Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, Decorative Arts, Fashion History, Film, Historical Hair and Make-up, History, TV Programme, Vintage, World War Two

The Sultan & The Showgirl – A 1930s Tragic Love Story

Stills from BBC One's, Inside Out South East's 'Sultan and The Showgirl', 1930s set drama-documentary. I was an expert contributor. October, 2015.
Compilation of stills from BBC One’s, Inside Out South East’ s ‘Sultan and The Showgirl’, a 1930s set drama-documentary for which I was an expert contributor.  Broadcast, October, 2015.

In October, I took part in a 1930s set drama-documentary, Produced/Directed by Sam Supple, for BBC Inside Out (South East).  Filmed on location in and around the attractive seaside town of Herne Bay, Kent which included Edwardian architectural gem, The Kings Hall. The programme explored the ill-fated relationship between Kent showgirl, Lydia Cecily/Cecilia ‘Cissie’ Hill (1913-1940) and the Sultan of Johor (Ibrahim I) (1873-1959).  Below is the full documentary as it is no longer available on BBC iPlayer.

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On location with BBC Inside Out South East’ s presenter, Natalie Graham, at The King’s Hall, Herne Bay, Kent. ©Come Step Back In Time

For an excellent short-read about Cissie and the Sultan, check-out BBC article on the couple’s backstory, ‘The sultan and the showgirl: A tragic tale of star-crossed love’ (BBC 31.10.2015).

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Producer/Director Sam Supple (@SamSups) on set. ©Come Step Back In Time
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Behind the scenes on set at King’s Hall, Herne Bay.©Come Step Back In Time
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Still from ‘The Sultan and The Showgirl’, BBC Inside Out South East, October 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

Cissie’s Early Life in Kent

Lydia Cecily ‘Cissie’ Hill was born at 2 Kitchener Terrace, Canterbury, Kent on 20th July, 1913 but moved with her family to Herne Bay in 1917. Cissie’s father, George Hill (b. 1882), served in the Royal Navy rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and retiring in 1932 (although he was called up from the Retired List in 1935 and served again until 1946). Cissie’s mother was Florence Cecilia Hill née Benge (b. 1889) who married George Hill on 20th December, 1910 at St. Gregory’s Church, Canterbury.

Until 1927, Cissie lived with her family at 4, Kingsbury Villas in Kings Road, Herne Bay, moving to Hyacinth, Queensbury Drive where they stayed until 1934. She attended Kings Road School, Herne Bay until  Summer 1927 when she reached the age of 14 which, at that time, was the national school leaving age.

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  • Holidaymakers at Herne Bay, 1st January, 1890. A view looking out to sea from The Downs in Herne Bay. People are sitting on the hill listening to a band play in an open bandstand. A shelter stands to the right for protection against the harsher weather.

Herne Bay – A Popular Victorian and Edwardian Seaside Resort

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  • August 1921, Herne Bay, three young women in bathing suits enjoying themselves in the sea.

Herne Bay has been a thriving seaside resort since the 1830s with its pier being a particularly popular attraction and destination for tourists visiting the town. Building began on Herne Bay’s first pier, 4th July, 1831, opening in 1832. The pier was originally built to accommodate paddle steamers travelling between London, Margate and Ramsgate.

Unfortunately, the pier’s structure succumbed to storm and worm damage eventually being sold for scrap in 1871. A new wood and iron pier opened on August 27th, 1873, a theatre added in 1884 followed by extensive rebuilding work (completed in 1899) which created the town’s third pier complete with an electric tramway.

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  • Pier Pavilion, Herne Bay, Kent. This view, looking out to sea, shows the Pier Pavilion which was constructed in 1910 after a design competition was launched.
What remains of the Pier Head of Herne Bay Pier. Viewed from King's Hall on the seafront, October, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
What remains of the Pier Head of Herne Bay Pier. Viewed from King’s Hall on the seafront, October, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

The local Council purchased the pier in 1909 and a Grand Pavilion opened in 1910. Unfortunately, the theatre which had been part of the second pier, was destroyed by fire in 1928 and the Grand Pavilion burned down in 1970. A new sports pavilion (unusual for a pier) opened in 1976. In 1978, storms destroyed the main neck.  The pier-head still remains isolated out at sea and is visible from the front entrance of King’s Hall.

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  • Herne Bay Pier today, view at sunset.

