This is our collection of memories contributed by local residents. Please browse through and enjoy the memories.

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Mr Arrowsmith saved my life

By on April 22, 2021

I received this message from Ann Burlinson and I’ve reposted it on this page in the hope someone remembered this. I’m asking Ann for her maiden name and where they lived in Jennings Street.

Mr. Arrowsmith who owned the Arrowsmith clothing store, saved my life in about 1950. I was a 7 year old child and I lived in Jennings Street , with my parents, and grandmother. My father was a labourer in the locomotive works. Our next door neighbour had a small lawn in his back yard, and he had just sewn new grass seed on the lawn. To encourage it to grow he had placed glass frames over the lawn.
He had two daughters who were a bit younger than me. Foolishly the three of us decided to play with a skipping rope near the lawn. I was skipping and missed my footing . I put my hand out as I fell- right through a glass frame. A glass schard pierced my wrist and cut an artery. Of course the blood spurted out. My mother, who was a member of the local St.John’s Ambulance, quickly administered first aid, but because of the jagged nature of the cut could not stop all the bleeding. It was clear I needed medical help. We did not have a car, so we both ran to the bus stop on Rodbourne Road. There was no sign of a bus, but it was clear to anyone passing that I was in distress. Mr. Arrowsmith was driving towards town on Rodbourne Road and stopped. I was bundled into the car and he took us to the Health Centre in town. The doctors quickly gave me treatment, and sewed up the gash. If Mr. Arrowsmith had not stopped it is likely that my loss of blood would have been fatal. I am very thankful to Mr. Arrowsmiths for his kindness that day.
I think his son was called Lance . He was a quite few years older than me. We moved away from Swindon when I was a teenager, and lost touch with the Arrowsmiths.
Ann Burlison

Secretary- Rodbourne Community History Group

Memories conveyed by Maggie Brunger from Seatle USA

By Gordon Shaw (RCHG Secretary) on April 28, 2020

I received the following memories from Maggie about her family and although not strictly all about Rodbourne I felt it best to publish them virtually in full to give a more complete history of her family. The photographs mentioned will eventually will be entered on the website. Secretary

9th March 2020
First, although I’m in Seattle, my roots are in Swindon, and on my mother’s side at least, in Rodbourne. I was born in Swindon (VIctoria Maternity Hospital, 1947): Drove infants, Clarence Street Juniors, Commonweal, the Art School at The College.

My mother was at Jennings Street School Infants School around 1920 – you probably have a photo that I think I sent some years ago. Her family moved to Wales when she was 8 and then to Westbury. They returned to Swindon when she was about 16. She first worked in the office at Garrards, but having passed the entrance exam for the GWR offices she started there as soon as there was a vacancy some months later. She and my Dad (George Thomas Brunger, eldest son of George William Brunger, Chair of the GWR Medical Fund Society from 1916 – 1948) met in the Wages Office and married at Christ Church in 1937.

I’m not sure if you and I met, but I did talk to you or one of your colleagues around 2013 when Mum was 100 (did you come to her party at Immanuel Church Hall?) At the time we were trying to get her together with 2 of her contemporaries, all three in the Jennings Street school photo, for an interview for your archive. Sadly it didn’t happen, through illness of one or other of the women, and Mum had a massive stroke a few months later in July 2013. She lived for a further 15 months but speech was difficult. She was so interested in what you were doing with your very active Historical Society, and was very disappointed that her memories were not recorded. I know quite a lot, but it would have been better coming straight from the horse’s mouth!

I moved to the US in 1979, and have lived in Seattle since 1980, but I returned to Swindon to live with my Mum in 2009 and remained in Swindon until late 2016. Mum died at the end of October 2014.

I have some addresses and photos which I will gradually dig out and send you. But here are some names and tidbits!

My mother: Marjorie Florence Haines 1913 – 2014
Her mother: Florence Edith Burgess 1892 (need to check) – 1946 she had 2 sisters, Alice and Evelyn)
Her father: Charles Edward Haines 189? – 1914 (died of TB)
Her maternal grandfather: George Burgess (at one time Caretaker at Jennings Street School)

Florence (Burgess) Haines worked at the Coop confectionary shop In Rodbourne before her second marriage around 1921.

The Burgess grandparents lived ‘kitty-corner’ (diagonally across) from the (St.Augustus?) Vicarage in ? Street. Sorry, haven’t got my notes out and can’t remember the name of the street. Their house was an end of terrace and backed on to allotments I think. The vicarage had a high stone wall around it. When I was in Swindon with Mum, we went to a fundraiser tea there (Mum was a friend of Margaret Williams and an active member of Immanuel Church). She was pleased to be able to see what was behind the high wall that she’d known as a little girl!

10th March 2020
I did just come across my mum’s Haines (paternal) grandparents address – 67 Montagu Street – so I was mistaken in my previous email. The Burgess (maternal) grandparents lived at 48 Deburgh Street.

Because my mother’s father (Charles Haines) died of TB when she was a baby and her mother had to work, I think she was used to ‘living’ at several addresses in the area. She was the first grandchild in the family and was much loved. Several aunts, and her grandparents helped out.

I’m attaching a picture of my Great-Grandma Haines (1914) at the side of 67 Montagu Street. Not a particularly thrilling photo!

Please feel free to enter anything if you wish. I’ll take a look at the Memories page ASAP. I have seen it in the past – did I already enter anything? Can’t remember!

