1952: The bellringers of Christ Church in Old Town succeeded on their third attempt to ring a long and complex sequence of variations, known as changes. They rang a peal of 5,019 changes in a sequence called Stedman’s Caters in honour of the church’s centenary. Previous attempts were described as having gone off course, but the third was successful in a time of three hours and 14 minutes.

1952: Eight-year-old Vanda Dorsett, of Exmouth Street, added more dancing accolades to the list she’d been gathering since she began dancing aged two. She passed her Grade II Ballet in Education examination with honours at the Royal Academy of Dancing, and won an inscribed bronze medal for the highest combined marks across a range of disciplines at a competition in Bristol.

1962: Courses in beekeeping, practical meteorology, golf, pottery and basketball were among those offered for the new year by the Swindon Education Committee. Also offered were a series of weekend courses at Urchfont Manor, near Devizes, including one called Crime and Society and another devoted to the modern novel,with particular emphasis on the works of authors such as Kingsley Amis.

1962: A young Swindon woman who had already made her mark as a swimmer was also succeeding as a pianist. Beryl Hobbs, 17, of Manchester Road, held several county swimming records, and in 1959 had won three county championships in a single afternoon. She had also recently been awarded the London College of Music Diploma for piano, and was a violinist in the Commonweal Grammar School orchestra.

1972: Long queues formed at the Wyvern Theatre when bookings opened for two concerts by Syd Lawrence and his orchestra. The band, which was inspired by the sounds of Glenn Miller, was one of the most popular draws of the era, and nearly all of the tickets for the Wyvern performances were sold out within two hours. They were priced at £2 and £1.50.

1972: Prominent Swindon businesswoman and Wiltshire County Councillor Daphne Bampton called for women to have easier access to family planning advice. Speaking in Bournemouth at the annual meeting of the Southern Division of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, she said access to such advice would help to control population growth and conserve resources.


1684: Puppet shows performed and shopping stalls were set up on the Thames in London during a deep freeze.

1898: Gracie Fields (Grace Stansfield) was born in Rochdale. She became one of Britain’s most popular entertainers and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1979.

1914: Striptease artiste Gypsy Rose Lee was born in Seattle. She became Queen of Burlesque in the 1930s and her autobiography, Gypsy, became a hit musical.

1957: Anthony Eden resigned as prime minister in the wake of the Suez crisis.

1972: The liner Queen Elizabeth, after being removed to Hong Kong to serve as a floating marine university, sank after catching fire.

1997: Yachtsman Tony Bullimore was found alive, five days after his boat capsized in the freezing wastes of the Southern Ocean.

2007: Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone.


Joan Baez, singer, 77; Jimmy Page, rock guitarist, 74; Joely Richardson, actress, 53; The Duchess of Cambridge, 36, Paolo Nutini, singer/songwriter, 31.