MAKING your way up the stairs at the Pig on the Hill of a Tuesday night, you would be forgiven for believing you had landed in Honolulu as exotic melodies fill the air.

Since it became home to the newly-formed Old Town Ukes and their trusty ukuleles, the venue’s function room has been reinvented as a rehearsal studio for the ‘congenial bunch’ of players.

The group was formed earlier this year by Gerry Merrison and now counts 15 members spanning generations.

“There was nothing like it in Swindon,” said Gerry. “We had 12 people at the first meeting and 15 people at the second meeting, with more people on the mailing list. It’s a congenial bunch with ages ranging from 20 to 60.

“We have a songbook of tunes that range from easy to more complicated, and members also bring songs they’d like to play as a group. So far this is working well.

“We’re just trying to get better without making playing into hard work.”

He added: “We’ve already been asked to perform at a charity fund-raiser later in the year, and we are up for interesting challenges!”

Gerry took up the ukulele quite by chance, while trying his hand at different hobbies after retiring.

“When I gave up working I started doing manual and craft activities such as wood turning, and have seen the value of working with your hands rather than a computer keyboard. I started playing the uke just over a year ago, partly out of curiosity and partly as brain training. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to pick things up, which is probably why ukulele sales were up 1600% last year.”

Old Town Ukes meet every fortnight on a Tuesday evening at 8pm in the Pig on the Hill’s upstairs function room, 8 Devizes Road, SN1 4BH.

Anyone interested in joining can contact Gerry via the Old Town Ukes’ Facebook page or email

You will be sent material advance so you can practice ahead of the meetings.

Joining is free although a small weekly charge could be added in future.