On this day: The River Thames started to freeze

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 17 January

On this day in 1940 the River Thames started to freeze over for the first time since 1880. Picture: Getty

1536: King Henry VIII fell off his horse while jousting and was unconscious for several hours, triggering his mental instability, experts believe. He didn’t change clothes for ten weeks afterward.

1746: Battle of Falkirk, last Jacobite victory.

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1759: Holy Roman Empire declared war on Prussia.

1773: Captain Cook’s ship Resolution became the first to cross the Antarctic Circle.

1874: The original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, died within three hours of each other, aged 62.

1917: Washington purchased Danish West Indies for $25million to form US Virgin Islands.

1940: River Thames froze over for first time since 1880.

1945: Soviet troops and Polish patriot forces liberated Warsaw, more than five years after it fell to Nazi Germany.

1948: Netherlands and Republic of Indonesia signed truce.

1949: First situation comedy on television, The Goldbergs, began a run that lasted until June 1951.

1966: A hydrogen bomb was lost in the sea near Spain after an American plane was involved in a mid-air collision. It was recovered three months later.

1983: BBC’s Breakfast TV first airs with Frank Bough and Selina Scott.

1985: The House of Commons Speaker suspended business for more than 20 minutes as some Labour MPs refused to sit down, demanding an emergency debate on the miners’ strike.

1989: North Korean military and the UN met for the first time since the end of the Korean War to discuss how to ease tensions.

1989: A gunman shot dead five children and injured 39 others in a Californian school playground.

1991: Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand completed the first hot-air balloon crossing of the Pacific.

1996: Duchess of York’s debts may total £3 million it is reported.

1998: Matt Drudge broke the story of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair on his website The Drudge Report.

2007: The Doomsday Clock was set to five minutes to midnight in response to North Korea nuclear testing.


Calvin Harris, Scottish music producer and DJ, 31; Muhammad Ali, former world heavyweight boxing champion, 73; Jim Carrey, actor, 53; Keith Chegwin, television presenter, 58; James Hubert Ramsay, 17th Earl of Dalhousie, Chief of the Clan Ramsay, 67; Zooey Deschanel, actress and musician, 35; Françoise Hardy, singer/songwriter, 71; James Earl Jones, actor, 84; Shabba Ranks, singer, 49; Betty White, actress, 93; Michelle Obama, US First Lady, lawyer, writer, 51; Frankie Cocozza, singer, 22; Paul Young, singer, musician, 59; Kip Keino, Olympic champion athlete 1968 and 1972, 75; James Wattana, snooker player, 45; Trish Johnson, golfer, 49,


Births: 1686 Archibald Bower, Scottish historian; 1706 Benjamin Franklin, statesman, philosopher and scientist; 1761 Sir James Hall of Dunglass, 4th Baronet, Scottish geologist; 1860 Anton Chekhov, dramatist; David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, British prime minister 1916 to 1922; 1926 Moira Shearer (Lady Kennedy), Dunfermline-born ballerina; 1927 Eartha Kitt, singer.

Deaths: 1833 James Ballantyne, Scottish editor and publisher; 1933 Louis Tiffany, jeweller and glass designer; 1997 Clyde William Tombaugh, astronomer who discovered Pluto; 2008 Bobby Fischer, world chess champion 1972-75.