Skip to main content

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 Trials in Durweston. She was taken to Poole Hospital.

In 1977, a schoolboy was attacked and bitten by a pike when he was helping a friend land the fish. It jumped up bit him and then jumped back into the water. He was taken to Blandford Hospital with two nasty gashes in his leg.

Blandford’s weekly sheep market ceased being held on Sheep Market Hill.

In 1978, Damory railway bridges were blown up as they had become a traffic hazard and were getting into a dangerous condition. Lots were drawn to determine who was to press the button.

In 1979, surging waters from the River Stour brought havoc to the town with the town centre flooded to a depth of three feet.

In 1980, Blandford’s Michael Harding walked 3,266 miles across the United States.

In 1982, Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher visited Blandford.

In 1983, Blandford Museum opened. The Museum Trust published the book, ‘One Hundred Blandford Worthies: including Blandford St Mary, Bryanston, Langton & Pimperne’ by Victor J Adams.

(Illustration: Demolition of Damory Street Railway Arches)


Popular posts from this blog

Chimney Sweep Tragedy

Crown Hotel, Blandford is reckoned to be one of Dorset’s oldest hostelries. Yet its most tragic day, during a long history, must surely be when a young chimney sweep lost his life. The chimney sweep, who was just a child, suffocated and was burnt to death in a Crown Hotel chimney which had been alight a little while before. ‘His cries were dreadful and no-one could give assistance. Part of the chimney was taken down before he was got out.’ (Salisbury & Winchester Gazette 27th March 1780) The lad had gone up one chimney and attempting to go down another had become stuck. At the time children were used to climb up chimneys to clean out soot deposits. With hands and knees, they would shimmy up narrow dark flue spaces packed thick with soot and debris. After the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford it was realised that it was important to sweep chimneys regularly while many rebuilt houses had narrower ones. Smaller chimneys and complicated flues were a potential death trap for children. The sw

Murder at Gussage St Michael

Gussage St Michael is a quiet North Dorset village with a population of few more than a couple of hundred. Yet for several months in 1913, it made headlines across the world as far away as Australia and New Zealand. William Walter Burton, a rabbit catcher, was found guilty of murdering his lover, 24 year-old Winifred Mitchell and had buried her in a lonely wood. Winifred Mary Mitchell was 5ft 5 ins tall, dark haired and was employed as a cook. She was known as ‘ Winnie ’ and ‘cookie’ . Winnie wore false teeth that had been given to her by a former employer. On the 9 th August 1913, South Australia’s Adelaide Advertiser reported. ‘ In the annals of crime, there have been few murders so carefully planned and so ingeniously carried out and it will be remembered that the judge in passing sentence of death intimated that Burton was beyond human forgiveness.’ William Burton walked alone to the scaffold and was hanged at Dorchester Prison on the morning of Tuesday 24 th June 1913. 

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the