A blog about the Edwardian era in the UK - objects, buildings, people, literature, film and all other aspects of the Edwardian era (covering 1901-1919)
Monday, 31 October 2011
William Riley of Birmingham & Leamington Lifeboat, 1909
Operated by the Whitby Historic Lifeboat Trust, and seen on display by the marina in Whitby, North Yorkshire, this is the 1909 built Royal National Lifeboat Institution Lifeboat the William Riley of Birmingham & Leamington. It is a standard 34 foot long self-righting pulling Lifeboat which were built in the hundreds in the 19th and early 20th Centuries for the RNLI. The two white end boxes are filled with air cases, so that if the Lifeboat is capsized, it will automatically self-right, which is a lot safer for the volunteer Lifeboat crews.
William Riley was built at the Thames Iron Works at Canning Town, London, and was powered by oars - rowed by ten men (although sometimes, in heavy weather, these would be double banked, meaning each oar would have two men to each oar instead of one). The Lifeboat went into service at Upgang Lifeboat Station, launching twice on service, and in 1919 when Upgang Station was closed, it was moved to Whitby where it served until 1931.
On October 30 1914, the Hospital Ship SS Rohilla, en route to Dunkirk to pick up wounded men from the front, struck Whitby Rock near Saltwick, south of Whitby, and ran aground with 229 people on board. Far from this making the ship safe, it meant the waves and damage would break the ship apart. The RNLI's voluntary crews attempted to rescue those on board, but high seas and winds made this extremely difficult. The rescue was to take fifty hours and involved six Lifeboats, including an early motor Lifeboat travelling from as far north as Tynemouth. The William Riley was one of the Lifeboats involved, travelling overland from Upgang Station, but when it arrived it wasn't able to launch from the beach in front of the Rohilla due to the seas. Of the 229 people on board, 85 died, however the rescue was an amazing feat by the RNLI crews, mostly using rowing Lifeboats, in awful conditions
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Wreck of the SS Rohilla, 1914
97 years ago today in 1914, the hospital ship SS Rohilla was sailing to Dunkirk to pick up wounded soldiers from the front line in strong gales and wartime blackout conditions, and owing to lack of visible landmarks struck Whitby Rock, a reef at Saltwick Bay south of Whitby, North Yorkshire, at 4am in the morning. Stuck aground 600 metres from the shore, with high seas and storm force winds, the ship was continually pounded and was starting to break apart. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which since the early 19th century and to the modern day runs on charitable donations and is served by volunteer crews, attempted to rescue the 229 men and women on board. All the locally based Lifeboats were rowing Lifeboats, and were unable to reach the wreck owing to the seas and winds.
The Ship's wheel from the SS Rohilla
Two Lifeboats, one from Whitby and one from Upgang (that Lifeboat is to be featured in the next blog post), travelled overland and launched from the beach close to the wreck. A Motor Lifeboat, the Henry Vernon, was sent from Tynemouth to help with the rescue, as well as a Lifeboat from Scarborough, towed by a steam trawler. In total, six Lifeboats were involved in the rescue, and the rescue took fifty hours. All but 85 of the 229 on board lives were saved, and the and the rescue has rightly earned a proud place in Royal National Lifeboat Institution history. It is said that at low tide, the wreck of the Rohilla is still visible. I attempted to fly over the wreck in 2009 but unfortunately wasn't able to reach the area it is, but hope to see it before too long.
There is a superb display, photographs of which illustrate this article, on the Rohilla rescue, which includes this large model
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Daylight Saving Time - an Edwardian Invention!
Builder William Willett, well known for making high quality houses, had the idea of Daylight Saving Time when out riding his horse in the morning, and noticing many houses still had their blinds drawn, meaning that despite the fact the sun was well up, the occupants were still asleep. In 1907, he used his own money to publish a pamphlet called 'The Waste of Daylight', proposing that the clocks be advanced by 80 minutes, in four twenty-minute incremental steps during April and then reversed during September. The increase of sunlight in evenings would mean more recreational time and save £2.5 million in lighting costs. As the forerunner of DST, the clocks would be changed at 2am, but instead of twice a year, eight times a year, on Sundays during April and September.
