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Showing posts from July, 2023

Blandford Airfield

In the 1920s and 30s, Blandford had its own airfield known as the Blandford Aerodrome. It could be found next to Blandford Cemetery along Salisbury Road where today there is housing. Apparently, it had three grass landing strips and was on the Automobile Association’s Register of Approved Landing Grounds all of which were inspected monthly. For an annual subscription, each AA member was provided with a site plan and airfield map reference. Facilities such as hangers were listed together with any hazards such as overhead power lines. Fuel supply details and suitable overnight accommodation were also detailed. The AA also provided a box for messages to be left which would be collected by an AA motorcyclist who would pass them on, as required. In November 1931, a Bryanston schoolmaster crashed at Blandford when he lost control of his aircraft.  In Blandford Hospital with concussion and severe cuts, he laconically commented, ’luckily it did not burst into flames or I wouldn’t be tellin

Portland Spy Ring Memorial

  Harry Houghton and Gordon Lonsdale were two members of the Portland Spy. Houghton was a Civil Servant who stole military secrets from the then Portland Naval Base and Underwater Research Establishment. He passed these secrets for money onto Gordon Lonsdale who was a Soviet master spy. Both were arrested in January 1961 and found guilty of espionage and imprisoned. In their respective countries they have quite contrasting memorials. Lonsdale’s real name was Konon Molody and he was born in Moscow in January 1922. He spoke impeccable English with an American accent as he had spent time living in the USA. Upon his release from prison and return to the Soviet Union, he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. This was the country’s highest award and was designed to recognise extraordinary courage, dedication and heroism. He had operated in Britain from around 1955 until 1961. When he died in October 1970, his body was laid in state at the KGB Officers’ Club and there is an elaborate tombs

Mystery Men: Chalkie White & Lobby Lud

Chalkie White and Lobby Lud were once regular summer visitors to Bournemouth and Weymouth sea fronts; but who were these curiously named characters? ‘To my delight, it’s Chalkie White’   was all you had to say to Chalkie to win a £50 prize. This was providing, of course, you were holding a copy of the Daily Mirror. This was a scheme to boost newspapers sales when circulation traditionally fell during the summer months. The Mirror would announce which days the mystery man would be in town and readers would be challenged to seek him out. To help his identification, a picture of Charlie’s eyes would be published daily. A forerunner of Chalkie was Lobby Lud created in 1927 by the Westminster Gazette. Like Chalkie, Lobby would also visit Bournemouth and Weymouth. Prizes equivalent to over £300, in today’s money, were on offer which led to a sort of Lobby Lud mania. Holiday plans would be changed at the last moment in an attempt to catch him. There was even a Lobby Lud train which would take

John White - the Crafty Poacher

Elderly farm labourer, John White was due to appear, back in November 1859, before Blandford Magistrates charged with poaching. He was up before Magistrates JJ Farquarson (above) from Langton Long, W P Okendon from Turnworth and Lord Portman from Bryanston. As Dorset landowners and local gentry he knew they would show little sympathy towards a poacher. Indeed there were many Dorset folk who had been transported as convicts to Australia for this crime. Witness Robert Fookes came forward in the Courtroom and identified John as the man he had seen trespassing in the pursuit of game on Baron Hambro’s land. He had seen him with four dogs stop and pick up something which he had put in his pocket. As he could not afford a lawyer, John had to conduct his own defence. He endeavoured to show that neither he, as a silly old man, nor his ‘ poor bitch’ nor his three ‘ pups of two months old’ could ever be guilty of such an offence. The Magistrates were so amused by the old man’s eccentricitie

Blandford Mouth Organ Band & Other Amazing Facts

            Not a lot of people know that:   Blandford was famous for its mouth organ band popular for its performances across Dorset. A soldier facing a court martial at Blandford Camp in December 1953 refused to wear his army clothes in a cell. So military policemen forcibly dressed him to appear before his commanding officer. Upon returning to his cell he stripped off again. In 1952, a man suffering from a loss of memory was given a newspaper to read in Blandford Hospital. Suddenly, he shouted, ‘ that’s me’  and pointed to a report on the disappearance of  48 year-old, Harold Jarvis. Police checked and found he was right! Most Reverend Dr Nevill, Bishop of Dunedin and Primate of New Zealand was married in Blandford in September 1906. His lordship was in his 70 th  year and his new and second wife, Rosalind Margaret Fynes-Clinton was aged only 30 years. Blandfordia is a suburb on the southern side of the Australian capital, Canberra.  A schoolboy was admitted into Blandford Hospita