Herbert James (Jimmy) Powell Bomford was born in Surrey in 1896. Towards the end of WWI he was called to service in the Artists Rifles but soon transferred to the newly formed Royal flying Corps, After the war he established himself in the hectic but profitable world of the London Stock Exchange. He flourished and indulged himself in an equally hectic lifestyle including fast cars (including a Bentley tourer), championship motor boat racing and a 1000 ton four-masted schooner! However, by tho mid-1930s, he was not only keen to leave that life but he feared the turmoil which the threat of war with Germany posed. He (correctly) anticipated a demand for UK-grown food and so purchased 2000 acres (at £7 acre) of land based around Stock Lane, on tho western side of tho parish. He had no experience of farming but by chance met a young energetic character named Johnny Morris, who also had no farming background but he
readily engaged with ‘the locals’ and soon got practical help on how to run a farm, Money was no object to Jimmy so he established some (then) modern farming methods to maximise land use for the war effort. He also built a substantial house called ‘Laines’ (now demolished) at Stock Lane where he held somewhat riotous parties involving ‘friends’ from the arts including Dylan Thomas and Gerald Brenan and also some local ‘girls’ including a 16 year old from Swindon,
later better known as Diana Dors! When war broke out, the locals were suspicious.
The combination of Jimmy’s lifestyle, moustache, a German motor car and many ‘mysterious’
deliveries to ‘Laines’ resulted in at least two ‘raids’ by the police. Although nothing was found,
Jimmy and Johnny were ‘under suspicion’ for several years!
Jimmy still had sufficient money to invest in his passion for ‘Modern Art’. He bought many
art works by (then little known) artists including Graham Sutherland, Picasso, Degas, Matisse, Cezanne, Utrillo, and Henry Moore. This explains the ‘mysterious’ deliveries to ‘Laines’. He had room to display them. Many were stored in the farm buildings! Consequently, later in the 1940s. he loaned and later donated many of his paintings to Swindon Museum and Art Gallery where, even there, display space was limited. To this day, Swindon is (the somewhat surprising) home to one of the best collections of 20th century art outside of London – and they are still trying to find adequate space for the whole collection.
Jimmy sold ‘Laines’ and the farm in 1959, returned to London and died in 1979.