This will be a historic year

Of course it will. All years are. But how? Some events will definitely make the headlines: a new British Prime Minister; new leaders in France and at the United Nations; World Cups in rugby, cricket and women's football. We look ahead to these and others over the next three pages, in our guide to the coming 12 months. A host of major moments will be marked too, including the 2750th anniversary of Samarkand; the 800th anniversary of Liverpool and Leeds; the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade; the 150th anniversary of the Indian Mutiny; the diamond jubilee of the Asian flu pandemic; and the silver jubilee of Channel 4. But that's not all. Here we bring into the spotlight other, less well-known anniversaries worthy of celebration. For your information and enjoyment - and for the sheer "cor, fancy that!" fun of it all - David Randall presents the crucial and the curious dates of 2007


January

Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union. Fifth and final Ashes Test in cricket. Ban Ki-moon of South Korea becomes Secretary General of the United Nations, succeeding Kofi Annan. Golden Globes presented. Democrats assume control of US Congress. Shirley Bassey is 70. David Bowie 60.

7th The intercontinental airline service and the transatlantic phone call made their debut 80 years ago. The flight was by Imperial Airways, from London to Cairo The call was from New York to London. Three minutes cost $75 (£15), a third of the average worker's weekly wage.

9th In 1957, TV detector vans first made their eavesdropping way down a street.

13th The Frisbee made its whirring entrance in 1957. Called at first the "Toy Flying Saucer", it was introduced by the Wham-O Company, encouraged by the recent success of the Hula Hoop, which sold 25 million in under four months.

15th One of the most notorious unsolved murders in history occurred 60 years ago. The remains of aspiring actress and good-time girl Elizabeth Short were found in Los Angeles. She was known as the "Black Dahlia" for the dark outfits she wore. This name - plus the fact that her body had been severed at the waist, drained of blood and posed - gave the (still unsolved) case its enduring fascination.

16th Golden Jubilee of Liverpool's Cavern Club. Seven months after it opened it booked a skiffle group called The Quarrymen, featuring a local lad called John Lennon. Also on this day the Boy's Own Paper folded 40 years ago, after 88 years of "things for idle hands to do".

25th Bad news from 1947: the first syphilitic treated with antibiotics died. The good news: he was Al Capone.

28th On this date in 1807, Pall Mall in London became the first street in the world to be lit by gas, although passers-by feared they would be burnt if they touched the lamp posts.

February

Racial and Religious Act comes into force. Fashion weeks in New York and London. British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards in London, followed two weeks later in Hollywood by 79th Oscars ceremony. New Horizons space probe uses gravitational pull of Jupiter to send it towards Pluto on edge of solar system. New Wembley stadium due to open. Carling Cup Final in Cardiff. Jilly Cooper is 70. Chinese Year of the Pig begins.

16th An unexpectedly early landmark in biotechnology as, 75 years ago, the first patent for a tree is granted. Applied for by James Markham of Stark Brothers Nurseries and Orchards in Mississippi, it is for a peach tree whose fruit ripens later than other varieties.

19th Britain's first television soap opera, Emergency Ward 10, was launched on this day in 1957. It ran on Tuesdays and Fridays for nine years, before continuing for a further year in one-hour episodes. Ever since, no schedule has been complete without a drama demonstrating a positively unhealthy preoccupation with all the bad things that can happen to the human body.

25th Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded "That'll Be the Day" at the Clovis, New Mexico, studio of producer Norman Petty in 1957. It won them a contract with the Coral and Brunswick labels, reached number one, and was a formative single in the history of rock'n'roll.

March

Labour Party leader Tony Blair expected to announce this month that he will stand down in July. Chancellor of the Exchequer presents Budget. Conrad Black goes on trial for fraud in the US. Crufts dog show at Birmingham NEC. UK launch of Sony Playstation 3. Cricket World Cup in West Indies. Comic Relief Red Nose Day. Elton John is 60. Summer time begins in EU.

