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Three Tuns, Swindon

Pub added by Philip Carter
Devizes Road
Postal town: Swindon

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

hondo . left this review about Three Tuns

now a Morrisons store

On 2nd April 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2700 recommendations about 2644 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Alan Winfield left this review about Three Tuns

The Three Tuns is an Arkells tied house that looked better from the outside than on the inside,it was fairly basic inside with roughish looking customers.
There was only one real ale on the bar which was Arkells 3B this was a decent drink.

On 11th November 2010 - rating: 6
[User has posted 6113 recommendations about 6113 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Edward Schussler left this review about Three Tuns


Once-upon-a-time, the small USAFE hospital affectionately known as RAF Burderop sat atop Brimble hill like a fairytale fortress. Frontal advances had to climb a serpentine road to reach this sometimes embattled enclave. From ghost ramparts troops could monitor mustering armies gathering below (providing they all came from Swindon). At its base, one road from Swindon, the other from Devises meet in a miniature roundabout before joining in an assault of the hill. Adjacent to that juncture sits a tiny way station known to locals as The Three Tuns. In our day this citadel was neutral territory where the Old World and the New World hammered out terms of love, war and other sundry passions: past, present and future.

Pub Crawl:
In the decades that followed, I made several pilgrimages to this strategically significant landmark. It was still a favorite watering hole in the 1980's when one cool autumn evening I found myself standing in front of its tiny but beguiling front entrance. The old pub glowed like a country cottage on a Kinkade Christmas card. Mercury vapor street lamps washed the red brick building and its newly painted milk-white doorway with an intensity of light and shadows that only deepened the aura of an encroaching black abyss in the surrounding darkness. For the first time in a score of years the acrid taste of sulfur-laden smoke and soot pouring from silent chimney flues poked at sensitive sinuses and tickled the edges of my tongue.

Plowing through the sea of beer-bellied blokes is easy work for a fellow like me with a wedge-shaped chest. Ambient conversation was congenial and the drink was already revealing itself in the laughter, but the 'feel' of the place had changed dramatically. While accents were still British, these folks were not the locals I had known. The place dripped of an intoxicating blend of 'SNOB' and 'POSH' but absent the twang and the 'yhaw' that had been the enchanting hallmark of the villagers. Marbles of affluence filled their mouths; but rather than juggle them in upper-crust jowls, these techies rolled their aggies on the fronts of their nouveau riche tongues. Swindon was in the process of emerging as the Silicon Valley of Great Britain and most of the patrons were Yuppies, UK style. I guessed that made them 'UKies.'

Through towering pump handles I asked the innkeeper in the most profound New York accent I could muster: "What kinda beer yah got?" It worked, of course. All conversation within earshot stopped as heads rotated to me and tilted. Smiling sheepishly I asked "How 'bout a pint 'o them best bitters?" "You're an American, aren't you?", said one fellow with uncanny insight. "What brings you to Wroughton? You got relations 'ere?" The three questions rattled off in Gatling gun succession. "Years ago!" I shot back "but they're all over now". The time for being a smart-ass was past, so I 'fessed up'. "Used to be stationed up the hill years ago with the American Air Force", I told my curious new-found friend "and I thought I'd take a look-see how the place has changed".

News of an American base once so close seemed to electrify this group and a little firestorm of I didn't know that, did you know that?" dialog quickly followed. Telling them we were formidable fixtures in the area in the 50's and 60's gave me the dubious status of "Incredible Other-worldliness".

A blink of the eye restored composure to my friend and he immediately began asking amongst the curious on-lookers for 'old-timers'. "Enry!", he called out over the heads of the circled masses. "Ow long have you lived 'round 'er?". "Eight years" Henry shot back. "Ever 'ear of an American base up the 'ill?" "You mean RAF Wroughton?" his reply. Small talk conducted in tones of mild disbelief followed. "Ask Mike", Henry said finally. "He's been 'ere a long time." Mike was across the room and had somehow missed the tempest brewing about the alien in their midst.

A pathway through the people opened and Mike was drawn center stage for a good look at me. "You've been 'er a long time, Mike. "How long've you lived in Swindon?" "Fifteen years", Mike announced proudly, as if he had arrived with the Romans. The declaration earned him a degree of momentary awe and respect in the gathering. "Did you ever 'ear of American Forces up at Burderop?" Mike blinked, "You mean they was once 'ere? Now I was beginning to wonder if these folks were the real aliens. If so, what have they done with the pods containing the native population?

Wiltshire Willie:
"Ask Ol' Willie", Mike added, defensively, "He's from around these parts". As if on queue, the semicircle suddenly opened again. There, perched on a corner bench behind a tiny round table, sat a withered and weathered old man quietly puffing his Navy Cut Capstans and nursing a murky malt mixture. Scores of ill spent years in the merciless presence of soot, sun and tobacco smoke had left his pasty white skin the tone and texture of retired cowboy boots. Blepharons hung in ornate fashion from cheekbones to nose, exposing their pink and fluid interior. A sunken set of pearl-drop eyeballs floated loosely in the center of their occipital pools. A three-day stubble was as permanent as any appendage and I wondered if it was simply the way old men set their morning razors. Although he was sitting, the forward curvature in both spine and shoulders mated Willie closer to the table before him than the bench back behind him. His threadbare tweed jacket labeled Willie as a life-long laborer and I had no doubt this apparel countered every pat with a puff of dust. Like the tankards hung over the bar and the toilet flush dispensers under the inverted gin and whiskey bottles, Willie was a permanent fixture in this establishment. Had he stood up, his shadow would have remained on the bench.

"Willie!", my host cried (he knew he found his man), "D'you remember Yanks being in these parts?" His tone was now more mocking than inquisitive. But Willie quickly sensed the tension and played his moment for all it was worth. Tapping his cigarette slowly and deliberately on the over-sized ashtray, Willie waited just a little longer than the proper cadence of conversation dictates. The odd dozen or so faces stared intently at him. All bodies leaned forward. Willie was my last chance at credibility with this bunch and the bounding reality of the moment decreed that the legitimacy of my presence rested singularly upon this man's endorsement. At long last, Willie looked up.

A Legacy Revealed:
"Yarh, I remember the Americans, alright". Willie's head nodded like an impatient Clydesdale. "They was up the 'ill. We did the 'ot water plumbing when they built thair 'omes, we did!". His voice was weak, the vocal cords frayed yet the crusty sounds uttered still scratched the itch for which my eardrums yearned. Here was a soul of the soil, and a true Wiltshire man, to boot! "Thems were tha first central 'eating 'ouses in tha area, they was". The familiar burr was music to my earrrs, it was. Then he looked at me curiously through bat-black pupils; yellow eyeballs darting nervously in their fleshy half-shells. Following a long, intense drag on the stub remains of his smoldering fag Willie succumbed to convulsive coughing and laughter. His focus turned to an indefinite past. A horsy grin erupted across that iconoclastic face as laugh wrinkles turned into caverns. "Yarh, I remember the Yanks, I do, I do", he giggled to himself, "Yarh, and they was a queer lot too, they was, they was".

On 24th May 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1 recommendations about 1 pubs]