What happened in July? A daily overview

01 July

On 1st July 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China. There were thirty thousand British citizens living in Hong Kong at the time of the Handover. Britain gained Hong Kong Island after the defeat of the Chinese in the Opium War, 1842. Hong Kong is one of the world's most densely populated areas. Almost seven million people live in four hundred and fifteen square miles. Read more

02 July

On 2nd July 2002 Steve Fosset became the first person to fly around the world alone, nonstop, in a balloon. (He launched from Northam, Western Australia on 19 June 2002 and returned to Australia on 2 July 2002.) Fossett, addressing a news conference by satellite telephone from an altitude of 27,000 feet, said this achievement gave him enormous relief. `It is a wonderful time for me,` said Fossett. `Finally, after six flights I have succeeded, and it is a very satisfying experience.` Read more

03 July

On July 3rd 1938, the locomotive Mallard set a new speed record for steam traction,a record which has never been beaten. Although the Mallard was the fastest engine in the UK at the time, questions about whether or not it is officially the fastest train in the world often come up. A German train did come almost as fast by about half a mph, and some Germans claim they should have the world record since their train was running on level track whereas the Mallard was running on a very slight decline. Some Americans claim too that they had a steam train run at 127mph (203km/h). This could be possible since a lot of high speed runs were done by steam engines in the USA but many of them were unofficial and therefore rejected. Read more

04 July

It was on the 4th July 1862 when, while sailing with Dean Liddell's daughters, Lewis Carroll narrated for the first time Alice's Adventures Underground which he `began to write for Alice`. In 1864 this story became Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and MacMillan published it the following year. Alice is also the heroine in Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There (MacMillan 1872) and The Nursery Alice (MacMillan 1889). Read more

05 July

According to official history, the 5th July marks the anniversary of the modern bikini. Invented by French engineer Louis Reard and fashion designer Jacques Heim in Paris in 1946, it was named after the Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands, on the supposed reasoning that the excitement it would cause would be like the impact of an atomic bomb. Popular in France immediately, it initially caused controversy in many countries and it took until the 1960's before it became truly universal, helped by the numerous film depictions and the growth of mass tourism. Read more

06 July

At 6:00 PM on 6th July 1988 maintenance workers on the oil platform Piper Alpha sought permission to stop work on backup propane condensate pump, leaving a hole in the pump where a valve had been. Just before 10:00PM the primary propane condensate pump failed. The first explosion was caused by gas escaping from the hole in the pump where the valve should have been, and was followed twenty minutes later by a larger explosion. The failure of the firewalls separating different parts of the facility, a secondary failure since they were never designed to cope with an explosion, ignited the oil stores. 167 personnel died, 165 out of the 226 onboard the platform, plus 2 from a rescue vessel. Read more

07 July

Four suicide bombers struck in central London on Thursday 7 July, killing 52 people and injuring more than 770. The co-ordinated attacks hit the transport system as the morning rush hour drew to a close. Three bombs went off at or around 0850 BST on underground trains just outside Liverpool Street and Edgware Road stations, and on another travelling between King's Cross and Russell Square. The final explosion was around an hour later on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, not far from King's Cross. Read more

08 July

Wannabe` was the first Spice Girls hit. Released on 8th July 1996 in the UK and 14th January 1997 in America, it went to number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as 30 other countries. The single went platinum in the UK, selling 1,269,841 copies, and platinum in the US, with over 1,000,000 copies sold. `Wannabe` went onto sell 6 million copies around the world. The Spice Girls recently re-formed and are currently embarking on a world tour starting in Vancouver, Canada. Read more

09 July

Early in the morning of July 9th, 1982,when Michael Fagan disturbed a curtain and woke the Queen, although she must have been extremely shocked to find a stranger in the royal bedchamber, remained calm. News reports of the time stated that Fagan sat on the end of the bed and chatted to the Queen, mainly about family matters. After about ten minutes he asked her majesty for a cigarette. This gave the Queen reason to reach for the telephone and she was able to summon a footman who restrained Michael Fagan. Read more

10 July

Just before midnight on 10 July, 1985, two explosions rocked the harbour, sinking the 40-metre Rainbow Warrior. Underwater charges had been placed by frogmen on her hull, blowing two holes in the ship. The Rainbow Warrior sank almost immediately. All the crew managed to escape, apart from the photographer, Fernando Pereira, who drowned. The Rainbow Warrior was the flagship of the international environmental organisation, Greenpeace. It was visiting Auckland for a while before leading a fleet of vessels to Muroroa Atoll to protest against the French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Read more

11 July

Andy Pandy first aired on Tuesday 11 July 1950 (with not much more than 150,000 TV sets in the south of England) and became very successful. Further episodes followed and were soon heavily repeated, rounding off programmes for housewives and mothers every Tuesday (and on Thursdays from Summer 1952). The programme became the cornerstone of the Watch With Mother strand which began in 1953. Made on film rather than broadcast live, surviving episodes are therefore now among the earliest relics of British television. Read more