Herne Bay – 1920s  and 1930s

In the late 1920s, early 1930s, Herne Bay had limited industry except for health tourism. In the late 1920s, Herne Bay Council created the slogan, ‘our only industry is health-making’.  It was also around this time that the Council managed to acquire bathing rights from Hampton Pier in the west to Beltinge in the east. This added to Herne Bay’s kudos as an established seaside resort. By 1931, Herne Bay’s resident population was approximately 14,533.

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  • Poster produced for South Eastern & Chatham Railway in conjunction with Chemins de Fer du Nord (French railways) to advertise Herne Bay as a healthy holiday destination to French tourists. January, 1925.

Out of season, Herne Bay must have seemed a very quiet place for an out-going teenage girl like Cissie. She was an attractive young woman with a talent for performing and trained at a local dance school, perhaps taught by Miss Myrtle Fox? (see photograph below from 1931) Cissie appeared in numerous dancing displays at the old Pier Theatre and elsewhere in Herne Bay. If she wished to further her career as a professional dancer, London would have been her only choice of destination.

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  • Miss Myrtle Fox, a dance instructor at a Herne Bay school practises one of her energetic ballet routines on the beach. February 16th, 1933.

    1930s London Nightlife

    • ‘London’s Famous Clubs And Cabarets – “Playtime At The Piccadilly” Aka Picadilly Revels’ (1933). British Pathé  film. Uploaded to You Tube, 13.4.2014.

1930’s London nightlife was void of gambling clubs, strip joints or nude shows.  Except for the Windmill Theatre which did provide variety nude shows and famously never closed,  even during World War Two, opening in 1931, closing in 1964.  London did, however, have a thriving cabaret scene. Charles B. Cochran (1872-1951), a Sussex born theatrical manager and impresario, ran one of the most famous cabarets, at the Trocadero restaurant.

  • British Pathé  film ‘Magic Nights’ (1932), filmed during an actual performance of Charles B. Cochran’s Cabaret Show at the Trocadero, London. Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

Cochran, the Cameron Mackintosh of his day, was responsible for discovering many new talents and making stars out of them. Some of his high-profile discoveries were Eleanora Duse, Anna Neagle, Gertude Lawrence, Noel Coward, Jessie Matthews and the fame-hungry Dolly Sisters  (who notoriously helped Harry Gordon Selfridge (1858-1947) to squandered most of his fortune in the 1920s).

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  • Hungarian born dancers The Dolly Sisters, Jenny and Rosie famous for performing in revues on the twenties.  They were discovered by theatre impresario, Charles B. Cochran. Image date, 1st January, 1923. 

  • British Pathé  film ‘Playtime At The Piccadilly Hotel’ (1932). Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

Other London venues that had popular in-house cabarets included, The Casa Nuova Restaurant, Casani’s Club, The Cosmo Club, The Piccadilly Hotel and the Grosvenor House Hotel. In the early 1930s, Cissie began work as a professional dancer at Grosvenor House’s cabaret,  although exact dates of her employment there are unknown.

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  • A line of chorus girls in the cabaret at the Piccadilly Hotel, London. January 1st, 1930.

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  • Follies girls who are appearing in the Grosvenor House cabaret walk their matching Follies dogs in a London park on 19th April 1935. 

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  • Members of the Empire Cabaret troupe appear in ‘Grosvenor Gambols’ at Grosvenor House, London. January 1st, 1930.

It wasn’t until the Summer of 1934 that Cissie met the Sultan of Johor whilst he was staying at the Grosvenor House Hotel.  The hotel, on Park Lane, opened on 14th May, 1929 following extensive refurbishment. It was particularly popular with aristocrats, foreign dignitaries, entertainment stars and any wealthy individual who could afford the hefty room tariff. Everyone important in 1930’s society, stayed at the hotel.

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  • From left to right, Lady Milbank, famous actor Charles Chaplin, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Sutherland attend the Charity ball for the benefit of British hospitals at Grosvenor House on November 19th, 1931.

The Grosvenor House Hotel was designed in a quintessential British style aimed predominantly at the American market. There were 472 bedrooms and it was the first hotel in London to have a bathroom in every bedroom and the first in Europe to have iced running water in every bathroom.

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  • A six guinea suite at the Savoy Hotel in London.  March 1st, 1939.

Other luxury London hotels also competing for wealthy guests at this time included: Claridges (1927, interior design by Basil Ionides (1884-1950)); the Savoy Hotel and Theatre (1929, Basil Ionides) and Strand Palace Hotel (1930, architect Oliver Bernard (1881-1939)).

