1953: George Morse announced his retirement as conductor of the Swindon (GWR) Male Voice Choir after 25 years at the helm. Mr Morse, who lived in Groundwell Road, had steered the choir through 46 BBC broadcasts and at least 500 concerts, and had seen his singers win many trophies. During his quarter of a century in charge, he had missed only two rehearsals and two performances.

1953: Local apathy toward Swindon-born Victorian nature writer Richard Jefferies was the title of a talk to be delivered by Mr GA Streetly at the year’s first meeting of the Richard Jefferies Society. The programme for the first half of the year also included talks entitled Round About Wiltshire, The Nature Diaries of Richard Jefferies and Richard Jefferies’ Landmarks and Countryside. Round About Wiltshire was to be accompanied by a series of lantern slides.

1963: Members of Swindon Round Table were due to hear about development of the new Polaris submarine in a lecture later in the month. It was to be delivered by Lieutenant Commander LA Wintle, RN (Retd), chief lecturer of the Navy League, a naval youth training organisation.

1963: An Evening Advertiser van was recovered after spending 10 days stuck in a snowdrift on the road between Alton Barnes and All Cannings, as Britain continued to labour under one of the worst spells of cold weather in living memory. Motor insurance companies, and bodywork repairers such as Bamptons in Swindon, reported relatively few accidents, but this was mainly down to the fact that relatively few drivers dared to risk getting behind the wheel.

1973: The exorcism of a ghost said by a Penhill couple to haunt their home was to feature in the opening episode of a new BBC TV documentary series Leap in the Dark, about the mysterious and supernatural. Canon Christopher Harman, the former vicar of St Paul’s in Swindon, had actually performed the exorcism six months before the programme was made, but agreed to recreate the procedure for the cameras.

1973: A decision by the Wyvern Theatre to discontinue season tickets annoyed some of its patrons. The theatre abandoned the scheme when the number of season ticket holders dropped below 100, but many committed theatregoers protested that having a book of tickets for the season was more convenient.


1684: Puppet shows performed and shopping stalls were set up on the Thames in London during a deep freeze.

1799: Prime minister William Pitt (the Younger) introduced income tax at two shillings in the pound to raise funds for the Napoleonic Wars.

1898: Gracie Fields was born in Rochdale. She became one of Britain’s most popular entertainers and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1979.

1902: New York State introduced a bill to outlaw flirting in public.

1914: Striptease artiste Gypsy Rose Lee was born in Seattle. She became Queen of Burlesque in the 1930s and her autobiography, Gypsy, became a hit musical.

1927: Greta Garbo and John Gilbert - real-life lovers - shocked cinemagoers in New York by their uninhibited kissing in the silent film Flesh And The Devil.

1951: Life After Tomorrow, the first film to receive an X rating in Britain, opened in London.

1957: Anthony Eden resigned as prime minister in the wake of the Suez crisis.

1972: The liner Queen Elizabeth, after being removed to Hong Kong to serve as a floating marine university, sank after catching fire.

1997: Yachtsman Tony Bullimore was found alive, five days after his boat capsized in the freezing wastes of the Southern Ocean, 2,200km off the coast of Australia.

2007: Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone.

2018: Dozens of people were killed or missing following a cyclone in Madagascar.


Joan Baez, singer, 78; Jimmy Page, rock guitarist, 75; Crystal Gayle, singer, 68; Joely Richardson, actress, 54; Jimmy Adams, former cricketer, 51; The Duchess of Cambridge, 37, Paolo Nutini, singer/songwriter, 32.