What happened in May? A daily overview

01 May

On May 1st 1912 the statue was erected secretly during the night and Barrie simply placed this announcement in The Times: `There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning. Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine they will find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around. It is the work of Sir George Frampton, and the bronze figure of the boy who would never grow up is delightfully conceived.` Read more

02 May

A story appeared in the Inverness Courier on 2nd of May 1933 and the Loch Ness monster as we know it today was born. On this day in April 1933 Mr & Mrs Mackay were driving down the lochside from Inverness to their home in Drumnadrochit when Mrs Mackay saw a disturbance in the loch which she at first thought was ducks fighting but as she watched she saw a large beast in the middle of the loch rolling and plunging in the water causing a great disturbance.The sighting was reported to Alex Campbell, a local game keeper and a reporter for the Inverness Courier (Campbell claims to have seen the monster on no less than 18 occasions). Read more

03 May

Henry Cooper, born on May 3rd 1934 is best remembered for the night when he nearly changed the course of boxing history. On 19th July 1963 he fought the up-and-coming Cassius Clay, later to become Muhammad Ali, and his famous left hook, 'Henry's Hammer', dumped Clay on the canvas, raising 'the biggest cheer in boxing history'. Boxing was not the end of Henry's time in the public eye. He was the ideal elder statesman of the sport, and a successful media career followed his retirement in 1971. Disaster hit, however, when his innocent involvement in the scandal of the Lloyds names meant that he lost a quarter of a million pounds, and had to sell off his precious Lonsdale belts to pay his bills. Read more

04 May

On 4th May 1979 Margaret Thatcher won the General Election and became Britain's first woman Prime Minister with a Conservative majority of 44 in the House of Commons. Born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Grantham on 13th Oct 1925 the daughter of a grocer. She married her late husband Denis, a wealthy businessman in 1951. In 1959 was elected Member of Parliament for Finchley near London. Following Edward Heath's election as Prime Minister in 1970 she was promoted into the Cabinet as Secretary State for Education. She earned the title of the most unpopular woman in Britain when she scrapped the entitlement of primary school children to free milk. Read more

05 May

In London the Iranian embassy siege ended on May 5th 1980. British special forces, the SAS, stormed and retook the Iranian embassy in Knightsbridge in front of the world's media. The assault started at 19:23 hours on May 5, 1980 (a Bank Holiday Monday) at the rear of the building with the detonation of a charge in a stair well, twenty-three minutes after the dead hostage had been thrown from the building. This was the signal for a section to abseil down from the roof and enter via the top floor windows. Simultaneously, electrical power was cut to the building. By the end of tha assault five of the six terrorists were dead and 19 hostages were safe. Read more

06 May

Today in 1937, The German zeppelin Hindenberg caught fire and was destroyed while attempting to land at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Although not the first airship accident, this disaster marked the beginning of the end of passenger-carrying lighter-than-air craft due to its extensive coverage on radio and in newsreels. Of the 97 people onboard the Hindenburg that day in 1937, 13 passengers and 22 crew died. One member of the ground crew, a US Navy sailor, also died. Most people who died did so as a result of jumping from the ship, not from the fire itself. In fact, most of the people who stayed aboard the craft lived. Read more

07 May

On May 7, the Lusitania neared the coast of Ireland. At 2:10 in the afternoon a torpedo fired by the German submarine U 20 slammed into her side. A mysterious second explosion ripped the liner apart. Chaos reigned. The ship listed so badly and quickly that lifeboats crashed into passengers crowded on deck, or dumped their loads into the water. Most passengers never had a chance. Within 18 minutes the giant ship slipped beneath the sea. One thousand one hundred nineteen of the 1,924 aboard died. The dead included 114 Americans. Read more

08 May

On Tuesday 8th May 1945, Britains took to the streets to celebrate the Allied Victory in Europe. The news that Germany had surrendered was welcomed with celebrations and images from the time showing street parties, singing and dancing. After five years, eight months, and five days of massive devastation, the end of the European phase of World War II is celebrated on May 8, 1945. Victory in Europe was commemorated with celebrations all around the world in recognition of the unconditional surrender of all German forces signed in Reims, France, the day before. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill told war-weary Londoners, This is your victory, while U.S. President Harry Truman reminded Americans that until Japan's defeat, Victory is but half-won. Read more

