COLD water has been poured on the fiery antics of one of Old Town’s hottest properties over the Christmas period after 26 years of entertainment.

Robert Stredder, who is in his 70s, has been dazzling the crowds at the Old Town Christmas lights switch-on since 1988 with his fire juggling down Wood Street.

Despite having one of the cleanest health and safety records in Swindon, Robert’s flaming display has been snuffed out as the Christmas event gains in popularity.

With a new, larger, tighter format down the full length of the popular Old Town destination, Organisers have considered the blaze too much of a risk following record crowds last year.

“It’s sad an old tradition can’t carry on. I know it’s a fairly new committee and I’m not blaming them,” said Robert, of Holdcroft Close in Blunsdon.

“I felt like Wayne Rooney kicking the water bottle when he was subbed while playing really well.

“I like the football analogy. You want to carry on, but it can be disappointing.”

“If you get dropped from the team you accept it. You might feel slightly hard done by.

“It’s Old Town and I have been going up there for a long time.”

While Robert will be in attendance on Sunday performing street theatre, the door has been left open for his fire act to return in 2016, if the organising committee secures a larger closure.

Marilyn Fitzgerald, secretary of the committee, said: “It’s just too dangerous in the street. It’s become a victim of its own success.”

“There are too many people in the street and we have strict health and safety advisory guidelines to meet from the council.”

She added: “It has always been there, but it’s a different format this year.

“We have tried to make it a longer event and tried to make it more of a contemporary event. This is nothing against Robert Stredder.

“I know he’s never had any mishaps, but it has to be tighter because of the amount of people we had last year. There were record numbers.”

Robert is not the only one playing with fire. He has a team of five across a variety of ages who all get involved each year.

Last year, despite the crowds, there was a roped-off area manned by stewards, which allowed the juggling to go ahead.

Those flocking to this year’s light display will get to see Robert performing a clown act in and around Wood Street.

He hopes he can bring the fire back in the future.

“I will leave it to the committee. I’m not complaining, they’re working hard,” he said.