William Jobling was a miner in the town of Jarrow in the north east of England who in 1832 became the last man to be gibbeted in the United Kingdom.
It was a miserable death – to be hung by the neck until dead and then to have your body left to swing in the breeze in a metal cage as a warning to others. And Jobling had not even been the chief culprit of the crime he was convicted for… Read more ›››
One of the iconic moments of the modern era took place on 12 April 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. But was he? Or does that honour belong to Vladimir Ilyushin as the conspiracy theorists would have us believe?
Vladimir Ilyushin was the son of Sergey Ilyushin, the pioneering aircraft engineer responsible for some of the most famous Russian military aircraft and deputy of the Supreme Soviet from 1937 to 1970. Read more ›››
The peace symbol is one of the most instantly recognisable in the world, but less so is its creator, Gerald Herbert Holtom.
Holtom was a professional artist and designer who studied at the Royal College of Art. He was born in 1914 and had been a conscientious objector during World War Two… Read more ›››
Now and then there is a coming together of events and circumstance, a synchronicity that cannot be ignored, and then the moment has almost passed and you realise you’ve nearly missed the boat.
Of course, I’m speaking of today’s ABC Wednesday letter G and the opening of the Paralympics founded by Ludwig ‘Poppa’ Guttmann. But hopefully this doesn’t come too late. Read more ›››
Piers Gaveston was the son of Arnaud de Gabaston, a Gascon knight in the service of Gaston VII of Béarn who became the lover of a king (allegedly) and the object of jealousy by the royal court and who gave his name to a secret dining club at Oxford University.
Gaveston was born around 1284 and little is known about his early life, but he came to England in 1300 and impressed Edward I with his conduct and martial skills. ‘Longshanks’ took him into the royal household to serve as a role model for his son, the future Edward II. Read more ›››
My ABC Wednesday for the letter F is even more self-indulgent than usual, concerning as it does the Irish songwriter, Percy French and his most famous creation that I recall from my childhood.
But first some background, French was born in 1854, the son of a protestant landlord in Roscommon and educated Foyle’s College, Derry… Read more ›››
No-one knows who came up with this iconic phrase from WWII in Britain, but we do know who was responsible for turning it into the poster that we are all familiar with.
Edwin Embleton was a graphic designer who was born in Hornsey, London in 1907 and at the outbreak of war in 1939 he was studio manager at Odham’s Press… Read more ›››
If you’ve been watching the success of Team GB in the velodrome (and I concede that you might not, especially if you’re Australian) then you will have spotted Peter Deary on his Derny.
The motorised bike with its distinctive petrol tank mounted below the handlebars makes its appearance during the Keirin when it is used to gradually bring the cyclists up to speed before they sprint for the line… Read more ›››