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This Day in History - 2nd December


1697 The rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral, the work of Sir Christopher Wren, was opened. The previous cathedral had been destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

1755 The second Eddystone Lighthouse (located off the coast of Devon) was destroyed by fire. Four lighthouses have been built on the site. The light was lit on the fourth, (Douglass's lighthouse, designed by James Douglass) in 1882 and it is still in use.


1769 Britain's first cremation took place, in St. George's burial ground, London.


1816 The Spa Fields Riots. A large crowd, who had gathered to demand political reform, decided to march on London.


1899 Sir John Barbirolli, English conductor with the 'Halle Orchestra', was born.


1899 John Cobb, British racing driver was born. He made money as a director of fur brokers and could therefore afford to specialise in large capacity motor-racing. He was born and lived in Esher, Surrey, near the Brooklands race track. He broke the land speed record at Bonneville on August 23, 1939, achieving 367.91 mph. Without this being beaten he raised the record to 394.19 mph in 1947. He died in 1952, attempting to break the world water speed record on Loch Ness in the jet speedboat Crusader at a speed in excess of 200 mph.


1907 The Professional Footballer’s Association was formed, after a meeting at the Imperial Hotel, Manchester.


1929 Britain’s first 22 public telephone boxes came into service. They were designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and installed as part of a new scheme for policing and were made available for general use in the Barnes, Kew and Richmond Districts.


1943 The first Bevin Boys, aged between 18 and 25 were directed into the mining industry. Many miners had been called up to the armed forces, resulting in a grave shortage of coal.


1966 The Mini skirt, the symbol of the Swinging Sixties, was banned from the Houses of Parliament at Westminster.


1982 The film Gandhi received its premiere in London. It won 8 Oscars.


1995 28 year old Nick Leeson was sentenced for financial dealings which contributed to the fall of Barings Bank, Britain's oldest merchant bank. He admitted to a judge in Singapore two charges of fraud connected with Baring's £860m ruin.


1997 Representatives of 41 countries met in London to discuss the whereabouts of gold and other valuable assets seized by the Nazi government from Jews in Germany and other occupied countries before and during World War II.


1997 Former wrestler Big Daddy (real name Shirley Crabtree) died in Halifax, aged 67. He was often partnered against Giant Haystacks (Martin Ruane), who died in 1998, aged 52.


1998 Conservative leader William Hague sacked his leader in the House of Lords, Lord Cranborne, for going behind his back to negotiate a deal with the Labour Government over the scrapping of Hereditary Peers.


2012 Under a Freedom of Information request a draft report from Transport for London (TfL) showed that the Hammersmith Flyover, used by 90,000 vehicles a day, could have experienced a "sudden and catastrophic collapse". Salt water from repeated gritting had rotted internal steel cables yet the road remained open for several more weeks.