On this day: 51 people drowned in Thames

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 20 August

On this day in 1989, 51 people partying on the Thames pleasure cruiser Marchioness drowned when it was hit by a dredger. Picture: PA

1158: St Ronald, Earl of Orkney, was killed. He was canonised in 1192.

1791: Alaska was discovered by Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering.

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1897: Ronald Ross, first Scot to win a Nobel prize (1902), dissected an anopheles mosquito and discovered the link with malaria.

1913: Adolphe Pegoud baled out from a Blériot aeroplane 700 feet above Buc in France. He was the first parachutist to jump from an aircraft.

1918: British offensive on Western Front opened in First World War.

1924: The Scottish sprinter, Eric Liddell, refused to run in the heats of the 100 metres at the Paris Olympics on a Sunday as it was against his religious convictions to do so. He had been tipped as the likely winner.

1935: The discovery of vitamin E was announced by scientists at the University of California.

1940: Leon Trotsky, exiled Russian revolutionary, was hit on the head with an ice pick at his home near Mexico City. He died 26 hours later, and his killer was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

1940: Winston Churchill made his famous tribute to the RAF in the House of Commons, when he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

1956: Calder Hall in Cumbria, the world’s first large-scale atomic power station, began generating.

1968: Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations invaded Czechoslovakia to crush Alexander Dubcek’s liberal regime.

1975: United States spaceship Viking I, bound for Mars, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1989: Fifty-one people partying on the Thames pleasure cruiser Marchioness drowned when it was hit by a dredger.

1994: There were calls for an urgent investigation by the Lord Advocate into a third drugs-related death in three months at a “rave” at the Hangar 13 nightspot in Ayr.

2008: 153 people were killed when a Spanish airliner bound for the Canary Islands crashed on take off in Madrid.

2009: The Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, left Scotland, bound for Libya, after being freed from prison on compassionate grounds.


Amy Adams, actress, 40; Sylvester McCoy, Dunoon-born actor, seventh Dr Who, 71; Ronnie Browne, singer (The Corries) and painter, 77; Finlay Calder, former Scotland rugby captain, 57; Jamie Cullum, singer, 35; Dame Anne Evans DBE, soprano, 73; Lord Macdonald of Tradeston CBE, Minister for the Cabinet Office 2001-03, 74; Tom Mangold, broadcaster, 80; Robin Oakley OBE, journalist and broadcaster, 73; Robert Plant CBE, singer (Led Zeppelin), 66; Simon Shepherd, actor, 58; David Walliams, comedian, actor and TV presenter, 43; Andrew Garfield, actor, 31; Don King, boxing promoter, 83; Alvaro Negredo, footballer, 29; Jim Bowen, comedian, game show host, 77.


Births: 1778 Bernardo O’Higgins, leader who freed Chile from Spanish rule; 1818 Emily Brontë, writer; 1905 Duncan Macrae, Scottish actor; 1949 Phil Lynott, singer and musician (Thin Lizzy).

Deaths: 1912 General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army; 1980 Otto Frank, father of Anne, who published her diaries; 1936 Federico Garcia Lorca, dramatist and poet (murdered); 1969 Dudley D Watkins, cartoonist (The Broons, Oor Wullie).