What happened in August? A daily overview

01 August

On this date in 1834, slavery was declared unlawful in the British Empire. The characteristic of capturing men and women to be transported to America was openly practiced by England for decades. It was the buying and selling of convicts that was first abolished in 1828. Only then did the strongest analogy to slavery begin to come to a legal end. But even afterwards the majority of judges thought it was still lawful for one master to hire out servants to others. Read more

02 August

The 2nd august 1870 saw the opening of the Tower Subway, the first underground passenger railway in the world. It carried 12 people at a time in a single car, hauled by a cable in a tunnel under the Thames, near where Tower Bridge now stands. It was not a great success and closed in November of the same year. Read more

03 August

Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park (better known as P D James)was born on the 3rd of August 1920 in Oxfor.She is a British writer of crime fiction and member of the House of Lords. She did not begin writing until she reached her thirties. Her first novel, Cover Her Face, featuring the investigator/poet Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, was published in 1962. Read more

04 August

On August 4, 1944, the Nazi Gestapo captures Anne Frank and her family. When she was four, Anne Frank's German family escaped the Nazi persecution of Jews by moving to Amsterdam. In the summer of 1942, 12-year-old Anne began a diary relating her everyday experiences and her observations about the increasingly dangerous world around her. Although the Gestapo abducted the family after they were discovered, they failed to capture the young girl's diary, a literary testament to the 6 million Jews who were silenced in the Holocaust. Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp only two months before it was liberated. Read more

05 August

On the 5th August 1976 Big Ben, the Great Clock at the top of St Stephen's Tower of the Palace of Westminster was almost destroyed as a result of metal fatigue. A shaft broke as the clock started to chime which led to the total destruction of the chiming mechanism as the heavy weight (over a tonne of metal) fell faster and faster. Clockmakers had to remake the chiming train from scratch which took almost one year to complete. Read more

06 August

At approximately 8:15 AM Hiroshima time the Enola Gay released Little Boy,a 9,700-pound uranium bomb over the city of Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. The pilot, colonel Paul Tibbets immediately dove away to avoid the anticipated shock wave. Forty-three seconds later, a huge explosion lit the morning sky as Little Boy detonated directly over a parade field where soldiers of the Japanese Second Army were doing calisthenics. The bomb detonated at an altitude of 1800 feet. The yield of the bomb was 12.5 KT (kilotons, the equivalent of 12,500 tons of TNT). Within minutes 9 out of 10 people half a mile or less from ground zero were dead. Read more

07 August

On 7th of August 1840 an Act of Parliament prohibits the employment of climbing boys as chimney sweeps. Way back to the 17th century the Master Sweep of the day would employ small boys to climb and scramble up chimneys. The task for these climbing boys was to brush clean the inside of the flue with small hand-held brushes. They also used metal scrapers to remove the harder tar deposits left by wood or log fire smoke. The boys were apprentices and were bound to the trade as young as seven years old. A Master was paid a fee to clothe, keep and teach the child his trade. Read more

08 August

The Great Train Robbery is one of the most infamous robberies in British history. It took place on the 8th August 1963 at 3.03am at Sears Crossing, two miles south of Leighton station. The 15 strong gang held up a Royal Mail sorting train making it's way from Glasgow to London. Their haul of used bank notes was worth £2.3 million (£40 million in today's money). The trial of the 'Great Train Robbers' was held in Aylesbury and all received sentences of between 20 and 30 years. Read more

09 August

Actor, novelist and playwright, Robert Shaw was born in Westhoughton in the Borough of Bolton on 9th August 1927. In 1966 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of King Henry VIII in Robert Boult's film `A Man for All Seasons` playing opposite Paul Schofield in the leading role. However, it was during the 1970s that his film career really took off, when he became a much sought after and highly paid actor in such films as the war film `The Battle of the Bulge` and the second James Bond movie `From Russia With Love` He was a keep-fit fanatic and advocated a clean, healthy lifestyle. Ironically, he died of a heart attack at the age of 51. Read more

