Here we look back at photos from the early 1970s found in the Oxford Mail archive. There was industrial unrest, with nurses and engineers on the march. Didcot Power Station was lighting up the nation, and Morrells of Oxford beer was a favourite tipple.
Members of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) marched in Cornmarket Street, Oxford, in June 1974.
The group were on their way to a protest rally in St Giles.
The Oxford Mail reported: “The Fair Mile Hospital at Cholsey faces a three-hour strike by most of its nursing staff this afternoon, the strongest industrial action taken locally in support of the nurses’ national pay claim.
“More than 240 nurses, members of the Confederation of Health Service Employees, will strike between noon and 3pm.
“They will gather in the front hall and march outside at the stroke of 12, says their branch secretary, Mr Pat O’Brien.”
In Faringdon, guests fled in their nightclothes when part of the Crown Hotel caught fire.
Damage costing tens of thousands of pounds was caused to the 16th-century building when the blaze swept through one wing in November 1973.
Four guests were evacuated, two of them losing all their possessions.
The Oxford Mail reported: “The fire started shortly before 6am and within 10 minutes, a large section of the first floor of the wing at the rear of the 23-bedroomed hotel was blazing fiercely.
“When the brigade from Faringdon arrived, a large section of the roof was also well alight.”
Crews from Reading, Wantage and Bampton reinforced the Faringdon brigade, and a turntable ladder from Swindon was also sent.
The hotel had changed hands two weeks earlier and new owner Hugh Corbett and manager Trustram Eve had been discussing new fire precautions for the building.
Mr Eve, alerted to the blaze by one of his staff, said: “I rushed downstairs and into the courtyard. I could see flames through some of the upstairs windows. Mr Corbett had also been awakened. While one of our staff phoned for the brigade, we roused guests and staff.”
The Faringdon brigade was at the scene within four minutes, but by then, the guests – two married couples – had been evacuated.
Mr Eve added: “Fortunately, the fire had not got too strong a hold and we were able to get everyone out safely, although one couple lost all their clothes.”
Days earlier, a staff member and her son had moved from a bedroom above the kitchen, where it was thought the fire started. This room was destroyed in the blaze.
One of the guests, Brian Baker, from London, said: “I opened the bedroom door and was met by thick smoke. I woke my wife and we managed to throw on a few clothes.”
More than 20 firemen fought the fire and managed to confine it to one wing. A huge pall of smoke rose over Faringdon as a large section of the wing roof caved it.
This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.
Get in touch with him by emailing: [email protected]
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