On this day: Thames Barrier officially opened

On this day in 1984 the Thames Barrier at Woolwich in London ' designed to help prevent flooding ' was officially opened. Picture: Getty
On this day in 1984 the Thames Barrier at Woolwich in London ' designed to help prevent flooding ' was officially opened. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 8 May

1660: Restoration of the British monarchy.

1895: Japan surrendered Liao Tung Peninsula and Port Arthur to China in return for huge indemnity.

1886: Coca-Cola was invented by Doctor John Pemberton at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.

1916: Australian and New Zealand forces arrived in France.

1921: Sweden abolished capital punishment.

1926: French fleet bombarded Damascus in Revolt of the Druses.

1927: Speedway racing took place in Britain for the first time, at Camberley Heath.

1931: A group of leaders from Scottish industry, commerce, trade unions and local authorities convened a meeting in Edinburgh which resulted in the formation of the Scottish National Development Council.

1933: The secret of the treasure ship of Sutton Hoo began to be revealed when the owner of the land, near Ipswich, Suffolk, suggested experts should excavate the curiously-shaped burial mound in which it stood. Inside was found an 89ft-long Anglo-Saxon open ship with a burial chamber on deck full of magnificent treasure.

1933: The first execution by gas chamber in the United States was carried out in the state of Nevada.

1942: Naval battle of the Coral Sea ended. Although the United States lost the aircraft carrier Lexington, the battle was the first allied success in the Pacific, saving Australia from invasion.

1945: VE-Day. Victory came to Europe at one minute past midnight with the unconditional surrender of Germany.

1954: BBC banned Johnny Ray’s song Such a Night, and the publicity sent it to Number One.

1955: The European Cup for the football league champions of the respective nations was approved by Fifa.

1961: George Blake, British naval intelligence officer and Soviet spy, was jailed for 42 years, the longest sentence imposed in UK.

1962: Trolley-buses ran for the last time in London.

1970: The Beatles’ final album, Let It Be, was released.

1981: Ken Livingstone, Labour left-winger, was elected leader of the Greater London Council.

1984: The Thames Barrier at Woolwich was officially opened.

1989: US space shuttle Atlantis glided out of orbit into safe landing in California’s Mojave Desert after four-day mission.

1990: Estonia declared itself a republic, dropped the words “Soviet Socialist” from its name, and restored its pre-war coat-of-arms.

1990: Ferranti, now GEC Ferranti, clinched contract to supply radar system for European fighter project.

1991: Scientists said they had discovered the gene which determined the difference between the sexes.

1992: The government announced that MI5 would take over responsibility for intelligence against the IRA in mainland Britain.

1993: British boxer Lennox Lewis became WBC world heavyweight champion, beating Tony Tucker.

1995: Two-thousand beacons blazed out across the UK in a climax of celebrations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe.

2009: British politics was rocked by controversy after the Daily Telegraph began publishing details of MPs’ expenses claims – many of which sparked outrage among the public.


Jack Charlton OBE, football player and manager, 80; Sir David Attenborough CBE, naturalist and broadcaster, 89; Pat Barker CBE, novelist, 72; Terry Christian, radio presenter, 55; Viviana Durante, ballerina, 48; Lucius Edward William Plantagenet Cary, 15th Viscount Falkland, premier viscount of Scotland, 80; Melissa Gilbert, actress, 51; Enrique Iglesias, singer, 40; Lord Lamont of Lerwick, chancellor of the Exchequer 1990-3, 73; Dame Felicity Lott DBE, soprano, 68; Thomas Pynchon, author, 78; John Reid, MP, home secretary 2006-7 and chairman of Celtic Football Club 2007-11, 68; Dave Rowntree, drummer (Blur), animator, 51; David Sole, Scotland Grand Slam rugby captain, 53.


Births: 1828 John Henri Dunant, Swiss philanthropist and founder of the International Red Cross; 1884 Harry S Truman, 33rd US president; 1932 Sonny Liston, heavyweight boxing champion; 1940 Peter Benchley, author (Jaws); 1940 Ricky Nelson, singer.

Deaths: 1873 John Stuart Mill, philosopher; 1880 Gustave Flaubert, novelist; 1903 Paul Gauguin, post-Impressionist painter; 1947 Harry Gordon Selfridge, store owner; 1986 Lord “Manny” Shinwell, Labour politician; 1990 Cardinal Thomas O’Fiach, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland; 1999 Sir Dirk Bogarde, actor and author; 2000 Douglas Fairbanks junior, actor; 2012 Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator; 2013 Bryan Forbes CBE, actor.