On This Day - 3rd January
1777The Battle of Princeton, in New Jersey, ended with George Washington’s defeat ofthe British, led by Cornwallis.
1795The death of Josiah Wedgwood, English potter and grandfather of the naturalist Charles Darwin.The pottery that Wedgewood founded became one of the most famous in the world. In 2009 Wedgwood (see picture of a traditional Wedgwood plate) was placed into administration and eventually became part of a group of companies known as WWRD, an initialism for 'Wedgwood Waterford Royal Doulton'.
1883The birth of Clement (Richard) Attlee, Labour politician who served as Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He was also the first person to hold the office of Deputy Prime Minister under Winston Churchill, in the wartime coalition government. He then led the Labour Party to a landslide election victory over Churchill's Conservative Party in 1945. He was the first Labour Prime Minister to serve a full Parliamentary term, and the first to command a Labour majority in Parliament. His government undertook the nationalisation of major industries and public utilities as well as the creation of the National Health Service. His government also presided over the decolonisation of a large part of the British Empire when India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon and Jordan were granted independence.
1911Police, with the army in attendance, stormed a house in London's East End where it was thought a gang of wanted anarchists were hiding. Newspapers dubbed the incident 'The Siege of Sidney Street'. When the fugitives shot at police, the Scots Guards were summoned from the Tower of London, and Winston Churchill, who was then Home Secretary, arrived on the scene to find the house in flames. No firefighters were sent in to put out the blaze, and the house eventually collapsed, burning the anarchists to death.
1940Unity Mitford, a member of the aristocratic Mitford family, returned to England after an unsuccessful suicide attempt in Munich. She had been greatly attracted to Fascism and idolized Hitler. When Britain declared war she was so distraught that she shot herself in the head with a pearl-handled pistol, given to her for protection by Hitler himself. She eventually died in Oban, in 1948, of meningitis caused by the cerebral swelling around the bullet.
1942The birth, in Gorton, Manchester of actor John Thaw, who starred in the TV dramas The Sweeney, Inspector Morse and Kavanagh QC. A heavy drinker, and a smoker from the age of 12, Thaw was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in June 2001. In early January 2002 he was told that the cancer had spread and he died on 21st February 2002, seven weeks after his 60th birthday.
1946William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) was hanged for treason, in London. The Irishman had broadcast propaganda from Nazi Germany during the Second World War to both Britain and the United States. The broadcasts started on 18th September 1939 and continued until 30th April 1945, when Hamburg was overrun by the British Army.
1961The production of the millionth Morris Minor, designed by the Greek born Sir Alec Issigonis. He considered the Morris Minor to be a vehicle that combined many of the luxuries and conveniences of a good motor car, but at a price suitable for the working classes. (see picture of a 1969 Morris Minor van at Hull's Streetlife Museum).
1977Former Home Secretary Roy Jenkins announced that he was leaving Westminster politics to become Britain's first President of the European Commission.
1984The launch of the FTSE 100, an index of the 100 leading shares listed on the London Stock Exchange, measured by their market value. It had a starting base level of 1,000 points.
1988Margaret Thatcher became the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century.
1991The Foreign Office expelled eight Iraqi embassy officials from the UKfollowing threats of attacks on Western targets.
2013Data released by the Met. Office showed that the previous 12 months had been the second wettest on record in the UK, with England recording its wettest year ever since records began in 1910.
2014Along the whole of Wales' coastline dozens of roads were closed and the rail network was also badly affected as storm surges brought flooding chaos around Wales' coast. In Aberystwyth the promenade and its historic shelter were destroyed as huge waves crashed onto it. The winter storms continued across many parts of Britain and parts of Somerset, including the village of Muchelney were cut off for weeks. When we visited Aberystwyth later in the year (see - picture) the promenade and shelter had both been fully restored.
2015 A 51,000 tonne car carrier ship (Hoegh Osaka) became stranded on Bramble Bank in the Solent between Southampton and the Isle of Wight. The ship was carrying 1,200 Jaguar sports cars, Land Rover 4x4s, 65 BMW Minis, 105 JCB diggers and a single Rolls-Royce Wraith – worth an estimated £260,000 – all destined for the Middle East. The vessel was eventually righted and towed to Southampton on 22nd January.
Insert text here : Change date, in meta tag too