Eighty years ago this month, Colonel Frederick Lucas and his wife rented land near White City in west London and began operating a car park. Despite wearing a natty peaked cap, he made very little money, but the venture was the foundation of his company, National Car Parks. Sixty years ago Marilyn Monroe filmed her first movie scene, in the deservedly much-forgotten Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! Monroe was seen, for a few seconds, walking behind the far more famous, eight-year-old Natalie Wood.

13th Eightieth anniversary of the release of the first proper Laurel and Hardy movie, Duck Soup. Ollie had not quite perfected the get-up for his screen character, sporting as he did a battered top hat, monocle and three days' growth of beard.

15th One hundred years ago the world's first women MPs were elected, when 19 female candidates won their seats in Finland.

22nd The centenary of London taxis with meters, the first being fitted to a Renault belonging to the General Motor Cab Co.

23rd From this day in 1857, the infirm and idle would have an alternative to stairs in shops. E V Haughwout's New York department store on Broadway saw the first passenger lift, designed by Elijah Armstrong Otis, albeit a rather slow one. It travelled at a stately 40 feet per minute.

April

First round of the French presidential elections. Britain hands Basra to Iraqi security services. Wales and Northern Ireland ban smoking in all public places. Animal Welfare Act comes into force. British Academy Television Awards. Launch of SpiralFrog download service offering free music. Oxford and Cambridge compete in University Boat Race on the Thames. Flora London Marathon. Grand National at Aintree.

This month in 1932 electric milk floats rattled into urban life when the pioneer models, built by T H Lewis of Camden Town for Express Dairies, went into service in London from the Highgate and Kenton depots.

1st In 1947, Britain raised the school-leaving age to the dizzy heights of 15.

1st The golden jubilee of the most famous April Fool joke in history. It was perpetrated by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama, then at the very zenith of its reputation for probity and sober reporting. Hence the widespread swallowing of their item on the harvesting of spaghetti in Switzerland. The hoax Panorama programme, narrated by Richard Dimbleby, featured a family from Ticino carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry. Some viewers even rang to ask where they could buy spaghetti bushes.

18th The 75th anniversary of business reply-paid envelopes.

21st That great absurdity of Victorian female attire, the bustle, made its theoretical entrance in 1857, when it was patented by Alexander Douglas. Queen Victoria added to her own general amusement by owning a musical one.

22nd Photo-finish cameras were first used at a racecourse, when, in 1947, Epsom employed one to settle disputed neck-and-neck races.

24th The Sky at Night was first broadcast.

May

Tenth anniversary of Tony Blair becoming Prime Minister. Local elections in Scotland and England, plus votes for Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament. Second round of French elections. Eurovision Song Contest. FA Cup Final. Champions League Final in Greece. New Children's Laureate announced. Chelsea Flower Show.

This month the package holiday by air is 75 years old. Two dozen people booked with the Polytechnic Touring Association for a week in Switzerland at a cost of £12-£14 per person. The flight, from Croydon to Basle, took five hours.

10th America's first Mother's Day was 100 years ago, the idea of Miss Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, the ninth of 11 children, who once heard her mom say she wished there was a day to honour mothers. Ms Jarvis was horrified by itscommercialisation, and said she rued ever starting the thing.

12th Mickey Mouse's famous sidekick, Goofy, made his debut, in the 1932 Walt Disney cartoon Mickey's Revue.

19th The 350th anniversary of classified advertising. Classifieds appeared in the Publick Advertiser under such headings as "Shipping", "Properties for Sale", "Physicians", "Artificers", "Lost and Stolen" (people, property), "Stage Coaches" and "Carriers".

June

G8 summit in Germany. Home Information Packs for property sales are launched. Memorial to the Queen Mother due to be unveiled near Admiralty Arch. Glastonbury festival due to be held in Somerset, possibly headlined by Kylie Minogue. Isle of Wight music festival. Stage version of 'Lord of the Rings' opens in London. Orange Prize for Fiction awarded. International Indian Film Academy Awards held in Yorkshire. Summer Solstice. Wimbledon lawn tennis championships begin.

