EVENTS, birthdays and anniversaries on April 25.
1792: The Paris guillotine, newly improved by Doctor Joseph Guillotin, was used for the first time, to behead a highwayman, Nicolas-Jacques Pelletier. Soon his invention was to become the hallmark of “The Reign of Terror” of 1793 and 1794, when the “humane and egalitarian” decapitation machine put thousands to death, including Queen Marie Antoinette and her husband.
1809: Britain concluded treaty of friendship with Sikhs at Amritsar in India.
1843: Royal yacht Victoria and Albert was launched at Pembroke, South Wales.
1859: Work began on the construction of the 100-mile-long Suez Canal, under the direction of Ferdinand de Lesseps. It was opened on 16 November, 1869.
1898: United States declared war on Spain.
1905: Transvaal was granted constitution which Louis Botha regarded as inadequate.
1915: Gallipoli landing of Australian and New Zealand troops in the First World War.
1926: Arturo Toscanini conducted the first performance of Puccini’s last opera, Turandot. The composer had died before completing the masterpiece, and it was left to Franco Alfano to write the final missing section based on the composer’s notes.
1945: Delegates of 45 nations met in San Francisco, California, to organise United Nations.
1959: St Lawrence Seaway, in North America, was opened.
1969: The last of more than 5,400 episodes of the radio serial Mrs Dale’s Diary, about a country doctor’s wife, was broadcast. Her last words were: “I’m rather worried about Jim.”
1975: In Portugal’s first free elections for 50 years, three main non-communist parties won a large majority.
1978: South Africa said it had accepted a western plan aimed at preparing South-west Africa for independence under black majority rule.
1983: In Germany, Stern magazine published the first extracts from the so-called Hitler Diaries, which were also published by the Sunday Times in Britain. Lord Dacre (formerly Hugh Trevor-Roper) said they were authentic, but they were later found to be forgeries.
1986: Rioting broke out across Soweto, South Africa’s largest black township, after police blocked youths protesting against arrest of 15 students.
1988: Afghanistan president Mohammad Najibullah offered to withdraw Afghan army from posts near Pakistan’s border.
1990: The Commons voted 409 to 152 in favour of reducing the abortion limit to 24 weeks.
1991: Soviet Union’s Communist Party plenum decided to keep Gorbachev as leader in spite of hours of harsh criticism that led him to offer to resign.
2001: Motorola closed its Bathgate factory with the loss of 3,100 jobs.
2007: Boris Yeltsin’s funeral was the first to be sanctioned by the Russian Orthodox Church for a head of state since the funeral of Emperor Alexander III in 1894.
2010: The first direct flight between Iraq and the UK for 20 years took off from Baghdad Airport, bound for London.