What happened in September? A daily overview

01 September

The Government ordered plans to evacuate children (and others) from London and other cities on 1st September 1939. In the first four days of September 1939 1,500,000 people took up the offer to evacuate to safer areas away from the major towns. The Government always stressed that evacuation was purely voluntary and in no way would families be spilt if they didn't want to. In some ways it may have been easier if evacuation was mandatory as the decision to send off your children weighed heavy as most families had never been apart from each other and this must have been a heart wrenching decision to make. Read more

02 September

The Great Fire of London began on 2nd September 1666 and was one of the most famous incidents in Stuart England. The fire started in Pudding Lane The fire started in a baker’s shop owned by Thomas Farriner – who was the king’s baker His maid failed to put out the ovens at the end of the night. The heat created by the ovens caused sparks to ignite the wooden home of Farriner. In her panic, the maid tried to climb out of the building but failed. She was one of the few victims of the fire. Once it started, the fire spread quickly. The heat created by the fire was so great that the lead roof on the old St Paul’s Cathedral melted. Read more

03 September

On September 3, 1935, a new land speed record is set by Britain's famed speed demon, Sir Malcolm Campbell. On the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Campbell and his car Bluebird made two runs over a one-mile course at speeds averaging 301 miles per hour. After conquering land, he later turned to water and achieved a series of water-speed records in motorboats. Read more

04 September

Opened on the 4th of September 1964 the Forth Road bridge connected North and South Queensferry replacing the regular ferry service that had stood for 800 years. Work began on the approach roads for the bridge in 1958, with the bridge being nicknamed the ‘Highway in the Sky’. At the time the bridge was Europe’s longest suspension bridge at one and a half miles long. The bridge has four lanes of traffic, twin cycle paths and footpaths all being observed by 24 hour a day Close Circuit Television (A common occurrence now but Hi-tech for the time). Seven thousand feet of cable keep the bridge in place allowing for a twenty five foot swing for weather expansion. Read more

05 September

Two people were killed and 63 injured when a suspected IRA bomb exploded in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in central London. A warning stating a device would detonate at the Park Lane hotel within 10 minutes was received by the Daily Mail newspaper at 1155 BST. The newspaper notified Scotland Yard which immediately sent three officers to investigate, but they were not able to evacuate the building before the bomb exploded at 1218 BST. Read more

06 September

The Munich 1972 Olympics, will always be remembered for the deaths of 17 people, including 11 Israeli athletes and officials, after a kidnapping and hostage crisis in the Olympic Village. Palestinian guerrillas had stormed the Israeli team headquarters on September 5. They killed two Israelis and took another nine hostage. Later, as they tried to make good their escape at the airport, a botched rescue attempt resulted in the deaths of five terrorists, a policeman and the nine Israelis. The Games were suspended for 34 hours, but IOC President Avery Brundage, declared The Games must go on. While competition recommenced, the Games had been forever dealt an evil blow. Read more

07 September

Grace Darling was 22 years old when she risked her life in an open boat to help the survivors of the wrecked SS Forfarshire on 7th September 1838. With her father, she rowed for over a mile through raging seas to reach them. Not long after the event Grace developed a nasty cough. Her condition worsened and she went to stay with a cousin in Alnwick where she was attended by the Duke of Northumberland's physician. Grace longed to go home to be by the sea she loved. Her sister Thomasin took Grace home to Bamburgh, and it was there, in Thomasin's cottage that on the 20th October 1842, at the age of twenty six that Grace died. She was buried in St Aidan's Churchyard. The courage that Grace and her family showed on that day is now legendary. Read more

08 September

Opened by the Queen on the 8th September 1966, the Severn Bridge replaced a ferry service and opened up a fast and efficient means of crossing from England to Wales at a point where the River Severn is around a mile wide. A spectacular feat of engineering the Severn Bridge has carried more than 300,000,000 vehicles since it opened. The Severn Bridge actually spans the Severn Estuary and the River Wye so it is in fact two bridges. With increased congestion, closures due to high winds and accidents it was decided that a second bridge would be needed to cope with the increased traffic flow. Read more