The Sultan of Johor delighted in the comforts of London society. He liked high-living and loved the bright lights of both Paris and London.  When in London, he would often lavish his vast income on dancing girls. However, Cissie was not the only theatrical to catch the Sultan’s eye. In the early 1900s, he fell in love with a former Gaiety girl called Nellie. In 1906, he brought Nellie £30,000 worth of jewels as well as a lease on a mansion at 34 Park Lane.

The Sultan was a regular guest at the Grosvenor Park Hotel, spending long periods of time there where he had his own hotel suite. The Sultan also spent his final years at the hotel, watching television in his suite. He died there on 18th May, 1959. In fact the Sultan’s father, Abu Baker (1833-1895), also died in a London hotel, Bailey’s in Kensington.

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  • The 94 year old Sultan of Johor pictured with his wife and daughter arriving at Tilbury, on the P&O Liner ‘Himalaya’, England, June 2nd 1958. 

The Sultan of Johor (1873-1959)

Sultan Ibrahim was born on 17th September, 1873.  His mother, Zubaida binti Abdullah (née Cecilia Catharina Lange 1849-1936) was of Danish Eurasion descent and the 2nd wife (m. 1870) of Abu Baker. Abu ruled Johor from 1862, as Maharaja from 1868 and as Sultan from 1886 until his death in 1895.

Sultan Ibrahim’s father, Abu Baker, was a self-confessed Anglophile who modelled his tastes and habits on that of a typical English gentleman.  He was a well-known figure in diplomatic circles as well as London society and fostered close friendships with European aristocracy, including Queen Victoria (1819-1901).

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  • Sultan Ibrahim’s father, Abu Baker as depicted in Vanity Fair, January 1st, 1891.

Abu had an allegiance to the British government and Crown but later in his life many civil servants considered him to be ‘pretentious’ and ‘an unreliable potentate.’  Some of this friction may have been caused by his long absences on overseas jaunts and often unfavourable attention he attracted from the foreign press about his private life.

Abu Baker enjoyed the company of women, particularly European women (a trait Ibrahim went on to inherit from his father).  On one particular occasion  in 1893/4, Abu was sued by Jenny Mighell from Brighton for breach of promise to marry. Abu had courted Miss Mighell under the name ‘Albert Baker’ but during the relationship she discovered ‘Albert Baker’s’ true identity.

Miss Mighell subsequently lodged papers with the British Court in which she declared that Abu/Albert had failed to make good on his promise of marriage. Her claims were dismissed on the grounds that Abu was not subject to British jurisdiction therefore could not be sued under its laws for breach of contract. All this negative publicity proved rather unsavoury for both Abu and the British government.

Sultan Ibrahim was educated privately in Britain and went on to inherit the sultanate in November 1895, aged 22.  Like his father, Ibrahim enjoyed the company of women and loved British culture, excelling at cricket, tennis, horse riding and game hunting. Indeed, he even presented pairs of tigers to London Zoo and was a Fellow of Scotland’s Zoological Society.

In Malaya he kept kennels, stables and planted a garden of English roses. He was a bit of a ‘petrolhead’, pioneering motoring in his homeland and where he could often be seen whizzing along the road like Toad of Toad Hall!

Sultan Ibrahim remained faithful to Britain throughout his life and in 1935, on King George V’s (1865-1936) Silver Jubilee, he donated £500,000 towards British defence (nearly £32million in today’s money!). In his palace at Woodneuk in Malaya, he kept a life-size portrait of Queen Victoria (inherited from his father) as well as paintings of other members of the British royal family.

Although he resisted many aspects of British officialdom, he was a strong supporter of British relations. The British establishment also awarded him several honours including, an honorary GSMG (1916), an honorary GBE (1935) and in 1947 was made an honorary major-general in the British Army.

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  • Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, 15th October, 1930.

Ibrahim was an imposing figure, a large athletic man with features inherited from his Scandinavian grandfather and Malay and Bugis ancestors. As was common amongst Malayan men, the Sultan had gold teeth inset with small diamonds. The popular press often referred to the Sultan as the ‘Playboy of the East’. He loved life, lavish parties and world travel.

