1952: Automatic train control, devised by the Great Western Railway 50 years earlier, was championed by Swindon stationmaster Mr E Sharples during a talk for the town’s Rotary Club. According to Mr Sharples the system, which was still in operation and sounded an alarm in the cab if a locomotive passed through a warning signal, might have prevented a recent crash at Harrow which killed more than 100 people.

1962: Don’t Pick the Daisies, a film highly commended at the annual open meeting of the Swindon Film Unit, was given a second showing at the Arts Centre. Not to be confused with similarly-titled Doris Day film Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, it was the work of two local schoolboys who used stop-motion animation to depict the bowels of the earth.

1972: Swindon MP David Stoddart condemned Princess Anne for going fox-hunting. “There is no doubt,” he said, “that a large section of public opinion has been outraged by Princess Anne’s action in riding to hounds with the Zetland Hunt in Yorkshire. It is for Princess Anne’s parents, rather than me, to tell her how to behave. But I think it is a pity that the modern tradition that members of the Royal Family should not take part in fox hunting should have been broken in this way.”


1695: Henry Purcell, English composer, died of tuberculosis, aged 36. It is said that a friend asked him if he had made his peace with God, and he replied: “We’ve never quarrelled.”

1783: Man’s first free-flight was made by Jean de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes in the Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon. They flew above Paris and, after 25 minutes, landed a few miles south.

1787: Sir Samuel Cunard, shipowner, was born in Nova Scotia. He came to Britain in 1838 and, with two partners, established what became the Cunard Line.

1918: The German battle fleet surrendered to the Allies at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys.

1934: Cole Porter’s Anything Goes opened in New York and made a star of Ethel Merman.

1936: The first television gardening programme was broadcast by the BBC - In Your Garden with Mr Middleton.

1974: IRA bombs in two Birmingham public houses killed 19 people and left a further 180 injured.


Dr John (Mac Rebennack), R&B musician, 78; Juliet Mills, actress, 77; Goldie Hawn, actress, 73; Lorna Luft, actress, 66; Bjork, singer, 53; Andrew Caddick, former cricketer, 50; Alex James, musician (Blur) and writer, 50; Justin Langer, former cricketer, 48; Carly Rae Jepsen, singer, 33.