Anniversaries, 2020

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 11:37 am

Spitfire, V1, IWMWhich anniversaries are being marked in Britain in 2020?  Here is a selection of noteworthy events and birthdays for you.  You can be sure that each one will be on someone’s calendar for 2020 – and each one offers an insight into Britain’s story.  A Bit About Britain only highlights significant anniversaries – centenaries, half centuries and quarter centuries – otherwise we’d be here all night.  We also mention British celebrities whose 100th, 75th or 50th birthdays might be celebrated this year.  Links to pages or sites with more information have been provided where appropriate or available.  There are also several product links to Amazon: if you buy ANYTHING on Amazon having first clicked one of these links, A Bit About Britain might earn some commission; that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

If you feel anything or anyone has been left out, please get in touch via the Contact Page.

Scroll through to spot those occasions that may have slipped your mind, or click on a year below to go straight to featured events for it.

795AD – 1,225th anniversary 870AD – 1,150th anniversary 1120 – 900th anniversary
1170 – 850th anniversary 1295 – 725th anniversary 1320 – 700th anniversary
1420 – 600th anniversary 1470 – 550th anniversary 1495 – 525th anniversary
1570 – 450th anniversary 1620 – 400th anniversary 1645 – 375th anniversary
1670 – 350th anniversary 1695 – 325th anniversary 1720 – 300th anniversary
1745 – 275th anniversary 1770 – 250th anniversary 1795 – 225th anniversary
1820 – 200th anniversary 1845 – 175th anniversary 1870 – 150th anniversary
1895 – 125th anniversary 1920 – 100th anniversary 1945 – 75th anniversary
1970 – 50th anniversary 1995 – 25th anniversary

795AD – 1,225th anniversary of…

The Viking attack on Iona.  The assault on the island, monastic community and burial place of kings, followed similar attacks on Jarrow the previous year and on Lindisfarne in 793. These holy communities were centres of learning and did not expect to be attacked.  They were also wealthy and the monks were unarmed.  Many of the younger inhabitants would have been enslaved and the Vikings must have been delighted to find such easy plunder.  Iona was attacked again in 802, in 806 – when 68 monks were massacred – and again in 825.

Iona Abbey

870 – 1,150th anniversary of…

The fall of Dumbarton.  After a four-month siege, the Viking Kings of Dublin, Ivar and Olaf, sacked Dumbarton, stronghold of the British Kingdom of Strathclyde.  The plunder and number of slaves seized – British, English and Pictish – was so reputedly so great that a fleet of 200 longships was needed to carry everything away.

1120 – 900th anniversary of…

The sinking of the White Ship.  The White Ship, la Blanche Nef, was sailing from Normandy to England on 25 November when it struck a rock.  On board were William Adelin (William Ætheling), son of Henry I of England and heir to the throne, two of Henry’s illegitimate children and about 150 other nobles.  All on board were apparently drunk and all but one, including William, drowned.  The consequent succession crisis following Henry I’s death in 1135 resulted in the terrible civil war known as ‘the Anarchy’, which lasted until 1153.

1170 – 850th anniversary of…

The murder of Thomas à Becket.  King Henry II and his erstwhile friend, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, fell out over the boundaries between church and royal power.  This culminated in Thomas excommunicating bishops who had collaborated with the king, following which – according to tradition – the exasperated king demanded, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”  Four knights, Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton, interpreted this as some kind of instruction, set off for Canterbury and gruesomely murdered Thomas in the north transept of his own cathedral.

The murder of Thomas a Becket

1295 – 725th anniversary of…

The Model Parliament.  England’s King Edward I called Parliament often, to raise money for his wars against the French, Welsh and Scots.  Edward’s Parliament of November 1295 included two knights to represent each county and two burgesses for each town or borough. Thus historians deem it established the principle, or ‘model’, for future parliaments consisting of three institutions – the Commons, Lords and Monarch.

1320 – 700th anniversary of…

The Declaration of Arbroath. The Declaration of Arbroath is probably the most famous document in Scottish history and seen by many as a foundation for the Scottish nation.  It is a diplomatic letter to the Pope, probably drafted by Abbot Barnard of Arbroath, and sent to Pope John XXII in April/May 1320.  It is sealed by eight earls and about forty barons and asks the Pope to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as its rightful king.  Its most famous passage is:

“As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself”.