In 1938, Time magazine described Sultan Ibrahim as:

Wealthy, virile, tiger-hunting Sultan of Johor, who was an oriental potentate, is entitled to have at least one attractive British woman staying at his palace on approval. His Highness, while making a round-the-world tour in 1934, was photographed in Hollywood with Mae West, and was the guest in Washing of Mr and Mrs Franklin D. Roosevelt

(Time magazine, 8.8.1938)

Despite his playboy ways, the Sultan possessed an astute political brain, like his father.  Like his father, he was prone to bouts of self-indulgence, unpredictability, arguing a lot with his sons.  He had 4 sons (1 died in infancy) and one daughter.

Cissie Hill and The Sultan of Johor – Star-Crossed Lovers

Cissie met Sultan Ibrahim in the Summer of 1934 (although it may have been in September 1935, exact meeting dates are disputed) at the Grosvenor House Hotel whilst he was still married to his 5th wife, Sultana Helen Ibrahim.

Cissie was a striking young woman with platinum blonde hair. He brought Cissie expensive jewellery, built her houses and provided her with an income. The British establishment did not approve of Ibrahim’s relationship with the glamorous showgirl and tried to dissuade him from marrying her.

The couple managed to keep their relationship/affair relatively low-key until 1937, when the house in Herne Bay (Mayfair Court) that Sultan Ibrahim had brought Cissie, was broken into. Burglars stole a safe and £5,000 worth of jewels from the property, 2 pieces missing were inscribed “with all my love S.I. “[S.I. = Sultan Ibrahim].

Speculation began to mount that these valuables were possibly part of Cissie’s wedding jewellery. Amongst the stolen items were a Sunray tiara, ropes of exquisite pearls, collars of diamonds and emeralds, wide diamond bracelets of the highest quality.

The burglary hastened the end of Ibrahim’s marriage to Helen, newspapers around the world had a field-day! Finally, on 31st December, 1937 he was finally granted a divorce. Following his divorce from Helen he went to Ceylon and reacquainted with Cissie who was on holiday there with her mother. All 3 of them toured Sumatra and  then flew to Singapore on 27th May, 1938, en-route to Johor.

Divorce in 1930s Britain

In 1930’s Britain, it was possible to divorce your spouse, however, the process was by no means easy. English law did not allow for divorce by mutual consent, but rather required proof of adultery, or violence by one party. If either parties ‘colluded’ in order to obtain their divorce, the couple would both be refused a divorce as punishment. Collusion was strictly prohibited and perjury a criminal offence.

However, couples desperate to go their separate ways did find a way around these strict regulations. Either one of the couple (usually but not always the man), pretended to commit adultery. The ‘adulterer’ would travel to a seaside resort for a ‘dirty weekend’. His/her companion would be either a friend or unattached individual, also in on the act.

Once the ‘couple’ arrived at their hotel they would make sure that they were seen by as many people as possible, particularly the hotel’s chambermaid when she brought to their room bed! This type of charade was known as gathering ‘hotel evidence’ and witnesses who had seen the couple together would be called to give evidence in court at the divorce trial.

Ibrahim did have to resort to such measures as this, his position as a high-ranking foreign dignitary meant he could set his own rules. The Sultan was able to divorce Helen in 1937 after first having passed a Special Marriage Dissolution Act by the Johor State Council in order to make the end of the marriage legal.

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Mayfair Court, Herne Bay – A Deco Moderne treasure

  • BBC Inside Out South East, ‘Sultan and The Showgirl’ documentary. Mayfair Court is featured 2 minutes 20 seconds in.

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Sultan Ibrahim commissioned a stunning Deco Moderne house for Cissie and her parents at number 2 Clifftown Gardens, Westcliff, Herne Bay. Completed in 1935, ‘Mayfair Court’ still survives today (see documentary) with its blue and white colour scheme.

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Cissie was executive owner of Mayfair Court and the two Deco houses at 139 and 141 Grand Drive. She also purchased a number of wide plots in Clifftown Gardens and Grand Drive. When it was first built, Mayfair Court also had a greenhouse (south-western corner) and a concrete tube air-raid shelter, possibly a Stanton shelter.

In 1937, steps and a bedroom were added over the garage to the south end of the property.  Cissie lived at Mayfair Court, with her mother, until she died in 1940. Her father, George Hill, also lived there between 1935 and 1937.

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1930s British Seaside Architecture

1930’s Britain was an exciting place to be if you were an architect. The pre-war housing boom was in full-swing and Mayfair Court was one of the new style of modern houses being built in Herne Bay.  The south coast region of Britain had pockets of similar style, gleaming white villas.

