Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 15 - 21, 1941

Mr H.C.W. Ludgate, General Manager of the Swindon Corporation Passenger Transport Service announced record profits of £6,800 in the 1940-1 financial year.  Passenger numbers were up with more than 40,000 travelling on an average Saturday.
Mr Ludgate presented some interesting facts and figures to members of the Swindon Economic Society in an address at the College.  He pointed out some of the unique difficulties the town presented with its numerous bridges where the low headroom made it impossible to operate the more economical double decker buses across the entire system.
“February was the quietest month.  Trip Week was also, of course, a slack time, though even then with half the population away, receipts were only 20 per cent below normal,” reported the Advertiser.  “The daily receipts varied from £56 on a wet Sunday in winter to £150 on a fine summer Sunday.”
But for the war the undertaking would have been completely self supporting, Mr Ludgate told the meeting.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations got out of hand when a group of drunken Irish men without tickets tried to force their way into a dance at the Town Hall.
More than 30 men tried to enter the Town Hall, but left when asked to by Sergeant Goodship.  However John Francis Greene, a 38 year old Irishman lodging in Deacon Street, appeared from an ante room with three or four others swinging his arms, swaying and shouting, “Let me get at them.”
This drunken behaviour started a fight among the others during which Sergeant Goodship received a broken nose and later received stitches to a cut on the back of his head.
“This was not an attack on the police as such.  It was a case of a man who was already hot resenting police interference,” reported the Advertiser.
Greene was sentenced to 28 days’ hard labour and fined £1 with £2 costs, for being drunk and disorderly.


Jack Lennon 

 Jack Lennon, a member of the Swindon GWR Social and Educational Union Silver Band and the Playhouse Theatre Orchestra notched up more than 100 medals for solo cornet playing in open competitions.
Mr Lennon of 17 Hunter’s Grove, Swindon topped the century mark at a contest in Abingdon this week in 1941 where he won the solo trumpet championship and came second in the best solo instrumentalist in the quartets section.  In addition he received an award as the best conductor at the competition.
Mr Lennon came from a musical family and began playing the cornet at the age of seven.  Aged just ten he had joined his father at band practise where he had to stand on the stove in order to be seen.  Mr Lennon had led the GWR Silver Bank to victory in open competition at the Crystal Palace on many occasions.

 “Swindon is in the list for some of the new Morrison table shelters,” Ellen Wilkinson, Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security told the Advertiser on a visit to the town this week in 1941.  “It is not included in the first priority towns, but it is definitely to get its supply.”
Miss Wilkinson called in on Swindon during the course of a tour of Wales and the south of England.  Accompanied by various town dignitaries, Miss Wilkinson made an inspection of the canal site shelters and offered a number of suggestions. 
Asked for a message for the people of Swindon, Miss Wilkinson said: “The best message I can give Swindon folk is to implore them to keep in touch with their wardens, to read the Government instructions published for their safety and to be ready for trouble even though trouble may not come.”

Miss Myrtle Sawyers

A group of young Swindonians established a weekly discussion group to air some topical opinions.  The Youth Discussion Group, founded by 18 year old Dennis Iles of 279 Cricklade Road, met at the Labour Party Offices in Milton Road but was quick to emphasise it had no political affiliation or allegiance.
“Last week’s discussion was on the BBC v artistes dispute over membership of the People’s Convention,” reported the Advertiser.  “The meeting decided against the BBC and sent letters of criticism to the London newspapers on the BBC’s attitude.”
The group, which numbered around seven or eight, were keen to welcome new members.  Those interested were invited to contact the group secretary Myrtle Sawyers at 356 Cricklade Road.

William Martin

 Former Skurray’s motor engineer, William Martin, was awarded a commission as a Sub Lieutenant in the RNVR.
William, the son of Mr & Mrs W.G. Martin of 16 Springfield Road, Swindon, had joined the Merchant Service in October 1939.
‘Taffy, as he was affectionately known to his colleagues, was recently home on four days leave after a long spell at sea,’ reported the Advertiser.  ‘During his seafaring career he has been to many parts of the world, including New Zealand, Trinidad, Gibraltar and Canada.’
And jockey Bruce Hobbs, son of Lambourn trainer, who was serving with the Army in the East, also received his commission.  Bruce won the Grand National on Battleship in 1938.


Lady Tweedsmuir was guest of honour at the opening ceremony of a YWCA centre at Watchfield this week in 1941.
The former village hall had been renovated and refurbished under the guidance of Miss R.E. Gurney of 18 Folly Crescent, Watchfield and would be open daily from 2.30 to 9.45 pm.  The girls would be able to relax and enjoy table tennis and parties while the centre would also be open for private study and social work.
‘In opening the centre, Lady Tweedsmuir said she was sure the girls would make this hut the happiest place in England,’ reported the Advertiser.


The regular Swindon Press Alliance Sunday afternoon concert at the Savoy scored another hit this week in 1941 when Swindon gave a rousing welcome to popular pianist Charlie Kunz.
Also on the bill was Horace King who had the distinction of being the first artiste in the world to appear in a television performance alongside inventor J.L. Baird.
This member of the Magic Circle ‘displayed uncanny cleverness in a large repertoire of tricks, leaving the audience baffled,’ reported the Advertiser.  ‘Undoubtedly Horace King will be in much demand as an entertainer as he is a rare find,’ the report continued.

The outbreak of war had seen proposed building work at Pinehurst put on hold for the duration and the 40 acre site ploughed up and put into food production.  With a £50 penalty, under Defence Regulations for trespass on agricultural land, local children would no longer be allowed to play on this area.  A path running alongside the brook had, however been preserved to provide a short cut to school.

The Swindon WVS announced that the Food Column would soon be in operation and called for a volunteer cook or messenger cyclist for this important national service.  The new, mobile scheme to feed the homeless was sponsored by the Ministry of Food.  Those interested in volunteering were advised to contact the organisers at 6 Temple Street.

Trooper Richens and Miss Edna Head
Weddings this week included that of Trooper Leslie Richens who married Edna Head at St Barnabas’ Church and RAF Sergeant Wilfred Thornhill of Manchester who married local girl Dorothy Joan Parsons at Christ Church.

RAF Sergeant Thonrhill and Miss Dorothy Parsons

First Class Stoker Albert Edward Thompson was reported killed while on active service aboard HMS Stag at Port Said.  Stoker Thompson was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Thompson of 43 Chester Street and was married with a child.  A naval reservist, Mr Thompson was recalled for active service at the outbreak of war.

Albert Edward Thompson 

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