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When the Adver was an A4 sheet
3:54pm Wednesday 1st August 2012 in Remember When
IN its time, the Adver has been both a broadsheet and a tabloid-sized newspaper, and these days it’s also a website and an app.
For 15 days back in 1980, though, it was a single sheet of closely-typed and photocopied A4 paper, handed out free at shops and our offices in Victoria Road.
In the corner of most of those editions was a message: “This Mini-Adver is appearing because normal publication has been stopped by a dispute between newspaper management and the printers’ union, the NGA.”
The NGA was the National Graphical Association, which subsequently went through various mergers and no longer exists.
On Saturday, April 26, 1980 a normal edition of the paper appeared, with no clue that anything unusual was looming.
The lead story was a rather squalid one about a Swindon man who’d moved his girlfriend into the home he shared with his terminally-ill wife. On a positive note we also revealed that midfielder and future TV football analyst Chris Kamara had been voted Swindon Town Footballer of the Year by fans.
On Monday, though, readers were greeted by something called The Evening Advertiser Emergency Edition. It had three columns, one each devoted to news, sport and announcements of births and deaths.
The two newborns noted were Katherine Ellen Banks and Tracy Louise Westmacott, and if their 32-year-old selves are reading this, we’d love to hear whether their families kept copies of the paper.
In fact, we’d love to hear how many copies of the emergency editions still exist.
Other stories included the final days of campaigning for the Thamesdown council elections and the 15-hour marathon farewell of pioneering cable channel Swindon Viewpoint.
“Swindon Viewpoint,” we wrote, “went off the air at midnight last night ending seven years of community broadcasting in the town.
“The seven staff at the television and radio station put on special shows including a TV spectacular of highlights of past programmes.”
Subsequent A4 editions became more ambitious, using both sides of the paper and including TV listings, sports fixtures and a price watch section with deals such as £1.10 for a leg of lamb at Gerry Saward’s in Swindon Market.
There was even space for court cases, including one on Wednesday, April 30 headlined ‘FAGGOT FINE’. It was about a bacon producer being fined £50 after an unfortunate man called John Rowe had an unpleasant experience during a meal of faggots and peas.
We noted: “He’d already eaten half when his knife and fork struck a half-smoked filter tip cooked inside.”
The emergency editions continued into May, covering stories including the trebling of Labour’s council majority, a visit by Princess Anne, a Bank Holiday fire in parched Savernake Forest and postmen complaining about being bitten by dogs.
We also told the sad story of a South Marston firm called Jones Cranes, which faced closure because some orders placed by the Shah of Iran were cancelled when the Shah was overthrown by the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Finally, on Tuesday, May 13, the Adver was back to normal. In an eight-paragraph story about the dispute, we said: “The NGA members have to be balloted on their new pay deal, but it is almost certain they will accept the offer of an £80 minimum wage and a 37-and-a-half-hour week by November 1981.”