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This Day in History - 10th December


1541 Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham were executed for having affairs with Catherine Howard, Queen of England and wife of Henry VIII.

1868 Whitaker’s Almanac reference book was published for the first time. It's still in print, and is published annually.

1868 The first traffic lights were installed, outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Resembling railway signals, they used semaphore arms and were illuminated at night by red and green gas lamps.

1907 Author Rudyard Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was the first time it had been bestowed on an English writer.

1907 The worst night of the Brown Dog riots in London, when 1,000 medical students clashed with 400 police officers over the existence of a memorial for animals that had been subjected to vivisection.

1917 The first postmark slogan was stamped on envelopes in Britain: ‘Buy British War Bonds Now’.

1919 The Smith brothers Capt. Ross Smith and Lt. Keith Smith (Australians), became the first aviators to fly from Britain to Australia.

1941 World War II: The Royal Navy's ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were sunk by Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo bombers near Malaya.

1979 Twenty year old stuntman Eddie Kidd accomplished a "death-defying" motorcycle leap when he crossed an 80ft gap over a 50ft sheer drop above a viaduct at Maldon, Essex. He jumped the Great Wall of China in 1993, but his career ended after he suffered serious head injuries in 1996 at a Hell's Angels rally in Warwickshire.

1987 Two dangerous prisoners escaped by helicopter from the Gartree maximum security prison in Leicestershire.

1990 The first of the hostages held in the Gulf for four and a half months arrived in Britain, after their release by Saddam Hussein. A total of 100 British hostages were freed and landed at Heathrow airport, with the promise of a further 400 to follow.

1991 The leaders of the 12 EC nations agreed on the treaty of Maastricht, pledging closer political and economic union.

2001 Prime MInister Tony Blair backed Home Secretary David Blunkett over his call for ethnic minority groups to make more effort to fit in with the British identity.

2003 The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of Angela Cannings, jailed for life for the murder of her two baby sons. She had always maintained that the two boys died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death.