1953: People in the Swindon district were reported to have had a good view of the previous evening’s four-hour solar eclipse. “At the start,” we said, “there was some white cloud, through which the moon could be seen, but by the time the eclipse was half way through, the sky was clear and watchers had a perfect view for the remainder of the time.” The best place from which to see the eclipse was said to be Campbeltown on the west coast of Scotland.

1953: A mass X-ray campaign to screen school-leavers for tuberculosis was about to begin in Swindon. Although the development of vaccines and drugs was helping to fight the potentially lethal infectious condition, which mainly affects the lungs, many cases went undetected as sufferers were unaware of their condition until it was too late.

1963: Swindon lost 5-1 to Everton in an FA Cup match at the County Ground, but for some fans there was even more heartache as pickpockets circulated. Wallets containing a total of about £350 were taken, while one unfortunate victim lost £249 - the equivalent of more than £5,000 in 2018.

1963: A campaign called Tractors for the Hungry was chosen by Highworth Methodist Youth Club members as its chosen good cause in the months leading to Easter. Club members pledged that each week they would give up a luxury item such as sweets and instead make a donation to the campaign, whose idea was to provide farmers in developing countries with the equipment they needed to become self-sufficient.

1973: Booming Swindon, said the Adver, was setting the pace in the expansion race. Swindon had built 7,915 of the 8,500 new council properties which were its obligation under the Town Development Act, and the remainder were under construction. No other community involved in the project had made such rapid progress.

1973: Pupils of St Bartholomew’s School in Wootton Bassett were to have three days off during the week so teachers could go on a refresher course. The course, including instruction in the latest primary teaching techniques, was planned as part of the transition to a new building, which was expected to happen within a year.


1606: Sir Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant and Thomas Bates were hung, drawn and quartered for their part in the Gunpowder Plot.

1649: Charles I, convicted of treason, was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

1858: The Halle Orchestra was founded by Charles Halle in Manchester.

1889: Beautiful 17-year-old Baroness Marie Vetsera and her lover, Austrian

Crown Prince Rudolf, were found dead at the royal hunting lodge of Mayerling, near Vienna. Whether it was a double suicide or murder is still unknown.

1933: Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.

1948: Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in New Delhi.

1961: The contraceptive pill went on sale in Britain - but was not available on the NHS until December.

1965: Big Ben was silenced for the funeral procession of Sir Winston Churchill.

1982: Stanley Holloway, actor, comedian and singer, died aged 91.

1997: An underground anti-road protest came to an end after six days as the last demonstrator, known as Swampy, emerged from a tunnel underneath the proposed A30 extension route in Devon.

2008: Entertainer and TV presenter Jeremy Beadle died in hospital in north London at the age of 59 following a short battle with pneumonia.

2014: Irish authorities were sure that ‘filler product’ found in contaminated burgers sold in supermarkets came from Poland and was a mixture of beef and horse offcuts, the Food Standards Agency said.


Gene Hackman, actor, 89; Vanessa Redgrave, actress, 82; Boris Spassky, chess master, 82; Dick Cheney, US politician, 78; Phil Collins, rock singer/drummer, 68; Brett Butler, actress, 61; Christian Bale, actor, 45; Wilmer Valderrama, actor, 39; Peter Crouch, footballer, 38.