THE famous roundabouts in Swindon would be even more famous the following year, we announced this week in 2003.

A calendar-creating entrepreneur called Kevin Beresford, having scored a hit the previous year with 12 images of the roundabouts of Redditch, turned his gaze south.

Where better for a calendar of roundabouts than the home of the greatest of them all?

“Next year,” we said, “well-loved icons of the town traffic system, such as the multi-island Magic Roundabout and the Commonhead roundabout, could be sharing shelf space with the likes of Kylie Minogue and David Beckham.

“The 50-year-old owner of a small printing firm, BB Print Digital, Mr Beresford said that the venture started as a joke but against all expectations it has grown into a viable business.”

Mr Beresford added: “The idea for our first calendar came when we put together a bit of a joke calendar to send to our suppliers for Christmas.

“Our initial print run was just 10 copies but that turned out to be nowhere near enough. After someone sent one in to the Graham Norton show, the interest in our calendars has gone through the roof.

“And now we have been flooded with requests for a calendar from Swindon. It seems that the town is a hotbed of roundabout activity.”

The calendar went on to sell more than 8,000 copies, and a 2005 edition duly followed. Mr Beresford went on to become president of the Roundabouts Appreciation Society and branched out into authorship.

His coffee table book, Roundabouts of Great Britain, can still be found on Amazon, as can his other volumes, Parking Mad – Car Parks from Heaven (or Hell) and Roundabouts from the Air.

Another unusual story that week in 2003 was about a talking cash machine – but not the kind with a socket into which blind and partially-sighted people can plug headphones.

This one simply held conversations with people.

Natwest customer Sarah Scarlett thought she might be losing her faculties when she heard a mysterious voice from within an ATM in Canal Walk.

“I went to use the automated machine and then I heard this funny man’s voice coming from it. It was quite high pitched and started chattering away.

“It said ‘thank you for coming,’ ‘don’t forget your cash’ and ‘have a nice day.’ I have been there loads of times and I have never heard voices before.”

Other customers also heard the voices, and some, suspecting they were the victims of a practical joke, looked around for hidden cameras.

Bank manager Richard Laver said there were no talking ATMs at the branch – but suspected the mystery voice belonged to an engineer who was working behind the row of machines at the time.

The Pattern Store Bar in Penzance Drive, which would later become a restaurant and later still be closed and marketed as office space, had a celebrity visitor in the form of six-times world snooker champion Steve Davis.

He was there to help drum up interest in a national pool competition run by events organiser Match Room.

While the best local players were vying for glory, the 45-year-old snooker legend had a pool table to himself and welcomed challengers – all of whom he beat.

Steve said: “I enjoy coming to events like this and playing the local players.

“I always give them my best because the worst thing you can do is let them win – it shows disrespect. There were some good players here and they pushed me close enough as it was.

“Although pool isn’t really my game, it’s still balls with a stick and six pockets – and at the end of the day that’s my life.”

Steam, the museum of the Great Western Railway, had opened in 2000 but an apparent lack of enthusiasm among local organisers of school trips left bosses baffled.

The situation did nothing to improve visitor numbers at the museum. Though highly praised by just about everybody who passed through its doors, an initial overestimate of visitor numbers threw the figures into the red.

Manager Tim Bryan said about 1,300 children from across the South West were due to participate in a special schools event at the museum the following month, but no Swindon schools were taking part.

One local headmaster said that even though admission for school groups was free, transport to get them to Steam was not – and the following month’s event coincided with statutory tests for pupils.

In international news, war in Iraq loomed as the American and British governments insisted that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Peace protesters began to converge on RAF Fairford, where American bombers were set to be stationed.

There were plenty of angry scenes and clashes with the police.

Among the protesters was Kevin Linsley of Swindon Stop the War Coalition, who said: “Anything we can do now to draw attention to this unnecessary war needs to be done.”