1695: The Bank of Scotland was founded.

1755: An earthquake reduced two thirds of Lisbon to rubble. It is said 60,000 died in the catastrophe.

1762: Birth of Spencer Perceval, British Prime Minister from 1809 who was assassinated in the House of Commons.

1848: W H Smith opened their first railway bookstall at Euston station, London, the start of Britain’s first multiple retailer.

1895: The first motoring organization, the American Motor league was founded, a month before the Self-Propelled Traffic Association was formed in Britain.

1922: The first radio licences went on sale this day in Britain at a cost of ten shillings (50p).

1927: Betting tax was first levied in Britain. Two days later, the bookies went on strike at Windsor in protest.

1940: A prehistoric painting was discovered in a cave at Lascaux in the Dordogne.

1946: The premiere of A Matter of Life and Death with David Niven, which was also the first Royal Command Film Performance, was held at the Empire, Leicester Square.

1947: Sports Report, the BBC radio’s Saturday afternoon programme, first went on the air. It celebrated its 40th birthday in 1987, making it the world’s longest running radio programme.

1950: Two Puerto Ricans attempted to assassinate President Truman; he escaped uninjured but his guard was shot dead and two others were wounded.

1956: Premium Bonds went on sale in Britain.

1959: The first stretch of Britain’s first motorway, the M1, was opened.

1961: The body of the now-disgraced Stalin was removed from Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square.

1981: The world Mastermind championships (the board game) was played in the Temple of Luxor and won by John Seargent from Leicester, a 19-year-old mathematics student, champion since 1976.

1984: Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister of India.

1988: After 48 years as Batman’s sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder was dynamited by the Joker in this month’s edition of DC Comics’ Batman (Number 428). This was in response to a reader poll which voted he should go. (Batgirl was killed off in the late 60s.)


1734: Birth of Daniel Boone, legendary American frontiersman and hunter who led a party to find a trail through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains and eventually settled in Kentucky. Although he was captured by the Indians, he was adopted as a son of the Shawnee chief, Blackfish, before returning to the settlement.

1755: Birth of Marie Antoinette, Austrian princess and Queen Consort of Louis XVI of France, whose arrogant and extravagant behaviour helped fuel the unrest that led to the Revolution. Of the poor she said, ‘If they have no bread, let them eat cake.’

1795: Birth of James (Knox) Polk, 11th US President who took office in 1844. He was an expansionist president, adding California and New Mexico to US territory.

1865: Birth of Warren (Gamaliel) Harding, 29th US President, who took office in 1921 but his administration was blighted with corruption. He died before the end of his term.

1871: In Britain, photographs of prisoners were taken for the first time, originating the world’s first Rogues’ Gallery.

1889: North and South Dakota became the 39th and 40th states of the Union.

1896: The first motor insurance policies were issued in Britain but they excluded damage caused by frightened horses.

1899: The Siege of Ladysmith in Natal began, with the Boers encircling the town.

1903: The Daily Mirror was first published in Britain, devised as a daily paper for women.

1917: The Balfour Declaration, in reality a letter from Lord Balfour, British foreign secretary to Lord Rothschild, stated the government’s sympathies for Jewish Zionist aspirations for a Jewish homeland in Palestine and promised British aid to Zionist efforts to support this aspiration.

1920: KDKA in Pittsburgh became the world’s first regular broadcasting station.

1924: The first crossword appeared in a British newspaper, the Sunday Express, 11 years after first appearing in the US.

1930: Ras Tafari was crowned Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia.

1936: The first daily high definition television transmission in Britain was broadcast by the BBC from Alexandra Palace, north London.

1954: The classic comedy series, Hancock’s Half Hour, began on BBC radio.

1963: Archaeologists in the US found evidence of the Vikings dated 500 years before Columbus.

1964: Prince Faisal ascended the throne succeeding his brother, the deposed King Saud of Saudi Arabia.

1976: Jimmy Carter was elected 38th US President.

1982: Channel 4 was launched on British television.


1706: The town of Abruzzi in Italy was destroyed by an earthquake which killed around 15,000 people.

1801: Birth of Karl Baedeker, German publisher, famous for his guide books.

1843: Nelson’s statue was hauled to the top of the column in Trafalgar Square. The operation which began this day was completed on the 4th when the statue’s two sections were assembled.

1901: Birth of Leopold III, who became King of the Belgians from 1934.

1903: Panama proclaimed its independence from Colombia.

1942: Montgomery’s Eighth Army broke through Rommel’s front line in Africa taking 9,000 prisoners and destroying 300 tanks in the next days.

1949: The BBC bought the Shepherd’s Bush Studios in west London from the Rank Organisation.

1957: The Russian dog, Laika, became the first in space inside Sputnik II.

1975: The Queen opened the North Sea pipeline, the first to be built underwater, which brings 400,000 barrels of North Sea oil ashore each day at Grangemouth Refinery on the Firth of Forth.

1976: The first £100,000 Premium Bond was won by someone in Hillingdon.

1978: The ‘Muldergate Scandal’ broke in South Africa when it was discovered that Information Minister, Connie Mulder, had misused a £37 million propaganda fund.

1984: Mrs Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was cremated after being assassinated by a Sikh bodyguard.

1984: Father Jerzy Popieluszko was buried after being murdered by Polish Secret Police. Over 200,000 attended his funeral.

1985: Two French agents in New Zealand pleaded guilty to sinking the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior and to the manslaughter of a photographer on board. They were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.


1605: Guy Fawkes was arrested when around 30 barrels of gunpowder camouflaged with coals and faggots were discovered in the cellar under Parliament. Robert Catesby’s small band of Catholic zealots who planned to blow up James I and Parliament were only arrested after Fawkes revealed their names when tortured on the rack.

1650: Birth of William III, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, born in Holland, posthumous son of William II, Prince of Orange. On the day after his 38th birthday he landed at Torbay with an army of English and Dutch troops, and when Parliament declared the throne empty, he was proclaimed king.

1740: Birth of Augustus Montague Toplady, controversial English vicar of Hembury, Devon who was a staunch defender of Calvinism and the writer of the ever-popular hymn ‘Rock of Ages’.

