Destination: London
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The Shaping of London

AD 43 The Roman emperor Claudius invades Britain and establishes the deep-water port of Londinium.

c60-200 The Romans build an imperial city and in around AD 200 erect a wall around Londinium. The population reaches 45-50,000.

410 Romans finally withdraw, leaving Britons to defend themselves. Germanic tribes begin to colonise most of England.

851-980 Vikings invade, occupy and destroy much of London. In 886 King Alfred recaptures and rebuilds the city, establishing it as an international trading centre, but in 980 the Vikings retake it.

1066 The Norman Conquest. William I defeats King Harold at the Battle of Hastings and is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey.

1176-1209 London Bridge is the first stone bridge to be built in the capital. In 1192 the first Mayor of London, Henry Fitz Ailwyn, is elected.

1265 The first meeting of 'the Commons' marks the beginnings of the Parliamentary system.

1348 The Black Death, a cocktail of various plagues spread by infected fleas on rats, kills some 75 million people across Eurasia and wipes out around 25-30,000 Londoners (roughly half the population).

1485-1603 Under Tudor rule London becomes Europe's fastest-growing city, with dramatic development of trade and commerce. Around 1590 London's original 'Theatreland' is developed on the South Bank in Southwark, and the West End also takes shape.

1642-49 The English Civil War ends with the execution of Charles I at Whitehall in 1649. Cromwell's forces assume power until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

1665 The Great Plague, London's second catastrophic bubonic plague, ravages London and claims the lives of over 100,000 people.

1666 The Great Fire of London burns down 80 per cent of the city's buildings.

1750 Westminster Bridge becomes the second bridge across the Thames in London.

1801 The first London census records a population of over 1 million, making it the world's most populous conurbation.

1811-17 As the population continues to explode 14 more bridges are built across the Thames.

1829 Sir Robert Peel establishes the capital's first police force - the Metropolitan Police. The first London bus service commences.

1834 The Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) burns down.

1849-58 Insanitary living conditions lead to a cholera epidemic which kills 14,000, and river pollution causes 'The Great Stink', which prompts the building of London's first sewerage system. The Great Exhibition opens, in 1851, in Hyde Park.

1863 The world's first urban underground railway runs from Farringdon Street to Edgware Road.

1939-45 During the Blitz of 1940-41 London is bombed for 57 consecutive nights causing 9,500 deaths and much destruction.

1960s The Beatles are at the forefront of 'Swinging London' and world fashion focuses on Carnaby Street and the King's Road.

1981 Work begins to revive London's Docklands.

1994 Eurostar trains connect London and Paris via the Channel Tunnel.

1996 An IRA bomb devastates part of central Docklands.

2000 The Millennium Dome in Greenwich is the centrepiece of London's millennium celebrations.


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