London historical events
See also canal/sea for development of London’s canals and docks.
See also London Underground for development of London’s railways
See also road transport for road development in London, and road bridges.
Click Here for image of London, 1942, aftermath of the Blitz
Transition to services economy
World War Two events
World War One events (& arms race)
Parks / Green Belt – see Appendix One.
Population – see Appendix Two. For IRA bombing locations see Ireland.
15/9/2017, A terrorist bomb exploded on a tube carriage at Parsons Green, SW London. 29 people were injured. The bomb only partially exploded.
19/6/2017, Shortly after midnight a White man drove a van into a crowd of Muslims eating a communal meal in a street in Finsbury Park, London, after the Ramadan fast had ended. One man died and 10 were injured; the driver was arrested.
14/6/2017, Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey, 120 flat, residential tower block in the deprived north of Kensington and Chelsea Borough, caught fire just after midnight. The block could have housed as many as 600 people. Around 100 were believed to have been killed, with 64 taken to hospital, 20 in critical care. The cladding panels that had been added to the outside of the block caught fire, setting the entire tower ablaze; cheaper flammable cladding had been used instead of fire-retardant panels.
3/6/2017, Three Islamist terrorists killed 7 and injured 48 in three simultaneous attacks in London, at London Bridge, and Borough Market. The three terrorists were killed by security forces.
22/3/2017, In an Islamist terrorist attack on the Houses of Parliament, London, four people died (including the attacker) and 40 were injured. One of the dead was a policeman who was stabbed. A 4x4 was driven across Westminster Bridge, killing and injuring pedestrians, before crashing a barrier at Parliament. One of the injured, a tourist, died later in hospital.
22/5/2013, A soldier wearing a ‘Help for Heroes’ T shirt, near Woolwich Barracks, SE London, was hacked to death in the street by two Africans who had converted to Islam. The perpetrators then waited for police to arrive and were shot but not fatally. Hate crimes in the UK against Islamic targets over the next two days amounted to 160, ten times the usual level.
5/7/2012, The Shard in London was opened. The tallest building in Europe, it is 309.6 metres, 1,016 feet, high.
28/2/2012, Occupy Wall Street protestors were evicted from the front of St Pauls, London.
7/12/2006, A tornado lasting under a minute ripped through Kensal Green, NW London, damaging 150 homes and injuring 6 people.
22/7/2005, A Brazilian electrician, Charles de Menezes, was shot dead by police at a London Underground station; they mistook him for a suicide bomber.
21/7/2005, A second terrorist attack on London Transport, similar to the one on 7/7/2005. There were 4 attempted bomb attacks on 3 underground trains and a London bus. However the bombs all failed to explode properly and there was only one injury.
7/7/2005, Four Islamist suicide bombers struck London in the morning rush hour. Three separate Underground trains and a bus were hit, killing 50 and injuring over 200 commuters. Al Quaeda gave British military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq as justification for the attacks.
4/6/2002. On the final day of the extended Bank Holiday to mark the Golden Jubilee, the Queen rode through London in the State gold coach.
2/6/2002. In the middle of preparations for a concert at Buckingham Palace, London, to mark the Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, fire broke out at the Palace.
31/12/2000. The Dome in Greenwich closed after a year of financial problems, insufficient visitor numbers, and general ridicule.
4/5/2000. Ken Livingstone was elected Mayor of London.
10/10/1999, The London Eye was erected.
30/4/1999, Another nail bomb exploded, (see 17/4/1999), in the Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton Street, Soho, London. A pregnant woman and two friends were killed, and seventy injured. This was part of a hate campaign against gay people and ethnic minorities by David Copeland.
26/4/1999, BBC TV presenter Jill Dando was shot dead on the doorstep of her Fulham house in London. Barry George, a loner obsessed with guns and celebrities, was convicted of the murder in 2001.
17/4/1999, A nail bomb exploded in a busy market in Brixton, south London. See 30/4/1999.
1/3/1998, 250,000 pro-foxhunting demonstrators marched through the centre of London.
6/9/1997, Funeral of Diana Princess of Wales in Westminster Abbey. It was watched on television worldwide by over one billion people.
18/8/1995, The largest traditional stone-built Hindu temple in the world outside India opened in Neasden, N W London.
1/10/1993. Buckingham Palace closed after being open to the public for 8 weeks. 400,000 people visited, raising some £2.2 million.
7/8/1993, Buckingham Palace, London, opened to the public for the first time ever. 4,314 visited on the first day, paying an £8 entrance fee.
22/4/1993, A Black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death in Eltham, south east London, in a racist attack.
22/3/1992. The developers of Canary Wharf, London Docklands, Olympia and York, were on the verge on bankruptcy. The UK recession, and poor transport links to Docklands, meant 40% of its offices stood empty.
3/10/1991, Sir Allen Green QC, 56, the British Director of Public Prosecutions, resigned after having been stopped by the police for kerb-crawling in the Kings Cross area of London.
30/7/1991, Pavarotti gave a free concert in Hyde Park.
10/7/1991, The Queen opened the new Sainsbury wing at the National Gallery.
1/3/1991. Wandsworth set the lowest Poll Tax in Britain, £136. Other councils were £400 or more.
30/12/1990, Patrick Harward-Duffy, a 36-year-old Glaswegian, attacked the 70-foot Christmas Tree in London’s Trafalgar Square with a chainsaw, cutting a third of the way through the trunk before police stopped him. He was protesting against ‘the unfairness of the Norwegian legal system’. Ever since 1947 the people of Oslo have donated a Christmas Tree to London in gratitude for liberation from the Nazis.
31/3/1990. Anti-Poll Tax demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, London. 300,000 protested, led by MP Tony Benn.
21/3/1990, A large demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square against the Poll Tax turned into a riot. 417 people were injured and 341 arrested.
9/3/1990. Poll tax riots in Brixton, London. There were also riots in Lewisham, Hackney, Haringey, Maidenhead, Reading, Bristol, Plymouth, Gillingham, Norwich, Birmingham, Stockport, Leeds, Bradford, and many other places. Both Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister, and the Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, condemned the riots.
20/8/1989. The Thames pleasure cruiser Marchioness was hit by a dredger; 51 young persons attending a party on board were killed. She was hit by the sand dredger Bowbelle under Southwark Bridge in the early hours of the morning. Survivors said the dredger loomed up in the night without lights.
29/3/1988. Plans were unveiled by Canadian developers for an 888-foot tower block, costing £3 billion, at Canary Wharf, London Docklands, to be completed by 1992.
21/2/1988. The grave of the warrior queen Boadicea discovered under platform 8 of Kings Cross railway station, London.
31/8/1987, London’s Docklands Light Railway began running, a month behind schedule.
9/4/1987, The UK government launched an inquiry into the Al Fayed takeover of Harrods.
19/3/1987, Three men were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of PC Blakelock on Broadwater Farm Estate, Tottenham, north London.
5/2/1987, SOGAT called off its picket of Rupert Murdoch’s Wapping plant.
27/10/1986. It was the ‘Big Bang’ day on the London Stock Exchange, the day the money market was deregulated. But a computer failed and a shambles ensued.
23/7/1986, Prince Andrew married Miss Sarah Ferguson in Westminster Abbey, and was created Duke of York.
3/5/1986, Violent protests at Wapping between pickets and police.
31/3/1986, (1) The Greater London Council was abolished, along with other Metropolitan Councils in large UK cities; municipal responsibilities passed to the individual Boroughs. Mrs Thatcher saw the GLC, led by Ken Livingstone, as too Left wing. Mrs Thatcher especially objected to the GLC’s Fares Fare policy, involving subsidy of transport fares.
(2) Fire badly damaged Hampton Court Palace, London.
16/2/1986, Clashes between police and 5,000 pickets at Rupert Murdoch’s Wapping newspaper plant. Murdoch had moved production of The Sunday Times and News of the World to Wapping to outflank striking print workers; the papers were being produced by managers and journalists.
