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 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 8 - 14, 1941.


Men in the GWR Works announced plans to defy a no smoking ban at a specially convened tea time meeting held in No 5 Shop at the Carriage and Wagon Department. “It was resolved that the members of the shop represented by the ETU, AEU and NUR request the Federation of Railway Trades Unions immediately to place before the GWR management a request that smoking shall be allowed at all times in the factory, except in such places as are already agree to be dangerous,” The Advertiser reported.
The dispute had arisen from inconsistencies in enforcing the ban across the works.  The men pointed out that certain men in the workshops were permitted to smoke as were outside workers such as engine drivers and shunters even though they may be in the factory.Smoking was also allowed from 5.30 to 7.30 pm and on Saturday mornings as this was during overtime work. It was unanimously agreed that should management refuse their demands the men would smoke as and when they pleased and they called upon all men in the factory to support them by doing likewise.


William Sidney Hillier was awarded the Imperial Service Medal following his retirement from the Post Office at the end of 1940.  Mr Hillier, who had worked as a postman for 36 years, received the medal awarded to employees who had given 25 years or more of unblemished service.  The presentation was made at the Swindon GPO Sorting Office by Mr A.T. Warren, Head Postmaster.  Mr Hillier also received an umbrella and a smoker’s cabinet complete with cigarettes, tobacco and several pipes from his Post Office colleagues.


Swindonians were reminded of the importance of carrying their gas masks at all times as the town’s air raid precaution authorities expressed concern with residents apathy to a possible gas attack. Wardens expressed their concern that the panic which would ensue in the event of a gas attack could do more harm than the gas itself.
“For the town is singularly behind hand in gas mask drill as it is with regard to the carrying of them a fact which has been repeatedly pointed out in these columns,” the Advertiser reported.
Members of Swindon Press staff were pictured setting a good example during one of the regular drills carried out at Newspaper House. Everyone was asked to take part and wear his or her mask for gradually lengthening periods. Mr Raymond Thompson, director and general manager explained that the staff would become accustomed to continuing working in the event of a gas attack.

Leading Aircraftman Wilfred G. Thatcher and Miss Gwendoline Adams
Spring weddings got off to a flying start in March when Leading Aircraftman Wilfred G. Thatcher, son of the Prince of Wales Inn licensee Mr S.C. Thatcher and his wife, married Gwendoline M. Adams at the Baptist Tabernacle.  Butterworth Street Methodist Church was the setting for the wedding of Private Alfred George Ind of Manor Cottage, Walcot and Gladys Annie Mary Mayell of Shelley Street, Swindon.  And at Christ Church Acting Corporal Donald William Jarvis of Shrivenham Road married Beryl Whitney of Clifton Street.  Leslie Theodore Barton and Iris Jane Jackson also married at Christ Church where the bride wore a white velvet gown with veil and wreath of orange blossom and carried a bouquet of lilies.

Private Alfred Ind and Miss Gladys Mayell
At Swindon’s Juvenile Court this week in 1941 Frederick A. Blake JP of Stratton St Margaret put the blame for the rise in juvenile crime on mother’s who neglected their obligations and father’s who gave their children too much pocket money.
“If children are given too much, great temptation is put in their way.  They are not satisfied with what they get – they want more and more,” Mr Blake told a father who said he gave his son three or four shillings pocket money each week.
Mr Blake also listed insufficient attention to moral education in elementary schools and the falling off in attendances at Sunday school as contributing factors to rising juvenile crime figures.


The son of a former GWR boilermaker received the distinction of being the first man to hold the newly created Flag rank of Instructor Rear Admiral of the Royal Navy. Instructor Commander Arthur Edward Hall, RN, Director of the Education Department at the Admiralty grew up in Andover Street, the son of Charles Edward Hall, a foreman at the Swindon GWR Works. A former Technical School pupil, Rear Admiral Hall went on to study at the Royal College of Science, Kensington.  He joined the Royal Navy in 1915 and during the First World War he served with HMS Inflexible at the Battle of Jutland.

