Archive for the ‘Bletchley Volunteers’ Category

Instant Banking is a new service to be offered by two Bletchley banks, the Westminster and Barclays. With the aid of a card and a code number a customer will be able to obtain £10 from a dispenser at any time of day or night.

The dispenser at the Westminster Bank premises at 130 Queensway were due to come into operation yesterday. The one at Barclays, also in Queensway, comes into use later in the month.

Customers can have more than one card. The card is placed into a slot, the customer taps out a code number on push-buttons and receives a packet of ten £1 notes.

A spokesman for the National Westminster Group said: ‘‘Cash cards are ideal for busy people who don’t enjoy queuing for service at peak time periods when bank counters are very busy. Or if you run out of cash on an evening out or at the weekend when the bank is shut.’’

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I know all this amazing ‘new technology’ was introduced in the 1960s as reported by the Bletchley Gazette, however have we really moved on very far? The high street nationwide now has very few banks, and also a dwindling supply of ATMs, with threats of more closures to come. If you haven’t got a car to travel to an out-of-town shopping outlet to obtain cash you are pretty handicapped, have we really moved on 50 years?


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Interference on the BBC TV channel is annoying people living in Archers Wells and Highfield Close, Bletchley.

Except at weekends there are hours when there is what looks like ‘’snow’’ on the screens and a loud sound similar to a drilling machine.

Mr Douglas Smith, a railways clerical officer of Archers Wells, organised a petition which was signed by 30 people, this was then sent to the Post Office Telephones, Bedford Area.

He received a reply on behalf of the Area Engineer saying the complaint had been investigated and the cause found. ”We are still seeking agreement with the owners for the suppression of the plant causing the trouble and I will write to you again if there are any developments’’, added the letter.

Mr Smith said it is very annoying, particularly if you are watching a football match or something else in which you are interested. He said the interference had been going on for some months.

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Before you all try and re-tune your ‘digital Smart TVs’ I should tell you all this happened way back in 1969. Like Mr Smith, I too have experienced problems with some of the old TVs of the 50s-60s, I think the old ‘horizontal hold’ was annoying, this was when the image on the screen revolved continuously around, oh Happy Days! Also, I do remember we had a neighbour who was extremely keen on amateur radio, when he was transmitting the poor old telly went into total disarray!

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From 1973 to 1978 Bletchley Gazette reporter Harold Hepworth reminisced on the post-war years of North Bucks. All these articles have now been carefully transcribed by one of our lady volunteers at The Living Archive. The articles are large so selected paragraphs will be used over the next weeks and months just to give a flavour of how Harold saw the area develop and some of the characters of that era.

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Remember the mess when lorries were running through the town for the making of the M1? Remember the mess when the rail flyover was being built? Remember the mess when the new sewer was being laid in Bletchley Road – sorry – Queensway?

The usual messiness of development in these parts is due, of course, to the clay. Not just the grey-green Oxford clay that makes Fletton bricks, but the yellow clay-with-flints that mostly overlies it.

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I had enough of the hard way shortly after we went into our new-built house on Bletchley Saints Estate on a snowy February morn in 1953 and found a bulldozer at the rear of the house busily converting the rough grazing land into a concrete slab.

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Meanwhile, having failed to penetrate the slab by more than two inches with a fork, I went to work with a pick while my wife, who is the gardener, sat on the ground chipping the resulting clods with a chopper. One day I thought I was getting along famously with one bit that felt softer than the rest, when she pointed out that I was digging the pantry wall, not the garden. In due course I found a manhole and six months later a second one appeared. There might still be a third somewhere for aught I know.

. . .

But when the rains fell on this saintly estate, oh what an unholy mess. It did not penetrate the clay, but it covered the whole estate which a nasty greyish-yellow slime.

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Every year when the new Council Tax rate is mentioned we all give a ‘bit of a sigh’ at the increase! Fifty years ago the news was slightly more welcoming!

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Bletchley Council cut its own rate call by one penny – to 3s 4d in the pound  – at Tuesday’s budget meeting. With the county call staying at 8s 6d the new total figure is 11s 0d. But this year the Government rebate is 10d in the pound, which is 5d more than the grant last year.

Overall therefore, domestic ratepayers should find the ‘rates burden’ eased by 5d in the £ compared with the amount they are now paying.

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When you look at the figures mentioned above they look quite good, however our salaries were a lot lower then. Cannot remember but inflation overall was probably just the same; unless of course you have a different view!

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With plans for the exciting reopening of the East-West rail-link between Oxford and Cambridge and beyond well into the planning stage, 50 years ago Dr Beeching was wielding his axe closing down the network of smaller branch lines he considered uneconomic; this at the time was controversial.

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A report from a January 1968 edition of the Bletchley Gazette mentions the replacement mode of transport did not go too well!

  • First journey of the new bus service between Bletchley and Oxford – replacing the rail passenger services on the branch line – were taking up to six minutes longer than scheduled on Monday morning due to ice and snow on the road. So far it would appear that a considerable number of former rail travellers have made other arrangements for the journey, said a spokesman.

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Being a ‘rail enthusiast’ I’m really looking forward to the reopening, especially with the majority of our roads being overcrowded especially at peak times, mind you having said that there is also a new East-West expressway well into the planning stages to think about!

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Top Ten!

Looking back in some old editions of the Bletchley Gazette I was reminded of the time I used to work on Sounds Magazine, a pop/rock newspaper. I was a little younger then and the pop scene used to be a bit more familiar to me, having said that perusing the Top Ten best selling records in Bletchley in November 1968 has reminded me that I have forgotten most of the artists that topped the charts during that period. Have a look yourselves and see if you remember any of these, apart from Mannfred Mann, Herman’s Hermits and Engelbert Humperdinck the rest of the artistes seem to be a bit of a blur!



Best selling pop records in Bletchley were:

  1. ‘Everlasting love’, The Love Affair.

  2. ‘Judy in disguise’, John Ford and his Playboy Band.

  3. ‘Mighty Quinn’, Manfred Mann.

  4. ‘Bend me, Shape Me’, Amen Corner.

  5. ‘Am I that easy to forget?’, Engelbert Humperdinck.

  6. ‘She wears my ring’, Solomon King.

  7. ‘I can take or leave your loving’, Herman’s Hermits.

  8. ‘Everything I am’, The Plastic Penny.

  9. ‘Back on my feet again’, The Foundations.

  10. ‘Gimme little sign’, Brenton Wood.


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It will soon be Remembrance Day 2018, the years pass by but the commemoration of the two great wars still bring back memories of the dreadful loss of life and destruction to many. Looking back in the Bletchley Gazette archives there was a report in the November 8th, 1968 edition, that at the time was rather controversial!


Bletchley Area British Legion Women will be marching in Remembrance Day Parades as usual on Sunday, despite what has been described as an ‘order’ that women should not take part in parades as they do not march smartly enough.

The women’s section are ‘up in arms’ about the reported ‘order’ – although it has been denied that it referred to Remembrance Days – and they have the support of the Legion men.

Mrs Rose Smith, Secretary of the women’s section told us on Wednesday: Our members were up in arms.

She said they had been annoyed because it had been suggested that women had been ‘sort of ambling along’ at parades. But we shall be on parade on Sunday.

Mrs Brand said, some of our members are getting on a bit in years and perhaps they don’t march like the Wrens!

Well done the Bletchley ladies!

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