1724: Highwayman Jack Sheppard was hanged in front of 200,000 people at Tyburn.

1824: Explorers Hamilton Hume and William H Hovell discovered Australia’s Murray River.

1869: The formal opening of the Suez Canal took place. It had taken 10 years to make the 100-mile canal devised by Ferdinand de Lesseps.

1896: Oswald Mosley, English Fascist leader, was born.

1920: The Bolsheviks defeated the White Russians in the Crimea, ending Russia’s Civil War.

1937: MPs voted in favour of air raid shelters being erected in towns and

cities. Winston Churchill insisted they were “indispensable”. Labour opposed this, fearing it would mean a big rise in rates.

1959: The Sound Of Music, a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, opened on Broadway.

1960: Clark Gable, the “King of Hollywood” and Oscar winner, died after shooting the final scenes of The Misfits opposite Marilyn Monroe.

1989: A pillar of South African apartheid crumbled when beach access

restrictions were removed by president FW de Klerk.

ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR: The Queen surprised workers at a state-of-the-art wind turbine blade factory with her interest in and knowledge of the huge structures she watched being made.

BIRTHDAYS: Willie Carson, former jockey, 76; Marg Helgenberger, actress, 60; Frank Bruno, former boxer, 57; Steve Bould, coach and former Arsenal footballer, 56; Diana Krall, singer and pianist, 54; Paul Scholes, former footballer, 44; Danny Wallace, actor, filmmaker and writer, 42; Maggie Gyllenhaal, actress, 41.