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This Day in History - 19th January


1419 Rouen surrendered to Henry V in the Hundred Years' War, completing Henry's reconquest of Normandy.

1544 Francis II, King of France and husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, was born.


1649 The Puritan parliament began the trial of Charles I for treason. Charles refused to plead, saying that he did not recognise the legality of the High Court.


1661 Thomas Venner was hanged, drawn and quartered in London. Venner was a cooper by trade but also a rebel, the last leader of the Fifth Monarchy Men, who had tried, unsuccessfully, to overthrow Oliver Cromwell. He subsequently led a coup in London against the newly-restored government of Charles II. The coup lasted lasted four days before the Royal authorities captured the rebels.


1736 The birth, in Greenock, of James Watt, the Scottish inventor who developed Newcomen's steam engine and gave his name to a unit of power. On 29th May 2009 the Bank of England announced that Watt and his business partner Matthew Boulton would appear on a new £50 note.


1746 Bonnie Prince Charlie's troops occupied Stirling.


1813 Sir Henry Bessemer, who gave his name to a process for converting cast iron into steel, was born, in Charlton - Hertfordshire.


1848 The birth of Matthew Webb, the first person to swim the English Channel.


1915 More than 20 people were killed when German zeppelins bombed England for the first time. The bombs were dropped on Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn.


1917 The Silvertown explosion in West Ham. 73 people were killed and 400 injured in an explosion in a munitions plant . The plant was destroyed instantly, as were many nearby buildings, including the Silvertown Fire Station and a gasometer.


1937 The first play written for British television, The Underground Murder Mystery by J. Bissell Thomas, was broadcast by the BBC.


1937 The 18 year old English ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn made her debut in 'Giselle' at Sadler's Wells in London.


1973 The Statesman, an unarmed ocean going tug, was sent to protect British trawlers from Icelandic patrol boats as the dispute over cod fishing rights intensified.


1988 Christopher Nolan, a 22-year-old Irish writer, won the £20,000 Whitbread Book of the Year Award for his autobiography, Under the Eye of the Clock. Completely paralysed, Nolan used a ‘unicorn’ attachment on his forehead to write the novel at a painfully slow speed.


1990 Police in Johannesburg, armed with batons and dogs, broke up a demonstration against English cricketers who had defied a ban on playing in segregated South Africa.


2004 Prime Minister Tony Blair said that he would survive his toughest week as he faced the university top-up fees vote and the Hutton enquiry into the death of David Kelly, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq and ........ he was right!


2013 A piece of music that was composed by waiting for bird droppings to fall onto giant sheets of manuscript paper received its premiere at the Tate Liverpool art gallery. Artist Kerry Morrison said that the music represented the role that birds play in the environment.


2014 The death of former British athlete Sir Chris Chataway, at the age of 82. Chataway, who broke the 5,000m world record in 1954, is also remembered as the man who helped pace Sir Roger Bannister to break the four-minute mile barrier in the same year. Chataway was named the first-ever BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1954.


2015 The death of Anne Kirkbride, known for her long-running role as Deirdre Barlow in the ITV soap Coronation Street, which she played for 42 years from 1972 to 2014.