1852: The House of Commons Press Gallery was opened.

1879: The first cash register was patented by James Ritty who owned a saloon in Dayton, Ohio.

1890: The Prince of Wales travelled by Underground electric railway from King William Street to the Oval to mark the opening of what is now the City Branch of the Northern Line. This was the first electrified underground railway system and the carriages were illuminated by electric lights.

1914: The first fashion show was organized by Edna Woodman Chase of Vogue magazine and held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, New York.

1946: UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was established.

1952: Queen Elizabeth II opened her first Parliament.

1952: Dwight David Eisenhower was elected 34th US President.

1958: Baroness Elliott of Harwood became the first woman to address the House of Lords.

1979: Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and held over 60 staff and US Marines hostage.

1980: Ronald Reagan was elected 40th US President.

1987: Millionaire Peter de Savary bought Land’s End.


Guy Fawkes’ Night in Britain since 1607, marking the discovery in 1605 of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, when Guy Fawkes was arrested. The setting off of fireworks is still preceded by children asking for ‘a penny for the Guy’, a grotesque effigy of Guy Fawkes which is burnt on a bonfire this night.

1854: The combined British and French armies defeated the Russians at the Battle of Inkerman during the Crimean War.

1909: Woolworth’s first store in Britain opened in Liverpool.

1912: The British Board of Film Censors was appointed. They decided on only two classifications: Universal and Not Suitable for Children.

1914: Cyprus was annexed to Britain.

1922: Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt, undisturbed since 1337 BC.

1927: Britain’s first automatic traffic lights were installed at Princess Square road junction in Wolverhampton.

1932: Gillespie Road London Underground station, which also served Arsenal Football Club’s Highbury ground, had its name changed to Arsenal after representations by the club.

1940: Roosevelt won a record third term as US President. He won his fourth term four years later on 7 November 1944, while in 1968 Richard Nixon was elected 37th US President.

1971: Princess Anne was voted ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ by the British Sportswriters Association.


1429: Henry VI was crowned King of England. Two years later he was also crowned King of France in Paris.

1638: Birth of James Gregory, Scottish mathematician and astronomer who described the first practical reflecting telescope and contributed towards the discovery of calculus.

1814: Birth of (Antoine-Joseph) Adolphe Sax, Belgian musical instrument maker who invented the saxophone in 1840, patenting it in 1846.

1860: Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th US President.

1861: Birth of James A Naismith, US inventor of basketball while he was physical education director of the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School, Springfield, Massachusetts. He also invented the ‘A’ as a second initial.

1892: Birth of Sir John Alcock, English aviator who flew the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1919 with Sir Arthur Whitten-Brown.

1924: Tory leader Stanley Baldwin was elected Prime Minister and he appointed Winston Churchill, former Liberal, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

1928: Herbert Hoover was elected 31st US President.

1956: The construction of the Kariba High Dam began on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

1988: A virus which crippled 6,000 US Defence Department computers was spread by a 23-year-old graduate whose father headed the country’s computer security agency.


The National Day of Russia, when in 1917, Lenin’s Bolsheviks led the overthrow of the moderate Kerensky socialist government.

1783: The last public hanging in Britain took place at Tyburn, near where Marble Arch now stands.

1865: The Erie Pocket Lighter, the first ever, was manufactured by the Repeating Light Company of Springfield, Massachusetts.

1872: The Marie Celeste, the ill-fated brigantine, sailed from New York to be found mysteriously abandoned some time later.

1885: After four and a half years’ work, the last spike was driven in to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway.

1916: Jeanette Rankin of Montana became the first woman member of the US Congress.

1917: Birth of Helen Suzman, South African anti-apartheid civil rights campaigner, a leading member of the South African Progressive Federal Party and former Member of Parliament.

1918: Birth of (William Franklin) Billy Graham, US evangelist who campaigned for Christ using all the techniques of modern communication to address huge audiences in the US and worldwide.

1942: Birth of Jean Shrimpton, leading English model whose face and figure, enhanced with a miniskirt, set the fashion for the 60s.

1961: Konrad Adenauer was elected German Chancellor for the fourth time.

1972: Richard Nixon was re-elected US President, a term that would end in his resignation.


The Feast of the Four Crowned Ones still marked by some English freemasons, commemorating four masons martyred by Emperor Diocletian for refusing to sculpt a pagan god.

1656: Birth of Edmond Halley, English astronomer and mathematician best known for the comet named after him and for his work predicting its orbit. He also produced the first meteorological chart ever published and commanded a war sloop on the first sea voyage undertaken exclusively for scientific purposes.

1793: The Louvre was opened to the public by the revolutionary government, although only part of the great collection could be viewed.

1802: Birth of Sir Benjamin Hall, commissioner of works at the time of Big Ben’s installation in the tower at the Houses of Parliament and from whom the famous clock with its 13-ton bell gets its name.

1866: Birth of Herbert Austin, later Baron Austin, English motor car manufacturer who first went to Australia where he managed several engineering works. He returned to England and produced his first car in 1895. He joined the Wolsey Company and then opened his own works in 1905.

1889: Montana became the 41st state of the Union.

1895: William Roentgen discovered X-rays during an experiment at the University of Wurzburg with the flow of electricity through a partially evacuated glass tube.

1920: Rupert Bear made his first appearance in the Daily Express.

1922: Birth of Professor Christiaan (Neethling) Barnard, South African heart transplant pioneer who carried out the world’s first at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

1923: The first Welsh language broadcast was made from 5WA, Cardiff.

1932: Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a massive victory against Herbert Hoover on his ‘New Deal’ ticket.

1939: A bomb exploded in the Buergerbraukeller in Munich on the 16th anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall putsch where Hitler was delivering his traditional anniversary speech. The bomb went off just after Hitler left.

1974: Covent Garden ceased to be the location of London’s famous flower and vegetable market as it moved across the Thames, leaving the old warehouses and Floral Hall to be rejuvenated.

1980: Heaven’s Gate was premiered in New York. It proved to be the most expensive flop of all time ($30 million), and put its production company United Artists out of business.

1987: An IRA bomb exploded shortly before a Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, killing 11 people.