1st The golden jubilee of the first Premium Bond draw. The top prize of £1,000 went to the owner of bond number 1KF341150. Labour leader Harold Wilson did not approve, saying: "Now Britain's strength, freedom and solvency apparently depends on the proceeds of a squalid raffle." It was 40 years ago today that The Beatles released Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, with its photomontage cover by pop artist Peter Blake.

2nd Britain's first railway buffet car, provided in 1932 by the London, Midland and Scottish on its run from London to Nottingham.

6th The centenary of Persil, the first household detergent. In addition to soap, it contained both sodium PERborate and sodium SILicate, hence PERSIL.

14th The centenary of The Caravan Club, founded in London by 10 men and a woman.

24th The whole Unidentified Flying Object business begins, with the sighting, in 1947, of nine disc-like craft near Mount Rainier, Washington State. Pilot Kenneth Arnold said he saw the brilliantly bright "saucers" flying in an erratic pattern at great speed. His account was not the first such, but it was widely reported, and so set off 60 years of similar sightings.

July

Tony Blair expected to give way for Gordon Brown to lead Labour and become Prime Minister. Possible snap general election. Smoking banned in all enclosed public places in England. Launch of £500m new sports and entertainment complex at the former Millennium, now O2, Dome. Grand opening of Tour de France in London. Henley Regatta. Concert at Wembley in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who would have been 46 this month.

3rd Sixty years ago, Elia Kazan and Cheryl Crawford founded the Actors' Studio in New York to teach "method acting". Famous graduates include Geraldine Page, Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Fonda, James Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.

6th In 1957, at a church fête in the Liverpool suburb of Woolton, John Lennon met Paul McCartney for the first time. John, 17, was appearing there with his Quarrymen skiffle group, and he was introduced to the 15-year-old Paul. Paul was impressed by Lennon's singing, and then surprised John by playing Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock" and knowing the words to "Be-Bop-A-Lula". Three months later, Paul made his debut with The Quarrymen.

7th Christopher Stone, brother-in-law of the author Compton Mackenzie, became Britain's first disc jockey when, in 1927, he presented Record Round-up on the BBC. He was later paid three guineas (£3.15), but at first his only payment was being allowed to mention on air The Gramophone, which he edited. Stone objected to the term "disc jockey", but, devoted to records, made his will on one.

20th Fifty years ago one of the most famous phrases in British politics was uttered. In Bradford, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan said: "Let's be frank about it, most of our people have never had it so good."

August

Royal Irish Regiment disbands as army ceases policing role in Ulster. Edinburgh Festival, Fringe and Military Tattoo. Tenth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Boardmasters skate and surfing festival in Newquay, Cornwall. National Eisteddfod of Wales. Cowes Week regatta, Isle of Wight. V music festival, Essex and Staffordshire. Manchester Pride Mardis Gras. Rugby League Challenge Cup Final. Blackpool illuminations switched on.

Telephone directory enquiries were launched this month in 1932.

1st The birth of Scouting, on Brownsea Island, Dorset, 100 years ago. Twenty boys, drawn from Eton, Harrow, Poole and Bournemouth, began the famous camp led by Mafeking hero Robert Baden-Powell. The public schoolboys were charged £1, the others 3/6d (17 1/2p). They were organised into patrols (Bulls, Wolves, Curlews and Ravens), wore khaki, used the motto "Be Prepared", studied cooking, fire-lighting, wildlife, life-saving and patriotism, and were given tests on knots and tracking. Reveille was at 6am, there was a compulsory siesta and lights out was 9.30pm. Thirty-two years later, on this day, the first Mars bar went on sale.

5th Andy Capp is 50. The Daily Mirror's famous stereotype of a boozy, work-sky northern man was created by cartoonist Reg Smythe. Despite its parochial setting (a back-to-back house in Hartlepool), the strip was eventually syndicated to 1,600 newspapers in 57 countries. His fag-smoking, wife-beating ways were later toned down, but the flat cap persisted. Campaigns for a statue of Andy Capp in Hartlepool have been unsuccessful.

