Little Bits of History

Gold Rush

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2015
John Palmer*

John Palmer*

November 26, 1983: The Brink’s MAT robbery takes place at Heathrow Airport. The plan had been to steal about £3 million from the warehouse. When Anthony Black, the security guard, let the robbers in, they found much more inside. There was £26 million worth of gold, diamonds, and cash. That’s worth about £75 million in today’s currency. Once the thieves were inside, they poured gasoline over the staff and threatened to light them on fire if they did not reveal the combination to the vault. The thieves were given the combination and made off with tons of gold bullion along with the other items.

Two days after the robbery, a couple in Bath noticed a white-hot crucible operating in a garden. Since this device is known for its use to melt metals, the couple became suspicious. They informed police who arrived but found the hut out of their jurisdiction. They promised to inform the correct police precinct. The couple who made the discovery were never asked for an official statement and were never asked to appear in court. The local police did not only not take a statement, but they did not contact any other police stations. It was not until 14 months later that the premises were raided and the smelter found. It was only then that John Palmer, a local jeweler and bullion dealer, was arrested. He testified that he had no idea the gold he had melted was associated with the robbery and was found innocent and released.

Black gave the name of his brother-in-law, Brian Robinson, who was arrested in December 1983. Black and Micky McAvoy were tired in December 1984 and both sentenced to prison with the former getting 6 years and the latter getting 25 years. McAvoy gave his share of the proceeds to Brian Perry and George Francis, his partners in crime, to dispose of. Perry hired Kenneth Noye to get rid of the gold since he was an expert in such things. It might have worked but the movement of such large amounts of gold came to the attention of the Bank of England who called in police. He was under surveillance and killed a police officer who was in his garden. Noye was found to have acted in self defense. He was fined for his part in the robbery as well as given a 14 year sentence, of which he served 7 years.

About 3.5 tons of the gold has never been recovered and four others involved in the robbery have never been convicted. By 1996, it was thought that much of stolen gold, the part that had been smelted, had made its way back into the legitimate gold market. There is some speculation that anyone wearing gold jewelry purchased in the United Kingdom after 1983 is probably wearing some of the gold taken in this heist. Noya, after his release from prison, killed again. This time in a fit of road rage. He fled the country but was captured in Spain and extradited. He is now serving a life sentence for this second crime. The goods stolen had been insured by Lloyd’s of London and they paid out for the losses. The bank who owned the assets went out of business the following year after a number of shady transactions led to a collapse.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. – J. R. R. Tolkien

Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all: only our characters are steadfast, not our gold. – Euripides

Avarice is fear sheathed in gold. – Paul Eldridge

O accursed hunger of gold, to what dost thou not compel human hearts! – Virgil

Also on this day: Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.
Water – In 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened.
We Interrupt This Program – In 1977, the Southern Television broadcast was interrupted by an “alien”.

*”John Palmer 1950-2015″ by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

We Interrupt This Program

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2014
Program interrupted

Program interrupted

November 26, 1977: The Southern Television broadcast is interrupted. The Hannington transmitter was part of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in the United Kingdom. The video programming remained intact while there was an override in the sound system. A disguised voice which was accompanied by a deep buzzing broke through the local ITV station and took over the UHF audio signal. The voice said its name was “Vrillon” or “Gillon” while others thought it called itself “Asteron”. Beginning at 5.10 PM local time, the voice took control for six minutes. The speaker claimed to be a representative of an “Intergalactic Association” and insisted on peace.

The broadcast ended after the statement from Vrillon had been delivered and a Looney Tunes cartoon, which had been the video playing at the time, was still in progress. Later in the evening, Southern Television apologized for “a breakthrough in sound” for some of the viewing public. ITN’s broadcast was interrupted while Andrew Gardner had been reading the news and they, too, mentioned the disruption in their own late-evening Saturday bulletin.

The Hannington UHF transmitter was unusual since it was one of a few transmitters which rebroadcast an off-air signal received from another transmitter located on the Isle of Wight. That was also owned by Southern Television. Most transmitters at the time were fed directly by landline. Because of this technology, it was possible for even a low-powered transmission placed very close to the receiver to overwhelm the reception and hijack the signal. Then their own signal would be amplified and rebroadcast over a wider area. Even so, it was thought that such a hijacking would take a considerable amount of technical knowhow. The perpetrator’s method was deduced, but the culprit was never located.

The incident made a local stir and was reported widely in the next day’s newspapers. Being a Sunday, the news was given a wide range of readers and the story spread to a worldwide audience. The UPI press agency picked up the story and from there it spread to many American papers. The IBA immediately declared the message a hoax but it still became part of ufology’s alien broadcast. Someone wrote to the Times and wanted to know how the IBA could be so sure it was a hoax and what if it was real. By late 1985, the story had entered urban folklore.

This is the voice of Asteron. I am an authorised representative of the Intergalactic Mission, and I have a message for the planet Earth. We are beginning to enter the period of Aquarius and there are many corrections which have to be made by Earth people.

