1951: Two fire engines turned out in answer to a call from the Ordinance Survey Depot in Kembrey Street, Swindon. It was only a test call, however, given when the depot’s fire fighting system was tested during an inspection by Brigadier J H Gregson representative of the Commander Salisbury Plain District.

1961: Crowds of cheering children greeted Santa Claus when he was driven in state from Swindon Junction Station to a large department store in Swindon. More than 1,250 children, in one day, met Father Christmas and one boy, who wanted to work on a farm, asked him for a muck spreader for Christmas. Others wanted more traditional gifts such as a toy truck or nurses outfit.

1971: Former Swindon schoolboy Melvyn Fowler returned to the town and met a former teacher, Mr D J Webber, now careers master of Churchfields School. The reason for the visit was that Melvyn was a member of HMS Tenby a Royal Navy frigate which has been adopted by the school.


65 BC: Horace, Roman poet, was born in Venusian Apulia.

1542: Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace.

1733: A Dorset man reported seeing a polished silver disc in the sky - the first known sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object, or UFO.

1854: Pope Pius IX settled an ancient controversy by declaring that Christ’s mother, the Virgin Mary, was preserved from all sin from the moment she was conceived.

1859: Thomas de Quincey, essayist and opium addict, died in Scotland.

1864: The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon at Bristol, designed by Brunel, was opened.

1894: James Thurber, American humorist and creator of Walter Mitty, was born in Columbus, Ohio.

1941: Britain and the United States declared war on Japan.

1980: John Lennon was shot dead outside his home in New York by Mark David Chapman.

1991: Leaders of the three republics - Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine - formed a ‘’commonwealth of independent states’’ and pronounced the Soviet Union dead.

2016: At the age of 73, Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger became a father again.

BIRTHDAYS James Galway, flautist, 78; Sir Geoff Hurst, former footballer, 76; Kim Basinger, actress, 64; Teri Hatcher, actress, 53; David Harewood, actor, 52; Sinead O’Connor, singer, 51; Dominic Monaghan, actor, 41; Nicki Minaj, singer, 35.