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Blandford Throwback Facts XXI


In 1919, a thousand Royal Air Force servicemen stationed at Blandford Camp went on strike. They were protesting about slow demobilisation after the end of the First World War. The recently opened RAF base published the first edition of its house journal, the ‘Albatross’. Former pupil Lord Grenfell described the town’s grammar school as the ‘Eton of the West.’ He also claimed that no pupil had suffered in the Spanish Influenza pandemic because they were so well cared for and had eucalyptus on their pillows at night. The branch railway line between Blandford station and Blandford Camp, nicknamed the ‘Powder Puff Line’ opened. It had a short life as it no longer had a purpose after it was decided to close the RAF base. Victoria Cross winner, Jack Counter led a procession of Great War veterans through the town to mark the previous year’s end of the Great War.

In 1920, comrades of the Great War Veterans, later the Royal British Legion, met at Langton House.

In 1921, the town’s sewage system became operative in central Blandford. Following the closure of Blandford Camp’s Royal Air Force base it was announced the British Army would open an artificers’ training school. It never materialised and the Army did not return until 1939.

In 1922, an open air swimming pool was built on the Ham with water initially coming from the River Stour. Advertised as Dorset’s event of the year, the Blandford Agricultural Show took place in Bryanston Park courtesy of Viscount Portman. Cheap rail tickets were sold by the London & Southern West Railway Company from Bournemouth, Salisbury and Yeovil and from stations in between.

In 1923, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, visited Blandford arriving at the town’s railway station.

In 1924, an advertisement appeared in the Portsmouth News indicating that the whole of Blandford Camp would be sold in a sale that would last three days. This included 5.5 miles of railway track, points and railway sleepers. Practically the whole village of Pimperne was put up for auction in a packed Corn Exchange. Being part of their estate, the Portman family was forced to sell the village to pay death duties. Many locals were able to purchase properties where previously they were tenants.

(Illustration: Royal Air Force Blandford House Journal.)


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