Civilisation/20th Century History

From Quiz Revision Notes

1901

Marconi transmitted a message from Poldhu in Cornwall to Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland

1902

The Order of Merit was founded by Edward VII to reward those who provided especially eminent service in the armed forces or particularly distinguished themselves in science, art, literature, or the promotion of culture. The order is limited to only 24 members

Oscar Eckenstein and Alexander Crowley undertook the first attempt to scale Chogo Ri (known in the west as K2)

Statue of Bouddica erected by Westminster Bridge

1904

Germans killed 65,000 Herero people of Namibia

The General Slocum caught fire and sank in the East River of New York City. An estimated 1,021 of the 1,342 people on board died

1906

First dreadnought designed by John Fisher

1907

Florence Nightingale was the first woman to receive the Order of Merit

Panic of 1907 was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell close to 50% from its peak the previous year. The crisis was triggered by the failed attempt in October to corner the market on stock of the United Copper Company. The panic may have deepened if not for the intervention of financier J. P. Morgan, who pledged large sums of his own money, and convinced other New York bankers to do the same, to shore up the banking system

Robert Baden-Powell held the first Brownsea Island scout camp, which is seen as the beginning of Scouting

1908

Samuel Cody – first UK powered flight

The first ever beauty contest was held in Folkstone

Thomas Selfridge was the first person to die in a plane crash. Orville Wright, the pilot of the plane, was injured in the crash in Virginia

Tunguska event – explosion in Siberia. The explosion was most likely caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment

1909

After the first cross-Channel flight, Louis Bleriot's monoplane was exhibited at Selfridges

First UK roundabout built in Letchworth

The Dreadnought Hoax was a practical joke pulled by Horace de Vere Cole. Cole tricked the Royal Navy into showing their flagship, the warship HMS Dreadnought to a supposed delegation of Abyssinian royals, including Virginia Woolf

Tonypandy riot – a dispute between miners and mine owners that took place at the Cambrian Colliery mine in South Wales

Charles Rolls was the first Briton to be killed in a flying accident, when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display near Bournemouth

1910

Great Flood of Paris was a catastrophe in which the Seine River, carrying winter rains from its tributaries, flooded Paris

1911

Harriet Quimby earned the first U.S. pilot's certificate issued to a woman by the Aero Club of America, and less than a year later became the first woman to fly across the English Channel

Siege of Sidney Street, popularly known as the Battle of Stepney, was a notorious gunfight. Preceded by the Houndsditch Murders, it ended with the deaths of two members of a politically-motivated gang of burglars supposedly led by Peter Piatkow, a.k.a. ‘Peter the Painter’, and sparked a major political row over the involvement of the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill

Agadir Crisis – the international tension sparked by the deployment of the German gunboat Panther, to the Moroccan port of Agadir

1912

Titanic lookout Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg immediately ahead of Titanic and alerted the bridge. First Officer William Murdoch ordered the ship to be steered around the obstacle and the engines to be put in reverse. Californian did not respond to distress call. Arthur Rostron – captain of Carpathia when it rescued the survivors of the Titanic

Calgary Stampede – founded by Guy Weadick

Charles Dawson discovered the first of two skulls found in the Piltdown quarry in Sussex, skulls of an apparently primitive hominid, an ancestor of man. Piltdown man, or Eoanthropus dawsoni, was the ‘missing link’. In 1953 Piltdown man was exposed as a hoax

Ulster Covenant was signed by just under half a million people from Ulster, in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill, introduced by the Government in that same year. Sir Edward Carson was the first person to sign the Covenant at the Belfast City Hall with a silver pen

Ulster Volunteers were a unionist militia founded to block Home Rule for Ireland. The following year they were organized into the Ulster Volunteer Force

1913

Chelsea Flower Show was first held

Federal Reserve System (the Fed) was established

Emily Davison committed suicide by throwing herself under King George V's horse, Anmer, at the Epsom Derby

Camel cigarettes were introduced by American company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco

Senghenydd Colliery Disaster occurred near Caerphilly, killing 439 miners and one rescuer. It is the worst mining accident in the United Kingdom

1914

While steaming on the St. Lawrence River in fog, the RMS Empress of Ireland was struck amidships by the Norwegian collier SS Storstad, and the Empress sank very quickly. This accident claimed 1,012 lives, making it the deadliest maritime disaster in Canadian history

1915

Edith Cavell was executed for helping allied soldiers escape from Belgium

Pyrex is a brand name for heat-resistant glass introduced by Corning Glass Works. Pyrex was originally borosilicate glass

William Turner was captain of Lusitania

Quintinshill rail disaster occurred near Gretna Green. The crash involved five trains on the Caledonian railway and killed 226 people. It is the worst rail crash in the United Kingdom in terms of loss of life

The first British Women’s Institute meeting took place at Llanfairpwll on Anglesey

Henry Ford and 170 prominent peace leaders travelled to Europe on a Peace Ship

1916

British Summer Time, first advocated by William Wlllett in 1907, was introduced on 21 May

1917

During World War I, a famous poster depicted Uncle Sam pointing at the people with the words “I Want You For U.S. Army”. The artist James Montgomery Flagg, who painted the poster, used a modified version of his own face for Uncle Sam. Veteran Walter Botts posed for the drawing that became Uncle Sam. The poster was based on a 1914 recruitment poster from Britain featuring Lord Kitchener, which was designed by Alfred Leete and had the slogan “Britons, join your country’s army!”