7/10/1985. Riots erupted in Broadwater Farm Estate, Tottenham, London, after a Black woman, Cynthia Jarrett, collapsed and died whilst police searched her home. Within hours, police weer lured to the estate by fake 999 calls and then came under attack from bricks, stones, petrol bombs, and were even shot at. From 6.30 pm until well after midnight both Black and White youths fought 500 police in riot gear. PC Blakelock, 40, was hacked to death.
29/9/1985, 209 people have been arrested in rioting in Brixton.
28/9/1985, Riots erupted in Brixton after a Black woman, Cherry Groce, was shot during a police raid.
17/4/1984. In London, the Libyans opened fire from their People’s Bureau, killing 25 year-old policewoman, Yvonne Fletcher. A police siege of the Libyan Embassy began and on 22/4/1984 the UK Government broke off diplomatic relations with Libya. The siege ended on 27/4/1984 and 30 Libyans from the Bureau were deported. The British Ambassador and other diplomats returned from Tripoli.
26/11/1983. 6,800 gold bars worth £25 million were stolen from the Brinks-Mat security warehouse at Heathrow Airport. Only a fraction of the gold was ever recovered, and only 2 men were ever convicted of the crime.
7/10/1983, Plans to abolish the Greater London Council were announced.
9/2/1983. Dennis Nilsen, mass murderer, was arrested after human remains were found at his house in Muswell Hill, north London. Nilsen, 37 years old, confessed to police to the murders of 15 men over 4 years.
31/10/1982. The Thames Flood Barrier was raised for the first time.
12/10/1982,, A Falklands Victory Parade was held in the City of London.
9/7/1982. An intruder entered the Queen’s bedroom at Buckingham Palace. Michael Fagan, 35, asked the Queen for a cigarette whilst sitting on the end of her bed in Buckingham Palace.
21/6/1982, Prince William (Arthur Philip Louis) was born in London to Prince Charles (Prince of Wales) and Princess Diana.
3/3/1982, The Queen formally opened the Barbican Centre, London.
19/1/1982, London’s new Billingsgate market opened on the Isle of Dogs, three days after the old Billingsgate in Lower Thames Street, EC3, closed.
29/7/1981. Marriage of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (born 14/11/1948), to Lady Diana Spencer. The wedding was at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and was watched on TV by 700 million viewers worldwide. The design of Diana’s wedding dress had been kept a close secret until she emerged from Clarence House on the wedding day; then Ellis Bridals made a copy that went on sale in Debenhams, Oxford Street, just 5 hours later, for £450. 750 million people watched the ceremony.
15/7/1981, Rioting in Brixton, London.
10/7/1981. Following the riots in Toxteth, riots broke out in other British cities. Riots in Moss Side (Manchester) and Wood Green (London). Brixton saw riots on 15/7/1981. Hull, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Reading, Preston and Chester also saw riots.
5/7/1981. Youth rioted in Toxteth, Liverpool for a second night running. There were also riots in Brixton and Southall in London.
28/6/1981. Asians rioted in Southall, west London, after racist aggression by skinhead youths.
13/6/1981, Marcus Sarjeant fired blank shots at Queen Elizabeth II during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London. He was later charged with treason.
13/5/1981. Queen Elizabeth II opened the ‘Shopping City’ in Wood Green, north London. It had taken seven years to build.
11/4/1981. Riots in Brixton. Mobs of youths went on the rampage, throwing petrol bombs, looting shops, and attacking police. Over 300 civilians, and 65 police officers, were injured. Over three days of unrest, 779 crimes were reported. The riots were sparked by a controversial initiative to cut street crime, the ‘stop and search’ laws, and were the worst riots in London for a century.
3/4/1981, Riots in Brixton and Southall.
19/1/1981, Thirteen Black people died in a fire at Deptford, south London., during an all-night party. The West Indian community suspected the fire had been started by racists.
10/7/1980. The 105 year old Grand Exhibition Hall at Alexandra Palace, north London, was destroyed by a fire.
14/9/1979, The UK Government announced plans to redevelop London’s Docklands.
23/4/1979, A teacher, Blair Peach, was killed, and 300 were arrested
after violent clashes between the National Front and the anti-Nazi League in Southall,
11/9/1978. Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov, a broadcaster on
the BBC’s foreign service, was stabbed in the thigh with a poisoned umbrella in
13/8/1977, The police used riot shields on the British
mainland for the first time, during an anti-fascist demonstration in Lewisham,
31/1/1977. Wembley Conference Centre opened by the Duke of Kent.
25/10/1976, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the National Theatre on London’s South Bank.
30/8/1976, Over 100 police officers were taken to hospital after clashes at London’s Notting Hill Carnival.
2/3/1976, Brent Cross shopping centre, N W London, was opened; it was the first regional shopping centre in Europe.
8/11/1974. Covent Garden
Market moved from central
20/3/1974, A kidnap attempt
was made on Princess
Anne, in The Mall,
1/11/1973. The new bronze statue of Sir Winston Churchill was
30/12/1972, The Tutankhamun exhibition closed in
22/1/1972. As the British Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath signed the Treaty of Brussels, he had ink thrown over him by protestors against the redevelopment of Covent Garden Market.
16,5/1968, The Ronan Point
block of flats collapsed in
16/5/1966. Post Office Tower,
15/4/1966, Time Magazine declared London ‘the city of the decade’, for its fashion, and opportunities for young people.
3/1965, The Elephant and Castle retail centre was opened by the Minister of Labour.
5/3/1965, The new Hornsey Central Library, London, was opened by Princess Alexandra.
1962, Britain’s first Hindu Temple opened in London.
23/4/1962, 150,000 people gathered in Hyde Park, London, for the biggest-ever Ban the Bomb demonstration.
19/4/1960, A crowd of between 60,000 and 100,000 protested in
14/3/1960, Plans were announced for a Thames Flood Barrier at London.
20/9/1959, The last fly-past of Hurricane aircraft over
24/8/1959, House of Fraser beat Debenhams in a takeover battle for Harrods.
7/4/1958. The first CND march from
27/7/1955, The Clean Air Bill was presented to Parliament, to prevent the reappearance of the 1952 Smog that killed 4,000, see 4/12/1952.
9/1/1955, 400 Jamaicans arrived in
17/10/1953, Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a monument to members of the Commonwealth air forces who lost their lives in WW2 and had no known grave, at Coopers Hill, Runnymede.
25/3/1953, Police hunted for John Christie after the remains of three women were found at his former house in Notting Hill, London. See 15/7/1953.
24/3/1953, Queen Mary, widow of King George V, died at her London home, Marlborough House in Pall Mall, aged 85. Her funeral was on 31/3/1953.
4/12/1952. Smog enveloped
30/9/1951, The Festival of Britain closed, see 3/5/1951.
13/6/1951, Elizabeth, heir to the British throne, laid the foundation stone of the National Theatre, on London’s South Bank.
3/5/1951. King George V
opened the Festival of Britain, on 11 hectares
(27 acres) of a former bombsite near
26/10/1950. The rebuilt chamber of the House of Commons was opened by George VI, it having been destroyed by bombing on 10/5/1941.
15/8/1950, Princess Anne (Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise)
was born in Clarence House,
19/9/1949, ‘Twiggy’, British model, actress,
and singer, was born in Neasden,
22/7/1949, The London docks strike ended.
29/6/1949, A docks
strike began in
9/5/1949. Britain’s first launderette opened in Queensway,
14/11/1948. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, was
12/4/1948. The Roosevelt Memorial was unveiled in
statue of Eros returned to
10/12/1946, Heavy smog in London caused bus conductors to have to walk in front of their buses, carrying lighted newspapers.
5/6/1946, King George V took the salute at the Victory Parade in The
30/4/1945. The face of Big Ben, London, was lit once more for the first time in 5 years 123 days, an important sign that the War was nearly over.
28/3/1945,. Last air raid warning siren sounded in London.