These concrete and steel properties featured radius bay windows, glamorous balconies, nautical flourishes, Crittall window design, stepped stucco door/window surrounds, plenty of glass brick to encourage the sun and light to stream through and illuminated the interior. Some fine examples of this type of architecture exist in Kent (Cliftonville, Margate – Walpole Bay Hotel), Sussex (Grand Ocean Hotel, De La Warr Pavillion), Hampshire (Saltdean Lido and Hilsea Lido).

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  • Bathers at Saltdean Lido, East Sussex, c.1940.

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  • Dolores Del Rio (1905 – 1983) Hollywood film star and wife of MGM’s Art Director Cedric Gibbons (1893 – 1960). An interior view of their Deco Moderne house, 1935.

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Wealthy, upper middle-class, aristocrats and upwardly mobile Britons, favoured Deco Moderne, over Art Deco or Modernist architecture. Art Deco, by the 1930s, had taken on so many variations it was almost unrecognisable from its original 1920s form. Early Art Deco commercial and domestic architecture was, for many traditionalists/fashionable sorts, a tad vulgar with its busy, geometrical shapes and bright colours. An excellent example of early 1930s commercial Art Deco architecture is The Hoover Building, Ealing, London.

It is no surprise that the Sultan should commission Mayfair Court to be designed in the stylish and glamorous Deco Moderne style.  The overall effect is a convergence of both masculinity (polished interior surfaces, wooden finishes, monochromatic colour schemes) and femininity (sensuous curves both inside and out as well as elegance of form). Moderne was not as elitist or conservative as Modernism or the Modern style.

The Moderne managed to bridge the hiatus between masculine and feminine cultures. It was a style less purist and less radical but nonetheless fashionable and fun to live in. Many Deco Moderne villas built along the British coastline were commissioned as weekend or holiday homes.  Further examples can be found in Essex (Silver End, 1927-8), Holland-on-Sea, Frinton-on-Sea, Hadleigh and Westcliff-on-Sea. Sandbooks in Poole also has some stunning examples of this style of architecture.

NB Mayfair Court is a private residence. Should you decide to visit the property, please remember to respect the owner’s privacy.

Still from 'The Sultan and The Showgirl', BBC Inside Out South East, October, 2015.
Still from ‘The Sultan and The Showgirl’, BBC Inside Out South East, October, 2015.

Cissie’s Tragic Death in 1940

Miss Hill brought an influence into my life which can never be replaced and which I never wish to forget.

(Sultan Ibrahim quoted in the Sunday Mirror, 10.11.1940)

The Battle of Britain began on 10th July, 1940 and lasted until 31st October, 1940. On the morning of Friday 11th October, 1940, Cissie drove to Canterbury to buy a wedding present for a friend. She first called to pick-up her friend, Miss Margaret (Peggy) K. Clark, at 10.15am.

Upon arrival in Canterbury the pair visited a shop in Burgate Street, Cissie then went to a furrier’s and her friend went on to another store. During an Air Raid, the furrier’s took a direct hit, whilst Cissie was looking at a rug, she was killed instantly. According to local newspaper reports on the bombings in Canterbury that day:

It landed on a well-known furrier’s store, the owner of which together with assistants and customers, were killed. In the bookshop next door, one of the lady partners lost her life. She and another woman were blown clean through into the next shop, that of a tailor, who with an assistant, saved themselves by crouching in a cupboard. The tailor was cut by flying glass. His daughter’s fate was for some time in doubt, but cries for help led rescuers to the cellar into which she had been trapped. She was extricated unhurt through the pavement grating.

(The Kentish Gazette, 19.10.1940)

The Sultan and Cissie’s mother identified her body which had been so badly injured that a positive identification was only able to be made because Cissie was wearing jewellery that the Sultan had given her.

Cissie’s funeral took place at St. John’s Church, Brunswick Square, prior to the interment at the Cemetery, Eddington. The Sultan did not attend the funeral but sent a beautiful floral tribute wreath which was laid in the grave with the coffin.

Good-natured, she [Cissie] gave support to charitable objects and other causes, and she was the means of bringing happiness to people in straitened circumstances.

(Herne Bay Press, 19.10.1940)

Had Cissie married the Sultan, she would have been his 6th wife and known as ‘Her Highness Lady Lydia Ibrahim, Sultanah of Johor’. Such was his grief, the Sultan rarely spoke of Cissie ever again.  He moved on in his personal life extremely quickly (much to the distress of Cissie’s family!), marrying his 6th wife, Marcella Mendl, (1915-1982), a young Romanian Red Cross flag seller,  before the end of 1940 following a whirlwind romance.

