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Date added: 12 October 2007

Cavendish Square - Ring Cafe Closes 

End of an era for the Square
Much-loved cafe-owner brews up for the last time

After serving over a million cups of tea and tens of thousands of breakfasts, Gerry Williams, owner of the Ring Cafe in Cavendish Sq, will sadly be calling it a day on Monday.

Going with the Flo:
Gerry Williams, alongside
daughter-in-law, Flo,
who also works at the Ring

The 79-year-old, who has become one of Walcot's best-known characters since opening the cafe in 1964, will close the doors for the last time, bringing down the shutters on a career spanning over four decades.

His cafe a casualty of the much overdue re-development of Cavendish Square, which is now well underway (see story below).
Having seen the very best and worst of the area, an emotional Gerry told us: "It will be a very sad day indeed I can tell you."

"This place and the people I see everyday has been my life for 43 years. And I'll miss it."

Gerry, who runs the cafe alongside his daughter-in-law, Flo, has become the heart-and-soul of the community according to his customers, many of who can't believe the cafe is closing.

"It's terrible," said one regular, "I've been coming here for over twenty years and Gerry is a smashing bloke. He's done so much for Cavendish Square, and it won't be the same without him."
Serving up since 1964:
the Ring café

In over 40 years at the 'Ring', as it's known, Gerry and his staff have served the community in every way possible, ranging from a simple cup of tea and a chat to raising thousands of pounds for local and national charities.

But after brewing his last cuppa next week, Gerry will look forward to swapping one tea for another - by enjoying more time on the golf course.

"It'll keep me busy and active, but it won't be the same as the cafe," Gerry added.

"It's the people I'll miss the most. After all these years they're more than just customers to me. They've become my friends."

New Life For Cavendish Square
24 July 2006

The long awaited redevelopment of Cavendish Square is officially underway.

After years of consultation, planning and preparation, developers started work today to totally regenerate the shopping centre originally built in the 1960s to serve the then-new Park North and Park South estates.
Time to go:
Cavendish Square

And judging by the reaction of those living and working in the run down precinct, it's a move that couldn't have come too soon.
"I'm all for it," said Gerry Williams, who has owned and run the Ring cafe in Cavendish Square since 1964.
"I've seen this place grow spectacularly in the 1960s and then slowly die over the last twenty years. It's been a real shame to witness it.

"The community spirit here is still as strong as ever, though. And I hope the redevelopment helps to make that even stronger for the next generation."
Hub of the community:
Gerry Williams has run the Ring cafe in
Cavendish Square for over 42 years

The massive project takes in all aspects of life at Cavendish Square - residential, commercial and community.
It will see the building of 174 new homes - 33 of which will be affordable housing.

The shopping area is to be revamped and a new Co-op store built. The library will be enlarged, refitted and restocked and improvements will be made to Oak Tree School.
Looking ahead:
an artist's impression of the proposed covered
area of Cavendish Square shopping centre

Plans include a play area and a multi-use games area to be shared by the school and community.

Swindon Borough Council partners on the development Leehampton Developments Ltd will are responsible for the school works and Bellway Plc the residential.

The school part of the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year; the commercial works by the end of 2008 and the residential by Autumn 2009.
London overpsill

Cavendish Square was built as a centrepiece to a new council housing estate in the 1960s, when it was highly regarded by residents - many of whom moved to Swindon from the south east during the town's post-war expansion period.
How it used to be:
Cavendish Square in 1968

Mary Robinson, who re-located from London 38 years ago after her husband found work at what was then Pressed Steel Fisher (now BMW), was one.

"The whole area was fantastic when we first moved in," said Mary, who still lives nearby.

"We had everything we could wish for. A Woolworths, a greengrocer, two chemists, a supermarket, clothes shops, banks and two top quality butchers."

"I've loved living here and my two sons also live here. But the place has suffered in the last few years very badly."

"Let's hope the re-building will bring the Square back to its former glory."
Looking back:
Mrs Robinson's sons are the two boys in this picture

Echoing those words was Swindon mayor Mike Bawden, who was present at the site alongside representatives from Belway and Leehampton to officially get proceedings underway.

"The Council intends to create a development of which we can all be be proud of," he said. "The community is at the heart of our scheme to redevelop Cavendish Square and plans were formed following consultation with local people."

Demolition time:
Swindon mayor Mike Bawden
(foreground) with Councillor David Renard (r)
 and the developers survey the
Cavendish Square site already razed

As well as working with developers (both commercial and residential), the Council has forged a partnership with Parks and East Walcot Neighbourhood Renewal Company.

The Renewal Company works with the community, public, private and voluntary sectors for regeneration and renewal in Parks and East Walcot and has an office at Cavendish Square.

Swindon Borough Council Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Social Care, Cllr David Renard, said: "The Cavendish Square scheme is an amazing project which the community has helped us shape.

"There may be some disruption as the scheme comes to fruition but the end result will be a fabulous regeneration project to benefit the whole community. We are working together to create a scheme which will serve the entire community for generations to come."
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