September 10, 1973: Big Biba store opens
Biba's decadent and extravagant designs at less than extravagant prices had been bewitching the nation's fashionistas since 1964. However, it was on this week in 1974 that Biba's owner Barbara Hulanicki realised her dream of creating a fashion wonderland as the store moved to the seven-storey Art Deco Derry & Toms department store on Kensington High Street. Among the ostrich feather boas, the flamboyant Edwardian fabrics and the Hollywood style silks, the dream-chasing customers of Biba's store could find clothes, household goods, cosmetics and even a food hall and restaurant. A real love-letter to the spirit of the sixties and seventies, as iconic as a mini-skirt or a blast of 'Love Me Do', this Biba store became a true tourist attraction, second only in popularity to the Tower of London.
September 13, 1940- Buckingham Palace bombing
As King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen mother) settled into their morning routine- apparently enjoying a cup of tea- they heard a whirring noise overhead, quickly followed by disaster as Buckingham Palace was targeted by high explosive bombs. Although the royal family escaped unharmed, the bomb blew apart windows, pulverised the chapel and destroyed the front quadrangle of the palace. This was the worst of several occasions where the palace was hit during the Blitz, although the King and Quen refused to leave their much-loved London. The Queen reportedly commented: "I'm glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face".
September 11, 1967- Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour begins
Just behind Baker Street tube station on Monday 11th, a flamboyantly decorated bus pulled out from Allsop Place, containing four world-famous legends. This was the start of a journey to make an hour-long film, which was later described as one of the most crackers and "tasteless" things the Beatles ever did. Filmed mostly over two week-long periods, the Fab Four set out on the 'Magical Mystery Tour' with no script and hand-scribbled notes of ideas. When the zany, ramshackle film was finally screened on Boxing Day, the critical reception was scathing.
September 11, 1980: Marlborough diamond stolen
In broad daylight on this week, two armed robbers rocked the London high street as they raided Graff diamonds shop, taking one of the most talked about jewels: the 45 carat Marlborough diamond, worth £400,000. In total, the robbers ran off with £1.5 million of jewellery, leaving no one hurt and most customers none the wiser as to what had just happened. The thieves were found and arrested just 11 hours later as they stepped off the plane in Chicago, but the famous egg-shaped Marlborough diamond has remained missing to this day.
September 11, 1951- Florence Chadwick first woman to swim Channel from England to France
For many years, the English Channel was considered the definitive beast to conquer in the swimming world. On this week in 1951, American swimmer Florence Chadwick became the first to tackle the Channel both ways, taking on the more treacherous journey from England to France in a swim lasted 16 hours and 19 minutes. The iconic moment was a triumphant protest against nay-sayers of the swimming world who had denied this unknown amateur entry to significant races just years before. From here, Chadwick went on to smash through swimming records around the world, in particular becoming known as queen of the Channel, shattering the long-held idea that women were unfit for long-distance swimming.