09 May

On the morning of 9th May, 1968, the police smashed down the door of the Kray family home. Ronnie and Reggie Kray were taken into custody, along with most of the members of The Firm. With most of the gang behind bars, witnesses were more forthcoming, and although the twins were eventually only convicted of one murder each, the sentence imposed was the maximum - 30 years each. Read more

10 May

Paul David Hewson, KBE (born 10 May 1960), known as Bono, is the lead singer and principal lyricist of the Irish rock band U2. Bono is also widely known for his work as an activist concerning Africa. Paul David Hewson was raised in Dublin alongside his brother, Norman Hewson, by his mother, Iris Rankin Hewson, a Protestant, and his father, Brendan Robert `Bob` Hewson, a Roman Catholic. Bono was 14 when his mother died on 10 September 1974 of a cerebral aneurysm at her father's funeral. Many songs from U2's albums, including `I Will Follow`, `Mofo`, `Out of Control`, and `Tomorrow`, focus on the loss of his mother. Read more

11 May

An 11,000 crowd had gathered on 11 May 1985 to cheer on Terry Yorath's Bradford side that had claimed the 3rd Division title. Just before half-time, someone noticed smoke coming up through the wooden floor of the main stand, which had served the City fans for 77 years. The alarm was raised, but nobody had realised that a pile of rubbish had ignited below the seating and within 5 minutes, the whole stand was ablaze. In total, 56 people lost their lives that sad day and 200 suffered burns. Following a report into the fire, safety was tightened up at grounds across the country to ensure that a disaster like this would never happen again. Read more

12 May

Founded on 12th May 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the first program to use the 12 steps to help people overcome addiction to alcohol. There are 99,000 local chapters in the U.S. today and two million members worldwide. Over the years, literally hundreds of programs using the AA model have been designed to help people with problems such as drug addiction, gambling, overspending, or sexual compulsivity. These programs usually survive on voluntary donations and are free to all who need them. AA entails regular attendance at meetings, where alcoholics discuss their problems and seek support from others. They try to apply the 12 steps to their own lives. Read more

13 May

Pope John Paul II was the subject of a failed assassination attempt when on 13 May 1981 he was shot and seriously wounded by a Mehmet al-Agca, a Turkish fanatic, in St Peter's Square. Pope John Paul II was famous for having travelled widely, visiting over 100 countries, and trying to be close to the people. On the other hand he pursued a 'conservative' agenda in his speeches about divorce, abortion, and homosexual unions. Many eminent theologians have had their license to teach withdrawn, after publishing 'unacceptable views' on subjects like papal infallibility and contraception. Read more

14 May

On 14th May 1795 Edward Jenner is the first British physician to carry out a successful vaccination - inoculating an eight-year old boy against smallpox. In 1788 an epidemic of smallpox hit Gloucestershire and during this outbreak Jenner observed that those of his patients who worked with cattle and had come in contact with the much milder disease called cowpox never came down with smallpox. Jenner approached a local farmer called Phipps and asked him if he could inoculate his son James against smallpox. This was an extremely dangerous experiment. If James lived Jenner would have found a way of preventing smallpox. If James developed smallpox and died he would be a murderer. To Jenner's relief James did not catch smallpox. His experiment had worked. Read more

15 May

Nylon stockings hit the market on May 15th 1940. Women rushed out to buy them, not in their thousands, but in their millions! Over 72,000 pairs of nylons were sold on the first day of release in America and 64 million by the time a year had passed. Nylons remained popular until the 1960's where hem lines were raised again when Mary Quant's mini skirt became the must have fashion accessory. Unfortunatley, stockings could not be worn with a mini skirt without revealing the garter leading people to move towards tights which also appeared in the early 60's and a decline in popularity of stockings amongst women. Read more

