I find the Family Fun Day in Faringdon Road Park on Armed Forces Day a rather odd event. Now in its second year, the event seems to have replaced the only recently revived Children’s Fete held in July. It’s not that I have anything against Armed Forces Day, just that this particular event is a rather odd combination.
The Children’s Fete was, as its name suggested, very much an event for children, with games and competitions run in the centre of the park and a fun fair round the edge on the Faringdon Road side of the park. For the adults, there were some municipal, charitable and craft stalls on the Park Lane and Church Place sides of the park. The family fun day is similar, but the events seem aimed at slightly older children, and in place of the stalls there is assorted military hardware and military charities. Thus today we had an “It’s the knockout” type event, with much water thrown around, whilst the local civic dignitary inspected military vehicles.
“Games without frontiers” surrounded by those that enforce frontiers doesn’t quite work.
With work continuing to put railings around the whole of Faringdon Road Park, the timing of the new order restricting alcohol consumption in the park almost seems coordinated. It’s as though it’s part of a concerted effort to beautify the area. The only concern is where will the hardened outdoor daytime drinkers go next? As more of central Swindon has drinking restrictions imposed, the main effect is likely to be to move the problem to the next nearest open area. Already the Westcott Place recreation ground has gained a few regular drinkers. They are now likely to be joined by a few more.
Work has started to reinstate the railings around Faringdon Road Park. Although they will be less substantial than the originals — the brick piers are not stable enough to hold full-height railings — they’ll lift the park’s appearance. It remain’s Swindon’s most barren of parks, bereft of the well-kept flower beds to be found in the parks around Old Town.
Some of the coping stones being removed are stamped with the manufacturer’s mark from 1897. They seem to have been carefully removed and will make a reappearance atop the rebuilt heightened piers.
Coun Montaut questioned whether Swindon Council was carrying out sufficient checks on the trees after recent cuts to its ground maintenance budget. He said: “What we cannot have is this type of thing happening in a public arena especially at a time when hundreds of people attend events like this. We need to make sure people can enjoy themselves in a safe environment.”
In fact the tree surgeons from Swindon Commercial Services spent much of last week in the park, but working on the trees on the opposite side of the park from the one that fell this weekend. As the tree surgeon who was called to the scene said, trees are unpredictable.
It can still happen — the tree is in full leaf so you wouldn’t expect anything to happen. If there’s decaying trees in the area we take them down straight away, we don’t take any chances, but trees are unpredictable.
From what’s left of it, the tree was clearly rotten at the core of its trunk. But so are many trees for many years. If Mr Montaut had his way, many substantially healthy trees would be felled, just in case an accident happened. Unnecessary felling of trees is a longstanding habit of councillors throughout the country. There’s already been enough instances in Swindon without Mr Montaut encouraging more.
Some children had a very late night, waiting for the Children’s Fete to finish with a bang.
To the quiet accompaniment of the Wiltshire Wanderer fairground organ, today is the Children’s Fete in Faringdon Road Park. With possibly the highest density of tombola stalls ever assembled in one place, plus a few other stalls, some small fairground rides and other entertainments, the event is tame in comparison with other events targeted at children. A revival from a calmer era… and none the worse for that. From the number of people there, it clearly fulfils a need. Long may it continue.
As an aside, the event has also generated the earliest mention of Christmas amongst Swindon bloggers. It must be winter soon….
I have found an explanation for the abysmal punctuality of First Great Western Trains. It seems the wheels are coming off their trains! Walking to work on Wednesday, there was a set of wheels lying on some short rails in The Park on Faringdon Road, near to one of the stones dropped a few months ago by the council, not far from the railway line. The wheels definitely weren’t there on Monday.
Walking to work today, there were several boulders strewn around the local park which weren’t there yesterday. There was also the local BBC radio outside broadcast car there. Fortunately, the local newspaper has explained
Four giant sarcen stones – weighing a total of 21 tonnes – have been delivered to Faringdon Road Park in a bid to improve its appearance.
The huge rocks were unloaded yesterday as part of the New Mechanics’ Institute Preservation Trust’s plans to restore the park to its Victorian splendour.
Now, apart from the fact that there was nothing like that in the Park in Victorian times, so it bears no relation to Victorian splendour, it does seem to be quite a good idea — something for children to clamber over in a park which, except for the daffodils, is rather featureless. (Sadly, something for the graffiti taggers to deface too.) The source of the stones was revealing too.
The rocks were provided by Swindon Council which, it is understood, dug them up some years ago during a building project.
The giant stones were kept in storage and are now finally seeing the light of day.
Amazing the things that some people keep….