This day in London’s History
1948 The last Olympics to be held in London draw to a close.
With most of Europe still under ration and all the piggybanks long smashed to pieces, it wasn’t a universally popular decision to hold the XIV Olympiad on this side of the Atlantic, if at all. Still, London got the nod, with a slightly remoulded Wembley as the focus. We weren’t exactly the most magnanimous of hosts: guests from overseas were asked to bring along their own food; there were no new venues; and athletes were housed in army barracks and college dorms. Germany and Japan were not invited, and left to sulk on the international naughty step. Oddly, though, Italy was welcomed - perhaps something to do with the quality of their food. Austerity aside, the games were deemed a great success and were the first to be televised. Typically, though, Britain only achieved three gold medals despite hosting: all for messing about in watercraft.
London fact of the week
As with all Olympics, there were many stories of outstanding achieving at the '48 Olympics. But one of the most heroic must be that of Karoly Takacs of Hungary. The world champion pistol shooter had lost his right hand to a grenade a decade earlier. The plucky fellow taught himself to fire with his other hand and re-emerged as a gold-medal winner at the London Olympics.
London person of the week
Hackney pensioner William Lyttle, the human mole who has been evicted after excavating an extensive tunnel network beneath his home. His side of the argument ran thus: “The idea that I dug tunnels under other people's houses is rubbish. I just have a big basement.”
One thing you must do in London this week
Fun for all the family at Brompton Cemetery this Thursday. Robert Stephenson delivers the annual Dr Death lecture entitled ‘Indignities Suffered by the Famous Dead’. Follow the becloaked scythe-wielding ushers to the nibbles and wine. Brompton Chapel from 6.30, £3.