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Showing posts from December, 2022

Ken Baily

Ken Baily was the England football and rugby cheerleader for three decades and Bournemouth Football Club mascot from the 1950s. An eccentric character and lifelong bachelor, he had a love of trifle and in his spare time could be seen riding his bicycle around the town dressed as either Winston Churchill or the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. As a cheerleader, he was recognisable in his trademark costume of Union Jack waistcoat, scarlet tails, white gloves and top hat. When meeting royalty, Prince Charles is said to have once remarked ‘ where did you escape from?’ He is also the only man to become both a Freeman of Bournemouth and a Subbuteo figure. Ken Baily was a keen runner and swimmer and maintained his fitness by regular sea bathing. This included regular dips in the Bournemouth briny on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Eve. He worked as a clerical assistant in a Bournemouth telephone exchange and also wrote a gossip column for a local newspaper using the pen name Genevieve

Blandford Throwback Facts XXIII

  In 1931 , Hall & Woodhouse bought the Crown Hotel for just £14,000.                                              Upon the bicentenary of the Great Fire of Blandford, the Rector of Blandford St Mary, the Reverend H Harrison published a booklet on the conflagration. In 1932 , German airship the Graf Zeppelin passed over the Blandford district giving locals a magnificent view as it journeyed from Yeovil to Southampton. It would return seven years later just before the outbreak of World War II to spy on the Westland aircraft factory at Yeovil. Strong opposition arose against a proposal made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to link the churches of Langton Long with Pimperne. As a result the scheme was dropped.          Blandford  had an airfield just north of the Salisbury Road Cemetery. Flights across the town could be purchased for just five shillings (25p). Sir Alan Cobham and a Captain Black were two of the pilots. In 1933 , floods followed melting snow as the town beca

Tarrant Gunville's Vampire

  Not many towns or villages can claim their very own vampire…yet Tarrant Gunville can! Tarrant Gunville’s vampire is reckoned to be William Doggett a ‘ corrupt manservant’ who stole a large sum of money from his employer, the Second Earl Temple. The Earl had inherited Eastbury House, then one of England’s finest country houses, but was finding it far too expensive to run. In 1795, he moved to Italy and to reduce house running costs he instructed William Doggett to dismantle the wings of the massive property. The greedy Doggett believed that the Earl had moved permanently abroad and saw an opportunity to make money for himself. Doggett demolished the main house and also the south wing and then pocketed the proceeds from selling the building materials. With evidence of his fiddling all around him, Doggett was told that the Earl had just alighted from the London mail coach. It had stopped on the Blandford – Salisbury Road at the Tarrant Gunville turning. The distressed servant scurri

Blandford Fly

Their correct name is Simulium Posticatum , yet more commonly they are known as the Blandford Fly. It is a small, blood-sucking black fly that can be found in Blandford and in Russia and Eastern Europe. They are also considered a nuisance in Africa and North America. The insect gained its name from the many people in Blandford being bitten in the 1960s and 1970s. In the spring of 1972, some 600 people visited their doctor in the town complaining of pain, itching and scratching in the lower leg. Found in slow moving rivers similar to the Stour at Blandford Bridge, the female of the species seeks out a blood feast before mating. This blood meal is required before allowing its 200-300 eggs to mature. They lacerate the skin and then suck out the blood. Just two to three millimetres long, they also inject an anaesthetic so that the bite is not felt. However, if the bite is scratched germs are released causing the infection. Scissor like mandibles can deliver a bite with painful consequences

Blandford's Bombing Raid

On 18 th November 1940, Blandford was bombed by German aircraft when an estimated 100 explosive devices were dropped on the town and its outskirts. Yet Blandford was not an obvious enemy target with Portland’s naval dockyard, Yeovil’s Westland aircraft factory or the newly reopened army base at Blandford Camp being more obvious targets. So why did the German air force decide to bomb Blandford? At the time the River Stour was in flood, so many of the explosive devices just fell into the water. However, an incendiary device did land on the roof of the Crown Hotel setting it alight. Thanks to prompt action by the town’s fire brigade, led by Captain C M Timbrell, the fire was quickly brought under control. Despite much charring to the beams, the fire fighters were able to confine damage to the hotel roof. After the raid, the brigade’s efforts were acknowledged by the hotel’s management in a letter enclosing a £10 cheque. It was decided, following the raid, to supplement the brigade’s wate

Robert Newton - Dorset Pirate King

Why do all pirates talk with an exaggerated Dorset accent? Blame rests firmly on the shoulders of Dorset actor, Robert Guy Newton born in Shaftesbury in June 1905. A colourful, hell raising individual, both on and off stage, Robert had a long and distinguished career in the theatre, in films and on television. For anyone who wants to talk like a pirate, it is almost obligatory to copy the vocal intonations of Robert Guy Newton. He excelled at playing cunning villains. With his thunderous voice and rolling eyes he mesmerised audiences. He is best remembered for playing the rapscallion one-legged pirate Long John Silver in the Disney film, Treasure Island and in its sequel made in Australia four years later. This was followed by a television mini-series filmed on Sydney beaches and on South Sea Islands in the mid 1950s. He had also played the two-legged but bearded pirate, Edward Teach in Blackbeard the Pirate in 1952. Robert was married four times and is remembered also for his pa