THE story of a remarkable pioneer was told in an Adver article during the final week of November, 1969.

His name was Eddie Silk. In January of 1964, while a member of the RAF, he had been forced to crash land an aircraft in a Yorkshire field.

His injuries left him unable to operate the pedals of a car.

In those days and for many years to come, people with disabilities who wished to drive often ended up with a state-issued invalid carriage. These, as older Rewind readers will recall, were three-wheeled, one-seater, powder blue fibreglass deathtraps.

Eddie Silk had other ideas – although he did drive a single-seater.

“Eddie Silk has a car and his bank manager is worried about it,” we said.

“In fact, Mr Silk has two cars at his home in High Street, Blunsdon, but the bank manager is only worried about one of them. Not without cause: it’s a gleaming dark blue 500 Cooper.”

He had bought the car in 1967, fitted it with hand controls and then begun entering hill climbs and timed sprints.

It was not his first venture into sport since his accident; only months after the crash the accomplished archer and swimmer had gone to Tokyo to compete in what were then known as the Paraplegic Olympics.

He recalled his rehabilitation: “I couldn’t be bothered to put my callipers on. But when I got home I realised that a wheelchair was not a very good idea, so I got on with the business of learning to walk with crutches.”

It seems his taste for adventure remained afterwards, as the only other mention of him in our files is from 1981, when he was set to skipper a four-man team of sailors with disabilities on a Channel crossing.

Mr Silk wasn’t the only local racing driver we profiled that week.

Steve Coen, of Upper Stratton, was pictured with fiancée and one-woman pit crew Maureen Wicks and his Brabham Ford Formula 4 car.

Maureen’s race day tasks included everything from checking the car’s mechanical soundness to alerting him to his lap times during races.

In 1969 this was done by simply writing the information on a board and standing next to the track.

Steve went on to found Winners, the Wroughton karting centre.

Eddie Silk, in addition to not being the only racing driver we interviewed, was not the only pioneer.

Thanks largely to the anti-immigration pronouncements of certain politicians, notably Enoch Powell, many non-white people were feeling threatened.

Relatively few felt able to stand up and be counted, let alone tackle racism head on with humour.

One who did was British Red Cross supporter Ben Paul, who got into the fancy dress spirit for the charity’s Christmas Fayre at the Town Hall.

Appearing as fortune teller Pundit Rama Swamy, he wore some subversive handmade badges.

“I am an immigration problem,” said one. “Vote for Enoch Powell,” said another. Above that, perhaps most cutting of all, was one saying: “It’s not your fault Britain’s going down the drain, it’s the person standing next to you.”

The same edition carried a large image of the newly-installed Bishop of Derby, the Rt Rev Cyril Bowles, emerging from the Cathedral following the solemn ceremony.

In case any reader wondered why we devoted so much space to the tale, we explained in the first paragraph that the cleric was a former Archdeacon of Swindon.

“His new diocese,” we said, “covers all Derbyshire and has a population of nearly 1m.”

The Glasgow-born bishop had begun his career following ordination in Barking. He had then risen to the rank of principal at his old theological college in Cambridge, spending more than two decades there before beginning a six year stint in Swindon.

It was there, according to an obituary published in 1999, that he met his wife, Joan, who was the matron of a local hospital.

Cyril Bowles served as Bishop of Derby for 18 years, and was an early supporter of the ordination of women, an unusual stance for the period.

Just how different attitudes to gender were during the era is illustrated by a picture above a story about Christmas toy trends.

It showed items including a pastry set, two tea sets, miniature groceries and a toy vacuum cleaner, and was captioned: “The majority of little girls like playing at being ‘Mum,’ and a Swindon store has a selection of gifts to make them model housewives.”

Something else which was different 48 years ago was the way we handled stories about animals needing to be rehomed. These days such stories tend to be simple appeals nest to a heartrending image.

The 1969 story next to a photo of a forlorn dog was rather more visceral: “He is Number 527.

“He has brown legs, brown ears and a brown nose… and in six days’ time he will be put to sleep.

“Put to sleep, that is, unless somebody offers him a home.

“The black Alsatian-spaniel cross puppy was found, cringing and terrified, in the derelict Old Town railway station on Wednesday.”

The animal was taken to the police kennels, but space there was limited, and strays there were put down unless claimed or adopted within seven days.

We can find no mention of the dog’s ultimate fate, but we have a feeling he ended up as somebody’s pet within 24 hours.