All your weapons of evil must be destroyed. You have only a short time to learn to live together in peace. You must live in peace… or leave the galaxy. – transcript of the message

Inexplicably the News Of The World and D. Mail call the owner of the voice ‘Gillon, of the Ashdown Galactic Command’ and that he said: “Unless the weapons of Earth are laid down, destruction from outer space invasion will quickly follow.”

I hope their regular news reportage is more accurate than that, for the indication is that they’ve simply invented a more shocking message. – all from Fortean Times, Winter 1977

Also on this day: Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.
Water – In 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened.

Puck You

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2013
1895 Montreal hockey team

1895 Montreal hockey team

November 26, 1917: The National Hockey League (NHL) is founded. The Montreal Canadians, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, and Toronto Arenas began play on December 19, 1917 with both Montreal teams winning their first games. The Canadians beat Ottawa 7-4 and the Wanderers edged out Toronto 10-9. Hockey, both field and ice, have been around for millennia. The modern form of ice hockey comes from Montreal. The first recorded organized indoor game was played there on March 3, 1875.

It became a college sport when McGill University Hockey Club was founded in 1877. The college teams aged and next the Amateur Hockey Association (AHA) of Canada was formed in 1886. The National Hockey Association (NHA) was founded in 1909 for Professionals. There were business disputes, owner and player disagreements and the NHA was abandoned and the NHL created at a meeting at the Windsor Hotel. The teams struggled financially at first but on the ice, they were supreme. They lost the Stanley Cup once, in 1925.

The NHL began expansion efforts for the 1924-25 season and looked across the border to Boston, admitting the Bruins as the first US team. The teams expanded to ten by the 1925-26 season. The Great Depression and WWII decimated the League and by 1942 they were once again reduced to six teams: Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers. These teams are called the Original Six and were the only teams in the NHL for a quarter century. Today there are 30 teams in the NHL, 24 from the US and six from Canada.

The players’ equipment has changed over the years. Gear originally was rudimentary and consisted of skates and a hockey stick with team members wearing matching shirts. Early skates were shoes with a blade attached and sticks were tree branches. Eventually shin guards were donned but added little protection so players stuffed newspapers or magazines behind them. Goalies began wearing masks in 1959 with Jacques Plante taking heat for the sissy move. The last maskless goalie played in 1973. Players began wearing helmets, usually while recovering from head injuries, in the early 1970s. The last helmetless player was Craig MacTavish who retired in 1997.

“Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.” – Stephen Leacock

“Ice hockey is a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept.” – Doug Larson

“By the age of 18, the average American has witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, most of them occurring during Game 1 of the NHL playoff series.” – Steve Rushin

“How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?” – Jacques Plante

“My other car is a Zamboni.” – Hockey Saying

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: In both Canada and the US, the game is called simply hockey, however in countries that also play field hockey, to distinguish the two games, it is called ice hockey. As played today, the teams usually consists of four lines which are made up of two forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie. The five members (forwards and defense) skate up and down the rink while the goalie protects the net from a score as the hockey puck passes inside. The goaltender has more specific padding than those skating around the rink. Hockey is Canada’s national winter sport. The game is mainly played in North America and Europe. There have been 177 medals awards by the IIHF World Championships and of those, 163 have been won by seven nations. Those countries are Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and the US. In the Olympics, 66 medal have been awarded and only six did not go to the above seven countries. All 12 and 36 INHF World Women’s Championships have gone to the seven countires with every gold medal in both competitions going to either Canada or the US.

Also on this day: Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.
Water – In 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2012

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

November 26, 1805: The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct officially opens. The aqueduct is the longest and highest in Great Britain and is located in Wales. It’s full name in Welsh is Traphont Ddŵr Pontcysyllte and it is a navigable aqueduct carrying the Llangollen Canal over the River Dee valley in northeast Wales. It is a Grade I Listed Building and a World Heritage Site. It was designed by Thomas Telford and built by him and William Jessop. It is 1,007 feet long, 11 feet wide, and 5.25 feet deep. The trough which carries the water was made of cast iron and rises 126 feet above the river it crosses. There are 19 hollow masonry pillars with each span covering 53 feet. It took nearly ten years to design and build the structure at a cost of £47,000 (about £2,900,000 today).

Aqueducts have been around since ancient times and are especially associated with the ancient Romans. However, they were devised much earlier than the Roman Empire and date back to the 7th century BC. Both ancient Greeks and Egyptians used them as did the Assyrians who built a fifty mile long aqueduct to their capital city of Nineveh. Some of these spans were 33 feet high. Aqueducts are used for water supply or as a navigable channel to move water across a gap. The largest modern aqueducts have been built in the US to carry water to large cities. The Catskill Aqueduct cover 120 miles to get water to New York City. This is puny in comparison to the Colorado River Aqueduct which covers 250 miles and the 700 mile long California Aqueduct, both of which bring water to California. The 336 mile Central Arizona Project is the most expensive aqueduct in the US.

Thomas Telford was a Scottish civil engineer, architect, and stonemason. He was born in 1757 and was self-taught although he was apprenticed to a Langholm mason at Westerkirk parish school. His father was a shepherd and died shortly after Thomas was born. Raised in poverty, he was apprenticed out at age 14. He learned quickly and in 1782 moved to London where he gained patronage. By the time he was thirty, he became Surveyor of Public Works in Shropshire. He continued to expand his skills. He never married, but his children are the many beautiful canals he built across the British landscape.