1987: A man serving 17 years for murder in a Californian prison decided to sue a juror for $24 million for sleeping through most of the trial and contributing to what he claimed was a wrongful conviction.

1989: The first black state governor in US history and the black mayor of New York were elected this day. Virginia chose Douglas Wilder, a grandson of freed slaves, as their Governor, while New Yorkers, by a slim majority, voted in David Dinkins.


1841: Birth of King Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who was the first British prince to tour Canada and the US. He was 61 when he was crowned and gave his name to the Edwardian age in English manners, fashion and literature.

1847: In Edinburgh, Dr James Young Simpson delivered Wilhelmina Carstairs while chloroform was administered to her mother, the first child to be born with the aid of anaesthesia.

1859: From this day, flogging was no longer permitted in the British Army.

1922: The SS (Schutzstaffel or ‘Protection Squad’) was formed in Germany.

1960: John F Kennedy was elected the youngest ever president of the US, aged 43. Nixon conceded defeat shortly after midnight.

1961: Brian Epstein went to a lunchtime session at The Cavern in Liverpool to see for himself why his record shop was receiving so many requests for records by a group that had apparently made none. When he saw and heard the Beatles, he decided he wanted to be their manager.

1985: In Moscow, Gary Kasparov became world chess champion, beating Anatoly Karpov who had held the crown for ten years.

1989: Following demands for political reform from its citizens, the East German government decided to lift the ‘iron curtain’ and allow free travel through the Berlin Wall. Soon after the announcement, many thousands of jubilant East Berliners swarmed through the crossing points into West Berlin. The following day bulldozers moved in and began demolishing the 28-year-old barrier.


1483: Birth of Martin Luther, religious reformer who attacked church abuses and began the Reformation.

1683: Birth of George II, King of England from 1727 to 1760 who leaned heavily on his prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole. He had a passion for opera and was Handel’s patron.

1871: Henry Morton Stanley, sent out to Africa by his newspaper to find Scottish missionary David Livingstone, finally made contact with him at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika with the immortal words, ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume’.

1913: Battersea elected the first coloured mayor in Britain, John Archer, born in Liverpool of Jamaican parents.

1928: Hirohito was crowned Emperor of Japan. The Crown Prince, aged 27, had been regent for seven years before taking over from his sick father.

1938: ‘Kristallnacht’ in Germany, when in the early hours Nazis burned 267 synagogues and destroyed thousands of Jewish homes and businesses, smashing shop windows, which gave the night its name.

1987: The wreck of the US brig Somers, the infamous ship on which Herman Melville based his story Billy Budd (1924), was reported found off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico. In 1842, three of its crew were hanged for mutiny, and the Captain who ordered the hangings was himself charged with murder, but was acquitted. It is said that the ghosts of the hanged men haunted the ship and many tried to avoid sailing on her. During the US-Mexican war, she capsized and sank (12 December 1846) while pursuing a Mexican ship.


Feast Day of St Menas (or Mannas), who was believed by the Greeks to have the power to locate lost objects, especially sheep.

1885: Birth of George Smith Patton, US general who led the first US troops to fight in North Africa in the Second World War. In 1944, he headed the Third Army which swept across France.

1889: Washington became the 42nd state of the Union.

1918: The armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany in a guarded railway carriage in the forest of Compiègne. To mark the occasion three years later, the British Legion held their first Poppy Day.

1918: Irving Berlin’s patriotic song, ‘God Bless America’ was sung for the first time by Kate Smith.

1920: The body of the unknown soldier was buried under the Arc de Triomphe, while the body of an unknown British soldier returned from France was interred in Westminster Abbey. This ceremony was recorded using a microphone by Lionel Guest and H O Merriman, the first electrical recording made.

1925: The BBC broadcast their first radio play, The White Château by Reginald Berkley.

1940: Willys launched the Jeep (called so from the initials ‘GP’, for general purpose car).

1944: The Home Guard was disbanded in Britain.

1946: Stevenage was designated the first new town in Britain.

1952: The first video recorder was demonstrated at Bing Crosby Enterprises in Beverly Hills, California by inventors John Mullin and Wayne Johnson.

1953: The BBC television programme Panorama was first broadcast.

1965: Ian Smith’s all-white Rhodesia government unilaterally declared independence from Britain.

1975: Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr because, unable to get his budget plans through Parliament he refused to call a general election.

1975: Angola became independent from Portugal.

1987: An amateur pilot, dubbed the Black Baron for his illegal night-time flights over Paris when he buzzed the Champs-Elysées, was grounded by a French court after a massive manhunt. He was fined £5,000 and banned from flying for three years.

1988: Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Totov and Musa Manarov spent their 326th record-breaking day in space.


1684: Birth of Edward Vernon (‘Old Grog’), English admiral.

1859: Leotard made his debut in Paris. The daring young man on the flying trapeze, which he devised, was a sensation at the Cirque d’Eté, for which he was paid 500 francs a day, a large sum of money at this time. He also performed without a safety net.

1866: Birth of Sun Yat-sen, first president of the Republic of China (1911-12), the father of modern China who worked for the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty.

1911: Birth of Reverend Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans, the voluntary group who counsel those in distress. Originally established at St Stephen’s Church, London, it provides a service day and night, every day of the year.

1919: The first flight from England to Australia began from Hounslow with Ross and Smith in a Vickers Vimy. They landed safely on 13 December 1919.

1923: Hitler was arrested after his failed Beer Hall putsch in Munich on the 8th.

1928: The New Oxford Theatre, the first cinema outside the US to show ‘talking pictures’, opened in Manchester.

1942: Pharmaceutical giant Bayer patented polyurethane.

1974: A salmon was caught in the Thames, the first since around 1840.

1987: Van Gogh’s Irises was sold for a then world record £30.2 million. He painted it while a patient at the St Rémy lunatic asylum.


1312: Birth of Edward III, King of England from 1327, whose incompetence reached a climax when he invaded Scotland and was soundly beaten at Bannockburn by Bruce. He was the father of Edward ‘the Black Prince’ and John of Gaunt.

1851: The telegraphic service between London and Paris began operating.

