1951: Two Pinehurst School pupils, Patricia O’Neil,14, and 13-year-old Sheila Watkins, were cast in a pantomime, Dick Whittington, at a Bristol theatre. It would be Patricia’s third consecutive year in panto - the previous year she had performed at a theatre in Kingston, Surrey. Sheila had appeared the previous year at New Cross in London. Both trained at the Victoria School of Dancing and were members of the Swindon Junior Concert Party.

1951: Swindon College announced a new course for the public to be offered in January, called Motor Maintenance For Owner Drivers. It was set to run for about four months in two-hour weekly sessions, and the fee was eight shillings, the equivalent of 40p in decimal currency. The instruction was to be given by qualified motor mechanics.

1961: The new manager of the Gaumont Cinema, in Regent Circus, which in later years would be an Odeon, a bingo hall and a music venue, was Mr DJ Watts, 37. He had previously been in charge of cinemas in Salisbury, Frome and Ilfracombe. Mr Watts, we revealed, was married with two children and enjoyed football, rugby and swimming. He hoped to arrange a football match against the Trowbridge Gaumont during the Christmas holiday.

1961: A committee was formed to supervise the welfare of old people in the eastern part of Swindon, joining similar committees for the west of the town and Pinehurst. The area covered by the new committee was to be from Bridge Street and Regent Street along Cromwell Street, then including Dixon Street, Victoria Road, Hunt Street and the Shrivenham Road area.

1971: Two old school friends from Highworth, Stephen Wills, 20, and 18-year-old Michael Slatter, were happy to be serving together aboard the same Royal Navy ship, HMS Victorious. The vessel had recently taken part in exercises in the Far East before being diverted to Kenya for emergency flood relief work.

1971: Aircraft technicians working on the Concorde supersonic airliner project announced from their base at Fairford that the first prototype would soon fly again. The machine, designated Concorde 01, had been forced to cut short its maiden flight a few days earlier because of what were described as snags.

The world

1154: Henry II became King of England.

1848: Emily Bronte, English novelist who wrote Wuthering Heights, died aged 30 from tuberculosis.

1851: Painter Joseph Turner died in his Chelsea house under the assumed name of Admiral Booth, where his demand for privacy was strictly enforced by his housekeeper.

1863: Frederick Walton, of London, applied for a patent for Linoleum.

1905: London County Council set up the first motorised ambulance service for traffic accident victims.

1906: Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet president 1977-1982, was born in the Ukraine.

1915: Legendary singer Edith Piaf, pictured, ‘’the little sparrow who began singing in the streets when she was a teenager and lived a life of lovers, alcohol and drugs’’, was born in Paris. Her song Je Ne Regrette Rien summed up her outlook on life.

1981: The Penlee lifeboat, Solomon Browne, was lost with her crew of eight, attempting to rescue the crew of the coaster Union Star, wrecked in violent seas off the Cornish coast.

1984: Britain and China signed an agreement for the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

1984: Ted Hughes was named Poet Laureate in succession to Sir John Betjeman.

BIRTHDAYS Syd Little, comedian, 75; Limahl, singer, 59; Jennifer Beals, actress, 54; Beatrice Dalle, actress, 53; Richard Hammond, presenter, 48; Jake Gyllenhaal, actor, 37.