BBC Radio Wiltshire presenter and business partner to run Town Gardens Cafe

By Barrie Hudson - 31 March 2021


The new operators of Swindon's Town Gardens Cafe have been named as BBC Radio Wiltshire presenter Marie Kilford and hospitality specialist Frances Tucker.

  • From left: Cllr Neil Hopkins, Marie Kilford, Frances Tucker, Cllr Nadine Watts

    From left: Cllr Neil Hopkins, Marie Kilford, Frances Tucker, Cllr Nadine Watts

The friends hope to have the keys by Monday, 19 April and begin trading as soon as the following weekend.
Both Marie and Frances are from Swindon and say they're eager to showcase Wiltshire produce in particular.
Marie said: "We're both PMH-born! Fran's Commonweal, I was Kingsdown.
"We've both dreamt of running the cafe for a really long time, since we were growing up, and I spent a lot of time growing up working in cafes all over Swindon and a bit further afield.
"Frances runs a hospitality company and works with some of the biggest restaurant chains all over the country, so we're used to being around food and just care about really good food, really good coffee."
In addition to working in radio as a presenter and producer, Marie managed cafes in the local area over a 10 year period, including Bex Coffee in Havelock St, Cycle Club in Dixon Street and Azuza in Hungerford.
Frances said: "I've lived here all my life - went to Lethbridge, commuted through the park.
"We've used the park all our lives, really, since we were toddlers.
"We want a celebration of what Wiltshire can offer because we're amazing in this county for producing stuff and we really want to be champions of that."
"We really see ourselves as park ambassadors - that's the whole point of us - and we want it to be accessible for all. We've spent a lot of time looking at who uses the park. 
"For us it's very important that we offer something for everybody who uses this park on a daily basis."
Marie said: "We want a menu that's accessible for everybody because we're really aware that the park is an absolute asset for the town and people of all backgrounds and ages use it.
"We want a fresh menu that's accessible in price, with home-made sandwiches, soup, breakfast options for people who come through the park for the school run and commuting, really good cake, ice cream, coffee.
"We also want a menu that will change with the seasons.
"Having both lived in the area all our lives, we know about good local suppliers, makers, farmers and producers, and want to put that at the forefront of our menu.
"We love this park - it's a total gem for the people of Swindon and if you know it you love it. We're here to try and enhance that experience, make you stay longer and see it as a treat. 
"The park is a treat, and if we can give you some excellent food and coffee with that we'd love to."
Parish councillor Neil Hopkins wished the two luck and paid tribute to predecessor Carol Watts
He said: "We've gone through a very robust process in terms of the selection of new cafe operators, and I think we've got some operators who will hopefully take over where Carol left off and hopefully take thinks forward like she did when she started, into a new period.
"Change obviously brings some new opportunities, so I've no doubt that they will come up with some new ideas and bring them to the cafe.
"I just hope that the public who use the gardens will enjoy the new offering and come and use it.
"I think we've got some very exciting times coming on." 


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