09 September

The Battle of Flodden was fought on the 9th September 1513 near the village of Branxton, in Northumberland when a Scottish army under the command of king James IV of Scotland invaded England in support of their French alliance as king Henry VIII of England was otherwised engaged on the continent. The battle was originally known (to the English at least) as the battle of Branxton Moor, since that is where the battle actually took place, but following the publication of Walter Scott's work, 'Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field in Six Cantos' it has been more popularly known as the 'Battle of Flodden'. Read more

10 September

10 September 1897 saw the first drink-drive conviction in Britain. George Smith, aged 25, drove his taxi onto the pavement and into the front of 165 Bond Street, London. He worked for the Electric Cab Company of Hackney, London. He admitted `having had two or three glasses of beer` and was fined 20 shillings. Thirteen days later a 9 year old child, Stephen Kempton, was crushed to death after his coat got caught in the chain drive after he had jumped onto the outside of an electric cab. The company ceased trading in August, 1899 with the fleet, which had grown to 77 vehicles, being sold off. The Metropolitan Police stopped licensing this type of electric cab in 1900. A single Bersey is preserved at Beaulieu. Read more

11 September

On 11th September 2001 American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked at 0825 Eastern Daylight Time (1225 GMT) and 18 minutes later crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. United Airlines Flight 175 - which had been hijacked within minutes of the first plane - was flown into the south tower at 0903 EDT (1303 GMT) causing another devastating explosion. At 0940 EDT (1340 GMT) a third hijacked airliner - American Airlines Flight 77 - was flown into the side of the Pentagon in Washington. An hour after the Boeing 767 slammed into the south tower of the World Trade Center the 110-storey building collapsed. The north tower followed minutes later, compounding the destruction and loss of life. Read more

12 September

Cleopatra's Needle was erected on the Thames Embankment on 12 September 1878. The obelisk, carved in red granite, was then transported by water to the city of Heliopolis some 700 miles away, together with another similar obelisk. They continued to adorn that city until the Romans removed them for erection at Alexandria. In an earthquake in 1301 AD the obelisk which is now in London fell to the ground, where it remained for over five and a half centuries. Generally referred to as the 'prostrate obelisk' to distinguish it from the one that still stood, and only later nicknamed 'Cleopatra's Needle', it weighed some 200 tons and lay more than 50 yards from the shore of Alexandria's eastern harbour. Read more

13 September

The first peace accord between Israel and Palestine is signed at the White House in Washington, D.C. With President Bill Clinton presiding, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin hesitantly shook hands with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat after signing an accord granting Palestine limited self-government on the Gaza Strip and in Jericho. The historic agreement, which promised an end to decades of bloodshed and animosity, was hammered out during secret talks in Norway. In 1994, Rabin and Arafat signed a formal peace agreement and were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The next year, a Jewish right-wing fanatic assassinated Rabin during a peace rally in Tel Aviv Read more

14 September

The 14th of September 1752 was the date that Great Britain and her colonies made the Gregorian calendar law. By that time they had to lose 11 days. This happened by making the day after the 2nd of September 1752, the 14th of September 1752. Can you imagine the outcry of the time? People were not too happy to find out that they were losing 11 days of their life!! Read more

15 September

On this day in 1960 London introduces Traffic Wardens onto the streets of the capital. The first person to receive a parking ticket from a traffic warden was Dr Thomas Creighton on 19th September 1960. He had parked his Ford Popular car outside a West End hotel to visit a patient suffering from a heart attack. However, such was the outcry in the press that the ticket was cancelled. Read more

16 September

The Pilgrim Fathers set sail from Plymouth on 16th September 1620 in the 'Mayflower' captained by Myles Standish and steered a course for Virginia. The ship was a double-decked, three-masted vessel. However, a storm blew them off course and they reached land at Cape Cod which they subsequently renamed Plymouth Rock. Anchor was dropped on November 21st 1620. They reached the site that was to become Plymouth Colony on December 21st and established their own government. Read more

