Well over 3,000 people came down to GWR Park in Faringdon Road for a great Swindon community get together on Saturday 8 July.
In the afternoon there was music, theatre and dance shows, stalls put on by community groups, charities and history groups, as well sports to enjoy, circus skills to try out and traditional wooden helter-skelter and carousel rides. The day ended at 10pm with music, performances, highwire walking in the spotlights and fireworks.
The fete, which first began in 1866, was established by the first generation of Great Western Railway workers who had emigrated to Swindon and was organised by the Mechanics’ Institution. The original event ran right up until the Second World War, but was resurrected by Swindon Mechanics’ Institution Trust in 2003.
Organisers offered free cakes to every child in attendance, and recreated a mass photo of those attending, just like it was in the past – compare the images top and below.
Throughout the day and evening Jacob HiHo performed mouth dropping, death defying acts on the high wire in the style of the famous 19th Century French tightrope walker Charles Blondin who may or may not have been visited Swindon back in the day.
Mechanics Institute Trust chair Daniel Rose said: “Celebrating 150 years of the Children’s Fete was about reminding people of the traditions we have in our town, which is why we wanted to have the helter skelter that appears in photographs from the original fetes. The tradition of giving free cake to every child is also so important.
“We had so many families attending the day, and people from many of the different communities who live our diverse town came together.”
Event coordinator Hannah Parry. “Our event also coincided with the 175th Anniversary of ‘New Swindon,’ when the GWR decided to build the locomotive repair sheds here; it presented the opportunity to celebrate a great year for our town. We’ve had so many great compliments that Swindon needs events that bring the people together.
“It has been really hard work for quite a small team to hold together, but we had wonderful support from volunteers to make it happen.”
Below are Swindon Link pictures taken during the afternoon. See more images at the Trust’s Facebook
Find out more about the Mechanics’s Institute Trust webpage