27/3/1945. The last German V-2 rocket fell on Britain, at Orpington. (see 8/9/1944). The Allies then overran the last V-2 launching site. In all, 1,050 rockets fell on England, each carrying a ton of explosive with a range of 200 miles. The V-2s were designed by Werner von Braun, who surrendered to the Americans in 1945. Von Braun was given US citizenship and helped design the rockets for the US space programme, including the Saturn rockets and the Apollo missions.
3/12/1944, The Home Guard was formally disbanded in London as King George VI witnessed its final parade. Britons were jubilant that this symbolised imminent victory in the War. The Black-Out was replaced by the Dim-Out as the Luftwaffe was no longer a credible threat. However British strikes rose, particularly in the coal mines. Coal miners pay was relatively low compared to other occupations, and conditions were poor.
20/11/1944, After five years of black-out, the lights were switched on again in Piccadilly,
8/9/1944, The first V-2 fell in on Chiswick in the London area, killing three people. By the end of the war, 1,100 V-2s fell in England an a further 1,675 on the continent, mainly on Antwerp. V-2 stood for Vergeltungswaffe, or ‘reprisal weapon’. The V-2 rocket weighed 12 tons and travelled at 3,600 mph, faster than sound, so there was no warning of its imminent arrival. It had a range of 200 miles and carried a one ton bomb. The Germans fired them from launchers in The Netherlands, but the explosions in London were attributed, by the authorities, to gas explosions to mislead the German intelligence. The earlier V-1 rocket was slower and had a shorter range; V-1 strikes on London ceased as the Allies captured the launch sites in France.
3/7/1944, Evacuation of children from London because of the V-1 bombings.
15/5/1944. In St Pauls School, London, the D-Day landings of 6/6/1944 were planned using a huge map of the area. 8 divisions, 5 seaborne and 3 airborne, were to be landed in the first 48 hours. The Germans had 60 divisions defending the coast of the Netherlands, Belgium and France. An elaborate deception was mounted to make Germany think Calais was the landing point with fake radio traffic, misleading reports from Nazi agents who had been ‘turned’ to serve the Allies, and a phantom army with wooden tanks stationed in south-east England. In May 1944 Montgomery received a decode of a message from Field Marshall Rommel to Hitler saying that Allied bombing of railways in northern France was disrupting his efforts to defend the Calais area from an Allied invasion.
14/3/1944, Heavy German air raid on London, with 100 Luftwaffe bombers.
21/1/1944, The Luftwaffe resumed bombing raids on London, after a lull of over two years. 268 tons of bombs were dropped, followed by a similar raid a week later.
3/3/1943, 178 people were crushed to death whilst descending the stairs into Bethnal Green tube station to shelter during an air raid. A woman at the top of the stairs, carrying a child, slipped and fell on those immediately in front of her, causing those below to lose their balance too.
17/1/1943, The Luftwaffe conducted the first night raid on London since May 1941.
10/5/1941. The House of Commons was almost destroyed by incendiary bombs. It was rebuilt, and reopened by George VI on 26/10/1950. This was the worst night of the Blitz; 550 German bombers dropped 100,000 incendiaries, and over 1,400 people were killed. The House of Commons had to meet in the Lords.
19/3/1941. The Luftwaffe resumed raids on London, following its failure in the Battle of Britain.
12/1/1941, Bank Underground station, London, received a direct bomb hit during the Blitz.
5/1/1941. A bomb hit Wormwood Scrubs prison, west London.
30/12/1940, 136 German
bombers dropped 22,000 incendiary bombs and 127 tons of high explosive on
10/12/1940, In London, two Germans were hanged after being convicted as spies.
2/11/1940, The only air-raid free night in London during the period 7 September to 13 November, due to bad weather that night. Over this period, 27,500 high explosive bombs had fallen on London, along with incendiaries, parachute mines and oil explosive bombs.
17/10/1940, A bomb knocked out all the automatic railway signalling within two and half miles of Waterloo Station, London.
15/10/1940, Over London, a full Moon coincided with clear weather, leading to heavy German bombing raids. 410 German aircraft dropped 538 tons of high explosive bombs, killing 400 people.
14/10/1940, At 8.02pm, a German World War Two bomb made a direct hit on Balham underground station, where hundreds of people were sheltering from the air raid. Water rushed in as water mains and sewage pipes burst. 68 people were killed.
9/10/1940. St Paul’s Cathedral was bombed as the Luftwaffe made heavy raids on London. A German bomb went through the dome of the cathedral, destroying the high altar. An unexploded bomb had to be removed from the cathedral roof. German air raids continued throughout the rest of 1940 but the cathedral suffered little more damage. Surrounding buildings were destroyed, but the image of the dome standing intact amidst smoke and rubble became a national image symbolising the fighting spirit of Britain against Nazi Germany.
17/9/1940. Marble Arch became the first tube station to be hit by German bombs.
13/9/1940, Buckingham Palace hit by German bombs. The King and Queen would have been seriously injured by flying glass had the windows been closed. The incident was a PR blunder for the Germans, as now the monarch could claim to have shared the privations of London’s east enders.
11/9/1940. The Lord Mayor of London launched the Mansion House Fund to relieve the suffering of those made homeless by bombing.
8/9/1940, A heavy German air raid on the London Docks area; 400 died. The following day, 200 bombers came in the daytime and another 170 after darkness. A further 370 east enders died on 9/9/1940.
23/8/1940. The Blitz on London
began. Bombs initially fell on the
Docks and the East End, but then hit targets further west, including
18/8/1940. The first German
plane was shot down over
16/8/1940, Wimbledon, south west London, was bombed.
15/8/1940, Croydon aerodrome was bombed
12/6/1940, At a by-election in Bow and Bromley, east London, the anti-War candidate won just 6% of votes cast.
8/6/1940, The first German bombs fell in the London area, in open country near Addington. The only casualty was a goat.
20/11/1939, The first German aircraft to approach London ventured up the Thames estuary. It was repelled with heavy ant-aircraft fire and retreated without causing any damage.
25/8/1939, Moveable treasures from
25/2/1939. The first
2/6/1938. Robert and
Edward Kennedy, youngest sons of the American Ambassador to
9/5/1938, Scotland Yard announced they were to use police dogs.
1937, Earls Court Exhibition Hall opened. It stood on the site of an entertainment ground going back to 1887.
27/4/1937, The National Maritime Museum, beside
the Thames at
30/11/1936. Crystal Palace, south London, was destroyed by fire. The blaze was seen as far away as Brighton. Wooden floorboards had been dried to tinder by the heating system, and 20,000 wooden chairs were stored under the (wooden) orchestra pit. Flames reached 500 feet, and drove swarms of rats out of the building. 438 firemen from all over London could do nothing to put out the fire.
1935, The development of New Addington began, with houses to be let ‘at reasonable rents’..
20/11/1935, Lord Jellicoe, Admiral of the Fleet in WW I and naval commander
at the Battle of Jutland, died in
29/1/1935, The London County Council approved the Green Belt scheme.
1934, The Becontree housing development, east London, was completed; constructiuon had begun in 1921. It covered 2,770 acres (4 square miles), with over 25,000 dwellings accommodating 112,000 people.
1934, Silvertown Way, linking the Victoria Docks and Canning Town, opened.
9/9/1934. Fascists and their opponents clashed in
8/6/1934, Fierce fighting broke out at a fascist rally staged by Oswald Moseley at London’s Olympia.
10/5/1934, The Police
Training College in Hendon,
11/2/1934, Mary Quant, English fashion designer who invented the mini-skirt, was born in
1932, Click Here for image of 1932 newbuild 3-bed house, Harrow area, £850, also map of NW London 1928.
27/10/1932, Hunger Marchers protested in Hyde Park, London.
11/10/1931. Large march in
28/7/1931, Chessington Zoo opened.
26/10/1929, All London buses to be painted red. Earlier trials with yellow and red proved unpopular.
