Pioneers at Brooklands

aeroplane at brooklands

One portion of Aerodrome Brooklands showing motor track. No hangers shown although plenty up the other end.

The banked race track at Brooklands in Surrey, England, opened in 1907 and was the first purpose-built motor racing circuit in the world. The land inside the track was used by pioneer aviators for their flying experiments and became an aerodrome in 1909.

The message on this old postcard has no signature or date but the mention of “plenty” of hangers suggests a date of about 1912 when there were several flying schools based there.

I can only guess at the aircraft’s make and model. All suggestions welcome.

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The place for girls

o_thames st

Oamaru
Aug. 24th 1914.

Dear Mum,
Here is a few views of the place I live in. Am having a very decent time here but the work is a bit monotonous. May go to a dance tonight. We are having lovely weather here. I have only 1 letter since I have been here so things are pretty slow. Tell Jim this is the place for girls. It is better than Wellington. Went over the gardens on Sunday, they were very nice.
Love to all
Gordon.

o_memorial

The monument at the centre of Gordon’s postcard is in honour of local troopers who served in the South African (Boer) war. It was unveiled in 1905 and is one of the most impressive of its type in New Zealand. The statue at the top was sculpted by Carlo Bergamini using Trooper David Mickle Jack as his model.

Oamaru is famous for its locally quarried sandstone (as well as girls). Much of the town was built with it but none was used in the memorial. Granite and marble for that were sourced from as far away as Europe.

The Troopers Memorial was moved in 2008 to make way for road improvements. It migrated 40 metres south and turned through 180 degrees to face north, the opposite direction from that shown on Gordon’s postcard.

o_troopers

Troopers Memorial, Oamaru, New Zealand. December 2013.

 

Be Careful Out There

Down here in the Southern Hemisphere, the Christmas/New Year period coincides with summer holidays and road trips, so here are a few useful tips to keep you safe on the highway. Northeners can file them away for later.

D_animals

Drive carefully past animals. The highway is free to the wandering dog, restive horse and un-led cow, and the responsibility for avoiding accidents rests with the motorist. When passing animals it is best to do so slowly and be on the alert. Cows and dogs may be moved by sounding the horn, but making “shoo-ing” noises is more effective. A trick used on the continent is to disengage the clutch, and at the same time, press the accelerator. The sound of the racing engine is the best warning of all. When passing restive horses sound the horn when some distance away to attract the attention of the driver or rider, and then quietly proceed past the animals.

D_Led horses-2

Take the off side of the road when meeting led horses. It is the usual practice when leading horses to keep to the right so that the animals and man in charge of them face the oncoming traffic. When some distance from the animals the motorist should sound the horn to attract the attention of the man in charge. Pass the animals on the off side, giving them a wide berth, and proceed cautiously, with the minimum of noise so as not to frighten them.

D_extinguisher

Carry an efficient fire extinguisher readily accessible. An efficient chemical fire extinguisher is an essential accessory. Light, compact, and easily operated, they are procurable from any up-to-date garage for a few shillings. The device used should be of the type recommended for automobiles and charged with a fluid compound to deal with petrol fires. To be effective the extinguisher must be fitted in such a position that it can be easily reached in the event of a fire, therefore it should not be fixed under the bonnet, near the petrol tank or under the seat. The running board, or near one of the doors, are the best locations for it.
‘Safety First’ cigarette card set by W.D. & H.O. Wills, 1934.

Up on Christmas Creek

Christmas-Creek-Otago_full-2

Photograph by Burton Brothers c.1890. Te Papa collection.

The stream with the season-appropriate name lies to the west of Dunedin, New Zealand. It flows under the rail bridge in the picture and joins the Taieri river on the other side.

The engine and its train of wagons belonged to the Otago Central Railway which, according to the Cyclopedia of New Zealand’s volume of 1905, had “been the subject of heated controversy….the funds for its construction have been obtained at various times only after bitter struggles with the promoters of rival provincial undertakings. [The province of] Otago understands its importance and has long since proved her determination to sacrifice many another public interest rather than fail in the great work of opening up the central districts of the province, and bringing them within easy range of the coast and the [provincial] capital”.

“….the promoters of the line hold that great ultimate benefits would accrue to the colony as a whole, through the exploitation of mineral and agricultural wealth, and the facilitation of the already extensive and lucrative tourist traffic”.

Work had begun on the track in 1879 but, due to terrain and shortage of money, it advanced only 100 miles over the next 23 years – “less than five miles a year”. The writer thought the hardest part had been done and “it does not seem that there is any special difficulty involved in the formation of the line, as far as Clyde, 130 miles from Dunedin. It is altogether a great undertaking; and its completion is in every way essential to the ultimate prosperous development of the province”.

The railway did reach Clyde eventually, finally arriving at Cromwell and its surrounding agricultural land by 1921. It had been 42 years in the making. Meanwhile roads had improved and the traffic moved from rails to trucks and cars. The line struggled to compete for business.

The Clyde to Cromwell section was closed in 1980 to make way for the Clyde hydro dam and what is now Lake Dunstan. The track from Clyde to Middlemarch was removed in 1991 and has since been developed into the Otago Rail Trail, a popular route reserved exclusively for cyclists and walkers.

