On this day: Jeanette Altwegg won Olympic skating gold

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 20 February

On this day in 1952 Jeanette Altwegg won Britains first Olympic skating medal  for figure skating in Oslo. Picture: Getty
On this day in 1952 Jeanette Altwegg won Britains first Olympic skating medal  for figure skating in Oslo. Picture: Getty

1452: Earl of Douglas was murdered by James II.

1472: Orkney and Shetland annexed to the crown of Scotland as security for the dowry of Princess Margaret, daughter of Christian I, King of Norway and Denmark, and wife of James III of Scotland.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

1547: The coronation of nine-year-old King Edward VI (son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour) took place in Westminster Abbey. He died of consumption at 15.

1570: Lord Hunsdon defeated Leonard Dacre’s rebel army, ending Northern Rebellion in England.

1878: Pope Leo VIII (Gioacchino Vincenzo Pecci) was elected at the third ballot, following the death of Pope Pius IX.

1938: Anthony Eden resigned as Foreign Secretary, being unable to support prime minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy on Germany.

1947: Lord Louis Mountbatten was appointed the last Viceroy of India, the same day London announced that the British would leave India by June 1948.

1952: Britain’s first Olympic skating medal was won in Oslo by Jeanette Altwegg, who took ladies’ figure title.

1962: Astronaut Colonel John Glenn became the first American in orbit when he circled the Earth three times in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. The journey took nearly five hours.

1973: Laos government and Communist-led Pathet Lao agreed on pact to end warfare.

1978: A judge indicted Senora Isabel Peron, Peron’s third wife and herself the ex-president of Argentina, for fraudulent use of £8million from the funds of the state-run charity, the Solidarity Crusade.

1986: Widespread religious violence involving Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs flared in India, and city curfews were imposed in three states.

1988: Rainstorm triggered floods and mudslides in Rio de Janeiro that killed 65 people and left up to 100 elderly hospital patients missing and feared dead.

1990: Despite protests from other members of the European Community, Britain announced it would unilaterally lift ban on new investments in South Africa.

1990: Whyte & Mackay distillers sold for £160 million.

1991: Slovenia’s legislators voted overwhelmingly to initiate secession from Yugoslavia.

1991: In helicopter assault across Kuwait-Saudi border, US forces took 500 prisoners.

1992: Hoover announced further job cuts at its Cambuslang plant in Glasgow. Unions were told 162 of the 1,150 remaining workers would have to go.

1993: South African president FW de Klerk named first non-white Cabinet ministers.

1995: Indie band Blur won a record four categories, including best British group and best album, at the Brit Awards.

2005: Spain became the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but on a low turnout.

2009: Two Tamil Tigers aircraft packed with C4 explosives en-route to the national airforce headquarters were shot down by the Sri Lankan military before reaching their target, in a kamikaze-style attack.

2010: In Madeira Island, Portugal, heavy rain caused floods and mudslides, resulting in more than 40 deaths, in the worst disaster in the history of the archipelago.


Cindy Crawford, model, 49; Lauren Ambrose, actress (Six Feet Under), 37; Brenda Blethyn OBE, actress, 69; Gordon Brown, former prime minister, 64; Ian Brown, rock singer (Stone Roses), 52; Jimmy Greaves, English footballer and television pundit, 75; Patti Hearst, heiress, 61; Mike Leigh OBE, dramatist and director, 72; Jennifer O’Neill, actress, 67; Sir Sidney Poitier KBE, actor, 88; Rihanna, singer, 27; Peter Strauss, actor, 68; Imogen Stubbs, actress, 54; Bill Walker, MP 1979-97, 86; James Wilby, actor, 57; Nancy Wilson, singer, 78; Barry Wordsworth, conductor, 67.


Births: 1726 William Prescott, American revolutionary leader; 1744 Sir William Cornwallis, admiral; 1745 Henry James Pye, Poet Laureate; 1784 Adam Black, Edinburgh-born publisher of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; 1791 Karl Czerny, pianist, composer and piano teacher; 1808 Honoré Daumier, artist; 1888 Dame Marie Rambert, founder of Ballet Rambert; 1892 Carl Mayer, film director; 1904 Alexei Kosygin, Soviet prime minister; 1925 Robert Altman, film director (notably M*A*S*H).

Deaths: 1452 Earl of Douglas; 1855 Joseph Hume, social reformer; 1893 Pierre Beauregard, American Confederate army general; 1920 Robert Peary, first man to reach North Pole; 1960 Leonard Woolley, archaeologist; 1961 Percy Grainger, composer and pianist; 1972 Walter Winchell, journalist and gossip columnist; 1995 Robert Bolt, playwright and screenwriter.