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This Day in History - 20th December


860 The death, at Sherborne, Dorset, of King Ethelbald (Æthelbald) former King of Wessex.

1192 Richard the Lion-Heart was captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty that ended the Third crusade.


1327 King Edward II was buried in Gloucester Cathedral.1805 Thomas Graham, the Scottish chemist who discovered the principle of dialysis, was born.


1910 The British General Election produced a tied vote, with the Liberal Party and the Tory Party each winning 272 seats.


1920 An English born comedian named Leslie Townes, who later changed his name to Bob Hope, became an American citizen on this day. He had lived in the United States since 1908 and became one of America's true ambassadors for show business and charity.


1926 The birth of Sir Geoffrey Howe, British politician. He was Margaret Thatcher's longest-serving Cabinet minister, successively holding the posts of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary, and finally Leader of the House of Commons and Deputy Prime Minister. His resignation on 1st November 1990 was widely considered to have precipitated Thatcher's own downfall three weeks later.


1928 Harry Ramsden started his fish and chip restaurant in a hut at White Cross - Guiseley, near Bradford in West Yorkshire. It soon became the most famous fish and chip restaurant in the world. In 2012 the restaurant was acquired by the fish and chip chain 'Wetherby Whaler' and they gave this name to the new restaurant.


1928 The England cricket team scored a record 636 against Australia in Sydney, including 251 scored by Walter Hammond. England won the Test match by eight wickets.


1955 Cardiff was officially named the capital of Wales.


1969 Rolf Harris had the Christmas No.1 of 1969 and the last No.1 of the 1960s with 'Two Little Boys'. The song stayed at No.1 for six weeks. On 4th July 2014 84 year old Harris was jailed for 5 years 9 months for 12 indecent assaults against four girls - including one aged 'just seven or eight'. He was also stripped of his CBE and his OA (Order of Australia).


1979 The introduction of Britain's Housing Bill - forcing local councils to sell their houses to any tenants who wished to buy them.


1984 The Summit tunnel fire; the largest underground fire in history, as a freight train carrying over 1 million litres of petrol derailed near the town of Todmorden, in West Yorkshire.


1988 Animal rights terrorists fire bombed Harrod's department store in London.


1990 The Maerdy Colliery, employing 320 men, closed. It was the last remaining coal mine in the Rhondda Valley, an area which once produced 9 million tonnes a year, and where more than 50,000 miners had worked in 54 pits.


1995 The Queen urged Prince Charles and Princess Diana to seek 'an early divorce'.


2004 A gang of thieves stole £26.5 million worth of currency from the Donegall Square West headquarters of the Northern Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland, one of the largest bank robberies in UK history.


2007 Elizabeth II became the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days.


2012 Mayan prophecies predicted that the world would end on Saturday morning 22nd December 2012.