Regent Street department store McIlroys revealed an eye catching window display, which caught the interest of schoolboys and roof spotters alike.  Mr Harry Webb was responsible for the photographic history of the Royal Air Force with almost every type of aircraft shown. “A reminder of the success of our boys is given in pictures of crashed German planes.  The salvaged metal is used in the construction of more aircraft for Britain,” reported the Advertiser.  “Roof spotters from all surrounding stores have visited the window to refresh their knowledge of modern aircraft.”

Cinema goers could find themselves paying 1s 6d for their seat and an extra 10s if they parked their car on Princes Street, magistrates clerk Mr A.E. Withy pointed out in Swindon Borough Police Court. A recess caused by the reconstruction of Princes Street was presenting a convenient parking space for drivers on their way to the cinema that is until they received a summons for causing an obstruction.  Mr Withy suggested it would be in the public interest if a ‘No parking’ sign could be placed there.

The Ministry of Information announced another of its ‘cut out and keep’ advertisements – What do I do….if I can’t get BBC programmes on the usual wavelength.  Listeners were reminded that broadcasting stations were not operating as they had done during peacetime and to try all the BBC wavelengths in turn on 449, 391, 203 and 49’38 metres.  And listeners were reassured that using a wireless set during an air raid did not help the raiders.



Edwin and Caroline Dewe celebrated their golden wedding anniversary this week in 1941.  Mr Dewe, who was born in Appleford near Abingdon, came to Swindon as a 16 year old to begin work as a sawyer in the GWR Works.  Mrs Dewe, the daughter of George Richardson an engine fitter, had moved to Swindon in 1881. The couple, who married in 1891 had four married sons, one of whom lived next door to them in Albion Street.

Popular entertainer, Mantovani wowed his Swindon audience at a charity concert held at the Savoy Cinema. Mantovani conducted his orchestra in what he described as a ‘new style’ programme, a mixture of both new swing and old favourites such as Begin the Beguine.  Proceeds from the concert went to the British Seamen’s Society, St John’s Ambulance, Stratton and the Swindon branch of the NSPCC.

 Swindon savers marked a new record this week in 1941, chalking up more than £26,000, the highest total since June of 1940.  “Swindon’s accumulated war savings total since January 1 of last year is now £1,274,856,” reported the Advertiser.


Mrs P. Mulholland (dark coat) and Mrs A Poynter, two of the first women porters, unloading milk churns at Swindon Junction station.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 1 - 7, 1941


As bicycle theft soared in Swindon, local magistrates cracked down heavily on those found guilty of receiving the stolen machines.Leslie Caudle told the court Frederick Tucker, a blacksmith from Shrivenham, had paid him 5s for a bicycle he had stolen from outside the GWR Works. Tucker, who said he had about 40 machines on his premises, pleaded that he had not received any cycles knowing them to be stolen.  He was found guilty of receiving two bicycles knowing them to be stolen and received two, three month prison sentences to run concurrently. Leslie Caudle, a soldier, was bound over for twelve months and ordered to pay 15s costs for stealing a cycle. More than 400 bicycles were stolen in Swindon during 1940. Approximately 200 had been recovered and returned to their owners but 204 cycles, worth an estimated £702 13s, had never been found.“If there were no receivers there would be far less of this sort of thing,” said W.T. Brooks, Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire.  “It is a very serious matter.”

 The Army Blood Transfusion Service paid tribute to Swindon blood donors who attended clinics recently held in the town.  As many as 100 volunteers attended daily with the over 50s topping the list. “There were too dozens of cripples and victims of the last war, legless or armless, who pluckily come along to do their bit,” a doctor from the Milton Road Baths clinic told an Advertiser reporter. With more than 1,500 registered donors in Swindon, still more were needed.
“Formerly it was the custom to administer merely a pint of blood to a badly wounded person,” explained the Advertiser.  “Now it is possible and often done to give four or five pints to a person.”  Although it was swiftly clarified that volunteers were only required to donate one pint.
“The great point is that it doesn’t hurt a bit,” the report continued.  “In fact the loss of a little blood would do many people quite a bit of good.”

