It happened today – this day in history – January 31

1606: Guy Fawkes is hanged for his part in the Gunpowder Plot.

1747: The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.

1788: Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Stuart) pretender to the throne in the Jacobite Rebellion, dies of a stroke aged 67.

1797: Birth of composer Franz Schubert in Vienna.

1849: The Corn Laws are abolished in Britain.

1855: The government of Lord Aberdeen falls following scrutiny of the Crimean War.

1865: US Congress passes the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.

1876: The US orders all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1901: Boer generals Jan Smuts & De la Rey conqueror Mud river, Transvaal. On the same day, Anton Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’ opens at Moscow Arts Theatre.

1917: Germany notifies the US that U-boats will attack neutral merchant ships.

1918: A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night leads to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to five British warships.

1929: Leon Trotsky is expelled from Russia.

1933: Author John Galsworthy dies aged 65.

1941: Joe Louis KO’s Red Burnam in round 5 for the boxing heavyweight title.

1943: Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrenders to Soviet troops at Stalingrad. On the same day, Chile breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany and Japan.

1945: Soviet troops reach the Oder River, less that 50 miles from Berlin.

1950: US President Harry Truman publicly announces his support for the development of a hydrogen bomb.

1953: A car ferry sinks in the Irish Sea in one of the worst gales of the winter, claiming the lives of up to 130 passengers and crew. On the same day, Isthmian League side Walthamstow Avenue draw 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

1955: RCA demonstrates the first music synthesizer.

1956: Death of author A.A. Milne aged 74.

1957: Film star Elizabeth Taylor divorces second husband Michael Wilding.

1958: James van Allen discovers the radiation belt.

Singles chart:


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  1. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
  2. The Story Of my Life – Michael Holliday
  3. Oh Boy – The Crickets
  4. All The Way – Frank Sinatra
  5. Ma, He’s Making Eyes At Me – Johnny Otis
  6. Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
  7. My Special Angel – Malcolm Vaughan
  8. April Love – Pat Boone
  9. Peggy Sue – Buddy Holly
  10. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine – Jimmie Rodgers

1961: A chimpanzee sent into space in a United States rocket is recovered alive and well from the sea off Florida.

1965: The Beatles – Beatles For Sale

1965: Album chart:

  1. Rolling Stones No 2 – The Rolling Stones
  2. Beatles For Sale – The Beatles
  3. Kinks – The Kinks
  4. Lucky 13: Shades Of Val Doonican – Val Doonican
  5. The Bachelors And 16 Great Songs – The Bachelors
  6. The Animals – The Animals
  7. A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
  8. West Side Story – Original Soundtrack
  9. Oh Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
  10. Best Of Jim Reeves – Jim Reeves

1967: The Beatles spent a second day at Knole Park, Sevenoaks, to complete filming for the ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ promotional video. On the same day, John Lennon bought an 1843 poster from an antiques shop advertising a fair which contained the words ‘Being for the benefit of Mr Kite’ and others which he used as lyrics for the song of the same name.

1970: Blues musician Slim Harpo dies of a heart attack aged 46 while recording in London.

1971: Launch of Apollo 14.

1974: Death of film magnate Sam Goldwyn aged 91.

1978: Israel turns three military outposts in the West Bank into civilian settlements.

1983: The seat belt law comes into effect in Britain.

1985: South African president P W Botha offers to release Nelson Mandela if he will renounce violence.

1988: The Washington Redskins beat Denver Broncos, 42-10 to win the Super Bowl.

1993: The Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills, 52-17 at Pasadena to win the Super Bowl.

1996: A lorry carrying heavy explosives crashes into a bank in Colombo bank killing more than 50 people.

1999: Family Guy is first shown on US TV. On the same day, the Denver Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-19 in Miami to win the Super Bowl.

2000: Family GP Dr Harold Shipman is jailed for life for murdering 15 of his patients, making him Britain’s most prolific convicted serial killer. It was later estimated that he could have been responsible for the deaths of up to 300 people.

2001: In The Netherlands, a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset Al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie in 1988.

2009: At least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

2015: R & B singer-songwriter Don Covay dies aged 78.

2016: Death of broadcaster Terry Wogan aged 77.

2017: US President Donald Trump fires Attorney General Sally Yates after she instructs Justice Dept officials not to defend Trump’s travel ban on seven mainly Muslim countries. On the same day, singer, bassist, and songwriter John Wetton dies at his home in Bournemouth from colon cancer.

2020: The UK formally leaves the EU.

BIRTHDAYS: Philip Glass, composer, 84; Jessica Walter, actress, 80; Phil Manzanera, guitarist (Roxy Music) 70; John Lydon, singer-songwriter (Sex Pistols/PIL) 65; Lloyd Cole, singer-songwriter, 60; Minnie Driver, actress, 51; Patrick Kielty, comedian/TV presenter, 50; Portia de Rossi (Amanda Lee Rogers) 48; Anna Silk, actress, 47; Kerry Washington, actress, 44; Justin Timberlake, singer-songwriter, actor, 40; Marcus Mumford, singer-songwriter, musician (Mumford & Sons) 34.

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