The Balfour Declaration promised Palestine as a National Homeland for

the Jews

Radium Girls were female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials with glow-in-the-dark paint at the United States Radium factory in Orange, New Jersey. The women, who had been told the paint was harmless, ingested deadly amounts of radium by licking their paintbrushes to give them a fine point

1918

RAF was founded on 1 April, during the First World War, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS)

In January the Ministry of Food decided to introduce rationing. Sugar was the first to be rationed and this was later followed by butchers' meat

Spanish Flu pandemic killed c. 250,000 British people. Named because Spain, a neutral country in World War I, had no special censorship for news against the disease and its consequences

1919

Alcock and Brown landed near Clifden, County Galway on June 15

Tanks sent in response to strike in Glasgow

The first international commercial flight took place from Paris–Le Bourget to Hounslow Heath

Boston Molasses Disaster – a large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets, killing 21

1920

Prohibition was introduced following the passing of the 18th Amendment a year before

League of Nations was an inter-governmental organization founded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, and the precursor to the United Nations. At its greatest extent it had 58 members

Nellie Melba appeared on a pioneering radio broadcast from Guglielmo Marconi's factory in Chelmsford

The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift was founded by John Hargrave (aka 'White Fox') who had become disenchanted with the increasingly militaristic tendency in the Scout movement after World War I

1921

Chinese communist party founded

Edward Elgar opened first HMV store in Oxford Street

1922

Ireland was partitioned

Ernest Shackleton was buried at Grytviken, South Georgia

Nansen passports – internationally recognized identity cards first issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees. Designed by Fridtjof Nansen, in 1942 they were honored by governments in 52 countries and were the first refugee travel document. Approximately 450,000 Nansen passports were issued, helping hundreds of thousands of stateless people to immigrate to a country that would have them. The Nansen passport was developed after the Russian Revolution, when 1.4 million Russians moved out of Russia

1923

First BBC weather forecast

Great Kanto earthquake struck the Kanto plain on the Japanese main island of Honshu

Mallory (“because it’s there”) and Irvine climbed 28,000’ up Mount Everest, but were never seen again

1925

Signing of the Geneva Protocol, a treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts

Scopes monkey trial in Tennessee led to the law that forbade the teaching of the theory of evolution. John Scopes was represented by lawyer Clarence Darrow

The first public demonstration of television was by John Logie Baird in Selfridges

1926

Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel

Antoni Gaudi was run over by a tram and killed in Barcelona

The Balfour Declaration recognized the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire as fully autonomous states

General Strike lasted from 3 May to 12 May. It was called by the General Council of the TUC in an unsuccessful attempt to force the government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening conditions for coal miners. During the strike the government published a newspaper called the British Gazette. William Joynson-Hicks was Home Secretary. Lord Samuel’s Royal Commission into the mining industry rejected nationalization

The Electricity (Supply) Act created the Central Electricity Board, which set up the UK's first synchronized, nationwide AC grid. It began operating in 1933 as a series of regional grids with auxiliary interconnections for emergency use. Pylons were designed by Reginald Blomfield

An all-day riot erupted at the funeral of Rudolph Valentino

1927

Charles Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St Louis from Roosevelt Airfield, Garden City (Long Island), New York on 20 May and landed 33 hours, 30 minutes later at Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris. He won the Orteig Prize, a $25,000 reward offered by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig to the first allied aviator(s) to fly non-stop from New York City to Paris or vice-versa

First public transatlantic telephone call made

The world's most notable physicists met to discuss the newly formulated quantum theory at the Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons. The leading figures were Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr. Einstein, disenchanted with Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle remarked "God does not play dice." Bohr replied, "Einstein, stop telling God what to do." 17 of the 29 attendees were or became Nobel Prize winners

1928

The first Harry Ramsden fish and chip shop opened in Guiseley

International Astronomical Union replaced Greenwich Mean Time with Universal Tim

Mary Heath was the first person to fly solo from Cape Town to London

1929

Wall Street Crash – the initial crash occurred on Black Thursday (October 24), but it was the catastrophic downturn of Black Monday and Tuesday (October 28 and October 29) that precipitated widespread panic. $30 billion was lost overnight

1930

Birds Eye frozen foods went on sale

Mixed bathing allowed in Serpentine Lake for the first time

Sliced bread went on sale in Britain

1931

Highway Code first published

Invergordon mutiny at Cromarty Firth in Scotland, by 1,000 sailors in the British Atlantic Fleet. Naval ratings refused to prepare ships following pay cuts

Gandhi visited Britain

Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon made first non-stop Pacific flight

Dogger Bank earthquake was the strongest earthquake recorded in the United Kingdom since measurements began. It had a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter Scale

1932

Saudi Arabia founded

George V agreed to deliver a Royal Christmas speech on the radio, an event which became annual thereafter

Al Capone jailed for tax evasion

Mass trespass of Kinder Scout was undertaken at Kinder Scout in the Peak District, to highlight weaknesses in English law of the time. This denied walkers access to areas of open country

Holodomor – Ukrainian famine. Existence of the Holodomor was first publicized by Welsh journalist Gareth Jones

1933

London Transport formed

Prohibition ended

1934

British Council set up by Richard Leeper

1935

TE Lawrence (of Arabia) died in Dorset in a motor bike accident

UK driving test and L plates introduced. Mr J Beene is the first person to pass his driving test, at a cost of 7/6d

Radar experiment – Watson-Watt and Wilkins. Led to the Chain Home system

1936

Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill destroyed by fire

Jarrow March (or Jarrow Crusade), was an October protest march against unemployment and extreme poverty suffered in North East England. The 200 marchers travelled from Jarrow to the Palace of Westminster, a distance of almost 300 miles, to lobby Parliament. Their MP, Ellen Wilkinson, known as 'Red Ellen', walked with them

Battle of Cable Street was a clash between the Metropolitan Police Service, overseeing a legal march by the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley, and anti-fascists

First holiday camp at Butlins Skegness

1937

Hindenburg crashed at Lakehurst, New Jersey

Great Eastern scuttled off the Falkland Islands

George Orwell joined the International Brigades in Spain

Coronation of George VI was first live outside broadcast on British TV

999 emergency service introduced

1939

Anglo-Saxon burial ship discovered at Sutton Hoo, in Suffolk

Einstein and Szilard wrote a letter to FD Roosevelt warning against a German atomic bomb

