1625 — Charles the First becomes King of Britain

Charles the First, destined to end his rein several inches shorter than he began it, was a firm believer in his divinely ordained autocratic rights as King of England, Scotland and Ireland.  (He also claimed to be King of France, although even a claim of King of Calais would have been inaccurate, the English having lost their last French possessions in 1558.)

Charles would spend his entire reign battling his own Parliament, with an increasing lack of success, to maintain what he saw as the right and proper prerogatives of the King.  Reign and battle both would culminate in 1649, when a revolution led by Oliver Cromwell first deposed, then executed King Charles I.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell — Monty Python

1963 — The Beeching Report into British Rail is released

Dr Richard Beeching’s reports into the state of British Rail – 1963’s The Reshaping of British Railways and 1965’s The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes – are two of the most controversial documents of their era in the United Kingdom. The first Beeching Report recommended the closure of a total of 2,363 stations and 9,700 km of track be closed. (Not all the station closures were on lines that closed – some of the surviving lines were converted to use for freight only.)

The public outcry was immense, and in the event, not all closures went ahead – but the majority of them did. Thousands of people lost their jobs, and even more lost access to the rail network. All in pursuit of savings that largely failed to materialise.

Referenced in:
No Use For Him — Eric Bogle

1964 — An earthquake strikes Alaska

It seemed like an ordinary Good Friday in Alaska, until just after 5:30pm, March 27, 1964.

But then the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America (and at that time, the third most powerful in the world) struck. The quake’s epicenter was 78 miles east of Anchorage, in the ocean. The quake cause massive movements of land – some parts of Alaska were permanently raised 38 feet, others dropped 8 feet. Worse than the damage caused by the quake proper was the destruction and death of the tsunamis that it caused. In the end, a total of 131 people were killed by the quake, although all but 9 of those were killed by the tsunamis (and 16 of those were in Oregon or California), and the bill for the property damage ran to millions.

Hardest hit were Anchorage and Valdez, but many other Alaskan communities, especially coastal ones, suffered damage from the quake or tsunamis. Damage was also reported along the west coast of Canada and the United States, and effects of the quake were noticed as far away as Hawaii and Africa.

Referenced in:
Alaskan Earthquake — Al Olson