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Showing posts from March, 2023

Blandford Throwback Facts XXVI

  In 1954 , local amateur dramatics and concert party, the ‘ Footlight Follies’ put on its annual show in the Palace Cinema in East Street. A 42 year-old bachelor and Blandford Electricity Board clerk won £50,500 on the football pools. In 1955 , minesweeper HMS Durweston was launched in Hamworthy. It had a remarkably short service life and was sold to the Indian Navy in 1956. Blandford celebrated its 350 th anniversary by a week of entertainments and the visit of a Government minister. The Dorset Regiment was granted the Freedom of the Borough and marched through the streets with bayonets fixed. A tree was planted by the Mayor to commemorate the event. A Secondary Modern School was built in Lord Portman’s former deer park. In 1956 , Stourpaine & Durweston and Charlton Marshall railway halts closed as economy measures. However, the latter was still used until 1961 for special trains carrying Clayesmore School pupils. In 1957 , located on the north side of East Street,

Russian Master Spy at the Crown Hotel, Blandford

Gordon Arnold Lonsdale was an apparently successful London based, Canadian businessman who had made his money by hiring out and selling jukeboxes, bubble gum and gambling machines. Another of his products, an electronic car locking device was awarded a gold award at an International Inventors’ Exhibition in Brussels. He was a stocky built man of medium height with a broad cheerful face and ‘very intelligent eyes. ’ On the 28 th June 1960, he had booked himself into the Crown Hotel in Blandford Forum. Yet, all was not what it seemed as Gordon Lonsdale was not his real name neither was he Canadian. His real name was Konon Trofimovich Molody and he was a 38 year old, Moscow born, Russian intelligence agent and master spy. He spoke excellent English with an American accent as he had lived for several years in the USA. Molody had stolen the identity of a dead man who had died in 1943. Purpose of his Blandford stay was later to meet two associates at a house in Meadow View Road, Weymouth

True Lovers Knot - a Tragic Tale

True Lovers Knot public house describes itself as a traditional  inn set in a picturesque Dorset valley in Tarrant Keynston. Yet, this historical hostelry is said to have gained its name from a particularly tragic tale and still to be haunted by a distressed former publican. This publican’s son met and fell in love with the daughter of the local squire. Because the young lad was not from the gentry they decided to keep their relationship secret from her father. Unfortunately, a stable hand saw the two young lovers together and told her father. Set firmly against this friendship the squire made plans to send his daughter away from the district. Not able to face up to life without her boyfriend, the young girl decided to commit suicide and hanged herself from a tree in the village. So upset was the publican’s son of hearing of his girlfriend’s death he too hanged himself from the same tree. The Tarrant Keynston publican had, himself lost his wife at child birth and now losing his son b

Blandford Perukes & Periwigs

In the 1700s, if you were looking to order a peruke or periwig then Blandford was most definitely the place to go. But what was a peruke or a periwig? Perukes and periwigs were an expensive fashion statement in the 18 th century. All members of the gentry, who were anybody, would delight in flaunting their latest acquisition. A visit to Richard Kerby’s barber shop in Salisbury Street, Blandford in 1790 would cast light on what perukes and periwigs were. Both were types of powdered wigs. As 18 th century Blandford was neither clean nor hygienic, the regular delousing of wigs was a lucrative sideline for hairdresser, Kerby. As a show of wealth, periwigs became larger, more ostentatious and bizarre. Consequently, they became more and more valuable so wig snatching from the heads of wearers became quite common. The fashion of wig wearing had begun in France with Louis XIV. As baldness was considered to indicate a lack of masculinity so to hide his follicle challenge, Louis appeared i

Maryland - Dorset's Lost Village

  Maryland is a lost village which could be found on the west side of Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. Originally the island had been called Branksea but apparently so many visitors got off trains at Branksome by mistake that later the island became better known as Brownsea. The lost village was named after the wife of its founder, Colonel William Petrie Waugh. The Edinburgh born Scot’s wife, Mary Murray Halloway-Carew was an amateur geologist. Apparently she was convinced after poking her parasol in the soil that the  island held clay suitable for making high quality pottery. Former Indian Army officer, Waugh had decided to buy the island for £13,000 as a money making scheme. It is said he had returned to England with little property of his own. The purchase was after he had been told by a geologist that Brownsea Island contained a ‘ valuable bed of the finest clay’ worth ‘ at least £10,000 an acre .’ As Waugh was a recently appointed director of the London & Eastern Banking C