On her death, Cissie left an estate of £16,970 (approximately half a million pounds in today’s money). There was no will.

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Lydia Cecilia ‘Cissie’ Hill (1913-1940)

The 6 Official Wives of The Sultan of Johor

Sultan Ibrahim’s private life was peppered with scandal. He had 6 official wives, 4 of whom became Sultanahs of Johor and two of his wives were of European descent:

  • 1st wife = Maimuna (1876-1909) – married in Singapore 5th October, 1892, aged 19;
  • 2nd wife = Ruqaiya (1880-1926) – married in 1897, aged 24;
  • 3rd wife = Hasana (b. 1877);
  • 4th wife = Intan (d. 1958);
  • 5th wife = Helen Bartholomew Wilson (1889-1978) Scottish. Mrs Wilson’s husband had been a physician in Johor (Dr William Brockie Wilson – a Malayan born Scot). Following a divorce from her doctor husband, she married the 57 year old Sultan in a London Registry followed by a religious ceremony at a Surrey mosque, 15th October, 1930. Their wedding reception was a small affair, 6 guests attending a private dinner at Grosvenor House Hotel. The Sultan insisted that Helen be recognised as Sultanah, she was known as Her Highness Sultanah Helen Ibrahim. In 1935 (the 40th year of his reign), he had his palace, Woodneuk (originally built by his father c.1875), completely rebuilt for his new wife. In the same year, he put her picture, together with his own on a Johor postage stamp as a gift to her on their fifth wedding anniversary. Because Helen had lived in Malaya she was familiar with its culture and customs. When she married the Sultan, she fully embraced life in Malaya, speaking conversational Malay and often seen outside the home which was unusual for ordinary Malay women.  The couple were sufficiently prestigious to be invited to the coronation of King George VI (1895-1952) in 1937 (he also rode in the carriage procession at Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 with his 6th wife). The couple rode in the carriage procession to Westminster Abbey and stayed at the Grosvenor House Hotel. The Sultan divorced Helen on 31st October, 1937 in London. He agreed a divorce settlement of £5,000 per annum and she was allowed to keep her jewellery (not the crown jewels) which were worth £25,000;

Marriages between white, respectable, English women and members of overseas ruling families rarely attracted much criticism in the 1930s. Examples of inter-racial marriages in this period include: Mollie Elsip and Prince Ali Khan of Jaora (1930, Woking mosque), Elizabeth Louise Mackenzie and ‘Pathan Chieftain’, Syed Abdullah.

  • The Sultan with his 5th wife, Mrs Helen Wilson, during a visit to Berlin in July/August, 1931.

  • The Sultan of Johor with his 5th wife, Mrs Helen Wilson (1889-1977) whom he divorced on 31st December, 1937.
  • 6th wife = Marcella Mendl (1915-1982) – a young Romanian Red Cross flag seller whom he met in 1940,  whilst she was sheltering at the Grosvenor House Hotel during an Air Raid. Marcella converted to Islam and was known as Lady Marcella Ibrahim (1940–1955) and Her Highness Sultana Fawzia binti ‘Abdu’llah (1955–1982). He married her in 1940, when he was 67. In 1941, when Marcella and her new husband arrived for the first-time in Johor, the Daily Mercury (20.1.1941) described her thus: ‘Lady Marcella Ibrahim wore to arrive in Johor, navy jersey crepe dress with a tucked centre panel of turquoise blue, an off the face hat with heart-shaped crown, trimmed with matching blue. Diamond necklet. Black antelope bag and gloves, black ankle-strap shoes, ash-blonde hair, 2 soft rolls above each ear and curled softly on the nape of her neck.’ Marcella spoke German, Malay, French and English. She outlived the Sultan by 23 years and they had one daughter (b. 1950);

  • British Pathé silent film ‘Sultan of Johor’s Birthday Party’ (1946). Showing the Sultan and his 6th and final wife, Sultanah Marcella, enjoying the ruler’s 73rd birthday (begin 1 min 10 secs in to see the couple). Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

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  • Sultan of Johor’s 73rd birthday (17th September, 1946).

