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This Day in History - 5th December


1697 The first Sunday service was held in the new St Paul's Cathedral, London.

1766 James Christie, the founder of the famous auctioneers, held his first sale in London. Christie's main London salesroom is on King Street in St. James's, where it has been based since 1823.


1830 The birth of Christina Georgina Rossetti, the English poet who wrote a variety of romantic and children's poems. She also wrote the words of the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter.


1839 The postage rate in Britain was changed to a standard charge of 4d (4 old pence) a half ounce instead of being charged by distance.


1863 The rules of Association Football were published.


1899 The death of Lancashire businessman and philanthropist Henry Tate (sugar refining and the Tate Gallery)


1905 The roof of Charing Cross Railway Station in London collapsed, killing five people.


1928 England beat Australia by a record 675 runs in the Test at Brisbane.


1952 The Great Smog. A cold fog descended on London, combining with air pollution and killed at least 12,000 in the weeks and months that followed.


1956 Miss Rose Heilbron QC was appointed Recorder of Burnley to become Britain’s first woman judge.


1958 The Queen dialled Edinburgh and spoke to the Lord Provost from Bristol, to inaugurate the first direct dialled trunk call, known as STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialling)


1958 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan opened the Preston bypass in Lancashire. It was the first stretch of motorway in Britain and is now part of the M6 and M55 motorways.


1973 During a petrol shortage, the government imposed a 50mph speed limit to save fuel.


1989 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher defeated Sir Anthony Meyer in the first challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party.


1991 Robert Maxwell's business empire collapsed with huge debts of more than £1bn and revelations about misappropriation of money in pension funds.


2005 The Civil Partnership Act came into effect in the United Kingdom. It gave same-sex couples rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage. In addition a formal process for dissolving partnerships was put in place, akin to divorce.


2012 The Audit Commission announced that English councils had increased their reserves by £4.5bn over the previous five years to £12.9bn despite cuts to funding. The money set aside was the equivalent of almost a third of their spending on services.


2013 Reforms in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement included that those in their twenties would have to work until they were 70, under sweeping changes to the basic state pension.