1951: Mr A G Harman, a former manager of the Regent Cinema, who lives at County Road, Swindon, has received many messages from friends wishing him bon voyage when he leaves for a visit to South Africa. He and his wife, who is a native of South Africa, sail on the Stirling Castle with one of their three daughters, Alison Harman, who has taken up a nursing appointment in Dubai.

1951: Two Swindon girls, Rosemary Barnes, 19, of Surrey Road, and Marion Baggs, 19, of Liddington have swapped their income tax forms and their jobs as clerks for the Inland Revenue based in Wood Street, Swindon, for nurses uniforms as they take up posts in the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

1961: Firemen from Wootton Bassett were called out when it was reported that the tops of two electricity supply poles, one in New Road, and the other in Station Road, were on fire. It was found that overloading of supplies due to increased use of heating appliances in the cold weather had caused the jumpers at the top of the poles to become overheated and the insulation material had burned away.

1961: It was a great thrill for Jennifer Dorrington, 16, daughter of the Rev and Mr H G Dorrington of Hyde Road, Swindon, when she was given a pair of pet rabbits - who have now had eight bunnies. Jennifer and her parents come from New Zealand where you are not allowed to keep pet rabbits for fear they may escape and destroy the pasture.

1971: The secret route of the Wiltshire Venture Scouts 13th Midwinter expedition was revealed when they arrived at Chepstow at the end of their first day of the week long hike. During the week Venture Scouts and Scouts from all over the country follow the Offa’s Dyke Pass including Scouts from Wootton Bassett and Swindon.

1971: Young Gary Henderson of Priory Road, Park South, Swindon, won a poster painting competition to go backstage at the Wyvern Theatre to meet the stars of Toad of Toad Hall. Gary’s poster entry appeared on the front of the show’s programme.


1694: Queen Mary II died from smallpox, leaving William to reign alone.

1734: Rob Roy, legendary Scottish clan chief immortalised in a novel by Sir Walter Scott, died.

1879: The Tay railway bridge collapsed when the Edinburgh to Dundee train was crossing. The engine and carriages plummeted into the icy river below, killing 75 people.

1903: Jazz pianist Earl Hines, who developed the modern single-finger style, was born in Duquesne, Pennsylvania.

1918: Lloyd George’s coalition government was re-elected.

2009: At least 25 people were killed and dozens were injured in a suicide bombing on a Shia procession on the day of Ashura, in Karachi, Pakistan.

BIRTHDAYS Lord (Roy) Hattersley, Labour politician, 85; Dame Maggie Smith, actress, 83; Denzel Washington, actor, 63; Nigel Kennedy, violinist, 61; Terry Butcher, manager and former footballer, 59; Ana Torroja, singer, 58; John Legend, musician, 39; Frank Turner, singer/songwriter, 36; Sienna Miller, actress, 36.