Recording Britain – a project for making a pictorial record of Britain begun at a time when widespread destruction was expected to occur during the Second World War. It was sponsored by the Pilgrim Trust

1940

Frisch–Peierls memorandum was written by Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls while they were both working at the University of Birmingham. The memorandum contained new calculations about the size of the critical mass needed for an atomic bomb, and helped accelerate British and U.S. efforts towards bomb development during World War II

Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington destroyed. Known as ‘galloping Gertie’

1941

Amy Johnson drowned in the Thames Estuary, baling out while flying an Airspeed Oxford for the Air Transport Auxiliary

The SS Politician sank off the Scottish Island of Eriskay and eight years later the film Whisky Galore was made

Last execution at Tower of London – Josef Jakobs

1942

Quit India Movement, or the India August Movement, was a civil disobedience movement launched in India by Mahatma Gandhi

1943

The Hanford Site is a facility of the government of the United States established to provide plutonium necessary for the development of nuclear weapons. It was established as part of the Manhattan Project, and codenamed ‘Site W.’ No longer used to produce plutonium, it is currently the United States' most contaminated nuclear site. Neils Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Robert Oppenheimer, Joseph Carter, and Richard Feynman were involved in the Manhattan Project

1944

PAYE introduced in UK

Medium Helen Duncan became the last woman in Britain to be convicted of witchcraft when one of her seances exposed a government attempt to cover up the deaths of 861 sailors

The Dumbarton Oaks Conference or, more formally, the Washington Conversations on International Peace and Security Organization was an international conference at which the United Nations was formulated and negotiated among international leaders. The conference was held at Dumbarton Oaks

The United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, commonly known as the Bretton Woods conference, was a gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II. Led to the formation of World Bank and IMF the following year

1945

Flight 19 was a training flight of TBM Avenger bombers that went missing while over the Bermuda Triangle

An exclave was set up in Claridges Hotel so that the heir to the Yugoslav throne could be born on Yugoslav soil

Arab League started. Original members – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen

First United Nations Organization meeting took place in San Francisco in April, and 50 of the 51 members signed  up to the United Nations’ Charter in New York in June (Poland was not present, and signed later). The UN officially came into existence on 24 October upon ratification of the Charter by the five then-permanent members of the Security Council – France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States – and by a majority of the other 46 signatories

Kathleen Lonsdale – first woman to be elected to Royal Society

The second British Army on the Rhine was formed in August from 21st Army Group. Its original function was to control the corps districts which were running the military government of the British zone of occupied Germany

Indonesia declared independence from Netherlands, but was not recognised until 1949

Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, conducted by the United States Army as part of the Manhattan Projext. The White Sands Proving Ground, where the test was conducted, is in New Mexico

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Its Latin motto, ‘fiat panis’, translates into English as ‘let there be bread’. FAO was founded in Quebec City

1946

First meetings of the UN General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, and the Security Council, took place in Westminster City Hall in London in January

Lord Haw-Haw (William Joyce) was hanged for treason

Bank of England nationalised

Umberto II – last King of Italy, abdicated. He also renounced the title of King of Albania

Churchill’s ‘iron curtain’ speech – Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri

Operation Crossroads was a series of nuclear weapon tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll. Its purpose was to test the effect of nuclear weapons on naval ships. The series consisted of two detonations, known as Able and Baker

DuMont Television Network was the world's first commercial television network, beginning operation in the United States. It was owned by DuMont Laboratories, a television equipment and set manufacturer

Heathrow Airport opened for civilian use

Hungary went through the worst inflation ever recorded. When the pengo was replaced in August by the forint, the total value of all Hungarian banknotes in circulation amounted to 1/1000 of one US dollar

Zhdanov Doctrine meat that Soviet artists, writers and intelligentsia in general had to conform to the party line in their creative works

Bread rationing started. Ended in 1948

1947

Thor Heyerdahl became famous for his Kon-Tiki Expedition in which he sailed by a raft made from balsa 4,300 miles across the Pacific from South America to the Tuamotu Islands. Kon-Tiki was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, for whom ‘Kon-Tiki’ was said to be an old name

Doomsday clock – a symbolic clockface maintained by the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. It uses the analogy of the human race being at a time that is ‘minutes to midnight’ where midnight represents destruction by nuclear war

Star Dust was a British South American Airways airliner that mysteriously disappeared. The wreckage became incorporated into the body of the glacier, with fragments emerging many years later and much farther down the mountain

Roswell UFO Incident was the alleged recovery of extra-terrestrial debris, including alien corpses, from an object which crashed near Roswell, New Mexico

Earl Mountbatten became the last viceroy of India

First UK nuclear reactor was ‘Gleep’, at Harwell. Closed down in 1990

1948

State of Israel proclaimed

National Health Service founded

Empire Windrush – brought first Jamaicans to Britain

Yugoslavia distanced itself from the Soviets and started to build its own way to socialism under the strong political leadership of Josip Broz Tito

Columbia introduced the Long Playing ‘microgroove’ LP record format

The Berlin Blockade (June 1948 – May 1949) – during the multinational occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies’ railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied control. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet zone to start supplying Berlin with food and fuel, thereby giving the Soviets practical control over the entire city. In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin. The recently independent United States Air Force and the RAF flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing up to 4,700 tons of daily necessities such as fuel and food to the Berliners. Berlin Airlift was known as Operation Vittles

Hells Angels – formed in Fontana, California. The name was inspired by the name of the U.S. Air Force 303rd Bombardment Groups, a military unit formed in the early years of World War II

The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of communism. The plan was in operation for four years. Named after Secretary of State George C Marshall

Universal Declaration of Human Rights was agreed

1949

Ireland left the Commonwealth when it declared itself a republic, after enacting the Republic of Ireland Act 1948

NATO alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed on 4 April

After its victory in the Chinese Civil War, the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong, controlled most of Mainland China. On 1 October they established the People's Republic of China, laying claim as the successor state of the ROC