12 July

Born on the 12 July 1730, English inventor, artist, potter, Josiah Wedgwood began a new branch of the pottery industry in the early 1760's. This inventor placed the manufacture of stoneware on a scientific basis, and founded the potteries of North Staffordshire. The agateware and unglazed blue or green stoneware he decorated with white neo-classical designs, used pigments he invented. In 1768 he used his engineering skills to design the machinery and high-temperature beehive-shaped kilns. For his invention of a pyrometer for measuring high temperatures, Wedgwood was made a fellow of the Royal Society. He was a major financial supporter of Dr. Thomas Beddoes' Pneumatic Institute near Bristol, where Humphry Davy studied nitrous oxide (1800). Read more

13 July

Live Aid was a multi-venue rock music concert held on July 13, 1985. The event was organised by Bob Geldof, Midge Ure, Harvey Goldsmith and the Band Aid Trust, in order to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. Billed as a `global jukebox`, the main sites for the event were Wembley Stadium, London, attended by 72,000 people, and JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, attended by about 90,000 people, with some acts performing at other venues such as Sydney and Moscow. It was one of the largest scale satellite link-ups and TV broadcasts of all time -- an estimated 1.5 billion viewers in 100 countries watched the live broadcast. Read more

14 July

On July 14th, the name MP3 celebrates its anniversary. On this day back in 1995, the researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS decided to use .mp3? as the file name extension for their new audio coding technology. Soon MP3 became the generally accepted acronym for the ISO standard IS 11172-3 MPEG Audio Layer 3?. This naming can be seen as the conclusion of years of research and development in a team of up to 40 engineers. The format’s international standardization in 1992 ensured worldwide compatibility - this fact and the public MP3 source code guarantee that billions of existing MP3 files can still be played by generations of audiophiles to come. Read more

15 July

When the BBC screened `The Secret Agent` to over 4 million viewers on July 15 2004, there was national outrage. The program exposes members, the founder and even the leader of the British National Party (BNP) making racist comments, inciting racial hatred and making anti-Semitic remarks. This expose revealed the truth behind what the British National Party has been telling the public in recent years, as it has tried to shed its image of a far-right, racist outfit and sell itself as a mainstream alternative. Its leader, Nick Griffin, is Cambridge educated and has been touted as the new, `respectable` face of the party since taking over the reins in 1999. Read more

16 July

The Manhattan Project came to an explosive end at 5:29:45 a.m.on the morning of July 16, in the New Mexico desert 120 miles south of Santa Fe when the first atomic bomb was detonated. The scientists and a few dignitaries had removed themselves 10,000 yards away to observe as the first mushroom cloud of searing light stretched 40,000 feet into the air and generated the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. The tower on which the bomb sat when detonated was vaporized. The original $6,000 budget for the Manhattan Project finally ballooned to a total cost of $2 billion. Read more

17 July

At a meeting of the Privy Council on 17 July 1917, George V declared that 'all descendants in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendants who marry or who have married, shall bear the name of Windsor'. The Royal Family name of Windsor was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952. However, in 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family. It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that The Queen's descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor. Read more

18 July

On July 18, 64 A.D., a fire breaks out in Rome, spreading rapidly throughout the market area in the center of the city. When the flames finally died out more than a week later, nearly two-thirds of Rome had been destroyed. Emperor Nero used the fire as an opportunity to rebuild Rome in a more orderly Greek style and began construction on a massive palace called the Domus Aureus. Some speculated that the emperor had ordered the burning of Rome to indulge his architectural tastes, but he was away in Antium when the conflagration began. According to later Roman historians, Nero blamed members of the mysterious Christian cult for the fire and launched the first Roman persecutions of Christians in response. Read more

19 July

Brian May, guitarist of rock supergroup Queen, was born in Hampton Middlesex on July 19th 1947. At 7 years of age he became a fan of The Eagle comic-strip hero Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future and was allowed to stay up late to watch a new programme called The Sky at Night, presented by a compelling new broadcaster, Patrick Moore. Brian has written over 20 top-20 hits worldwide, including We Will Rock You, The Show Must Go On and has also recorded 2 highly successful solo albums - Back To The Light in 1991, including Too Much Love Will Kill You and Driven By You, both Ivor Novello Award winners, and Another World in 1998. Read more

20 July

On July 20, 1969, the human race accomplished its single greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body. Six hours after landing at 4:17 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining), Neil A. Armstrong took the `Small Step` into our greater future when he stepped off the Lunar Module, named Eagle, onto the surface of the Moon, from which he could look up and see Earth in the heavens as no one had done before him. Read more

21 July

The Rolling Stones played their debut gig at the famous Marquee club at London on 21, July 1962. During the initial months the band met some reasonable opposition from blues and jazz aficionados for their so called alleged lack of musical `purity` and the superb line-up remained simply unsettled for several months. In late 1962, Bill Wyman (bass player) replaced Dick Taylor, while many drummers came and went including Mick Avory (who was initially billed as appearing at their sensational debut gig, but he did not play) and Carlo little from the famous Screaming Lord Sutch's Savages. At last, drummer Charlie Watts (the drummer), finally surrendered his day joy and fully committed himself to the band. Read more

