A collection of the "On this day" Twitter and Facebook posts compiled by Jack Price from April to June 2023
14/04/1912 #OTD in 1912, the largest ship in the world, the RMS Titanic, strikes an iceberg on her maiden voyage. Her anchor and chain bore the name of Netherton’s Noah Hingley, at whose works the anchor had been put together. A replica stands in Netherton today.
15/04/1912 Two hours after striking the iceberg, RMS Titanic sinks in the early hours #OTD in 1912. There were several Black Country natives aboard who perished with the ship.. John Wesley Woodward, cellist, was born in West Bromwich. He was one of the band members who, according to legend, played ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee’ as the ship finally slipped beneath the Atlantic surface. James Lester, uncle to the brothers Alfred, John Samuel, and Joseph Davies, were all also from West Bromwich. They had boarded the Titanic in the hope of reaching Detroit.
17/04/1888 Operatic soprano Maggie Teyte (later Dame) was born in Wolverhampton as Margaret Tate #OTD in 1888; she changed the spelling of her surname due to frequent French mispronunciations. She is the only singer to have ever accompanied composer Claude Debussy in a public performance.
20/04/1968 Outside of Birmingham’s Midland Hotel #OTD in 1968, Enoch Powell, MP for Wolverhampton South West, gives his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech to the Conservative Political Centre. With immensely racist overtones, it warned of the supposed dangers of immigration to the Midlands.
02/05/1859 Writer and humourist Jerome Klapka Jerome was born in Walsall #OTD in 1859. He spent most of his life in London, and is famed for his comic travelogue, Three Men in a Boat. A blue plaque in his memory is located on Belsize House, his birthplace.
03/05/1928 Archie Hill was born near Kinver #OTD in 1928. A man who was ‘very rough Black Country’, according to Michael Pearson, he wrote several radio scripts, an episode of Z-Cars, and a number of impressive autobiographical books. An alcoholic, he died by suicide in 1986.
18/05/1937 Dudley Zoo opened to the public #OTD in 1937. It contained twelve ground-breaking modernist structures designed by Berthold Lubetkin; they gave the impression that the animals were living in natural habitats and not enclosures. The zoo was built around the ruins of Dudley Castle.
24/05/1725 Jonathan Wild was hanged at Tyburn #OTD in 1725. Born in Wolverhampton, in London he became notorious as a vigilante called the ’Thief-Taker General’. Exploiting public demand, he manipulated existing legal procedures, offering rewards for items he himself had stolen.
25/05/1943 The talented Percy Shakespeare died #OTD in 1943. Born in Kates Hill, Dudley, the painter had enlisted in the Royal Navy on the outbreak of the Second World War. Stationed in East Sussex, Shakespeare was killed by a stray bomb whilst walking along the coast in Brighton.
06/06/1862 The poet Sir Henry Newbolt was born in Bilston #OTD in 1862. He was educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall before moving on to Oxford University and then London, where he acted as a government adviser. His best-known poems remain ‘Vitai Lampada’ and ‘Drake’s Drum’.
17/06/1983Formerly the last deep mine in operation in the Black Country, Baggeridge Country Park is officially opened #OTD in 1983. The honours were done by Princess Anne.