On this day: Gaumont Cinema fire|Titanic launched

EVENTS, birthdays and anniversaries on the 31st of May

On this day in 1962, the Gaumont Cinema, in Canning Street, Edinburgh, burnt down. Picture: TSPL
On this day in 1962, the Gaumont Cinema, in Canning Street, Edinburgh, burnt down. Picture: TSPL

National day of South Africa.

1643: Royalist plotters were arrested in London.

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1669: Samuel Pepys discontinued his diary, which he had started on 1 January, 1660.

1727: The Royal Bank of Scotland was formed from a company of debenture holders of the Equivalent stock, chartered with £111,000 capital.

1793: Reign of terror began in French Revolution.

1850: Universal suffrage in France was abolished.

1859: Big Ben, in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London, first began chiming.

1889: Flood at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, took more than 2,000 lives.

1891: Construction of Siberian railway across Russia began.

1911: SS Titanic, world’s biggest liner, was launched from Harland & Wolff’s shipyard, Belfast.

1915: The first air raid on London took place.

1916: The Battle of Jutland was fought in the North Sea between the British fleet under Jellicoe and Beatty and the German fleet commanded by Scheer and von Hipper.

1942: Reinhard Heydrich, deputy chief of Gestapo and one of the architects of the Final Solution, was assassinated by Czechoslovak Resistance.

1942: More than 200 factories were destroyed in 1,000-bomber raid by RAF on Cologne.

1961: South Africa declared itself a republic and withdrew from the Commonwealth.

1962: Adolf Eichmann was executed in prison near Tel Aviv for his part in wartime mass killing of millions of Jews.

1962: Gaumont Cinema in Edinburgh was destroyed by fire.

1970: Earthquake hit Peru, leaving more than 66,000 dead, 20,000 missing and 200,000 injured.

1973: United States Senate voted to cut off all funds for US bombing operations in Cambodia.

1976: Indonesia completed takeover of East Timor.

1985: English football clubs were given an indefinite ban from playing in Europe after the Heysel Stadium disaster in Belgium in which 39 supporters, mostly Italian, died when a wall collapsed before the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus. The ban was lifted after five years.

1991: Iceland quit International Whaling Commission in protest over continued ban on commercial whaling.

1991: In Northern Ireland, a driverless lorry loaded with a 2,000lb bomb was rolled down a hill into the perimeter fence of a heavily fortified base. Three soldiers died and 13 were injured.

1992: Ten demonstrators were arrested when the Queen Mother unveiled a statue of Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris in London.

1993: Two thousand people took part in an anti-Nazi march at Solingen, Germany, where two Turkish women and three children had died in a fire-bombing.

2009: The last survivor of the sinking of the Titanic died, aged 97. Millvina Dean was nine weeks old when the liner sank after hitting an iceberg in the early hours of 15 April, 1912, on its maiden voyage from Southampton.

2010: In the international waters, Shayetet 13 soldiers, from the Israeli Navy, attacked a flotilla that wanted to break the blockade on Gaza Strip. During the armed aggression on the MV Mavi Marmara ship, a violent attack started. Nine activists were killed by soldiers on board.


Brooke Shields, actress, 48; Lynda Bellingham, actress, 66; Tom Berenger, actor, 65; Clint Eastwood, actor and director, 84; Colin Farrell, actor, 38; Sharon Gless, actress, 71; Stephen Jones OBE, milliner, 57; Ben de Lisi, American fashion designer, 59; Joe Longthorne MBE, entertainer, 59; Lord (John) Prescott, MP, deputy prime minister 1997-2007, 76; Terry Waite CBE, charity worker and writer, 75; Peter Winterbottom, rugby player, 54; Peter Yarrow, singer-songwriter (one third of Peter, Paul and Mary – co-wrote Puff the Magic Dragon), 76.


Births: 1701 Alexander Cruden, bookseller and publisher of Biblical Concordance; 1819 Walt Whitman, poet and writer; 1860 Walter Sickert, painter; 1863 Sir Francis Younghusband, explorer; 1872 William Heath Robinson, humorous artist of mechanical contraptions; 1889 Helen Waddell, poet and scholar; 1907 Florence Desmond, actress; 1915 Judith Wright, author and poet; 1916 Judy Campbell, actress.

Deaths: 1594 Tintoretto, painter; 1809 Franz Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer; 1837 Joseph Grimaldi, stage and circus clown; 1847 Thomas Chalmers; 1910 Elizabeth Blackwell, English-born American physician, first woman to gain an MD degree; 1962 Adolf Eichmann, Nazi SS officer (executed); 1983 Jack Dempsey, world heavyweight boxing champion; 2000 Andrew Faulds, MP and actor; 2009 Danny La Rue OBE, entertainer; 2010 Brian Duffy, photographer.