Picture Past: October 28, 1966

PUBLISHED: 15:33 28 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:33 28 October 2016

Work is ahead of schedule on the £210,000 by-pass for Axbridge, which follows the route of the former Cheddar Valley railway line.

Work is ahead of schedule on the £210,000 by-pass for Axbridge, which follows the route of the former Cheddar Valley railway line.

Archant

'Rat-hunters' were preventing fires in Weston-super-Mare in 1966. The odd story was included in the October 28 edition of the Weston Mercury and Somerset Herald. Here are more stories from that week.

Weston-super-Mare Girl's Grammar School speach day. Girls assembled for the prizegiving.Weston-super-Mare Girl's Grammar School speach day. Girls assembled for the prizegiving.

A Weston man who had served as a mess boy during World War Two met the German U-boat captain who rescued him during wartime fighting.

The remarkable story involved James Oxton, who was aged 16 when the ship he was on was torpedoed, and he and four others were left on a raft in the Atlantic.

They floated there for eight days, with only malted milk tablets and a small supply of fresh water, when they were spotted by Captain Gustav Janssen, commander of a German submarine.

Because of the submarine’s size, only Mr Oxton and one other man were taken on-board, while the other three were given supplies which lasted them until their rescue 43 days later.

Mr Oxton spent two years in a prisoner of war camp, but he wanted to thank Captain Janssen for saving his life. They finally met in October 1966.

* A craftsman from Weston was given the honour of creating a new Royal Coat of Arms.

Mr EW Denner was commissioned by the Queen to replace a plaque from the 17th century, which had been destroyed by fire.

* The number of people who were unemployed was at its highest number for a ‘number of years’.

In total, 670 people were unemployed. The number of job vacancies had gone down.

* ‘Rat-hunters’ had resulted in the number of fires at a Weston tip to drop from one a week to none in a year. The fires were being caused by young people rummaging around in the tip.

But when a teenager was given permission to use a gun to shoot rats, it was done on the agreement he would put out any fires. A team of eight young men were preventing fires from spreading.

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