The First Plantagenet
1133 The birth of King Henry II, who was to become the first Plantagenet king of England.
1850 Robert Stephenson’s Britannia bridge, linking Bangor, Wales to the Isle of Anglesey, was opened. Unable to use an arch design because the Admiralty would not allow the strait to be closed to the passage of sailing ships, Stephenson conceived the idea of using a pair of completely enclosed iron tubes, rectangular in section, supported in the centre by a pier built on Britannia Rock. The bridge carries the London to Holyhead railway across the Menai Strait.
1936 The British fighter plane Spitfire made its first test flight from Eastleigh, Southampton, powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. It was designed by Reginald Mitchell and was the fighter plane that helped to win the Battle of Britain. Mitchell died in 1937 without ever knowing how successful his aircraft would become. The Spitfire was first put into service with the Royal Air Force in 1938 and they remained in active service (as photo reconnaissance planes) with the Royal Air Force until 1954.
The Maiden Flight
1943 The first flight of the Gloster Meteor jet aircraft. It was the first British jet fighter and the Allies’ first operational jet. The Meteor’s development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, developed by Sir Frank Whittle.
The Iron Curtain
1946 Prime Minister Winston Churchill coined the phrase ‘The Iron Curtain’ as the divide between Eastern and Western Europe.
Elaine’s Page in History
1948 The birth of Elaine Paige, singer and actress. Her debut was in the 1968 production of Hair. She played Eva Perón in the first production of Evita in 1978 which won her the Laurence Olivier Award for Performance of the Year in a Musical.
2002 Prime Minister Tony Blair was urged by 39 MPs not to back military action in Iraq.