Historic August

by Ben Johnson

Among many other events, August saw the first night of the Blitz as German planes bombed the city of London (pictured to the left).

1 August 1740 Rule Britannia‘ sung for the first time in public, in Thomas Arne’s ‘Masque Alfred’.
2 August 1100 King William II (Rufus) killed by a crossbow bolt in mysterious circumstances while hunting in the New Forest, his ghost is still said to haunt the woods.
3 August 1926 Britain’s first set of electric traffic lights appear on the streets of London.
4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany in support of Belgium and France, and on Turkey because of her alliance with Germany. Find out more in our article concerning the Causes of World War One.
5 August 1962 Nelson Mandela imprisoned for attempting to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid rule.
6 August 1881 Birth of Sir Alexander Fleming, Scottish discoverer of penicillin.
7 August 1840 Britain bans the employment of climbing boys as chimney sweeps.
8 August 1963 Britain’s Great Train Robbery – £2.6 M stolen from Royal Mail.
9 August 1757 Birth of Thomas Telford, Scottish civil engineer credited with opening up northern Scotland by building roads, bridges and waterways.
10 August 1675 King Charles II lays the foundation stone of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
11 August 1897 Birth of best-selling children’s writer Enid Blyton, whose books have been among the world’s best-sellers since the 1930s, with more than 600 million sold.
12 August 1822 Lord Castlereagh, British Foreign Secretary, commits suicide. In his role as Foreign Secretary he managed the coalition that defeated Napoleon.
13 August 1964 Peter Allen and John Walby become the last people to be hanged in Britain.
14 August 1945 Japan surrenders to the Allies, ending the Second World War.
15 August 1888 Birth of Thomas Edward Lawrence ‘of Arabia’.
16 August 1819 The Peterloo Massacre took place in Manchester at St. Peter’s Fields.
17 August 1896 Mrs. Bridget Driscoll of Croydon, Surrey, became the first pedestrian in Britain to die after being hit by a car.
18 August 1587 Birth of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parents to be born in the Roanoke Colony in what is now North Carolina, USA. What became of Virginia and the other early colonists remains a mystery to this day.
19 August 1646 Birth of John Flamsteed, Britain’s first Astronomer Royal. He would go on to publish a catalogue that identified 2,935 stars.
20 August 1940 Winston Churchill referring to the RAF pilots, says ” Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.
21 August 1765 King William IV born. William would go on to serve in the Royal Navy, earning him the nickname the “Sailor King”.
22 August 1485 Richard III becomes the last English king to die in battle, killed at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire.
23 August 1940 The first night of the Blitz as German planes bomb the city of London.
24 August 1875 Matthew Webb (Captain Webb) started his attempt from Dover in Kent, to become the first person to swim the English Channel. He reached Calais, France at 10.40 am the following morning, having been in the water for 22 hours.
25 August 1919 World’s first international daily air service begins between London and Paris.
26 August 1346 With the help of the longbow the English army of Edward III defeats the French at the Battle of Crecy.
27 August 1900 Britain’s first long distance bus service begins between London and Leeds. The journey time being 2 days!
28 August 1207 Liverpool is created a Borough by King John.
29 August 1842 Great Britain and China sign the Treaty of Nanking, ending the First Opium War. As part of the treaty China gave the territory of Hong Kong to the British.
30 August 1860 Britain’s first tramway opens in Birkenhead, near Liverpool.
31 August 1900 Coca Cola is sold for the first time in Britain.

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