Town proud of roots

In the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, I was sad to see negative views of Swindon once more being promoted on social media. Swindon is a working town, with proud roots in the Great Western Railway and a deeply ingrained community spirit in both the oldest and the newer areas.

I am a musician, and view Swindon through the prism of music in the town. Does the reviewer know, for example, what an amazing musical and singing community there is in Swindon? And how we look after the musical development of the young in the town? Everything from folk-clubs, and musical theatre and close harmony groups, the Swindon Music Festival, right from the Swindon Running Shed Choir formed by the Railway Workers in 1919 (ie Swindon Male Voice Choir) to an opera in our own name ‘Swindon the Opera’.

Swindon the Opera was a huge community project which took place at Steam Museum exactly ten years ago, involving over 200 performers, and funded by the Queen’s Big Lottery Diamond Jubilee Millions Fund. International composer Betty Roe MBE wrote the music for us. We had to bid for the funding and we were one of six projects chosen out of the whole country. No other town has that achievement.

Oddly enough, in this celebratory opera about the achievements of Swindon during the Queen’s reign, Matt Fox, our librettist, addressed head-on the negative outside view of Swindon the Opera in the text, as conversation between an imaginary television panel and our leading character, Diana Dors. I thought the negative views had died down since then. Apparently not.

However, coincidentally, on 3 July at the Hawksworth Hall in Steam Museum, JTPTrust are retelling the story of how we put the opera together, in a performance entitled Creating Swindon the Opera. The performance is narrated by myself, complete with slides of the original opera, costumes, and live music (by the singers and associates of the JTPTrust. If anyone would like an uplifting hour remembering the positive achievements of Swindon and the talent we have produced over the years, do join us at the event.

Janice V Thompson

Norman Road Swindon


Food for thought

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