1951: Mr AJE Beck was presented with an inscribed watch by colleagues in recognition of his 20 years as secretary of the Swindon No1 branch of the National Union of Railwaymen. The presentation was to have been made by the union’s national president, Mr Harry Franklin, but when Mr Franklin was called to the House of Commons on business his place was taken by Mr Beck’s own successor, Mr F Tilley.

1951: The Swindon Orpheus Choir broke new ground when it visited Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, to give a concert at the invitation of the Leighton Buzzard Music and Arts Club. The club usually restricted itself to inviting only professional artists, with the support of the Arts Council of Great Britain, but a member had heard the Swindon choir and was so impressed that the usual policy was suspended.

1961: The Manser family, who lived in Swindon’s Monmouth Close, were woken in the middle of the night by what they first thought was thunder. In fact, their chimney had fallen, partially breaking through the roof and damaging joists. A specialist Swindon Fire Brigade salvage crew was called in to remove the debris and make the building safe.

1961: The Rev Alan Gowdey, a former curate of St Augustine’s Church in Swindon, was appointed to the chaplaincy of the Rochester Diocese. His new duties were to include being priest-in-charge for the nearby towns of Dartford and Crayford. He had served at St Augustine’s for three years from 1952 before moving to a parish near Chippenham and then becoming an advisor to the Bishop of Bristol.

1971: Department store McIlroys unveiled its new restaurant and White Horse Bar. Both were fully licensed and customers were assured that the restaurant had been completely remodelled to become more intimate than the original. It was also able to cater for evening functions with up to 150 guests.

1971: Elderly people in Gorse Hill feared facing a lonely Christmas because of a lack of volunteer community visitors. Community development officer Andrew Hake appealed for potential visitors to come forward, and said he was worried that there were people who might die alone with nobody knowing they had passed. Six streets were without a volunteer visitor.


1697: The first Sunday service was held in the new St Paul’s Cathedral.

1766: James Christie, founder of the famous auctioneers, held his first sale in London.

1791: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer, died and was reportedly buried in an unmarked grave with several other paupers.

1872: The American brig Mary Celeste was found drifting in the Atlantic, her crew missing.

1901: Walt Disney, pictured, cartoon film producer, was born in Chicago.

1933: Prohibition ended in America after 14 years.

1945: Five US Navy bombers from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, disappeared over the area which became known as the Bermuda Triangle.

1952: Smog enveloped London and killed more than 4,000 people in less than a week.

1956: Rose Heilbron became Britain’s first female recorder.

1958: The Preston by-pass, Britain’s first section of motorway (the M1, eight-and-a-half miles long) was officially opened by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

2016: Lawyers revealed that the cost of divorce in the UK is averaging more than £70,000 - and rising.

BIRTHDAYS Little Richard, rock ‘n’ roll star, 85; Jose Carreras, tenor, 71; Morgan Brittany, actress, 66; Lee Chapman, former footballer/restaurateur and bar owner, 58; Carlton Palmer, former footballer, 52; Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker player, 42; Paula Patton, actress, 42; Jessica Pare, actress, 37.