From vigorous campaigning he began to win over politicans, and was examined by a Parliamentary committee in 1909. The outbreak of the First World War brought the idea back into fashion due to the need to save energy, especially coal as used in power stations - Germany had introduced the same scheme. The bill, known as the Summer Time Act was passed in the UK on May 17 1916, and on Sunday 21 May the clocks were advanced by one hour at 2am, and brought back again on October 1 1916
Friday, 28 October 2011
London Underground Roundel, 1912
The London Underground Roundel is world famous - it's red circle with a blue bar across the centre, with the words 'underground' or the station name in white letters, is a simple yet easily recogniseable symbol and one of the major London icons. The first known example of the roundel originated with the London General Omnibus Company in the late 19th century, who had a wheel with 'GENERAL' in the centre bar. It started to be adopted by the Underground in 1908 as a way to easily signpost individual stations. This example dates from 1912 and is from Mansion House on the District Line
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Baguley Petrol Mechanical Locomotive, 1916
This is 'Jacob', the oldest standard gauge internal combustion railway locomotive in the world. In the Edwardian era, as well as electric locomotives and trains, petrol engines were beginning to be used on small railway locomotives - they were especially useful on small industrial sites where a steam locomotive could be uneconomical. In the First World War, petrol engined locomotives were widely used on the 2 foot wide narrow gauge railways used to bring men, equipment and supplies up to very close to the front line, the petrol engine being more beneficial than steam as it didn't give off a tell tale plume of steam or smoke.
McEwan and Pratt were one of the biggest early manufacturers of internal combustion locomotives, mainly in narrow gauge. EE Baguley the engineer bought McEwan & Pratt in 1913 and continued to make petrol locomotives, but under the McEwan & Pratt name, as seen on the locomotive dataplate and made 'Jacob', number 680, in 1916, only their second standard gauge petrol locomotive and eleventh petrol locomotive. When new it went to work at an armaments factory in Aintree, and after use there when the war ended, went to work at the Jacob's biscuit factory (hence the name) where it spent most of it's life until retirement
'Jacob' was given to Beamish in 1968, but was on display at the Dinting Railway Centre until 1990. Although work on the petrol engine has been done, it is seen in a dismantled state, and in the photograph of it outside it can be seen in early October being prepared for a move to the Statfold Barn Railway Collection where it will be fully restored (see here for more details http://beamishtransport.blogspot.com/2011/10/news-round-up-mid-october.html).
The image of 'Jacob' in working use came from the Industrial Railway Society website, who have a very interesting page on the locomotive, an article written when the locomotive was retired http://www.irsociety.co.uk/Archives/21/Veteran.htm
Monday, 24 October 2011
JAP-Harding Monoplane, 1910
Looking very much like a Bleriot monoplane, this is in fact a British built copy, built by JA Prestwich in North London (builders of JAP motorcycle engines) for HJ Harding, a former motorcycle racer and the Paris representative of JAP engines. There were (unconfirmed) reports from a JAP worker that the aircraft was built using drawings stolen from the Bleriot factory, and possessed by Harding and some of his French associates.
The aircraft was built to demonstrates JAP's eight cylinder aero engine which, along with a four cylinder version, was supplied to various British aircraft companies. It first flew in April 1910 at Lea Marshes, close to JAP's factory at Tottenham, and was then taken to France where Harding was awarded his French Aero Certificate using it, and then back to the UK and was flown at the Blackpool aviation meeting later in the year. After that it was stored in Tottenham until 1930 and is now on display with other early flying machines at the Science Museum, London
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Sunbeam Coupe de L'Auto, 1912
This 1912 Sunbeam Coupe de L'Auto was one of four built by Sunbeam to enter the 1912 Coupe de L'Auto in France, and also the French Grand Prix which occured on the same course at the same time , and was photographed by myself at the 2009 Vintage Sports Car Club's Edwardian race at Mallory Park, Leicestershire. For more information on the Sunbeam Coupe de L'Autos and the Edwardian Sunbeam racing team, see this superb website http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/Transport/Cars/Sunbeam/Coatalen.htm
Friday, 21 October 2011
Iron Ladies of Cradley Heath, 1910
The Museum recalls the fight of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers, who in 1910 went on strike for ten weeks and were successful in winning the first ever minimum wage.
The day will feature a procession of flags, street entertainment, music, crafting activities and theatre from local performers, along with stirring speeches. This annual event will ensure the legacy of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers lives on.