8/8/1929, Ronald Biggs, great train robber, was born in Lambeth, south London.
19/8/1928, Lord Haldane, who founded the
Territorial Army in 1908, died in
26/4/1928, Madame Tussauds waxworks museum re-opened on
24/3/1928, Lloyds Building, Leadenhall Street, London, was opened by King George V.
17/1/1928, Vidal Sassoon,
English hair stylist, was born in
20/6/1927, Fighting between Communists and Fascists in Hyde Park, London.
1/6/1927, London’s new Regent Street was opened by King George V.
1/11/1924, The British Empire Exhibition at Wembley,
23/4/1924. King George V opened the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium,
21/8/1923, In London, a 7-week dockworkers strike ended.
2/7/1923, London dock workers went on strike (until 21/8/1923).
26/4/1923, King George V, then the Duke of York, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey.
1922, County Hall, London (LCC), was completed.
/9/1921, Five female councillors in Poplar faced jail for refusing to set a domestic rate (property tax). Labour-controlled Poplar, led by George Lansbury, objected to a central rate equalisation scheme which, it said, meant poor areas like Poplar paid more than wealthier areas.
11/11/1920, The 35-foot Cenotaph war memorial
(Greek cenos taphos = empty tomb) in
10/11/1920, The body of an
unknown British soldier was brought to
22/9/1920, The Metropolitan Police ‘Flying Squad’ was formed.
13/7/1920, The LCC banned the employment of foreigners in council jobs.
18/7/1919, The first Cenotaph, a temporary structure of wood and plaster, was erected in Whitehall, London, for a parade celebrating the Treaty of Versailles. It was so popular the Government decided to erect a permanent version.
3/2/1919, London tube workers went on strike for shorter hours.
30/8/1918. London police went on strike. Prisoners had to be taken to court in taxis, but a major crime wave did not materialise. Bus drivers did traffic duty at major junctions. 2,000 police officers marched to a rally at Tower Hill, demanding wage rises and the reinstatement of a colleague dismissed for political activities. The key issue, however, was trade union recognition. Trade Unions had grown significantly during the War, from 4,145,000 members in 1914 to 6,533,000 members in 1918. Now working-class policemen, who kept union disputes in check, wanted their own union representation.
17/6/1918, The last German air raid of World War One on London.
14/6/1917. Air raid on London, the first by German fixed-wing aircraft. In a daylight raid, 162 Londoners died and 432 were injured. 16 children died in a Poplar school.
24/8/1916. Eight people were
killed in a Zeppelin raid on
25/4/1916, Anzac Day was first celebrated in London.
23/1/1916, London’s Natural History Museum and British Museum were closed for the duration of the War.
31/5/1915, German airship bombing raid on London; Stoke Newington was badly damaged and 7 Londoners died.
10/8/1914, Olympia was used as a detention centre for 300 German-born citizens under the wide emergency powers of the Defence of the Realm Act.
18/12/1913, Lord Plymouth gave money to enable the Crystal Palace to be bought for the nation.
20/5/1913. The first Chelsea
Flower Show opened in
11/5/1915, German-owned businesses, shops and restaurants, in the London suburbs of Bethnal Green, Camden Town, Limehouse, Poplar, Stepney and Walthamstow were attacked, burnt and destroyed. Traders at Smithfield Market refused to trade with ethnic Germans, even if they had been naturalised as Britons. An American trader at Smithfield who was inclined to trade with the foreigners was also beaten up. The unrest was in response to the sinking of the Lusitania four days earlier.
21/3/1912, The London Museum was opened, in Kensington Palace, by King George V.
8/3/1912, The foundation stone of London’s County Hall was laid.
16/5/1911, The Victoria Memorial in London was unveiled.
12/5/1911. The Festival of Empire opened at
siege of Sydney Street took place when 1,000 police and soldiers besieged
three anarchists suspected of killing three policemen at a house in
26/6/1909. King Edward
16/3/1909, The first meeting of the Port of London Authority.
15/3/1909. The new Selfridges (American-owned) store opened on a 6 acre site in Oxford Street, London.
21/12/1908, The Port of London Authority was constituted.
27/7/1908, The 4th Olympic Games opened in London, see 14/5/1908.
14/5/1908, The Franco-British exhibition opened on 200 acres of land at Wood Lane, north of Shepherd’s Bush, London. The site, called White City, was served by an extension of the Central Line from Shepherds Bush. The Prince of Wales opened the exhibition, which was also used for the 1908 Olympic Games, see 27/7/1908.
1907, Hampstead Garden Suburb was founded by Dame Henrietta Barnett.
27/2/1907, London’s Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey) was opened on the site of Newgate Prison, by King Edward VII.
1906, Tooting Bec Lido, Britain’s largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool, opened.
9/4/1906, The Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell was born in London.
27/1/1906. The River Thames caught fire as oil on the surface ignited.
1905, The new Aldwych road opened.
2/7/1903, Sir Alec Douglas Home, Conservative Prime Minister, was born in
16/3/1903. Trial of Jack the Ripper.
9/8/1902. King Edward VII, born 9/11/1841, was crowned in Westminster Abbey. The coronation had been delayed from June because the King had appendicitis.
4/8/1902, The Greenwich foot tunnel under the Thames opened. It replaced a ferry that had existed here since 1676.
24/2/1902, London’s first telephone service began operating.
1900, Work on clearing housing and theatres for the new Aldwych road began. Widening work on the Strand also began.
29/10/1900, In London, huge crowds greeted returning Boer War soldiers.
1899, London Borough Councils were established.
17/5/1899. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
1897, London’s Tate Gallery opened.
16/11/1896. Birth of the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, in London.
1894, The London Building Act limited the height of new buildings to 150 feet (45 metres). No skyscrapers were erected in London for almost 60 years.
23/6/1894 King Edward VIII was born at White Lodge, Richmond, Surrey, the eldest son of George V and Queen Mary.
10/2/1894, Harold Macmillan, Lord Stockton, British Conservative Prime Minister, was born in London.
1893, The statue of Eros in Picadilly Circus, London’s first aluminium statue, was unveiled.
23/4/1893, Billy Smart, British circus proprietor, was born in London, the son of a fairground owner.
6/8/1889 The Savoy Hotel in London was opened.
4/5/1889, The National Portrait Gallery, London, was presented to the nation.
1888, Temple Bar, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and originally erected at the junction of Fleet Street and Strand at a cost of £1,398 in 1669-70, was re-erected at Theobalds Park, Cheshunt
9/11/1888, Mary Kelly, fifth and last of The Ripper’s victims, was found dead in her room at 13 Millers Court, London.
30/9/1888. Jack the Ripper butchered 2 more women. They were Liz Stride found behind 40 Berber
Street, and Kate Eddowes, in Miter Square, both in London’s East End.
27/9/1888. The Central London News Agency received a letter which began ‘Dear Boss, I keep on
hearing the police have caught me but they won’t fix me just yet..’. It was signed ‘Jack the Ripper’
the first time the name had been used.
8/9/1888, Jack the Ripper claimed his 2nd victim, Annie Chapman, who was found disembowelled at 29 Hanbury Street, London.
31/8/1888, Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Nichols, the first victim of Jack the Ripper, was found mutilated in Bucks Row in the early hours of the morning.
3/1/1888, Herbert Morison, Labour politician, was born in Lambeth, London.
17/11/1887, Viscount Montgomery, World War Two army commander who defeated Rommel in Africa in World War Two, was born in Kensington, London, the son of a vicar.
13/11/1887, Bloody Sunday in Trafalgar Square, London, when police clashed with Socialist demonstrators. The protestors were calling for the end of a ban on open air meetings and the release of an Irish MP who had been jailed for supporting a rent strike. Two protestors were killed.
27/12/1886, The Olympia Exhibition Hall in west London opened.
7/1885, Construction work on the Olympia exhibition hall began.
