On this day: First ships sail through Panama Canal

On this day in 1914, the first ships passed through the Panama Canal, which had taken ten years to construct. Picture: Getty Images
On this day in 1914, the first ships passed through the Panama Canal, which had taken ten years to construct. Picture: Getty Images
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EVENTS, birthdays, anniversaries

1305: William Wallace was betrayed and handed over to the English.

1460: King James II was killed by an exploding cannon at the siege of Roxburgh Castle.

1492: Christopher Columbus left Palos de la Frontera in south-west Spain on his famous westward voyage, in command of the small Santa Maria, attended by the Pinta and the Nina.

1529: The Treaty of Cambrai, known as the “Peace of the Ladies”, was made between the Holy Roman Empire and France, negotiated by Louise of Savoy and Margaret of Austria.

1573: Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange was executed after defending Edinburgh Castle on behalf of Mary Queen of Scots from May 1568 to May 1573.

1767: Burmese forces invaded Siam (Thailand).

1858: Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile, was discovered by the explorer John Speke.

1881: The Boers signed the Convention of Pretoria, which ended the first Boer War, made Transvaal semi-autonomous and the South African Republic regained self-government under nominal British suzerainty.

1908: French brothers Amadee and Jean Bouyssonie discovered the fossil remains of a near 60,000-year-old Neanderthal man, known as the “Old Man of La Chapelle.”

1914: The first ships passed through the Panama Canal.

1914: Germany declared war on France.

1926: Traffic lights were installed at Piccadilly Circus, the first in Britain.

1934: The German Cabinet joined the offices of president and chancellor and made Hitler “Der Fuhrer”.

1954: The first vertical take-off and landing aircraft was flown in Britain. It was known as the Flying Bedstead.

1955: Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot was performed for the first time in London at the Arts Theatre. The performance was punctuated throughout with the clatter of seats as half the audience walked out.

1958: The American atomic-powered submarine Nautilus, commanded by William Anderson, became the first ship to cross the North Pole beneath the ice.

1960: Niger gained independence from France.

1963: The Beatles gave their final performance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

1966: The South African Broadcasting Corporation banned the playing of Beatles record in response to John Lennon’s controversial comment that “Christianity is in decline” and the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus”. The ban lasted for five years until the band broke up.

1967: 45,000 US soldiers were sent to Vietnam.

1971: Paul McCartney announced the formation of his new band, Wings.

2001: The Real IRA detonated a car bomb in Ealing, London, injuring seven people.

2004: The pedestal of the Statue of Liberty reopened after being closed since the 11 September attacks.

2005: President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya of Mauritania was overthrown in a military coup while attending the funeral of King Fahd in Saudi Arabia.

2010: The Royal Bank of Scotland was fined £5.6 million for failing to do enough to ensure customers and their transactions could not be linked to terrorism.

2012: The UN General Assembly reproached the UN Security Council over its lack of action in Syria.


Evangeline Lilly, actress, 36; Sir Terry Wogan KBE, broadcaster, 77; Ossie Ardiles, football manager, 63; Tony Bennett, singer, 89; Steven Berkoff, actor, director and writer, 78; James Hetfield, singer (Metallica), 52; John Landis, film-maker, 65; Martin Sheen, actor, 75; Martha Stewart, publisher and broadcaster, 74; Jack Straw, former Cabinet minister, 69; Ryan Lochte, multi medal-winning Olympian, 31; Frank Schaeffer, author, film director and screenwriter, 63.


Births: 1803 Sir Joseph Paxton, designer of Crystal Palace; 1811 Elisha Otis, inventor of the safety lift; 1867 Stanley Baldwin, three times Conservative prime minister; 1887 Rupert Brooke, war poet; 1911 Alex McCrindle, Scottish actor; 1920 Baroness James of Holland Park (PD James OBE), writer.

Deaths: 1460 James II of Scotland; 1792 Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning frame; 1916 Sir Roger Casement, Irish nationalist (executed for treason); 1924 Joseph Conrad, novelist; 1954 Colette, writer; 1966 Lenny Bruce, comedian; 1977 Makarios III, archbishop and first president of the Republic of Cyprus; 1983 Carolyn Jones, actress (Morticia in The Addams Family); 2001 Earl of Longford, politician and campaigner; 2004 Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer; 2008 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, writer.