1420 – 600th anniversary of…

King Henry V, 1413-1422The Treaty of Troyes.  The Treaty of Troyes was an Anglo-French agreement in May 1420 that Henry V of England and his heirs would inherit the throne of France on the death of the then King of France, Charles VI.  It also provided that Henry married Charles’ daughter, Catherine of Valois. However, both Henry and Charles died in 1422 and Henry’s plans unravelled.  Henry and Catherine’s infant son, Henry VI, was unable to effectively press his claim to the French throne – though he was actually crowned King of France at Notre Dame in 1431.  By 1453, most English lands in France had been lost and Henry VI’s inadequacies largely provoked the English civil war known as the Wars of the Roses.  His mother, Catherine, went on to have a liaison with Owen Tudor, which resulted in a new royal dynasty when their grandson became Henry VII in 1485.

1470 – 550th anniversary of…

The Battle of Losecoat Field.  The Battle of Losecoat Field (also known as the Battle of Empingham) was fought on 12 March 1470 between the forces of Yorkist King Edward IV and a rebel Lancastrian force supported by the king’s brother, the Duke of Clarence, and his former friend and mentor, the Earl of Warwick.  The rebels were easily defeated in under an hour and Warwick and Clarence publicly went over to the Lancastrian cause.  The popular explanation for the name of the battle is that the routed Lancastrians threw off distinguishing clothing when fleeing. However, this explanation is disputed and contemporary accounts refer to the battle site as Hornfield. The battle took place about a mile from the village of Empingham and is the only battle ever to have been fought in the tiny English county of Rutland.

1495 – 525th anniversary of…

The foundation of the University of Aberdeen.  The University of Aberdeen was founded as King’s College by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen and Chancellor of Scotland. The aim was to train doctors, teachers and clergy for the communities of northern Scotland, and lawyers and administrators to serve the Scottish Crown.  The University of Aberdeen is Scotland’s third oldest and the UK’s fifth oldest university.

Field of Cloth of Gold

1520 – 500th anniversary of…

The Field of Cloth of Gold.  The Field of the Cloth of Gold was an extravagant 16th century summit meeting between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France.  It involved much feasting and jollity, took place near Guisnes to the south of Calais from 7-24 June 1520 and is named for the quantities of ‘cloth of gold’, a sumptuous fabric woven with silk and gold thread, that was used in the elaborate temporary buildings erected on the site.

William Cecil’s birthday.  William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, was born on 13 September 1520.  He was chief advisor to Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, a significant figure in Britain’s history and builder of Burghley House near Stamford. Happy Birthday, Bill.

1570 – 450th anniversary of…

The Pope declaring Queen Elizabeth I to be a heretic.  The papal bull, Regnans in Excelsis (‘ruling from on high’) issued on 25 February 1570 by Pope Pius V declared Elizabeth I to be a heretic and released all of her Catholic subjects from any allegiance to her. It effectively pronounced open season on the Queen of England.

1620 – 400th anniversary of…

Mayflower, Pilgrim Fathers, Plymouth, New WorldThe Pilgrim Fathers.  The Pilgrim Fathers set sail in the Mayflower from Plymouth on 16 September (new style) 1620 and headed to the New World.  They arrived at Cape Cod in November and at Plymouth Rock in December.  Here, they drew up The Mayflower Compact, a 200-word document establishing basic governing principles for the group and the first political document created in the New World.


1645 – 375th anniversary of…

The Battle of Naseby.  The Battle of Naseby, fought in the north of Northamptonshire on 14 June 1645, was the decisive battle in the so-called English Civil War and one of the most important battles ever fought in Britain.  Parliament’s New Model Army commanded by Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell effectively destroyed the Royalist army.

1670 – 350th anniversary of…

The Hudson’s Bay Company.  King Charles II granted a charter to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay.”  The company’s fur traders were the first regular British presence in what became Canada.  Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is now a Canadian company, the oldest in North America, concentrating on department stores and property.

1695 – 325th anniversary of…

Foundation of the Bank of Scotland.  Bank of Scotland was founded by an Act of the Scottish Parliament on 17 July 1695. It is Scotland’s first and oldest bank, and post-dates the Bank of England by just one year. The Bank was set up primarily to develop Scotland’s trade, mainly with England and the Low Countries. It began business in February 1696, with a working capital of £120,000 Scots (£10,000 sterling).

1720 – 300th anniversary of…

The South Sea Bubble.  The South Sea Company, founded in 1711 to trade with South America, saw a rapid rise in its share value, followed by collapse.  When the bubble burst, many speculators were ruined.  The situation was partly fuelled by fraudulent or corrupt dealing.

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s birthday.  Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart was born in Rome on 31 December 1720.  Also known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and ‘the Young Pretender’, he was the elder son of James Francis Edward Stuart, ‘the Old Pretender’, and grandson of James II and VII. Happy Birthday, BPC.

1745 – 275th anniversary of…

The ’45 rebellion.  The Jacobite Rising of 1745 commenced when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the Stuart banner at Glenfinnan on 19 August 1745 and proclaimed his father king James VIII of Scotland and III of England.  His rebel army got as far as Derby, before retreating and final defeat at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746.

