MIDSUMMER madness hit Oxford city centre in June 1979 as hordes of shoppers set out to beat the Chancellor's big VAT increases.

Fears about petrol supplies persuaded people to leave their cars at home as they set off on the spending spree.

Traders reported a huge increase in business in the final day's grace before the budget changed.

A spokesman for Curry's said trade was at least double the usual level over their whole range of goods.

They said: "A lot of the spending in the last few days has been impulse buying. I wondered, in view of the petrol difficulties, whether people might not be cancelling holidays and using the cash for a new fridge or washing machine."