‘The London Book of Days’ is a wonderful new memoir documenting noteworthy daily events in the capital from over the last few hundred years. Author Peter de Loriol has compiled a year’s worth of memorable moments from our city’s past; some you’ll recognise, others will surprise you. We like it so much that we’ve decided to post our fave weekly highlights from the vaults of time which we think might raise a smile and even ruffle some dusty feathers! Here’s what happened this week in London…
April 15th 2008: The Times reported that William Lyttle, a retired engineer nicknamed the ‘Mole Man’, spent forty years excavating a maze of tunnels beneath his Victorian property in Hackney and was facing a bill of almost £300,000 from the London borough of Hackney to cover the cost of repairs after his house nearly collapsed.
April 16th 1885: Mrs Mary Jeffries, owner of three brothels in Kensington, a flagellation house in Hampstead and a Chamber of Horrors in Gray’s Inn Road, was today charged with keeping a disorderly house at the Middlesex Sessions. She arrived at Court on 5 May in a brougham, pleaded guilty, was fined £200 and bailed for £200. She paid one and a titled officer stood surety for the other. She was back in business the next day. (Pall Mall Gazette).
April 17th 1999: A nail bomb exploded in Brixton, injuring at least forty-five people. Four of the casualties were seriously hurt and kept in hospital overnight. A market trader was handed a bag containing a nail bomb but it exploded before the police could disarm it. It was thought that the target was the largely black clientele of Brixton Market. (Daily Mail)
April 18th 1968: John Rennie’s 1825 London Bridge was sold to Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for $2,460,000- it was subsequently disassembled, the pieces numbered and reassembled at Lake Havasu City. (Evening News)
April 19th 1951: The first Miss World Beauty Contest was held today in London. Devised by Eric Morley, an executive with Mecca Ltd, it coincided with the Festival of Britain. Of the thirty contestants only five were foreign. Kiki Haakonson, a Stolkholm policeman’s daughter won. (The Times)
April 20th 1901: The final tie for the FA Cup was between Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United at Crystal Palace, Sydenham: 114,000 people attended and it ended with a 2-2 draw. It would be replayed at Bolton a week later. (Illustrated London News)
April 21st 1955: On this day 700 printing machinery maintenance men for the newspaper industry stopped their strike at Fleet Street after nearly a month. (Evening News)
For more info about ‘The London Book of Days’ (£9.99), see thehistorypress.co.uk.