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Showing posts from January, 2022

'Diamond Pitt' & the Regent Diamond

  Nicknamed ‘ Diamond Pitt’, Thomas Pitt was a clergyman’s son who was born in Blandford St Mary in 1653. During his lifetime, he bought and sold a diamond considered by many to be the most pure and beautiful ever discovered. In 2018, it was valued at £14,000,000. Today, it is on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is known as both the ‘ Pitt Diamond’ and also the ‘Regent Diamond’ . The diamond was found by a slave in southern India and he hid it in a large wound in his leg. An English sea captain found out about the diamond and lured the slave onto his vessel. He threw the slave overboard and stole the gem which he sold to a diamond merchant. The seaman later committed suicide. Thomas Pitt, who was the Governor of Madras and a testy character, bought the diamond for £20,400. His son, Robert brought the jewel back to England hidden in the heel of his shoe. The jewel was cut, a process which took two years and cost £5,000. The cut-off fragments fetched around £4,000. By then, Th

When Blandford Camp went on strike!

  While it may not be unusual for members of the Rail & Maritime Trade Union to take industrial action, it is much more unusual for members of a British military base to do so. Yet, that is what happened in Blandford Camp at the end of World War I. Today, the military base is associated with the army yet in early 1919 it was a large but only recently opened Royal Air Force (RAF) establishment. Recruits to the RAF were received there for initial training and the RAF Records, Equipment and Personnel Depot had been relocated to Blandford Camp the previous year. Having only been opened as an RAF base in 1918, Blandford Camp was not a happy place. There were accommodation problems due to construction delays caused by a shortage of building workers. The War Cabinet had flatly turned down an Air Ministry plea to improve construction worker pay rates to aid recruitment. Such delays resulted in widespread overcrowding in tents particularly unsuited to bad weather.   Blandford’s RAF Camp gai

Throwback Facts XI

In 1827, Edward Berkeley Portman of Bryanston married Emma Lascelles who became a Lady in Waiting and close confidante of Queen Victoria. In 1830 , the ‘Tally Ho’ horse drawn coach called at the Greyhound Inn on alternate weekdays on its way from Weymouth to London and similarly on the way back.           Edward Portman ‘ regaled ’ the returning Blandford horsemen with strong beer after they had   ridden north to put down riots in villages around Sixpenny Handley. This refreshment was ‘ received with good cheer.’ In 1831 , Dragoon Guards were sent to Blandford from Weymouth to put down rioting. The soldiers fired upon and cut with sabres many of the rioters. Richard Bleathman and George Long were sentenced to death for taking part in the riots. Many of the windows in the Greyhound Inn were broken in the riot.         Button making was a major Blandford business. A workhouse inmate was capable of producing up to 200 handmade buttons in a day. Many women were attracted to butto

Lardy Cake: Pimperne Cricket's Secret Weapon!

  Village cricket in Dorset goes back many years. Dorset County Chronicle reports a cricket match between the villages of Pimperne and Chettle which took place in August 1867.  In the 50s and early 1960s, the Pimperne club played at Langbourne on a concrete batting pitch overlaid by matting. Cow pats were a particular hazard as the pitch’s more normal use was for dairy cattle. If there was one match in the 1960s the Pimperne club was determined to win, it was against a village that it would be politic not to name. Their team, which seemed to consist mainly of members of the same family, were masters of gamesmanship. If Pimperne’s tail end batsman was a youngster, they would collectively seek to undermine his confidence. While the Pimperne scorer had to keep an eagle eye on the recordings of his opponent’s counterpart!   Yet Pimperne in their tussles with this opposition had their own secret weapon…lardy cake. This calorie laden, greasy, fatty delight had a key tactical part to play