1907: The first helicopter rose 6_ feet above ground in a field in Normandy powered by two motor-driven propellers above the pilot.

1936: King Edward VIII told Prime Minister Baldwin he intended to marry twice-divorced Mrs Simpson.

1940: Walt Disney’s Fantasia opened in New York.

1945: General Charles de Gaulle was elected President of the provisional French government.

1947: Hugh Dalton, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, resigned after admitting he had disclosed tax proposals to a reporter from the Star minutes before he presented the Budget (on the 12th).

1950: The first World Bridge Championship, held in Bermuda, was won by the US.


1765: Birth of Robert Fulton, US engineer who developed the first commercially viable steamboat. He also built the first US submarine in 1800.

1770: Scottish explorer James Bruce discovered the source of the Blue Nile in north-east Ethiopia, which was then considered the main stream of the Nile.

1863: Birth of Leo (Hendrik) Baekeland, Belgian-born US chemist who invented the first commercial plastic, which he named Bakelite.

1889: Birth of Jawaharial Nehru, the first prime minister of an independent India from August 1947, who was eventually followed by his daughter Indira and her son, Rajiv.

1889: New York World star female reporter Nellie Bly set sail from New York to beat Phileas Fogg’s 80 days to go around the world as described in Jules Verne’s classic. She filed stories during her travels and ran a competition for readers to guess what her time would be, attracting nearly one million entries. She actually did it in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds having travelled by sea, on sampans, on horseback, by rail and road.

1896: The speed limit for horseless carriages in Britain was raised from 4 mph (2 mph in towns) to 14 mph. It was marked by the first London to Brighton Car Run, which only became a regular and official event from 1927, sponsored by the Daily Sketch. Curiously, the two most famous cars associated with the event in the classic film comedy Genevieve would not qualify for would not qualify for the event as they were both built in 1905, and only cars built by 1904 are allowed to enter.

1908: Birth of Joseph (Raymond) McCarthy, US senator who led the notorious Senate enquiry into alleged communists in the 50s which blacklisted thousands of people from politicians to film stars. He was finally shown to be falsifying evidence which put a belated end to his witchhunt. He left his name to posterity: ‘McCarthyism’ - to accuse without evidence.

1910: At 3.16 pm, Eugene Ely made the first takeoff in an aircraft from the deck of a US light cruiser.

1922: The first programme was broadcast at 6 pm from 2LO London (later the BBC). A news bulletin, repeated again at 9 pm, and a weather report were the entire programme.

1935: Birth of King Hussein of Jordan (Hussein ibn Talal).

1940: Coventry’s centre was bombed, killing over 1,000 civilians and destroying the medieval cathedral.

1948: Birth of Prince Charles (Charles Philip Arthur George), Prince of Wales and enthusiastic and concerned environmentalist.

1952: Britain’s first music chart was published in the New Musical Express with Al Martino’s ‘Here in my Heart’ at No. 1 and Vera Lynn in at 7, 8 and 10.

1963: A volcanic eruption under the sea off Iceland created the new island of Surtsey.

1969: The BBC began colour television programmes.

1973: Bobby Moore made his 108th and final appearance for England against Italy at Wembley.

1973: Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey.


The Feast Day of Albert the Great, patron saint of medical technicians. Albert was a pioneer of books for students of natural sciences.

1638: Birth of Catherine of Braganza, Queen to Charles II. Her dowry to the King of England included Tangiers and Bombay.

1708: Birth of William Pitt the Elder, 1st Earl of Chatham, British Prime Minister and noted orator.

1777: Following the American War of Independence, the Articles of Confederation for the union of the United States of America were finally adopted by the Congress of Philadelphia.

1837: Isaac Pitman published details of his shorthand system, ‘Stenographic Sound-Hand’.

1864: General Sherman began his march from Atlanta to Savannah with 60,000 men. His scorched earth policy destroyed towns and farms on the 300-mile march to the sea, an atrocity that would haunt him the rest of his life.

1889: Brazil became a republic on Pedro II’s abdication following a revolution.

1891: Birth of Erwin Rommel, legendary German field marshal, commander of the Afrika Corps of the North African campaign during the Second World War.

1897: Birth of Aneurin Bevan, British Labour politician, son of a miner, who was the architect of the National Health Service.

1899: The SS St Paul became the first ship to receive radio messages, transmitted from the Needles wireless station off the Isle of Wight.

1899: Winston Churchill was captured by the Boers while covering the war as a reporter for the Morning Post. He escaped a few weeks later.

1901: An electrical hearing aid was patented by Miller Reese of New York; however, the device was certainly not portable. It was not until 1935 that A. Edwin Stevens of London devised one that could be worn.

1907: Birth of Count Claus von Stauffenberg, German officer who was involved in the attempt to assassinate Hitler (20 July 1944). A hunt for the plotters led not only to von Stauffenberg, who was executed, but also to Rommel whom Hitler pressurized into committing suicide to avoid the scandal of trying a national hero for treason.

1918: Victory Day in Britain following the end of the First World War.

1923: Rampant inflation in Germany reached a peak this day when the mark (4.2 to $1 in 1914) had risen to 4,200,000,000 to $1.

1926: NBC (National Broadcasting Corporation) was inaugurated in the US.

1956: Love Me Tender, Elvis Presley’s first film, was premiered in New York. It recouped its production costs after three days.

1965: Craig Breedlove, US, set a world speed record of over 613 mph using a jet-engined car, Spirit of America, on Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

1968: The liner Queen Elizabeth completed her final passenger voyage before being sold to a US group who planned to moor her in Florida as a tourist attraction.

1969: ATV (Midland) screened the first colour television commercial in Britain for Birds-Eye Peas at just £23 for the off-peak 30-second slot.

1977: Birth of Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips.

1983: The Greenham Common women’s group mounted their first protest as Cruise missiles arrived at the US airbase in Berkshire.


42 BC: Birth of Tiberius Claudius Nero, second emperor of Rome, succeeding Augustus in AD 14, who improved and strengthened the principate, but was depicted as cruel and perverted by historians.

