THIS week in 1973, we reported on a Labour Party grandee’s visit to Swindon:
“Socialism is once again coming to the fore in British politics, claimed Mr Michael Foot MP in Swindon last night.
“And it was a tide that would carry the Labour Party back into office at the next General Election.
“'People are beginning to see the relevance of socialist ideas to the problems we face,’ Mr Foot, one of Labour’s Front Bench spokesmen, said to more than 70 people at The College.”
Among other statements, Mr Foot blamed the European Common Market for rising food prices and lamented the post-World War Two Labour government’s failure to nationalise land.
Doing so, he said, would have averted surges in house prices which prevented many people from buying their own homes.
There were two General Elections the following year and Labour won both, but lost to Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and began 18 years in opposition.
Michael Foot replaced James Callaghan as Labour leader in 1980 and left the post in 1983, months after one of the party’s worst General Election performances.
In 1973 Swindon’s main contribution to the global music scene was superstar singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, but other acts from the town were vying for their own slices of fame.
The Adver profiled one of the most prominent contenders.
We said: “Green Steam? Most people would probably say it sounds like a noxious vapour.
“No so. It is the driving Force behind Swindon Rock, Wiltshire’s answer to the Liverpool Sound.
“At least it will be if John Krelle, Kay Guest, Des Read and Terry Alderton get their way. They are Green Steam.
“After four years of trying, the pressure is on for Swindon’s top rock band.
“In the last two weeks, they have taken second place in the Melody Maker folk rock contest and first place in the Courage talent competition in Reading.
“They have recorded demo tapes and are considering offers to tour Europe.
“It all started four years ago when the group emerged from the Outer Limits, who changed their name after pressure from a professional band of the same name.”
We can find no further mention of the band in our archives, although in 1975 we ran a story about John Krelle.
By that time he was 20 years old and we described him as a former British Leyland worker who lived in Stratton St Margaret.
He was about to release a single, Jig-A-Jig Jig, on BUK records. There is no shortage of references to the disc online, but nothing about the performer.
That week 44 years ago also saw us run stories about two pieces of history, one a human being and the other a machine.
The human being was David Murray John, the visionary Swindon town clerk widely credited with ensuring the town’s future prosperity by attracting new industries and people.
He was due to retire the following year, ahead of local government reorganisation which would see his beloved Swindon Borough become the widely unwanted Thamesdown.
Introducing a series of reminiscences, we said: “The man who has become a Swindon legend in his lifetime has none of the aura of greatness.
“David Murray John is small and amiable. His manners are impeccable. He listens rather than talks, answers politely and merges back into the shadows
“He wears glasses, a black overcoat and a trilby with the brim upturned. The inevitable cigarette drooping from his lips looks like it grew there.”
He had been in Swindon for 36 years and was appointed town clerk at 29. He had planned to stay for only two or three years before moving to bigger places and roles, but his loyalty to Swindon during World War Two put paid to those ambitions.
“Ten years in a small town,” he said, “is enough to get you neatly tabbed as a small town man.”
He was wistful about what might have been, but any regrets were small.
Mr Murray John added: “I have not had a successful career in local government, but I do agree that I have had a more satisfying life as town clerk of Swindon.
“In a big city you are more subject to a political machine.”
He lived in the terraced house in Old Town to which he moved after being widowed some years earlier, and planned to spend his retirement indulging interests such as DIY and music. He was a great lover of Mozart.
David Murray John died the following year.
The historic machine we featured was a Messerschmitt 109 which had been captured from the Nazis in Italy in 1943.
A complex chain of events saw it eventually reach RAF Lyneham, where it was in pieces and undergoing restoration in a workshop. The restoration team was led by Flt Lt Russ Snadden, who was pictured with the aircraft.