Glenfinnan Memorial, Loch Shiel, the 45, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Stuart standard

1770 – 250th anniversary of…

New South Wales.  Lieutenant James Cook spent the spring and summer of 1770 sailing up the east coast of New Holland, now Australia, which he formally claimed on behalf of Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.

William Wordsworth’s birthday.  The poet William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland (now Cumbria). Happy Birthday, William.

1795 – 225th anniversary of…

Mungo Park exploring the Gambia and Niger rivers. Selkirk-born Mungo Park left Portsmouth on 22 May 1795 and, after many adventures, returned to Scotland on 22 December 1797.  It had been assumed that he was dead.

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  The first stone of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Shropshire Canal was laid on 25 July 1795. It is the largest aqueduct in Britain, 1,007 feet (306.9m) long, spanning the valley over the River Dee 126 feet (38.4m) below.

1820 – 200th anniversary of…

Anne Brontë', grave, ScarboroughAnne Brontë’s birthday.  Novellist Anne Brontë was born in Thornton, West Yorkshire, on 17 January 1820. She died in 1849 Scarborough, where she is buried.

The Cato Street Conspiracy. The Cato Street Conspiracy was a plot to murder the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, and members of the Cabinet, as they dined with a view to precipitating national revolution. A government agent had infiltrated the group planning the act and their headquarters in Cato Street, in London, was raided on 23 February 1820.  Five members of the group were transported for life and five ringleaders were hanged and posthumously decapitated.

HMS Beagle.  HMS Beagle, the ship that Charles Darwin sailed in during his first expedition around the world in 1831–36, was launched at Greenwich on 11 May 1820.

Florence Nightingale’s birthday.  Florence Nightingale, nursing pioneer and “The Lady with the Lamp” was born in Florence, Tuscany, on 12 May 1820.

1845 – 175th anniversary of…

The Great Famine.  In 1845, a blight caused the failure of the potato crop; the following year’s crop was as badly infected.  In Ireland, where the potato was the main means of subsistence for the majority of the population, an estimated 1.5 million people died of starvation: many more emigrated – to England, Scotland and further afield, to North America and Australia.

The Condition of the Working Class in England.  Friedrich Engels published ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’ in 1845, in his native German.  It was published in English in 1887 in New York and is still in print.

1870 – 150th anniversary of…

Education Act (Forster’s Act).  The Education act of 1870 established a network of secular primary schools alongside existing sectarian schools to provide elementary edukation for all up to the age of 11.

The Married Women’s Property Act.  The Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 allowed any money which a woman earned to be treated as her own property, and not her husband’s.

1895 – 125th anniversary of…

The National Trust.  The National Trust was founded on 12 January 1895 by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley. The National Trust is one of the largest charities in the UK and cares for more than 500 heritage properties, gardens, villages and areas of countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  As of 2019 it had 5.6 million members.  There is a separate National Trust for Scotland.

Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment.  On 25 May 1895, author and playright Oscar Wilde was convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years’ hard labour.

1920 – Centenaries in 2020

One hundred years ago…

Inauguration of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was inaugurated under the terms of the treaty of Versailles and held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920. It was initially headquartered in London, but on 1 November 1920 moved to Geneva, where the first general assembly was held on 15 November.

West Bromwich Albion won the Football League title.

Aston Villa beat Huddersfield Town 1–0 in the FA Cup Final.

At the San Remo conference on 25 April, the United Kingdom was granted a mandate to administer the previous Ottoman territories of Palestine and Mesopotamia (approximately modern Iraq and Kuwait).

Welwyn Garden City was established by Ebenezer Howard, founder of the garden city movement, on 29 April.  The first house was occupied just before Christmas.

The Louth Flood.  Torrential rain resulted in the tiny River Lud flooding in the small Lincolnshire town of Louth on 29 May.  At one point the water was 15 feet above its usual level and a torrent 200 yards wide swept through the town, resulting in 23 fatalities in 20 minutes.

The first roller coaster in the UK, the Scenic Railway, opened at Dreamland Amusement Park in Margate on 3 July.

The Anglo-Irish War was waging in Ireland, in which guerrilla and terrorist acts by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were countered, often brutally, by the army and police, particularly ‘the Black and Tans’, an armed auxiliary police force.  Violence was an almost daily occurrence.  Riots broke out in Belfast in July, following loyalists marching on the shipyards in an attempt to expel Catholics.  At least 14 people were killed and hundreds injured. On ‘Bloody Sunday’, 21 November, members of the IRA, on the instructions of Michael Collins, assassinated fourteen alleged members of the ‘the Cairo Gang’, a group of British undercover agents, in Dublin, mostly in their homes. That afternoon, members of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Black and Tans, indiscriminately fired on a crowd at a Gaelic Football match in Croke Park, killing fourteen, including one player.  Sixty more were wounded.  That evening, three members of the IRA were shot in Dublin Castle “while trying to escape”.  On 11 December, apparently in reprisal for an earlier IRA attack, British forces set fire to the centre of the city of Cork, destroying about five acres of residential and business premises. Two IRA men were assassinated.