For more information on the BCLM, see their website at http://www.bclm.co.uk
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Flight Magazine, August 27 1915
From my own collection of Edwardian books and magazines is this 1915 edition of Flight magazine, a very popular magazine for aviators and one which continues to be published today as Flight International, considered by many to be the best printed aviation news magazine
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
'Fire!' is a 1901 British film directed by James Williamson, and is one of my favourite early films together with 'The ? Motorist' of 1906 (see my earlier post for my synopsis, with photographs, of that film). Filmed in Hove, near Brighton, a busy area for the early British film industry, the film starts with a policeman discovering a house on fire. Trying to alert the occupants by throwing stones at windows, he runs off to the local fire station. Alerting the fire crew, the first response is a ladder on a handcart which is quickly ran off by several firemen complete with brass helmets. They then hitch up and send a larger ladder wagon drawn by a single horse, and a steam fire engine drawn by two horses. The two horse drawn vehicles are then shown rushing down the street to the fire
Cutting back to the inside of the house, an occupant wakes up discovering the fire - attempting to put it out, he fails and throws himself onto the bed, consigning himself to his fate, at which point a heroic fireman appears at the window, cutting his way in with an axe, hosing down the fire in the room and then giving the occupant a fireman's lift out of the house and to the ground.
Another fireman rescues a baby inside, and after the ladders have been withdrawn, another occupant of the house appears at the same window the first one was rescued from. The firemen bring out what looks like a large handheld trampoline which the occupant safely jumps from the first floor window onto.
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Armstrong Whitworth Tourer, 1906
This is the Armstrong Whitworth Tourer now present in the Beamish Town Motor Showroom, as featured in my previous post. The car, built by the Newcastle-upon-Tyne based engineering company (the same Armstrong Whitworth who made trains, planes, ships and armaments), was made for the Emperor of Japan as part of a trade deal, however never got closer to Japan than Southampton docks when the deal fell through. It instead was sold to an owner and worked in the Edinburgh area. At some point in it's life, it ended up in Essex, where it was photographed here by Robert Hallman, and seems to have then been sold or donated to Beamish where it takes pride of place in the recreated Edwardian Motor Garage.
All photographs copyright Robert Hallman, and the originals, with additional others, can be seen here http://www.rochforddistricthistory.org.uk/page_id__126_path__0p67p.aspx
Saturday, 15 October 2011
Edwardian Motor Showroom
The highlight of any trip to the Beamish Open Air Museum for me is the wonderful Motor Garage in the 1913 town, a wonderful recreation of a period garage, complete with showroom with motor cars and motorcycles, and a workshop at the rear to purchase accessories, spare parts, and also for repairs to be undertaken. This set of images shows the showroom, containing a 1906 Armstrong Whitworth Tourer, 1913 Renault Tourer and a 1913 Ford Model T as well as several motorcycles. Unfortunately the glass makes photographs taken from the outside difficult, so no photographs showing the Armstrong Whitworth or the Renault at the moment, so I hope these will suffice for a while
1913 Ford Model T Tourer
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Kodak No 2 Autographic Camera, 1913
One of my favourite posessions, this is my 1913 model Kodak No 2 Autographic Camera. Mine was built in 1917 (the interior casing has the patent updated every few months stamped on it, and the latest date is early 1917 so was made in the summer of 1917 at the latest). A flap on the back side and a 'stylus' is a very interesting feature - this was so that after you took a photograph, you would open the flap on the back, write a caption on the film using the stylus (something like 'my brother on his new bicycle'), hold the back of the camera up to the sunlight for a few seconds, and when the film was developed the photograph would have a caption!
Unfortunately modern film doesn't allow for this, however i'm very fortunate that I can actually use modern film in it and so can continue to enjoy it nearly a century after it was made. It takes 120mm film, I personally use Ilford black and white film, and I can take 8 photographs per film. It's not something I use for everyday photography owing to the cost, but I still use it as often as possible for photographs of period subjects, and I share the results on the internet (mainly on my Flickr feed, http://www.flickr.com/photos/roblangham/ ), and will do so on here too. To start off with, here's a taster for the next post - the Edwardian 1913 Motor Garage at Beamish
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Antoinette Monoplane, 1910
With a long, graceful, boat like fuselage and a paddle propellor, the Antoinette is a very striking early aircraft, and probably not very surprising to know that it's a French aircraft. Hubert Latham almost beat Louis Bleriot in becoming the first man to cross the English Channel by aeroplane in 1909, and if he had the Antoinette would no doubt be a lot better known today, however unfortunately Latham had to ditch his Antoinette in the water twice owing to engine failure, before Bleriot's succesful attempt.
