Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Just Another August Bank Holiday...

The first new Tube line in London for 50 years, the Victoria line, had been proposed in 1948 and building started in 1961. But Londoners first got to really know about it on August Bank holiday 1963 when the roads at Oxford Circus was closed so that a big hole could be dug! The ingenious 3-day-only closure and the biggest 'umbrella' ever made meant that disruption to traffic was at a minimum- and so work in earnest began!
A great 1968 BBC documentary about the building of the Victoria Line here:
More fascinating detail and film at this site

Friday, 9 August 2013

Two weeks in August

August 3
Jim Clark
The Beatles play at The Cavern for the 257th time in 18 months. Fears for the safety of fans in such a small confined space means this is their last appearance at the venue they'd made world famous.

Steven Ward, the osteopath implicated as a procurer in the Profumo Affair dies after taking an overdose of barbiturates. In his suicide note, he wrote "It's a wish not to let them get me. I'd rather get myself."

August 4th
The German Grand Prix in Nürburgring is won by John Surtees, Jim Clark finishing second, remaining well in first place in the world auto-driving championship standings, with 42 points, ahead of Surtees with 22.

August 5th
Cathy MacGowan on Ready Steady Go
In Moscow, Britain, The USSR and the US sign a nuclear test ban treaty for the first time. The ceremony took place at the Kremlin with U.S. Secretary of State Rusk, British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home and Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko.

Craig Breedlove sets the record for fastest driver in the world, reaching 428.37 miles an hour "for a measured mile" in a jet-powered vehicle, Spirit of America, on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

August 9th
A new kind of Pop music show Ready Steady Go! premieres on the ITV network.

August 16th
Two people walking in Dorking Woods discover a briefcase, a holdall and a camel-skin bag, all containing money. The evidence would lead to the arrest of Brian Field, a member of the gang who had carried out The Great Train Robbery a few days earlier.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Great Train Robbery

It was the most notorious and audacious robbery of 1963.
On the evening of Wednesday 7 August a GPO Royal Mail train left Glasgow with an unusually high value shipment because of the Scottish Bank Holiday-£2.6 million (equivalent to about £45 million today).
Around 3 am the train stopped at a red signal light in at a place known as 'Sears Crossing',  in Buckinghamshire. The signal had been tampered with by robbers, who boarded the train and met little resistance from GPO staff- there were no security guards or police on the train.
The gang had cut all the telephone lines in the vicinity, but one of the trainmen caught a slow train to Cheddington, which he reached at 4:30 a.m. to raise the alarm.
On the morning of Thursday 8 August, Britain awake to lurid headlines proclaiming Great Train Robbery. The gang were in the papers, infamous- but who were they?

During their getaway, the gang listened for police radio transmissions on a VHF radio, arriving at a farm they'd bought two months earlier for use as their hideout. There they counted the proceeds of the robbery and divided it into 17 full shares and several 'drinks' (smaller sums of money for associates). The gang learned that the police calculated they had gone to ground within a 30-mile radius of the attack scene so the plan to disperse was brought forward to Friday instead of Sunday.

It had been arranged to set fire to the farm but the associate tasked with it ran off with £10,000 and never did set the fire. Soon after, the gang learned that police had found the hide-out.
Now it was only a matter of time before they all were caught... surely...

A 2013 radio documentary about it here

and click on the arrow to the right for a 1999 Channel 4 TV documentary about it

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Beatles for Your Pocket

The first edition of The Beatles own A5 sized monthly magazine was published this day August 1st, 1963, by Beat Publications, whose magazine Beat Instrumental had been launched the year before and started to feature The Beatles prominently. Geared (get it?) towards the groups many young female fans, Beatles Monthly printed full page photos of each of the Beatles in a strict four way split. In 1963, this sort of magazine was the easiest way for fans to follow their favourite stars, and many titles appeared, ran for a few months or a couple of years, and then vanished when the stars allure waned. The Beatles monthly ran on till the very end of the 60s and then came back in 1976 until finally ceasing publication for good in 2003. This first issue (pictured here) included brief introductions to each of the four, news of forthcoming stage, radio and TV events, the words to a Beatles song, a letter from the Fan Club secretary, and many photos. When the editor, Johnny Dean met with the Beatles in June to discuss the new venture, Paul McCartney asked: "What on earth are you going to find to write about us each month?" In October 2013, Mark Lewisohn publishes the first of three 800 page volumes of the Beatles Biography, which promises astonishing new information on nearly every page.