Work experience student John Fish, 16, from Sir Thomas Rich's School, Gloucester, takes a look through the archives of the Stroud News from 1956.


THIS was the year in which Elvis entered the charts for the first time with Heartbreak Hotel, the Broadway musical My Fair Lady showed for the first time in New York and the very first Eurovision song contest was broadcast from Switzerland. The Stroud News, as it was known then, may not have reported on such pivotal moments but it managed to find its own stories, which have a quirky nature to them.

In the February 24 edition, a rather risque performance of Cinderella by members of Cainscross WI was covered. They donned their tap shoes for a highly received performance and I'm sure they showed everyone that they can-can put on a good show.

Meanwhile, a shopper was surprised to look into his basket and see a knobbly little face staring back.

The spud, dubbed Nobby, looked remarkably human and was brought to the offices of the Stroud News to have a head and shoulders portrait taken which ended up on the front page on March 30. On April 13, the Stroud News reported on the unusual occurrence of an elephant enjoying a beauty treatment. The luxuries lavished upon the animal, from Chipperfield's Circus, included a good wash and a scrub between the toes.

Five-year-old Sally Chipperfield - the circus director's daughter - also helped wash the beast. Chipperfield's Circus, once Europe's largest circus, visited Stroud to massive applause. The crowded non-stop two hour show featured George the giraffe, stilt-walking chimps and car driven through a triple somersault into a canvas sheet - it must have been a spectacle. When looking back you can see the massive change in technology - there are smatterings of adverts between the warring energy sources of gas and electricity, each one claiming to heat up water faster than the other, as well as adverts for an Ekcovision 17" TV which boasted 'television's finest features' and was available from R Lewis in the High Street, Stroud.

Now at first glance it might appear that the pint of beer pictured had a particularly impressive head - but real ale lovers will be disappointed to learn that it was in fact a giant puff-ball. It was discoverer by one Mr A Harman on his land at Hampton Fields. The puff-ball was 10 inches in diameter and 34 inches in circumference and was shown off at the Salutation Inn, Minchinhampton to the amazement of some Irish visitors. The story featured on the front page of the October 19 edition.

Also in the news in 1956, the Suez crisis erupts. Bobby Fischer, 13, beats grand master Donald Birne in a chess game. Marilyn Monroe marries playwright Arthur Miller. British Rail renames third class to second class. British diver Lionel Crabb disappears when investigating a Soviet cruiser Doris Day records her most famous song - Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will be). Elvis Presley releases his first album Elvis Presley. The film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I is released. Tunisia gains independence from France