocktail cat food, as always, is sandwiched between the family-sized packets of Corn Flakes and Quaker Oats.

Photographer drawn to the war zone

Swindon Advertiser: Seconds after Jason Moore took a picture of this Palestinian protester, the photographer was shot with a rubber bullet

7:10am Wednesday 6th November 2013

JASON Moore is in the midst of a violent melee as dozens of Palestinian demonstrators hurl rocks and stones at Israeli troops. Armed soldiers charge protesters and everyone runs for cover. Well, almost everyone. Jason, a photographer, is keen to capture the dramatic scenes as they unfold so he decides to hang around. He is close to a demonstrator who is about lob a hefty missile. Jason has him in his sights. Click. Gotcha.

Just call it street cred

Swindon Advertiser: Tenzing Norgay

7:30am Wednesday 30th October 2013

SO what do furniture dealer’s wife Mary Grove, Athena the Greek goddess of war, Wembley Stadium, brewer John Sheppard and railway signalman Tom Cannon have in common?

THE A LIST

Swindon Advertiser: The derelict Belmont Brewery is in danger of demolition before it is restored and returned to life as a nightclub… only to run into a “blasphemy” row. It is currently standing empty – but at least it is standing

5:14pm Thursday 24th October 2013

AS dusk is about to fall on a drizzly summer evening I am in West Swindon contemplating a futuristic structure held aloft by an ensemble of yellow painted tubular steel columns that, from a certain angle, resemble spiders’ legs.

The cruellest blow of all

Swindon Advertiser: Eric Brown. A talented and acclaimed musician, is wounded four times while leading his men into action before he succumbs to his injuries and dies on Palm Sunday, April 1, 1917 at the age of 27

10:30am Wednesday 16th October 2013

ERIC is the musician of the family, a talented organist who achieves top honours at the Royal College of Music. Douglas is the sporty one, an exceptional cricketer who bats for Wiltshire.

Water, water everywhere

Swindon Advertiser: Ken Oliver, one of the restoration project’s driving forces of the past decade.

10:10am Wednesday 9th October 2013

IT is, everyone agrees, a jolly good day for boating. Ablaze with celebratory bunting a modest cruiser chugs triumphantly up and down a sun-dappled stretch of waterway while a Victorian skiff called Emily expertly skirts the grassy banks and rushes.

Unearthing a priceless prize

Swindon Advertiser: teams from the British Museum and Wessex Archaeology Pictures: James Douglas

9:38am Wednesday 2nd October 2013

STANDING in a muddy field on the edge of Chiseldon Peter Hyams peers into a shallow hole that he has just finished digging and studiously appraises what for most of us would appear to be the remnants of a rusty bucket or perhaps a crumpled paint pot.

Easy riders take the long way home

Swindon Advertiser: Top of the world – Laurence, left, and Sam are pictured with their trusty Australian postal service bikes in the Himalayas where they rode the world’s highest motorable road. “The scenery was breathtaking,” says Laurence

9:52am Wednesday 25th September 2013

AS the sun beats down from a blue, cloudless sky Laurence Rew and Sam Edwards cannot help grinning at each other as they kick their shiny 110cc Australian postal service mopeds into action.

Remembering the days of our glorious murals

Swindon Advertiser: Footballers, pop stars, a sex symbol and a certain Mr Brunel – that’s him in the top window. Swindon’s Wall of Fame, as created by Ken White on a gable-end in Union Street, Old Town in 1979. The much photographed mural disappearedduring the early 19

4:30pm Tuesday 17th September 2013

EVERY morning when I draw the curtains and look out of the window of my modest town centre flat I am confronted with a vision so surreal it is almost as if I am still dozing with a head full of dreams.

A world of wonders

Swindon Advertiser: A world of wonders

3:00pm Thursday 12th September 2013

AS the huge metal doors scrape slowly open I cannot resist summoning that supreme moment from the annals of archaeology when Egyptologist Howard Carter – having been asked whether he can see anything – utters three immortal words: “Yes, wonderful things.”