2/1/1885, A further terrorist attack on the London Underground, by Irish Republicans. James Canningham set a bomb off in the tunnel between Kings Cross and Gower Street (now Euston) stations; only slight damage to a train was caused. Later that month, he was seen detonating a bomb which seriously injured four people at the Tower of London, and was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. Bomb attacks by these so called ‘dyamitards’ tailed off after others were caught or blew themselves up.
1884, The National Agricultural Company was established to construct a hall capable of hosting agricultural shows in London. This hall is now known as Olympia..
30/10/1883, The first terrorist attack on the London Underground. Two bombs were set off by Fenian fighters for Irish independence, one at Praed Street Station (now Paddington) on a Metropolitan Line train going towards Edgware Road, and one on a District Line train between Westminster and Charing Cross (now Embankment). Nobody was killed and there were only slight injuries from flying glass. The perpetrators were never found. In February 1884 more serious bomb attacks were attempted, with devices planted at Victoria, Charing Cross,, Ludgate Hill and Paddington. Fortunately only the Victoria bomb exploded and as the station was nearly empty at the time nobody was killed. Again the bombers were never discovered. Other terrorist plans of the time included an attempt to blow up Scotland Yard., by Clan na Gael. Some damage was done, with records on Irish Republicans destroyed, but had all the dymanite detonated the building would have been totally destroyed.
11/1/1883, London’s Royal Courts of Justice opened.
3/1/1883. Clement Richard Attlee, Labour Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, was born in Putney, London.
1882, The London Hydraulic Power Company began operations. Hydraulic lifts became commonplace in London office buildings, meaning they could be erected with more floors.
18/4/1881, The Natural History Museum in Kensington, London, opened.
12/9/1878. Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient red granite Egyptian obelisk 68.5 feet high, originally made for Thothmes III in 1460 BC, was presented to Britain and re-erected on the Thames Embankment.
15/11/1875, In London the River Thames rose 28 feet (8.5 metres) above normal, causing severe flooding.
28/7/1875, Lewisham Town Hall, South London, officially opened. It was replaced by a new building in 1959.
5/5/1873, The Midland Hotel, adjacent to St Pancras Station, London, opened. It closed in 1935 due to lack of custom and became railway offices.
1/7/1872, The Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, London, was unveiled by Queen Victoria.
29/3/1871. Queen Victoria opened the Royal Albert Hall in London; named in memory of Prince Albert. The Hall was intended as a cultural centre following on from the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851. The original plan was to have an auditorium seating 30,000 but due to financial difficulties they ended up with an oval hall with a glass and iron dome with 7,000 seats. The foundation stone was laid on 20/5/1867.
13/7/1870, Victoria Embankment, London, constructed by Sir J W Bazalgette, was opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.
1869, Holborn Viaduct was built.
20/11/1868, The foundation stone of the Albert Hall, London, was laid by Queen Victoria.
26/5/1867, Queen Mary, wife of King George V, was born in Kensington Palace as Princess Mary of York.
20/5/1867, The foundation stone of the Royal Albert Hall was laid by Queen Victoria.
15/1/1867, 40 people died when ice gave way in a lake in Regents Park, London. The depth of the lake was subsequently reduced to four feet.
3/6/1865, King George V, second son of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, was born at Marlborough House in London.
4/4/1865, London’s Southern Outfall Sewer, at Plumstead Marshes, was opened by King Edward VII (as Prince of Wales).
25/12/1864, The tradition of a Christmas Day swim in the Serpentine, Hyde Park, London, began.
29/2/1864, The Peabody Trust opened the Commercial Street flats in Spitalfields. It boasted previously unheard-of luxuries such as separate laundry rooms and a play area for children.
1860, Battersea Dogs Home was founded, initially sited in Holloway. By 1869 around 200 dogs were housed there and neighbours complained about the noise, and in 1871 the Home was moved to Battersea. Stray cats have also been taken in since 1882.
25/11/1859, The London Irish Volunteer Rifles was formed.
11/7/1859, Big Ben, Westminster, first starting chiming the hours.
31/5/1859. Big Ben on the Houses of Parliament started telling the time.
10/4/1858, Big Ben, the bell inside the famous Westminster clock, was cast in Whitechapel, London. The bell, weighing 13 ½ tons, was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, Commissioner for Works, who was a large tall man nicknamed ‘Big Ben’.
26/1/1858, Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram, Bishop of London, was born.
26/6/1857, The first investiture ceremony of Victoria Crosses took place, in Hyde Park. 67 servicemen were awarded.
22/2/1857, Robert Baden-Powell, British army officer and founder of the Boy Scouts movement in 1908, was born in London, the son of an Oxford Professor.
11/1/1857. Birth of Henry Gordon Selfridge, founder of Britain’s first large department store.
3/8/1856, London was divided into postal districts to speed up the mail delivery.
11/6/1855, The last market for live animals was held at Smithfield, London. Thereafter live animals were traded further north, at Copenhagen Fields. Central London Meat Market (Smithfield) was begun in 1862 and opened for meat trading in 1868.
18/11/1852, Funeral of Lord Wellington in St Paul’s Cathedral.
4/11/1852, The building of the new House of Commons, following the fire of 1834, was completed, to the designs of Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin.
5/8/1852, The re-erection of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, south London.
15/10/1851, The Great Exhibition at Hyde Park, London, closed. It had opened on 1/5/1851. A total of 6 million visitors had attended. The Exhibition made a profit of £186,000 which was used to buy land in South Kensington where the Victoria and Albert Museum now stands.
1/5/1851. The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace was opened by Queen Victoria, in Hyde Park, London. There were 13,000 exhibits from around the world in an 1,840 foot long, 408 foot wide, 108 foot high steel and glass hall, designed by Joseph Paxton in only 10 days and prefabricated before being brought to Hyde Park by rail. The hall took 17 weeks to erect. 6 million people, 17% of the UK population, visited, also mainly on the new railways across the nation. The exhibition ended on 15/10/1851. After the Great Exhibition, the Crystal palace was re-erected at Sydenham where it stood till destroyed by fire in 1936.
Prince Albert conceived the idea of the Great Exhibition to promote trade between nations and worldwide peace. The Exhibition was open for 6 months and in that time Queen Victoria visited 41 times. Profits from the event funded the opening of the Royal Albert Hall, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
29/3/1851, Marble Arch, London, was moved from Buckingham Palace to its present position on Oxford Street.
9/1850, Work began in Hyde Park on erecting the venue of the Great Exhibition (see 1/5/1851). 2,000 workmen erected the ‘giant greenhouse’, and fears that ‘mobs of slum dwellers’ would invade the park and pillage the homes of the wealthy nearby proved unfounded.
2/7/1850, Sir Robert Peel, British Conservative Prime Minister and founder of the police force in 1829, died in London due to a riding accident.
25/5/1850, The first hippopotamus to be kept in Britain arrived at London Zoo.
16/4/1850. Swiss waxworks show proprietor Madame Marie Tussaud died. She was born on 1/12/1761 in Strasbourg. She learnt the art of wax modelling from her uncle, Philippe Curtius. Before the French Revolution Mme Tussaud was art tutor at Versailles to Louis XVI’s sister, Elizabeth. After a period in prison she was tasked with making death masks from the heads of those guillotined, some of whom she recognised as friends. She left Paris in 1802, along with her waxwork models, and two sons from a failed marriage to a French engineer, Francois Tussaud. She spent 33 years touring Britain before opening a permanent display in London.
29/1/1850, Sir Ebenezer Howard, who started the Garden City movement, was born in London.
3/1/1850, Work began in Hyde Park, London, on the glass and iron Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition.
1849, Henry Charles Harrod took over a grocers shop in the village of Knightsbridge. His son, Charles Digby Harrod, took over the store in 1861, aged 20; by 1867 the shop was large enough ti employ 5 assistants, and had a staff of 16 by 1870. The store burnt down in December 1883 but was rebuilt, and all Christmas orders only delayed by a few days. Customers were impressed, and by 1889 the store was worth £120,000. The first escalator in London was installed at Harrods in 1898. Most of the current building dates from 1901-05. In 1985 Harrods was bought by the Al-Fayed brothers for £615 million.
