A POLISH club that welcomed hundreds of arrivals to the town has closed its doors with a flourish.

For more than 40 years Polish and British friends gathered at the SPK ex-servicemen's club in Milton Road.

But on Saturday Jerzy Trojan, 56, served club members their last pints of beer during a celebration of the centre's existence.

The Old Town resident said: "The club has been based in this building since 1967, but numbers have dropped away recently.

"The club was set up by members of the Polish Army who came to the camps in Gloucestershire after the war.

"I know there were hostels at Babden and Fairford, but many Poles went to Scotland too."

The fall in numbers has come despite many new Poles settling in the town in recent years.

One regular at the club is Eugene Derkacz, 78, who moved to England from Egypt in 1947.

He said: "I was born in the east of Poland and served with the army in North Africa before I came to Swindon.

"I worked for Rover for 30 years and have enjoyed some good times at the club, but numbers are not so good now."

During its time the club was a strong sponsor of the Polish football club Blyskawica, which started up in 1963.

The team played in the Wiltshire Saturday league and Swindon Sunday league.

Jerzy said: "We supported the club because at that time no-one else did.

"We paid for their pitches and the team would come here to drink and socialise after their games."

But as the years went by the membership of both the football and social club dwindled, mainly because younger Poles did not identify with the club.

Alan Edwards, 38, is an exceptional younger member who came to the club as a guest of member Mark Keen.

He said: "I have always found it a nice quiet place to come and drink."

But the club will also be remembered as a noisy celebration of Polish folk music.

Jerzy said: "We had groups playing here quite often in the 1970s and 1980s.

"It was one of the main centres for Poles to enjoy a bit of their heritage."

And many visitors raised a glass of vodka and toasted Na Zdrowie, or cheers, to the old place late into the evening.

However Poles still have the Polish Community Centre in Whitbourne Avenue to get together.