THE first full week of March, 1966 opened with a visit by a major star of the folk music scene.

By that time Julie Felix had already played a sellout Royal Albert Hall concert and would soon become a resident act on a new hit satirical TV show, The Frost Report, becoming a familiar face to millions in the process.

The American-born singer’s visit to Swindon was the first of several, the most recent being a Wyvern Theatre performance in 2017.

Our article 53 years ago began: “Emotion plays a large part in the musical life of Julie Felix, folk singer extraordinary.

“It is the amount of emotion she puts into each song that lifts this 24-year-old long-haired girl from California above most of her contemporaries.

“Last night she played to a full house at the Swindon Ballad and Blues Club at the Castle, Prospect. Fans began to queue for seats more than two hours before Julie picked up her guitar.”

As many Rewind readers will be aware, Julie was not the only major figure of the folk scene to perform at the pub. Other luminaries included Al Stewart and, most famously of all, Paul Simon.

Our article continued: “A great believer in contemporary folk music, Julie, often regarded as the glamour girl of the folk scene, thrilled the audience and had it shouting for more.

“Her voice is a step away from other female folk singers, who seem to cling to the Joan Baez sound. Julie can sing as sweetly and as softly, but in an up-temp number her voice becomes strong and forceful.”

Later in the week, Adver readers learned that the town was to be visited by a star of an entirely different showbusiness realm - whose voice was also familiar to countless people.

Mrs Dale’s Diary was a major BBC radio drama series which ran from 1948 until 1969, and revolved around the life of a doctor’s wife, Mary Dale.

Its star since 1963, when the title had changed to The Dales, had been Jessie Matthews, who took over from another performer, Ellis Powell.

Advice about health and nutrition was slipped into storylines, much as information about agriculture was included in fellow radio soap The Archers.

We wrote: “The star of that old BBC faithful, The Dales, Jessie Matthews (she is, of course, Mrs Dale) is coming to Swindon next month.

“It is all part of the British Egg Marketing Board’s Egg Week in the West of England and Wales. The object of the Week - the eighth the Board has promoted in different parts of the United Kingdom - to make the housewife more aware of the food value and versatility of eggs.

“Jessie Matthews will visit Swindon on April 1, when she will be at the Maypole Supermarket in The Parade and Swindon Co-operative Supermarket at Cavendish Square at 10.30am and 2.30pm respectively.”

The actress duly visited and was mobbed by autograph hunters in both venues.

There was controversy at another shop, McIlroys, whose ballroom was the venue for the Swindon heat of the National Junior Hair Stylist Competition.

“Representatives of television and the Press,” we said, “were there. And people packed in to watch the stylists at work on their models.

“A popular young Dane - thought by many to stand a god chance - was disqualified on nationality grounds.”

The young man, 20-year-old Kaj Lauritsen, worked for Maurice of Mayfair in Swindon and had been in the town since the previous October. He had a work permit, but said he hadn’t been informed until after the competition began that his nationality would disqualify him.

Kaj said: “I’m disappointed because I have done some of my best work.”

His model, 18-year-old Lorraine Trotter, Broad Blunsdon, was rather more forceful.

“It’s terrible,” she said. “He’s got work permit to come here. I think he would have got a good placing.”

The eventual winner was 19-year-old Linda Harman, of Badbury, who worked at a Swindon salon called Cordelia.

Old attitudes toward traditional male and female job roles were beginning to crumble, but one of our stories was headlined: “Swindon girl’s job in a man’s world.”

It was about a young woman called Annette Enderby, a new trainee receptionist at the Kings Arms Hotel in Wood Street. Her duties also included tapping barrels of beer, a skill she had learned during training at Swindon College.

We said: “Every day before the hotel opens, Annette, daughter of the proprietor, Mr Peter Enderby, taps a few barrels of beer in readiness - with a slick flick of the hammer she does it as quickly and professionally as any man.”

We added: “But like many women she often cannot face her own products.”

Annette, who was 19, said: “Beer? It’s revolting stuff. And I don’t much care for spirits, apart from the occasional sherry.”