Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova born #OnThisDay in 1937

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Russian cosmonaut, engineer, and politician.

She is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than 400 applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.

Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile-factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver.

She became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is regarded as a hero in post-Soviet Russia and much of the world.

Having orbited Earth 48 times, Tereshkova remains the only woman ever to have been on a solo space mission.

In 2013, she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, she was a carrier of the Olympic flag.

Happy 81st Birthday Valentina! You inspired lots of little girls back in 1963 who until then had thought that space exploration was strictly for the boys.

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On This Day in 1939 the first Anderson Shelter was erected.

anderson shelter

In November 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain placed Sir John Anderson in charge of Air Raid Precautions.

Anderson immediately commissioned the engineer, William Patterson, to design a small and cheap shelter that could be erected in people’s gardens.

The first ‘Anderson’ shelter was erected in a garden in Islington, London on 25 February 1939.

Between then and the outbreak of the war in September, around 1.5 million shelters were distributed to people living in areas expected to be bombed by the Luftwaffe.

During the war a further 2.1 million Anderson shelters were erected.

An estimated 50,000 lives were saved by use of the Anderson shelters although critics think there were better alternatives and only 27% of Londoners actually had their own shelter. 9% of the capital’s residents used public shelters and 4% went down the underground while the majority were either involved in night work or just stayed indoors.

anderson shelter
image credit: By Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

anderson shelter
image credit: By Press Agency photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Anderson shelters were uncomfortable especially in cold weather prompting the government to issue advice to improve the situation.

More information about Anderson shelters on the History for Kids website and on Anderson Bomb Shelters. 

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Long running musical opened on Broadway #OnThisDay in 1964

Hello, Dolly!

On January 16th 1964, the musical “Hello, Dolly!” opened on Broadway beginning a run of 2,844 performances.

The show has become one of the most enduring musical theatre hits, with four Broadway revivals and international success. It was also made into the 1969 film Hello Dolly! that was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won three.

The film clip below appears to be someone’s holiday cine-film of a trip to New York in 1966.

So a couple of years into the Hello Dolly! run.

It’s an amazing bit of film and the cinematographer certainly had an eye for a good shot.

No connection to Hello, Dolly! but a great film clip!

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Born #OnThisDay in 1904 – photographer Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton

 Fashion photographer

Portrait photographer

1024px-Cecil_Beaton_Photographs-_Political_and_Military_Personalities;_Durri_Shehvar,_Princess_IB783
image credit: Cecil Beaton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

War photographer

Cecil_Beaton_Photographs-_General;_Royal_Air_Force_D4736
image credit: Cecil Beaton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Diarist

Painter

Interior designer

Academy Award–winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre.

Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton CBE

14 January 1904 – 18 January 1980

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Metropolis premiered #OnThisDay in 1927

Metropolis

Fritz Lang’s epic science-fiction drama, Metropolis, premiered in Berlin on 10 January 1927.

The original cut of Metropolis has been lost and for decades only shorter versions of the film could be seen. However, over the years, various elements of footage have been rediscovered and in 2010 a new restoration was released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Kino Video.

You probably won’t have time to watch the entire film today but this trailer only lasts for a couple of minutes and is well worth a look.

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#OnThisDay in 1936 Thomas William Hicks was born #TommySteele

white bull

Thomas William Hicks

also known as

Tommy Steele

was born on this day in 1936.

Tommy Steele is reputed to be Britain’s first teen idol and rock-and-roll star.

In 1957 his rendition of “Singing the Blues” catapulted Tommy to the top of the hit parade.

Although the whistling in the accompaniment is really irritating!

One of Tommy’s jobs was as a merchant seaman. But whenever he wasn’t working he sang and played guitar or banjo in two coffee houses in Soho, the 2i’s Coffee Bar and the Cat’s Whisker. Sometimes Tommy performed solo and at other times with Wally Whyton’s Vipers Skiffle Group.

Tommy found fame as the frontman for The Steelmen

a rock and roll band whose first single, “Rock With the Caveman”, reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart in 1956.

A few months later, Tommy was filming his life story.

With his musical collaborators, Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt, Tommy wrote twelve songs in seven days. “The Tommy Steele Story” dramatised Tommy’s meteoric rise to fame.