    Still from 'The Sultan & The Showgirl', BBC Inside Out South East, October, 2015.
    Still from ‘The Sultan & The Showgirl’, BBC Inside Out South East, October, 2015.
Posted in History

Goodwood Revival 2015

  • My e-photo album of Goodwood Revival 2015 which will give you a taste of what to expect at this world-class nostalgia event. Uploaded to You Tube 23.9.15.

Exciting news, tickets for Goodwood Revival 2016 are now on sale! Keep an eye on Twitter (@goodwoodrevival) for further announcements. Tickets sell-out VERY quickly, so get in early to avoid disappointment.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

If you have never been to or heard of Goodwood Revival, let me explain. It is a retro-themed annual event that takes place over three days during mid-September (Friday to Sunday) at the Goodwood Estate in Chichester, West Sussex. In 2016, Goodwood Revival will happen from Friday 9th until Sunday 11th September, inclusive (these dates to be confirmed by 31st December, 2015).

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

What can you expect to see at Goodwood Revival? The event is a heady mix of historic planes, classic cars and motorbikes, heritage motor racing, retro fashions, food, music, period theatre and much, much more besides. A majority of exhibits and vehicles are time-located between World War Two and late 1960s with a few nods to modernity here and there. Goodwood Revival is one of the best annual celebrations of British nostalgia and vintage lifestyle in the world. Over 150,000 visitors attended this year, a figure which I think speaks for itself!

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
A perfect example of Goodwood Revival retro styling coupled with a nod to modernity. ©Come Step Back In Time
A perfect example of Goodwood Revival – vintage style with touches of modernity. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Driver Mark Bevington (St. Mary's Trophy) with his 1965 Isuzu Bellett.
Driver Mark Bevington (St. Mary’s Trophy) with his 1965 Isuzu Bellett.

Nearly every attendee (even trackside car mechanics) dress in period appropriate clothing. A lot of thought and effort goes into outfit selection, ensembles are not just pulled together from a last-minute rummage in grandma’s attic (although don’t dismiss this idea, you may come across a fantastic vintage find!). Oh no, Goodwood Revival devotees spend months and months putting together the perfect look. Even the gentlemen ensure that they are not outshone by their female counterparts.

A rather dapper gentleman from The Chap Magazine relaxing after a long day at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
A rather dapper gentleman from The Chap Magazine relaxing after a long day at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Wearing retro togs is not a pre-requisite dress-code but you will feel rather out of place if you don’t make some effort in this regard (for the ladies – scarf, hat, shoes, jacket, handbag etc.). If full retro attire is not your thing then modern styling is absolutely fine too as long as it is smart. Gentlemen should really wear trousers, shirt, tie and ladies a dress/suit. If you want to gain access to The Paddock, then smart dress is essential.

Me at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time

I confess, my soft-spot for Goodwood Revival  began in 1998 when I attended the very first meeting as a guest of Goodwood Estate. I was a post-graduate student at the time with a friend working in the Estate’s motor racing department. I gave hair and make-up demonstrations to Goodwood staff in readiness for the inaugural Revival. I have always had a keen interest in 20th Century fashion and make-up, so was delighted to share my knowledge with the Goodwood team.

  • In this short film by That’s Solent TV, I talk about my involvement in the 1998 Goodwood Revival meeting. Uploaded to You Tube 11.9.2015.
The Paddock in 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Paddock in 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time

The 1998 Revival commemorated the first motor racing event held at Goodwood’s Racing Circuit on 18th September, 1948. The Earl of March and Kinrara, who is the current owner of Goodwood Estate and heir-apparent of the 10th Duke of Richmond (1929- ), wanted to commemorate this first meeting. Motor race meetings continued at Goodwood until the circuit closed in 1966.

Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Press Centre at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Press Centre at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
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Me in the Press Centre at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Video Journalist, Shan Robins and cameraman, Steve Launay, filming in the Press Centre for That's Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time
Video Journalist, Shan Robins and cameraman, Steve Launay, filming in the Press Centre for That’s Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 2015, the 12,000 acre Goodwood Estate now comprises of a Racecourse, Motor Racing Circuit, a 4,000 acre organic farm, two 18 hole golf courses, an Aerodrome and Flying School and a 91 bedroom hotel.

