this is the week that was

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18 March:

1913: John Steinbecker of western Texas, is granted US patent, No 1056602, for his mechanical scarecrow, with a wind-driven system of cogs that operate an automatic gun-firing mechanism for "scaring off birds".

1918: Prince Philip of Greece becomes a naturalised Briton.

1935: The 30mph speed limit is introduced for drivers in built-up areas.

1989: Britain's first National Fat Women's Conference is held.

19 March:

721BC: According to Ptolemy, the date of the first eclipse recorded by the Babylonians.

1928: The Industrial Fatigue Research Board declares that a cup of tea aids efficiency and curbs industrial discontent.

20 March:

1780: James Watt invents the duplicator. It was necessary in order to deal with the increased work load caused by his invention of the steam engine.

1809: Mary Bateman is executed at York. A crowd of 2,500 people pay threepence each to see the body at Leeds infirmary where it is dissected and the skin tanned and distributed.

1941: The BBC lifts its ban against employing conscientious objectors.

21 March:

1923: French scientists maintain that smoking is beneficial, claiming that nicotine acts as an anti-bacterial agent.

22 March:

1774: "Baa, baa, black sheep" is published in "Tommy Thumb's Song Book" by Mrs Mary Cooper.

1906: England beat France by 35-8 in the first rugby union international.

1907: The first taximeters appear in London cabs.

1907: The New York Post dismisses Debussy's music as "the dreariest kind of rubbish".

23 March:

1861: London's first trams come into operation. They are designed by Mr Train of New York.

1891: Goal nets (invented by J A Brodie of Liverpool) are first used in an FA Cup final.

1923: Publication of the song "Yes, we have no bananas" (words and music by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn).

1925: The State of Tennessee bans the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution.

24 March:

1877: The only dead heat in the Boat Race.

1958: Elvis Presley joins the army.

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