7th The most profitable pairing in British films began 50 years ago today with the release of The Curse of Frankenstein, a Hammer Films classic starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. The animosity of Cushing and Lee was strictly on-screen: off set they were pals.

September

Pope Benedict XVI due to visit Britain. Rugby World Cup begins in France. Women's World Cup in China. Liberal Democrat conference. Labour conference in Bournemouth to be addressed by a new leader - expected to be Gordon Brown. Gambling Act comes into force, creating a super casino. Royal Highland Games at Braemar. Burghley horse trials. Great North Run in Newcastle. Last Night of the Proms.

2nd The Ashes, the longest continuous international sporting contest, was born 125 years ago today. Australia had just beaten England at cricket for the first time, and the shock of this result provoked a number of satirical articles in London newspapers. The first, in a magazine called Cricket: A Weekly Record of The Game, was a mock obituary to "English Supremacy in the Cricket Field which expired on the 29th day of August at the Oval". Two days later, in the Sporting Times, there appeared the famous lines, penned by Reginald Brooks: "In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which died at the Oval on 29th AUGUST, 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P. N.B. - The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

4th Golden jubilee of the biggest marketing disaster in motoring history. Ford unveiled the Edsel, a brutish confection of fins and chrome, in which it had invested $400m (£200m). Despite a launch that included a TV special starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Rosemary Clooney, the public refused to be smitten. So few were made that survivors sell for more than $100,000.

18th Seventy-five years ago, Welsh-born actress Peg Entwistle threw herself off the letter H of the (then) Hollywoodland sign. After a bad marriage (her wastrel husband took almost every penny she had), the former Broadway success went to Hollywood in search of film fame. She won a part, but her role ended up on the cutting-room floor. Thinking she had nothing more to look forward to but failure, she killed herself. The following day, a letter arrived offering her the lead in a stage play.

30th Britain's first woman TV newscaster, Armine Sandford made her appearance 50 years ago today.

October

Conservative Party conference. Nobel prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry and peace announced. London Film Festival. Fashion Rocks event at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Prince's Trust. Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham. BBC launches Arabic news channel. Great South Run in Plymouth.

1st BAD NEWS + STOP + LAST TELEGRAMS SENT 25 YEARS AGO + STOP.

6th The words that changed the film industry were first heard 80 years ago. Warner Brothers' The Jazz Singer became the first talkie when, towards the end, Al Jolson declared: "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain't heard nothin' yet!" He was right. Within a year or so, actors with splendid profiles but thick European accents were out of work, as were doe-eyed beauties who spoke like Brooklyn bargemen.

7th In 1927, London typist Mercedes Gleitze became the first Englishwoman to swim the Channel. It was her eighth attempt, but braving waters that were never warmer than and 14C, fortified by grapes, honey and cocoa fed to her by her trainer, she did it - in 15 hours 15 minutes. At the finish, near Folkestone, she collapsed and was unconscious for two hours. A few days later, Dr Dorothy Cochrane Logan (under her professional name, Mona McLennan), did the swim two hours faster. Or so it seemed until investigations into her remarkable time forced her to confess it was a hoax. Gleitze, stung by similar suspicions, said: "OK. I'll do it again." On 21 October, she entered an even colder Channel, but despite those following in boats trying to keep her spirits up by singing along to a banjo, she was forced to give up after 10 hours.

8th Britain's first breath test, administered to a motorist stopped on the A370 in Flax Bourton, Somerset, happened on this day in 1967. What we have long since called the breathalyser was then known as the drunkometer.

23rd On this day in 1947, at the London Hippodrome, Julie Andrews went out a 12-year-old unknown and came back a star. For her debut, the Surrey schoolgirl brought the house down with the polonaise from Mignon. She was not permitted, by law, to appear on stage after 10pm and so didn't take a curtain call. But she received rave reviews, typical of which was the Daily Mail's, under the headline "Pocket-money star stops the show".

