On this day: David Blakely shot dead

On this day in 1955 Ruth Ellis shot dead racing driver David Blakely. She was the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Picture: Getty
On this day in 1955 Ruth Ellis shot dead racing driver David Blakely. She was the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 10 April

1413: Henry V was crowned in Westminster Abbey, aged 25.

1710: Copyright had its statutory beginnings with the Copyright Act of 1709, called the Statute of Anne, came into effect, recognising the position of authors for the first time.

1820: The first British settlers arrived in South Africa, at Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth.

1829: Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Bill.

1849: The safety pin was patented after American inventor Walter Hunt had made it in only three hours – selling the rights in order to pay off a $15 debt.

1858: Big Ben, the bell in the Westminster clock tower, was cast in Whitechapel. It weighed 13.5 tons and was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the commissioner of works, who was a large man known as Big Ben.

1917: Vimy Ridge, in Northern France, was finally taken by Canadian forces with heavy losses in an epic assault during the Battle of Arras.

1925: F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was published.

1945: American troops liberated Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Germany.

1955: David Blakely, a 24-year-old racing driver, was shot dead outside a pub in North London by Ruth Ellis, for which she was subsequently hanged.

1960: The American Civil Rights Bill was passed by United States Senate.

1963: United States atomic submarine Thresher failed to surface after a deep dive off Cape Cod, with the loss of 129 lives.

1972: Britain, United States, Soviet Union and 46 other countries signed convention outlawing biological weapons.

1986: United States conducted nuclear test in Nevada desert in spite of growing protests among peace groups and strong Soviet campaign for nuclear test ban.

1988: Sandy Lyle became first British golfer to win the Masters tournament in Augusta, US.

1989: British and Australian forces arrived in northern Namibia to monitor planned withdrawal of black nationalist guerrillas.

1989: The Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown, denounced Parliament as ludicrous, inefficient and potentially a deeply corrupt mechanism.

1992: Three people died and 90 were injured when an IRA post-election bomb caused devastation in the City of London.

1993: Members of Britain’s biggest teaching union, the NUT, voted unanimously to boycott national curriculum tests.

1993: The body of an Edinburgh teacher murdered on holiday, Adrian Strasser, was found in New Orleans. The killing has remained unsolved.

2010: Polish president Lech Kaczynski and scores of other senior political figures from the country were killed in a plane crash in Russia. The plane hit trees as it approached Smolensk Airport in thick fog.

2014: A Public Health England report revealed that air pollution was responsible for ten times as many deaths in Scotland as obesity.


Sophie Ellis-Bextor, singer, 36; Nicky Campbell, Scottish television and radio broadcaster, 54; Ed Byrne, stand up comedian, 43; Lesley Garrett CBE, soprano, 60; Gloria Hunniford, broadcaster, 75; Peter MacNicol, American actor, 61; David Moorcroft, athlete, 62; Mandy Moore, pop singer, 31 Haley Joel Osment, actor, 27; Steven Seagal, film actor and director, 63; Omar Sharif, Egyptian film actor and international bridge player, 83; Gerda Stevenson, Scottish actress, singer and writer, 59; Max von Sydow, actor, 86; Paul Theroux, author, 74; Bunny Wailer, reggae musician, 68.


Births: 1512 James V; 1778 William Hazlitt, essayist and critic; 1827 Lew Wallace, American Civil War general and author; 1829 William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army; 1847 Joseph Pulitzer, newspaper publisher; 1867 George William Russell, poet and journalist; 1870 Lenin, Communist leader and founder of Bolshevism; 1894 Ben Nicholson, sculptor; 1903 Claire Booth Luce, playwright; 1908 Vic Feather, trade union leader; 1915 Harry Morgan, actor (M*A*S*H); 1929 Mike Hawthorne, racing driver; 1935 Patrick Garland, British theatre and film director.

Deaths: 1840 Alexander Nasmyth, Edinburgh-born artist; 1863 Giovanni Battista Amici, astronomer and optician; 1909 Edgar Middleton, journalist and playwright; 1909 Algernon Charles Swinburne, poet and critic; 1954 Auguste Lumière, pioneer of cinematography; 1960 Arthur Benjamin, composer; 1966 Evelyn Waugh, novelist; 1980 Antonia White, journalist and novelist; 2001 Nyree Dawn Porter, actress; 2009 Richard Arnell, composer, conductor, poet, principal lecturer, Trinity School of Music 1981-7; 2010 Dixie Carter, American actress; 2014 Sue Townsend, author.