William Jessop was also a civil engineer and is most famous for his canals, harbors, and even some early railways. His father was a foreman shipwright at the Naval Dockyard which allowed the young boy some valuable insight into building. Jessop’s first major project was the Grand Canal of Ireland. He was an amiable man, not taken with self-aggrandizement and encouraged up and coming engineers. It was in that capacity he worked with Telford on the aqueduct project. Jessop was able to “bridge” the gap between canal builders and railroad building. As needs changed, Jessop provided valuable skills to move from water to rails for transportation needs.

Water is the driving force of all nature. – Leonardo da Vinci

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. – Rabindranath Tagore

It doesn’t matter if the water is cold or warm if you’re going to have to wade through it anyway. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. – W. H. Auden

Also on this day:

Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2011

Howard Carter and his Egyptian find

November 26, 1922: Howard Carter and his financial backer, Lord Carnavon, peer inside KV62. Egypt’s Valley of the Kings was used for 500 years as a burial site for royalty of the 16th through 11th centuries BC. The 18th through the 20th Dynasties used this site primarily for burying their kings. It lies on the west bank of the Nile River across from Thebes (modern-day Luxor). The official name in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, or more often, Ta-sekhet-ma’at (the Great Field).

The early 18th Dynasty buried only their kings in large tombs with non-royals laid to rest in small rock chambers. Some of the 18th Dynasty kings were buried at Amarna, on the east side of the river. By the end of the Dynasty, there was a return to religious orthodoxy and the west side of the river. The 19th and 20th Dynasties increased the number of people buried in the Valley of the Kings and also in the Valley of the Queens.

The site was known in ancient times as the burial grounds for kings and hence a location to plunder riches. Greek writers Strabo (1st century BC) and Diodorus Siculus (1st century AD) stated that there were 47 royal tombs in the area with 17 of them believed to have been undisturbed. Before the 1700s travel to Thebes from Europe was difficult and expensive. In fact, geography deficient Europeans often confused Thebes with Memphis.

The 1800s saw a boom in exploration of the area. In 1827 John Gardiner Wilkinson was assigned to paint the entryways to all known tombs and designated them KV1 to KV21 with the KV standing for KingsValley. More tombs were later discovered and KV62 was thought to have been undisturbed when found in 1922, but it was entered at least twice not long after the king was first buried there. It is thought that about 60% of the jewelry was stolen. Necropolis officials recovered the jewels and quickly placed them back in the tomb, often packed in the wrong cases. When Carter peered inside in 1922 he was stunned by the majesty and vast treasures hidden in King Tut’s tomb.

“Archaeology is the peeping Tom of the sciences. It is the sandbox of men who care not where they are going; they merely want to know where everyone else has been.” – Jim Bishop

“Evidence doesn’t lie. History may be accurate, but archaeology is precise.” – Doug Scott

“An archaeologist is someone whose career lies in ruins.” – unknown

“Those were the great days of excavating… anything to which a fancy was taken, from a scarab to an obelisk, was just appropriated, and if there was a difference with a brother excavator, one laid for him with a gun.” – Howard Carter

Also on this day:
Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.

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Instant Camera

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2010

Polaroid Land Camera, Model 95

November 26, 1948: The first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Model 95, sells for $89.75 ( about $865.00 in 2009 USD) at the Boston, Massachusetts Jordan Marsh department store. The camera produced a 3.25 by 4.25 inch dry print. These early cameras used roll film; in 1963 peel-apart pack film came into use.

The term “photography” was first used in 1839 by John F.W. Herschel, combing the Greek “photo” for light and “graph” for to draw. In the summer of 1827 Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took eight hours to produce the first lasting photographic image. By 1839 Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was producing lasting pictures in less than thirty minutes. Daguerreotypes could not be copied, the pictures were one of a kind.

William Henry Talbot invented the negative to positive process in 1841, making it possible to create copies of pictures. Frederick Scott Archer came up with a Collodon process in 1851 that took the time down to 3 seconds for creating a picture. But the negative needed immediate developing. So in 1871, the next step was taken by Richard Leach Maddox and development of the film could be delayed. Celluloid film was brought to market in 1898 by Hannibal Goodwin and mass produced Kodak Brownie cameras came on the scene in 1900. Kodacolor film was introduced by Kodak in 1941.

Polaroid brought the largest patent lawsuit against Kodak on April 26, 1976 citing several patent infringements. Polaroid held many of the patents for the instant photography method. After five years of pre-trial preparation and a 75 day trail, Kodak was found to be in violation concerning 12 patents held by Polaroid. Kodak was forced to remove its camera from the market and could no longer make film for existing cameras. They not only lost the case, but compensated Kodak Instant Camera owners whose cameras were now useless without the film.

“Photograph:  a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.” – Ambrose Bierce

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams

“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” – Eudora Welty

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” – Lewis Hine

Also on this day, in 1917 the National Hockey League was founded.