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This Day in History - 2nd September


1666 The Great Fire of London began in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane, and rapidly spread throughout the city, destroying most of London's buildings and houses. Although 13,000 buildings were destroyed in the four-day blaze only six people died.

1685 The beheading of Lady Alice Lisle, the last woman to have been executed by a judicial sentence of beheading in England. She was tried by Judge Jeffreys at the opening of the Bloody Assizes at Winchester and was executed for harbouring fugitives after the defeat of the Monmouth Rebellion at the Battle of Sedgemoor.


1726 The birth of John Howard, English prison reformer.


1752 The Julian calendar was used in Britain and the Colonies 'officially' for the last time, almost two centuries after most of Western Europe had adopted the Gregorian calendar. As in the rest of Europe, the following day in Britain became 14th September.


1807 The Royal Navy bombarded Copenhagen with fire bombs and phosphorus rockets to prevent Denmark from surrendering its fleet to Napoleon.


1812 The birth, in the Dumfriesshire village of Kieof, of Kirkpatrick Macmillan, widely-credited as the inventor of the modern pedal-driven bicycle.


1898 The Battle of Omdurman. Lord Kitchener retook Sudan for Britain in an act of revenge for the 1885 death of General Gordon. It was a demonstration of the superiority of a highly disciplined army equipped with modern rifles, machine guns, and artillery over a force twice their size armed with older weapons. Around 10,000 Mahdists were killed and 13,000 were wounded. Kitchener's force lost 47 men, with 382 wounded.


1939 Under the National Service Bill, men aged 19 - 41 were conscripted in Britain.


1945 World War II officially ended when Japanese officials, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, surrendered on behalf of their country.


1949 The birth of Moira Stuart, British journalist and the first African-Caribbean female newsreader on British television. Her 26-year career with BBC Television News was brought to a close on 3rd October 2007, when the BBC announced her departure. The BBC initially declined to comment on why she was no longer being used, although rumours circulated within the BBC and commercial newsrooms that Stuart had been removed because she was considered 'too old' at 57.


1974 Edward Heath's Morning Cloud III was sunk in a Force 9 gale in the English Channel. Two people were killed - including Mr Heath's godson.


1979 Police discovered the body of a young woman - thought to be the twelfth victim of the 'Yorkshire Ripper' - in an alleyway near the centre of Bradford.


1980 John Arlott, cricket commentator, retired at Lord's after 35 years of broadcasting for the BBC.


1994 Entertainer and television presenter Roy Castle died from lung cancer at his Buckinghamshire home, just two days after his sixty second birthday. He was a lifelong non-smoker and blamed his illness on years of playing the trumpet in smoky jazz clubs. His widow, Fiona, worked with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation for many years after her husband's death. She was a key figure in campaigning for the British smoking ban which came into effect during 2007 and has seen smoking banned in virtually all enclosed public places.


1996 British boxer Frank Bruno achieved his dream of becoming world heavyweight champion when he outpointed Oliver McCall to win the WBC title at Wembley Stadium in London.


1997 Six freelance photographers and a dispatch rider were jointly charged with manslaughter following the car crash in Paris in which Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed were killed.


1999 Sir Bobby Robson, veteran ex-England manager and self-confessed Geordie, became manager of Newcastle United. 


2013 The death, aged 87, of broadcaster and presenter David Jacobs whose career spanned 7 decades. He had been at the BBC since 1945 and hosted shows including Housewives' Choice, Pick of the Pops, Juke Box Jury and Any Questions.