1953: The young Queen Elizabeth’s first New Year Honours list included a British Empire Medal for a Swindon man, Royal Navy Chief Engine Room Artificer AG Williams, whose family home was in Eastcott Road. The World War Two veteran and former Railway Works apprentice was involved in secret experimental work on torpedo boat engines at the HMS Hornet Coastal Forces Base.

1963: Swindon and District Co-operative Society milkmen were asked to postpone their days off for the next fortnight in order to help round up a quarter of a million stray empty bottles. We said: “The bottles have not yet been collected after the recent stockpiling of milk by housewives during the severe weather.” The extra demand meant three 10-ton lorries filled with bottles - about 175,000 of them - had to be brought in from Worksop, and most had yet to be recovered.

1973: Swindon Corporation, the development arm of the old borough council was revealed to have debts of more than £41m - a colossal sum for the time - thanks to its ambitious expansion and improvement programme. Projects included the development of new neighbourhoods for the growing population, and the almost complete remodelling of the town centre.


1800: The first soup kitchens for the poor of London began.

1815: The British, led by General Sir Edward Pakenham, were defeated at New Orleans in the last battle Britain fought against the US.

1824: Wilkie Collins, English pioneer of the detective and suspense story, was born in London. He wrote The Woman In White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868).

1832: Bell’s New Weekly Messenger published the first cartoon to appear in an English newspaper.

1889: Dr Herman Hollerith of New York patented an electrically operated computer to process data. The company he formed to market his invention evolved into the giant IBM.

1921: David Lloyd George became the first British prime minister to occupy Chequers, a country mansion in Buckinghamshire, presented to the nation as a gift by Lord Lee of Fareham.

1935: Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, the survivor of twin boys.

1940: Sugar, bacon and butter were rationed in Britain.

1982: Spain ended its siege of Gibraltar and reopened the frontier. In return, Britain ended its opposition to Spain joining the EEC.

1989: A British Midland 737 crashed into an embankment alongside the M1 near Kegworth, Leicestershire, killing 47 people.

1997: Kevin Keegan quit as manager of Newcastle United after five years in the post.


Dame Shirley Bassey, singer, 82; John McTiernan, film director, 68; R Kelly, singer/songwriter, 52; Rachel Nichols, actress, 39; Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), 35; Michael Mancienne, footballer, 31.