The first Soviet atomic test was First Lightning, and was code-named by the Americans as ‘Joe 1’. It was a replica of the American Fat Man bomb whose design the Soviets knew from espionage

Costa Rica was first country in the world constitutionally to abolish its army

Council of Europe founded. It has 47 member states

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act created the National Parks Commission which later became the Countryside Commission and then the Countryside Agency, provided the framework for the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales

The Comecon was founded by the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania

Superga air disaster – a plane carrying almost the entire Torino A.C. football squad crashed into the hill of Superga near Turin killing all 31 aboard including 18 players

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency, originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief for 652,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during the fighting that followed the end of the British mandate over Palestine

The zebra crossing was first used at 1,000 sites in the UK (the original form being alternating strips of blue and yellow), and a 1951 measure introduced them into law

1950

Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill published a report in the British Medical Journal linking lung cancer to smoking

First kidney transplant took place

Winter of Terror is a term used to describe the three month period when a previously unrecorded number of avalanches took place in the Alps

Vladimir Raitz, the co-founder of the Horizon Holiday Group, pioneered the first mass package holidays abroad with charter flights between Gatwick airport and Corsica, and organized the first package holiday to Palma in 1952

Festival of Britain took place on the South Bank in London

1951

Patsy awards – Oscars for animals

Electricity was generated for the first time by a nuclear reactor at the EBR-I experimental station near Arco, Idaho. In 1954, the world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid started operations at Obninsk, USSR

The Organization of American States (OAS) is an international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its members are the thirty-five independent states of the Americas

Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the Peace Treaty of San Francisco), between Japan and part of the Allied Powers, was officially signed by 48 nations, at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. It came into force the following year

1952

Queen Sophia of Spain was a Greek princess. She married King Carlos

The hydrogen bomb was developed by Hungarian physicist Edward Teller and Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam. The first device to be based on this principle was detonated by the United States in the ‘Ivy Mike’ nuclear test. ‘Ivy Mike’ was the code name given to the first (successful) US test of a fusion device where a major part of the explosive yield came from fusion. It was detonated by the United States on Enewetak, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, as part of Operation Ivy. Device consisted of an atomic bomb and a cylinder of hydrogen isotopes

The first British nuclear test took place in the Montebello Islands

Identity cards abolished and tea rationing ended

Lynmouth flood was in August

Charlie Chaplin boarded the RMS Queen Elizabeth in New York with his family on 18 September. The next day, Attorney General James P. McGranery revoked Chaplin's re-entry permit and stated that he would have to submit to an interview concerning his political views and moral behaviour in order to re-enter the US

Joseph Fletcher and William Benedict – American aviators, first people to land at the North Pole

Nordic Council was established. Finland joined the Council in 1955

Lord Ismay was the first Secretary General of NATO

1953

John Hunt led an Everest expedition

The first Soviet test of a hydrogen bomb was nicknamed ‘Joe 4’ by the Americans. It was designed by Andrei Sakharov

Harold Urey and Stanley Miller created amino acids from a simulation of the earth’s early atmosphere

The Kengir uprising was a prisoner uprising that took place in the Soviet prison labour camp Kengir. It was distinct from other Gulag uprisings in the same period in its duration and intensity

1954

Rationing ended when meat was de-rationed

The Temple of Mithras is a Roman temple whose ruins were discovered in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, during rebuilding work

Geneva Conference was a conference with two tasks. The first was to try to find a way to unify Korea. The second task was to discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina. On Indochina, the conference produced a set of documents known as the Geneva Accords

Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device, detonated at Bikini Atoll. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of 15 megatons, two and a half times greater than expected

1955

The Warsaw Pact, officially named the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance, was an organization of eight Central and Eastern European communist states. It was established on 1 May in Warsaw to counter the alleged threat from the NATO alliance

The Blue Streak missile was a British ballistic missile. The ballistic missile programme was cancelled in 1960 but the rocket was used as the first-stage of the European satellite launcher Europa

Black Knight was a British attempt to design a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile. The United Kingdom's first home-grown rocketry project, Black Knight was manufactured on the Isle of Wight, had its engines tested at The Needles and was trialed at Woomera in Australia. Originally designed by the Royal Aviation Research Institute and Saunders-Roe, 22 missiles were fired between 1958 and 1965

Rosa Parks became famous for refusing to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. This action of civil disobedience started the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Martin Luther King. In 1956 the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public transport was unconstitutional

Disneyland opened in Anaheim

1956

Premium bonds introduced

The world's first commercial scale power station, Calder Hall in England opened

Suez crisis. Colonel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal Company. Israel invaded (PM Ben Gurion). Eden and US President Eisenhower backed down

Sevres Protocol recorded the agreements reached between the governments of Great Britain, France and Israel during discussions held in Sevres, France, on a joint politico-military response to Egypt's nationalisation of the Suez Canal. Anthony Eden always denied the existence of such a plot

During the Suez Crisis, petrol rationing was reintroduced in Britain

During the Hungarian Revolution the government, led by Prime Minister Imre Nagy, announced Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. In response, Soviet troops entered Hungary, and crushed the uprising in two weeks

Morocco gained independence from France

Third Class was abolished by British Railways

1957

Treaty of Rome signed

First TV broadcast of Queen’s Speceh

The graphite core of a British nuclear reactor at Windscale, Cumbria, caught fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area. The event, known as the Windscale fire, was considered the world's worst nuclear accident until the Three Mile Island accident in 1979

The first British hydrogen bombs were tested during Operation Grapple at Malden Island and Christmas Island in the Central Pacific Ocean. The operation consisted of nine tests in the period 1957 to 1959

Ghana – first British colony on African mainland to achieve independence

The Cavern Club opened

1958

Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February, when British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport. There were 23 fatalities in the ‘Elizabethan’ class Airspeed Ambassador aircraft