16 May

On May 16th 1969 Robert R. died from AIDS. His was the first confirmed death of AIDS in North America Robert R died in from an illness that baffled his doctors at Washington University in St. Louis. They published a paper in 1984 suggesting that, with hindsight, his symptoms resembled those of AIDS. About two months ago, molecular biologists at Tulane University in New Orleans examined stored specimens of Robert R.'s tissues for signs of the AIDS virus and found that the 15-year-old was apparently infected with it. Read more

17 May

Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the Victoria and Albert Museum on 17th May 1899. The V&A has a collection of more than 4 million objects. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is the world's largest museum of the decorative arts and has 146 galleries, including national collections of sculpture, furniture, fashion and photographs. It also houses the National Art Library. The V&A also manages the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, the Wellington Museum at Apsley House and the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden Read more

18 May

The Earth was predicted to pass through Halley comet’s 24-million-mile-long tail on May 18th 1910 for 6 hours. Hotels prepared for comet watchers. Boston would sound fire alarm if comet was visible. 350 American astronomers kept vigil and reactions of fear and prayer repeated. All night services held in many churches; 1881 dire prophecies recalled by comet scare. However,calculations indicate tail may have passed Earth, missing it by 197,000 miles. Read more

19 May

On 19th May 1935, T.E. Lawrence died from head injuries as a result of a motorcycle accident, when he swerved to avoid two boys on bicycles. T.E. Lawrence was better known in his lifetime as 'Lawrence of Arabia' because of the dashing role he had in helping Arabs against the Turks during World War I. At 31 Lawrence was an international celebrity but embittered by his country's policy he chose obscurity and died at the age of 46 A strange fact is that since 1922, there has either been a book published by T E Lawrence or one written about him, and in some years there were more than two books - There are more than 87 books on Lawrence, two films, and a stage play by Terence Rattigan, plus numerous radio programmes, and tributes. Read more

20 May

John Pertwee died suddenly of a heart attack at age 76 on the 20th May 1996. John Devon Roland Pertwee was the third in a long line of Doctor Who. A man of action, he had a vintage car nicknamed Bessie and was equiped with any number of fancy Bond-like gadgets. Jon Pertwee was also in the original play version of `A funny thing happened on the way to the forum`, and even appeared briefly in the movie version of it. He was also in the very first colored episode of `The Avengers` TV Series produced. He next found fame by standing in a field as as Worzel Gummidge, a scarecrow with interchangeable heads for thinking, dancing, and working. Read more

21 May

The Manchester Ship Canal was opened on the 21st May 1894 by Queen Victoria. During the early part of the nineteenth century Manchester a was booming city, a world leader in the industrial revolution and growing in size and prosperity. But in the latter half of the century it started to struggle. In 1882 a group of industrialists and businessmen formed the Manchester Ship Canal Company with the intention to build a canal large enough to let ocean going liners sail directly into Manchester from Liverpool. With costs that had soared from £5.25million to £15million and an army of 16,000 navvies the canal was finally opened. Read more

22 May

On Friday 22 May 1981, Peter Sutcliffe (The Yorkshire Ripper) stood before the jury as the jury foreman declared the decision that Peter William Sutcliffe was guilty of thirteen counts of murder. Ten of these twelve men and women believed that Peter William Sutcliffe was not insane, but was in fact an evil and sadistic murderer. Five years of terror and pain for so many women, their parents, relatives, friends and their thirty-six children came to a sudden end when Peter William Sutcliffe, the notorious Yorkshire Ripper was led away from the dock, showing no emotion, to begin his sentence of life imprisonment. Justice appeared to be served, but the scars would never heal for those who survived the carnage wrought by the hand of one man. Read more

23 May

Owen Hart was a respected Canadian wrestler, also known in the ring as The Blue Blazer, The King of Harts, Owen James, Oje, The Black Hart, Nugget or the Rocket. He plunged to his death on May 23, 1999 during a PPV (pay-per-view) when he was performing a spectacular entrance. He fell 70 feet down in the Kemper Arena from a cable that was supposed to lower him to the ring and hit his head on a turnbuckle. Hart later died at the hospital at the age of 34. Read more

