On this day: Fire at King’s Cross Underground

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 18 November

On this day in 1987, 30 people died after a devastating fire tore through Kings Cross Underground station in London
On this day in 1987, 30 people died after a devastating fire tore through Kings Cross Underground station in London

1477: William Caxton issued the first dated, printed book from his printing press in Westminster.

1626: St Peter’s Basilica in Rome consecrated by Pope Urban VIII.

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1903: United States and Panama signed treaty granting US right to build Panama Canal.

1926: George Bernard Shaw refused to accept the Nobel prize money of £7,000 awarded to him in 1925. He said: “I can forgive Nobel for inventing dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel prize.”

1928: The first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, was shown.

1936: Germany and Italy recognised General Franco’s government in Spain.

1941: British troops launched attack in west African desert.

1968: Fire killed 22 workers in a three-storey upholstery factory in James Watt Street, Glasgow. They were trapped behind the steel-barred windows of the former bonded warehouse.

1976: Twenty-seven people executed in Ethiopia for alleged plots against two-year-old military government.

1978: Jonestown massacre occurred in Guyana, with a United States congressman and four other people killed as they tried to leave People’s Temple camp, and almost 900 cult members committed suicide on the order of their leader, the “Reverend” Jim Jones, by taking drinks laced with cyanide.

1987: King’s Cross Underground station suffered devastating inferno with the loss of 30 lives. The fire began on a wooden escalator.

1987: US congressional report on Iran-Contra affair was published. It blamed president Ronald Reagan for ignorance.

1989: At least 800 people were left dead after a week of fighting in El Salvador and a third of San Salvador’s one million people were trapped without food or water during rebel siege.

1990: Chris Eubank beat Nigel Benn to become the WBO middleweight boxing champion.

1991: The last western hostages in Beirut, Terry Waite and Tom Sutherland, were freed. Waite had been held for 1,763 days; Sutherland, the man whose release he had tried to negotiate, had been held since 9 June, 1985.

1996: Dunblane campaigners vowed to fight on after the Conservative government defeated efforts to introduce a total ban on handguns.

BIRTHDAYS

Margaret Atwood, author, 75; William Douglas Cullen, Baron Cullen of Whitekirk, KT, Lord Justice-General of Scotland and Lord President of the Court of Session 2001-5, 79; Linda Evans, actress (Dynasty), 72; Bill Giles OBE, television weatherman, 75; Brian Huggett MBE, golfer, 78; Baroness Jay of Paddington, Leader of the House of Lords 1998-2001, 75; Anthony “Ant” McPartlin, actor, television presenter and musician, 39; Graham Parker, rock singer, 64; Elizabeth Perkins, actress, 54; Guy Innes-Ker, 10th Duke of Roxburghe, 60; Brenda Vaccaro, actress, 75; Walton sextuplets Hannah, Lucy, Ruth, Sarah, Kate and Jenny of Liverpool, 31; Kim Wilde, pop singer, 54; Owen Wilson, actor, 46; Peter Schmeichel MBE, former goalkeeper, 51; Jimmy Quinn, Northern Ireland footballer, 55; Noel Brotherston, Northern Ireland footballer, 58.

ANNIVERSARIES

Births: 1697 William Hogarth, artist; 1785 Sir David Wilkie, artist; 1836 Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, dramatist and librettist (half of Gilbert and Sullivan); 1860 Ignacy Paderewski, pianist, composer and prime minister of Poland; 1888 Frances Marion, journalist, author and screenwriter, the first writer to win two Academy awards; 1901 George Gallup, originator of Gallup polls; 1906 Sir Alec Issigonis CBE, designer of the Mini; 1911 Attilio Bertoclucci, Italian writer and poet (father of film directors Bernardo and Giuseppe; 1923 Alan Shepard, aviator and astronaut (second person and first American to travel into space); 1924 Alexander John Mackenzie Stuart, Baron Mackenzie-Stuart, Scottish advocate and judge, president of European Court of Justice; 1927 Hank Ballard, R&B singer-songwriter who wrote and first performed The Twist; 1941 David Hemmings, actor, director and producer.

Deaths: 1886 Chester Arthur, president of USA 1881-1885; 1922 Marcel Proust, author; 1946 Donald Meek, Scottish actor; 1968 Mervyn Peake, author and artist; 1969 Joseph Kennedy snr, businessman, government official, father of JFK; 1976 Man Ray, artist; 1994 Cab Calloway, jazz singer and bandleader; 1998 Robin Hall, folk singer, musician, broadcaster and journalist; 2002 James Coburn, actor; 2004 Cy Coleman, composer, songwriter.