1952: Trainspotters in Swindon were bewildered by a new carriage - a mysterious and bulky one of riveted steel, painted olive green. Called the Mauzin, it was a track testing machine lately imported from France. British Rail’s Western Region was searching for an effective track tester, and had already rejected America’s Sperry Car and the British Hallade. Following the testing of the Mauzin, a Swiss track tester, the Amsler, was also to be trialled.

1952: Nutty slack coal - an inexpensive grade consisting mainly of small pieces - had been removed from post-war rationing on December 1, and merchants reported such heavy demand from Swindon households that the limited stock provided by the National Coal Board was not sufficient to meet demand.

1962: Goddard Townswomen’s Guild (Swindon) choir and drama groups were putting the finishing touches to their musical production, Hiawatha, which they were planning to perform for about 200 fellow members and friends. Producer Mrs Doris Gadsdon said: “We put on an operetta about once every two years, but I think this is one of the most colourful we have yet performed.”

1962: About 800 people rushed to buy tickets for a pre-Christmas concert by the Third United States Air Force Band at Swindon’s Central Hall. American big band music had been popular in Britain since World War two, when Glenn Miller was its biggest star. Proceeds from the Swindon concert were to be donated to the League of Friends of Swindon Hospitals.

1972: A cycle track costing nearly £250,000 was suggested as a way of removing vulnerable cyclists from the packed and dangerous Bridge End Road at Stratton. Highworth Rural District Council’s Accident Prevention Committee agreed to consider the idea, which was introduced by Coun Mrs WMJ Reynolds. The track would run from Bridge End Road to Drakes Way, and Coun Reynolds envisaged the work being completed in four stages.

1972: Swindon MP David Stoddart was among a group of Labour politicians who had a working lunch at the Japanese Embassy in London, where trade between Britain and Japan was discussed. Mr Stoddart was also due to visit the Vickers engineering plant in South Marston to discuss the future of the organisation.


1697: The first Sunday service was held in the new St Paul’s Cathedral.

1766: James Christie, founder of the famous auctioneers, held his first sale in London.

1791: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer, died and was reportedly buried in an unmarked grave with several other paupers.

1872: The American brig Mary Celeste was found drifting in the Atlantic, her crew missing.

1901: Walt Disney, cartoon film producer, was born in Chicago.

1933: Prohibition ended in America after 14 years.

1945: Five US Navy bombers from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, disappeared over the area which became known as the Bermuda Triangle.

1952: Smog enveloped London and killed more than 4,000 people in less than a week.

1956: Rose Heilbron became Britain’s first female recorder.

1958: The Preston by-pass, Britain’s first section of motorway (the M1, eight-and-a-half miles long) was officially opened by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.


Little Richard, rock ‘n’ roll star, 86; Jose Carreras, tenor, 72; Morgan Brittany, actress, 67; Lee Chapman, former footballer, 59; Carlton Palmer, former footballer, 53; Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker player, 43; Paula Patton, actress, 43; Jessica Pare, actress, 38.