This early survivor is on display in the Science Museum, London. It's early history is not confirmed, but it is believed to be one bought by Vivian Hewitt, heir to a Sunderland brewing fortune, but never actually flew it. It was bought by Robert Blackburn (of the Blackburn aircraft company) in 1916 from a garage in Colwyn Bay, Wales, for £60, and later presented it to the Science Museum
Monday, 10 October 2011
Cars of War, 1910
This French postcard from 1910 entitled 'Automobiles du Guerre' shows what the artist envisions warfare will be like in the year 2000
Saturday, 8 October 2011
Roe I Triplane, 1909
The Science Museum in South Kensington, London, has arguably the most important collection of aeroplanes in the world. There are many famous aircraft here - the first British jet aircraft, the Vickers Vimy that was the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic non-stop in 1919, Schneider Trophy winning Schneider S.6 floatplane, and a large collection of original early flying machines (they even had the Wright Brothers Flyer from 1903 until the Smithsonian finally acquired it from the Wright Brothers on the proviso they would admit it was the first flight of a controllable, human piloted heavier than air craft, but that's another story). The smell as you enter the Flight Gallery is the first thing you notice - old wood, linen and dope creates a unique and evocative odour of early flight.
The aircraft are hung from the roof in close proximity to each other in a large, poorly lit room, which is never good for displaying aircraft or for photographing them, but it's still wonderful to see them. This aircraft is a Roe I Triplane, usually referred to as an Avro Triplane, built by Alliott Verdon Roe, the first all-British aircraft to fly (British construction with British engine). On June 5 1909, powered by a 6hp JAP Motorcycle engine, the first Roe I Triplane, nicknamed 'The Blues', made it's first of a series of short hops on Walthamstow Marshes in Essex (now in the London Borough of Waltham Forest), later flying for further and further distances. A further three Roe I Triplanes were built, and it's not known which one this is. Interestingly, the wings of the first Roe I Triplane weren't covered with linen, but paper, owing to AV Roe's financial hardship at the time
Friday, 7 October 2011
Star 10/12 Motor Car, 1912
One of four models exhibited by Star of Wolverhampton, UK, at the 1912 Olympic Motor Exhibition is this Star 10/12hp 'Victoria' 2.4 litre motor car. With room for two on the large leather seating, with an additional 'dickey' seat (a much more simple wooden bench fitted to the rear of the car which can be folded away easily) for two more (folded away in this image, however in more recent photographs I will upload at a later date, the dickey seat is on display and ready for use), this Star 'Victoria' Coupe is now on display at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley, UK. It is a fantastic example of a typical late Edwardian car
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Triplex Goggles, 1916
Advert for Triplex Goggles, a famous brand used by many pilots of the Royal Flying Corps, from my November 9 1916 edition of Flight magazine
Monday, 3 October 2011
'The ? Motorist', 1906
One of the most well known early films is this unpronouncable title 'The ? Motorist', made by RW Paul in 1906. It is also one of the earliest films to feature a motor car, in this case a Humberette, being central to the plot.
The film opens with a man and woman in the Humberette, with a policeman trying to wave the motorist down to stop, possibly for speeding. Instead of stopping, or taking any avoiding action, the motorist collides with the policeman, who at first ends up on the car's bonnet, where he is hit by the car's occupants, and then falls off and is run over by the vehicle.
Despite appearing dead or at least seriously injured, the policeman gives chase. The car heads straight towards a building, which instead of crashing into, drives up the vertical side of, before heading through the sky into space, driving around the moon.
After driving around the moon, the car then heads further into space, and lands on the rings of Saturn, which it drives around as if they were a road, before falling off and back onto Planet Earth. It crashes through the roof of a courtroom, where a motorist is in a farcical setting, possibly being caught and innocently blamed for the running over of the policeman. The policeman in the court then chases the car, stopping it, however when he is on the verge of arresting the occupants, the car changes to a horse and cart, and the occupants change from being well dressed in modern clothes to more traditional farm worker style clothing. Stupefied, the policeman doesn't know what to do, while the horse and cart and occupants saunter away - when safely away from the policeman the horse and cart turns back into the Humberette and they get clean away!
Saturday, 1 October 2011
The Jubilee Sweetshop and Sweet Factory
Located in the 1913 Town at the Beamish Open Air Museum is the Jubilee Sweetshop and Sweet Factory, recreating a traditional small sweet shop with factory in the rear for making boiled sweets. I can personally testify to the deliciousness of this factory's products!
The sweet factory