On this day: William Burke | Challenger crash | Taylor Report

The death mask of William Burke
The death mask of William Burke
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Events, anniversaries and deaths for 28 January

1580: King James VI signed the Confession of Faith, later incorporated into the National Covenant of 1638.

1807: London’s Pall Mall was the first street in any city to be illuminated by gaslight. It was the idea of a German inventor named Winsor.

1829: William Burke, Irish body-snatcher, who joined William Hare in Scotland in selling bodies to Doctor Knox for research, and eventually murdering to supplement their stock, was hanged for his crimes in front of a huge crowd. Hare escaped the gallows by turning king’s evidence.

1846: British & East India Company troops defeated Sikhs at Aliwal in India.

1884: The first Ireland versus Scotland football international took place in Belfast. Scotland won 5-0.

1885: British relief force reached Khartoum, and the Sudan was evacuated.

1890: Electric light was installed in the British Museum, London.

1896: The first speeding fine was handed out to a British motorist, Walter Arnold of Kent, for exceeding 2mph in a built-up area. He was doing 8mph.

1909: United States control in Cuba was ended.

1926: Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, fell from his horse and broke his collar bone. Later that year he fell again, causing MPs to complain about the risks taken by the man “who will one day be king”.

1935: Iceland passed a law legalising abortion on medical/social grounds, the first country to introduce such legislation.

1953: Derek Bentley, 19, was hanged at Wandsworth Prison, despite considerable public protest. He and Christopher Craig, 16, had been found guilty of murdering a policeman, but Craig escaped the gallows because of his age.

1959: Two women passengers and the driver died when a Glasgow tram caught fire after collision with a lorry.

1960: The last Goon Show was heard on BBC radio. It had run since 28 May, 1951.

1976: United States Senate approved 200-mile fishing limit off American coasts.

1986: The space shuttle Challenger exploded soon after lift-off from Cape Canaveral, killing the crew of seven including Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher selected as the first to fly in the “citizen in space” programme.

1990: Mr Justice Taylor’s report into Hillsborough disaster called for all-seater stadia by 1999 and tagging of football hooligans.


Births: 1457 King Henry VII, founder of Tudor dynasty; 1582 John Barclay, Scottish satirist; 1706 John Baskerville, typographer and printer; Sir Jimmy Shand, accordionist and country dance band leader; 1912 Jackson Pollock, Expressionist artist.

Deaths: 1596 Sir Francis Drake, voyager and pirate; 1613 Sir Thomas Bodley, scholar and founder of Bodleian Library, Oxford; 1725 Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia; 1939 WB Yeats, Irish poet and playwright. 2011 Dame Margaret Price DBE, opera singer.


Alan Alda, actor and director, 77; Bobby Ball, comedian, 69; Mikhail Baryshnikov, ballet dancer and actor, 65; Acker Bilk MBE, jazz clarinettist, 84; John Edmonds, trade unionist, 69; Lord (Bill) Jordan CBE, trade unionist and economist, 77; Professor David Lodge CBE, author, 78; Professor Sir John Tavener, composer, 69; Elijah Wood, actor, 32; Robert Wyatt, rock musician, 68; Nicolas Sarkozy, former French president 2007-12, 58.