Oh! I also just came across the attached – not strictly Rodbourne but GWR Offices related. When they had an office outing, each person going received a little programme. I have them for 4 or 5 years in the early 30s. The attached photos show one. In the photo of the women, my mother is at the top of the group and her very good friend (Doreen?) Plimley – known as ‘Plim’ – is next to her. You can see from the front of the card that she organized the outing that year. Plim emigrated to New Zealand with her husband and baby daughter around 1938.

Also a photo of my maternal Grandmother (Florrie Burgess) taken in 1910, two to three years before her marriage to Charles Haines.

And one more, my mother and her little cousin Colin Foyle, son of Alice (Burgess) and Fred Foyle. Taken about 1920-1921. Colin was later a musician and I think played clarinet (??) in local jazz bands. I didn’t know him but Ken White is related to him on the Foyle side and knows more about him.

The Bucklands, The Howletts Rodbournites

By Lesley Fry ( Nee Watts ) on

My mum was a Buckland had the 1st double wedding at St Augustine church. I remember Doris at the sweet shop wonderful home made ice cream. I went to Even Swindon school, Mr Maisey was my headmaster. Then Jennings Street Mr Davies (Jammy Davies!!! ) the Bucklands and Howletts lived in many streets in Rodbourne over the years and I seem to be related to most of them. most of them working in the Railways including my dad George Watts from the age of 14 was a train driver and tutor.

Ivor Cox

By Ivor Cox on December 7, 2018

Hello, I was born in Hawkins Street in April 1931,from the front bedroom of our house we could see the hooter blow and could see the steam come out before we could hear it. I lived there until I married and moved away,I now live near Grimsby. Through your site I have read many names which bring back many memories. I have the familiar photo of the kids of Hawkins st: and am sure I could name most of them, somewhere I have a couple of others I must look for. As for memories, mannington rec:the river ray, across the fields to Shaw, train spotting up the milk bank, making and racing bogies,life was never dull for us kids. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reminisce about times past, I will try and write again.


By Shirley coxhead on March 4, 2018

Where can I get books on this please I live in Bristol but grew up in rodbourne rd. Would love to read more of these stories about my childhood and growing up. Can you give me info please

Memories from Valerie Mollet nee Brown

By Valerie Mollet nee Brown on March 2, 2018

Born in Rodbourne 1940 lived in Deburgh Street, went to Jennings St and Even Swindon School. Moved to Guernsey, Channel Island in 1972. Visit the U.K. yearly to visit family and friends. Worked at Toomers office then in Bath Road. Would be pleased to hear from anyone who remembers me.

Walking past the railworks

By Marilyn LaMude on August 9, 2017

Many fond memories, but a big embarrassing one as i walked past the railworks that is now the outlet village walking towards the bridge, the hooter went for lunch and i was engulfed in men off home for lunch. I was pushing my baby daughter in her pram,taking up the whole of the footpath. Not one bad word was uttered to me they just jumped over the railings into the road and scooted around us, calling out “dont worry love”….bless them x

Hetty and Jack Hurdle

By Yvonne Parr on August 2, 2017

Hello. My Nan (Hetty Hurdle) and my Grandad (Jack Hurdle) lived at number 88 Morris Street, they lived their from when it was first built. My Mum before she was married (Joy Hurdle) lived their too. She is married to Andy LePoidevin the watercolour artist who had the Marlborough Studio Art Gallery. 88 Morris Street is the semi detached red brick house down the bottom of Morris Street before the recreation ground on the right hand side, we have pictures of the area before any of the new houses were built and there was a farm called Martins behind, with a pond, ducks, geese, chickens, sheep, pigs and cows. I remember visiting the farm animals when i was a child we have pictures of Morris Street when it was tree lined and very attractive. I can access some photos when I visit my Mum in Purton at some point in the future, i live in Scotland.

Clive Wilson’s Memories

By Clive Wilson on April 19, 2017

My Gran bought me into this world April 1943. And I’ve just found this site,yes I’m an old Rodbourneite,although Move out 58,but as said you can leave Rodbourne but it in your blood, me 9 Charles street Gran Mrs Edmonds,mum Ivy Wilson dad killed in war at Arnhem Holland & is in war cemetery in Oosterbeek,but that never stopped me growing up & enjoying life in Rodbourne Even Swindon then Jennings St. Schools where mum,aunts uncles went, St Augustine church Cubs & scout (7th Swindon own) even the army cadets,not to forget the Palladium, Mannington rec, the shops choice of chip shops It was a village in town, old sayings where going on holiday, Purton pebbley beach, there were treacle mines, or snuff quarries there, that’s what we were told as kids?as I’ve seen here names I know & grew op with Ron Jennings, Christin Jones, went to school & knocked about with them, like one big family,the Rodbourne Rockets cycle speed way, always football down the rec, swimming in the river Ray??no laptop,mobile phones how did we survive, school holidays Wednesday afternoon going round the works, or walking across the fields to Lydiard Manor, before it was done up,can’t do it now Housing estates or get a bus!!! Or go fishing at Saddler lake,that brings me up to date my last place I worked it was drained & used as landfill all soil from Thamesdown Drive was tipped there for topping out I retired from working for the council 20yrs 2005 early 62, now in full time retirement, All the best, as I’ve been call Rodbourne Sewer Rat, joys of living near the sewer farm.

Comment from Alan Hazell

By Alan Hazell on January 12, 2017

Hello David, I have just received my Jan. copy of The Brick Wall and noticed your “Seen on Facebook” entry referring to Lorraine Hills visit to Rodbourne. I cannot give you a number for the house in Morris Street but I can tell you that it was directly opposite our old family house, 26, Summers Street as you will see mentioned in the above memories from Lorraine Brown nee Hills