1848, The Palm House at Kew Gardens opened. This promoted a fashion of rpalms amongst Victorian Britons.
5/1847, Chelsea Embankment was opened.
15/4/1845, The new House of Lords buildings were completed, after a fire in 1834, to the designs of Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin.
28/10/1844, London’s third Royal Exchange Building opened.
22/7/1844, The Reverend William Spooner, educationalist and originator of ‘spoonerisms’, was born in London.
3/11/1843, The 17-foot, 16 ton, statue of Lord Nelson was hauled in two pieces to the top of the column in Trafalgar Square. The second piece was hauled up on 4/11/1843. The column was 184 foot high, and the statue a further 17 feet. The cost was £50,000, half met by Parliament, the other half raised by public subscription.
15/8/1842. The first regular British detective force was formed as a division of the Metropolitan Police, later assuming the name C.I.D.
30/5/1842. An attempt was made on the life of Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill with Prince Albert. The would – be assassin was John Francis.
9/11/1841, King Edward VII, second child and oldest son of Queen Victoria, was born at St James Palace, London.
30/10/1841, Fire at the Tower of London.
1840, Kew Botanical Gardens, London, opened.
30/9/1840. The foundation stone of Nelson’s Column was laid in London.
10/6/1840, Edward Oxford, a servant in a pub, fire two shots at Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as they drove up Constitution Hill in an open carriage. Both shots missed. Oxford was sent to a mental hospital, then exiled.
27/4/1840, Edward Whymper, mountaineer and the first person to climb the Matterhorn, was born in London.
5/1839, The famous Highgate Cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of London.
1838, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, opened.
28/6/1838, The coronation of the nineteen-year-old Queen Victoria took place in Westminster Abbey.
13/7/1837. Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace, the first monarch to live there.
28/2/1837, The London Working Men’s Association presented a petition to the UK Parliament. They wanted universal adult male suffrage, reform of voting districts to make them equal size (i.e. to get rid of ‘rotten boroughs), voting by secret ballot, annual parliaments, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, and MPs to be paid a salary.
8/7/1836. Joseph Chamberlain, British Liberal politician, was born in London.
16/10/1834. Houses of Parliament almost totally destroyed by fire. Firemen managed to save Westminster Hall and St Stephens Chapel.
25/5/1833, The first flower show in Britain was held by the Royal Horticultural Society, in Chiswick, West London.
28/1/1833, General Gordon, British Army Commander, was born in Woolwich, London.
19/6/1829. The London Metropolitan Police was founded, set up by the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel. The policemen were known as ‘Peelers’, or ‘Bobbies’. 3,314 professional police now guarded London.
16/2/1824, The Athenaeum Club, London, was founded.
19/7/1821, Coronation of King George IV in Westminster Abbey.
4/5/1820, The English publisher, Joseph Whitaker, was born in London, the son of a silversmith.
1/5/1820. The militant radicals involved in the Cato Street conspiracy (just off the Edgware Road) to kill the Prime Minister were executed. Their leader, Arthur Thistlewood, was suspected of being a police informer.
23/2/1820, The Cato Street conspiracy was discovered. This was a plot to blow up the entire Cabinet with explosives and set up a provisional government. The conspiracy was led by Arthur Thistlewood. This led to renewed fears of radicalism and set back the cause of moderate reformists.
1819, Picadilly Circus was laid out; Regent Street was then under construction.
24/5/1819, Queen (Alexandrine) Victoria was born at Kensington Palace, daughter of Edward Duke of Kent and Mary, daughter of Francis, Duke of Saxe – Coburg - Saalfeld. She was the granddaughter of King George III, and niece of King William IV.
20/3/1819, The Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, London, opened.
1816, Finchley Common, a large uninhabited area just east of Finchley Village, crossed by the Great North Road and an infamous haunt of highwaymen, was enclosed.
2/12/1816. Rioting broke out at Spa Fields in London during a meeting to promote demands for parliamentary reform. Demands were for the vote for all men aged 18 and over, and for no property qualifications for MPs. The response was a series of Coercion Acts, including a temporary suspension of Habeas Corpus and an extension of the 1978 Act against seditious meetings.
17/10/1814, Nine people died in the Great London beer flood. A huge rooftop vat of beer on top of the Meaux Brewery, Tottenham Court Road, containing 135,000 gallons of beer, ruptured, taking out neighbouring vats also. In all, 300,000 gallons of beer flooded out, drowning people in nearby cellars.
21/8/1813, The Archway cutting under Hornsey Lane opened, see 13/4/1812. Tolls for the cutting were ‘not exceeding’ 6d per horse and carriage, 3d for a horse or mule not drawing a carriage, and 1d for a pedestrian. Tolls ceased in 1871.
1812, Captain Henry Penton died in Italy. He developed the land east of Kings Cross, London, known as Pentonville; built 1780-1820. It was then a green hillside location offering views of St Pauls and the Surrey Hills beyomd.
13/4/1812, A road tunnel being constructed at Archway, north London, for an extension of Archway Road northwards under Hornsey Lane, collapsed due to too few bricks and inferior cement being used for the tunnel. The tunnel was replaced by s deep cutting, with Hornsey Lane being carried across on a viaduct. See 21/8/1813.
28/1/1807. London’s Pall Mall became the first street in the world to be lit by gaslight. This was an initiative to publicise the new method of illumination by German migrant FA Winzer (later Anglicised to Winsor), and his company, the Gas Light and Coke Company, floated in 1812. In 1814 street gas lighting began in Westminister and by the end of 1816 London had 26 miles of gas mains. This rose to 122 miles by 1823 and 600 miles by 1834. By 1823 52 English towns had gas lighting and by 1859 Britain had nearly 1,000 gas works. The gas industry produced many useful by-products such as ammonia, naphtha and crude tar.
27/11/1806, The Adelphi Theatre, London, opened.
4/6/1805. First Trooping The Colour ceremony in Horse Guards Parade, London.
21/2/1804. Benjamin Disraeli, British Tory Prime Minister, was born at 22 Theobald’s Road, London.
1800, Russell Square was laid out.
15/5/1800. King George III survived two assassination attempts in one day. James Hatfield tried to assassinate the King at a theatre in Drury Lane.
2/3/1797, Horatio Walpole, British politician, died in London. He never married.
23/7/1794, The village of Ratcliff, just east of London, was badly damaged by a fire. 455 of the 1,150 houses were burnt, along with 36 warehouses, when a pitch kettle at a boat builders boiled over. Ships were also burnt; they could not be moved as the tide was out; saltpetre in a barge blew up, raining fire on other boats.
20/10/1784, Lord Palmerston was born at 20, Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster as Henry John Temple.
7/6/1778. Beau Brummel was born in London, as George Bryan Brummell. Although he became a leader of fashion and a friend of the Prince Regent, he died destitute in France, aged 64, through gambling and extravagance.
11/5/1778, William Pitt the Elder, British Prime Minister, Earl of Chatham, died at Hayes, Middlesex.
1762, Syon House was built.
28/5/1759, William Pitt the Younger, British Tory Prime Minister, was born at Hayes, near Bromley, Kent. He became Britain’s youngest Prime Minister at age 24.
16/1/1759. British Museum, London, opened to the public, in premises formerly known as Montague House. Funded by a lottery that raised UK£ 300,000, the museum contained a collection of books, manuscripts and natural objects amassed by Sir Hans Sloane, also collections by Edward and Robert Harley and Sir Robert Bruce Cotton.
1756, The Euston Road, originally ‘New Road’ was created by the 2nd Duke of Grafton to drive cattle from the west of London to Smithfield Market, avoiding Oxford Circus and Holborn. Objections from the Capper family, who grew hay in the area and feared the effects of clouds of dust on their crop, were overruled.
