A Week in Wiltshire

Week 12

Spent most of last week in fog-bound Swindon rummaging about in English Heritage’s vast archives – rather like an academic form of weight training, shifting huge boxes of heavy papers and photographs all day. It was extremely useful, found lots of good stuff thanks to much help from EH staff, and am now in the middle of collating the 763 photos I took. The fog lifted one late afternoon, giving me a chance to stroll up the hill to Swindon’s Old Town, where I photographed the former Belmont Brewery owned by Godwin Brothers, which is now a nightclub – I’m told Swindon is renowned for its nightclubs, but coming down from Newcastle, it all seemed very quiet to me! Belmont still looks very much a brewery, with its tower and louvre windows; nice polychromatic brickwork too. Round the corner I chanced upon the old offices of Bowly’s North Wiltshire Brewery, now a bank – the brewery to the rear has gone. Practically next door was the Bell Hotel, with its fantastically huge bell. Also saw a ceramic plaque on a pub, with the lettering L1843, the significance of which currently escapes me, but I think was a brewer’s anniversary. Walking round the Old Town was a nice break from the archives, as was being in London for a day (from fog to brilliant sunshine and back again) where I saw some Goad Fire Insurance Plans, dating from c1889, at the British Library. They show wonderful detail of brewery sites, right down to the placing of individual coppers – as one of the BL staff said to me, they are like an X-ray of the city.

One Response to “A Week in Wiltshire”
  1. Liz Allison says:

    My cousin in Australia just sent me (in UK) the link to your site with the item about visiting the building that was Godwin Brothers Brewery in Swindon Old Town. Teddy Godwin (the brewer) was our grandfather! I have an old photograph (possibly early 1920’s) of horse drawn carts leaving the brewery under the archway & sign Godwin Brothers Brewers Maltsters & Hop Merchants (sadly no longer there), with the brewery towner clearly visible. Also one of a sign written cart, horse and drayman standing to attention. If you would like a copy let me know. Teddy Godwin was later the brewer at All Saints Brewery in Stamford, which is still going, albeit brewing fruit beers last time I checked.

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