On 23 December, Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which provided for the partition of Ireland into North and South and a limited measure of home rule, but not independence.

The first women to serve on a jury in England were empanelled at Bristol on 28 July 1920. In October, the University of Oxford admitted women to study for full degrees and enabled those who had previously studied to retrospectively receive the degrees to which they were entitled.  The first woman to gain honours in a University examination was Annie Mary Anne Henley Rogers, who had gained first class honours in Latin and Greek in 1877, followed in 1879 by first class honours in Ancient History.  She graduated on 26 October 1920.

Agatha Christie publishes her first novel, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’.  It was published in October 1920 in the United States and the following year in the UK and introduced the character of Hercule Poirot.

Unknown Warrior

Rupert Bear first appeared on 8 November in the Daily Express.  He was the creation of artist Mary Tourtel (1874-1948).

The body of the Unknown Warrior was brought home on 10 November, by the destroyer HMS Verdun.  The following day, Armistice Day, the gun carriage bearing the Unknown Warrior stood by the new Portland stone Cenotaph as it was unveiled by King George V and the Unknown Warrior was then interred in Westminster Abbey.

The first complete public performance of The Planets by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was given by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates on 15 November.

On Boxing Day 1920, the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies football team from Preston beat St Helen’s Ladies 4-0 at Goodison Park, watched by a crowd of 53,000. It was the highest attendance at a women’s football match anywhere until 60,739 fans watched Atlético Madrid take on rivals Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano in 2019.

 Born in 1920

Clive Dunn – actor perhaps best known for playing Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army was born on 9 January 1920 in Brixton, South London.  He died in 2012 in Faro, Portugal.

Alf Ramsey – Alfred Ernest Ramsey, footballer and manager of the England national team from 1963-74 (guiding them to victory in the 1966 World Cup), was born in Dagenham, Essex on 22 January 1920.  He died in Ipswich, Suffolk, in 1999.

Michael Anderson – Michael Joseph Anderson, film director whose credits include The Dam Busters (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and Logan’s Run (1976) was born on 30 January 1920 in London and died in Vancouver, Canada in 2018.

Frank Muir – Frank Herbert Muir, comedy writer, radio and television personality and raconteur was born in Ramsgate, Kent on 5 February 1920 and died in Thorpe, Surrey in 1998.

Leo McKern – Reginald McKern, Australian film, television and stage actor, possibly best-known for playing the title role in the successful UK TV series, Rumpole of the Bailey, (1978-92), was born in Sydney, New South Wales, on 16 March 1920.  He died in Bath, Somerset, in 2002.

Ronald Searle – Ronald William Fordham Searle, artist and cartoonist, possibly best known as the creator of the ghastly girls’ school, St Trinian’s, was born in Cambridge on 3 March 1920.  He was imprisoned by the Japanese during WW2 and worked on the Siam-Burma Railway. He died in Provence, France, in 2011.

Lewis Gilbert – Lewis Gilbert, film director, was born in Hackney, London on 6 March 1920.  His works included ‘Reach for the Sky’ (1956), ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ (1958), ‘Alfie’ (1966), ‘Educating Rita’ (1983), ‘Shirley Valentine’ (1989) and three James Bond films: ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967), ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977) and ‘Moonraker’ (1979). He died in Monaco in 2018.

Jack Odell – John William Odell was the inventor of Matchbox toys and a founder of Lesney Products.  He was born in East London and died in Barnet, Hertfordshire, in 2007.

Patrick Troughton – Patrick George Troughton, actor best known as the second Doctor Who (1966-69), was born in Mill Hill, Middlesex, on 25 March 1920.  He died in Columbus, Georgia, USA in 1987.

Ronald Chesney – René Lucien Cadier, harmonica player and scriptwriter, was born to French parents in London on 4 May 1920. He is best-known for TV sitcoms written in partnership with Ronald Wolfe (1922-2011), including ‘The Rag Trade’ and ‘On the Buses’.  He died in Kingston, Surrey, in 2018.

Richard Adams – Richard George Adams, novelist, whose best-known work is ‘Watership Down’ (1974), was born in Newbury, Berkshire on 9 May 1920. He died in Oxford in 2016.