10 August

On 10th August 2003 Britain recorded its hottest day ever as the temperature soared to 38.1C (100.6F) in Gravesend, Kent. The record was broken twice on this day. The first place to beat the previous record of 37.1C (98.8F), set in Cheltenham in 1990, was Heathrow Airport where the temperature earlier today registered 37.9C (100.2F). Then an even higher temperature was recorded in Kent, making this the hottest day since records began about 130 years ago in 1875. Hundreds of thousands joined the mass exodus to the coast to soak up the sunshine. At Bournemouth, in Dorset, the coastline was crammed with about 100,000 sun lovers, and there was said to be no spare space on the sand. Read more

11 August

The first total solar eclipse visible from the United Kingdom mainland for more than 70 years occured on the morning of Wednesday, 11 August 1999, soon after 11:00,a.m. The total solar eclipse was visible in a narrow corridor stretching from the Atlantic Ocean, over West and Central Europe and the Middle East to India. In the southern tip of Belgium this eclipse was total. Previous total eclipses visible from the UK this century were those of 29 June 1927 and 30 June 1954. Read more

12 August

August 12 marks the start of the grouse shooting season (The Glorious Twelfth). Throughout this period shooters from all over the world head for the moors of Scotland and northern England. The season lasts from August 12 to December 10 on mainland Great Britain and from August 12 to November 30 in Northern Ireland. The grouse are wild and not artificially reared. This is a traditional sport which was largely supplanted by formal driven shooting in the mid to late 1800s, but which is seeing a resurgence in popularity, although driven grouse shooting is the only commercially viable means of running a grouse moor Read more

13 August

The first true stainless steel was melted on the 13th August 1913 and is accredited to Harry Brearly from Sheffield. Brearley made a number of different melts of 6 to 15% chromium with varying carbon contents.In order to examine the grain structure of the steel he needed to etch (attack with acid) samples . The etching reagents were based on nitric acid, and he found that this new steel strongly resisted chemical attack. He then exposed samples to vinegar and other food acids such as lemon juice and found the same result. Thus, a corrosion resistant variety of steel was born, which was later named as Stainless Steel. Read more

14 August

Sarah Brightman was born on August 14th, 1960. Her West End debut was at the age of 13 in `I and Albert`. She orginated the role of Christine in London and in New York. Sarah married composer Andrew-Llyod Webber in 1984 until 1990. She has recorded a number of solo albums, including 1988's The Trees They Grow So High, 1989's The Songs That Got Away, 1990s As I Come of Age, 1993's Dive, 1995's Fly, and 1998's Eden. And recent ones like La Luna (2001) and Harem (June, 2003. Read more

15 August

The village of Lynmouth in Devon was badly ravaged by a flash flood on August 15th 1952. The catastrophic floods were as a result of heavy rain on Exmoor on the 15-16 th when an unprecedented 225 mm of rain fell in 22 hours at Longstone Barrow,(275 mm is estimated to have fallen over parts of Exmoor ). The East and West Lyn rivers reached record levels where they converge near the seafront in town. It rained most of the day over most of Devon , with a seven hour long intense downpour from late afternoon. There was a loss of 34 lives, 93 buildings were destroyed or severely damaged, 420 people were made homeless, 130 cars were washed into the Bristol Channel , and 28 bridges were swept away. The water moved large rocks, trees, telegraph poles, and cars. Read more

16 August

Elvis Presley's death on August 16, 1977, saddened the world. After a long battle with health problems, the king of rock 'n' roll had fallen. Elvis Presley made his debut into the world on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Miss. His identical twin brother was stillborn, and Elvis grew up an only child in a working-class family. Elvis got his first guitar as a birthday present because his parents couldn't afford a bicycle. On August 16, 1977, Elvis' girlfriend found him dead in the bathroom at Graceland. The coroner said he died of cardiac arrhythmia. Rumors persist that Elvis overdosed on prescription drugs, but the autopsy results were sealed. Some people still refuse to believe he died at all. Read more

