1952: The man widely credited with having the bushiest eyebrows in Swindon celebrated his 68th birthday at his Morse Street home. Walter Crew, whose eyebrows were about three inches long, was a First World War veteran who served in The Royal Berkshire Regiment. On returning to civilian life he spent 28 years at the GWR Works. He now worked as a gardener at the recently-established Military College of Science in Shrivenham.

1952: A large queue was seen outside the Playhouse theatre, which was based at the Mechanics’ Institute. At first passers-by assumed there had been a sudden surge of interest in the latest show, a performance of Tennessee Williams’ torrid classic A Streetcar Named Desire. Closer investigation revealed that the queue was for tickets to a forthcoming Swindon recording of BBC radio programme Any Questions?

1962: Merchant seaman Albert William Butcher, serving aboard the TSS South African Financier, discovered that he was a celebrity in South Africa when his vessel arrived at Cape Town. The 48-year-old was famous because of what was described as an uncanny resemblance to US president John F Kennedy. Word had been transmitted to South Africa ahead of his arrival, and his image appeared on many newspaper front pages.

1962: The Swindon Disabled Friendship Centre had recently taken delivery of a specially adapted bus but was still in need of spare wheelchairs for some of its clients. The secretary of the Centre, Miss GE Skinner, said: “It is possible that some people in our town may have such chairs in good condition which they no longer need, and which they may be willing to give or sell to our centre.”

1972: Production at Plessey’s Cheney Manor factory was disrupted when 10 setters in the hydraulics factory went on strike. Union convener Brian Shakespeare explained that the walkout was a response to redundancies, and accused management of failing to help those affected find alternate roles.

1972: About 210 elderly Wootton Bassett people were entertained at the 22nd 65-Plus Party, held at the town’s secondary school. They enjoyed a meal and then a concert, whose young performers include the local Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts, dancing school pupils and members of local theatre groups.


1606: Sir Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant and Thomas Bates were hung, drawn and quartered for their part in Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot.

1649: Charles I, convicted of treason, was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

1858: The Halle Orchestra was founded by Charles Halle in Manchester.

1889: Beautiful 17-year-old Baroness Marie Vetsera and her lover, Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf, were found dead at the royal hunting lodge of Mayerling, near Vienna. It remains a mystery whether it was a double suicide or murder.

1933: Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany.

1948: Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in New Delhi.

1961: The contraceptive pill went on sale in Britain - but was not available on the NHS until December.

1965: Big Ben was silenced for the funeral procession of Sir Winston Churchill.

1982: Stanley Holloway, actor, comedian and singer, died aged 91.

1997: An underground anti-road protest came to an end after six days as the last demonstrator, known as Swampy, emerged from a tunnel underneath the proposed A30 extension route in Devon.

2008: Entertainer and TV presenter Jeremy Beadle died in hospital in north London at the age of 59 following a short battle with pneumonia.

2014: Irish authorities were sure that ‘filler product’ found in contaminated burgers sold in supermarkets came from Poland and was a mixture of beef and horse offcuts, the Food Standards Agency said.

2017: Amanda Redman criticised the UK’s lack of “interesting” TV roles for middle-aged women and said she does not understand why her age group is not being represented on screen.


Gene Hackman, actor, 88; Vanessa Redgrave, actress, 81; Boris Spassky, chess master, 81; Dick Cheney, US politician, 77; Phil Collins, rock singer/drummer, 67; Brett Butler, actress, 60; Christian Bale, actor, 44; Wilmer Valderrama, actor, 38; Peter Crouch, footballer, 37.