We belong to Glasgow ... sort of

Swindon Advertiser: Rangers did not only adopt their name from Swindon Rangers rugby club but also played in the same colours as the railway workers’ side –  all white with a blue star crest.

7:20pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013

THEY are one of the world’s best-supported football teams with fan clubs girdling the globe from Tasmania to Tampa Bay, Bahrain to Boston, Winnipeg to Wellington and Katowice to Calgary.

Staying in the public eye

Swindon Advertiser: Lou Hamilton’s wonderful Wish Hounds (1993) near the Nationwide Building Society at Croft Wood.

12:01pm Wednesday 28th August 2013

WE don’t exactly boast an Eros, an Angel of the North, a Liver Bird, or a monumental chunk of bronze depicting a rampant Boadicea about to decapitate a cohort of fleeing Romans from her war chariot, as they do elsewhere.

Remembering the man who fought Ministry tooth and nail for creatures he adored

Swindon Advertiser: Pictured in 1981, Nelson Crook mournfully reflects on the death of several badgers at the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture at his farm near Wootton Bassett

10:10am Wednesday 21st August 2013

HIS eyes welling-up, Nelson Crook is unable to conceal his emotions as he recalls an incident that occurred on his land a few months earlier which continues to haunt, anger and disgust him.

A little bit of market research

Swindon Advertiser: A little bit of market research

8:30pm Tuesday 13th August 2013

HE fought at the Battle of Hastings alongside his half-brother William the Conqueror before commissioning the famed Bayeux Tapestry in which he is depicted cheerfully wielding a club amidst much carnage and mayhem.

The hills have eyes... and a spear

Swindon Advertiser: Bryn Walters, director of the Swindon-based Association for Roman Archaeology (ARA) pictured outside the town’s Bath Road Museum, where the silver bowl is displayed.

4:30pm Tuesday 6th August 2013

UFFINGTON has its incomparable prehistoric white horse, Dorset boasts the amusingly shameless and boastful Cerne Abbas Giant and Wilmington in Sussex is known for its enigmatic Long Man.

Getting the hump in the desert

Swindon Advertiser: Before the race Nigel – the first Brit ever to enter the event – flies the colours after donning his silky camel racing gear

9:00am Thursday 1st August 2013

NIGEL Edgington, a plumber by trade, is sitting on top of a camel called Jezebel in the dizzying heat of the Nevada desert. Nigel does not look at ease. He seems a tad nervous.

Remembering when Swindon was centre of a punk explosion

Swindon Advertiser: The Stranglers were one of the first punk bands to appear in Swindon when they played the Affair in early 1977

1:10pm Wednesday 24th July 2013

EVERY man has his breaking point – that critical moment when the mark has been irreversibly overstepped and swift, incisive, perhaps even violent action is the only recourse.

Friends, Romans, Swindonians

Swindon Advertiser: n Swindon archaeologist Bernard Phillips, pictured here with some Roman pottery, knows the site of the former town better than anyone. At its peak during the 3rd and 4th Centuries “it would have been a busy place, very noisy with a lot going on,” he s

10:03am Wednesday 17th July 2013

Strawberry pickers standing on the site of an ancient, bustling Roman town

A mind full of elves and goblins

Swindon Advertiser: Barry Woodham with some of the science fiction books he has written and published over the past seven years

1:30pm Wednesday 10th July 2013

IT would be fair to say that the cannibalistic tendencies of dark elves or the killing capabilities of a specially programmed breed of T-Rex are hardly the kind of subjects that occupy most people’s thoughts when they retire.

Our little angels

Swindon Advertiser: Ian and Rosa in Highworth after retuning from their latest visit to see “the family” in Nepal.

1:47pm Wednesday 12th June 2013

GAUNT, anxious, hungry faces peered from the gloom of a tumbledown slum in the worst part of town. The children were dehydrated, malnourished, head-lice ridden, suffering from scabies and riddled with worms.

