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Showing posts from January, 2023

Blandford Throwback Facts XXIV

  In 1938 , Blandford residents objected to plans for a Royal Air Force bombing range to be built just outside the town. Despite attending a demonstration at Porton they remained unconvinced of the project’s merit. Throughout the 1930s, special services were regularly held at Langton Church for hikers and bikers that the Bishop of Salisbury would attend. In 1939 , Reading brewers, H G Symonds announced that they had bought the brewing business, John Lewis Marsh a small brewery that had traded in the town for many years. Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway offered two low priced excursions. Two shillings and a penny (10p) for a half-day return trip to Bournemouth and two shillings & eleven pence (15p) for an all inclusive return trip to Clifton which included a visit to the zoo.             An edict was issued, at the start of World War II, that Blandford should be deleted from road signs and notice boards to confuse the enemy in the event of a German invasion. In 1940 , M

Strange Dorset Place Names

  Dorset has some quite quirky, strange and rude place names. Among them are: Aunt Mary’s Bottom , a valley near Rampisham Hill but who was Aunt Mary? Belchalwell , near Blandford. Was once the home of television personality Jack Hargreaves. Burnt Bottom, near Hooke in West Dorset. Crumpet’s Drive , Lytchett Matravers. It sounds quite tasty! Droop , a hamlet near Blandford. The name just means an ‘ outlying farm .’ Eype , seaside village near Bridport from the Old English meaning ‘ steep place. ’ Happy Bottom , a hamlet near Corfe Mullen which has its own nature reserve. Melbury Bubb , near Sherborne. Bubbe was a landowning family and Melbury meant ‘ a multi-coloured hill.’ Piddletrenthide & Piddlehinton , near Dorchester and all things to do with the River Piddle. Not forgetting also Tolpuddle, Briantspuddle and Puddletown . Ryme Intrinsica , near Sherborne which means on the ‘ rim of a ridge.' Scratchy Bottom , near Lulworth and was featured in the 196

'Conkering' the Enemy!

During World War I, an urgent call went out to scouts and school children to collect acorns and conkers. This request came from the Royal Naval Cordite Factory at Holton Heath. Young collectors were told this was valuable war work. The reason was not explained but an assurance was given to the gatherers that they would be paid for their collections. The factory had been built after the Admiralty had decided it needed its own cordite manufacturing facility. Holton Heath site had been chosen because it was away from centres of population yet still had good road, rail and sea links. The factory had its own site railway built and a jetty in Poole Harbour from where the cordite was shipped to Priddy’s Hard at Gosport. Cordite was a propellant used in gun and artillery ammunition. During World War I, vast quantities were required and the chemical acetone was one of its constituents. At first acetone was distilled from wheat much of which washed imported from the USA. However by mid 1917, whe

Holton Heath's Secret Military Site

  A military site between Wareham and Poole was so secret it was deliberately left off an Ordnance Survey map published in the 1940s. At its peak it was the largest industrial complex in Dorset employing around 2,000 people. It was the Royal Navy Cordite Factory. Cordite was a smokeless material developed to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. It was used in large weapons such as tank guns, artillery & naval guns. It was so called because of its cord like appearance. The explosives site was built during World War I at Holton Heath with the help of around 500 bricklayers. First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill had decided the Royal Navy needed its own cordite manufacturing facility. During this war, certificates were issued to men working at Holton Heath to prove they were engaged on important war work and were not avoiding joining the armed forces. The factory included a power station, two acid factories, a reservoir, various buildings and a hospital area. Adjac

Wellington at Blandford Races

Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister twice and defeated Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo. Reflecting his status, his Apsley House, London home in Hyde Park had the distinguished address of Number One, London . It was therefore quite an event when Arthur Wellesley, 1 st Duke of Wellington decided in August 1827 to visit Blandford. Purpose of this visit was to attend Blandford Races held annually on Blandford Down which is now Blandford Camp. These dated back to the early 1600s and by the late 1820s, Blandford Races were at their most prestigious – as famous in that decade as Doncaster or Newmarket. The Duke of Wellington had arrived at the Races as a guest of the Course Steward, William John Bankes of Kingston Lacy. He had become a friend of Wellesley during the Spanish Peninsular War. Their arrival together was a splendid sight involving eleven carriages pulled by 44 horses driven by coachmen accompanied by splendidly dressed footmen. The two day event was crowded