Skip to main content

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.)



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Chimney Sweep Tragedy

Crown Hotel, Blandford is reckoned to be one of Dorset’s oldest hostelries. Yet its most tragic day, during a long history, must surely be when a young chimney sweep lost his life. The chimney sweep, who was just a child, suffocated and was burnt to death in a Crown Hotel chimney which had been alight a little while before. ‘His cries were dreadful and no-one could give assistance. Part of the chimney was taken down before he was got out.’ (Salisbury & Winchester Gazette 27th March 1780) The lad had gone up one chimney and attempting to go down another had become stuck. At the time children were used to climb up chimneys to clean out soot deposits. With hands and knees, they would shimmy up narrow dark flue spaces packed thick with soot and debris. After the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford it was realised that it was important to sweep chimneys regularly while many rebuilt houses had narrower ones. Smaller chimneys and complicated flues were a potential death trap for children. The sw

Bravest Village Controversy

A Dorset village was once recognised as the bravest in England. That village was Shillingstone in North Dorset. After the outbreak of World War I, the newspaper the Weekly Dispatch inaugurated a competition for the village that sent, in the first six months of the war, the highest percentage of its population into the British Services. According to local newspaper, the Western Gazette Shillingstone sent 90 men out of a total population of 565. (Western Gazette Friday 26 th September 1919) Across the country,  365 other villages sent in their returns. However, the competition would not prove to be short of controversy. The award was made to Knowlton in Kent which with 39 inhabitants and six houses had sent 11 men. However, the Rector of Shillingstone, Dr Cooke protested that Knowlton was too small to be a village and in fact was a hamlet. The matter was referred to the Attorney General, Sir Frederick Smith who held that the original decision should stand as no minimum population ha

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the