PROTESTERS demanding the full legalisation CB radio marched in Swindon this week in 1981.

“This is Wiltshire Sunshine on Citizen Band, broadcasting to you on 27 megacycles,” began our story.

For the benefit of readers who had not seen CB-heavy Kris Kristofferson film Convoy or otherwise heard of the radio communications system, we then explained what we were talking about.

“In the US or anywhere else in the world, no-one would raise an eyebrow at that – but in Britain it’s illegal.”

In this social media era, when sound and vision can be recorded and instantly let loose throughout the world, it’s difficult to appreciate the excitement generated by personal radio communication over a few miles, but in 1981 the country was in the grip of a craze.

About 1.5m people in Britain were using illegal CB radio sets, and about 1,000 of them were based in and around Swindon.

The Government claimed the system in use on the other side of the Atlantic would be potentially lethal among the densely-packed communities of Britain. Politicians and police officers spoke darkly of emergency transmissions interfered with and unsuspecting passers-by brained by out-of-control model aircraft.

As a compromise, it offered an obscure corner of the airwaves immediately deemed useless by CB enthusiasts.

One protester, the Wiltshire Sunshine we mentioned before, said: “Up at that end of the spectrum they’re practically microwaves – what do they think we’re transmitting on, ovens?”

Others carried signs saying: ”Legalise CB – Hang Buzby!”

Older readers will recall that Buzby, a bright yellow cartoon bird who lived on a telephone wire, was the Post Office Telecommunications advertising mascot who encouraged people to: “Make someone happy with a phone call.”

Another celebrity – of the flesh and blood variety – was treated with rather more kindness that week 37 years ago.

Thanks to her role in Coronation Street as veteran femme fatale Elsie Tanner, Pat Phoenix had been an instantly recognisable national figure for more than 20 years, and would remain so until her death in 1986.

Any event she appeared at was sure to draw a crowd, which was why Barratt Homes invited her to perform what was proudly advertised as a Grand Showhouse Opening at Westlea Park in the new Westlea Down development.

The actress arrived aboard the firm’s branded helicopter, which was famous for its appearances in adverts.

As expected, she was greeted by hundreds of people and happily signed autographs.

With her was her then husband, actor Tony Booth, who died last year. In 1981 he was best known for his role as a layabout son-in-law in hit sitcom ‘Til Death us do Part, but he was also the father-in-law of an obscure lawyer and would-be politician called Tony Blair.

Two Swindon people who could have afforded to buy several of the new houses between them were an RAF veteran called Jim Mahon and his sister-in-law, businesswoman Eileen Callaghan.

It was 15 years since they had begun sharing a weekly football pools entry, and now their patience had been rewarded with a £180,000 win.

Jim, a former sergeant, had spent 22 years in the RAF and later worked on the M4 motorway, only to suffer an agonising back injury which left him unable to work at all.

His first priority was a long-awaited holiday with his wife. One possible location was somewhere he had last visited during his military service.

“I think I would like to take another look at the Mediterranean,” he said, “and then I think I might change my 1969 Morris Oxford.”

Another person with something to celebrate was 26-year-old former Thamesdown Borough Council arts and recreation clerk Yvonne Habgood, who had become a full-time painter a year earlier.

Her work had already adorned walls at the Wyvern Theatre and been exhibited in Oxfordshire, but her latest achievement was the most impressive yet. The latest exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London was called Trends 81, and included five of Yvonne’s semi-abstract and symbolic works.

The following year, Yvonne would be photographed with Arts Council Chairman Sir Roy Shaw. One of her most striking pieces, Wiltshire Landscape, is part of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s collection.

The last mention of the artist in the Adver’s archives dates from 1996, when she had an exhibition at the Goddard Arms in Clyffe Pypard.

This week in 1981 also saw the passing of a piece of Swindon history – although thankfully she was alive and well and planning a sunny retirement with a daughter in Australia.

For 30 years bus conductress Ann Dott’s cheeriness and kindness had earned her the admiration and friendship of countless passengers, and when she retired she was the last of her profession - known as clippies - in Swindon.

She said: “I knew most of my customers personally and I used to chat to them. When we did country runs I used to get shopping in town for the old people and take it back for them in the evening.”