10th to 16th March seems to have gone missing – so it’s come round again

There are many Internet sites that give you basic data or stories of ‘this day’ in years gone by. My aim is to touch on things that are different and appeal to me.

I hope they appeal to you as well. Let me know either way on talkinghistory@msn.com

March 10th 1956:  The 1952/3 Observer’s Book of Aircraft describes the Fairy Firefly (first flown in December 1941) and Fairey Gannet (first flown in September 1949) anti-submarine airplanes. The 1960 edition introduces a new not-yet-released version of the Gannet, now described as a ‘shipboard early-warning aircraft’, and the Fairey Rotadyne a ‘vertical-take-off-and-landing’ transport aircraft capable of carrying 57-75 passengers with its’ first flight scheduled for the winter of 1961. In between these two books is the 1956 edition. This describes – without any weight or performance details – an ultra-light helicopter; the upgraded Firefly and the now-in-service Gannet. It also reports on a single-seat Transonic and Supersonic Research Aircraft – the Fairey F.D.2 . First flown on 6 October 1954 it was still very hush-hush.  The Observer’s Book said that ‘it may attain level speeds as high as Mach 1.5 (990 m.p.h. at 36,000 feet). On this 10th day of March 1956, in the hands of test pilot Peter Twiss, the Fairey Delta 2 set a new world airspeed record of 1,822 k.p.h. – 1,132ˑ14 miles per hour. Now that’s some over-performance.

March 11th 1702 saw the first publication of the first English daily newspaper – the Daily Courant. A single page paper produced by Elizabeth – or was it Edward? – stories vary – Mallet close to the Kings’ Arms tavern in Fleet Street. It carried news on one side and advertisements on the reverse. Elizabeth/Edward said she/he would publish only foreign news and would not add any comments of her/his own. She/he supposed that their readers had “sense enough to make reflections for themselves.” It did not run for long in her/his hands as she/he sold it to one Samuel Buckley. The title appears to have lasted until 1735, when it was merged with the Daily Gazetteer.

March 12th 1829 was the day when ex-Harrow School pupil, Charles Merivale who was at Cambridge University challenged ex-Harrow School pupil Charles Wordsworth, then at Oxford University, to a competitive team rowing race. The first race was held at Henley on Thames on 10 June with Oxford, we are told, winning with ease. The rest, as they say, is history.

March 13th can be labelled as an ‘across the centuries’ star-gazing day/night. On this night in 1759 the predicted return of Halley’s Comet happened; in 1781 Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, and in 1930 Clive Tombaugh provided confirmation of the existence of Pluto as had been predicted, but not found, by Percival Lowell prior to his death in 1916. I wonder what they were drinking while they searched. While I am typing this I am drinking one of my favourite beverages which is named after a male child that was born on this day in 1764 – welcome to the world Charles Grey. Charles was to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the early 1830s, but is most famous today for his association with Earl Grey tea, a type of China tea flavoured with the citrus extract bergamot. But did Earl Grey ever actually drink Earl Grey Tea? A number of modern tea purveyors date the origin of the tea to the 1830s, but when Oxford English Dictionary researchers looked into the name, the earliest example of ‘Earl Grey tea’ they could find dated from the 1920s, nearly a century after the first bergamot-scented cuppa was said to have been brewed! PS: the Twinings Earl Gray box says 1706. This is not another challenge to the beverage’s ‘date of birth’; this is when Thomas Twining opened his first shop in London’s Strand!

 March 14th 1950 saw the FBI publish its’ first ‘10 most wanted’ list. The first wanted man on the list was Thomas James Holden and he was captured just over a year later. As a near continual process the Top Ten fugitives were entered into a handwritten log book. The Fugitive Publicity employees of the FBI used the log book to record and track the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” by this method until 1991.

March 15th 1909 – now, as I write, the subject of a TV series, it was today that the ‘real’ Harry Gordon Selfridge opened his Oxford Street department store.

March 16th 1872 saw the very first FA Cup Final when the Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 at London’s Kennington Oval. I have seen one or two very inaccurate references to this match having been played at Bolton! The ‘Engineers’ were just what their name says they were: their team comprising: Captains Marindin and Merriman and Lieutenants Addison, Cresswell, Mitchell, Renny-Tailyour, Rich, Goodwyn, Muirhead, Cotter and Boyle. The Wanderers won again in 1873, 1876, 1877 and 1878 – beating the Royal Engineers again in the 1878match. Many of the1872 players were in the Engineers’ team for the 1873/4 final when they lost 2-0 to Oxford University. They did win the cup, though, in 1876 when they beat the Old Etonians 3-0 after a 0-0 draw.

Another seven days remembered next week.                  

Brian

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