1953: A goldfish pond lined with flowers and shrubs, and complete with a fountain, was the focal point of decorations at the Mayor’s Ball in Swindon Town Hall. The pond was designed by parks department superintendent Mr MJ Williams. More than 200 guests included mayors and mayoresses of several surrounding towns, and Harry Smith’s orchestra provided music for dancing.

1953: John and Elizabeth Smith, who had been the first tenants of the Pinehurst estate, celebrated their golden wedding. The Pinehurst Road couple had been married at St Barnabas Church. Mr Smith was an Army veteran who had served in Africa and the Far East and taken part in the Boer War, and on returning to civilian life was employed at the Railway Works. Two of their four children survived, and the couple had four grandchildren.

1963: Swindon-born Alderman Harold Winslow, who moved to Coventry and became Lord Mayor 48 years later, died at a hospital there, aged 74. The retired engineer, we said, had been admitted to another hospital for 10 days earlier in the month after developing a stomach complaint. He was discharged and told to rest for four weeks, only for his condition to deteriorate.

1963: Local historian Frances Gay, who chaired the Richard Jefferies Society, said in a letter to the Adver that the reputation of the Victorian naturalist and author from Coate was firmly established in at least one American family. Harold M Jefferies, a great nephew of Richard, was an enthusiastic member of the society, as were his sons, Bruce, Richard and Robert. Frances Gay said Bruce’s mother told her: “Bruce especially derives a lot of enjoyment from his membership and is extremely interested in all the publications we receive from England. He takes them to school and shows them to all his teachers, and due to his association with the Richard Jefferies Society he has become quite a celebrity with all the teachers, who are very impressed with the whole thing!”

1973: More than 100 Swindon civil servants went on strike for the first time in protest at a Government pay clamp. The staff of two local Department of Health and Social Security offices joined nationwide action whose effects included delays at Heathrow.

1973: An explosion badly damaged a caravan used by workers at the Eldene Industrial Estate. Vandalism was suspected following the blast, which reduced the caravan to rubble and rocked nearby bungalows.


274: Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor who became a Christian, was born.

1706: John Evelyn, writer and diarist, died at Wotton, near Dorking. He had kept a diary for 65 years.

1879: The discovery of saccharin was reported by chemists Constantin Fahlberg and Professor Ira Pemson in Baltimore.

1881: The British were defeated by the Boers at the Battle of Majuba.

1900: The British Labour Party was founded. Ramsay MacDonald was its secretary and later became leader and prime minister.

1902: John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes Of Wrath, was born in California.

1933: The Reichstag building in Berlin was burned down - a ploy by the Nazis to suspend civil rights and press freedom.

1939: Britain’s most haunted house, Borley Rectory, was destroyed by fire.

1965: Goldie the Eagle escaped from London Zoo and settled in Regent’s Park. His freedom was followed by the media until his recapture on March 10.

1991: The Gulf War ended after Iraqi troops retreated and Kuwait was liberated.

2011: Frank Buckles, who lied about his age to fight in the First World War and lived to be the last surviving US veteran of the conflict, died at the age of 110.


Joanne Woodward, actress, 89; Steve Harley, singer, 68; Timothy Spall, actor/presenter, 62; Derren Brown, illusionist/TV presenter, 48; Peter Andre, singer, 46; Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, 39; Josh Groban, singer/songwriter, 38.