April 27, 1971: Protest at Welsh language trial (BBC News)

Event-04-27-1971Police in Wales had to remove demonstrators from the entrance of a courtroom after they disrupted proceedings inside.  More than 40 people were dragged away from the Shire Hall in Carmarthen where preliminary proceedings were taking place in the Assizes court against eight members of the Welsh Language Society, which was founded on 4 August 1962.

The case, in which the eight were accused of conspiring to damage, remove or destroy English language road signs in Wales during a rally last December, is regarded as a major event in the struggle for greater recognition of the Welsh Language. But protesters, complaining that police had not allowed them access to the public gallery, did their best to disrupt proceedings by singing Welsh songs on the pavement outside.

One of the accused, Dafydd Iwan, who was also chairman of the Welsh Language Society, said: “We are here as Welshmen. What has brought us up against the law is that it is impossible today for a Welshman to live his life fully in his own language.

“The basis of this case is the rights of a Welshman in Wales.”

This was the first of several similar cases during the 1970s. One of the defendants, Rhodri Morgan, was acquitted of all charges. The remaining seven were all found guilty of conspiring to destroy road signs and given suspended sentences ranging from three to 12 months. Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s hundreds of members of the Welsh Language Society were imprisoned for breaking the law with non-violent direct action.

From 1965, bilingual signs were allowed but only by special authorisation.  The practiceEnglish-Welsh_Road_Sign of displaying bilingual road signs on Welsh roads was adopted from 1972 following the troubles and remains today.  It is estimated that all road signs in Wales will be bilingual by 2025. [news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/].

A history in pictures about the Welsh language protests, which began in 1963, can be found at www.walesonline.co.uk/.

April 20, 1968: Enoch Powell delivers his “Rivers of Blood” speech

Event-04-20-1968Conservative MP Enoch Powell makes his infamous Rivers of Blood speech about immigration and anti-discrimination legislation in the United Kingdom. The speech is made at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham to a meeting of the Conservative Political Centre at 2:30 pm. The Birmingham-based television company ATV saw an advance copy of the speech that morning, and its news editor ordered a television crew to go to the venue, where they filmed sections of the speech. The speech provokes great outcry among the British public, making Powell one of the most popular and loathed politicians in the country, and leading to his dismissal from the Shadow Cabinet by Conservative party leader Edward Heath.

April 19, 1956: Prince Rainier marries Grace Kelly (BBC News)

Prince Rainier III of Monaco married the American film actress Grace Kelly in a religious ceremony that followed the previous day’s civil ceremony held in the throne room in the Palace of Monaco.  The celebration of the Nuptial Mass was held in the Cathedral of Monaco. Miss Kelly looked every bit the film star in her ivory gown made of silk taffeta and lace.


The couple did not look at each other during the ceremony, but sat, stood and knelt facing the high altar as instructed by Monsignor Marella, the Papal Legate from Paris. They spoke their vows so quietly that it was hard to tell whether they made them in English or French, the national language of Monaco.

At the end of the ceremony, a message was read out from the Pope. Then the couple drove through the streets of Monte Carlo in an open-top car, waving to thousands of well-wishers.  The couple, who announced their engagement in January, are spending their honeymoon cruising around the Mediterranean aboard Prince Rainier’s yacht, Deo Juvante II – out of the public eye for the first time in months.

Read more at news.bbc.co.uk.

April 18, 1956: Premium Bond scheme announced (BBC News)

The British Chancellor Harold Macmillan unveiled plans for a new state saving scheme offering cash prizes instead of interest. The premium bond would be “something completely new for the saver in Great Britain,” he told MPs.  He announced he scheme the previous day in his Budget.

The scheme was part of what he called his “savings budget” aimed at getting more people to save money by offering a top prize of £1,000.  However the proposal was likely to draw criticism from those who saw the scheme as a form of gambling and therefore opposed the idea on moral grounds.


The first premium bonds went on sale in November 1956 and the first prize draw was held in June 1957. The bonds were extremely popular with the public, perhaps because the only other chance of winning a large sum of money was through the football pools, betting on the results of matches.

The government agreed to pay interest on the bonds invested and the money it raised was then used for prizes. Winning numbers were generated by an Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment, a computer otherwise known as Ernie.


April 15, 1989: Football fans crushed at Hillsborough (BBC News)

96 football supporters were killed, and 766 were injured, in Britain’s worst-ever sporting disaster.  They were crushed to death at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield during the FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool.


The crush is said to have resulted from too many Liverpool fans being allowed into the back of an already full stand at the Leppings Lane end of the ground.  More than 2,000 Liverpool fans had still not got into the stadium when the match started at 1500.

A police spokesman said orders were given for the gate to the stand to be opened because they believed the pressure of fans outside the ground was “a danger to life”.  But as fans rushed in, those already there were pushed forward and crushed against the high, wired-topped safety fences.


April 14, 1970: Apollo 13 (BBC News)

An explosion on board Apollo 13 caused one of the most critical situations in American space history and put the lives of the three astronauts on board in severe jeopardy.
The explosion happened in the fuel cells of the spacecraft’s service module approximately 56 hours after lift-off.  This resulted in the loss of Apollo 13’s main power supply which meant oxygen and water reserves were critically low.


The safety of the three astronauts, Captain James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, was uncertain although NASA hoped emergency contingency plans would ensure their safe return.


April 13, 1964: Sidney Poitier – Best Actor Oscar win (BBC News)

The acting profession’s top award went to a black actor for the first time in 1964.
Sidney Poitier won the best actor Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field.  In the film, released the previous year, he played construction worker Homer Smith whom a group of nuns believe was sent to them by God to build their church.

The only other black person to win an Oscar was the best supporting actress award given to Hattie McDaniel in 1939 for her role in Gone with the Wind.


“It has been a long journey to this moment,” the actor said after he was presented with the prized statuette by actress Anne Bancroft.


April 12, 1961: Soviets win the space race (BBC News)

Event-04-12-1961The Soviet Union beat the USA in the race to get the first man into space.
At just after 0700BST, Major Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was fired from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan, Soviet central Asia, in the space craft Vostok (East).

Major Gagarin orbited the Earth for 108 minutes travelling at more than 17,000 miles per hour (27,000 kilometres per hour) before landing at an undisclosed location.  Gagarin’s safe return laid to rest worries that space flight would be fatal for humans.

It was the culmination of two years of highly secretive training for Yuri Gagarin, 27, who beat off thousands of other hopefuls.

The previously obscure army major has returned to earth a national hero.


April 8: Pablo Picasso dies (BBC News)

Celebrity-10-25-18811973: The artist Pablo Picasso died of a heart attack at his chateau near Cannes on the French Riviera. His wife, Jacqueline, and son, Paolo, were with him when he died.

The artist who had lived in seclusion for some years is reported to have suffered from influenza during the winter but continued to paint.


April 8: Kurt Cobain found dead (BBC News)

Event-04-08-19941994: The lead-singer of American grunge rock band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, was found dead in his Seattle home.  The 27-year-old rock star had a single gunshot wound to the head. A gun and suicide note were found nearby.

It appeared he had been dead for at least 34 hours when his body was discovered by an electrician who was carrying out repairs at the musician’s house. Mr Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, said she had not heard from him for six days.

The troubled singer, whose band achieved global fame with the release of its album Nevermind in 1991, survived a drug and alcohol-induced coma in Rome the previous month.