Last Updated: 05 August 2010
Created: 05 August 2010
Blunsdon House, one of Swindon’s most prestigious hotels, remains at the heart of the community after 50 years.
Still owned by the same family, the four-star business in Blunsdon High Street has hosted thousands of guests and events over the years, including many weddings.
Now the family is looking to the future as they celebrate its golden anniversary this week.
Manager Christopher Clifford said: “Fifty years is a fantastic achievement, especially with the economic climate and all the tough economic conditions since 1960.
“It is testament to the service we provide and the value of the family business in something as personal as hotellery and catering.”
Blunsdon House was built as a hunting lodge in the early 1800s and was later used as a family home for those who farmed the associated land.
Hotel founders Peter Clifford and his wife Zan became the sole owners of the property in the early 1950s and initially used the estate as a farm, keeping pigs, poultry and other animals.
The hotel side of the business started by chance in 1957 when the touring Bath and West Show came to the Polo Ground in Swindon.
The landlord of the Mason’s Arms, in Swindon, telephoned Peter to ask whether he could put up some extra agricultural reps and Blunsdon House was changed into a make-shift guest house.
Peter and Zan continued to run their farm guest house over the next few years and then – on August 2, 1960 – it became Blunsdon House Hotel and Country Club.
The hotel, which has won several prestigious awards since, has been expanded and is one of only four four-star hotels in Swindon.
Today, its facilities include 116 bedrooms, two gyms, a swimming pool and spa, a beauty salon, a tennis court and a golf course.
There are also three bars, two restaurants, and a conference centre including a function room which can seat up to 150 people.
Among the notable guests over the decades have been Cliff Richard, Kevin Keegan, Chris Tarrant and football teams including both AC Milan and Liverpool.
Peter and Zan have now retired but their son John, 60, and his wife Carrie, 55, are directors.
Meanwhile, John and Carrie’s children – Christopher, 28, Ben, 30, and Grace, 25 – and Christopher’s wife Mandy, 26, are also involved.
John said: “The secret to our success is total dedication to looking after customers.
“It is about looking after locals as well as the many international customers who come to Swindon.
“The hotel is right in the heart of the community.
“Generations of local people have been here for their weddings and other social events.”
To mark the 50th anniversary on Monday, a tree in the hotel’s garden was dedicated to the people of Swindon by mayor Rex Barnett.
Justin Tomlinson, North Swindon MP, "The Blunsdon House hotel is at the heart of both the local community and economy so I was delighted to attend this wonderful celebration.
"This family run business has shown through excellent customer service and the ability to adapt to the changing market over the years that they can still be a success 50 years on."