A nine year old boy told magistrates at Swindon juvenile Court how he stole money two days after he had been placed on probation following a previous offence.“On the first Saturday after I had been to see Mr York I took some money from the office and spent it at the milk bar,” he said, referring to 7s 3d stolen during two raids on a Swindon Transport office.  “On the second Saturday I took bigger money and bought some pop.” Mr York, the Probation Officer, described the boy as a confirmed thief. “Every time he goes out someone has to go with him or there is trouble.” Even the boy’s father agreed that it was impossible to trust the lad.  “If he goes out into the garden he slips off,” he told the court. It was also stated that the boy stole money from under milk bottles.  The magistrates sent him to a Remand Home for three weeks.



Walter A Giles, a GWR travelling ticket collector, received a commendation from the Assistant Commissioner of New Scotland Yard. Mr Giles of 4 Faringdon Road, Swindon came to the aid of a police officer who had been attacked and injured during the course of his duty. This wasn’t the first time that the brave have-a-go ticket collector had come to the aid of the police.  In 1938 Mr Giles was highly commended for the part he took in the arrest of a jewel thief on a West Country express.  On this occasion Mr Giles received a letter of commendation from the Divisional Superintendent and a gratuity of one guinea. Mr Giles had been employed by the GWR for 39 years, 26 of these as a travelling ticket collector during which he travelled an estimated 200,000 miles per year.

Swindon market gardeners were informed that the Government would be the sole purchaser of the next season’s carrot crop grown on holdings of one acre or more.“The price to be paid for washed carrots will range from £6 per ton, free on rail in November, 1941 to £9 in May 1942,” reported the Advertiser.  “Unwashed carrots will be ten shillings per ton less.”Meanwhile the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries were encouraging farmers to make the most of their land and to save two weeks indoor feeding. 
Farmers were told to choose a filed in good heart, sheltered, well drained, and with early grasses and to then apply 1½ of sulphate of ammonia per acre. According to the front page advertisement the advantages were increased milk production and the saving of a fortnight’s supply of concentrates.

And Swindon was leading the way in yet another war time initiative as a mutual first aid repair scheme for war damaged houses was passed at the Town Council meeting this week in 1941.
Deputy Borough Surveyor, Mr W.A. Cutting was appointed Divisional Officer for the scheme and would oversee the purchase of stocks of building materials.  The initial budget was set at £2 per house on 10% of the inhabited houses in the Borough. “In the same way other authorities in the county are accumulating materials for the purpose, and in the event of any emergency occurring the scheme will operate to the mutual advantage of everyone concerned,” reported the Advertiser.

“Women are gradually replacing men in all branches of industry,” reported the Advertiser as the Swindon United Gas Company advertised for women to train as meter readers. “We had women meter readers in the last war and they proved most satisfactory,” said an official from the Company.  Accuracy was the chief qualification required of applicants. And it wasn’t only in industry that women were making an appearance.  So serious was the shortage of experienced stable lads that one well known racehorse trainer was advertising for lightweight girls who can ride and know how to manage horses.



Swindon was winning the war – on rats, according to F.H. Beavis, the town’s Chief Sanitary Inspector. “We have employed a full time rat catcher for a long time, and his efforts have prevented any large scale invasion of the town,” he told the Advertiser.  “Last month no fewer than 560 rats were destroyed by him, chiefly at the tips, and our records show that between 6,000 and 7,000 of them have been caught annually for many years past.”

Teaching staff at Upper Stratton Senior School received a black mark when the headmaster revealed that only four out of 14 were willing to undertake fire watching duty at the school. Several speakers at the school managers meeting expressed their disappointment at this unpatriotic attitude despite evidence that some of the teachers already belonged to the Home Guard.It was resolved to report the facts to the County Education Committee.

An appeal on behalf of the isolated Moredon residents was raised by Councillor Akers at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. With no street fire alarm box and no public telephone kiosk in the area, Councillor Akers appealed to the chairman of the General Purposes Committee for early steps to be taken to address the problem.  The question was deferred to the next meeting of the committee.

Private Walter Stiff and Elsie Cullip
Two servicemen were given leave to get married in Swindon this week in 1941.  Private Walter Stiff of Peterborough married local girl Elsie Cullip of Redcliffe Street at St. Augustine’s Church.  Christ Church was the setting for the wedding of Corporal William James Gover of 22 Lansdown Road and his bride Irene Rose Comley of 55 Regents Place.


Corporal William Gover and Irene Comley