17 August

On 17 August 1896 the first recorded road traffic accident occured. Bridget Driscoll, aged 44, was on her way to a fête at Crystal Palace in south London, accompanied by a friend and their two daughters. The party stopped to watch three cars that were being demonstrated at the palace. The first two passed them without incident but the third, driven by 20-year-old Arthur Edsall some distance behind the others, was zigzagging from side to side, apparently out of control. It ploughed straight into Driscoll, who died within minutes. In the hundred years since Driscoll's death, around half a million people have died on the roads in Britain. There are no precise figures because the government did not start collecting road accident statistics until 1926. Read more

18 August

On August 18, 1977 Debbi and Randy Fields opened their first little cookie shop in Palo Alto, starting a small firm that now has expanded to over 1,500 stores named Mrs. Fields' Original Cookies, the Great American Cookie Company, the Original Cookie Company, Pretzel Time, Hot Sam, and Pretzelmaker. This is a true story of an American homemaker and her husband who overcame numerous obstacles to create an international business.. The firm's chocolate chip cookies were so popular that they became the subject of a modern urban legend in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Read more

19 August

On the 19th of August 1987 Michael Ryan, a loner with a fascination for violent films and guns, shot dead 16 people in and around the town of Hungerford, in Berkshire, England - including his mother, whose house he burned to the ground. He eventually made his way to the local school, where, surrounded by police, he shot himself. Ryan's final conversation shed no light on his actions; the destruction of his house made it impossible to determine a motive. He lived alone with his mother, and led something of a fantasy life, telling people that he had a rich benefactor; he wore military clothing and was careless with firearms. Read more

20 August

The Marchioness disaster, in which 51 people lost their lives, occurred on 20 August 1989, when the passenger vessel collided with the dredger Bow Belle on the River Thames. The Marchioness, which had been chartered for a birthday celebration, sank near Southwark Bridge on the Thames after being struck by the 1,475- ton dredger Bowbelle at 1.46am on 20 August 1989.The pleasure boat went down within a minute, trapping many of the 132 revellers inside and leaving others to fight for their lives in the dark tidal waters. Read more

21 August

Sam Browne belt was invented on this day in 1858. Sam Browne belts are a combination of a pistol belt or garrison belt and a shoulder strap (and D-rings). The Sam Browne belt was named after General Sir Sam Browne VC, GCB, KCSI, (1849-98) of the British Army in India. The strap was intended to help carry the weight of a heavy pistol or sword. It is an item on issue to `Warrant and Commissioned Officers only` as a general rule in most Armies throughout the world including Australia. Read more

22 August

On 22 august 1985, a British Airtours 737 was on a take-off roll from Manchester airport when an engine fire caused the pilot to abort. Not realising the extent of the fire, he followed standard procedures to exit the runway, thereby turning the flaming wing upwind and fanning the flames onto the fuselage. The resulting fire caused the deaths of 55 passengers and crew. Read more

23 August

William Wallace's execution was held on 23 August. He was hung, drawn and quartered and his head was placed on London Bridge. His limbs displayed in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling and Perth. He had been seized near Glasgow and was charged and tried with treason, which he denied, saying he had never sworn allegiance to the English king. Wallace led the Scottish rebellion against Edward I and inflicted a famous defeat on the English army at Stirling Bridge. He is remembered as a patriot and national hero. Read more

24 August

William Wilberforce was born on 24th August 1759 and served in Parliament from 1780 to 1825. He introduced his first anti-slavery motion in 1788, concluding with `Sir, when we think of eternity and the future consequence of all human conduct, what is there in this life that shall make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice and the law of God!` The motion was defeated. Wilberforce brought it up again every year for eighteen years, until the slave trade was finally abolished on 25 March 1806. The bill for the abolition of all slavery in British territories passed its crucial vote just four days before his death on 29 July 1833. A year later, on 31 July 1834, 800,000 slaves were set free. Read more

