It happened today – this day in history – September 26

1580: Sir Francis Drake arrived back in Plymouth in the Golden Hind after 33 months, to make him the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world.

1687: The Parthenon in Athens was severely damaged when a mortar bomb, fired by the Venetian army, set off its gunpowder supplies.

1820: American frontiersman Daniel Boone died.

1887: The first gramophone, invented by Emile Berliner, was patented in Washington DC.

1934: The British liner Queen Mary was launched at John Brown’s Yard in Clydebank, Scotland.

1937: “The Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith died in a car crash in Mississippi, amid rumours that she bled to death while a white person was given preferential treatment.

1953: Sugar rationing ended in Britain.

1957: West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein’s musical based on Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, opened in Broadway’s Winter Garden, New York.

1977: Sir Freddie Laker’s first Skytrain service began between Gatwick and New York.

1983: Australia II beat Liberty in the deciding race off Newport, Rhode Island, to deprive the US of the America’s Cup, which they had held since its inception.

1988: Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson flew home from the Seoul Olympics in disgrace, stripped of his 100m gold medal after failing a drugs test.

BIRTHDAYS: Ricky Tomlinson, actor, 80; Ian Chappell, former cricketer, 76; Anne Robinson, TV presenter, 75; Bryan Ferry, singer, (Roxy Music) 74; Olivia Newton-John, singer, 71; Linda Hamilton, actress, 63; Tracey Thorn, singer (Everything But The Girl), 57; Lysette Anthony, actress, 56; Serena Williams, tennis player, 38.

Mick Ferris

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