“Swimming without Mangoes” by David R. Bradshaw

(ISBN 978-1-906978-29-7, Hobnob Press £12.95)

A recent addition to our local studies collection at Central Library


This month the Swindon Collection (the Local Studies & Family History service in Central Library) acquired a fascinating two volume set of memoirs by former Swindonian David R. Bradshaw.

David was born in 1952, on the volcanic island of Montserrat. This island is part of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies and it remains a British Overseas Territory.

The first volume is entitled “Growing up Barefoot under Montserrat’s Sleeping Volcano: Memories from a colonial childhood in a British Caribbean island 1952-61” and was published back in 2010. As the title suggests, it describes the first part of the author’s life, leading to his arrival in Swindon in August 1961. This is a touching account of a child’s experience of the drama and contrasts between his life in his birthplace (known as the “Emerald Isle” of the Caribbean) and his new home in industrial post-war Swindon. Prior to their arrival, David and his little brother John were being raised by their elderly Great-Grandmother Joanna, as their parents had already left for England.

The second volume is called “Swimming without Mangoes: Memories of a West Indian lad’s boyhood in the English railway town of Swindon during the 1960s and early ’70s”. David and his brother came to England to join their parents. The family lived at Gooch Street and Alexandra Street, and he attended schools at Dixon Street, the Lawn and St. Joseph’s RC Comprehensive.

David later studied at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated in Law. Before his current time as an author, he worked as a banker, a lecturer, and became an in-house lawyer for the BBC World Service.

On the 18th May David held a book launch and signing at Pen and Paper, Victoria Road. He also spent some time with us in Local Studies as he attempted to track down as many of his former classmates for a celebratory reunion party. David also kindly donated signed copies of both books for our permanent local authors collection. Both books are essential reading for those with an interest in local history – especially postwar social history. We also hear that a third volume is already in the pipeline…

  • Both volumes of David Bradshaw’s memoirs are now held in our local studies collection at Central Library.
  • Additionally “Swimming without Mangoes” is available to borrow from Swindon Libraries – and you can even buy a copy from Central Library (price £12.95).
  • You can also purchase “Swimming without Mangoes” from Pen and Paper, Victoria Road (www.penandpaperswindon.co.uk).