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Programme for 2019

Our monthly meetings from 7 till 9pm usually take the form of a talk or film lasting about an hour, then the slightly more formal business of the group followed by complimentary tea, coffee & biscuits.

GWR Factory Tours

This year we continue our popular free tour of the buildings still standing of the ex GWR Works. The tour takes in the listed Joseph Armstrong buildings of the Designer Outlet and others on the old factory site including STEAM –  Museum of the Great Western Railway, The Managers Office, the Chain Test shop and the ex Drawing and Administrative offices now Historic England’s National Monuments Records building. You are taken around the site by ex employee Ron Johnson who worked “inside” for 30 years from the age of 16. His anecdotes and stories paint an amusing and sometimes frightening account of life in the factory.

A full programe of tours will be published soon. The tours start from the Designer Outlet Reception Desk adjacent to Pizza Express at 11am. If your club or association is visiting STEAM the Museum of the Great Western Railway or the Designer Outlet we can arrange to incorporate our tour into your day so please contact us for further details.

It is essential to book a tour so please email



 27th February 7 to 8pm

Love, Tragedy and Two World Wars
David Lewis

David Lewis tells a story of a young Swindonian girl born in the eighteen hundreds in Stratton that lives through the First World War, a tragedy and the depression of the 1920/30’s being a mother. The story covers her life in Swindon and London and how Bombay has a big impact on her life.

27th March 7 to 8pm

the GWR Cottage in the Railway Village
Mike Stubbs

Mike Stubbs tells a story of the cottage’s Residents and their life in the 19th Century.

24th April 7 to 8pm

Up on Nob Hill
Andy Binks

Andy Binks in his usual manner describes the buildings and folks living in Swindon Old Town through the ages. Using photos and anecdotes Andy lives up to his reputation of making a talk fun but informative at the same time.

29th May

PopPirates of the 1960’s
Tony Hadland

In this talk, Tony Hadland traces the story of the offshore pirate radio stations of the 1960s, including ‘Big L’ and Radio Caroline. He explains how restrictions on broadcasting light entertainment existed in the UK from the earliest days of public broadcasting and shows how, between the two world wars, the first generation of offshore stations were land-based, in Normandy, Luxembourg and elsewhere. Offshore ship-based broadcasting developed first in Scandinavia in the 1950s, then in Belgium and the Netherlands, before the first British stations went live in the 1960s. The talk is brought to life with numerous audio clips.

26th June

Carrots, Culture and Courtesans
Martin Collison

This presentation by Martin Collison includes the early history of Covent Garden, its “change of use” to the centre of the Bawdy & Bagnio houses catering for the rakes in Georgian England to its current position as a premier tourist meeting place for street entertainment. It will also include the cultural aspects of the area, particularly the nearby Royal Opera House” There is one slightly “racy” slide that I pre-warn people about; I’ve never had a problem with it but you should know about it.

31st July

The unknown Warrior
Revd. John Railton

The Revd. John Railtons talk is about the genesis and development of the concept of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the brainchild of one of my forebears, Revd. David Railton, who served as an Army Chaplain in the First World War.

28th August

Selection of videos  about the Swindon Advertiser and a District Nurse
Gordon Shaw

Gordon Shaw presents two videos about the Swindon Advertiser made by reporter Flicky Harrison and illustrating the printing of the paper and the retired printers reminiscing about their life in the print. The other video follows the life of a countryside-based District Nurse in the 1930’s

25th September

Not Forgotten – A Three Part Tale
Peter Williams

Presented by Peter Williams, a Three-Part Tale deals with the effects of the Great War as social history and contrasts how the casualties from the wealthier strata of society were memorialized with how those from the working classes were remembered.  All classes suffered terribly, but some were better placed to ensure that their losses were not forgotten than were others

30th October

Coleshill’s Secret History – The Auxilliary Units
Lisa Dibble

Liza Dibble from the National Trust will run through the history of the Aux Units, how Coleshill became the GHQ. What the training consisted of and how it was all kept top secret. Also, what there is to see now and the walks that the National Trust have at Coleshill.

27th November

Peter Dawson

Peter Dawson presents this talk about the Cotswold village of Northleach. Outlining its history, prominent buildings and the burgage plot system allowing the local residents a parcel of land to grow food for themselves.


Members £1 : Guests £2
(Includes refreshments)
at Even Swindon Community Centre, Jennings Street. Click here for map.


Gordon Shaw – Secretary
For further information phone 01793 616558  or email


visits since 9 March 2009