17 September

Damon Hill (Damon Graham Devereux Hill) was born on 17 September 1960 in London. His mother was Bette Hill and his father was the legendary Graham Hill. Graham Hill is well known as one of the few double Formula One world champions. Damon Hill is (till today) the only son of a Formula One World Champion to win the title. He shared a very close relationship with his father and as long as he raced he used the same easily identifiable helmet design (eight white oar blades) as his father, which represented the London Rowing Club. Both his parents were members there and it was also their first meeting place. Although Hill was not a member of the club he wore his father’s colors with great pride and respect. Read more

18 September

The second Theatre Royal, Covent Garden opened on 18 September 1809 with a performance of Macbeth followed by a musical entertainment called The Quaker. The management, among them the actor John Philip Kemble and his sister Sarah Siddons, raised seat prices to help recoup the cost of rebuilding, but the move was so unpopular that audiences disrupted performances by beating sticks, hissing, booing and dancing.The O.P. (Old Prices) riots lasted over two months, and the management was finally forced to accede to the audience's demands. Read more

19 September

The antics of Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil, hapless Spanish waiter Manuel and the ever-sensible Polly grabbed the imagination when it first went out on BBC Two on 19 September 1975. In 1971, John Cleese and some other members of Monty Python's Flying Circus stayed at a hotel in Devon, which was run by an ill-tempered manager. Cleese was struck by the comedic irony of an angry and frustrated person running a hotel where a winning smile and a calm conduct are time-honoured traits. So when the BBC asked Cleese to come up with a sitcom some years later, the irrepressible Basil Fawlty was born. He wrote the series with his then-wife, Connie Booth. Read more

20 September

On this day in 1967 the QE2 is officially launched at John Brown Shipyard on the Clyde by the Queen. Over 40 years the QE2's passengers have included most of the crowned heads of Europe, politicians including Lady Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and explorer Sir John Blashford-Snell, stars including Vera Lynn, most of the Beatles individually, Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Cunard is now selling the QE2 to Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, owned by the government of Dubai. In 2009 the QE2 will become a floating `hotel, retail and entertainment destination` at the Palm Jumeirah, the enormous palm-shaped artificial island being developed as a complex of tourist hotels and apartments, also by Dubai World. Read more

21 September

On September 21st 1915 a man walked into a property sale in the Palace Theatre in Salisbury Wiltshire and came out later £6,600 the poorer but the owner of Stonehenge. He was to be the last man to own Stonehenge in a line of owners stretching back to the nuns of Amesbury Abbey and even beyond. In December 1540 Henry VIII took the Abbey and its land, some 20,000 acres including Stonehenge, and gave them to Edward Seymour Earl of Hertford and later Duke of Somerset. In the opening months of the Great War Edmund Antrobus, the heir to the baronetcy, was killed serving in the Grenadier Guards and his father, Sir Cosmo, decided to sell the estate. Read more

22 September

It is 22nd September 1955 and Britain's first independent television station is on air, ending the 18-year monopoly of the BBC and bringing advertisements to the airwaves for the first time. The new Independent Television Authority (ITA) began its broadcasts with live coverage of a ceremony at the Guildhall marking the start of Britain's first-ever commercially-funded television station. Read more

23 September

On September 23, 1846 student Johann Gottfried Galle, along with Urbain Le Verrier, discovered Neptune. Neptune is a gas giant, insofar as it is not a rocky, terrestrial planet. It is, however, different enough in make up from Saturn that it is in a sub classification known as an ice giant, along with Uranus. It has a core thought to be of molten rock that burns hotter than the surface of the sun, yet its surface temperature is very cold, due to its distance from the sun. As a gas planet there is little distinction between atmosphere and surface, and the bulk of Neptune’s composition is swirling hydrogen and helium gas, with plenty of methane as well. Read more

