Retro: Launch pad tragedy



Roger Chaffee, Edward White and Virgil Grissom – three names but for a twist of fate which might have been known to virtually everyone in the world.

For they were the three crew members training to land a man on the moon until a launch pad accident left them dead.

The three were killed when a flash fire ignited pure oxygen in their flight cabin, killing them almost instantaneously. Their charred remains were later removed from the cockpit of the Saturn rocket in what officials described as a scene of horror.

Despite a news blackout reports filtered through that the bodies were said to have all but disintegrated. The cause was put down to an electrical spark.

Despite the tragedy, the US space agency announced it would push ahead with its plan to put a man on the moon by 1968. US President Lyndon Johnson mourned the death of the astronauts.


Transport minister Barbara Castle warned London businessmen that measures in the new Road Traffic Bill would give police the power to stop any driver suspected of committing a road traffic offence and test for the presence of alcohol in their blood.

She said: "Just think what a moving road traffic offence covers, it can mean crossing a white line or exceeding the speed limit, something most drivers do on a daily basis."

She warned motorists everywhere to be on guard and said no-one would be spared the breath test.

Donald Campbell died in the shattered remains of his jet speedboat Bluebird while attempting to break the water speed record on Lake Coniston. Campbell's last words were: "She's going, she's going..."

A baby found in a box in freezing temperatures at a bus shelter on Halifax Road, Hove Edge, near Brighouse, was recovering in hospital. Named Mark by hospital staff, the 6lb 4oz boy was believed to have been born around lunchtime on Thursday January 5.

He was found by Mrs Vesta Wood and Mr T Lawton, who had gone to wait for a bus.

A cigarette price war began with Leeds-based chain store Thrift Stores Ltd knocking 5d off the price of a pack of 20, which normally sold for 5s 5d (about 2.70 in today's money), with some packs falling to below 5s.

Grocery store Tesco indicated it would follow suit, after the wholesale price of cigarettes was cut by manufacturers.

January 14 was 'tunnel walk' day on the newly completed tunnel section of the Leeds Inner Ring Road.

A special ceremony was planned to open the tunnel, part of which was to give pedestrians their first – and last – chance to walk through the tunnel.

You could pick up a new 'Jet smooth, whisper quiet' Viva for 579 8s 7d, (about 5,950 today), pictured right, or 708 9s 10d (7,270 today) for a top of the range '90' SL model. The new Triumph GT6 was also on sale for 985 1s (10,125 today). It came with 95bhp and would go from 50mph to 70mph in 8.5 seconds. While the Hillman Hunter, billed as 'the complete family car' was on the market for 837 11s (about 8,600 today).

If you thought Lady GaGa has the monopoly on strange fashion ideas, think again – here's a picture of a model wearing a wig-bra made from wood shavings and a skirt made from wood.

Another dress in the fashion collection was made entirely of



The Doors released their self-titled album; the first American Superbowl took place in America.

Actor Glenn Ford, a commander in the US Naval Reserve, was setting off for a one-month tour of Vietnam, with the Third Marine Amphibious Force.


Glamorous Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield announced she was to make her British cabaret debut... in Batley. She was to fly from her million-dollar home in California to the newly-built Batley Variety Club, which was due to open at the end of March. She was due to top the bill for seven days, a month later.

Johnny Speight, creator of 'Till Death Us Do Part, signed a contract with the BBC making him Britain's highest paid comedy writer, on 20,000 a year. For that he was charged with writing 20 comedy shows a year.


Residents living on an unmade road on Chequerfield Avenue, Pontefract, got so fed up waiting for the council to come and fill in the holes they formed a puddle-jumping team.

They were even featured on a TV documentary and tales of their puddle-jumping spread around the world.

Team skipper Dorris Atack said: "The team was founded in a bid to get the road made up.

Car springs were being broken and our shoes were being ruined."