1952: Swindon Public Cleansing Department mixed business with pleasure on their annual outing. The first port of call was the Refuse Disposal Works at Wembley, which at the time served a population of 161,369 and disposed of 28,000 tons annually. The Swindon party, which was accompanied by members of the Public health Committee, then spent a few hours sightseeing before attending a theatre performance and finally arriving back home at 2am.

1962: Conductor and composer Stanford Robinson spoke for nearly three hours about the art of conducting during a visit to Swindon Gramophone Society at the Arts Centre. He illustrated his points with perfectly-timed baton movements to recorded excerpts from range of classical performances, and explained the evolution of conducting and the evolution of the baton.

1972: Swindon people turned out in force to watch more than 20 flower-decked carnival floats wend their way from Bristol Street to the Polo Ground. The parade was organised by Swindon Chamber of Commerce to promote the Floral Queen competition, which helped to publicise local businesses. That year’s queen was Hilary Scarr and her attendant Lynne Rodway.


1709: Samuel Johnson, poet and lexicographer, was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, the son of a bookseller. His dictionary, which took him eight years to compile, contained some eccentric explanations, such as “Oats: A grain which in England is generally given to horses but in Scotland supports the people.”

1810: Chile revolted and gained independence from Spain.

1851: The New York Times was first published.

1905: Greta Garbo, the Swedish shop girl who became one of the most legendary film stars of all time, was born.

1948: Some 7,000 tons of food supplies and petrol were airlifted into Berlin by British and American aircraft, defying a three-month Russian blockade.

1949: The British pound was devalued by 30% by Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Stafford Cripps, from $4.03 To $2.80. On the same day, the milk ration was reduced to two pints a week per person.

1951: The Al Read Show started on BBC radio, with Jimmy Edwards and Pat Kirkwood. Read originated the catchphrases “Right monkey” and “You’ll be lucky!”

1961: UN secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold was killed when his plane was sabotaged and crashed in the jungle in Northern Rhodesia.

1970: Rock star Jimi Hendrix died in an ambulance on the way to hospital, apparently suffering from a drug overdose.

1976: In China, 800 million citizens paid a last tribute to their leader Mao Tse-Tung at the beginning of a memorial service. For three minutes, one-fifth of the world’s population stood in silence.

1981: France abolished execution by guillotine.


Peter Shilton, former footballer, 69; John Aldridge, former footballer, 60; John Fashanu, former footballer, 56; Darren Gough, former cricketer, 48; Jada Pinkett Smith, actress/singer, 47; James Marsden, actor, 45; Sol Campbell, former footballer, 44; Dizzee Rascal, singer/rapper, 34.