1717: Birth of Jean le Rond d’Alembert, French author and mathematician who was found abandoned the day after his birth on the steps of the Church of St Jean le Rond from which his name was taken. He added ‘Alembert’ later.

1824: Australian explorer Hamilton Hume discovered the Murray River, the longest in Australia, 1,609 miles (2,589 km).

1848: Frédéric Chopin gave his last public performance at London’s Guildhall. He was one performer in a charity concert, where he played despite illness and an uninterested audience who spent most of the evening in the refreshment areas.

1869: The formal opening of the Suez Canal took place. It had taken ten years to make the 100-mile canal devised by Ferdinand de Lesseps. He celebrated his 64th birthday three days later. In 1974, the Suez Canal was reopened following its closure in the 1967 Suez conflict.

1896: Birth of Oswald Mosley, English politician who was successively a Conservative and Labour Member of Parliament before forming the British Union of Fascists. Provocative marches through the Jewish east end of London prior to the Second World War led to major confrontations. He was interned during the war and later lived in exile in France.

1907: Oklahoma became the 46th state of the Union.

1913: The first volume of Marcel Proust’s classic Remembrance of Things Past was published in Paris.

1917: Georges Clemenceau became Prime Minister of France.

1938: Willie Hall of Spurs scored five goals for England against Ireland with his three goals in 3_ minutes, setting a record for the fastest ever in an international.

1959: The Sound of Music was performed for the first time on Broadway starring Mary Martin. The show ran 1,443 performances.

1965: The USSR launched Venus III, an unmanned spacecraft that successfully landed on Venus.


The Feast Day of Hilda, patron saint of business and professional women.

1603: The trial of Sir Walter Raleigh began. Falsely accused of treason, he had been offered a large sum of money by Lord Cobham, a critic of England’s King James I, to make peace with the Spanish and put Arabella Stuart, James’s cousin, on the throne. Raleigh claimed he turned down the offer, but Lord Cobham told his accusers that Raleigh was involved in the plot.

1755: Birth of Louis XVIII, first King of France after the fall of Napoleon.

1800: The US Congress met for the first time and John Adams became the first President to move into the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House).

1869: The first cycle road race, 83 miles from Paris to Rouen, was won by England’s James Moore.

1880: The first three women to graduate in Britain received their Bachelor of Arts degrees at London University.

1887: Birth of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (Bernard Law Montgomery), English soldier who was a painstaking planner, which contributed to his most successful battle in North Africa when he broke through Rommel’s lines during the Second World War. ‘Monty’ was also a superb communicator, which assured his popularity with his men.

1922: The last Sultan of Turkey was deposed by Kemal Atatürk.

1922: Siberia voted for union with the USSR on the same day that Britain elected its first Communist member of parliament, J T Walton-Newbold standing for Motherwell, Scotland. He eventually joined the Labour Party.

1931: Birth of Michael Freeman, English orthopaedic surgeon who pioneered new surgical procedures for replacement of hip, knee and ankle joints.

1954: King Farouk of Egypt was sent into exile, and General Nasser became head of state.

1955: Anglesey became the first authority in Britain to introduce fluoride into the water supply.

1959: Two Scottish airports, Prestwick and Renfrew, became the first to offer duty free goods in Britain. London Heathrow followed soon after.

1970: The unmanned Soviet Luna 17 landed on the moon.

1988: Franz Kafka’s manuscript of his classic novel, The Trial (1925) was sold at Sotheby’s in London for £1 million, a world record for a modern literary text. Kafka died in poverty in 1924.


9: Birth of Vespasian (Titus Flavius Vespasianus), Roman emperor who consolidated the empire, directed the pacification of Wales and northern Britain and established extensive sales and excise taxes, including one on public urinals.

1477: Caxton’s first dated book, the Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres, was published.

1626: St Peter’s in Rome was consecrated.

1789: Birth of Louis Daguerre, French photography pioneer who developed the daguerreotype, a one-off picture without a negative, said to have been discovered when he accidentally spilt iodine on some silvered plates.

1852: The state funeral of the Duke of Wellington took place, one of the biggest ever held in London with the procession making its way to St Paul’s Cathedral.

1860: Birth of Ignace Jan Paderewski, famous international Polish pianist, composer who became Poland’s first Prime Minister after it achieved independence in 1919. Although he resigned a year later, he continued to raise money for war victims with his concerts. He made a guest appearance in the 1936 film Moonlight Sonata.

1905: Prince Carl of Denmark became King Haakon VII of Norway when that country voted itself independent of Denmark.

1906: Birth of Sir Alec (Alexander Arnold Constantine) Issigonis, born in Turkey of a Bavarian mother and a Greek father. He came to Britain in 1922 and made his way slowly in the motor industry, designing the Morris Minor in 1948, the first British car to sell more than a million. In 1959 he had his greatest triumph when he unveiled the Mini Minor which ten years later became the first British car to sell over two million.

1901: Birth of George (Horace) Gallup, US organizer of public opinion surveys who devised the Gallup Poll. He conducted his first poll in 1932 for an advertising company.

1928: The first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, was screened in the US. It was the first experimental sound cartoon and, although not strictly the first Mickey cartoon, it was the first with his amended name.

1933: Bob Hope made his first major appearance on Broadway in Jerome Kern’s Roberta as Huckleberry Haines. The show introduced the song ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’.

1963: Bell Telephone introduced push button telephones.

1977: President Sadat became the first Egyptian leader to visit Israel and address the Knesset.

1978: In Guyana, a US sect led by the ‘Reverend’ Jim Lloyd murdered three visiting newsmen and a US congressman who had come to investigate the movement. Lloyd then ordered his 900 men, women and children to commit mass suicide by drinking a soft drink laced with cyanide. It was probably the largest mass suicide in modern times.

1983: Mrs Janet Walton of Liverpool gave birth to sextuplets after taking a fertility drug.

1987: The worst fire in the history of the London Underground killed 30 people. The blaze began in the machinery below a wooden escalator in King’s Cross Underground station and soon filled the tunnels with dense, choking smoke and intense heat.


1600: Birth of Charles I, King of England and Scotland who believed the king ruled by Divine Right, until his action in dissolving Parliament led to the civil war with Cromwell and his eventual execution.

