GRAPHIC design student Chris Lawton has taken a wry, tongue-in-cheek but ultimately endearing look at his home town to produce a stylish, snappy booklet celebrating the 175th anniversary of the birth of ‘New Swindon.’

Former youth worker Chris, 35, who lives in Eastcott, has written, designed and compiled ‘A Rough Guide to the Milestone 175 Swindon’ as part of his BA course at Swindon College.

The Year Three student said the 44-page publication was a “warts and all response” to a variety of aspects of living in the town – “some of which people will know, some of which they won’t.”

The project grew from an offer he received to paint a mural based on this year’s Swindon 175 celebrations which mark the anniversary of the 1841 founding of the Great Western Railway works – and thus the birth of modern Swindon.

The mural never happened but he felt the idea “had legs” so he decided to combine his talents as a graphic artist with long-time observations on the town and spent five months on-and-off researching, writing and illustrating the publication.

Written in a terse, quick-to-the-point style, the author’s honest, sometimes ironic look at Swindon ranges from fierce criticism to warm praise.

“There’s endearment underpinning the criticisms,” he said.

“There’s a lot pride in Swindon in the booklet. It’s sarcastic in places and also tongue-in-cheek.”

However, despite some strongly worded opinion “it’s not negative,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have produced the booklet if it had been negative.”

The former graffiti artist went on: “A lot of the subjects will be familiar but I also decided to leave out some of the more obvious ones and put in some more obscure things.”

The publication covers 36 subjects – each with an individual illustration - ranging from subculture to statues, redevelopment to Renault Building and the Mondex cashless society experiment to the Murray John Tower.

Chris celebrates the town’s maestro of dance Banxy (“a modern Swindon institution – he’s taught thousands of kids to breakdance”) and its sadly defunct Brunel Rooms nightclub (“RIP The Brown Hole”.)

Former darts king Bob Anderson – The Limestone Cowboy – gets the thumbs-up. “C’mon, how many world champions has Swindon had!?) While, the King of Locos, King George V is “arguably one of the greatest locomotives ever built.”

Chris also pays tribute to the Adver’s legendary newspaper seller Jimmy Wagstaff whose distinctive sales pitch “nyaapp yaapp yap yaaap” was a familiar feature of the town centre for 17 years until retirement in 1993.

However, he bemoans constant promises of town centre regeneration as invariably resulting in more car parks, flats and office space, while “the reflective glare of glass buildings now occupy much of the outskirts of Swindon town offering a sterile workspace to the nouveau riche.”

He also opines that Swindon’s rich arts and culture scene was often sadly overlooked “by commercialism, the pre-occupied workforce or the small minded morons that prefer to indulge in bad tattoos, tracksuits and unprotected sex.”

The booklet also includes nuggets such as a “familiar typeface was used within Swindon Works to cast name plates for some of the most famous locomotives in the world. The font is known in anorak circles as Swindon Egyptian.”

* The booklet is available price £10 from Chris who can be contacted on 07864 362420 or at:

Prints of illustrations are also available.