The story is that Tommy works as bellboy until he injures his spine doing judo. In hospital he is given a guitar to help with his therapy and he starts to play to entertain patients and staff. He works on an ocean liner, performing in his spare time, and gets a job playing in a coffee bar. He is popular with audiences and gets a recording contract.

“The Tommy Steele Story” was the 13th most popular film at the British box office in 1957.

Tommy was also voted the seventh most popular star in Britain for that year.

1959 saw the release of “Tommy the Toreador”

in which Tommy plays a sailor from Liverpool who disembarks in Spain and tries his hand at bull fighting.

We saw the film at The Regal Cinema in Wakefield, Yorkshire and loved every minute of it.

My sister and I were word perfect in every verse of “Little White Bull”, the song we liked best in the film.

Our copy of the record was the second 45 rpm we owned.

(The first was “Walking Back To Happiness” sung by Helen Shapiro.)

Tommy’s cringe-making live performance of “Little White Bull” on this Perry Como Show in 1966 is a long way from rock-and-roll!

Actually the B side of “Little White Bull” stands the test of time much better.

Happy 81st Birthday, Tommy.

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#OnThisDay Frank Sinatra Sings For You!

Frank Sinatra

#OnThisDay

in 1915

Francis Albert Sinatra

was born.

Of all the many Frank Sinatra Youtube videos, I think this is one of the best.

For You

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Celebrate the birth of Hermione Gingold #OnThisDay in 1897

Hermione Gingold

Hermione Gingold

was an English actress whose distinctive drawling, deep voice was a result of the nodes on her vocal cords she developed in the 1920s and early 1930s.

A successful child actress,

Hermione Gingold

went on to act in comedy, drama and experimental theatre as well as broadcasting on the radio. Her greatest success came in revues during the 1930s to the 1950s.

In later life she played formidable elderly characters in such films and stage musicals as Gigi (1958), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), The Music Man (1962) and A Little Night Music (1973).

She became well known as a guest on television talk shows and continued to appear in revues, plays and musicals until an accident ended her performing career in 1977.

Hermione Gingold

had two children with her first husband, publisher Michael Joseph. Her younger son was Stephen Joseph the pioneer of theatre-in-the round who established the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

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5 Portraits of Octavia Hill born #OnThisDay in 1838.

Octavia Hill

Octavia Hill was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire on 3rd December 1838.

the eighth daughter of James Hill, a prosperous corn merchant and former banker.

Read more about Octavia’s early life here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: Charles Edmund Maurice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

After her father was declared bankrupt and suffered mental health problems,

Octavia, her mother and siblings re-located to Finchley, London.

Read more about Octavia’s social influencers here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: Charles Edmund Maurice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1864, Octavia became involved in social housing

when she persuaded John Ruskin to buy three houses in Paradise Place in one of London’s most notorious slums. Octavia was to manage the houses with the intention of making “lives noble, homes happy and family life good”.

Read more about Octavia’s plans here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In addition  to her work in social housing, Octavia was also involved with local amenity societies, citizenship, the army cadet movement, conservation and the founding of the National Trust.

Read more about the history of the National Trust here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Octavia Hill died from cancer on 13th August 1912.

She was celebrated in her day, but after her death her reputation declined and she has been largely forgotten until recently.

Her legacy was at odds with later social thinking which saw the role of the State enlarge. Octavia argued strongly against government involvement in rectifying social problems: she resisted any participation of the State in providing welfare services and objected to council housing, school dinners and free health care. (Of course, this attitude was fully in keeping with the ideology of the era as it remains in some quarters to this day.)

Octavia had a home on the edge of Crockham Hill Common in the Kent / Surrey borders. She’s remembered with this tomb near the altar of Holy Trinity Church.

Octavia Hill
image credit: By Glen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/l2f1/4946701090) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Read more about Octavia Hill’s connection to The Borough in Southwark, London here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: Stephen Craven [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

And read more about English Heritage’s Blue Plaque at 2 Garbutt Place, Marylebone, London here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: By Simon Harriyott from Uckfield, England (Octavia Hill Uploaded by Oxyman) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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