22 July

On 22 July 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian man, was killed by officers of the Metropolitan Police Service on board an underground train in London. He was reportedly pinned down, and shot seven times in the head, after being mistakenly identified as a suicide bomber. It also reported that he had tried to evade arrest and that, though it was summer, he had been wearing a thick jacket thought to conceal explosives. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police stated categorically that Jean Charles de Menezes had not been involved in any suspicious activities, and that he had been shot dead as a result of a mistake. Read more

23 July

The Ford Motor Company sold its first auto on July 23, 1903, a Model A that Ford himself designed. The company was at that time capitalized at $100,000. By 1927, when the last of 15 million model Ts had rolled of the assembly line, Ford Motor totaled $700 million. Henry Ford distrusted bankers and financed expansion through earnings instead of stock. He systematically bought out other shareholders until Ford Motor became the only individually owned company of its size. Read more

24 July

On 24th July 1936 the GPO also launched the 'speaking clock', enabling users to dial 'T.I.M.' and hear a recorded announcement of the exact time. The recordings feature the voice of Jane Cain, the winner of a nationwide competition to find a suitable voice. What did people do before the speaking clock was invented if they wanted a time check? Simple: they rang the operator and asked her the time by the exchange clock on the wall, but this was not precise to the second, nor could the exchange always answer just when the customer wanted. The first genuine speaking clock machine was introduced in the USA in 1927, coming to Paris in 1933, The Hague in 1934 and Switzerland in 1935. Read more

25 July

On July 25, 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world's first successful `test-tube` baby was born in Great Britain. Though the technology that made her conception possible was heralded as a triumph in medicine and science, it also caused many to consider the possibilities of future ill-use. Before the birth of Louise Brown, those women who were found to have Fallopian tube blockages (approximately twenty percent of infertile women) had no hope of becoming pregnant. Read more

26 July

George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26, 1856 in Dublin, Ireland, to George Carr and Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly Shaw. After working in an estate agent's office, he established himself as a leading music and theatre critic in the eighties and nineties and became a prominent member of the Fabian Society, for which he composed many pamphlets. He began his literary career as a novelist; as a fervent advocate of the new theatre of Ibsen (The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891) he decided to write plays in order to illustrate his criticism of the English stage. His earliest dramas were called appropriately Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Shaw's complete works appeared in thirty-six volumes between 1930 and 1950, the year of his death. Read more

27 July

On 28th July 1858 fingerprints were first used as a means of identification by William Herschel, who later established a fingerprint register. The science of fingerprint Identification stands out among all other forensic sciences for many reasons, and has served all governments worldwide during the past 100 years to provide accurate identification of criminals. No two fingerprints have ever been found alike in many billions of human and automated computer comparisons. Fingerprints are the very basis for criminal history foundation at every police agency. Read more

28 July

On 28th July 1858 fingerprints were first used as a means of identification by William Herschel, who later established a fingerprint register. The science of fingerprint Identification stands out among all other forensic sciences for many reasons, and has served all governments worldwide during the past 100 years to provide accurate identification of criminals. No two fingerprints have ever been found alike in many billions of human and automated computer comparisons. Fingerprints are the very basis for criminal history foundation at every police agency. Read more

29 July

Lady Diana Spencer married The Prince of Wales at St Paul's Cathedral in London on 29 July 1981. During her marriage the Princess undertook a wide range of royal duties. Family was very important to the Princess, who had two sons: Prince William and Prince Henry (Harry). After her divorce from The Prince of Wales, the Princess continued to be regarded as a member of the Royal Family. Right until the end of her life she was involved with charities working to help children, homeless people and AIDS sufferers, as well as with the campaign to ban land mines. Read more

30 July

On 30th July 1966 in the first televised World Cup soccer match, host-nation England beats Germany 4-2 to win the tournament final at Wembley Stadium. In overtime play, England's Geoff Hurst scored his third of three match goals to win the game, handing England the Jules Rimet Trophy for the first time in the World Cup's 36-year history. English star Bobby Charlton was marked on the field by German Franz Beckenbauer, an emerging talent who held the English midfielder to no goals. Hurst's winning goal later stirred considerable controversy when film footage suggested that it failed to cross the goal line after bouncing off the crossbar. Read more

31 July

On the 31st July 1964 the Ranger 7 Spacecraft arrived at the moon. The spacecraft carried six television cameras. It sent back high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface until its impact in an area between Mare Nubium and Mare Cognitum. The Ranger series was the first U.S. attempt to obtain close-up images of the lunar surface. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to fly straight down towards the Moon and send images back until the moment of impact. The images provided better resolution than was available from Earth based views by a factor of 1000. Read more