On this day: National Gallery of Scotland opened

On this day in 1939 German troops landed at the port of Memel in Lithuania after the territory was annexed. Picture: Getty
On this day in 1939 German troops landed at the port of Memel in Lithuania after the territory was annexed. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 21 March

1801: French forces were defeated at Alexandria, Egypt, by British under Ralph Abercromby.

1803: French Civil Code – the Code Napoleon – was completed.

1829: Earthquake in Spain killed 6,000.

1859: The National Gallery of Scotland opened.

1884: France legalised trade unions.

1898: Lever’s toilet soap first went on sale.

1919: Soviet Republic proclaimed.

1919: A rise of two shillings a day was recommended for British coal miners.

1921: Austen Chamberlain chosen as Conservative leader.

1922: Queen Mary opened Waterloo Station, London.

1923: French scientists announced that smoking was good for you as nicotine fought bacteria.

1939: Germany annexed Memel from Lithuania.

1952: Doctor Kwame Nkrumah became first black African prime minister south of the Sahara when he was elected premier of the Gold Coast, now Ghana.

1960: Police killed 57 when they fired on demonstrators against pass laws at Sharpeville in Transvaal, South Africa.

1961: Boxer Henry Cooper won his first Lonsdale Belt when he defeated Joe Erskine.

1963: Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay was closed.

1988: Jordan’s King Hussein called on Muslim world to support Palestinian unrest in Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1990: Sterling, shares and gilts fell sharply in reaction to “saver’s” Budget produced by John Major the previous day.

1991: Michael Heseltine, environment secretary, unveiled plan to replace poll tax with council tax.

1996: Britain’s beef industry in crisis following disclosure of a likely link between BSE and CJD.

1999: Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones became the first to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon.

2002: Alain Baxter, the winner of Britain’s first Olympic ski medal, was stripped of the bronze he won at Salt Lake City after testing positive for methamphetamine, a drug he said was in a Vicks inhaler bought in a US supermarket.

2011: Royal Mail revealed plans to axe 1,700 jobs and close two mail centres in London.

2013: Alex Salmond, announced that Scotland’s independence referendum would be held on 18 September, 2014.


Timothy Dalton, actor, 70; Matthew Broderick, actor, 52; Peter Brook CBE, theatre director, 89; Adrian Chiles, television and radio presenter, 47; Caroline Harker, actress, 48; Lord Heseltine, MP 1966-2001, deputy prime minister 1995-7, 81; Antony Hopkins CBE, composer, conductor and broadcaster, 93; Sir Jonathan Mills, director, Edinburgh International Festival, 51; Rosie O’Donnell, actress, 52; Gary Oldman, actor, 56.


Births: 1685 Johann Sebastian Bach, composer; 1835 Modest Mussorgsky, composer; 1862 Albert Chevalier, composer and singer; 1869 Florenz Ziegfeld, impresario and creator of Follies; 1893 Geoffrey Dearmer, war poet.

Deaths: 1729 John Law, Scottish economist and monetary reformer; 1843 Robert Southey, Poet Laureate; 1982 Harry H Corbett, actor; 1985 Sir Michael Redgrave, actor; 1991 Leo Fender, pioneer of electric guitar; 1997 Rev W Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine; 1998 Galina Ulanova, prima ballerina; 1999 Ernie Wise, comedian; 2001 12th Duke of Argyll.