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Showing posts from June, 2023

Blandford Station - 1901

  Blandford station was once a significant employer. By 1901 it had a workforce of around 50 which included porters, clerks, permanent-way men, signalmen and a large general labouring gang. Within a decade the number had roughly doubled. Among the eight porters was foreman porter John Hockey. His great grandson, Vernon Rattenbury reckons nine of John’s ten children were born at Blandford Station. The 1891 census lists John and his family living in Station Yard, Edward Street. Most of the station’s staff lived to the north of the station. Shunting duties within the station yar d were carried out with the help of two railway horses. The Somerset & Dorset Line was nicknamed the ‘ Swift & Delightful’ but more often the ‘ Slow & Dirty !’ Had the proposed Wilts, Dorset & East Devon Railway been built connecting Salisbury with Exeter, via Blandford & Dorchester, then ‘ Blandford Railway Junction’ would have been even busier. Today, it is difficult to realise what an

Dorset Cricket Cuttings

  The noble and manly game of cricket is becoming very popular in Dorset. Many gentlemen encourage the clubs which are already formed and many excellent matches have lately been played in the county. We understand a match between Blandford and Stour clubs for twenty two guineas and dinner will be played for in Shroton Fair Field on Thursday 15th when much good play is expected. The match terminated in favour of the Blandford team. A better contest at cricket was never witnessed in Dorset and a numerous and respectable company was assembled on the occasion. (Salisbury & Winchester Journal – 12 th & 19 th August 1822) Our town of Blandford has been very gay during the week. A new cricket club has been lately formed consisting of upwards of 60 of the principal gentry of the county. A capital piece of ground on the racecourse has, at considerable expense, been levelled and new laid with turf and next season will make a first rate cricket ground. On Tuesday last was the first m

Blandford in World War Two V

  Bombing Raid On 18 th November 1940, Blandford was bombed by German aircraft when an estimated 100 explosive devices were dropped on the town and its outskirts. Yet Blandford was not an obvious enemy target with Portland’s naval dockyard, Yeovil’s Westland aircraft factory or the newly reopened army base at Blandford Camp being more obvious targets. So why did the German air force decide to bomb Blandford? At the time the River Stour was in flood, so many of the explosive devices just fell into the water. However, an incendiary device did land on the roof of the Crown Hotel setting it alight. Thanks to prompt action by the town’s fire brigade, led by Captain C M Timbrell, the fire was quickly brought under control. Despite much charring to the beams, the fire fighters were able to confine damage to the hotel roof. After the raid, the brigade’s efforts were acknowledged by the hotel’s management in a letter enclosing a £10 cheque. It was decided, following the raid, to supplement

Rise & Fall of Blandford Races

Blandford Racecourse was at one time almost as famous as Aintree or Epsom. A race meeting was held annually, normally for two days, on Blandford Downs - where Blandford Camp is today. Dating back to at least 1603 while Aintree is associated with Red Rum, Blandford Racecourse was renowned for a horse named Arctic. Run over two miles, this meeting’s most prestigious race was the Dorsetshire Gold Cup. Arctic took the Cup in 1838 and in four successive years from 1841. During this time, Arctic had several different owners including Lord Shaftesbury, Sidney Herbert MP – an ally of Florence Nightingale – and Mr Galpin who kept horses at stables in Langton Long. Among Arctic’s successful jockeys was C Percy from a Pimperne horse training family. According to Victoria History of Dorset (1908): ‘It would be impossible to find a healthier spot for horses or a more perfect training ground than this on the old Blandford Racing Course with distances to suit preparation for all races…’ Blandfo

Blandford in World War Two IV

Auxiliary Units To enable the British Army to reform and mount a counter attack any advance by an invading German enemy had to be slowed down. Delaying this for just a matter of days was to be the role of the innocuously named Auxiliary Units. Nicknamed the ‘scallywags’ their role was to inflict maximum damage on the enemy during a brief but violent period. In June 1940, an Auxiliary Unit patrol was set up in Pimperne. Sergeant Harold Legg Iron Moulder Private Leonard Bastin Farrier/Blacksmith Private Frederick Berry Farm Labourer Private Harry Duffett Cowman Private John Hall         Driver/Mechanic Private Harold Joyce Farm Carter Private Walter Lucas Builder’s Labourer Private William Shiner Tractor Driver Private Stephen Shiner Farm Carter (Source: British Resistance Archive) Service in the Auxiliary Unit was expected to be highly dangerous with an anticipated life expectancy of just twelve days. Patrol members had orders to shoot each other if capture

Hovis 'Boy-on-the-bike'

Known as the ‘ Hovis Boy-on-the-bike’ , it is reckoned to be one of the most iconic and heart warming advertisements ever made. Despite its northern styled voice over and brass band soundtrack, this masterpiece was filmed in Dorset – at Gold Hill, Shaftesbury. First aired in 1973, it featured a young lad pushing his bicycle laden with loaves of bread up the steep cobblestoned hill. After making delivery, he mischievously freewheels back down Gold Hill. Director Sir Ridley Scott combined the strains of the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak with one of the most romantic and picturesque views in England. While the music was already well-known, it became even more familiar after the advert. After beginning his career making commercials, Sir Ridley Scott became a leading Hollywood director. His films include Gladiators, Alien and Thelma & Louise. He once remarked: ‘You combine the appropriate music with the appropriate picture and you’ve got lift off.’ Carl Barlow was the you

Dorset Strange Place Names

Dorset has some unusual and strange place names. There’s Pug’s Hole, Sweet Apple Farm & Custard Hill. Names include: Barbers Piles – Poole. It was bombed by the Germans during World War II Brandy Bay – Isle of Purbeck, where smugglers brought their illicit barrels ashore during 17 th & 18 th centuries. Clapgate – near Wimborne. Doghouse Lane – Chideock. Dungy Head – near West Lulworth. Goathorn Close – Poole. Glue Hill – Sturminster Newton. Apparently, there is a sign urging pedestrians to 'stick to the pavement!’ God’s Blessing Lane – Colehill. Apparently so called, because Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers were blessed there prior to assaulting Corfe Castle. Hell Bottom – West Dorset. Knacker’s Hole – near Okeford Fitzpaine. Knights in the Bottom – near Chickerell. Labour-in-Vain – near East Bexington. Minterne Magna – while Magna is Latin for ‘large’ , Minterne means ‘ house where mint grows. ’ Mutton Street Lane – Marshwood. Old H

Blandford in World War Two - III

Local Defence Volunteers In 1940, invasion of southern England by the German Army appeared imminent. France had fallen and the defeated British Army had just been evacuated from Dunkirk. One of the most disturbing sites was the arrival of trains at Blandford station carrying in total some 45,000 tired and dishevelled troops who had retreated from Dunkirk. For days the station was extremely busy with train after train arriving. Blandford people came to the station carrying jugs of tea to witness the sad sight. With the threat to the country of invasion by the German army, an appeal was made on 14 th May 1940 for volunteers to come forward to form a home defence force to be called the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). Those that came forward had to be over 18 years, be able bodied but there was no upper age limit. Later that month a LDV unit was set up in Blandford based in the old workhouse building which is now Castleman House just off Salisbury Road. Home Guard Two months later