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This Day in History - 9th December


1608 The birthday of John Milton, English poet, in Cheapside, London. His works included Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes.

1783 The first executions took place at Newgate Prison. Prior to this, public executions were carried out at Tyburn gallows, which involved carting the prisoners from Newgate Prison through the crowded streets.

1854 Lord Tennyson's poem, Charge of the Light Brigade was published. The Charge of the Light Brigade had been led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25th October 1854 in the Crimean War. The poem emphasized the valour of the cavalry in carrying out their orders, even though they knew that blunders had been made by those in command. Quote from the poem - 'Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.'

1902 The birth of Richard Austen (‘Rab’) Butler, progressive British Conservative politician born in India who was Minister of Education, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary but never the role he was most tipped for, that of Prime Minister. Instead he served no less than four Prime Ministers.

1934 Dame Judi Dench, actress, was born.

1960 The first episode of Coronation Street was screened on ITV. It is the world's longest-running television soap opera. A closing date for conducted tours of 31st December 2015 has been confirmed as the site has been sold for redevelopment.

1973 Talks on Northern Ireland ended in an historic agreement to set up a Council of Ireland. British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Irish premier Liam Cosgrave, and representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, signed the agreement, at Sunningdale, in Berkshire.

1987 England's cricket tour in Pakistan hung in the balance as a row erupted between captain Mike Gatting and the umpire Shakoor Rana who accused Gatting of cheating.

1992 The separation was announced of the Prince and Princess of Wales (Prince Charles and Princess Diana). They married in 1981.

1995 British soldier, Sgt. Timothy Cowley, was freed by police, 119 days after being kidnapped by Colombian bandits.

1996 Horrett Campbell, 33, a paranoid schizophrenic who attacked three children and four women with a machete at an infant school teddy bears' picnic in July was found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder. The court was told that Campbell had imagined he heard the children at St Luke's infants school, in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, taunting him when he walked past the playground.

1997 There were problems for Richard Branson in his attempt to fly around the world in a hot-air balloon when the envelope ( the balloon section) of his Virgin Global Challenger broke loose from the gondola and flew off on its own from Marrakech, Morocco.

2010 A car containing Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was attacked amid violence after MPs voted to raise university tuition fees in England. A window was cracked and their car hit by paint, but the couple were unharmed. In angry scenes, protesters battled with police in Parliament Square and were contained on Westminster Bridge for a time by officers.

2011 Prime Minister David Cameron insisted he put Britain's interests first by vetoing a new European Economic Treaty.

2012 The death of the British astronomer and broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore, aged 89. He was the presenter of the BBC's Sky At Night for over 50 years, from its first airing on 24th April 1957, making him the longest-running host ever of the same television show.

2014 A notebook which showed the early work of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, was bought by Swansea University for £104,500. 

2014 A classic Winnie the Pooh illustration by EH Shepard, first published in 1928, sold at Sotherby's for £314,500.