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On This Day - 10th January

1645 The execution of William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was beheaded on Tower Hill after being found ‘guilty of endeavouring to subvert the laws, to overthrow the Protestant religion, and to act as an enemy to Parliament’. The next archbishop was not appointed until fifteen years later, with the Restoration of Charles II.


1806 Dutch settlers in Cape Town surrendered to the British following the battle of Bloubergstrand. In the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, Cape Town was permanently ceded to Britain.


1839 Indian tea was auctioned in Britain for the first time. Previously, only China tea had been available, at great expense. After the introduction of Indian tea, prices fell and tea became so affordable that it was soon the national drink.


1840 Sir Rowland Hill introduced the Penny Post to Britain. Mail was delivered at a standard charge rather than being paid by the recipient. On its first day, 112,000 letters were posted in London alone. Additional note:- The Penny Black public house in Northwich, Cheshire - (see ©BB picture) is a Grade II listed, Tudor style building that was formerly the district's post office.


1863 The first section of the London Underground railway was opened, by Prime Minister Gladstone. It ran from Paddington to Farringdon Street, stopping at seven stations. The trains ran every fifteen minutes.


1918 The House of Lords gave its approval to the Representation of the People Bill, which gave woman over the age of 30 the right to vote, as recognition of the contribution made by women defence workers during the First World War. However, women were still not politically equal to men, who could vote from the age of 21. Full electoral equality wouldn't occur until the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act of 1928.


1922 Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Fein and one of the architects of the 1921 peace treaty with Britain, was elected president of the newly established Irish Free State.


1928 Lieutenant John Moncrieff (born at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands) and Captain George Hood (New Zealander) were pioneers of aviation who disappeared whilst attempting the first Trans-Tasman flight from Australia to New Zealand. Despite a number of alleged sightings in New Zealand and many land searches in the intervening years, no trace of the aviators or their aircraft was ever found.


1946 The General Assembly of the United Nations met for the first time, at Westminster Central Hall.


1979 'Crisis? What Crisis?' Prime Minister James Callaghan flew back into strike-torn Britain denying allegations that the country was in chaos. Callaghan was the only Prime Minister to have held all three leading Cabinet positions – Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary, prior to becoming Prime Minister.


1985 The C5 electric car, with a top speed of 15 mph (the fastest allowed in the UK without a driving licence) was demonstrated by its inventor, Sir Clive Sinclair. It retailed for £399 but only 17,000 were ever sold and Sinclair Vehicles was put into receivership on 12th October 1985. At the time Sinclair, said 'it currently remains the best selling electric vehicle of all time,' but, by November 2011 it had been surpassed by the electric Nissan Leaf that had sold over 20,000 units.


1985 Eight people died and dozens were injured when an explosion destroyed a block of exclusive flats in south-west London. The blast was compared to a 50lb bomb going off and caused an estimated £250m worth of damage in addition to the loss of life.


2015 The Falklands commemorated Margaret Thatcher by unveiling a statue of the late Prime Minister who led the 1982 war that kept the island British. (Note - 10th January is Margaret Thatcher Day on the Falklands.)


2016 The death, from liver cancer, of the English singer, songwriter David Bowie, aged 69.