On This Day is a tour in time and space. Each of the photographs has been taken at the precise spot and precise time when something extraordinary and transformative occurred. Here was a moment that was both fleeting and eternal — over in an instant but whose consequences would change the world forever.
Image: 10 Downing Street, London - The United Kingdom General Election of 1979 was held on 4th May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 44 seats.
January 19th 1915.
On the morning of January 19th 1915 German Imperial Navy Zeppelin airships took off from Fuhlsbüttel, Germany. They had been given permission by the Emperor Wilhelm II to attack military and industrial buildings but with express orders from Kaiser Wilhelm that there were to be no attacks on London itself owing to concern for the British Royal family to whom the Kaiser was related. Zeppelins L3 crossed the coast of East Anglia and then curved South-East towards Great Yarmouth. Incendiary bombs were then dropped to enable the pilots to navigate to their chosen locations as the Zeppelins never crossed the coast until after dark. Zeppelin L3 then dropped its bombs onto the St Peter’s Plain area of Great Yarmouth killing shoemaker Samuel Alfred Smith and spinster Martha Taylor. They became the first British civilians to be killed by aerial bombardment in World War One.
January 27th 1945
Auschwitz II–Birkenau concentration camp in South West Poland was liberated by the Russian Red Army. An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to the camp, of whom at least 1.1 million died. Around 90 percent of those were Jews; approximately one in six Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camps. More people died in Auschwitz than the British and American losses of World War Two combined. The day is now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
21st October 1966.
The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a National Coal Board (NCB) colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, UK. The tip slid down the mountain above the village at 09.15hrs, killing 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed the local junior school and other buildings in the town. The collapse was caused by the build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale tip, which suddenly slid downhill in the form of slurry.
18th June 1984.
The Battle of Orgreave was a violent confrontation between police and pickets at a British Steel Corporation (BSC) coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire. It was a pivotal event in the 1984–85 UK miners' strike, and one of the most violent clashes in British industrial history. Historian’s have described the confrontation as "almost medieval in its choreography at various stages a siege, a battle, a chase, a rout and, finally, a brutal example of legalised state violence”. The plant was closed in 2005 and UK Coal’s property subsidiary, Harworth Estates, the only profitable arm of its business, was charged with decommissioning, decontaminating and developing the former coalfields. A private-sector property development was built alongside the Advanced Manufacturing Park, with a University partnered Research Centre; a cluster of high-tech, specialised steel and manufacturing firms. Intriguingly the decision was made to rename the village of Orgreave to ‘Waverley’.
June 4th, 1913.
Tattenham Corner, Epsom racecourse, Surrey - Emily Wilding Davison was a militant activist who fought for women's suffrage in Britain. She was jailed on nine occasions and force-fed 49 times. She is best known for stepping in front of King George V's horse Anmer at the Epsom Derby on 4 June 1913, sustaining injuries that resulted in her death four days later.
January 20th 1942.
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews that Reinhard Heydrich had been appointed as the chief executor of the "Final solution to the Jewish question".
February 28th 1953.
Room 103 in the Austin Wing, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, UK. The room where James Watson and Francis Crick discovery double helix structure of DNA.
November 9th 1989.
The Bornholmer Strasse border crossing was the first breach of the Berlin wall by citizens of the DDR.
June 6th 1944.
D-day (Operation Overlord) Gold beach, Arromanches-les-Bains, Normandy, France.
7th July 2005.
Edgware Road station. On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist extremists separately detonated three bombs in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city. The bomb, on train 216 Westbound was a Circle Line train heading towards Paddington. It exploded in the second carriage close to the second set of double doors. It killed six people.
December 21st 1988.
Pan Am Flight 103 was a regularly scheduled Pan Am transatlantic flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York. N739PA, the aircraft operating the transatlantic leg of the route, was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew. The aircraft's nose of flight 103 crashed in the field off B7068 road looking north at Tundergarth, Lockerbie.
April 24th 1916.
General Post office, O'Connell Street, Dublin. The Easter Uprising took place in April 1916 in Dublin and is one of the pivotal events in modern Irish history. At the end of the Easter Uprising, 15 men identified as leaders were executed at Kilmainham Jail. To some, these men were traitors, to others they became heroes. On the morning of Monday 24 April, about 1,200 members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army mustered at several locations in central Dublin. The General Post office in O''Connell Street would be the rebels' headquarters for most of the Rising.
June 28th 1914.
The Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria which led to the start of the First World War.
March 27th 1981.
Gdansk shipyards, Poland. Solidarity take nationwide strike in protest against police beating several union activists (including Jan Rulewski) in Bydgoszcz. The Union held a four-hour national warning strike. The whole country was brought to a standstill, demonstrating the enormous influence of Solidarity.
April 11th 1912.
Titanic was anchored off Roches Point for just 2 hours. On the 11th April 1912 the newly built White Star liner Titanic called to the port of Queenstown (now known as Cobh) on her maiden voyage. Titanic had set out from Southampton on her intended transatlantic voyage and called to Cherbourg before continuing onto Queenstown. The flagship of the White Star Line arrived at Roches Point (the outer anchorage of Queenstown Harbour - the entrance to Cork Harbour) at 11.30am. A total of 123 passengers embarked at Queenstown, three travelled first class, seven second class while the remainder travelled in steerage (3rd class). A total of 1,308 passengers were on board as they left Queenstown together with 898 crew members making a total of 2,206 people on board as she embarked on her final fateful journey.
November 7th 1917 (NS).
The Russian revolution was led by the Bolsheviks, who used their influence in the Petrograd Soviet to organise the armed forces. Bolshevik Red Guards forces under the Military Revolutionary Committee began the takeover of government buildings and the Winter Palace (the seat of the Provisional government located in Petrograd, (then capital of Russia, now named Saint Petersburg, was captured.
January 30th 1972.
Bloody Sunday in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, Chamberlain Street is where Jackie Duddy (17) and Patrick Doherty (31) were shot by soldiers of the British Army. A total 26 unarmed civil-rights protesters and bystanders were shot.
March 11th 2004.
Atocha Station, Madrid, Spain. At 07.34hrs ten explosions occurred aboard four commuter trains. The bombings constituted the deadliest terrorist attack carried out in the history of both Spain and the European Union killed 192 people and injured more than 1,800. There was strong evidence, including the type of explosives used, that al Qaeda-inspired militants were behind the attacks, But a decade on, there are those in Spain who still refuse to rule out the possibility Eta involvement. Twenty one people, mostly Moroccans, were convicted of involvement in the attacks. Three of the key defendants received maximum jail sentences.
8th August 1963.
The Great Train Robbery was the robbery of a Royal Mail train heading from Glasgow to London on the West Coast Main Line. At Bridego Railway Bridge, (now called Mentmore Bridge) near Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, UK. A human chain of robbers removed 120 sacks containing two-and-a-half-tons of money. The robbery was well organised and swift. The second carriage from the front of the train was a High Value Package carriage, where registered mail was sorted. Much of this consisted of cash. Usually the value of these items would have been in the region of £300,000 but, because there had been a Bank Holiday weekend in Scotland the total on the day of the robbery value was higher (about £30 million today).