TWO Celebrity Big Brother contestants were proxies for an old rivalry this week 16 years ago.

The second series of the reality spin-off saw Swindon model and presenter Melinda Messenger among six contestants, the others being Anne Diamond, Goldie, Les Dennis, Mark Owen and Sue Perkins.

It was possibly the last Celebrity Big Brother whose participants were all recognisable to the bulk of the population, but that wasn’t what attracted our attention.

Early in the competition we said: “Today we are calling on the people of Swindon to support Melinda Messenger and help vote Anne Diamond out of the Celebrity Big Brother house.

“For old rivalries which have divided football fans in Swindon and Oxford for years have been unwittingly revived by Channel 4 in its show, which pits our own Melinda Messenger against the former TV-AM star from down the road.

“And it would be a great boost to our football club if we could score an early victory over Oxford before the big FA Cup tie at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday, December 1 by getting Anne out as soon as possible.”

Veteran Adver columnist Shirley Mathias wrote a piece in favour of Melinda, while the Oxford Mail’s Roseena Parveen did the same for Anne.

As the series progressed, Anne became the second evictee and and Melinda the fourth. The eventual winner was Mark Owen.

Oxford, incidentally, took a one-nil victory in the cup tie.

Another ongoing story that week in 2002 was the impending opening of Great Western Hospital, replacement of the crumbling Princess Margaret Hospital.

One of several articles appeared beneath a striking imaged captured by Adver photographer Stuart Harrison, showing the large glass-sided stairwell and a lone cleaner washing a pane.

He or she was among a small army of people making the new hospital ready for patients and staff.

We said: “A number of departments have already transferred to the new building which has been built at Commonhead.

“These include clerical and communications departments and part of the and part of the training and education offices.

“The Intensive Care Unit will be moved in on Monday, while the new accident and emergency ward opens to the public at 7.01am on Tuesday, December 3, shortly after the closure of the Princess Margaret Hospital’s A&E ward at 7am.

“The various other departments and wards will be moved to the Great Western Hospital by December 11.”

We also spoke to Sasha Ward, the respected Marlborough stained glass artist whose latest work was a colourful and soothing window for the new hospital’s chapel.

She said: “It is really nice to know that people will be able to enjoy my work, and it is great to have one of my works so close to where I live.”

Another building-related story involved the Corn Exchange, which had closed some years earlier after being used as a roller skating rink.

According to plans announced by the borough council it was possible that the building and the area around it would be transformed within a year into restaurants, apartments and an enclosed leisure area with a cafe culture.

As many Rewind readers will be aware, a fire the following May called a halt to the proceedings, and another a year later finally reduced the building to a shell.

On a happier note, artist Lee Dickenson created a work which stands to this day.

As part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, the wood carver turned a dead tree in a field off Trent Road, Haydon Wick, into a giant sculpture of a squirrel.

The Somerset-based carver, then 43, told us that because the dead tree was an oak he chose the creature with a well-known fondness for acorns.

He added: “This sort of project is very hard work, but seeing the finished article makes it all worthwhile.”

The sculpture has since been moved to the grounds of the parish council offices in Thames Avenue.

RAF Fairford was the setting for what American military leaders described as show of their forces’ reach.

Three B1 bombers flew in from Pyess Air Force Base in Texas for a series of training missions over northern England and Scotland.

A US Air Force spokesman insisted in the face of widespread disbelief that the development was in no way connected to the ongoing deterioration of relations with Iraq.

The aircraft were not carrying armaments but were capable of carrying weapons ranging from cluster bombs to 2,000lb smart bombs.

One of the American personnel, weapons officer Miles McClung, said: “This mission is to demonstrate the power of the bomber.

“We can take off from the United States, fly to the other side of the world, use our weapons and then fly back again.

“I’m very patriotic about our country and I love defending it.”