Johnny Speight – TV comedy scriptwriter was born in Canning Town, London, on 2 June 1920 and died in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, in 1998. His best-known work was probably the sitcom ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ (1965-75).

Anthony Barber – Anthony Perrinott Lysberg Barber, Conservative politician and businessman, was born in Kingston upon Hull on 4 July 1920.  He died in Suffolk in 2005.

Leslie Porter – Leslie Posament, businessman, chairman and managing director of Tesco Stores, was born on 10 July 1920 in Streatham, London and died in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2005.

P D James – Phyllis Dorothy James, writer most famous for her crime fiction, was born in Oxford on 3 August 1920 and died in the same city in 2014.

Christopher Robin Milne – Christopher Robin Milne, bookseller and only son of A A Milne and Daphne de Sélincourt, was born in Chelsea, London, on 21 August 1920.  He was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin character in his father’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories and died in Totnes, Devon, in 1996.

James Molyneaux – James Henry Molyneaux, Ulster Unionist politician and leader, was born on 27 August 1920 in Killead, County Antrim and died in 2015, also in Killead.

Peter Vansittart – Peter Vansittart, writer best known as a historical novelist, was born in Bedford on 27 August 1920 and died in Ipswich in died 2008.

Dick Francis – Richard Stanley Francis, jockey and crime novelist, was born on 31 October 1920 in Lawrenny (or Tenby?), Pembrokeshire and died in Grand Cayman in 2010.

Roy Jenkins – Roy Harris Jenkins, politician and reformer in the Labour, Social Democrat and Liberal Democrat parties, and author, was born on 11 November 1920 in Abersychan, Monmouthshire and died in 2003 in East Hendred, Oxfordshire.

Bernard Weatherill – Bruce Bernard Weatherill, Conservative politician and Speaker of the House of Commons, was born in London on 25 November 1920 and died in Caterham, Surrey, in 2007.

Merlyn Rees – Merlyn Rees, Labour politician, was born in Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd, Glamorgan on 18 December 1920.  He died in London in 2006.

1945 – 75th anniversary of…

News in 1945 was inevitably dominated by the closing events and end of the Second World War.

Little Boy, atom bomb4 February – the Yalta Conference.  Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin meet at Yalta in the Crimea to discuss the post-war reorganisation of Germany and Europe.

27 January – Soviet troops entered Auschwitz concentration camp the camp.  27 January is now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

13 February – the first of four massive bombing raids by the RAF and USAAF on the city of Dresden.

Uncertain date – possibly March – publication of ‘Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder’ by Evelyn Waugh.

10 March – 70 German prisoners of war tunnelled out of Island Farm Camp 198 at Bridgend.  It was the largest escape attempt by German POWs in the UK during the War.

15 April – the 11th Armoured Division occupied Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

25 April – Soviet and US troops met at the Elbe River, near Torgau.

30 April – with Soviet troops closing in, Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker.

7 May – Germany surrenders unconditionally. War ends in Europe.

8 May – VE Day (Victory in Europe).

9 May – The Channel Islands, occupied by the Germans since 30 June 1940, were liberated.

Clement Atlee26 June – the Charter of the United Nations was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, USA.

5 July – Labour won a landslide in the UK’s first General Election for 10 years.  Wartime leader Churchill was beaten and Clement Atlee became Prime Minister.

17 July – The Potsdam Conference to discuss the future administration of Germany was attended by Winston Churchill and Clement Atlee for the UK, Harry S Truman for the US (President Roosevelt having died on 12 April) and Joseph Stalin for the USSR.

6 August – the United States detonated an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

8 August – The Soviet Union declares war on Japan and invades occupied Manchuria with a million troops.

9 August – the United States detonated an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

15 August – Japanese radio broadcast Emperor Hirohito’s recorded message of unconditional surrender.  Formal surrender of Japan (and therefore the end of the Second World War) took place on board the battleship USS Missouri on 2 September. 15 August is VJ (Victory over Japan) Day in the UK.

17 August – George Orwell published ‘Animal Farm’.

13 November – release of the film ‘Brief Encounter’, written by Noël Coward, directed by David Lean and starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.

20 November The Nuremberg War Trials start, which resulted in the execution of 11 leading Nazis and the imprisonment of 7 others.

Born in 1945 – Happy 75th Birthday to:

David Starkey – David Robert Starkey, historian, TV and radio presenter and contributor, was born on 3 January 1945 in Kendal, Cumbria.

Barry John – Barry John, rugby player, was born in Cefneithin, Carmarthenshire on 6 January 1945.

Rod Stewart – Roderick David Stewart, vocalist, songwriter, model railway and football enthusiast, was born in Highgate, London, on 10 January 1945.

Rocco Forte – Rocco Giovanni Forte, hotelier, was born in Bournemouth on 18 January 1945.