24 May

A powerful gas and coal dust explosion on Friday May 24th, in the Universal Colliery, Senghenydd, 1901, killing 81 of the 82 men underground at the time. It occurred around 5.00 am in the East side of the pit about 700 yards from the pit bottom. A rescue attempt could not immediately go ahead because of the damage sustained to both shafts. The cage in the Lancaster shaft was jammed making it inoperable, so the rescue work concentrated on the York pit it took five hours to clear the debris at the bottom of the other shaft before the cage could be landed. The sole survivor an ostler, William Harris was found unconscious lying by the side of a dead horse about 50 yards from pit bottom. Read more

25 May

On the 25 May 1967 at 7.15 pm in Lisbon's National Stadium, Glasgow Celtic defeated the famous Internazionale Milan 2-1 in the final of the European Champions Cup. In doing so they became the first British club to win the championship and they did so with an all-out attacking style which at the time changed the face of of European football (in stark contrast to the Italian's beloved and ultra-defensive `catenaccio-system`). In addition, they accomplished all this with a team composed soley of Scottish nationals - a feat that will probably never again be repeated. Read more

26 May

The twelve yellow stars on a blue field were officially adopted as the symbol of the European Community on 26 May 1986. In 1953, the Council of Europe had 15 members and its flag should have had one star for each member. The number of stars was not to alter if the number of members changed. 13 was ruled out for superstitious reasons. 12 was reckoned to be a `good` number because it had no political innuendo, and there are 12 signs of the zodiac,12 hours on a clock,12 months in a year,12 apostles,12 tables of Roman Law, and 12 starry crowns of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Read more

27 May

The Queen Mary made her maiden voyage, on the Southampton-Cherbourg-New York route, on 27 May 1936. The passenger accommodation emphasised the first two classes, cabin and tourist. The propulsion machinery of the ship produced a massive 160,000 SHP and gave it a speed of over 30 knots. Despite expectations that the ship would try to break speed records on its first voyage a thick fog destroyed any hope of this. The Queen Mary spent a short time in drydock during July whilst adjustments were made to the propellers and turbines. When the ship returned to service, in August, it made a record voyage from Bishop's Rock to Ambrose light and took the Blue Riband from the Normandie. Read more

28 May

On 28th May 1984 just after coming off stage of a charity show at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury U.K. Eric Morecambe collapsed with a huge heart attack, he was rushed to hospital. Laying in bed unconscious , the nurse advised his wife Joan that trying to wake him may help, she shouted loudly at him, though he didn't open his eyes, he squeezed her hand, then became still ... at just before 4:00 A.M. .... the Sunshine had gone. Read more

29 May

On May 29 1985, 39 football fans died when a wall collapsed at the Heysel stadium in Belgium. As tempers became frayed inside the ground about an hour before kick off, both sets of fans baited each other through a segregating fence made from chicken wire. After a sustained period of missiles being thrown by both sets of supporters, some Liverpool fans charged at their Italian counterparts and, as chaos took over, Juventus fans fled only for a wall blocking their escape to collapse on top of them. Thirty-nine football supporters died where they fell. Later that night, Juventus won the European Cup 1-nil. Read more

30 May

Harry Enfield (born May 30, 1961) is an English comedian educated at the University of York who quickly came to prominence after appearing on Channel 4's Saturday Live in a number of different personae created with Paul Whitehouse. These quickly entered the national consciousness. Amongst these characters was the Greek kebab-seller with markedly fractured English, `Stavros`, a profound supporter of the football club Arsenal F.C. His other popular character `Loadsamoney` spawned a hit single in 1988 and sell out live tour. As a foil to `Loadsamoney` Enfield and Whitehouse created the Geordie `Bugger-All-Money` and in 1988 Enfield appeared as both characters during the 'Nelson Mandela Birthday Tribute Concert' at Wembley Stadium. Read more

31 May

The Battle of Jutland took place between the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet on the 31st May 1916 in the North Sea, off the mainland of Denmark. Although it was the only major naval battle of World War I, it became the largest sea battle in naval warfare history in terms of the numbers of battleships and battlecruisers engaged, bringing together the two most powerful naval forces in existence at that time. Read more