Swindon's 160 greatest headline makers...part 5
TO celebrate the Adver’s 160th anniversary this year we present a Swindon Roll of Honour comprising 160 headline makers from the history of our town.
Here you will find those whose work and achievements have helped raise the standing and profile of both the town and the borough, or who have striven to improve the lives of ordinary folk.
It includes the greats of industry, commerce and technology along with those who have gained prominence through sport, arts, culture and media.
We have attempted to cut through the strata of Swindon life to include some of the town’s many colourful characters…along with two horses, a dog and one or two who have brought infamy crashing down upon us.
This fifth part brings us to the halfway point in the series of ten.
Hillier, Harold (1900-1968)
The only thing certain in life is death. Harold Hillier knew that if he provided a funeral service that was reliable, dignified and wholly professional his business would succeed.
His instincts were correct and today the well-known family firm he established in the early 1920s is approaching its centenary.
Having served with the RAF’s predecessors, the Royal Flying Corps, in the Great War, Harold was at a loose end when his cousin Jack, an undertaker, suggested that he try his hand at arranging funerals.
He became a natural, the funeral service grew and in 1933 he introduced Swindon’s first motorised hearse. Over the decades Hilliers have helped grieving families with tact and discretion.
Hayward, Justin (1946-)
Former Commonweal schoolboy Justin was a member of several local bands before in 1966 joining the Moody Blues who had already achieved fame with a cover of the US r’n’b song Go Now.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Hayward helped transform their direction into a globally renowned form of
He wrote one of their biggest hits, the ever-popular and still much played Nights In White Satin,
and also penned Question, which charted at Number Two in 1970.
Over the decades Hayward has enjoyed huge success with the Moody Blues, whose albums have sold widely (60 million and counting) throughout the world.
He also performed on Jeff Wayne’s much acclaimed War Of The Worlds concept album and continues to tour with the Moodies.
Hazel, Elsie (1900-1997)
When London-bound Welsh miners marched through Swindon in 1923 to protest over unemployment, Elsie was on hand with a soup kitchen.
She became the first woman elected onto Highworth council in 1938 and remained a councillor, as the authority merged into Thamesdown, for 38 years.
Between 1936 and 1938 Elsie organised a “strike school” in Highworth in protest against the county council’s ruling that local children should be bussed to Swindon. They won the battle and a Highworth school was built.
In 1982 Elsie and her pal Elsie Millin became the first women to be made Freemen of the Borough for services to the community.
Hoddle, Glenn (1957-)
Few who saw him would disagree that Hoddle was one of the most gifted players – possibly the most gifted – ever to pull on a Swindon Town shirt.
Taking over in April 1991, player/manager Hoddle rescued Town from potential relegation from the old Second Division and then set about transforming the team into promotion contenders.
Two seasons later Hoddle’s shrewd tactics and eye for a good player at a reasonable price saw Swindon gain a place in the play-offs by finishing fifth.
Reaching Wembley, the silky-skilled sweeper led Town to a now legendary 4-3 win over Leicester, scoring a classic goal himself.
Swindon reached the top rung for the first time but Hoddle left weeks later for Chelsea before going on to manage England.
Hempleman-Adams, David (1956-) OBE
Swindon-born David is one of the most successful adventurers of the past 30 years. Often putting his life on the line, he has smashed record after record.
He was the first person to reach all four of the Geographic and Magnetic North and South Poles as well as climb the highest peaks in all seven continents.
Having already walked there, in 2000 David became the first person to fly a hot air balloon over the North Pole.
Three years later there was another first when he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in an open wicker basket balloon.
For something completely different in June 2005 he staged the world's highest formal dinner party ascending to 24,262ft in a balloon with fellow adventurers Bear Grylls and Alan Veal.
Amidst a string of other achievements, records and awards he has been made a Freeman of Swindon.
Hodson, Denys (1928-2013) CBE
If anyone deserves the title of Swindon’s “Mr Arts” it is Denys Hodson. He did more than anyone else to promote and develop arts and culture in all its many shapes and forms in the town.
Hodson took over as the borough’s director of arts and recreation in 1970 and until his retirement 22 years later, transformed its arts and leisure services, while also raising Swindon’s cultural status.
He oversaw the arrival of the Wyvern Theatre, the Oasis pool and leisure centre and the Broome Manor golf complex.
His input was key to the ongoing development of the much admired Swindon Collection of modern art while he paved the way for multi-faceted Thamesdown Community Arts and the award winning Swindon Dance studios.
Holland, Leslie (1907-2005)
Artist Leslie Holland became well known for producing the eye-catching cover art for the first edition of Aldous Huxley’s controversial novel Brave New World in 1932.
In 2000, aged 92, he spent two months painting a striking version of The Last Supper to replace a £30,000 work stolen from St Mary’s church, Purton.
His son Matt Holland (see below) said his father generally shunned the opportunity to work for corporations like Disney in order carry out community-based work.
Holland, Matt (1947-)
They said it couldn’t be done. Not in a place like Swindon. Matt Holland loves to tell the story because it always has the same ending. “They were wrong.”
