Town Gardens stepped back to the forties and fifties with an afternoon of jive and swing.

Hundreds turned up to the vintage picnic, organised by dancers Helen Mansell and Gavin Taulbut, many of them in period costume.

Rain might have dampened the dancers but it failed to stop people from travelling miles to take part.

Helen said: “It was hectic but a lot of people helped out. From our dance community, we thought there would be lots here as our family and friends from Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Devon have come.

“It was a lot of running around and Gavin manned the gates so we didn’t had much time to dance on the dancefloor.”

The Vipers opened the entertainment on a day featuring 1940s and 50s rock and roll and jive music from Haney’s Big House and Jon Clare – The Piano Man.

There was a slight mishap when the marquee cover went missing during a practice run on Friday, but local business Fandangos offered to lend one for the day.

Helen added: “We’re so lucky because different dance people offered to help us out and Fandangos offered to come up and take it down, so it was one less thing for us to worry about.”

Two groups, Swingout Swindon and Just Jive, led the way on the dancefloor built by Helen’s friend Andrew Kirkman.

Teachers showed people the dance moves of the era. And Swindon community poet Tony Hillier wrote and read a poem about the day.

Erica Fowers, who teaches with Cliff at Swingout Swindon, said: “They did a cracking job and it was been brilliant to see so many local people of the dance community.

"We taught a class to get the crowd going.

“Great music brings people from all over. There is a big dance scene in Swindon that people don’t realise.

"It was great music and friends so what more could you ask for.”

Swingout Swindon member Trishe Hathaway-Mills said: “People were glad to be out and back to a bit of normality.

"This was a fantastic day and made my day. But it has definitely tested our stamina.”

Member Kate Pires added: “Helen worked so hard, it’s been three months in the planning. We do so much normally, we usually do a big performance at the Wyvern and we still haven’t performed it so this is our first event in nearly two years. We’ve seen people we haven’t seen in so long!”

Jim Hannaway, who teaches at Just Jive, said: “It was fabulous to be out and just to teach was brilliant."