It happened today – this day in history – September 12

1440: Eton College was founded by Henry VI for 25 poor and needy scholars. Prefects were warned to look out for “ill-kempt heads, unwashed faces, foul clothes”.

1722: The signing of the Treaty of St Petersburg ends the Russo-Persian War.

1818: Richard Gatling, inventor of the Gatling gun, was born in North Carolina.

1878: Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient Egyptian obelisk, 68ft of granite, was presented to Britain by the ruler of Egypt and Sudan and erected on the Thames Embankment. Inside the pedestal were placed some important reminders of the British Empire, including Bradshaw’s Railway Guide, Whitaker’s Almanack and a dozen pin-ups of Victorian ladies.

1888: Maurice Chevalier, legendary French entertainer and actor, was born in Paris.

1910: The first policewoman in the United States Alice Stebbin Wells joined the Los Angeles Police Department.

1935: US multimillionaire Howard Hughes achieved the first of several aviation records he established before going into self-enforced seclusion, flying a plane of his own design at 352.46mph.

1953: Senator John Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island.

1970: Concorde landed at Heathrow Airport for the first time to a barrage of complaints about noise.

1977: South African activist Steve Biko died while in police detention in Port Elizabeth.

1978: The Queen Mother was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in succession to the late Sir Robert Menzies. It was the first appointment of a woman in more than eight centuries.

2014: Former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley passed away, aged 88.

BIRTHDAYS: Sir Ian Holm, actor, 88; Patrick Mower, actor, 81; Maria Aitken, actress, 74; Bertie Ahern, former Irish premier, 68; Scott Hamilton, jazz saxophonist, 65; Rachel Ward, actress, 62; Ben Folds, musician, 53; Darren Campbell, former athlete, 46; Jennifer Hudson, singer, 387; Emmy Rossum, actress, 33.


Mick Ferris

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