1953: Mrs W Popjoy of Grove Street, Swindon enjoyed her dinner at precisely 7.15pm. The special dinner was sent to her from the Rodbourne Swindon Gay Nineties Club, which held its annual dinner and dance in East Street Co-operative Hall, at the same time. Mrs Popjoy and her husband, the club’s registrar and door keeper, had been members since the club’s foundation, four years previously. She had been ill for eight weeks and missed a number of functions. She was asked to eat her dinner at 7.15pm and think of her friends at the club.

1963: An Evening Advertiser van had been lost in the snow drift between Alton Barnes and All Cannings because of the blizzard. The driver, Mr John Partridge, walked seven miles over the hills through thigh-deep snow to Lockeridge, where Mr Norman Cox, transport overseer for Wiltshire Newspapers Ltd, took him, with difficulty, back to Swindon.

1973: When Bristol City Football Club’s new signing, Bobby Gould, arrived at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon to meet his aunt Mary Morgan, press relations officer for the theatre, he had a surprise awaiting him. At the stage door to greet him was Delia Sainsbury, who was playing Prince Charming in the theatre’s pantomime Cinderella. Bobby played against Swindon Town in Bristol.


1493: Christopher Columbus sailed from America to Spain in the Nina.

1809: Louis Braille, inventor of the alphabetic system for the blind which bears his name, was born in Paris.

1813: Isaac Pitman, English publisher and inventor of shorthand, was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

1884: The Fabian Society was founded to promote socialist ideals.

1885: The first successful appendix operation was performed by Dr William West Grant, in Iowa.

1929: Australian cricketer Don Bradman made his first Test century, playing against England in Melbourne.

1936: Billboard magazine in New York published the first popular music chart.

1958: Sir Edmund Hillary, with a New Zealand party, reached the South Pole, the first man to do so overland since Captain Scott.

1967: Donald Campbell died attempting to break the world water speed record on Coniston Water in the Lake District.

1972: Rose Heilbron became Britain’s first woman judge at the Old Bailey.

1986: Christopher Isherwood, novelist and playwright, died. His novel Goodbye To Berlin was adapted as the musical Cabaret.

1993: P&O European Ferries announced the closure of its passenger service between Dover and Boulogne after 170 years.

2009: Colin Freeman, the Sunday Telegraph’s chief foreign correspondent, was released by Somalian kidnappers after 40 days in captivity.

2014: Adventurer Richard Parks claimed a record for the fastest ever solo, unsupported journey to the South Pole by a Briton.

2018: Waitrose announced it was to ban sales of high-caffeine energy drinks to children under 16.


Rick Stein, chef and broadcaster, 72; Bernard Sumner, rock musician (New Order), 63; Michael Stipe, rock singer (REM), 59; Guy Forget, former tennis player, 54; Julia Ormond, actress, 54; Tim Wheeler, rock musician (Ash), 42; David Millar, British road cyclist, 42; James Milner, footballer, 33.