On this day: Ravenscraig steelworks closure
Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 8 January
1661: Publication of first Scottish newspaper, Mercurius Caledonius. It promised coverage of “the Affairs now in Agitation in Scotland, with a Survey of Foreign Intelligence”, but ceased on 28 March, after only nine issues.
1815: The Battle of New Orleans, the last battle between Britain and America, in which Andrew Jackson defeated General Sir Edward Pakenham’s forces, took place.
1886: The Severn Tunnel, joining England and Wales and the longest in Britain at four miles 624 yards, opened.
1889: Doctor Herman Hollerith of New York patented an electrically operated computer to process data. The company he formed to market his invention would evolve into the giant IBM.
1959: General Charles de Gaulle was proclaimed president of the French Fifth Republic.
1972: British military families began evacuation from Malta as the struggle with premier Dom Mintoff over future of strategic naval base on the island intensified.
1982: Spain ended its siege of Gibraltar and reopened the frontier. In return, Britain agreed to talks on the colony’s future and ended its opposition to Spain’s joining the EEC.
1989: British Midland 737 crashed into M1 embankment near Kegworth, Leicestershire, killing 47 people.
1991: South-west Water Authority fined £10,000 for supplying poisoned water to Camelford, Cornwall, in July, 1988.
1992: The closure of the Ravenscraig steelworks complex by September was confirmed by British Steel, with the loss of 1,220 jobs.
1996: Almost 500 schools in Scotland remained closed as a result of flood damage from burst pipes.
2004: The RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever built, was christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
2011: An attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and subsequent shooting in Casas Adobes, Arizona at a Safeway grocery store killed six people and wounded 13, including Giffords.
2012: Winds of up to 165mph hit Scotland, leaving 60,000 homes without power.
Dame Shirley Bassey, singer, 77; David Bowie, singer and actor, 67; Michelle Forbes, actress, 49; Lord Hardie, Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland and Lord of Session, 68; Mike Harwood, golfer, 55; Professor Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and author, 72; R Kelly, soul singer, instrumentalist and songwriter, 45; Ron Moody, actor, 90; Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society 2000-05, 78; Sam Riley, actor, 34.
Births: 1824 Wilkie Collins, detective story writer; 1836 Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, artist; 1868 Sir Frank Dyson, astronomer; 1897 Dennis Wheatley, thriller novelist; 1902 Georgi Malenkov, Soviet leader; 1935 Elvis Presley, singer.
Deaths: 1107 Edgar, King of Scotland; 1337 Giotto, artist; 1642 Galileo Galilei, mathematician and astronomer; 1825 Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin; 1895 Paul Verlaine, poet; 1941 Baron Baden-Powell, founder of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides; 1976 Chou En-Lai, Chinese Communist statesman and prime minister; 1990 Terry-Thomas, comic film actor; 1996 François Mitterrand, French president; 1998 Sir Michael Tippett, composer; 2013 Alasdair Milne, director-general, BBC 1982-7.