1952: Tombstones were among the items set for discussion at a forthcoming meeting of Blunsdon Parish Council. Parishioner WE Smith asked for the subject to be put on the agenda as a new section was added to the village cemetery. He said he believed tombstones were out of date, and that turf and flat stones were a much better alternative.

1952: In view of the diminishing number of railway passengers between Swindon and Highworth, the Railway Executive (Western Region) informed Swindon Chamber of Commerce that it intended to withdraw most of the service. Only an early morning passenger service between Highworth and Swindon, together with a corresponding evening return, would be available instead of the current hourly service throughout the day. The transportation of parcels and fish would be switched to lorries.

1962: Walcot Boys’ Club took delivery of a new £160 trampoline - but members soon realised that it gave them more bounce than they bargained for. The trampoline was no toy but a full-sized competition model which allowed users to leap as high as 16 feet, and that meant there was a danger of the untrained flying off course. Club leaders put out an appeal for skilled volunteer instructors to come forward.

1962: Commonweal Grammar School pupils held a short memorial service for George Williamson, one of the school’s first teachers, who had died aged 65. Mr Williamson, who lived in The Mall, joined the school at its opening in 1927 and was geography master until his retirement about 30 years later. Mr Williamson was also a founder member of Swindon Geographical Society and played the viola in the Swindon Musical Society orchestra.

1972: A pay offer worth an extra £2 a week was due to be discussed by workers at the Kembrey Street factory of electrical giant Plessey. The meeting, timed to allow both day and night shifts to attend, came in the wake of a series of go-slows and other industrial action following an initial offer of £1.50 a week.

1972: Thieves stole £220 from an Old Town grocer’s shop while the owner was putting out a small fire in the back yard. Mr JG Woodruff, of Cricklade Road, said he believed the fire was deliberately started among boxes in order to draw him from the shop.


1556: An earthquake in Shensi Province, China, killed 830,000 people.

1806: William Pitt the Younger, twice British Prime Minister, died aged 47.

1900: The Battle of Spion Kop was fought during the Boer War.

1931: Anna Pavlova, Russian prima ballerina, famous as the Dying Swan, died aged 49 at her home in Hampstead Heath.

1956: Sir Alexander Korda, Hungarian-born British film producer and director, died.

1963: Kim Philby, double agent, defected to Russia.

1976: Paul Robeson, US actor/singer, died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, aged 77.

1985: A House of Lords debate was televised live for the first time.

1990: Gales of up to 115mph caused great damage and at least four deaths in Britain.

BIRTHDAYS Rutger Hauer, actor, 74; Princess Caroline of Monaco, 61; Andrei Kanchelskis, former footballer, 49; Scott Gibbs, former rugby player, 47; Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, actress, 44; Dawn O’Porter, pictured, television presenter, 39; Steven Taylor, footballer, 32.