1950: So many schools announced plans to attend the Swindon Film Society’s Wednesday children’s matinee that some were having to be turned away. The society planned to screen The Making Of A Marionette, in which puppeteer Waldo Lanchester showed how puppets were constructed.

1950: For the past four years, children in many Wiltshire Schools had been entertained at Christmas time by Uncle Tom and Auntie Phyllis – puppeteers, storytellers and magicians Mr and Mrs Tommy Rowe, who lived in Swindon. For their 1950 Christmas shows, they announced a special treat. Puppets of two characters from Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree, Silky and Moonface, were to bring the tale to life.

1961: Following public criticism of the lack of business support for Christmas decorations in various Swindon shopping areas, nine shops in Fleet Street united to decorate their fronts with Christmas trees and 600 coloured lights. The total cost, about £300, was divided among the shops according to the size of their frontages. One of the shopkeepers, Mr F Hallwell, of tailors Cliffords, said: “It is bound to foster a spirit of goodwill.”

1961: The closure was announced of the historic Mechanics’ Institute lending library, which had been among the first of its kind and helped generations of ordinary people to improve themselves. User numbers had been falling for several years, perhaps because books had become more affordable and public libraries more accessible. Librarian Mrs WB Bright said: ”Once we used to issue over 1,000 books a day, but recently it has been less than 100.”

1971: Swindon’s Princess Margaret Hospital went into emergency mode following a major road accident. A coach carrying a Salvation Army band from Portsmouth overturned on the road from Burbage to Marlborough. Ambulances took five casualties to the emergency unit.

1971: Television detector vans were patrolling the Swindon area, and officials reported that TV licence purchases ha spiked. During the week 232 black and white TV licences had been bought in Swindon, along with 11 colour ones, and 138 people switched from black and white to colour licenses.

The world

1757: William Blake, mystic and visionary English poet and painter, was born in London.

1905: The Irish political party Sinn Fein was founded in Dublin by Arthur Griffith.

1919: Viscountess (Nancy) Astor became Britain’s first woman MP, holding a safe Plymouth seat for the Tories in a by-election caused by her husband’s elevation of the peerage.

1934: Winston Churchill warned that weak defences could mean that Britain could be ‘’tortured into absolute subjection’’ in any war with Germany.

1943: The Big Three - Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin - met in Tehran to ‘’plan strategy’’ and discuss post-war policy, including treatment of a defeated Germany.

1967: Horseracing was suspended in Britain after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

1968: Enid Blyton, creator of Noddy and Big Ears among many other children’s favourites, died.


Berry Gordy, Tamla Motown founder, 88; Randy Newman, singer/songwriter, 74; Alistair Darling, former chancellor of the Exchequer, 64; Kris Akabusi, former athlete and TV presenter, 59; Stephen Roche, former cyclist, 58; Judd Nelson, actor, 58; Martin Clunes, actor, 56;