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This Day in History - 16th October


1555 English bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burnt at the stake for heresy.

1803 The birth of Robert Stephenson, the English civil engineer who built railways and bridges.

1834 The original Houses of Parliament were almost completely destroyed by fire. The blaze, which started from overheated chimney flues, spread rapidly throughout the medieval complex and developed into the biggest conflagration to occur in London since the Great Fire of 1666. Westminster Hall and a few other parts of the old Houses of Parliament survived the blaze and were incorporated into the New Palace of Westminster, which was built over the following decades.

1847 Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre was published in London. The book's author used the pseudonym Currer Bell.

1869 Girton College, Cambridge was founded and became England's first residential college for women.

1881 The first edition of The People' - later renamed 'The Sunday People'.

1902 Britain opened its first 'Borstal' detention centre, at the village of Borstal in Kent. The institution was designed to keep boys, especially first offenders, away from adult criminals in prisons; to teach them a trade and to reward good behaviour.

1920 Gordon Richards, 26 times a champion jockey, had his first ride, at Lingfield Park.

1958 Britain's most popular children's television programme 'Blue Peter' was first broadcast on BBC TV. The first presenters were Leila Williams and Christopher Trace.

1964 Harold Wilson became Prime Minister of a Labour Government. He was the first Labour PM in 13 years.

1974 Three prison staff were taken to hospital and dozens of prisoners were injured after rioting and fires at the Long Kesh Maze prison, Belfast.

1987 Southern Britain began a massive clear-up operation after the worst night of storms in living memory. BBC Weatherman Michael Fish faced criticism, as he had reassured viewers that the worst of the stormy weather would be across Spain and France.

1996 British Home Secretary Michael Howard announced stringent new gun controls following the mass shooting in March 1996 of children at a school in Dunblane, Scotland.

2001 Government special adviser Jo Moore apologised for sending an e-mail in which she suggested 11th September (the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York) was a good day to 'bury bad news'.