Martin Shaw – Martin Shaw, actor, was born in Birmingham on 21 January 1945.

Jacqueline du Pré – Jacqueline Mary du Pré, cellist, was born in Oxford on 26 January 1945.  She died in London in 1987.

Ashley Hutchings – Ashley Stephen Hutchings, musician (bass and vocals) and founding member of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Albion Band, was born in Southgate, London, on 26 January 1945.

Richard Dearlove – Richard Billing Dearlove, intelligence officer and former Head of the Secret Intelligence Service (‘MI6’) was born on 23 January 1945 in Gorran Haven, Cornwall.

Charlotte Rampling – Tessa Charlotte Rampling, actress, was born on 5 February 1945 in Sturmer, Essex.

Bob Marley – Robert Nesta Marley, musician, was born in Jamaica on 6 February 1945.  He died in Miami, Florida, USA on 11 May 1981.

Simon Schama – Simon Michael Schama, historian and TV presenter, was born in Marylebone, London, on 13 February 1945.

Alan Hull – James Alan Hull, musician and founding member of the folk-rock band Lindisfarne, was born in Benwell, Newcastle Upon Tyne, on 20 February 1945.  He died in North Shields in 1995.

Elkie Brooks – Elaine Bookbinder, singer, was born in Salford on 25 February 1945.

Robin Trower – Robin Leonard Trower, guitarist – perhaps most famously with the band Procul Harum – was born in Catford, South East London, on 9 March 1945.

Eric Clapton – Eric Patrick Clapton, guitarist and songwriter, was born in Ripley, Surrey, on 30 March 1945.

Rodney Bickerstaffe – Rodney Kevan Bickerstaffe, trades union official, was born in Hammersmith, London, on 6 April 1945.  He died in 2017.

Ritchie Blackmore – Richard Hugh Blackmore, guitarist and founder member of the heavy rock band Deep Purple, was born in Weston-super-Mare on 14 April 1945.

Alan Ball – Alan James Ball, footballer (with a variety of clubs, including Blackpool, Everton and Arsenal, as well as a member of England’s 1966 World Cup team), was born on 12 May 1945 at Farnworth, Lancashire.  He died in 2007 in Warsash, Hampshire.

Nicky Chinn – Nicholas Barry Chinn, pop songwriter and record producer known for his partnership with Mike Chapman, who produced hits for a variety of acts including The Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Mud, New World, Toni Basil, Racey, Smokie, Tina Turner and Huey Lewis, was born in London on 16 May 1945.

Pete Townshend – Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend, musician and songwriter best known as the guitarist and co-founder of The Who, was born in Chiswick, West London, on 19 May 1945.

Gary Brooker – musician, songwriter and founder of the band Procol Harum, was born in Hackney, East London, on 29 May 1945).

Pat Jennings – Patrick Anthony Jennings, football goalkeeper most notably with Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and the Northern Ireland team, was born in Newry, County Down, on 12 June 1945.

Ken Livingstone – Kenneth Robert Livingstone, left-wing (one-time Labour) politician, the first Mayor of London and newt-enthusiast, was born in Lambeth, London, on 17 June 1945.

David Knights – David John Knights, the original bass player with Procul Harum, was born in Islington, London, on 28 June 1945.

Michael Ancram – Michael Andrew Foster Jude Kerr, Conservative politician and Chief of the Clan Kerr, was born in London on 7 July 1945.

John Lodge – John Charles Lodge, musician and songwriter with The Moody Blues, was born on 20 July 1945 in Erdington, Birmingham.

Helen Mirren – Helen Lydia Mironoff, actress, was born in Hammersmith, London, on 26 July 1945.

Ian Gillan – Ian Gillan, vocalist, most famously with Deep Purple, was born in Chiswick, West London, on 19 August 1945.

Van Morrison – George Ivan ‘Van’ Morrison, singer and songwriter, initially with Them, was born in Belfast on 31 August 1945.

Bryan Ferry – Bryan Ferry, singer, musician and founder of Roxy Music, was born in Washington, County Durham on 26 September 1945.

John McVie – John Graham McVie, musician best known as the bass player with Fleetwood Mac (whose name is formed from his surname combined with Mick Fleetwood’s) was born in Ealing, West London, on 26 November 1945.

Jacqueline Wilson – Jacqueline Aitken, novelist best known for her children’s books, was born in Bath, Somerset, on 17 December 1945.

Lemmy – Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilminster, bassist and singer with Hawkwind and founder of Motörhead, was born in Stoke-on-Trent on 24 December 1945.  He died in Los Angeles, USA, on 28 December 2015.

Eve Pollard – Evelyn Pollak, newspaper editor, was born in London on 25 December 1945.