1805: Birth of Vicomte Ferdinand de Lesseps, French diplomat and engineer who supervised the construction of the Suez Canal 1859-69. He was to be responsible for the construction of the Panama Canal but was prosecuted for embezzling funds.

1831: Birth of James (Abram) Garfield, 20th US President from 1881, who was assassinated three months later.

1850: Lord Tennyson became Poet Laureate.

1863: President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg address after the American Civil War with the immortal phrase ‘...that government by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’.

1875: Birth of Hiram Bingham, archaeologist and US senator who in 1911 discovered the route in the Peruvian Andes to the lost Inca capital of Vilcabamba at Macchu Picchu.

1888: Birth of José Raúl Capablanca, Cuban chess champion who won the world title from 1921-7 and was instrumental in the development of the modern game.

1893: The first colour supplement was published in the Sunday New York World.

1917: Birth of Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, daughter of Nehru, who served as Prime Minister from 1966-77 and again in 1980-84. She was a controversial leader and in 1975 her election to Parliament was declared void and a state of emergency was declared.

1951: The white football became official.

1960: The first VTOL (vertical take-off aircraft) made by the British Hawker Siddeley Company was flown for the first time.

1960: Pélé scored his 1,000th goal with a penalty while playing for Santos in his 909th first class match.

1987: A 1931 Bugatti Royale was sold for £5.5 million at an auction at the Royal Albert Hall, a record for a car.


1787: Birth of Sir Samuel Cunard, shipowner born in Nova Scotia who came to Britain in 1838 and, together with two partners, established what became the Cunard Line in 1839. Their first ship, the Britannia, set sail the following year taking 14 days and 8 hours to cross the Atlantic.

1805: The first performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio took place in Vienna.

1818: Simón Bolívar declared Venezuela independent from Spain.

1906: Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce formed Rolls-Royce. This day in 1931, the company bought up Bentley Motors.

1908: Birth of (Alfred) Alistair Cooke, British-born US-based broadcaster and journalist who began his famous commentaries, Letters from America, in 1938. He also presented the television series Alistair Cooke’s America (1973) which was followed up with a best-selling book.

1925: Birth of Robert Kennedy, younger brother of the 35th President, John F Kennedy. He became the Attorney-General (1961-4), then as Senator for New York, announced his intention to stand for president in 1968, but was assassinated that year.

1929: Salvador Dalí’s first one-man show was held in Paris.

1944: The lights of Piccadilly Circus and the Strand were switched back on after five years of blackout.

1945: The Nuremberg War Crimes trial of Nazis including Goering, Hess, Ribbentrop and Streicher began. It lasted 218 days.

1947: Princess Elizabeth married Lt Philip Mountbatten RN in Westminster Abbey. The BBC made the first telerecording of the event, which was broadcast in the US 32 hours later.

1951: Snowdonia in Wales was designated a National Park.

1959: Top US DJ Alan Freed refused to deny being involved in a big payola scandal and was sacked from both television and radio programmes.

1970: The ten-shilling note (50p) was officially withdrawn by the Bank of England.

1979: Anthony Blunt, the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, was stripped of his knighthood after admitting to being a spy for Russia, thereby exposed as the Fourth Man in the Burgess, Maclean and Philby spy scandal.

1984: British Telecom shares went on sale and were oversubscribed several times over.


1783: Man’s first free-flight was made by Jean de Rosier and the Marquis d’Arlandes in the Montgolfier brothers’ hot-air balloon. They rose 500 feet above Paris and after 25 minutes, landed a few miles south.

1789: North Carolina became the 12th state of the Union.

1831: Michael Faraday read his first series of papers at the Royal Society in London on ‘Experimental Research into Electricity’.

1843: Thomas Hancock patented vulcanized rubber. In 1825 he had produced the first toy balloons in Britain, consisting of a bottle of rubber solution and a condensing syringe.

1934: The first performance in New York of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes with words by Guy Bolton and P G Wodehouse, which included the song ‘I Get A Kick Out of You’. It made Ethel Merman a star.

1953: The discovery of ‘The Piltdown Man’ skull by Charles Dawson in Sussex in 1912 was finally revealed as a hoax.

1958: Work began on the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland, and in 1964, the world’s longest single span bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge across New York City Harbor, was opened.


The feast day of Cecilia, the patron saint of music, singers and poets.

1497: Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in his search for a route to India.

1808: Birth of Thomas Cook, English travel agent who began his pioneering tour business, Thomas Cook & Son, when he organized the first publicly advertised railway excursion to a temperance meeting on 5 July 1841. In the early 1860s he stopped running his own personal tours and became an agent for domestic and overseas travel tickets.

1830: Container transport was introduced by Pickford’s by agreement with the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Company.

1890: Birth of General Charles (André Marie Joseph) de Gaulle, French soldier and leader of the Free French in England during the Second World War. He returned to France in triumph at the end of the war and headed the provisional government, but later resigned. In 1958, with France in a critical state of unrest and with a fragile economy, he was invited to return. The following year he took office as President.

1899: Birth of Wiley Post, US aviator who was the first to fly solo around the world on 15 July 1931.

1927: The first performance of George Gershwin’s Funny Face starring Fred and Adele Astaire in New York with the song ‘’S Wonderful’.

1930: The first Irish Sweepstake was held, on the Manchester November Handicap. The grand prize was £204,764 won by a Belfast civil servant.

1946: The first Biro ballpoint pen went on sale, invented by Hungarian Laszlo Biro and manufactured by a British company.

1963: John F Kennedy was assassinated as he was driven in an open car on his official visit to Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the killing, a charge still overflowing with controversy.

1975: King Juan Carlos was sworn in as King of Spain following the death of Franco two days before.

1986: Mike Tyson, at age 20, became the youngest ever world heavyweight boxing champion when he beat Trevor Berbick in Las Vegas in just two rounds.


1670: The first performance in Paris of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

1804: Birth of Franklin Pierce, 14th US President from 1852 who was nominated as a compromise candidate. He retired from active politics in 1857 when his unpopular actions lit a long fuse which would set off the Civil War.

