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Fruitcake & Flagpoles

July 28 2019


'Fruitcake & Flagpoles' is an original radio play from Prime Theatre. It was broadcast on BBC Wiltshire’s afternoon show with James Thomas - July 25 at 3PM. You can listen to it HERE

In July 1919 the country celebrated the official end of the First World War, but in Swindon the festivities turned riotous. For three days, disillusioned and disappointed ex-servicemen took to the streets, singing songs, looting shops and setting the Town Hall's new flagpole alight.

On Sunday 28 July, Prime Theatre is joining forces with arts and heritage organisations to provide a day of free activities at Swindon’s Central Library and old town hall. Members of the public are invited to commemorate the town’s 1919 Peace Riots through archive tours, exhibitions, dance, drama and musical performances.

Darryl Moody, Local Studies Librarian, explained, “Peace Day July 1919 marked the official end of the First Word War. There were celebrations across the country, but Swindon’s events turned sour when the crowd learned that £200 had been spent on a new flagpole instead of relief for ex-servicemen and their families. The Swindon Advertiser reports that three nights of rioting began - only stopping when the Mayor introduced a curfew.”

A grant of £10,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting a programme of events between 11am and 3pm and a new community radio play to be broadcast on BBC Wiltshire. Free guided tours of Swindon’s Local Studies collection will take place at 11:30am and 2pm in the Central Library. At 1pm on the steps of Swindon Dance, the old town hall, there will be a singalong to accompany the unfurling of a new peace flag. Performances will continue inside with contributions from SALOS, Prime Youth Theatre, Gemma Short School of Dance and professional musician Louise Jordan. Primary school pupils have made 360 peace flags that will be on display alongside a new installation from Artsite. A new exhibition about the events and people involved in Swindon’s riots will be on display in the Central Library from Saturday 27 July to Saturday 10 August.

Emma Barr, Associate Director at Prime Theatre, added. “We were so excited when we came across the story. The day will be a mix of history and performance for everyone to enjoy, even the radio play is performed by young actors and professionals. This way people can enjoy history in person and at home as well.”

Members of the public who attend events will be given replica 1919 certificates of thanks and refreshments.


From 11AM

Peace Day Exhibition: Central Library

‘War and Peace’ Art & Sound Installation: Swindon Dance, Lower Studio

Primary School Peace Flags: Swindon Dance, foyer


Local Studies Tour: Central Library


Performance & Peace Flag: Old Town Hall/Swindon Dance steps

Poetry, Dance and Song: Swindon Dance, Upper Studio


Local Studies Tour: Central Library

Contributions from:

SALOS, Prime Youth Theatre, Gemma Short School of Dance, Louise Jordan, Swindon Local Studies, Drove Primary School, Lainesmead Primary School, Abbey Meads Community Primary School, Artsite, Ben Occhipinti, Billy Beaumont.

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