JB Priestley was a founding member of CND

Project Iceworm was the code name for a US Army proposal during the Cold War to build a major network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the ice shield of Greenland. To test the feasibility of construction techniques a project site called ‘Camp Century’ was started, located at elevation of 2,000 m in North-West part of Greenland, 150 miles from the US Thule Air Base

An earthquake caused a landslide in Lituya Bay, Alaska, generating a massive megatsunami measuring 524 m

Notting Hill race riots took place

Treaty of Rome defined the general objectives of a common agricultural policy. The principles of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were set out at the Stresa Conference. In 1960, the CAP mechanisms were adopted by the six founding Member States and in 1962, the CAP came into force

1959

First UK motorway service station opened at Newport Pagnell on M1

Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in Iowa. Big Bopper (who got Waylon Jennings’ seat) and Ritchie Valens also died in the crash

Castro overthrew Batista in Cuba

UK postcodes were first trialled in Norwich

Chinese forces took control of Tibet, forcing the Dalai Lama into permanent exile. Dalai Lama fled from Tibet and set up government in exile in India

1960

Sharpeville massacre

Largest ever earthquake, in Chile. Measured 9.5 on Richter scale. Worst hit city was Valdivia

OPEC is an intergovernmental organization that was created at the Baghdad Conference, by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela

First fission weapon test by France, known as Gerboise Bleue (‘blue jerboa’)

Dr Thomas Creighton was the first person to receive a parking ticket

First manned descent of the Marianas Trench was by Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in the bathyscape Trieste

Katanga was a break away state separating itself from the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo. In revolt against the new government of Patrice Lumumba in July, Katanga declared independence under Moise Tshombe

Pershing was a family of solid-fueled medium-range ballistic missiles designed and built by Martin Marietta to replace the Redstone missile as the United States Army's primary theater-level weapon. The Pershing systems lasted from the first test version through final elimination in 1991. It was named for General John J. Pershing

‘Wind of Change’ speech was a historically important address made by Harold Macmillan to the Parliament of South Africa, on 3 February in Cape Town

Lockheed U-2 (nicknamed ‘Dragon Lady’) spy plane shot down over Soviet territory, piloted by Gary Powers

1961

Kennedy met Macmillan in Bahamas

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful attempted invasion by armed Cuban exiles in southwest Cuba, planned and funded by the United States, in an attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro

The eruption of Queen Mary's Peak forced the evacuation of the entire population of Tristan de Cunha

The main objective of the Antarctic Treaty System is to ensure

Construction of the Berlin Wall begun

South Africa was prevented from continuing as a member of the Commonwealth after it became a republic. Rejoined in 1994

Dag Hammarskjold was killed in air crash in Zambia

Rudolf Nureyev defected to France

Civil Rights activists called Freedom Riders rode in interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia, (1960). The first Freedom Ride left Washington D.C. on 4 May and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on 17 May. The significance of Boynton v. Virginia was the outlawing of racial segregation on interstate public transportation

Tsar Bomba was a hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. The yield was 50 megatons and it was tested in October, in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago

Yuri Gagarin visited London and Manchester

Sabena Flight 548 was a Boeing 707 aircraft that crashed en route to Brussels from New York City, killing the entire U.S. figure skating team on its way to the World Championships in Prague

1962

A teenage East German, Peter Fechter, was wounded in the hip, shot by East German guards while trying to escape from East Berlin. His body lay tangled in a barbed wire fence, slowly bleeding to death, in full view of the world’s media

Cuban missile crisis. Russian president – Khrushchev, Foreign Secretary – Gromyko. Secretary of Defence – Robert McNamara. US agreed to remove missiles from Turkey in exchange for Russia removing missiles from Cuba

Diners Club was the first charge card introduced in the UK

Tanganyika laughter epidemic – group of schoolgirls

First transatlantic TV pictures received at Goonhilly Down

Britain’s first casino was established in the Metropole Hotel in Brighton

Francis Gary Powers was exchanged along with American student Frederic Pryor in a spy swap for Soviet KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher (aka Rudolf Abel), a Soviet colonel who was caught by the FBI and put in jail for espionage, at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin

1963

The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms launched by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

Surtsey was formed

The Reshaping of British Railways – Beeching Report

John F Kennedy visited Berlin and made “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech

Aldous Huxley and CS Lewis both died on the same day as John F Kennedy (November 22)

Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered Alcatraz to be closed

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed by USA, Russia and UK. Prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapons except underground, to prevent fallout

“I have a dream” speech – Martin Luther King at Lincoln Memorial

American Express charge card was launched in the UK

National Service ended

ZIP codes introduced

The first official artificial heart that was patented by Paul Winchell. He subsequently assigned the patent to the University of Utah, where Robert Jarvik ultimately used it as the model for his Jarvik-7

Lifeboat on UK postage stamps

1964

Shakespeare was first non-royal to appear on UK postage stamps

First Mods and Rockers confrontation at Clacton

Alaska earthquake – Anchorage. Town of Valdez was destroyed

Notting Hill carnival started

Last executions took place in Britain

“I've Been to the Mountaintop” is the popular name of the last speech delivered by Martin Luther King, on 3 April at the Mason Temple in Memphis. The next day, King was assassinated

Radio Caroline launched

Ministry of Defence founded by a merger of the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry

China tested an atomic bomb in October at Lop Nur. They tested a nuclear missile in 1966, and a hydrogen bomb in 1967

1965

North Sea gas discovered. Brought ashore at Easington and piped to UK houses in 1967

Congress created Medicare to provide health insurance to people age 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. In 1972 Congress expanded Medicare eligibility to younger people who have permanent disabilities

Medicaid is the United States health program for certain people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. Medicaid was created by the Social Security Amendments