8/10/1754. Henry Fielding died, aged 47. He is famous as the author of the novel Tom Jones but he also, as a Justice of the Peace, organised the detective force that became Scotland Yard.
28/9/1745. The National Anthem God save the King was first played at the Drury Lane Theatre, London.
18/3/1745, Sir Robert Walpole, British Whig Prime Minister from 1721 to 1742 died in London. He had been created the Earl of Orford.
24/10/1739, Mansion House, London, was founded.
4/6/1738, King George III, grandson of George II, was born in lodgings in St James Square, London.
1737, The Fleet River was roofed over and Farringdon Street created on the surface.
27/4/1737, Thomas Gibbon, historian and writer of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was born at Putney, London.
22/9/1735. Sir Robert Walpole became the first Prime Minister to move into 10 Downing Street. The office of ‘Prime Minister’ was not officially recognised, and some considered it unconstitutional. However Walpole had widespread support of both the King and Parliament. Walpole was educated at Eton and Cambridge, and at age 24 inherited a country estate, which gave him the means of self-sufficiency to enter politics. In 1701 he became the Whig member for castle rising in Norfolk. An excellent speaker, he rose rapidly within the party. In 1717 he resigned amid in-party fighting, returning as Paymaster General in 1720.
1730, The Serpentine, Hyde Park, was created by Queen Caroline, by converting the bed of the Westbourne River.
17/10/1727, John Wilkes, British political reformist who called for a free press, was born in Clerkenwell, London, the son of a distiller.
1720, Development of Mayfair began, and was completed by the 1770s. Belgravia was developed in the 1820s, followed by Pimlico in the 1850s.
20/3/1727. Sir Isaac Newton, born 5/1/1642, died in London aged 84. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
1717, Britain’s first Druid revivial ceremony was held, on the Autumn Equinox at Primrose Hill.
24/9/1717, Horatio Walpole, British politician, was born in London.
17/7/1717. George I, Hanoverian King of England, held a public concert on the Thames for Handel to conduct his hour-long Water Music. The King liked it so much he asked for two complete encores.
24/6/1717. The Grand Lodge of the English Freemasons, London’s first Freemason Lodge, was formed.
1/8/1715, Doggett’s Coat and badge race first run on the Thames. The race was created by Thomas Doggett, an Irish actor and stage manager at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, who was grateful to an apprentice Thames waterman who rowed him home on a windy night when older ferrymen had refused.
15/11/1708. Birth of William Pitt the Elder, at Westminster.
1707, Fortnum & Mason department store, London, was established.
23/5/1701, William Kidd, pirate, was hanged, aged 56, see 8/5/1701.
8/5/1701. The Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd went on trial at the Old Bailey for piracy. He was hanged on 23/5/1701, at Execution Dock, London. He had to be hanged three times because the rope broke twice.
4/1/1698, The Palace of Whitehall, London, was destroyed by fire.
1697, The refuge priveliges of ‘Alsatia’ were revoked. Alsatia was a district of London between Fleet Street and the Thames, adjoining the Temple, formally known as Whitefriars, where rights of refuge existed. It therefore became a haunt of criminals, and was named after Alsace, a border district between France and Germany whetre similarly criminals could hide.
11/3/1682. King Charles II founded the Chelsea Hospital for old soldiers (Chelsea Pensioners).It was designed by Wren, and opened in 1692.
21/6/1675. The foundation stone of Sir Christopher Wren’s new St Paul’s Cathedral, London, was laid. The new place of worship faced the old church that burned down in the Great Fire of London, (see 2/9/1666). The first Sunday service there was held on 5/12/1697.
9/5/1671. Irish adventurer Captain James Thomas Blood made an unsuccessful attempt, dressed as a clergyman, to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. See 24/8/1680.
1670, The original fruit and vegetable market in Covent Garden opened when King Charles II granted a charter to the Earl of Bedford to hold a market in the area. See 9/11/1974.
28/9/1669, London’s Royal Exchange Building was completed.
23/10/1667, The foundation stone of London’s Royal Exchange was laid by King Charles II.
19/9/1666, Several plans for the reconstruction of London were drawn up or in progress. The first was by Christopher Wren (11/9); John Evelyn’s was complete on 13/9, and Robert Hooke’s was finished on 19/9. Plans, according to a Royal proclamation of 13/9, must include wider streets, replacement of wooden buildings by brick and stone, and a quayside along the Thames. However questions of accurate compensation precluded many of the concepts for wide boulevards. Instead, the Rebuilding Act of 1667 set standards and heights for new buildings according to the width of the street they were in.
6/9/1666, The Great Fire of London ended – see 2/9/1666.
2/9/1666. The Great Fire of London began on a Sunday morning at the house and shop of Thomas Farynor (Farriner), baker to King Charles II, in Pudding Lane. Farynor allegedly forgot to put out the fire in his oven, which spread to nearby stacked firewood. Farynor and his family escaped their burning house by climbing out of a window and along roof tops. Their maid was too scared to climb along the rooftops, and became the fire’s first victim. The fire rapidly spread. It burns for 4 days. In all, 436 acres were burned, destroying 87 churches and over 13,000 houses. However only nine lives were lost. The fire also helped end the Great Plague.
1663, The first Drury Lane Theatre opened.
1656, Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market began, as a few stalls in tbe garden of the Duke of Bedford.
1/12/1655, Samuel Pepys married Elizabeth St Michael in St Margarets, Westminster.
2/2/1650, Nell Gwynne, mistress of King Charles II, was born Eleanor Gwynne, the daughter of a fishwife. Originally an orange-seller, she became an actress at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
10/1/1645, At Tower Hill, William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury since 1633, was beheaded for treason. He was not replaced until 1660.
29/9/1613, The New River water supply for London opened.
18/3/1612, Bartholomew Legate became the last person in London to be executed for their religious beliefs. A cloth dealer, he became a preacher for a sect called ‘The Seekers’, who held unorthodox views about the divinity of Jesus.. He was jailed in Newgate Prison for heresy in 1611, and burnt to death at Smithfield.
31/1/1606, Guy Fawkes and co-conspirators were executed.
5/11/1605. Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up King James I and the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder (see 11/12/1604). His trial was at Westminster Hall on 27/1/1606. This was part of a Catholic plot to overthrow the Protestant English monarchy BUT see 11/12/1604. However the gunpowder barrels were discovered in the cellars of Parliament before they were detonated. Lord Monteagle, a Catholic peer, had received a letter warning him to stay away from the State Opening of Parliament and hinting at an explosion. Monteagle and the Lord Chamberlain investigated the cellars below the House of Lords and discovered a man piling wood, who gave his name as Guy Fawkes, and claimed that the wood belonged to his master, Lord Percy. They let him go but after further investigating the wood pile they found 36 barrels of gunpowder underneath. Guy Fawkes, a 36-year-old Yorkshireman, was arrested when he returned at midnight to make final preparations for the explosion. Guy Fawkes was hung, drawn, and quartered on 31/1/1606. Sir Everard Digby, Thomas Winter, John Grant, and Thomas Bates, other conspirators, were hung, drawn, and quartered on 30/1/1606.
11/12/1604, Guy Fawkes began digging a tunnel from a house he had rented near the Houses of Parliament (see 5/11/1605). His plan was to reach the cellars under the House and fill it with gunpowder to blow it up. They reached the foundations of the House by Christmas 1604, but then the opening of Parliament was unexpectedly postponed, from 7/2/1605, first to 3/10/1605 and then to 5/11/1605. This was lucky for Guy Fawkes because the foundations, 12 foot thick, were difficult to dig through, and then the coal merchant who had been renting the House cellars gave up his lease. Allegedly a roaring noise above the tunnelers first alarmed them, then alerted them to the vacated rent, the noise being due to the removal of the coal stored there. The conspirators quickly took up the rent themselves. However some historians have doubted elements of this story, such as the tunnel being dug under a busy part of London; it is possible that the entire episode was in fact a Protestant scheme to discredit English Catholics.
