Project looks at focal points for ethnic communities

This Is Wiltshire: Manchester Road Manchester Road

A PET project to keep the spirit of the country’s ‘frontlines’ alive has led a Londoner to explore the colourful past of Swindon’s Manchester Road.

Ashish Joshi and a group of friends have been researching old streets which used to be the hub of life for newly-settled West Indian communities.

The reggae fan believes the dispersal of council housing and gradual integration of the first waves of migrants from the Caribbean and their descendants broke up the meeting points which would focus on shops by day and swinging blues parties by night.

“Frontlines were places people would go for haircuts, to buy food and catch up with friends,” he said. “In the absence of a pirate or legal radio station they were also vital places for news.

“The blues parties spawned an interest in hip hop and baselines and a lot of modern music has its roots in that scene. It’s important for the sense of community to keep that same vibe, that same excitement, going. “It was Manchester Road which added the spice to Swindon.”

Manchester Road, today a meeting point for migrants from places including Albania, Afghanistan, India and Turkey, used to focus on the Pint and Cheese pub.

Swindon reggae personality MC Ranks, who met Ashish on his visit to the town last month, has since started a monthly residency at the spot, renamed the Tap and Barrel.

Fellow Swindon DJ Luchi Fab was also inspired by the meeting and will be playing at the Reggae Garden event this weekend alongside veteran performer Tippa Irie.

Ashish, 42, said: “Historically, Manchester Road had meeting places including the shops, bookies and the Pint and Cheese. “Now a lot of people are stuck in outlying areas through council accommodation and find it difficult to meet other people from the same ethnic background.

“Though there are fewer people in the Census who would describe themselves as coming from a Caribbean background than before, there are still more than in other areas, and it is important to keep that focal point. “In many ways that is already happening through the Broad Green community centre, the many shops on the road and the Tap and Barrel. “But it is something I want to explore further. It would be nice to see a parade or carnival in the area.”

Ashish works as a call centre supervisor in Hounslow, but says he has met many like-minded people with an interest in continuing the best aspects of the frontlines. Anyone interested in sharing research, memories or ideas can contact him at ashujoshi11@yahoo.co.uk

Comments (6)

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10:24am Thu 6 Sep 12

jerry59 says...

Manchester Road is practically a No-Go area of Swindon. It has long since been associated with crime, drugs, prostitution and illegal immigrants.
Is this guy crazy?.
Manchester Road is practically a No-Go area of Swindon. It has long since been associated with crime, drugs, prostitution and illegal immigrants. Is this guy crazy?. jerry59

1:57pm Thu 6 Sep 12

PJC says...

Many hilarious memories from when I shared a student house down there circa 1988-90!
Many hilarious memories from when I shared a student house down there circa 1988-90! PJC

2:40pm Thu 6 Sep 12

Ruthybabe says...

I have read what Mr Ashish Joshi would like to do to Manchester Road! Perhaps he should go back even further when the public house was called "The Gladstone" and the prostitutes had first call to this area. It was commonly called the Red Light Area of Swindon and was as far away from the Caribbean as it could possibly be. Mr AJ should do his research more thoroughly and stop trying to turn this area into something it will never was and hopefully will never be!!
I have read what Mr Ashish Joshi would like to do to Manchester Road! Perhaps he should go back even further when the public house was called "The Gladstone" and the prostitutes had first call to this area. It was commonly called the Red Light Area of Swindon and was as far away from the Caribbean as it could possibly be. Mr AJ should do his research more thoroughly and stop trying to turn this area into something it will never was and hopefully will never be!! Ruthybabe

4:03pm Thu 6 Sep 12

jerry59 says...

There are Parades most days. I believe they centre mainly around the Benefit Offices in Swindon.
Also AJ may want to spend an evening down Manchester Road and take in the surroundings, get a feel for it! He'll probably get mugged, or propositioned, or asked for money, but hey!, at least he'll gain some useful research. Not only that, he'll also get to park his car on double yellows and not get a ticket!
There are Parades most days. I believe they centre mainly around the Benefit Offices in Swindon. Also AJ may want to spend an evening down Manchester Road and take in the surroundings, get a feel for it! He'll probably get mugged, or propositioned, or asked for money, but hey!, at least he'll gain some useful research. Not only that, he'll also get to park his car on double yellows and not get a ticket! jerry59

4:08pm Thu 6 Sep 12

jerry59 says...

I suppose he means well! Good luck!
I suppose he means well! Good luck! jerry59

7:28am Fri 7 Sep 12

Always Grumpy says...

Ruthybabe wrote:
I have read what Mr Ashish Joshi would like to do to Manchester Road! Perhaps he should go back even further when the public house was called "The Gladstone" and the prostitutes had first call to this area. It was commonly called the Red Light Area of Swindon and was as far away from the Caribbean as it could possibly be. Mr AJ should do his research more thoroughly and stop trying to turn this area into something it will never was and hopefully will never be!!
Wasn't that also about the time prostitutes travelled to Swindon by train from Bristol to ply their trade? They used to call the train they came on "the have it away day special".
[quote][p][bold]Ruthybabe[/bold] wrote: I have read what Mr Ashish Joshi would like to do to Manchester Road! Perhaps he should go back even further when the public house was called "The Gladstone" and the prostitutes had first call to this area. It was commonly called the Red Light Area of Swindon and was as far away from the Caribbean as it could possibly be. Mr AJ should do his research more thoroughly and stop trying to turn this area into something it will never was and hopefully will never be!![/p][/quote]Wasn't that also about the time prostitutes travelled to Swindon by train from Bristol to ply their trade? They used to call the train they came on "the have it away day special". Always Grumpy

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