I'm back up and running
Solution was posted here http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1940491
To summarise -
How to set NOMODESET and other kernel boot options in grub2
I had to do this with my Nvidia 9600GT:
To install Ubuntu, boot from the cd press any key at accessibility circle and keyboard, press F6 and then select the nomodeset option.
USB boot - At the menu press tab on the first option to edit the boot options and replaced the 'splash' option with 'nomodeset'.
On first boot after install, press e on getting the GRUB bootloader.
Hold shift from BIOS boot to get menu if only one system installed.
Using arrow keys navigate to and delete quiet and splash and type the word nomodeset in their place
Huge thanks to oldfred for providing this step by step solution. Once installed successfully I installed the proprietary Nvidia drivers and there was no need to edit GRUB to add nomodeset as a permanent option.