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Showing posts from April, 2023

'Lads of the Village'

With a combined age of 444 years, five unlikely Dorset lads became international celebrities back in the nineteen thirties. They became famous after appearing in two popular short Movietone films, titled the ‘ Lads of the Village .’ They were featured gossiping over beers in their local pub, the Rose & Crown in Bradford Abbas near the Dorset-Somerset border. This was a time when the average male life expectancy was just 58 and 62 for a woman. Also taking part in the film were Mrs Parsons (91) and her 65 year old daughter both filmed collecting their pensions at the village post office. This sprightly nonagenarian had brought up ten children on her husband’s weekly ten shillings (50p) wage. Their meagre income was supplemented by Mrs Parsons making gloves for which she was paid just one & a half old pennies (0.5p) per pair. For good health, she recommended a daily glass of stout but for strictly medicinal purposes only. Tom Coombes (91) never went to school and began work

Blandford Throwback Facts XXVII

  In 1966 , Blandford station closed for passenger traffic and freight the next year. In 1968 , Blandford Grammar School became a comprehensive school and moved from its Damory Street site. In 1969 , the first Dorset Steam Fair took place in fields close to Stourpaine. In 1971 , Blandford’s Palace cinema closed. Located in East Street, its last film was ‘ Dad’s Army’ a spin-off from the popular television series. It was expected to reopen after refurbishment but never did. In 1972 , some 600 Blandford residents visited their doctors complaining of pain, itching and scratching in the lower leg. The culprit was a small blood-sucking black fly which became known as the ‘ Blandford Fly’ . The slow moving water around Blandford Bridge was an ideal breeding ground for the fly. In October, the Royal Corps of Signals was granted the Freedom of the Borough of Blandford. In 1976 , Princess Anne was knocked unconscious when she fell from her horse when competing in the Portman Horse

Cumberland Clark - 'England's Worst Poet!'

  Cumberland Clark (1862-1941 ), the ‘ Bard of Bournemouth’ , is reckoned by many to be England’s worst poet. ‘The Bournemouth air is toney It bucks you up, and fills you out, if Thin as macaroni.’ ‘To learn about the Milk Supply, I nosed about with stealth. Reports I found, were published by the Officer of Health. The cowsheds and the dairies are inspected, you may read And authorities assert that they are very fine indeed.’ ‘That beautiful creature called Kate I met near Kensington Gate. She’d a costume like Eve’s Minus stockings and sleeves But otherwise quite up to date.’ ‘Let me say a few words on the Square From which you can get anywhere. A well-designed centre, there isn’t a doubt With features that fascinate all round about. The sea trips from Bournemouth are many Don’t say you haven’t tried any. They’re cheap and enjoyable, when you’re in fettle And doubtless they put a man on his mettle.’ ‘The Canford Cliffs Hotel will do you very well I’ve met girls when I’ve stayed there,

Blandford Lace

More than three centuries ago, Blandford was famous for the making of fine lace. This was no ordinary handcrafted item as it was lace of the highest quality. Known as bone or bobbin lace, because of the slender bone bobbins used, the trade came to Blandford around 1570 with the arrival of Flemish refugees in the town. Lace made in Blandford is known to have been worn by Queen Mary. Daniel Defoe was a merchant and prolific author and is most famous for his novel, Robinson Crusoe. This tells the story of a man shipwrecked on an island for 28 years and of his adventures The author visited Blandford and in 1724, he wrote glowingly of its lace: ‘This city (viz. Blandford) is chiefly famous for making the finest bone lace in England, and where they shewed us some so exquisitely fine as I never saw better in Flanders, France or Italy, and which, they said, they rated above thirty pounds a yard but it is most certain that they make exceedingly rich lace in this county, such as no part of Engla

Brownsea Island Eccentrics

Maybe it is the sea air why, over the years, Brownsea Island has had so many colourful and eccentric owners. Originally called Branksea Island, its name was changed because so many visitors left the train at Branksome by mistake. Among the early owners was William ‘ Mad Benson’ (1682-1754) whom Poole people believed dabbled in black magic and cavorted with a coven of witches. Once when he stood for Parliament in Shaftesbury he only received four votes. Out of spite, ‘ Mad Benson’ cut off the town’s water supply. Next eccentric owner was Sir Augustus John Foster (1780-1848) who had been a diplomat. In fact, he was the last Briton to declare war on the USA back in 1812. While living on Branksea, Foster suffered from bouts of depression and committed suicide by cutting his own throat. Then there was Colonel William Petrie Waugh who purchased the Island for £13,000 for a money making scheme. He mistakenly believed there were valuable clay deposits from which expensive porcelain ite