On this day: Firth of Forth | Bonnie Prince Charlie | Space race |Stalingrad | McDonald’s

On this day in 1958, America's first satellite, Explorer I, was launched from Cape Canaveral
On this day in 1958, America's first satellite, Explorer I, was launched from Cape Canaveral
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Events, anniversaries and deaths for 31 January

31 January

1858: The five-funnelled 692ft-long Great Eastern, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and John Scott Russell, was launched at Millwall.

1867: The lions arrived in Trafalgar Square, London. The four bronze figures at the base of Nelson’s Column were completed by Sir Edwin Landseer.

1876: The US government banished all Sioux to reservations, starting the Great Sioux War, which would lead to Native American victory at Little Bighorn but ultimate defeat.

1891: Civil war began in Chile.

1910: Dr Hawley Crippen poisoned his wife, Cora, for which he was executed at Pentonville on 23 November.

1918: In a chaotic series of collisions involving battleships, destroyers and submarines during a night naval exercise off the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth, 103 officers and ratings were lost. Two K-class submarines were sunk, and two other submarines and a cruiser were seriously damaged.

1928: Leon Trotsky was exiled from Russia by Stalin.

1943: German troops surrendered at Stalingrad.

1953: The British Rail passenger and car ferry Princess Victoria capsized and sank, with the loss of 133 lives, in a storm off Irish coast at Donaghadee, after its stern doors were smashed soon after leaving Stranraer. Only 44 were saved; 39 of the 49 crew members were among the dead.

1957: Trans-Iranian pipeline, from Abadan to Tehran, was completed.

1958: America’s first satellite, Explorer I, was launched from Cape Canaveral, a year after the Soviets launched Sputniks I and II, sparking the Cold War space race.

1974: A Pan Am plane crashed on American Samoa, killing 95 of the 101 people aboard.

1983: The wearing of seat belts in cars became compulsory in UK.

1984: Nine of world’s poorer nations opened talks in Lusaka, Zambia, on joint strategy to break traditional trade links with South Africa and to combat two years of drought.

1988: Thousands of Solidarity supporters marched in Gdansk to protest at price increases announced by Polish government.

1990: Huge queues formed as McDonald’s opened its first hamburger emporium in Moscow.

1994: The Rover car company was sold to BMW for £1.7 billion.

2000: GP Harold Shipman, 54, was given 15 life sentences for the murder of 15 of his female patients at Hyde, Greater Manchester, between March 1995 and June 1998. Police said they were investigating at least another 130 deaths in which he may have been involved.

2011: BMI announced its decision to axe flights between Glasgow and Heathrow, London.


Births: 1797 Franz Schubert, composer; 1885 Anna Pavlova, prima ballerina; 1903 Lord Soper, Methodist minister; 1921 Mario Lanza, opera singer and film actor; 1923 Norman Mailer, writer; 1929 Jean Simmons OBE, actress.

Deaths: 1606 Guy Fawkes, plotted to blow up Houses of Parliament (executed); 1788 Prince Charles Edward Stuart, leader of Jacobite rising (died in Rome); 1933 John Galsworthy, novelist, Forsyte Saga; 1956 AA Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh; 2006 Moira Shearer (Lady Kennedy), ballerina.


Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, 75; Sir Christopher Chataway, Olympic athlete and MP 1959-66 and 1969-74, 82; Philip Glass, composer, 76; John Lydon, rock singer (Johnny Rotten), 57; Phil Manzanera, rock guitarist (Roxy Music), 62; Justin Timberlake, pop star and actor, 32.