New Swindon poem – commissioned by Pebley Beach is launched

By Anita Jaynes on 15 October, 2016
A new poem celebrating Swindon in its 175th year as a railway town was performed in public for the very first time on Monday October 3.

Swindon Diamonds was read by its creator, community poet Tony Hillier, at North Swindon Library as part of the Poetry Swindon festival.

The poem, a celebration of Swindon and its achievements, was commissioned by Swindon and Cirencester-based motor dealer, Pebley Beach as part of the firm’s support of Swindon 175, which marks 175 years since the railway arrived in the town.

“This is the first time we’ve commissioned a poem so we’d like to know what people think,” said managing director, Dominic Threlfall.

“We really like Swindon Diamonds and think it captures the essence of Swindon. It felt right for the Swindon 175 celebrations, which celebrates the part transport played in the founding of Swindon.

“It’s also exciting to launch this at a Poetry Swindon event.”

The poem touches on cars and trains, but other Swindon innovations too, from the World War Two Spitfire to Garrard record decks.

Landmarks including Canal Walk, the Mechanics’ Institute, and – of course – the Magic Roundabouts are all name-checked.

Swindon Diamonds

“Eternity is now” said Richard Jefferies.
Like its Moonraker cousins
Swindon shows its best face to itselfSon of French Revolution refugee Brunel
enticed Welsh miners to navvy railways
starting Swindon as a mini-city of sanctuary

Like a scratched record
media jibes circle our Magic Roundabout.
Whether thirty three and a third or mp3
it’s the same old song, Making Plans for Nigel
or Alone Again Naturally; Swindon revolves

Swindon revolves, Swindon evolves
In town centre, mangelwurzel workers
once walked on water along Canal Walk
over Golden Lion Bridge.
Thousands engineered world class steam trains
hot-bedded Railway Village, danced, acted,
played snooker, in their Mechanics’ Institute. Eternity was then

Since 1854, The Western Players play on.
Since 1919, the Great Western Railway Running Sheds’
Male Voice Choir, has sung to Swindon

Rolled off Swindon assembly lines
Spitfires, Garrard record decks
beloved by Beatles, Elvis and the BBC;
Triumph bras and 2000s, Rovers, BMW minis
and – new kid on the block – two million car Honda
all provenance Pressed Steel and Rail Insiders’ skills
sweated and delivered between hooter blasts

Newport Street’s 1890 thatched cottages
give way today, to Subway take-away.
In 1905, Albert Edward Tunley artfully advertised
on trams trundling down Regent Street where today
revellers spill, onto Swindon streets.
Remember the Morris 1100 and Roy Cartwright
who hides on Facebook in plain sight,
who Pressed Steel and welded hundreds of door hinges

Salute today, two days before his retirement
sixty six year old Council Worker Eric
as he empties Eldene rubbish bins

In memory of a young man’s passing
two all-weather table tennis tables
invigorate Quarry Road play park;
earphoned Indian Subcontinent IT experts
walk Old Town to Intel
as Volunteer Vera leads “Nights In
White Satin” singing with Swindon elders

Evolving from small town to vibrant global melting pot
Eternity is now. Arkell’s, Deacons, Nationwide, Zurich,
Iceland. Turkish barbers, Goan workers, Middle East
boat people, may Harbour here
with Different Pasts, Shared Futures
welcomed in Swindon, City of Sanctuary.

Swindon’s Community Poet, Tony Hillier, September 2016

This poem was commissioned by Pebley Beach for Swindon 175 and launched at the Poetry Swindon Festival event, Sisters in Spitfires, Monday October 3 2016.

 Pictured above: Pebley Beach MD Dominic Threlfall and Swindon community poet Tony Hillier at the launch of Swindon Diamonds