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Showing posts from February, 2023

Blandford Throwback Facts XXV

  In 1946 , Blandford toy maker, Wend-al began making aluminium toys in its Shaftesbury Lane factory. The company prospered until the arrival of cheaper plastic toys came onto the market. In 1948 , Cecil Lambert travelled from Blandford to London to have a tattoo removed from his arm. Mrs Lambert had good reason for not liking the tattoo for it was a picture of the girl he had bigamously married during the war. The perimeter around Blandford Camp was used to form the country’s first post-war road racing track. Attendances of 10,000 spectators were attracted. Sadly, this racing track became notorious for its serious accidents. In 1949 , Bere Regis & District Bus Company, unkindly nicknamed ‘ Bere Regis & Risket’ operated 49 scheduled services across Dorset. The company would continue to operate until 1995.  A London gang blew open the door of Blandford Post Office’s strong room early on a Sunday morning and stole items valued at twelve thousand pounds. Several crow bars u

Soviet Spies Rendezvous in Blandford

It was almost two o’ clock in the morning when civil servant Harry Houghton said he turned his Renault Dauphine into Blandford’s Ham car park. In the car’s back seats were two Soviet intelligence agents. They had been put ashore just before midnight from a submarine or trawler at Church Ope Cove on Portland. Also known as Smugglers Cove, it had been chosen because of its seclusion and was out of the sight of coastguards. Harry had in the early hours parked in Blandford at some distance from the only other parked car. This was driven by a Soviet agent, known just as John. He had met John previously in a lay by between Puddletown and Blandford. The second parked car had a square of white paper in its window, a sign that Harry had been told to look out for. It could have been a spy movie scene set in Blandford Forum but Harry Houghton was no James Bond. He was a middle aged, heavy drinking clerical officer in Portland Naval Base having previously been a Royal Navy Senior NCO. However Harr

Murder at Tarrant Keynston!

When Chief Inspector Hambrook and Detective Sergeant Bell from Scotland Yard arrived in Blandford to investigate the crime, it was like a scene from Midsomer Murders. They had arrived at Blandford Station after a long and uncomfortable train journey down from the capital. Two successive managers at the Coverdale Dog Kennels in Tarrant Keynston had lost their lives from shotgun injuries. Both bizarrely had happened in the village within two years. The two detectives soon felt they were receiving little help from the locals and were being met by a conspiracy of silence. They did however uncover tales of marital infidelities, anonymous poison pen letters and petty jealousies. Blandford's Doctor Kenneth Wilson had examined the body and concluded that the injuries could not have been self inflicted. So the Scotland Yard Chief Inspector called in the Home Office Pathologist, Sir Bernard Spilsbury who shared the Blandford doctor's opinion. The villagers were convinced that both deat

Mary Lovell & the cracked milk jug

Captain Augustus Foster was Sherriff of Dorset, a Justice of the Peace and had a distinguished war record. He had served in the 14th Light Dragoons under the Duke of Wellington in the Spanish Peninsular War. Born in 1787, Captain Foster was also the Lord of the Manor in Warmwell near Dorchester. He was determined to pursue his case for larceny against 13 year old Mary Lovell. So he laid it before his son, Lieutenant Augustus Billet Foster also a magistrate who issued a warrant for the young girl’s arrest. The allegation was that she had stolen a cracked milk jug from the squire’s kitchen. The 84 year old pressed strongly for action to be taken. As a result, 13 year old Mary Lovell was speedily sentenced at Dorset Petty Sessions to 21 days’ hard labour in Dorchester Gaol. Children under 14 years could at the time be tried summarily by two magistrates without a jury. This would be followed by five years to be spent in the Devon Reformatory at Exeter.  Mary Lovell, who was the eldest of e