Davy Jones – David Thomas Jones, actor and lead singer with manufactured pop group The Monkees, was born in Openshaw, Manchester, on 30 December 1945.  He died in Florida, USA, on 29 February 2012.

1970 – 50th Anniversary of…

Ted HeathAhead of decimalisation, the half crown coin – two shillings and sixpence (12½p) – ceased to be legal tender in January, followed by the ten shilling (50p) note in November.

On 6 March, the Government announced an indefinite ban on the importation of domestic pets following the death from rabies of a dog Newmarket.

The first teen election.  Eighteen-year-olds were allowed to vote for the first time at the Bridgwater by-election on 13 March.  This was also the first time ballot papers were marked with the name of the party as well as the candidates. The election was won by the 36-year old Conservative candidate, Tom King.

Everton won the Football League First Division title.  And Chelsea beat Leeds United 2-1 in the FA Cup final replay.

The end of the Beatles.  In a press release on 10 April to promote his forthcoming McCartney album, Paul McCartney announced a break with the Beatles. The Beatles’ last album to be released, Let It Be, mostly recorded in early 1969, prior to Abbey Road, was released on 8 May.  John Lennon’s first solo album, ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’, was released on 11 December.  On 31 December, Paul filed a lawsuit to dissolve The Beatles’ partnership.

Launch of the Range Rover.  British Leyland launched its luxury Range Rover in June 1970, advertising it as “A Car For All Reasons” and a more urban alternative to the Land Rover.

In the General Election on 18 June, the Conservatives won with a majority of 30 seats and Edward Heath became Prime Minister, replacing Labour’s Harold Wilson.

On 21 June, Tony Jacklin won the US (golf) Open.

A state of emergency. The Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling, declared a state of emergency on 16 July following UK dockers’ going on strike to raise their basic weekly wage to £11.  The action involved about 46,000 workers and troops were put on standby.  Opposition leader Harold Wilson pledged the Labour Party’s support for the Conservative Government’s decision. In the event, the dockers’ union voted to accept a 7% pay rise and return to work on 30 July

Black Tot Day. 31 July 1970 was the last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy, a practice dating back to 1655.

British aircraft hijacked by Palestinians.  On 9 September, BOAC Flight 775 from Bombay (Mumbai) to London via Bahrain was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) after taking off from Bahrain.  It was one of five airliners hijacked at that time and the first British aircraft to be hijacked. All on board survived.

Death of Jimi Hendrix.  US guitarist Jimi Hendrix died in Notting Hill on the morning of 18 September.  He was 27.  His flat in Brook Street, and George Frideric Handel’s house next door, are open to the public – take a look.

First Glastonbury Festival.  The very first Glastonbury Festival was held the day after Hendrix’s death, on Saturday 19 September.  Tickets for the then one-day “Pilton Pop, Folk & Blues Festival” were £1 and the headline act was Tyrannosaurus Rex (featuring Marc Bolan), replacing The Kinks at the last moment. Here’s the current Glastonbury website.

Gay Liberation Front founded.  The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was founded by students Bob Mellors and Aubrey Walter and first met on 13 October 1970 at the London School of Economics.

First Page Three Girl.  On 17 November, The Sun newspaper began showing photographs of topless girls on its Page 3.  Circulation boomed.  The practice ended in 2017.  The first girl was 22-year old model Stephanie Kahn (sometimes shown as Rahn), who later changed her name to Stefanie Marrian.

Britain's Calendar, Events, things to do

Born in 1970 – Happy 50th Birthday to:

Andy Burnham – Andrew Murray Burnham, Labour politician, was born in Aintree, Lancashire (now Merseyside) on 7 January 1970.

Minnie Driver – Amelia Fiona Driver, actress, was born in Marylebone, London, on 31 January 1970.

Simon Pegg – Simon John Beckingham, actor, comedian and writer, was born on 14 February 1970 in Brockworth, Gloucestershire.

Louis Theroux – Louis Sebastian Theroux, journalist and documentary filmmaker, was born in Singapore on 20 May 1970.

Naomi Campbell – Naomi Elaine Campbell, model, was born in Streatham, south London, on 22 May 1970.

Jason Orange – Jason Thomas Orange, singer (with Take That) and actor, was born in Crumpsall, Manchester on 10 July 1970.

Alan Shearer – Alan Shearer, footballer (Southampton, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and the England national side) and TV pundit, was born in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 13 August 1970.

Matthew Pinsent – Matthew Clive Pinsent, rower, was born in Holt, Norfolk, on 10 October 1970.

Zoë Ball – Zoë Louise Ball, radio DJ and TV presenter, was born in Blackpool on 23 November 1970.