1852: The first pillar boxes were erected in St Helier, in the Channel Islands where, according to a Post Office surveyor sent over to inspect postal facilities, ‘there were no receiving offices for people in the distant parts of the town’. The surveyor later became famous as the novelist, Anthony Trollope.

1859: Birth of Billy the Kid (William H Bonney), US outlaw who was the legendary gang leader in the Lincoln County cattle war in New Mexico. He murdered a sheriff, was sentenced to death, escaped killing two guards, and was eventually shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett, but not before the 22-year-old psychopath had murdered 21 people, the first when he was only 12 years old.

1869: Birth of Valdemar Poulsen, Danish engineer who invented the tape recorder which he patented on 1 December 1898. He was unable to find backers in Europe and finally took his invention to the US, but the device, which recorded on piano wire, had limited application.

1889: The first juke box was installed in Palais Royal Saloon in San Francisco.

1915: ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag’, the famous First World War song, was published, music by Felix Powell and words by George Asaf, who were really two brothers from Wales.

1963: The first episode of the BBC TV serial Dr Who was screened in Britain. The first Dr Who was played by William Hartnell, and Ann Ford was his first female companion. The producer, Sydney Newman, thought the Daleks, designed by Ray Cusick, were ‘bug-eyed monsters’ and totally wrong for the series.

1988: The grand sumo champion Chionofuji became only the fifth sumo wrestler in recorded history to win 50 matches in a row. Known as the Wolf, his name will be carved into a cenotaph.


1434: The River Thames froze over, and exactly 281 years later, it froze again hard enough for a Frost Fair to be held on the ice.

1642: Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovered Van Diemen’s Land which he named after his captain, but it was later renamed Tasmania.

1784: Birth of Zachary Taylor, 12th US President who was a popular military figure with heroic victories against Santa Ana and his Mexican army before taking office in 1848. He died in office two years later.

1815: Birth of Grace Darling, English lighthouse-keeper’s daughter who rowed out to rescue survivors of the Forfarshire and became a national heroine feted by royalty, befriended by the aristocracy, written about by Wordsworth and Swinburne. She died of consumption, aged 27.

1859: Darwin’s controversial Origin of Species was published.

1939: Imperial Airways and British Airways merged to become BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation, which later merged with British European Airways and returned to one of the previous names, British Airways).

1951: Austin and Morris Motors agreed to merge.

1962: The satirical television programme That Was the Week That Was went out live from the BBC, introduced by a new presenter, David Frost, and with some material written by an equally unknown John Cleese. Produced by Ned Sherrin, the programme broke new ground.

1963: Lee Harvey Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby in the underground car park of the Dallas Police Headquarters. Harvey, charged with the assassination of President Kennedy, was being transferred to the County Jail when the strip club owner (real name, Jack Rubinstein) suddenly appeared and fired a gun at point blank range before being overpowered and arrested, adding one more curious and disturbing element to the mystery.

1989: The Czechoslovak party leadership resigned following huge and violent protests in Prague and elsewhere in the country. The Communist Party’s domination finally ended on 28 November.


Some biblical scholars claim this was the day in 2348 BC when the Flood began.

1835: Birth of Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-born US industrialist and philanthropist who rose from telegraph boy to iron and steel multimillionaire. He devoted his vast wealth to libraries and universities including the Carnegie Hall in New York which opened in 1891.

1844: Birth of Karl Friedrich Benz, German engineer and motor car pioneer who built the world’s first practical internal-combustion vehicle in 1885, patented the following year. In 1926, his company merged with Daimler.

1884: Evaporated milk was patented by John Mayenberg of St Louis, Missouri.

1896: William Marshall became the first person in Britain to receive a parking summons after leaving his car in Tokenhouse Yard in the City of London, but the case was dismissed.

1915: Birth of General Augusto Pinochet, president of Chile who ousted Dr Salvador Allende in a CIA-backed military coup instituting a repressive regime.

1932: British Equity, the actors’ union, voted for a closed shop to begin operating in 1933.

1952: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre, London, starring Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim.

1953: Hungary, led by their talented footballer Ferenc Pushkas, beat England 6-3 at Wembley to become the first foreign team to achieve an away win at Wembley.

1969: John Lennon returned his MBE in protest against British involvement in Biafra and British support of US involvement in Vietnam.


1810: Birth of William George Armstrong (Baron Armstrong), English inventor of hydraulic equipment, originally for military use, but which led to the development of the first hydraulic crane.

1832: John Mason introduced the first trams in New York running the Prince Street-14th Street route.

1867: Mrs Lily Maxwell of Manchester cast her vote in a parliamentary election. She had been placed on the electoral register in error and had to be escorted by a bodyguard to protect her from loutish opponents to women’s suffrage.

1908: Birth of Lord Forte (Charles Forte), British business magnate, chairman of Trusthouse Forte, one of the largest hotel and restaurant groups in the world.

1922: Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon, Carter’s sponsor, became the first men to see inside the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun near Luxor since it was sealed 3,000 years before. Having escaped detection by tomb robbers, it was complete with golden statues and golden throne inlaid with gems.

1928: The first twins delivered by Caesarean section in Britain were born in a Manchester hospital to a mother who was hunchbacked.

1942: The Soviet forces counterattacked at Stalingrad, ending the siege and forcing General von Paulus’s Sixth Army to retreat.

1966: President de Gaulle opened the world’s first tidal power station in Brittany.

1983: The Brinks Mat security warehouse at London’s Heathrow Airport was robbed of £25 million worth of gold bars weighing three tons.

1987: Drawings of English bank notes by US artist James Boggs were declared works of art and not illegal replicas of UK currency by an Old Bailey jury.

1988: Mrs Rita Lockett of Torquay, Devon, spent £10,000 to repeat her daughter’s wedding two months after the event because she did not like the video. The couple went through the reception with all 200 wedding guests wearing the same outfits and having to listen to the same speeches, this time with a professional video crew on hand.


1582: On or about this day William Shakespeare, aged 18, married Anne Hathaway. They had a daughter in 1583 and a twin boy and girl in 1585. The boy died aged 11.

