1952: A 94-year-old Royal Navy veteran, Thomas Serpell, gave an interview at his Euclid Street home and shared memories of life at sea in the 19th century. He recalled his earliest days as a boy sailor, when he met an old veteran who had witnessed the death of Lord Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar. Mr Serpell also remembered witnessing the flogging of two other boy sailors for drunkenness.

1952: A tender of £79,057 for the building of a new junior school in Penhill was accepted by Wiltshire County Council, subject to the approval of the Ministry of Education. A the same meeting, the county council announced that it had applied for a £24,179 grant from the Ministry of Health, which was needed to furnish and equip the new Headlands Grammar School.

1962: Mr RJ Naish, a Swindon Youth Service officer, urged young people to come and make use of a large selection of camping equipment the organisation had at its disposal. The store of equipment had been built up over several years from grants awarded by Swindon Education Committee, and the latest £50 grant brought the total value of the equipment available to £200.

1962: Wroughton Parochial Church Council faced an unexpected bill when a leak in the church’s central heating boiler caused the system to fail. The council held a meeting at the vicarage and decided to obtain estimates for oil burning and solid fuel stoves. A standing committee was to oversee the project, with a brief to act as it saw fit.

1972: A war of words raged in Wootton Bassett between the county council and a development firm called Thunderbrook Estates Ltd, which wanted to build homes on a 125-acre site to the east of the town. The council said the project would overburden roads, the sewer system and other amenities, but Thunderbrook dismissed these concerns. It also promised a new park if the development went ahead.

1972: St Joseph’s School’s dramatic society went through to the second round of the National Festival of Drama as well as winning two cups at the Swindon Festival of One Act Plays. The school had put on its production of The Tiger’s Bone by future Poet Laureate Ted Hughes for the competition at the Arts Centre in Devizes Road.


274: Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor who became a Christian, was born.

1706: John Evelyn, writer and diarist, died at Wotton, near Dorking. He had kept a diary for 65 years.

1879: The discovery of saccharin was reported by chemists Constantin Fahlberg and Professor Ira Pemson in Baltimore.

1881: The British were defeated by the Boers at the Battle of Majuba.

1900: The British Labour Party was founded. Ramsay MacDonald was its secretary and later became leader and prime minister.

1902: Author John Steinbeck was born in California.

1933: The Reichstag building in Berlin was burned down - a ploy by the Nazis to suspend civil rights and press freedom.

1939: Britain’s most haunted house, Borley Rectory, was destroyed by fire.

1965: Goldie the Eagle escaped from London Zoo and settled in Regent’s Park. His freedom was followed by the media until his recapture on March 10.

1919: The Gulf War ended after Iraqi troops retreated and Kuwait was liberated.

2011: Frank Buckles, who lied about his age to fight in the First World War and lived to be the last surviving US veteran of the conflict, died at the age of 110.

2017: Sony unveiled the world’s first smartphone to have a 4K definition high-dynamic range (HDR) screen.

BIRTHDAYS Paddy Ashdown, former Liberal Democrat leader, 77; Steve Harley, singer, 67; Timothy Spall, actor/presenter, 61; Derren Brown, illusionist/TV presenter, 47; Peter Andre, singer, 45; Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, 38; Josh Groban, singer/songwriter, 37.