Aled Jones – Aled Jones, singer, TV and radio presenter, was born on 29 December 1970 in Bangor, Gwynedd.

1995 – 25th anniversary

Doesn’t time fly?

On 1 January 1995, serial killer Fred West was found hanging in his cell at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham. His wife, Rosemary, was convicted of ten murders later in the year.

In February, Rumbelows, the electrical goods retailer, disappeared from the high street, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock became a European Commissioner and Barings Bank, the UK’s oldest merchant bank, founded in 1762, collapsed following the dealings of rogue trader, Nick Leeson; and The Diary of Bridget Jones column appeared in The Independent newspaper.

Also in 1995, the South Korean manufacturer, Daewoo, began selling cars in the UK, Blackburn Rovers become FA Premier League champions, and Everton won the FA Cup, beating Manchester United 1-0 in the final at Wembley.

On 14 June, Pauline Clare became the first woman chief constable when she was appointed Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary. In July, the Pensions Act 1995 set out to phase in a state pension age for women at 65, equalising it with that for men, and Britain sent 1,200 troops to relieve the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

In November, GoldenEye, the seventeenth James Bond movie and the first to star Pierce Brosnan, was released.  And in the budget, Chancellor Ken Clarke cut the basic level of income tax to 24p.

Notable book of the year? – ‘Northern Lights’ by Philip Pullman, published in July.

You might also be interested in A Bit About Britain’s timelines.

56 thoughts on “Anniversaries, 2020”

  1. Great site, love the eclectic mix of items. Your “1970 – 75th Anniversary of…” with the smiling face of Ted Heath is getting a bit ahead of itself; from 2020 I make 1970 fifty years ago, not 75.

  2. Thanks so much for your work on this, fascinating to skim through, I’m looking out for the important historical anniversaries this year as I have a military antiques business, looking forward to celebrating VE Day as an early May Bank Holiday! Also love anniversaries of pop culture and things to do with women, so love all of your blog! Next year I will be 50, which will be of significance to me ☺

    1. Thank you very much! Glad you like the site. I bet your business is interesting – reckon I’d be like a kid in sweetshop looking at your stock. As for the 50 thing, trust me, it’s relatively painless – though of course the following morning can be a little tricky 🙂

  3. great job on the research; I can’t believe the University of Aberdeen was founded in 1495, and that there are still four universities older than it! Makes the U.S. look like an adolescent compared to Britain…

  4. Cheryl Lee McKenzie

    You guys sure do have some significant anniversaries over there. I may have to re-read Murder in the Cathedral to commemorate Becket’s demise.

  5. Admittedly, I did not manage to read the entire post, but a quick scan shows just how much there is to commemorate or celebrate this year – and if you compiled the same list for other countries, you’d find just as many events, births and so on.
    Over here, 2020 is mainly going to be Beethoven’s year, just like last year was Leonardo Da Vinci’s year.

    1. Well, these things aren’t necessarily intended to be read fully of course – though I’m glad when people do. Naturally, similar lists could be compiled for other countries – but this website’s about Britain; you should do one for Germany!

  6. I am astounded by how much information you packed into one blog post! It is mind-boggling to skim through centuries of history — getting glimpses into the (often bloody) decisions that we human beings have made year after year after year here on planet earth. Thank you for your scholarship AND your willingness to share it with all of us readers. I look forward to learning more in 2020. I think reading blog posts like yours from around the world will be my main form of travel for the next few years — until we, hopefully, have curbed our wildly-out-of-balance human consumption of fossil fuels!

  7. Was your spelling of “edukation” a deliberate attempt to see who would be first to spot it? If so I claim the prize.
    1170 also marks the 850th aniversary of the Norman invasion of Ireland. The incident in Canterbury Cathedral had some bearing on that, some historians contending that Henry II’s decision to become involved was, in part, to atone for Becket’s murder.

  8. Hi Mike – wonderful … and I’ll be back regularly to check out and see what’s happening. Always thorough – these are just delightful to know about … thanks and have a very happy 2020 – cheers Hilary

  9. artandarchitecturemainly

    Out of the 2398529858428928624 blogs on line, you are one of my very favourite, thanks 🙂 The anniversary I am most interested in is King Charles II’s charter to the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay. Not only because it was clever and innovative, but because the company’s fur traders created links with the Empire that were not based on conquest and war.

      1. artandarchitecturemainly


        Apparently there are 600 million blogs in the world today, 70% of them in English. But “million” is such a small, modest word… I wanted something more impressive 🙂

  10. That was a job of work!
    SeeingBonnie Prince Charlie’s names I had to think for a bit before remembering that the Old Pretender had married a Polish princess…thanks for making the little grey cells come out of Christmas hibernation!

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