OPEC was headquartered in Geneva before moving to Vienna

Cigarette advertising was banned on television in UK

First KFC restaurant is opened in UK

1966

Norwell Roberts – first black policeman in Britain

Chris Bonington was the first person to climb The Old Man of Hoy

Barclaycard was the first credit card introduced in the UK

Shelter – set up after Cathy Come Home, directed by Ken Loach

Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in south Wales, killing 116 children and 28 adults

Palomares incident – a B-52G bomber of the USAF Strategic Air Command collided with a KC-135 tanker during mid-air refueling off the coast of Spain. Of the four hydrogen bombs the B-52G carried, three were found on land near the small fishing village of Palomares resulting in contamination by radioactive plutonium

All French armed forces were removed from NATO's integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France

1967

The Torrey Canyon was the first of the big supertankers, capable of carrying a cargo of 120,000 tons of crude oil, and was wrecked off the western coast of Cornwall causing an environmental disaster

Otis Redding died in a plane crash

Christian Barnard performed the world's first human heart transplant operation at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. The patient, Louis Washkansky, was a 55 year old grocer. The donor heart came from a young woman, Denise Darvall, who had been killed in a road accident

Monterey Pop Festival was held

Sweden switched to driving on the right hnd side of the road

Britain’s first cash dispenser installed at Barclays Bank in Enfield. Opened by Reg Varney

1968

USS Pueblo – ship captured by North Korea

Hair opened, on the day after the abolition of theatre censorship

Czech student Jan Palach burned himself to death in Wenceslas Square in protest at the Russian invasion

1969

Plot to disrupt investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle headed by John Jenkins

Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States

Altamont Free Concert was a rock concert held at the then-disused Altamont Speedway in Northern California, between Tracy and Livermore. Headlined and organized by the The Rolling Stones, it also featured Santana and Jefferson Airplane. Around 300,000 people attended the concert

Football War (also known as the100 hour War), was a four-day war fought by El Salvador and Honduras. It was caused by political conflict, namely issues concerning immigration from El Salvador to Honduras. These existing tensions between the two countries coincided with the inflamed rioting during the second North American qualifying round of the 1970 FIFA World Cup

Thor Heyerdahl built two boats (Ra and Ra II) manufactured from papyrus and attempted to cross the Atlantic from Morocco

1970

Worst avalanche – Mount Huascaran, the highest mountain in Peru

In the Dawson's Field hijackings, four aircraft bound for New York and one for London were hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. By the end of the incident, one hijacker had been killed. British plane was a BOAC VC10. Terrorists included Leila Khaled

Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of students by members of the Ohio National Guard. Four students were killed

1971

Black Arrow was a British satellite carrier rocket, based on the Black Knight and Blue Streak rockets. Black Arrow carried the Prospero X-3 satellite into space, making the United Kingdom the sixth nation to place a satellite into orbit (after Russia, USA, France, Japan and China)

Roskill Commission recommended Cublington as the third London Airport, based on cost-benefit analysis. Site then moved to Foulness (Maplin Sands). Search ended by 1974 oil crisis

China replaced Taiwan as a member of the United Nations

Idi Amin deposed Milton Obote in Uganda

Cigarette advertising was banned on television in USA

Jimmy Reid was spokesman and one of the leaders in the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in

1972

Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of his country's Asian minority

Ehud Barak was Special Forces commander in Black September attack at Olympic Village in Munich. 11 Israelis and one German policeman were killed. Ended at Furstenfeldbruck airport

Rose Heilbron – first female judge in UK

Miners’ strike led to a three-day week

First SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) treaty signed. The treaties then led to START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which consisted of START I (a 1991 agreement between the United States, the Soviet Union) and START II (a 1993 agreement between the United States and Russia

1973

Muldergate scandal – South African Prime Minister BJ Vorster, Dr. Connie Mulder (Minister of Information) and Dr. Eschel Rhoodie (Secretary of Department of Information) were implicated in plans to use government resources to fight a propaganda war for the then Apartheid Government. John Vorster had agreed to Mulder's plan to shift 64 million rand from the defence budget to undertake a series of propaganda projects

Pizza Hut opened in UK

1974

McDonalds opened in UK

Turkey invaded Cyprus

WWII Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda surrendered on Lubang Islang in the Philippines

Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defected from the Soviet Union to Canada

Barcode first used in Chicago. Uses the UPC (Universal Product Code) symbol

Court Line Aviation and its subsidiary tour operators, Clarksons Travel Group and Horizon Travel, ceased trading, with at least £7 million owing to 100,000 holidaymakers

1975

Oil production started from the Argyll field (now Ardmore) in June followed by Forties in November of that year

Dougal Haston and Doug Scott – first Britons to climb Everest

Junko Tabei (Japan) – first woman to climb Everest

Snow in Buxton in June

Oregon enacted the world's first ban of CFCs

Helsinki Accords. 35 states signed the declaration in an attempt to improve relations between the Communist bloc and the West

1976

Operation Entebbe, also known as the Entebbe Raid, was a rescue mission performed by Sayeret Matkal (the Israeli elite Special Forces) to free hostages at Entebbe Airporp. It was planned without knowledge and carried out against the opposition of the Ugandan government, whose leader Idi Amin supported the hostage takers. Rabin was Israeli PM at time of raid on Entebbe

Vietnam underwent reunification

Tangshan earthquake is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll

1977

Charter 77 was an informal civic initiative in communist Czechoslovakia, named after the document Charter 77 from January 1977. Vaclav Havel was a founding member

Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov killed on Waterloo Bridge by a ricin pellet via an umbrella

Guillotine used for the last time, in Marseilles

The nuclear-powered icebreaker NS Arktika (‘Arctic’) became the first surface ship ever to reach the North Pole

Joyce McKinney captured a young Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson in London and tied him up

Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day in Vevey, Switzerland, aged 88. He was interred in Corsier-Sur-Vevey Cemetery. In 1978, his body was stolen by a small group of Polish and Bulgarian mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. The plot failed, the robbers were captured, and the body was recovered 11 weeks later near Lake Geneva

