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The Fairford Flyer

Fairford History Society
Newsletter No 9
July 2009
FHS Logo

Other Newsletters:

Fairford Flyer No 1
Fairford Flyer No 2
Fairford Flyer No 3
Fairford Flyer No 4
Fairford Flyer No 5
Fairford Flyer No 6
Fairford Flyer No 7
Fairford Flyer No 8

Fairford Polish Event

Fairford Polish Event

About 250 people, Polish visitors as well as Fairford residents, attended the unveiling of the Polish Hostel commemorative plaque at the Pitham Path Gate on Leafield Road on Saturday 30th May. The plaque was funded by the Polish Ex-Combatants Association of Great Britain and was the brainchild of Mrs Alicja Swiatek Christofides, one of several people attending the ceremony who had been born in the Polish Hostel at Fairford. The Hostel opened in the grounds of Fairford Park in 1947 and about 1,200 Poles were resident there until it closed. For more detailed information on this subject please see Zosia Biegus’s website at www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk.co.uk. Many of the camp’s residents later moved to the Swindon area where they lived and worked while still retaining a strong bond to the large Polish community in Britain. The plaque was placed at what used to be the main entrance to the Hostel thanks to the generous support of the Ernest Cook Trust, which now owns the land.

Maurice Jones, the Town Crier, set the scene on a gloriously sunny day by calling the crowd to order. Speeches were made (partly in Polish) by Joe Cusack, the Mayor of Fairford; Czeslaw Maryszczak, Chairman of the Polish Ex-Combatants Association of Great Britain; Nicholas Ford, Secretary to the Trustees of the Ernest Cook Trust; Father Philip Beisly, parish priest of St Thomas of Canterbury in Horcott; June Lewis Jones, President of the FHS; and our Chairman, Geoff Hawkes.

After the unveiling most of the visitors then made their way to the Community Centre for a reception during which they viewed a fascinating exhibition on the history of the Polish community in Britain. Refreshments were served by members of the Fairford History Society. The event was organized by Alicja Swiatek Christofides and Alison Hobson and was judged to be very successful especially as many old friends were re-acquainted and some new friendships made.

2009-10 meetings in the Farmor Room, Fairford Community Centre
September 17th The Polish Hostel in Fairford - Alicja Swiatek Christofides.
November 19th Glos Archaeology Sites and Monuments Record.
February 18th 2009 Ashmolean Museum
June 17th 2009 AGM (speaker to be arranged)

Polish Plaque

A commemorative programme sold out very early during the proceedings but is being reprinted and will be available from the FHS at the cost of £1.


FHS Occasional Paper 4 – ichard Green - Schoolmaster (1713-1767) by Chris Hobson.

A short biography of Mr Richard Green, one of Fairford Free School’s earliest masters, he was a highly respected citizen of the town. His memorial plaque is on the old school building today. Price 50p

The St Mary's Church, Fairford Tomb Trail.

This leaflet provides a brief guide to 25 tombs in the church and churchyard that are of either architectural or historical importance from John Tame to Tiddles the Cat! The leaflet provides an entertaining accompaniment to a short walk around the churchyard. Price 60p

Fairford Polish Hostel, 1947-1959 by Alicja Swiatek Christofides

A brief history of the Polish Displaced Persons camps in Britain and the programme that was written for the unveiling of the commemorative plaque at the site in Leafield Road on May 30th 2009. Price £1.00 (published by the author)

The Son and Lumiere Memories of 1978

CD is also now available.

All FHS publications are available from fhs@cotswoldwireless.co.uk or by contacting the secretary on 01285 711768. They are also on sale at St Mary’s Church, Fairford and at the Community Centre, Archive Room.

See From the Newspapers

See What Lies Beneath

Archive Room

This room is full to bursting already and we have only been in situ a year BUT if you have any Fairford memorabilia we are very pleased to copy and record items, especially photographs, and return them. Rob Winney, who has been a stalwart in finding items for the Society, recently donated a lantern from the old Fairford signal box. Thanks to him and all others who have donated items.


In 2009 FHS has already responded to over 20 family or local history enquiries. One of these was a phone call from Alicja Christofides which resulted in our wonderful Polish Event. An asset to answering enquiries is the graveyard list which is used for people searching for the graves of their ancestors, even if they are only shown a space! Recently a new headstone was erected on the grave of Nelson Lane. He was a coachman at the Bull Hotel for 20 years and he disappeared the night of September 23rd, 1929 and was found drowned in the River Coln, it appeared he had fallen in. The result of the inquest said he died an accidental death. The day of his death was Monday night and the story goes that the Bull did not pay the grieving widow up to the end of the week as his week’s work was not completed. The relatives were very pleased that Nelson’s memory is now properly commemorated as the site was previously unmarked.


Another story is the tale of Ann Ind from Quenington who attempted to murder her father by obtaining arsenic from the chemist in Fairford. The full story is told in a book Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Gloucestershire by Nell Darby. Published by Wharncliffe this year, it is a new acquisition for the FHS library. Other recent acquisitions are:- Place-Names of Gloucestershire by AH Smith in 4 volumes and The Village School by June Lewis, which although not a new book, gives some very informative and interesting background of the history of education.

These books and others in the collection may be consulted in the Archive Room. The Archive Room is open on Monday afternoons 2-4pm or at other times by special arrangement (01285 711768).

The Committee 2009-2010

Officers: Geoff Hawkes (Chair) 712053, Ian Westlake 712329 (Vice Chair), Alison Hobson (Secretary) 711768, Gill Compton (Treasurer), Margaret Bishop (FCC rep), John Read (IT), Maurice Jones (FTC rep), Chris Hobson (Publications)