Now in its 21st year, the ten-day Swindon Festival of Literature has become an eagerly anticipated annual jamboree that exists as a result of the vision and drive of its founder and director Matt Holland.
From its small beginnings in 1994 it has grown in stature, attracting some of the world’s most acclaimed and best-selling novelists including Beryl Bainbridge, Terry Pratchett, Joanna Trollope, Ian McEwan, Bernard Cornwell, Desmond Morris, Philip Pullman and Fay Weldon.
Leading personalities from the worlds of politics, showbusiness and the arts have also appeared at the various Swindon venues used during the festival and many of these are sold out well in advance.
Holmes, John (1936-)
The boss of a successful driving school, John introduced a side-line of selling musical instruments from his town centre premises.
It was 1963 and the beginning of the British beat boom – The Beatles and all that. Guitars, amps, saxophones flew off the shelves. So began the story of Holmes Music where countless musicians, both local and from afar, have acquired their instruments over the years.
The family-run business, which also branched into tuition, last year celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Some 76 people worked at 12 Holmes outlets before the 1993 recession. But despite internet competition Holmes Music continues to thrive from spacious Faringdon Road premises and has also raised thousands for charity over the years.
Hooper, William (1864-1955)
Photography was just a hobby for William Hooper when he lost part of his right leg working at a GWR locomotive repair shop.
Setting himself up as a professional photographer in 1903, Hooper spent the next two decades creating images that – a century later – are still pored over and admired.
Known for their clarity and diversity, Hooper’s photos ranged from portraits to landscapes and street scenes, many of which he sold as postcards.
He was also on-hand to capture the 1906 Swindon tram disaster, his photos of which made all the national papers.
Largely created at what he called The Day and Electric Light Studio in Cromwell Street, he left us a priceless legacy of Swindon images from the early 20th Century.
Horder, Albert (1831-1902)
Prominently located next to the entrance of Lawns Park in Old Town, for over 100 years Horder’s was one of Swindon’s best known shops.
Farmer’s son Albert was a successful draper in Shaftesbury when he decided to relocate to fast growing Swindon in 1872.
Business boomed and by the 1890s Horder’s had become a “drapers, milliners, mantle makers and costumiers” selling a vast range of clothing from premises boasting an expansive three-bay frontage.
Evolving into the House of Horder under the aegis of Albert’s son Edward, the business put its success down to “the quality and very real value of all the merchandise offered and attention given willingly by a thoroughly experienced and courteous staff.”
It closed in the 1970s, unable to compete with emerging high street chains.
Horder, Sir Thomas (1871-1955)
Son of draper Albert Horder (see above) the former Swindon High School pupil became one of the country’s most distinguished medics of the first half of the 20th Century.
Starting with a correspondence course in biology, Horder’s rise in the profession was meteoric.
Acknowledged as a “great general physician and a great teacher”, he spent much of his career at St Bartholomew’s in London and was knighted in 1918 after his work with troops in World War One.
He went on to become a physician to Edward Prince of Wales, George VI and a young Queen Elizabeth.
House, George (1817-1902)
An exceptional man of Swindon, House was a labourer who helped build the GWR line from Maidenhead to Swindon before working on the construction of the railworks.
He then worked “inside” at the Swindon works and went on to become the UK’s longest serving railway employee, chalking up more than 60 years by the end of the 19th Century.
Aged 82, he was still rising at 5.30am to go to work at the GWR. He played a prominent role in the work’s medical fund and was an organiser of Swindon’s biggest annual event, the Juvenile Fete.
For many years he raised funds to ensure that workhouse children could be brought to the fete. Upon his death a portrait of Mr House was commissioned to hang in the Mechanics Institute.
Howell David (1975-)
A precociously talented young player at Swindon’s Broome Manor Golf Club, David turned professional in 1995 at 20 and three years later won the Australian PGA Championship.
The Dubai Desert Classic followed in 1999 but he had to wait six years for his next major titles, the BMW International Open and the inaugural HSBC.
Howell’s purple patch during the mid-2000s saw him at one stage ascend the giddy heights of the Top Ten in the world rankings.
In 2013, Swindon’s most successful golf player achieved his first European Tour win in six years but he is perhaps best known for twice helping Europe beat the old enemy, the United States, in the much coveted Ryder Cup in 2004 and 2006.
Ing, Edwin (1830-1909)
A singular Swindon character during the latter half of the 19th Century, Ing was a chemist who made toothache pills, cough pills, stomach ache pills and pills for a variety of other ailments.
Farmyard animals were not exempt as Ing created medication for a number of ills ranging from colic to footrot.
Old Town based Ing then diversified into the manufacture of soda water and bottled his product with the use of a steam powered mechanical device.
Other soft drinks followed and thirsty Swindon folk were said to have been especially partial to his ginger beer, whose bottles were distinguished by their crossed battle-axes logo. His company was eventually swallowed up by Arkells.
- This feature is the serialisation of the souvenir supplement that appeared in the Adver on June 24. Limited copies are still available from our reception desk on a first come first served basis.
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