24 September

The Phoenix Theatre opened on the 24th of September 1930 with the very successful play 'Private Lives' by Noel Coward, and staring Coward himself, Gertrude Lawrence, Adrianne Allen, and Laurence Olivier, which ran for 101 performances before transferring to America. The Theatre was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Bertie Crew, and Cecil Masey, and was built by Bovis Ltd., on land which had previously been a factory and later became a Music Hall called the Alcazar. Read more

25 September

On 25th September 1996 the last of the Magdalen Asylums in Ireland was closed. Magdalen Asylums grew out of the `rescue movement` in Britain and Ireland the 19th century, which had as its formal goal the rehabilitation of women who had worked as prostitutes. It has been estimated that around 30,000 women were admitted during the 150-year history of these institutions, often against their will. The last Magdalen Asylum in Ireland closed on September 25, 1996. In Ireland, the institutions were named for Mary Magdalene, a character in the Bible who repented her sins and became one of Jesus' closest followers. Read more

26 September

On 26th September 1934 the first of the Cunard liners known as the `Queens`,the Queen Mary was launched by Queen Mary, wife of King George V. She was built by John Brown & Co Ltd, Clydebank. 975 feet long and with a gross tonnage of 80,774 tons, building started in 1931. Her maiden voyage, on the Southampton-Cherbourg-New York route, was on 27 May 1936. With a speed of over 30 knots, she quickly won the `Blue Ribbon` as the fastest ship crossing the Atlantic, with 2,000 passengers. She was used as a troopship during WW2 - her first voyage in this new role was to take 5,000 Australian troops from Sydney, Australia to Scotland. Read more

27 September

On 27th September 1938 the second of the Cunard Line `Queens`, ss Queen Elizabeth was launched from the John Brown shipyard by Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI. She was 83,673 tons and was 987 feet long. Fitting out was to follow but the outbreak of WW2 meant that instead of being a luxury liner she was painted grey. On 3 March 1940, in utmost secrecy, she left her anchorage at Greenock and sailed for New York, berthing beside the Queen Mary, the Mauretania and the Normandie. Her speed was so great that she left her escorting ships behind - but the German U-Boats could not give chase either. Read more

28 September

On 28th September, 1066, William of Normandy landed his invasion force at Pevensey Bay on the coast of Sussex. Coming to claim the throne, he arrived on English soil with no resistance from the army. On Christmas Day, 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey. With the defeat of the Anglo Saxon army, the Norman-French brought their ways to England. Castles began to appear around the countryside; The Tower of London and Windsor Castle to name just a few. A feudal society was set up, and slowly the two cultures began to merge. Read more

29 September

The first thousand of Peel’s police, dressed in blue Tail-coats and top hats, began to patrol the streets of London on 29th September 1829. The uniform was carefully selected to make the ‘Peelers’ look more like ordinary citizens, rather that a red-coated soldier with a helmet. The 'Peelers' were issued with a wooden truncheon carried in a long pocket in the tail of their coat, a pair of handcuffs and a wooden rattle to raise the alarm. By the 1880s this rattle had been replaced by a whistle. To be a ‘Peeler’ the rules were quite strict. You had to be 6ft tall (or as near as possible), and have no history of any wrong-doings. Read more

30 September

On September 30th, 1936, Dr Leslie Burgin, Parliamentary Secretary of Trade, performed the grand studio opening of Pinewood Studios, near the village of Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire. The first in was Herbert Wilcox, completing London Melody with Anna Neagle; portions of it had already been filmed at Elstree Studios before a fire there. The first film to be made entirely at Pinewood was Talk Of The Devil, directed by Carol Reed. Boot's dream had cost 1,000,000, and soon Pinewood was leading the way in film industry innovation through the unit system. This enabled several pictures to be filmed simultaneously, and ultimately Pinewood achieved the highest output of any studio in the world. Read more