1978

The Amoco Cadiz was a VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier), owned by Amoco, that split in two after running aground on Portsall Rocks, three miles off the coast of Brittany in March, resulting at that time in the largest oil spill ever

Messner and Habelar climbed Everest without supplementary oxygen

Russian satellite crashed in Canada

Leo Ryan – congressman killed at Jonestown massacre in Guyana. Jonestown formed by formed by the Peoples Temple, an American religious organization under the leadership of Jim Jones

May Day bank holiday introduced

Louise Brown, the first ‘test-tube baby’ was born. Doctors – Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards

Thor Heyerdahl built another reed boat, Tigris, which was intended to demonstrate that trade and migration could have linked Mesopotamia with the Indus Valley Civilization in what is now modern-day Pakistan. After about five months at sea and still remaining seaworthy, the Tigris was deliberately burnt in Djibouti

1979

Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown in Pennsylvania

The Atlantic Empress was a Greek oil tanker that was involved in two large oil spills. In July the ship collided with the Aegean Captain, off Trinidad and Tobago, spilling 287,000 metric tons of oil. While being towed in August, the Atlantic Empress continued to spill an additional 41 million gallons (all together being 276,000 tonnes of crude oil) off Barbados

18 people killed as a result of storm affecting Fastnet race

The ketch Williwaw was the first vessel to complete the circumnavigation of the Americas

Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed by Ayatollah Khomeini

Vanessa Redgrave stood as Workers Revolutionary Party candidate for Moss Side

Britain’s first nudist beach was opened at Brighton

Disco Demolition Night was an ill-fated baseball promotion that took place at Comiskey Park in Chicago. At the climax of the event, a crate filled with disco records was blown up on the field

1980

Steel workers went on strike

The SAS raid on the Iranian Embassy was codenamed Operation Nimrod. PC Trevor Lock was involved in the Iranian Embassy Siege

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, died in Cairo

WOMAD was founded by Peter Gabriel. The first WOMAD festival was in Shepton Mallet in 1982

Nine-week-old Australian baby Azaria Chamberlain disappeared on a camping trip with her family. Her parents, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, reported that she had been taken from their tent by a dingo. An initial inquest, highly critical of the police investigation, supported this assertion. Subsequently, after a further investigation and second inquest, Azaria's mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was tried and convicted of her murder, in 1982. The film Evil Angels is based on the story – Meryl Streep played Lindy Chamberlain

The Mariel Boatlift was a mass movement of Cubans who departed from Cuba's Mariel Harbour for the United States. The boatlift was precipitated by a sharp downturn in the Cuban economy caused by an increasingly effective embargo by the United States

1981

STS-1 was the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle program, launched on April 12. Space Shuttle Columbia orbited the earth 37 times. Commander – John Young. Pilot – Robert Crippen

Michael Eavis took control of the Glastonbury festival for the first time, and it was organized in conjunction with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

Penlee lifeboat disaster occurred off the coast of Cornwall. The Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne went to the aid of the coaster Union Star after its engines failed in heavy seas. After the lifeboat had managed to rescue four people both vessels were lost with all hands; 16 people died including eight volunteer lifeboatmen

1982

Air Florida Flight 90 was a passenger flight from Washington National Airport to Fort Lauderdale. The Boeing 737-200 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River. 78 people died

Neighbourhood Watch first introduced

S4C was launched

Cruise missile protests at Greenham Common and RAF Molesworth

Laker Airways went bankrupt

British Airways Flight 9 flew into a cloud of volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung, approximately 110 miles south-east of Jakarta

1983

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (KAL 007) was a Korean Air Lines civilian airliner shot down by Soviet jet interceptors just west of Sakhalin. 269 passengers and crew, including US congressman Lawrence McDonald, were aboard KAL 007

Able Archer 83 was a ten-day NATO exercise that spanned the continent of Europe and simulated a coordinated nuclear release. The realistic nature of the exercise, coupled with deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and the anticipated arrival of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe, led some in the USSR to believe that Able Archer 83 was a genuine nuclear first strike

Mary Donaldson – first female Lord Mayor of the City of London

Hugh Trevor-Roper vouched for authenticity of Hitler diaries, published by Stern magazine

Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was created by Ronald Reagan to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. The initiative focused on strategic defense rather than the prior strategic offense doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Known as ‘Star Wars’

Common Fisheries Policy was created

U.S. Postal Service began using an expanded ZIP code system that it called ZIP+4

People Power Revolution (also known as the Yellow Revolution) was a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines

1984

HMS Jupiter crashed into London Bridge

Bhopal disaster occurred at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. Chairman of Union Carbide – Warren Anderson

Morocco left the African Union's predecessor (the Organization of African Unity)

York minster caught fire

1985

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey discovered a hole in the ozone layer

Wreck of Titanic discovered by Robert Ballard

Mexico City earthquake – magnitude 8.1

First UK mobile phone call

Edmund Hillary accompanied Neil Armstrong in a ski plane over the Arctic Ocean and landed at the North Pole. He thus became the first man to stand at both poles and on the summit of Everest

1986

Lake Nyos, Cameroon. CO2 release killed 1,700 people. To prevent a repetition, a degassing tube was installed in 2001

Tripoli was bombed by US aircraft

Hands Across America was a benefit event and publicity campaign in which approximately 6.5 million people held hands in a human chain for fifteen minutes along a path across the continental United States. The proceeds were donated to local charities to fight hunger and homelessness and help those in poverty

The Rio Group is an international organization of Latin American and Caribbean states. It was created in Rio by means of the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro

Reykjavík Summit was a summit meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

Greater London Council abolished

Inheritance tax replaced Capital Transfer Tax

Spain and Portugal became EU member states

1987

Dog license abolished in UK. The final rate for a dog licence was 37 pence, reduced from 37½p when the halfpenny was withdrawn in 1984

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) is an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Signed in Washington, D.C. by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev

