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This Day in History - 17th October


1091 A tornado struck London. It was Britain's earliest reported tornado. The wooden London Bridge was demolished, and the church of St. Mary-le-Bow in the city of London was badly damaged. Other churches in the area were demolished, as were over 600, mostly wooden, houses.

1346 At the Battle of Neville's Cross, near Durham, the Scots were routed and King David II of Scotland was captured by Edward III of England and imprisoned in the Tower of London for eleven years.

1651 Defeated by Oliver Cromwell at Worcester, Charles II of England fled to France.

1727 The birth of John Wilkes, English political agitator and advocate of press freedom who, despite being elected to Parliament four times, was not allowed to take his seat. Eventually, working, and middle-class support secured him his rightful entry to Parliament where he fought for reforms and religious tolerance.

1855 A steel-making process was patented, by Englishman Sir Harry Bessemer.

1860 The world's first professional golf tournament was held, at Prestwick in Scotland.

1914 German U-boats raided Scapa Flow, the main base of the British Grand Fleet, off the north coast of Scotland in the Orkney Islands.

1936 Newspaper owner Lord Beaverbrook promised King Edward VIII that he would arrange for the British press to remain silent on the subject of his relationship with American divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson.

1956 Queen Elizabeth II opened Calder Hall in Cumbria - Britain's first large scale atomic energy station.

1973 The start of a major world oil crisis when oil producing Arab states increased prices by 70 per cent and cut production in protest at US support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

1978 Public pressure led ministers to reduce the number of grey seals to be culled in Scotland. 

1980 The Queen made history by becoming the first British monarch to make a state visit to the Vatican, when she met Pope John Paul II.

1985 The House of Lords, in the Gillick case, permitted doctors to prescribe oral contraceptives to girls aged under 16 without parental consent.

1991 Four independent television companies: TV-am, Thames, TVS and TSW lost their licences to broadcast following a 'sealed bid' system of awarding the franchises by the Independent Television Commission.

1996 England international footballer Paul Gascoigne was accused of beating up his wife Sheryl at a hotel in Scotland.

2000 Four people were killed when a high speed passenger train derailed in Hatfield, just north of London. The accident was a defining moment in the subsequent collapse of Railtrack.

2012 Colin Farmer, aged 61 and a blind stroke victim said that he thought he was going to die when he was shot in the back in Chorley town centre with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun fired by a police officer who mistook his white stick for a Samurai sword.