Thursday, June 24, 2010

POPnews (UK) - June 24th

[As is usually the case with great works of infrastructure, the story of the building of the Humber Bridge is nearly as epic as the span itself... While plans for the structure were first drawn up in the 1930s - and then revised in 1955 - it wasn't approved until 1959 with the passage of the Humber Bridge Act (which had been promoted by the Kingston Upon Hull Corporation). It was the 1966 Hull North by-election, though, which finally cleared the way for the actual building to begin; the seat - vacated by the death of Labour MP Henry Solomons - was held by the government of Harold Wilson largely due to the promise of its eventual construction. Having retained the seat, Wilson then prevailed upon his Minister of Transport Barbara Castle to secure the funding. That took until July 1972, when work finally began; then, of course, there were the usual plethora of tea breaks... It took so long to build the bridge, in fact, that Christopher Rowe had time to write a song about it, which he fittingly entitled The Humber Bridge.]

1314 - The Battle of Bannockburn concluded the First War of Scottish Independence with a decisive victory by Robert the Bruce's Scottish forces; Scotland regained its independence in the aftermath of this battle, though the victory owed more to the ineptitude of Edward II than to the prowess of the Scottish King, who'd previously been soundly defeated by Edward I on a number of occasions.

1340 - At the outset of the Hundred Years' War most of the French fleet was destroyed by the English - commanded in person by King Edward III - at the Battle of Sluys, during which the French Admiral Hugues QuiƩret was also slain.

1497 - Cornish traitors Michael An Gof and Thomas Flamank were executed at Tyburn in London for their part in that year's Cornish Rebellion against the rule of King Henry VII.

1509 - Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were crowned King and Queen of England in a lavish double ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

1717 - The Grand Lodge of England - the first Grand Lodge (now the United Grand Lodge of England) in the tradition of Freemasonry - was founded at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House, in London's St Paul’s Churchyard; Anthony Sayer was elected to serve as the first Grand Master.

1902 - King Edward VII developed appendicitis, two days before his coronation; Sir Frederick Treves (with the assistance of Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister) performed a then-new life-saving operation, and the coronation went ahead a little more than six weeks later, making all those coronation souvenirs with the old date on them highly collectible.

1981 - The Humber Bridge - connecting Hessle in Yorkshire and Barton-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire over the Humber estuary near Kingston upon Hull - was opened to vehicle traffic, although it wouldn't be officially opened by HM The Queen until July 17th; upon its opening it would be the world's longest single-span suspension bridge for 17 years, until it was bested the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark. Currently the world's fifth-largest such bridge, it serves 120,000 vehicles weekly, who pay up to £2.70 in tolls each way.

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