On this day: Independence referendum date revealed

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 21 March

Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, unveil the date of the Scottish independence referendum on this day in 2013. Picture: Jane Barlow

1801: French forces were defeated at Alexandria, Egypt, by British under Ralph Abercromby.

1803: French Civil Code – the Code Napoleon – was completed.

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1829: Earthquake in Spain killed 6,000.

1859: The National Gallery of Scotland opened.

1884: France legalised trade unions.

1898: Lever’s toilet soap first went on sale.

1905: Britain and Persia signed agreement to counter Russian designs in Near East.

1919: Soviet Republic was proclaimed.

1919: A rise of two shillings a day was recommended for British coal miners by a government commission.

1921: Austen Chamberlain chosen as Conservative leader.

1922: Queen Mary opened Waterloo Station, London.

1923: French scientists announced that smoking was good for you as nicotine fought bacteria.

1939: Germany annexed Memel from Lithuania.

1952: Doctor Kwame Nkrumah became first black African prime minister south of the Sahara when he was elected premier of the Gold Coast, now Ghana.

1953: The Sudan achieved self-government.

1960: Police killed 57 when they fired on demonstrators against pass laws at Sharpeville in Transvaal, South Africa.

1961: Boxer Henry Cooper won his first Lonsdale Belt when he defeated Joe Erskine.

1963: Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay was closed.

1975: Military government in Ethiopia abolished royal position of Emperor.

1977: India’s prime minister, Indira Gandhi, resigned after losing her seat in parliamentary elections.

1988: Jordan’s King Hussein called on Muslim world to support Palestinian unrest in Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza.

1989: Chinese leaders announced new controls and taxes on private business, rural factories and free-market farming.

1990: Sterling, shares and gilts fell sharply in reaction to “saver’s Budget” produced by John Major previous day.

1991: Michael Heseltine, environment secretary, unveiled plan to replace poll tax with council tax.

1996: Britain’s beef industry was in crisis after five countries banned meat imports and schools took beef off menus following the disclosure of a likely link between BSE and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

1999: Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones became the first to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon.

2002: Alain Baxter, the winner of Britain’s first Olympic ski medal, was stripped of the bronze he won at Salt Lake City after testing positive for methamphetamine, a drug he said was in a Vicks inhaler bought in a US supermarket.

2002: In Pakistan, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other suspects were charged with murder for their part in the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

2006: Immigrant workers constructing the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) and a new terminal at Dubai International Airport rioted and caused $1 million in damage.

2013: First Minister Alex Salmond announced that the independence referendum would be held on

18 September, 2014.

BIRTHDAYS

Sir Jonathan Mills, former director, Edinburgh International Festival, 52; Matthew Broderick, actor, 53; Peter Brook CBE, theatre director, 90; Adrian Chiles, television and radio presenter, 48; Timothy Dalton, actor, 71; Caroline Harker, actress, 49; Lord Heseltine, MP 1966-2001, deputy prime minister 1995-7, 82; Alvin Kallicharan, West Indian cricketer, 66; Rosie O’Donnell, actress, 53; Gary Oldman, actor, 57; Mike Westbrook, jazz composer, 79; Mark Williams MBE, snooker player, 40.

ANNIVERSARIES

Births: 1685 Johann Sebastian Bach, composer; 1835 Modest Mussorgsky, composer; 1862 Albert Chevalier, composer and singer; 1869 Florenz Ziegfeld, impresario and creator of Follies; 1893 Geoffrey Dearmer, war poet; 1921 Antony Hopkins CBE, British composer and conductor; 1932 Tom Watson, actor; 1936 Roger Hammond, British actor.

Deaths: 1556 Thomas Cranmer, first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, condemned as a traitor and heretic (burned at the stake in Oxford); 1729 John Law, Scottish economist and monetary reformer; 1843 Robert Southey, Poet Laureate; 1982 Harry H Corbett, actor; 1985 Sir Michael Redgrave, actor; 1991 Leo Fender, pioneer of electric guitar; 1995 Robert Urquhart, actor; 1997 Rev W Awdry, children’s author and creator of Thomas the Tank Engine; 1999 Ernie Wise, comedian; 2001 12th Duke of Argyll.