25 August

Michael Faraday, the discoverer of electro-magnetic induction, electro-magnetic rotations, the magneto-optical effect, diamagnetism, field theory and much else besides died at Hampton Court on 25 August 1867. He was born in Newington Butts (the area of London now known as the Elephant and Castle) on 22 September 1791. As part of his careful work on electrolysis Faraday measured the amounts of different substances given off during the process. As a result of all his observations and measurements he formulated two laws which can be used to predict the outcome of any electrolysis. They are known as Faraday's laws and they are still in use today in schools, in scientific research and in industry. Read more

26 August

The Mini was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, and was launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) on the 26th August 1959. The purchase price of the 1959 Mini was £496 including tax, or for an extra £40 you could buy the Deluxe version! The launch models were the Austin Se7en and Morris Mini Minor, but subframes later allowed a huge variety of Mini derivatives. 50 years on, the Mini still has an incredibly passionate following and was voted car of the 20th Century. The Mini is Britain’s best selling car ever! Read more

27 August

The eruption of Krakatau on 27 August 1883 was one of the largest explosive volcanic events in recent historic time. Tsunamis followed three cataclysmic explosions, the first two before dawn on the 27 August producing tsunamis with 10 m run-ups, while the third and largest explosion at 10:02 a.m. on the 27th triggered a tsunami that penetrated more than 5 km inland in low-lying areas of Western Java. In total, 300 villages in Indonesia were destroyed by the tsunami, and more than 36,000 lives lost. Wave heights at Batavia (Jakarta) reached 2.35 m, and reached around 1 m on the shores of north-west Australia and south-east Africa. Read more

28 August

Windsor Davies was born of Welsh parents in Canning Town on the 28th of August 1930, where he spent the first ten years of his life. He then returned to Wales with his family and later became a school teacher. It wasn’t until he was 31 that he did a three-week drama course at Richmond College of Further Education, and got his first engagement in the theatre at the Cheltenham Rep. This led him to London and The Keep, The Battle of Agin Court, Under Milk Wood and many other plays. Windsor is married with five children and divides his time between France and Surrey Read more

29 August

On 29th August 1930, the last 36 remaining inhabitants left St Kilda left forever after their traditional lifestyle was corrupted by the outside world. For centuries St Kildans had lived a self sufficient community lifestyle, scaling cliffs with their legendary long toes to catch sea birds. Lying 40 miles to the west of the Hebrides, St Kilda is an island group which has fascinated travellers, historians and dreamers for centuries. This small archipelagos group of islands consists of the Isles of Boreray, Soay, Dun and Hirta. It is the most important sea bird breeding station in North West Europe and is Britain's remotest inhabited island and Scotland's first World Heritage Site. Read more

30 August

On the 30th of August 1976 1976 more than 100 police officers had to be taken to hospital after clashes at the Notting Hill Carnival in west London. Around 60 carnival-goers also needed hospital treatment after the clashes which led to the arrest of at least 66 people. The trouble is believed to have started after police tried to arrest a pickpocket near Portobello Road on the main carnival route. Several black youths went to the pickpocket's aid and within minutes the disturbance escalated. The police were attacked with stones and other missiles. Read more

31 August

Diana, Princess of Wales died on Sunday, 31 August 1997 following a car accident in Paris, France. The vehicle in which the Princess was travelling was involved in a high-speed accident in the Place de l'Alma underpass in central Paris shortly before midnight on Saturday, 30 August. The Princess was taken to the La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital, where she was declared dead at 0300 BST. The Princess's body was subsequently repatriated to Great Britain on the evening of Sunday, 31 August.It was moved to the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace. The Princess's family and friends visited the Chapel to pay their respects. Following the funeral, the coffin then was taken by oad to the family estate at Althorp for a private interment. Read more