On This Day - 12th January
1510Henry VIII, then just 18 years old, appeared incognito in a jousting tournament at Richmond Park, and was applauded for his jousting before he revealed his true identity.
1866 The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain was formed in London, thirty seven years before the Wright Brothers achieved the first successful powered flight.
1895 The National Trust was founded by three Victorian philanthropists - Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Octavia Hill was concerned about the poor availability of open spaces for poor people. She campaigned against development on existing suburban woodlands, and helped to save London's Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from being built on. The National Trust is now the largest membership organisation in the United Kingdom, and one of the largest UK charities by both income and assets. Its aim is to preserve places of historic interest or natural beauty for the enjoyment of the British public. Its stately homes such as this one at Lyme Park (see picture) are well know, but the National Trust also owns vast tracts of countryside (see picture of Wast Water) and coastal areas including here - the Needles (see picture).
1899 Unable to launch their lifeboat at Lynmouth (see picture) because of heavy storms, the crew, horses and helpers dragged their 10 ton lifeboat Louisa and carriage, in the dark, the 15 miles overland to Porlock Weir. The 11 hour journey across Exmoor included a haul over Countisbury Hill (gradient 25% : 1 in 4) followed by descending another 1 in 4 hill down into Porlock where the corner of a househad to be demolished to gain access. Their rescue of the 18 crew from Forrest Hall was successful. The journey was re-enacted in daylight on 12th January 1999.
1950 The British submarine Truculent collided with a Swedish oil tanker Divina, in the Thames. The two vessels remained locked together for a few seconds before the submarine sank, resulting in the deaths of 64 people. An inquiry attributed 75% of the blame to Truculent and 25% to Divina. Truculent was sold and broken up for scrap in May 1950.
1954 The Queen opened New Zealand’s parliament, the first time in that country’s history that a reigning monarch had done so.
1959 Henry Cooper defeated Brian London on points over 15 rounds, becoming British and European heavyweight boxing champion. Cooper was the first to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award twice (in 1967 and 1970). He is the only British boxer to win three Lonsdale Belts outright and he was knighted in 2000.
1970 The Boeing 747 completed its first transatlantic flight, from New York to Heathrow. It is still often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. The 747 was the first 'wide-body' ever produced. It held the passenger capacity record of 660 (in single class layout) for 37 years until October 2007 when the Airbus A380 took to the skies, with a maximum passenger capacity of 850.
1971 Two bombs exploded at the home of Employment Secretary Robert Carr, in outer London. He was unhurt. The bombs had been planted by the Angry Brigade, protesting against a new controversial industrial relations bill that Mr. Carr was proposing.
1976 Crime writer Dame Agatha Christie died, leaving a final book waiting to be published. According to the
Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly
four billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the
Bible, as the most widely published books.
1978 The executors of Lady Churchill’s estate admitted that she had burnt Graham Sutherland’s portrait of Sir Winston 18 months after the House of Commons had presented it to him in 1954. Sir Winston ironically described it as ‘a remarkable example of modern art’.
1982 Mark Thatcher, son of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, went missing in the Sahara while taking part in the Paris-Dakar Rally. He was rescued two days later, and it turned out that he had lost his way. The incident provoked a tidal wave of jokes and cartoons making fun of his sense of direction.
2001 Sven Goran Eriksson became the first foreign coach of the England football team. In 2006, he was recorded as saying that he would be willing to leave England to manage Aston Villa if England won the World Cup, after being duped into believing that a wealthy Arab would buy the club and wanted him as manager. The wealthy Arab was in fact a 'Fake Sheikh', an undercover News of the World reporter. On 4th May 2006 the FA announced that Steve McClaren, Eriksson's assistant, would take over after the World Cup.