1952: About 35 children, sons and daughters of members of the Gorse Hill police station, Swindon, attended a party in the station’s social room. A Christmas tree held a place of honour and Father Christmas mingled with the children. DC G Hares was in charge of the Gorse Hill Police Band for dancing. There was also a series of children’s games followed by tea.

1952: More than 900 people danced to the music of the Billy Ternent Orchestra at Vickers Armstrong (South Marston) Sports Club New Year’s Ball in the factory’s gaily decorated main canteen. Ten buses ran shuttle service between the factory and all parts of Swindon to take people to and from the dance.

1962: The ancient Judas Tree in the churchyard of Clyffe Pypard was in danger of dying according to an expert. The tree attracted visitors from a wide area each year. It was said by the expert to be more than 200-years-old. It had been severely damaged in the November gales. Legend had it that the tree’s first blossom of the year was always seen on Good Friday.

1962: Mr S G Hayter, a driver for Bristol buses, was walking through Coate, from Wanborough to Swindon to get to work in the snow, when a vixen started following him. He tried to shoo the fox away but it continued to follow him so he gave her his packED lunch, which she wolfed down, biscuits and all. She then ran beside him like a dog all the way to Broome Manor.

1972: Residents in neighbouring streets had got together to protest against the threatened demolition of Westcott Street and part of Westcott Place, Swindon. Several Swindon organisations had pledged support for a Save Our Homes campaign being managed by the residents association.

1972: A £123,000 electronic telephone exchange was to be opened at Moormead Road, Wroughton. It was to replace an automatic one which had served the area since 1941. The 11th electronic exchange catered for 1,200 lines. Wroughton numbers, it was reported would be changed to six figures.


1777: George Washington defeated the British at the Battle of Princeton.

1870: Work on the Brooklyn Bridge began.

1883: Clement Attlee, Labour Party leader and prime minister from 1945-51, was born.

1892: Author JRR Tolkien, creator of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, was born in South Africa. He died in Bournemouth in 1973.

1911: The Siege of Sidney Street took place when anarchists were besieged by police in a house in London’s East End.

1924: English explorer Howard Carter discovered the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun in Egypt’s Valley of Kings.

1946: Nazi propagandist William Joyce - the notorious Lord Haw-Haw - was hanged for treason.

1959: Alaska became the 49th state of America.

1961: The millionth Morris Minor, the highly successful British car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, came off the assembly line at Oxford.

1997: The death toll in Europe’s big freeze hit 220 as temperatures plunged to -10C from Britain to central Russia.

2009: Matt Smith was named as the new Doctor Who. He became the 11th Time Lord since the programme started in 1963.

2018: The first polar bear cub born in the UK for 25 years was being monitored at a Scottish wildlife park.


Stephen Stills, rock singer, 74; John Paul Jones, rock musician (Led Zeppelin), 73; Mel Gibson, actor, 63; Gavin Hastings, former Scottish rugby player, 57; Michael Schumacher, former racing driver, 50; Dominic Wood, children’s television presenter, 41.