1874: Birth of Chaim (Azriel) Weizmann, first president of Israel, born in Russia who was a chemistry professor in Geneva where he became active in the World Zionist Movement. After settling in Britain in 1904 he assisted the British munitions industry during the First World War when he devised a way of extracting acetone (needed for cordite) from maize. In return, the British government promised to help his cause and establish a Jewish state in Palestine.

1894: Birth of Konosuke Matsushita, Japanese industrialist who founded the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company in 1918 which later made products under the Panasonic name.

1914: The first two trained policewomen to be granted official status in Britain, Miss Mary Allen and Miss E F Harburn, reported for duty at Grantham, Lincolnshire.

1921: Birth of Alexander Dubcek, former first secretary of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party who introduced short-lived reforms during the Prague Spring of 1968, before the Russians invaded. When democracy was eventually reintroduced, he became Chairman of the Czechoslovak parliament on 28 December 1989.

1942: As German troops arrived in Toulon the French fleet was scuttled in Toulon harbour to prevent the warships falling into enemy hands.

1944: Between 3,500 and 4,000 tons of high explosives went off in a cavern beneath Staffordshire killing 68 people and wiping out an entire farm. The explosion was heard over 100 miles away in London, and recorded as an earthquake in Geneva.

1967: President de Gaulle said ‘Non’ to British entry into the Common Market.

1987: A young man in Somerset tried seven times to kill himself following a row with his girlfriend. He threw himself in front of four cars, and jumped under the wheels of a lorry. He tried to strangle himself and jumped from a window. The real victims were a driver of one car who suffered a heart attack, a policeman who injured his back trying to restrain the man, and a doctor who was kicked in the face when the struggling man reached hospital.


1660: The Royal Society was founded in London.

1765: Birth of Captain George Manby, English inventor of lifesaving equipment which he developed while barrack-master at Yarmouth.

1820: Birth of Friedrich Engels, German political thinker who settled in England where he worked with Marx on the Communist Manifesto (1848). He had previously written Condition of the Working Classes in England (1844).

1837: Birth of John Wesley Hyatt, US inventor who discovered a process for making celluloid while trying to find a substitute for ivory billiard balls.

1893: Women went to the polls in New Zealand as a result of a bill passed by a majority of two votes.

1899: The world’s first Labour Prime Minister took office. Anderson Dawson formed the first ever constitutionally appointed socialist government to sit in the Queensland Parliament, but it only lasted a day.

1904: Australia elected the first Labour Prime Minister, but John Christian Watson lasted only four months.

1905: The Irish political party Sinn Fein was founded by Arthur Griffith in Dublin.

1908: Birth of Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist who examined the reason for myths in society and decided they were created to overcome ‘contradictions’ in life.

1919: Nancy Astor won the election as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth and became Britain’s first woman MP.

1924: The skull of a fossil child from Taung, near Kimberley in the northern Cape Province, was identified by Professor Raymond Dart, Australian anthropologist, as a ‘southern African ape with a brain size capable of human intelligence’, thereby establishing the missing evolutionary link between ape and man which Darwin had predicted.

1935: The Miles quadruplets (three boys and a girl) were born in England and were the first British quads to survive infancy.

1948: Dr Edwin Land’s first Polaroid cameras went on sale in Boston.


1834: Birth of Tz’u-hsi, dowager empress of China who became the most powerful woman in Chinese history, retaining power by suppressing much needed reforms.

1864: A black day in US history. Several hundred Cheyenne and some Arapaho Indians who had surrendered to the US, had been given permission to camp at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory while negotiating a peace formula. Their chief, Black Kettle, had agreed to the disarming of their troops. Colonel John M Chivington with 1,200 troops mounted a surprise attack on the camp, and despite Black Kettle hoisting aloft the US flag and a white flag, the troops shot dead 400 men, women and children and set off the Arapaho-Cheyenne war.

1929: US admiral Richard Byrd became the first man to fly over the South Pole with his pilot Bernt Balchen.

1932: Birth of Jacques Chirac, French politician who became Prime Minister first in 1974 to President Giscard d’Estaing and again in 1986 under François Mitterand.

1932: The first performance of Cole Porter’s The Gay Divorcé in New York, starring Fred Astaire and featuring the song ‘Night and Day’.

1936: Rodgers and Hart’s On Your Toes opened in New York, the first Broadway musical to integrate balletic dance (choreographed by George Balanchine) for the ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’ sequence.


St Andrew’s Day, patron saint of Scotland and also of golfers and fishermen.

1840: Napoleon I’s remains were returned from St Helena to Paris.

1869: Birth of Nils Gustaf Dalen, Swedish physicist and inventor, winner of the Nobel prize for his development of the automatic sun valve used on buoys and unmanned lighthouses. He also invented the Aga cooker and continued to work though blinded by an experiment with gases in 1913.

1872: The first football match between England and Scotland took place in Glasgow. It ended in a 0-0 draw.

1874: Birth of Sir Winston Leonard Churchill, British statesman, journalist, historian and Nobel prizewinner for literature, a descendant of the great Duke of Marlborough, born in Blenheim Palace. The great wartime Prime Minister, with his highly quotable speeches, was considered by many as ‘the greatest living Englishman’. From Boer War newspaper correspondent to first Lord of the Admiralty to Prime Minister, Churchill dominated British history for much of the 20th century.

1913: Charlie Chaplin made his film debut without the moustache and cane in Making a Living, a Mack Sennett one-reeler.

1922: The first purpose-built aircraft carrier, the Japanese navy’s Hosho, began its first sea trials.

1931: HMV (His Master’s Voice) and Columbia Records merged to form EMI (Electrical and Musical Industries).

1936: Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire. The spectacular blaze was seen miles away. Designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, it was originally erected in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition in 1851.

1944: HMS Vanguard, Britain’s largest ever battleship, was launched at Clydebank. It was to be the last.

1956: Floyd Patterson became the youngest boxer to win the world heavyweight title, at age 21, when he knocked out Archie Moore in Round Five in Chicago.

1983: Dutch brewing millionaire, Alfred Heineken, was kidnapped in Amsterdam, but was tracked down and freed by the police in a raid on the 30th.

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