Thursday, December 8, 2011

September 21-27, 1939

Both on the streets and in their homes, the people of Swindon struggled to get to grips with the new blackout regulations.

Fifteen people appeared at Swindon Borough Police Court on Monday September 25 for failure to conceal lights. Supt. W.T. Brooks said the vast majority of persons in Swindon had faithfully complied with the regulations, but there were a few who regarded them as of no importance.

Embarrassingly ARP Warden James Murphy of 246 Whitworth Road was the first up before the magistrates. Pleading not guilty, Murphy agreed that ill fitting curtains in a bay window may have revealed a gap of an inch or two, but not a foot as suggested by the constable.
Imposing a fine of £1, the chairman Mr F. King said an air raid warden ought not to be caught in the wrong.

Two motor cyclists were involved in a fatal head on collision at Blunsdon on Saturday September 23. Both riders were taken to St. Margaret's Hospital, Stratton St. Margaret where John Howard Stevens, 22 of South Cerney, died shortly after admission.

While the outbreak of war saw a marked increase in the number of weddings taking place, two local couples celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Mary Emily Dixon wed Harry Weston and her brother Arthur William Dixon married Hannah L.J. Howse in a double wedding on September 21, 1889 at St Mary's Church, Rodbourne Cheney.

The two men, then retired, had notched up a combined 95 years service in the GWR Works. Arthur Dixon 69, had started work in the Rolling Mills aged 13 and described himself as a 'Jack of all trades.' Harry Weston, also 69, was first apprenticed to a blacksmith, later becoming a furnaceman.

Arthur and Harry were described as 'prominent members of the Swindon Labour Party while Mary Weston, 71 was not only president of the Women's Section of the West Ward Labour Party but vice president of the Rodbourne Road Methodist Bright Hour and represented the Co-operative Guild on the Swindon Maternity and Child Welfare Committee.

Both couples headed large families. Arthur and Hannah Dixon had four sons and four daughters, 16 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Harry and Mary Weston had three daughters, one son, six grandchildren and one great grandchild. At the time of their golden wedding celebrations the two couples were close neighbours in Rodbourne. Harry and Mary lived at 44 Montagu Street and Arthur and Hannah at 63 Morris Street.

On a mission to expose unscrupulous traders, one intrepid Advertiser reporter went undercover on a Shadow Shopping Tour of Swindon town centre.

The special investigator concluded that while tradesmen gave assurances that they were not profiteering, there was no denying that prices had risen and that the cost of living had increased by several shillings for the average household.

Housewives interviewed by the Advertiser's Shadow Shopper said they naturally expected to find some prices increasing. However, they were not satisfied that everything possible had been done to prevent unscrupulous traders breaking faith with the public by piling war costs on existing stocks.

Two Swindon brothers were among those lost when the Aircraft Carrier Courageous was sunk on September 17 off the Irish coast. Charles L. Brooks 52 and Harry Brooks 46, both engine room artificers, were called up as naval reservists. "I am going with a good heart. If I don't come back I have no regrets," Charles reportedly told his sister Mrs E. Newman of 30 Osborne Street when he left to rejoin the Navy.

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