March 21

1953: The opening of the All England Sunshine Dancing Competition for 1953, at the Sanford Street Congregational Hall, Swindon, was a great day for five-year-old Sandra Tanner. She took part in seven events and won them all, dancing against girls much older than her.

1953: Sword dancing was one of the highlights at the annual Morris and folk dance festival, where more than 200 children took part. The Swindon and district school pupils performed at the Drove Road Secondary Modern School for Girls in Swindon. Mr Kenneth Clark and Miss E Di Jersey of England Folk Dance Society were the adjudicators. The event wound up with a square dance party.

1963: For their first production, members of the newly-formed Christ Church Swindon Dramatic Society were presenting The Gay Bachelor, a three act comedy, by Armitage Owen, at the church hall, Devizes Road. Deidre Matthews, a member of the Adastrians Amateur Dramatic Society was the producer.

1963: A social, arranged by Purton and Cricklade Young Farmers, was enjoyed by about 60, at the Red House, Purton. The chairman of the club, Mr Peter Cole, was MC, and dancing was to the music of the Peter Kaye Trio.

1973: Swindon-based four piece, Kay Guest from Park South and her Green Steam pop group, made their broadcast debut on Radio Bristol's pop show, called Bridge. The semi-professional group had been together for four years and won a six month tour of Germany thanks to an agent in Wootton Bassett.

1073: A walk out of the night shift and disruption of the day shift affected production at Swindon's Austin Morris body plant. It was understood that several hundred day and night shift workers were idle following the escalation of a dispute involving fork lift truck drivers. The drivers normally kept the press operators supplied with materials but it was claimed that when they ran out the press operators were sent home. When requests for their reinstatement were ignored the shop stewards initiated a call for a complete withdrawal of labour.


1556: Thomas Cranmer, first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, was condemned as a heretic under Catholic Queen Mary I and burned at the stake in Oxford.

1685: Composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany. He sired 20 children yet still found time to compose 300 cantatas, two oratorios, the St John and St Matthew Passions and Mass in B minor.

1861: Albert Chevalier, composer and singer of cockney songs, including My Old Dutch and Knocked 'Em In The Old Kent Road, was born in London.

1918: The last major German offensive of the First World War began on the Somme.

1933: The first Nazi concentration camp was completed in Germany. It served as a prototype and model for the others that followed including Auschwitz.

1960: The Sharpeville massacre took place in the Transvaal, South Africa, when police fired on a demonstration against Pass Laws, killing 69 people.

1963: Alcatraz, the notorious maximum security prison in San Francisco Bay, was closed.

1985: Riot police shot dead 17 black people at South Africa's Langa township on the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre.

1991: The poll tax was ditched as Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine unveiled a new property tax to replace it.

1993: The IRA claimed responsibility for two bomb attacks in Warrington which killed a four-year-old child.

1995: Police raided the Tokyo headquarters of the Aum Shinrikyo religious sect after Sarin nerve gas was released on five trains in the Tokyo underground system.

2018: The number of over-70s holding a driving licence had exceeded five million for the first time, figures showed.

BIRTHDAYS: Michael Heseltine, former deputy prime minister, 86; Gary Oldman, actor, 61; Matthew Broderick, actor, 57; Rosie O'Donnell, actress, 57; Ieuan Evans, former rugby player, 55; Matthew Maynard, former cricketer, 53; Adrian Chiles, television presenter, 52; Mark Williams, snooker player, 44; Ronaldinho, footballer, 39.