November

Channel tunnel rail link from Kent to London expected to be finished. BBC Children in Need appeal. The Large Hadron Collider, an unprecedentedly huge particle accelerator that runs under France and Switzerland at Cern, will be switched on. Queen leads Remembrance Sunday commemorations. Good Food Show in Glasgow. Lord Mayor's Show in London.

This month In 1967, Rolling Stone magazine first appeared. It was started on an initial investment of only $7,500 by 21-year-old Jann Wenner. The first edition sold 6,000 copies, but later it would reach a circulation of 400,000.

1st Betting tax first levied, in 1927. The bookies were not happy, and, two days later, at Windsor racecourse, they went on strike in protest.

2nd Britain's first automated traffic lights were installed at that troublesome junction at Princess Square, Wolverhampton. They remained in use for more than 40 years. The first three-colour signals were at Threadneedle Street, London, each change of aspect being marked by the ringing of an electric bell. Complaints from locals soon silenced that.

5th The 400th anniversary of the first Guy Fawkes Night. It was marked in Bristol, where the city corporation ordered bonfires to be lit. Fireworks came 70 years later. This is also the diamond jubilee of the arrival of London Zoo's most famous resident, Guy the gorilla. Captured in Cameroon at the age of one, he appeared in London clutching a metal hot water bottle. He settled, began putting on the pounds (he eventually weighed 35 stone) and became a great attraction. Outbreaks of bad temper were reported, but he was also known to sweep up sparrows in his great furry fists, hold them gently for a few moments and then release them unharmed. He was finally provided with a mate in 1969 when Lomie arrived, but their union was without issue. Guy finally died of a heart attack in 1978 during a dental operation, and was duly stuffed and exhibited. A statue was raised to him at the zoo.

14th Book tokens are 75 years old. They were launched by the Booksellers Association with the slogan "The Gift is Mine. The Choice is Thine". The idea for them came from Harold Raymond of Chatto and Windus in 1926, but the scheme took six years to come to fruition.

December

World Aids Day. Copyright on 'Peter Pan' (under which all the proceeds go to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children) expires. Turner Prize winner announced. British Comedy Awards. International Showjumping Championships at Olympia in London. BBC Sports Personality of the Year awarded. Christmas.

This month in 1932, Oklahoma news editor Carl C Magee, aged 60, filed the first patent for a parking meter.

12th The Great London Ice Spectacular of 1927. More than 1,500 people were sent to hospital when they slipped over on the icy streets.

22nd The world's first electric Christmas tree lights went up in 1882, this presumably being the only time in history when a string was not found to be hopelessly tangled after being carelessly put away the previous year. The pioneer was Edward H Johnson, friend and colleague of Thomas Edison, and the tree at his home on New York's Fifth Avenue was this year lit with 80 red, white, and blue electric light bulbs. The Detroit Post and Tribune reported: "It was brilliantly lighted with many colored globes [each] about as large as an English walnut and was turning some six times a minute on a little pine box. There were 80 lights in all encased in these dainty glass eggs, and about equally divided between white, red and blue. As the tree turned, the colours alternated, all the lamps going out and being relit at every revolution. The result was a continuous twinkling of dancing colours, red, white, blue, white, red, blue - all evening." Johnson's company, the Edison General Electric Company of Harrison, New Jersey, produced the first commercially available Christmas tree lamps, in strings of nine sockets, in 1901.

25th The first royal Christmas broadcast when King George V addressed the Empire in 1932. It was transmitted live from his study at Sandringham, where he spent many a happy hour with his stamp collection, and the text was written by Rudyard Kipling. The 251-word address "to men and women... cut off by the snows, the desert, or the sea" began: "I speak now from my home and from my heart." It lasted all of a merciful two and a half minutes. During it the king coughed, and the sycophantic Spectator gurgled: "A king who coughs is a fellow human being." Fancy that.

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