An Occasional Article

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Have you ever wondered what historical events and connections you would find if you randomly selected a date and compared it with the same date in the past? I have and so I picked the 25th July 2014 and these are some of the apparently strange connections that I found between now and then.

  • For all the wrong reasons air flight has been in the news all this week. We then find that on the 25th July in 1909 Louis Bleriot made the first flight across the English Channel, an event that heralded the future of air travel between countries around the world. Thirty five years later, in 1944, a jet fighter, a Messerschmitt 262, was used for the first time in combat. 70 years later it's the same ubiquitous engine we now rely on to fly us all around the world, but in an indirect way the circumstances of its launch has followed it into the future and again linked a jet engine flight with a war in the most tragic of circumstances.
  • Other technical and engineering developments that have occurred on the 25th July include the laying of the first stone of the Pontcyisllte aqueduct in 1795. We now of course know that the commercial era of canals was to come to an end but we can still admire the result of this feat of engineering and thankfully it's use can still be enjoyed by canal boat enthusiasts and walkers with a head for heights.
  • Other contributions to our modern world that began on the 25th July, included George Stephenson's introduction in 1814 of the first steam locomotive, a development that eventually resulted in the death knell of canals as commercial arteries.
  • William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone made the first commercial use of the electric telegraph between Euston and Camden Town on the 25th July 1837, harbinger of the future of the electronic communications we all enjoy today.
  • With Scotland's vote on independence coming in September, its somewhat strange and ironic that the 25th July 1745 was when Bonnie Prince Charlie landed on Eriskay in the Hebrides to begin the last Jacobite rebellion but it was also on the same date in 1603 that James VI of Scotland became James I of England and united England and Scotland to form Great Britain. I wonder which will prove the better example for the September referendum!
  • Finally, with the Open golf competition having taken place at Royal Liverpool Golf Club last weekend, it is timely to remember that Ben Hogan winner of both Open, the Masters and the US Open in 1953, died at the age of 84 on 25th July 1997.