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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 350th 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, the Ritz cinema closed.

In 1958, there was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) raid on Blandford Camp resulting in a young soldier being shot. Corporal Frank Skuse, who claimed he led the raid, later emigrated to the USA.

In 1960, the Royal Corps of Signals moved to Blandford Camp.

In 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, four Royal Air Force nuclear bombers were relocated to Tarrant Rushton airfield ready to take off loaded with nuclear weapons at a moment’s notice.

In 1963, Blandford Forum station was mentioned in the Flanders & Swann song, the ‘Slow Train’.

Mr Leo Jay operated a hand-knitted Blandford glove business selling its products in major London shops.

Hall & Woodhouse acquired Gillingham’s long-standing family business, the Matthews Wyke Brewery.

During a severe winter, the River Stour froze over near Blandford Bridge.

(Illustration: Blandford's severe 1962/63 winter)


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