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This Day in History - 3rd December


1795 Sir Rowland Hill, postal pioneer and founder of the 'Penny Post' was born.

1820 Thomas Beecham, English manufacturer and inventor of Beecham's pills, was born. 


1836 Three people were killed at Great Corby, near Carlisle in Cumbria, in the first fatal railway derailment.


1868 Gladstone became Prime Minister for the first time. He won office for three more terms.


1894 Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, died, aged 45 on the island of Samoa.


1909 King Edward VII dissolved Parliament and taxes on alcohol, tobacco and cars were suspended as no budget had been passed. Edward was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and had a reputation as a 'playboy prince'. 


1926 In an episode as puzzling and intriguing as any in her many novels, Agatha Christie disappeared from her Surrey home and was discovered on the 14th December staying under an assumed name at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. She said she had no recollection of how she came to be in Yorkshire.


1936 The Royal Family cancelled all engagements as news broke of Edward VIII's determination to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.


1944 Britain 'stood down' the Home Guard - formed in 1939 to defend Britain from invasion by Germany. They were officially disbanded in December 1945.


1948 The birth of John Michael 'Ozzy' Osbourne, English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter, whose musical career has spanned over 40 years. He rose to prominence as lead singer of the band Black Sabbath and became known as the 'Prince of Darkness'.


1961 The whole of south East England was plunged into darkness for two hours, due to an error by an electrician.


1963 The launch of Britain's second nuclear submarine, HMS Valiant.


1977 Wings started a nine week run at No.1 with Mull of Kintyre. It was the first single to sell over 2 million in the UK.


1984 British Telecom was privatised. The shares immediately made massive gains.


1988 Junior Health minister Edwina Currie provoked outrage by saying that most of Britain's egg production was infected with the salmonella bacteria.


1992 Two bombs exploded in the centre of Manchester injuring 65 people. Miraculously no-one was killed, but much of the city centre had to be rebuilt.


2007 Gillian Gibbons, a 54 year old teacher from Liverpool was released after eight days in custody and handed over to British officials in Sudan after being jailed for letting her class name a teddy bear Muhammad.


2009 The death of Richard Todd, British actor, immortalized in the film Dam Busters (1955) as Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC.


2012 St James's Palace announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting a baby. The baby, the couple's first, would be born third in line to the throne, after Prince Charles and Prince William.


2015 RAF Tornado jets carried out their first air strikes against 'so-called Islamic State' in Syria, hours after MPs had voted (397 votes to 223) in favour of UK action in Syria.