March 2012.


Wednesday 8th February 2012

The snow which was forcast at the week-end fell, but thankfully had gone by Monday morning.

Wednesday was very cold and dull as evening fell and we set out for our meeting. .

There was a very good attendance, for the second Wednesday falling so early in the month. As Neil prepared his presentation, Paul opened the meeting in Kevin's absence and did the fire drill warning, then Mark Sutton announced the talk at the library he and Frances Bevan was giving the next evening about Radnor Street Cemetary, and we were given a programme of walks planned in the coming months there, which I will add to the programme section of this Newsletter. You will find a questionaire inside your newsletter, please try to spare a few moments to let us know your thoughts..and bring it back to the next meeting in March.

Neil first set the scene for his "Wiltshire Journey" starting at the School at Market Lavington where his son was taking part in a chess tournament representing his school. With Marcus safely delivered, Neil was loose in the Wiltshire countryside for several hours, having studied the map beforehand he estimated he could cover most of the white horses and several breweries. Woodborough Garden Centre was one of the first visits, Cameron Balloons have a base there, he didn't go up in a balloon, but knowing Neil's tendency to go 'up, up and away' he may have hoped to 'get lucky' there. It is a 'Pick your own' farm they start in the spring with a field of wild daffodils. They also sell very large free range eggs in their Farm shop and Garden Centre there, some have double yolks, (end of commercial). The first of the white horses visited was at Alton Barnes, it was cut in 1812 between Walkers Hill and Milk Hill which is the highest point in Wiltshire at 294.19 metres. The horse was illuminated in December with hundreds of tea lights, for the winter solstice on 21st December . The first Brewery visited, bought out Archers, when they ceased to trade here in Swindon, they brew Three Castles and Tiddley Dyke beer, that is the sound the train made on the MSWJ Railway line, and became the name of their history group magazine, (in case you thought that was the result of drinking the beer). Pewsey horse was cut in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI, it was preceeded by a previous horse bearing a rider nearby, thought to date back to 1785, but no longer visible.We visited two more breweries, Stonehenge Brewers sold Green Ale, (it really was green in colour, maybe to celebrate St. Patricks Day!). The 29 canal locks at Caen Hill Devizes reveals an impressive engineering feat, built in 1843,but by 1948 they were in a sorry state of repair, after extensive restoration the Queen re-opened them and a stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal. At Devizes Wharf stands the very popular Wharf Theatre. Devizes could not be left without a visit to Wadworths Brewery almost as famous for its Shire dray horses as its 6X beer. Here he visited the bar where they sold their famous beers. If Neil sampled the beer at all the breweries he visited he would have been well over the

driving limit.

Most of the white horses face to the left, the latest one, the millenium one at Devizes faces right, one of only 4 right facing ones in the country, it is to the left of the A361 as you leave Devizes travelling north, behind the Industrial Estates. This makes 8 White Horses in Wiltshire still visible.All are either mares or geldings. but from time to time practical jokers have endowed them as lusty stallions !!.. as the English flag for World Cup football matches and turned one into a zebra with black plastic stripes on another occasion.

Cherhill White horse cut in 1780 had a glass eye, about 4 ft. in diamater made up of bottles upturned in the chalk, they were all stolen by souvenir hunters by 1872, but I think they have been restored since then.

Marlborough or Preshute was cut in1804 by Marlborough College boys, and appears to have changed shape several times over the years.

Silbury Hill at the side of the A4 remains a mystery despite many 'digs' to find out why this mound which is man made, was built. I can however offer an explanation of the ' dent' at the top.... I was with a group of cyclists from a Youth Centre visiting there on my birthday, they 'bumped' me 16 times !!

Hackpen White Horse was believed to have been cut in 1838 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Coronation.

Broad Town The date of this horse varies from 1813 to 1864, according to 'living memories'.

Westbury or Bratton White Horse, was remodelled in 1778 making it the oldest in the county, replacing an even older creature of unknown origin, possibly going back to a similar era to the Uffington White Horse which is in Berkshire and thought to be around 3,000 years old.. Finishing with an aerial view of Uffington Show and the White Horse from a helicopter .

Having collected Marcus from Market Lavington. they returned back home. ending with pictures of Arkells Brewery and their pub the Highwayman with a yellow stagecoach outside with which Neil did some amusing trick photography, ending a most entertaining and enjoyable presentation.


Our Annual General Meeting is now looming on the horizon, this year on Wednesday 9th May.

Nomination forms are now available, so please consider serving on our Committee and helping to support us about our choice of shows and general running of the Society,

fresh views and ideas are always welcome. We have meetings about every six weeks, at Queens Drive Methodist Church where there is good parking. Nominations will be accepted any time before and during the AGM but preferably by 31st March so that a profile can appear in the April Newsletter.


50th Anniversary Re-union of Railway Apprentices School.

Were you one of the Apprentices attending The Railway Apprentices School in Dean Street or do you know anyone who was..?. Colin Finch is arranging a Re-union for the 50th Anniversary in September. He is producing a 'Flyer' giving details of date time and contacts...his e.mail address is or ring 01793 610465.

Apprentices from other local firms also attended the school, Plessey, Square D. Garrards, Old Town Engineering and Metal Box.

Please spread the message.





at Marlborough College Chapel

7.30pm Saturday, 24th March 2012.

