On this day: Tay Bridge disaster | Alasdair Gray

Diver John Cox finds the front of the train which plunged into the Firth of Tay on 28 December 1879. Picture: Getty
Diver John Cox finds the front of the train which plunged into the Firth of Tay on 28 December 1879. Picture: Getty
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ANNIVERSARIES, birthdays and events for 28 December

AD1: King Herod, according to Matthew, ordered the deaths of all infants under two in Bethlehem to ensure the death of Christ, whom he foresaw as a rival.

1065: Westminster Abbey was dedicated.

1598: The oldest minute of any masonic lodge was recorded.

1879: Sir Thomas Bouch’s new railway bridge across the River Tay collapsed in a storm, throwing an engine, six coaches and 75 passengers into the water 160ft below. Faults in the design and construction were blamed.

1906: Twenty-two died in railway disaster at Elliott Junction, near Arbroath. A southbound express travelling tender-first ran into a stationary local train.

1918: Lloyd George’s government was re-elected, and women voted for the first time.

1926: Record innings of 1,107 was scored in by Victoria against New South Wales in Melbourne. Arthur Mailey, NSW bowler, set a world record return of four for 362.

1938: Iraq severed relations with France.

1942: Japanese planes bombed Calcutta, India, in Second World War.

1950: The Peak District was designated as the first National Park in Britain.

1963: The last That Was The Week That Was, television’s first satirical show, was broadcast by the BBC.

1966: China detonated its fifth atomic bomb.

1968: Israeli commandos raided Beirut Airport, destroying 13 Arab aircraft.

1970: Military court in Spain sentenced six Basque Separatists to death.

1972: Four Arab guerrillas held six hostages in Israeli embassy in Bangkok for 19 hours, then freed their prisoners and flew to Cairo.

1975: All 372 men died, despite intensive rescue efforts, when trapped by a coal mine explosion in northeastern India.

1990: Indian government opened talks with Sikh leaders on ending seven-year-old secessionist struggle in Punjab.

2000: US retail giant Montgomery Ward goes out of business after 128 years.

2007: King Gyanendra of Nepal loses power as parliament ends 239 years of rule by the “god king”. The country became a democratic federal republic.

2009: Forty-three people died in a suicide bombing in Karachi, Pakistan, where Shia Muslims were observing Day of Ashura.


Alasdair Gray, Glasgow-born artist and writer, 79; Terry Butcher, English footballer and manager, 55; Hubert Green, golfer, 67; Sir Max Hastings, British journalist, 68; Lord Hattersley of Sparkbrook, deputy leader of the Labour Party 1983-92, 81; Chas Hodges, British singer (Chas and Dave), 70; Nigel Kennedy, British violinist, 57; John Legend, American musician, 35; Sienna Miller, British actress, 32; Pauline Robertson, hockey player, 45; Dame Maggie Smith DBE, actress, 79; Denzel Washington, American actor, 59.


Births: 1804 Alexander Keith Johnson, Penicuik-born geographer; 1856 Woodrow Wilson, 28th United States president; 1882 Sir Arthur Eddington, astronomer; 1905 Earl Hines, American jazz pianist and composer; 1943 Keith Floyd, television chef.

Deaths: 1694 Queen Mary II; 1734: Robert MacGregor of Inversnaid, immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in Rob Roy; 1937 Maurice Ravel, composer best known for Bolero; 1984 Sam Peckinpah, director; 1999 Clayton Moore, actor (the Lone Ranger)