Cropredy music legend’s commemorative bench vandalised

Fairport's Dave Swarbrick's memorial bench was vandalised in Cropredy. A replacement is planned. Blacksmith, Tom Gibbs and Dave's daughter, Issy Swarbrick. NNL-190521-135458009
Fairport's Dave Swarbrick's memorial bench was vandalised in Cropredy. A replacement is planned. Blacksmith, Tom Gibbs and Dave's daughter, Issy Swarbrick. NNL-190521-135458009

A memorial bench commemorating the life of one of Banbury’s most renowned musicians has been uprooted and destroyed in an act of wanton vandalism.

The wooden memorial bench dedicated to the late great, Dave ‘Swarb’ Swarbrick, had pride of place at the Brasenose Inn, Cropredy for almost three years.

But on the evening of Saturday, May 18 the small bench with a commemorative plaque was pulled from the ground and broken into pieces.

Upon hearing the news fellow musician Scott Doonican from the Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican, set up a Justgiving page to help Swarb’s daughter, Issy, fund a replacement.

Issy, who travelled from her Daventry home to assess the damage, said: “Scott set up a Justgiving page and I was only going to ask for £100 but we’ve raised £1,440 since Sunday night and there’s still donations coming in.

“I bought the bench for everyone to sit on as thousands of people come here every year. He was loved by so many people who can come and sit, have a drink and think about Swarbs music.”

Swarb in action

Swarb in action

The outpouring of support underlines the influence and joy Swarb brought throughout his 50-year music career which included a ten-year stint with Fairport Convention during which the legendary Liege and Lief album was recorded.

Also assessing the damage was Hornton blacksmith, Tom Gibbs, who has been given the task of creating a wrought iron replacement commemorative bench.

Tom said: “I knew Dave, we used to play together in the 80s. I know all of the Fairport lads as well. I’ve just come to see if we can get a new bench going or do something.”

Tom will create the bench in time for this year’s Fairport Convention Festival which takes place from August 8 to 10.

As a musician, friend and fan of Swarbs, Tom had already started to formulate ideas for the replacement bench that would befit a man described by many as one of the most influential fiddle players of all time.

As a musician, friend and fan of Swarbs, Tom had already started to formulate ideas for the replacement bench that would befit a man described by many as one of the most influential fiddle players of all time.

Tom said: “What I was talking to Issy about was to make the back, and this is all possible, like a stave of music, five bars along and a treble clef to identify what the bars are with a couple of notes on it and a fiddle 
incorporated in it somewhere.

“We can profile that out and blacksmith it. The armrests could be like the top end of a fiddle. That’s what I’ve got in my mind, I want to make a decent job of it.”

Three years after his death the respect for Swarb shows no signs of letting up as Justgiving donations keep coming in with many donors leaving messages of praise.

“What a guy our Swarb was. Always missed and thanks for your efforts to help Issy. xxx,” wrote Anne Cunningham.

The bench will be officially unveiled on the Saturday of the festival during the Brasnose’s fringe festival.

Issy said: “I have asked Scott, because he set up the funding page and because he’s playing here on the Saturday with his band, if he’ll do an opening ceremony for the bench.”

The new bench will be a positive outcome following the vandalism but at the moment upset over the damage is still raw.

Granddaughter Leanne, said: “I was his favourite, I was so angry when I found out.”

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/swarbsbench.