10/8/1585, At Nonsuch Palace, south of London, an alliance was signed between the English and the Dutch; the latter were trying to throw off Spanish rule.
1573, Naval docks and a resupply depot were established at Deptford.
23/1/1570, The Royal Exchange, London, was opened by Queen Elizabeth I.
22/1/1561, Francis Bacon, author, philosopher, and statesman, was born at York House in The Strand, London.
6/7/1553, King Edward VI died in Greenwich of tuberculosis.
1515, Hampton Court Palace was begun for King Henry VIII by Cardinal Wolsey.
1500, Wynken de Worde set up a printing press in Fleet Street. Fleet Street then became a centre of printing for nearly 500 years.
1370, Charterhouse built by Carthusian monks.
13/11/1295, King Edward I of England summoned the Model Parliament to Westminster, the composition of which serves as a model for later parliaments.
1285, Smog problems began to appear in London as soft coal was being burnt for heating and cooking. In 1306 a Londoner was executed for buring coal in the coty
17/6/1239, King Edward I was born at Westminster. He was the eldest son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.
1189, After a severe fire in the City of Lomdon, King Richard I offered incentives to build in stone. In 1212 London banned thatched roofs in favour of stone tiles, as fire protection.
1150, The earliest mention of the cattle market at Smithfield.
1141, The first palace for the Bishops of London was built, in Fulham.
24/8/1133, In London, the first Bartholomew’s Day Fair was held. It was held annually thereafter until 1855.
1123, Smithfield Market for meat began in the ‘Smooth Field’ just north of London’s walls.
1122, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, founded.
1078, Building work began on the Tower of London.
979, Earliest mention of Billingsgate Wharf.
400 BCE, The start of the settlement of London, under the Celtic King Belin. Belin built a defensive earthwork surrounding a few dozen wooden huts, also constructing a small harbour and landing place. The name of this landing place was gradually corrupted from Belin’s Gate to Billingsgate.
Appendix 1 - Parks / Green Belt
1936, The site of Lesnes Abbey (founded 1178), Bexley, was acquired by the LCC and opened as Lesnes Park.
1/4/1935, The Green Belt Scheme for the environs of London came into force.
4/2/1929, The first Green Belt area was approved, a five-mile wide strip near Hendon.
1/1/1923, 100 acres of Ken Wood Estate were bought for the nation to extend Hampstead Heath. See also Great Britain (1866) Metropolitan Commons Act.
1903, Broomfield Park, Palmers Green, 60 acres, was purchased for the public.
12/11/1889, Waterlow Park, Highgate, London, 29 acres, was given as a free gift to London by Sir Sidney Waterlow.
1887, Ravenscourt Park, 32 acres, was purchased for public use for £58,000.
1885, Highbury Fields Park was acquired for the public, cost £60,000.
6/5/1882, Queen Victoria opened Epping Park to the public. See also 1777.
7/1874, West Ham Park, 77 acres, former home of the Gurney family, opened as a public park.
24/5/1873, In north London, Alexandra Palace opened. See also 1863.
1869, Finsbury Park, north London, 115 acres, opened. It was one of the first municipal parks in London, and cost £95,000.
26/6/1869, Southwark Park was opened to the public; it cost £55,000.
1866, Blackheath Common was secured for public use under the Metropolitan Commons Act.
1863, Alexandra Park, north London, opened to the public. It was rebuilt in 1873.
1858, Battersea Park, 185 acres, was laid out 1852-5, at a cost of £318,000.
10/6/1854, Queen Victoria opened the Crystal Palace on its new site in Sydenham, south London.
1853, Primrose Hill was opened as a public park. This was due to the efforts of Mr Hume, who persuaded Eton College to swap the land for land near Windsor.
1845, Victoria Park, N E London, opened to the public. Designed by James Pennethorne, with planned spaces for promenading and sports undert the watchful gaze of park keepers, in 1892 it had 303,515 visitors on a single day. The UK Government had promised £90,000 to create this park in 1841, in response to rising ill-health, ‘moral decline’ and overcrowding in the East End of London.
27/4/1828. London Zoological Gardens opened in Regents Park. Regents Park, 464 acres in North London, was opened.
1777, Epping Forest, which once covered most of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, had shrunk to 20 square miles (12,000 acres) through encolsures. By 1851 it covered just 10 square miles (6,000 acres), and by 1871 was down to 5 square miles (3,000 acres). The Corporation of London obtained a legal ruling in 1874 that all enclosures since 1851 were illegal, and in 1878 an Act of Parliament handed over 6,000 acres of the Forest to the Corporation of London. On 6/5/1882 the Forest was opened to the public by Queen Victoria.
Appendix 2 - Population
1/7/1861, The population of Acton, west London, was 3,000. By 1901 it had grown to 38,000, and stood at 65,000 in the 1980s.
1901, The population of Barking was 21,547. It peaked at 78,170 in 1951 and has declined since then.
30/6/1911, In London, the population of Barnet was 11,335; in 1901 it had been 3,375.
1801, The population of Battersea was 3,000. It reached 107,000 by 1881 and peaked in 1901 at 169,000.
1951, Chingford had a population of 48,355, up from 2,731 in 1891. Hornchurch, Essex, had a population of 104,092, up from 3,841 in 1891.
1801, The population of Chiswick was 3,235, rising to 15,663 in 1881 and 28,513 in 1901.
1801, The population of Croydon was 5,743, rising to 134,037 by 1901.
1921, The population of Dagenham was around 9,000. It rose to a peak of 114,568 in 1951.
1851, The population of Dulwich was 1,632, rising to 10,247 in 1901.
population of Ealing, west
1851, East Ham had only around 300 houses, and a population of 1,750; West Ham had 3,300 houses at that time. By 1881 however East Ham had rapidly urbanised (railway station opened 1858) and then had a population of 10,700. By 1911 East Ham had 133,500 inhabitants.
1801, The population of Hackney was 12,730, rising to 22,494 in 1821, 53,589 in 1851 and over 200,000 by 1901.
1931, The population of Hendon reached 116,000, more than twice its 1921 level.
1951, The population of the London Borough of Hornsey was 97,600, up from 5,673 in 1881, 19,387 in 1871 and 61,097 on 23/6/1891.
1891, The population of Ilford was 10,913, rising to 179,600 in 1957.
1991, The population of Islington was 165,000. In 1801 it had been 10,202, rising to 22,417 in 1821.
1/7/1841, Kingston on Thames was the second largest town in Surrey, with 8,147 people.
28/1/1902, London’s population reached 6,581,372, according to the 1901 census.
23/8/1921. The 1921 Census of Britain showed the population had increased by almost 2 million to 42,767,530. 7.4 million of these lived in London. War losses affected the total, but the loss due to emigration was greater. Women exceeded men by 2 million, much the same as in 1911.
6/7/1931, The 1931 Census showed Britain’s population almost static since the last census, at 44.8 million. However there had been a drift to the south, and London now had 8 million people, a rise of almost 10% since 1921.
1921, The population of Kenton, N W London, was just 268. It stood at 6,171 by 1931 and the area was completely urbanised by 1938.
1801, The population of Newham, east London, was around 7,750. After rapid urbanisation in the 1880s the Borough of Newham had 363,000 people in 1901, peaking at 450,000 in the 1920s. Subsequently, war damage and a move to the outer suburbs has reduced the total.
1801, The population of Plumstead was 1,166. It rose to 24,502 by 1861,
1801, The population of Shoreditch was 34,766, rising to 68,564 in 1831 and 129,364 in 1861.
1841, The population of Streatham was 6,000. It rose to 20,000 in 1881 and to 70,000 by 1901.
1991, The population of Tower Hamlets was 161,000. This was attributable to large-scale residential development in the Docklands area, and a high birth rate amongst the Bangladeshi community.
1801, The population of West Ham was 6,500, rising to 267,400 in 1901. It peaked at 320,000 in the 1920s.