You can still ride the train as far as Middlemarch as it winds up through the rugged Taieri Gorge and over the bridge at Christmas Creek. It’s one of the region’s major tourist attractions. Book early to avoid disappointment.

(All links open in a new window)

The Basin Reserve

How New Zealand’s oldest cricket ground got its name…..

“Basin Reserve” is the name given many years ago to what is the principal cricket-ground of [Wellington] City. There is no resemblance to a basin about it, nor does it seem as if there could ever have been any; but old residents can remember when it was a large waterhole. The earthquakes of 1855 raised it a few feet*, and in common with the swamp above and below, it has been drained and converted into valuable and dry land. The area of the reserve is ten acres, about half of it being turfed, and the remainder grassed and planted. There is a very large Grand Stand, a band pavilion, and an elaborately pillared and domed drinking fountain.
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897.
*Magnitude 8.2 earthquake raised the ground about 6 feet (2 metres)

Basin Reserve

An Edwardian postcard.

….mention may be made of Kent Terrace, after the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, and Cambridge Terrace, after her uncle, the Duke of Cambridge.
B_TerracesThese two terraces form the right and left sides of what is one of the finest thoroughfares in the Dominion, occupying the site of an early project of the settlement, namely, the construction of a canal to lead from a proposed dock, now the Basin Reserve, to the sea. The great earthquake of 1855….transferred the dock site into dry land, leaving the Basin Reserve, and incidentally the dock scheme, high and dry.

As the result of the earthquake, the Provincial Council in 1857 acceded to a petition to set aside the “basin,” as the swamp was called, for a public park. Dock Street, bordering the south side, was accordingly changed to Rugby Street. The clock in the grandstand was the gift in October, 1890, of the family of the late Mr. Edward Dixon, cordial manufacturer and enthusiastic supporter of cricket ….. The clock is now transferred to the new pavillion.
‘The Streets of My City’, F.L. Irvine-Smith. A.H. & A.W. Reed Ltd. First published 1948.

B_Terrace

Kent Terrace with Cambridge Terrace at right. The area was often referred to as the Canal and Basin Reserve into the early 1870s.
Creator unknown :Glass negatives of Wellington. Ref: 1/2-230265-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22303054

Basin Reserve crowd

Now exclusively a cricket ground, the Basin supported many codes in it’s early days. These subdued soccer fans are some of the estimated 1300 people who turned out on a Tuesday afternoon for a provincial match in June 1913. Maybe they were Canterbury supporters. Wellington 10, Canterbury 0.
Te Papa collection.

Basin Reserve wide 2

The Basin Reserve at left, c.1937. Kent and Cambridge Terraces are obscured by buildings but they run from the edge of the field to the right of the picture.
Te Papa collection.

Source for the vertical image of Kent and Cambridge Terraces in the 1930s – Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: 1/2-090001-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22433150

 

H.M.S. President

Coming along the [Thames] Embankment from Westminster, we notice the change on the lamps, which now bear the City arms, and there is a medallion of Queen Victoria where the famous Square Mile begins. On the right we come to the training ship President, which rises and falls with the tide so that sometimes, walking down Temple Avenue, we see it rising up in front of us and at other times hardly see it at all.

HMS President 2

At times we may see an Admiral’s flag flying from this training ship, for every Admiral appointed to the Admiralty for any special work is officially appointed to H M S President, the nearest ship available.
‘London’, Arthur Mee. Hodder and Stoughton, 1937.

HMS President 1

You won’t see the President at all now, at any stage of the tide. This WWI submarine hunter, launched in 1918, was sold out of the Royal Navy in 1988 and after several years in private ownership was moved to Chatham dockyard two years ago. Since then a preservation society has been trying to save her from the breakers but, checking their website, it looks like their battle may have been lost and this historic ship will be reduced to scrap. Recent news is hard to find. The society’s last message on their Twitter account was posted in September.

Photos © Mike Warman, 1970.

The Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen

Carter_S 1The First Inspection.
The discovery of the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen thrilled the world, and Nov. 26th, 1922, when the tomb was entered by the late Earl of Carnarvon, his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, and Mr. Howard Carter, proved one of the most exciting days in the lives of those renowned Egyptologists. A flight of 16 steps and a sloping passage 30 ft. long led to a sealed doorway. In this a hole was made through which the discoverers clambered. A first glimpse within the room (afterwards called the Antechamber) revealed an amazing collection of statues, couches, chests, vases, etc.

Carter_S 2Interior of Antechamber.
Although the room measured only 26 ft. by 12 ft., it was found to contain between 600 and 700 objects. Our illustration shows the northern end of the room with the two life-sized statues of the king, each with gold kilt and sandals and armed with mace and staff. The exquisitely decorated painted wooden casket on the right held many robes, one of which bore upwards of 3,000 gold rosettes. (After photo by Harry Burton, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

Carter_S 3The Gold Coffin of Tut-Ankh-Amen.
The mummy of the Pharoah Tut-ankh-Amen rested within the innermost of three coffins of human form, which were enclosed within a carved sarcophagus of yellow quartzite. The two outer coffins are covered with sheet gold, the head and hands of the first being of solid gold. We show Mr. Howard Carter….at work on the third coffin, which is of solid gold. He is removing the consecration oils, hardened by age into a pitch-like material.

Churchman’s cigarette cards, Treasure Trove series, 1937.