The Morris Men and what they did for Swindon

Swindon Advertiser: Johnny Morris

9:56am Wednesday 5th June 2013

THERE were two shows worth hurrying home from school to watch during the Sixties which didn’t involve an outbreak of serious hostilities bordering on violence between me and my sister over what should be shown on our grainy black and white television set.

Does anybody know where Brock could be?

Swindon Advertiser: Tomorrow’s Children today: Graham Kew, Dave Saunders, Dennis Smith, Pete Cousins and Pete’s dog Biff

12:00pm Wednesday 29th May 2013

GUITARS, PA system, microphones, amps, kettles, footage of atomic explosions, lumps of crystallised industrial dry ice, grandfather clock, clapped out TV set, sledgehammer… being Swindon’s premiere psychedelic blues band held certain responsibilities back in the late Sixties.

Swindon...the final frontier

Swindon Advertiser: Scientists probe the European Space Agency’s MetOp-B satellite – one of numerous projects partly funded by the UK Space Agency based at Polaris House, North Star

4:32pm Wednesday 22nd May 2013

LIKE something out of the captain’s log, they have been scouring the depths of outer space for distant planets, stars and galaxies to solve that most enduring of questions… is anybody out there?

Jamie Cullum looks back on Swindon days

Swindon Advertiser: Jamie Cullum feels privileged to be a dad

12:10pm Monday 20th May 2013

As international jazz star Jamie Cullum releases his sixth album today, he talks to Barry Leighton about his humble, but fondly remembered, beginnings in Swindon

I found my thrill on Silbury Hill

Swindon Advertiser: Staff in one hand antler pick in the other, Terry Dobney, the Arch Druid of Avebury, strides aloft the monumental hillock in May, 2008 to mark the completion of the £1.7mi scheme to preserve the structure's shape and integrity

7:40am Wednesday 15th May 2013

WITH his trusty wooden staff, flowing white robes and bushy, chest-length grey beard there is a definite whiff of Gandalf about Terry Dobney as he contemplates from this magnificent vantage point the surrounding Wiltshire countryside in all its pomp and glory.

The man you couldn’t beat

Swindon Advertiser: Dougie Walker

7:40am Wednesday 8th May 2013

MORE by luck than judgement I found myself behind the defence and was hurtling goal-wards through the driving November rain. A second or two later and a satisfying bulge was destined to appear in the back of the net – no sweat.

Night The Clash were on a mission

Swindon Advertiser: Half of their gear went up in smoke but The Clash still managed to play an incendiary gig in Swindon 36 years ago. Joe Strummer (second left) sang “Swindon’s” Burning instead of London’s Burning.

7:40am Wednesday 1st May 2013

SOME of us had squeezed two or three abreast onto table tops; others were craning their necks while standing on chairs; several of the more enterprising had managed to position themselves, somewhat precariously, high up against the side of the walls. Towards the front there was a sticky huddle of bodies; a frantic, formless, ecstatic mass. Summer was still officially several weeks away but it was hot and humid inside The Affair that night – not to mention bursting at the seams.

Art from the heart

Swindon Advertiser: Art from the heart

2:30pm Thursday 25th April 2013

LEADING aviation artist David Bent has donated two stunning works of art – including his first autobiographical piece – to raise hundreds of pounds for disadvantaged people and trauma victims.

The eagle owl has landed

Swindon Advertiser: HAPPY LANDING Frank’s one year-old Harris Hawk completes another successful landing, bang onto his left hand as usual, during a Wiltshire Falconry Club “hawk walk” in the charming countryside on the edge of Chiseldon.

9:37am Wednesday 24th April 2013

ON the edge of a secluded valley, with its pretty woods and pond, Frank Hunt utters a short, shrill whistle. We both crane our necks and gaze expectantly at the bright early evening sky. Complete silence – where could she be?

Shops we have loved and lost

Swindon Advertiser: A large variety of new hardback and paperback books were displayed at the front of the Victoria Bookshop premises in Wood Street.

11:30am Wednesday 17th April 2013

THE whiff is unmistakable though somewhat difficult to pin-down – musty, damp, aged, inky.






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