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This Day in History - 27th December


1773 The birth of Sir George Cayley, English pioneer of the study of aerodynamics. In 1853 he built the first successful glider to be flown by a man, his reluctant coachman! One of his later inventions was the caterpillar tractor.

1831 English naturalist Charles Darwin sailed from Plymouth on board his ship, HMS Beagle. His scientific voyage of discovery lasted five years and led to the publication (in 1859) of his highly controversial book The Origin of Species which fuelled the 'creation versus evolution' debate. 


1836 At least 8 people were killed at Lewes, Sussex, in Britain's worst avalanche disaster.


1904 The first performance in London of James Barrie’s most famous work, Peter Pan. A Broadway production was mounted in 1905 and the play has since seen adaptation as a pantomime, a stage musical, a television special, and several films, including a 1924 silent film, a 1953 animated Disney full-length feature, and a 2003 live action production with state of the art special effects.


1918 A British sovereign welcomed an American President to Britain for the first time when King George V and Queen Mary met President and Mrs. Wilson at Charing Cross Railway Station and then escorted them to Buckingham Palace. A state banquet was held at the palace and President Wilson visited Carlisle, his mother’s home.


1945 The World Bank and International Monetary Fund were created with the signing of an agreement by 29 nations.


1965 Thirteen people were killed when Britain's first North Sea drilling rig (Sea Gem) capsized.


1975 The Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts came into effect in Britain.


1977 Thousands of people flocked to UK cinemas to watch the long-awaited blockbuster, Star Wars.


1978 The Amundsen - Scott South Pole Station recorded a temperature of −13.6 °C (7.5 °F), making it the highest temperature ever recorded at the South Pole.


1984 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was voted Woman of the Year, on Radio 4's Today programme. According to a Gallup Poll she was the woman most admired by the American people; the third consecutive year that the 'Iron Lady' had received that honour.


1997 Windsor Castle was reopened to the public following restoration work. 100 rooms of the palace were damaged in a fire in 1992.


2003 The death of actor Alan Bates. He appeared in almost 70 films including the children’s story Whistle Down the Wind, the drama A Kind of Loving, Far From the Madding Crowd, Women In Love, Spartacus and The Fixer, which gave him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.


2012 The death, at the age of 83, of Gerry Anderson, the creator of hit TV shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90. His other creations included UFO, Space: 1999, Supercar and Fireball XL5.