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Swindon says fond farewell to much-loved engineer Eric Barrett

Swindon says fond farewell to much-loved engineer Eric Barrett

A tractor transported 94-year-old Eric Barrett to his final resting place at St John The Baptist and St Helen Parish Church in Wroughton on Tuesday.

Eric followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Henry Hungerford Barrett by managing H H Barrett’s in Wroughton until the business ceased trading on its 100th anniversary in 1993.

Known to many as the Squire of Wroughton, he died on May 25 and was buried with his a carpenter’s pencil behind his ear and a pocket knife.

His family joked that when Eric arrived at heaven’s pearly gates, he would say ‘Who hung these?’ and start repairing them.

His spade, flat cap, wood plane, and St John Ambulance brigadier cane rested on the coffin, which lay on a trailer Eric made himself that travelled from the family home on Moormead Road and then up Devizes Road to Church Hill.

Swindon Advertiser: Eric Barrett's funeral procession through Wroughton.Eric Barrett’s funeral procession through Wroughton. (Image: Dave Cox)

Jeremy Kemble was among those who observed the passing procession.

He said: “All this, where the houses on Wainwright Mews are now, was a big yard where they made wagons and anything to do with farms. It had 40 to 50 people working there at its peak.

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“Eric was great, a scream, a real character, and larger than life. He was quite outspoken – but not in a rude way – just direct, straight to the point, and fun.

“He was still caravanning even in his 90s.”

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After the service, mourners gathered in Eric’s old workshop, known as The Bolt, to sample refreshments around his circular saw and reminisce with a display of memories.

His daughter Susan added: “Lots of people watched the procession as the sun was shining. I was quite overwhelmed.

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“It was a wonderful service, the church was packed, and everyone whistled along to Colonel Bogey at the end.

“We gave him a good send-off.”

Swindon Advertiser: Eric Barrett is taken into Wroughton Church.Eric Barrett is taken into Wroughton Church. (Image: Dave Cox)

As well as being a skilled engineer and popular community figure, Eric had a passion for local history. He enjoyed telling stories about the village’s past and traced his own family tree back to the 1600s.

Swindon Advertiser: Mary and Eric Barrett in 2011Mary and Eric Barrett in 2011 (Image: Newsquest)

In 2011, Eric celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with Mary. 

The couple married at 23 in Wroughton Church before honeymooning in Cornwall.

They went on to have three children – David, Susan and Mark – and four grandchildren – Henry, Florence, Rosie, and Alice.

Eric told the Adver at the time: “We’ve always worked hard and always kept busy.”

Swindon Advertiser: Eric BarrettEric Barrett (Image: From public)

  • June 25, 2023