Dona Paz was a Philippine-registered passenger ferry that sank after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector. With an estimated death toll of 4,375 people, the collision resulted in the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in history

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion

1988

Piper Alpha oil platform was operated by Occidental Petroleum. An explosion and resulting fire destroyed it, killing 167 men

USS Samuel B. Roberts was severely damaged by an Iranian mine in Strait of Hormuz, leading U.S. forces to respond with Operation Praying Mantis

Pan Am Flight 103 (involved in the Lockerbie bombing) was a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via Heathrow and New York JFK that was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on 21 December, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew on board. Aircraft was named Clipper Maid of the Seas

1989

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe (from the Atlantic to the Urals) and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry

Tiananmen Square protests, culminating in a violent conflict referred to in the United States as the Tiananmen Square massacre and in China as the June Fourth Incident, were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 14 April. Wang Weilin stood in front of a tank

The Loma Prieta earthquake, also known as the Quake of '89 and the World Series Quake, was a major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area of California on October 17. Nimitz Freeway collapsed in the earthquake

Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, when an oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, struck Bligh Reef. Captain – Joe Hazelwood

The pleasure boat Marchioness sank after being pushed under by the dredger Bowbelle, late at night near Cannon Street Railway Bridge on the Thames. 51 people drowned, including Lawrence Dallaglio’s sister

Baltic Way (also Baltic chain) – approximately two million people joined their hands to form an over 600 kilometer long human chain across the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). This original demonstration was organized to draw the world's attention to the common historical fate which these three countries suffered. It marked the 50th anniversary of August 23, 1939 when the Soviet Union and Germany in the secret protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact divided spheres of interest in Eastern Europe which led to the occupation of these three states

Geomagnetic storm caused the collapse of Hydro-Quebec's electricity transmission system. The geomagnetic storm causing this event was itself the result of a coronal mass ejection

Monday demonstrations in East Germany were a series of peaceful political protests against the authoritarian government of East Germany that took place every Monday evening. Started in Leipzig

1990

MS Scandinavian Star car and passenger ferry caught fire, killing 158 people

Hubble Space Telescope launched from space shuttle Atlantis

Yemen and Germany both underwent reunification

Poll Tax Riots were a series of riots during protests against the poll tax (officially known as the "Community Charge"). The largest protest occurred in central London on Saturday, 31 March

1991

USSR dissolved

Mount Pinatubo erupted

Robert Maxwell disappeared from the yacht Lady Ghislaine off the Canaries

Fourteen non-violent protesters in Vilnius died and hundreds were injured defending the Vilnius Television Tower and the Parliament from Soviet assault troops and tanks. Lithuanians referred to the event as Bloody Sunday

British Rail trains hit by the “wrong type of snow”. At -10oC with low humidity, snow flakes are small and got into the engines

Dartford Bridge and M40 opened

The first speed camera was installed in the UK

Cigar and pipe tobacco TV advertising banned

1992

Photographs of John Bryan, an American financial manager, in the act of sucking on the toes of Sarah Ferguson, were published in The Daily Mirror

A death sentence was last pronounced on the Isle of Man

George Soros is known as “The man who broke the Bank of England” and precipitated Black Wednesday

Stella Rimington became Director General of MI5

David Mellor was involved in a kiss-and-tell scandal in which actress Antonia de Sancha sold her story of Mellor's extra-marital affair with her for £30,000

10,000 plastic ducks from a capsized ship show movement of ocean currents

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, and Earth Summit was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro

1993

Braer was an oil tanker which ran aground off Shetland

The closure of Ravenscraig, in Motherwell, signaled the end of large scale steel making in Scotland

Oslo Accords was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict

1994

Estonia cruise ship sank in the Baltic Sea claiming 852 lives

GMTV won the licence for the breakfast ITV franchise, outbidding the previous licence-holder, TV-am

Air France Flight 8969 was hijacked on Christmas Eve at Algiers airport by GIA (Armed Islamic Group) members who planned to crash the plane on Paris

Channel Tunnel opened

Romania became the first former Warsaw Pact country to join NATO

Sunday Trading Act allowed shops in England and Wales to trade on a Sunday

Peter Diamandis founded the X PRIZE Foundation after reading Charles Lindbergh's The Spirit of St. Louis

1995

Hindu miracle of statues of gods drinking milk took place

Austria, Sweden and Finland joined EU

Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat erupted, destroying the capital city, Plymouth

1996

Sea Empress oil spill occurred at the entrance to the Milford Haven Waterway in Pembrokeshire in February

Dolly the Sheep was cloned by Ian Wilmut at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. The cell used as the donor for the cloning of Dolly was taken from a mammary gland

Icons replaced colours as a means of identifying fire extinguishers in the UK

1997

Lottie Williams from Oklahoma was ther first person to be struck by space junk

Sand Kite dredger crashed into Thames Barrier

Heaven’s Gate group thought that comet Hale-Bopp contained a spaceship to take them to another world. Based in San Diego. Committed mass suicide

1998

Capital punishment abolished in Britain

George Mitchell chaired the all-party peace negotiations, which led to the Belfast Peace Agreement signed on Good Friday (known since as the Good Friday Agreement)

Charlton Heston became president of the US National Rifle Association

Human Rights Act receives Royal Ascent in UK

1999

Protest activity surrounding the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, which was to be the launch of a new millennial round of trade negotiations, was known as the Battle of Seattle

Round-the-world balloon flights – Cable & Wireless (failed) – Andy Elson, Colin Prescot

Breitling Orbiter 3 (succeeded) – Bertrand Piccard, Brian Jones – 19 days, 21 hours, 55 minutes

2000

Drummer Lars Ulrich became a vocal opponent of Napster and file sharing as Metallica filed a lawsuit against the company for copyright infringement and racketeering

USS Cole was attacked from a small boat by Al-Queda suicide bombers in Aden. Seventeen soldiers were killed

Greater London Authority established