Mendelssohn; Elijah

CDs 'Lift up Your Heads' available.

Tickets available from any Choral Society member

or from our member David Parks

Tel. 01793 481951.


Chris Sladen e.mailed to thank us for the Newsletter, and sends his apologies for not being able to attend our meetings, but hopes to visit us again in the spring. He mentions that his family "marked time" through the day by the hooter. Best wishes to all members.


Eric Lancaster, also contacted us sharing the memories and people mentioned known to him.

David Lacey went into hospital on January 3rd, has had an operation from which he is recovering slowly but surely and has now returned home and is now out and about again. He was once again admitted to hospital on 27th February...but able to return home again on 2nd March..


Paul Corengia is making very good progress after his heart attack, the friend we contacted will let him know we were enquiring about him....


If you hear of any members who have had more than a minor illness or hospital stay, please let me know so that I can pass on our good wishes and hear of their progress and keep them in our thoughts and prayers.


Library News

Dates for Archivist visits.
An Archivist from the record office will be at the Reference Library in the Central Library Regent Circus 10am till 12 noon to give advice to researchers on Mondays, dates as follows:-
26th March

30th April

21st May

25th June .

If you have special research or require a particular document a telephone call to the Library would ensure whether it is available when you visit.
Telephone. (01793) 463238 which is the number for both the lending and the reference library.
Also on these dates, the Arc.hivist will be giving talks on research, as follows :-

Archivists Research Talks.

26th March ' Horrible and Unusual History in Wiltshire' Terry Bracher.

30th April 'Probate Records', Their Use and Interpretation Robert Jago.

All talks at 1.00 pm. On these dates. unless stated

Tickets 2.50 or 1.50 for Library members. Available from the Swindon Collection Help Point on the Second Floor of the Central Library, or ring 01793 463838 from 2 weeks before.

Friends of Swindon Railway Museum

The dates of future meetings have been arranged, but only two of the speakers have been confirmed so far. Monday meetings will commence at 7.15pm Saturday meetings at 2.30pm.

Saturday December No Meeting.


Monday 19th March Annual General Meeting

" 16th April To be arranged.

21st May "

As soon as further details become available I will let you know here..


Meet at the Steam Museum, Kemble Drive, Swindon.

If you would like to attend these meetings, take your Swindon Society Membership card with you.


Friends of Radnor Street Cemetery.

Spring Walks.

Saturday Walks meet at the Chapel at 11am.

Saturday 3rd March

" 31st March

" 14th April

" 19th May Local History Exhibition in the Chapel

St Saviour's Beaver Colony , Weeding and cemetery tidy up. Guided walks at 11am and 2 pm.

Wednesday 30th May Evening Walk Meet at the Chapel at 6.30pm

Each walk will feature something different.

To book a place ring 01793 346514




Purton Historical Society.

Please note,meeting dates vary from month to month.

Meet monthly back at St Mary's Primary School, Purton at 7.30pm.


Thursday March 15th A.G.M. Another look at the Titanic,

Paul Booy.

Thursday April 19th The Early History of Wiltshire Constabulary,

Inspector Steve Bridge.

" May 17th God for Harry England and St George,

Martin Way.

No details of cost was included, Ring Mrs. Eve Booy for more details on 01793 770755

Royal Wootton Bassett Historical Society.
'Looking forward to the Past'


Visitors are most welcome, (2.00); refreshments served before our main event which begins at 7.30. Do come along and join us in an entertaining and informative evening.- Vivien Sumner.

Thursdays 7.30 pm. Civic Centre, Station Road, Wootton Bassett. First Floor,upstairs.

Visitors always welcome : 2.00

Further Information from Vivien Sumner 01666 511195


" 8th March Living in the Shadow of a Shadow Factory, Bob Browning.

" 12th April Glimmer in the Dark Part III, Martin Way.

" 10th May Castles I Bob Clarke.

" 14th June Castles II Bob Clarke.

Rodbourne Community History Group
Meets monthly at 7pm at Even Swindon Community Centre, Jennings Street on the last Wednesday of the month. Admission Members 1 Guests 2 (including refreshment).


Wednesday 28th March The Cold War in Wiltshire, Bob Clarke.

" 25th April ?

" 30th May ?


Highworth History Society

All lecture meetings are held in the Community Room, Highworth Town Council Offices,Gilberts Lane just off the High Street, unless otherwise stated.
Meetings are held at 7.30pm on the last Monday of the month. Membership 10.00 (Renewable in September each year)Visitors 3.00


Monday 26th March Kelmscot and the Arts and Crafts Movement.David Walton.

" 30th April Village Country Ways, Customs and traditions of 18th and 19th Centuries, Chris Viveash, Accompanied by a "country maid".


Chiseldon Local History Group

Meet at at Holy Cross Church Room, Butts Road, Chiseldon.

at 7.30pm unless otherwise stated.

Visitors Welcome. small charge.



Wednesday 21st March Dowsing for Prehistoric Sites - Marcus Rouse.

" 18th April Stonehenge, the Story so Far - Julian Richards

" 16th May Silbury Hill and the Marlborough Mound - Jim Leary


Chiseldon Museum, The Old Chapel, Butts Road, is open from 11am to 3pm on the first and third Saturday each month from April to October.