1951: Thousands of sightseers packed Parliament Square, Westminster, for London’s biggest wedding of the season when the Marquess of Blandford, heir to the Duke of Marlborough, married Miss Susan Hornby, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Michael Hornby of Pusey House, Faringdon. Among 50 guests, taken to London from Pusey House by bus, was maid Mrs Perryman and butler Fred Gibson.

1951: During a talk by Leslie Lister, chief reporter of the Swindon Press Ltd, to the Swindon Rotary Club, he spoke of his memories of ponies being auctioned at midnight during hunt balls, and an unusual horseshoe custom still observed in some parts of the country. Mr Lister spent his early days as a journalist in Burley, home of the Lord of the Manor of Oakham. It was the right of the Lord to ask for a horseshoe from any peer of the realm travelling through Oakham on horse back or in a horse drawn vehicle.

1961: When a sewer in Devizes Road, Swindon, became blocked, four men worked for four days digging a 20ft hole, with a fifth operating emergency traffic signals. But they found they were digging in the wrong place. The sewer was 2ft from where they had been working. A civic council spokesman said the sewers had been built 50 years before sewer maps were maintained by the council.

1961: Highworth Rural Council raised no objections to a man from Chiseldon proposing to run a mobile barber’s shop. The man intended to use a caravan for his business which he would tow to selected sites. The council however did stipulate that this support was subject to the applicant obtaining permission from Wiltshire County Council and Wiltshire Constabulary.

1971: Dutch Elm disease has hit Marlborough - and it was only spotted by accident. A member of the borough surveyor’s department was going along Free’s Avenue by The Common when he noticed one of the tree’s branches seemed to be dying. When this was investigated it was confirmed as Dutch Elm disease. Head forester at Savernake Forest, Mr K G Wills said A small number of trees in the forest were also affected and would be felled and burned.

1971: The Swindon bypass – a six-mile stretch of the M4 – was opened today but the motorway that goes nowhere was not being used very much. There was no cutting of tapes or popping of champaign corks – just the rolling aside of a few oil drums. Gale force gusts of wind hindered those vehicles that did venture on to the new slipway leading to Wootton Bassett.

The world

1781: Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, in the American War of Independence.

1812: Napoleon’s army began its retreat from Moscow.

1862: Auguste Lumiere, French moving picture pioneer, was born. His Cinematographe system gave its name to the word cinema.

1872: The Holtermann nugget, the largest gold-bearing nugget ever found, was mined at Hill End, New South Wales, Australia.

1914: The first Battle of Ypres began.

1963: Sir Alec Douglas-Home succeeded Harold Macmillan as prime minister.

1987: Jacqueline du Pre, British cellist, died aged 42.

1987: Black Monday on Wall Street wiped out millions on stock markets around the world. Wall Street ended the day down 22%, lower than the 1929 crash.

1989: The Guildford Four had their convictions quashed after serving 15 years for the IRA Guildford and Woolwich bombings.


John Le Carre (David Cornwell), author, 86; Sir Michael Gambon, actor, 77; John Lithgow, actor, 72; Sam Allardyce, football manager and pundit, 63; Evander Holyfield, former boxer, 55; Sinitta, actress and singer, 49; Pras Michel, R&B singer/producer, 45.