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Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The original 1948 Motor Racing Circuit was formed from the perimeter of wartime fighter station RAF Westhampnett, which was built on land donated from the Goodwood Estate towards the war effort. Westhampnett shouldered the burden of air operations in the area when the Luftwaffe heavily bombed its sector station, RAF Tangmere, during the Battle of Britain (10 July – 31 October 1940) in World War Two.DSCF6482

In the summer of 1940, Shell (Goodwood Revival 2015’s Official Fuel and Lubricants sponsor) supported the heroic pilots of RAF Fighter Command with supplies of its new 100-octane aviation fuel, which offered a significant leap in performance and reached the front-line units, such as those based at Goodwood (RAF Westhampnett) between the fall of mainland Europe and the defence of Britain.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Post-war, the airfield was restored to the Estate and its perimeter road repurposed as a new home for the British Automobile Racing Club, after the permanent closure of the world’s first motor racing circuit at Brooklands in Surrey.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Goodwood Revival 2015 paid tribute to those who fought in the Battle of Britain 75 years ago. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight that took place at this year’s event, consisted of a Lancaster, flanked by a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane, such a spectacular and rare sight. The Goodwood Aerodrome is always a focal point of the Revival, some of the most celebrated historic aircraft in the world gather for the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation. This year, there were 40 aircraft from the period of the Battle of Britain including the world’s only flying Bristol Blenheim.

Me reporting on The Battle of Britain anniversary at Goodwood Revival for Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me reporting on The Battle of Britain anniversary at Goodwood Revival for Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time

  • Goodwood Revival Commemorates 75th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Britain 15.9.2015 That’s Solent TV.
Me with Peter Brock. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me with Peter Brock. ©Come Step Back In Time

I am no expert on the history of motor racing but do have a penchant for vintage cars, particularly from America. One of the highlights for me this year was meeting Peter Brock (1936- ). Brock is an American car designer best known for his work on the Shelby Dayton Cobra Coupé and Corvette Sting Ray. He worked at Shelby American until the end of the 1965 season on the Shelby American brand, creating the logos, merchandise, ads, and car liveries.

After winning at Le Mans in 1959 in an Aston Martin DBR1, Carroll Shelby [1923-2012] decided that he wanted to return with his own car to take the fight to the Ferrari GTs. The open-cockpit Cobras were endowed with blistering acceleration, but were at a huge aerodynamic disadvantage on the three-mile Mulsanne Straight. Topping out at 160 mph, they were giving away around 30mph to the more slippery Ferraris.

Shelby realised dramatic changes had to be made, so tasked his head of special projects, Peter Brock, with finding a solution. The result was a coupé body featuring a rounded nose, steeply raked windscreen ad cut-off ‘Kamm tail’. The unconventional design worked well and during testing the car went 20mph faster than any Cobra had before.

(Goodwood Revival Race Programme, 2015, p.14)

At Goodwood Revival 2015, Daytona Coupes were displayed alongside 6 Cobra Roadsters, recreating the pits of Sebring in 1965. These 6 Cobras are the only examples ever produced.

Driver N. Minassian in a 1965 Shelby Cobra Dayton Coupé. Peter Brock Looks on. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Driver N. Minassian in a 1965 Shelby Cobra Dayton Coupé. Peter Brock Looks on. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

This year’s Goodwood Revival had a strong emphasis on retro food (as you can imagine, this pleased me no end!). The 60th anniversary of the fish finger was marked with an authentic trawler situated near to the main entrance.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

In actual fact the very first reference to a ‘fish finger’ appeared in a British magazine in 1900. An American scientist, Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956), who began his career as a taxidermist, is credited with bringing the humble fish finger to the British tea-table in 1955.

Birdseye began his journey to becoming the founder of the modern freezer industry whilst on a fishing trip to Newfoundland between 1912 and 1915. He noticed the Inuits left their freshly caught fish and caribou meat out in the open air, where the intense cold froze it solid, very quickly. He spent several years experimenting with the freezing process and in 1925, produced his first commercially frozen food. In 1930, his first distribution centre opened at Springfield, Massachusetts.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

After World War Two, Britain had an abundance of herrings. Birdseye recognised the potential of this fish surplus in terms of food retail and decided to push forward with his idea for frozen fish fingers. Conducting market research in Southampton and South Wales, Birdseye gave the public a chance to try either ‘Herring Savouries’ or ‘Cod Sticks’. Much to Birdseye’s surprise, the public preferred Cod Sticks. In Britain, 1955, his company Birds Eye, finally launched their famous fish finger at a price of 1 shilling 8d. The fish finger was developed in the company’s old factory in Great Yarmouth by Mr H. A. J. Scott.

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Another heritage brand represented on The Revival High Street at Goodwood this year was Bendicks. Bendicks have been manufacturing after dinner mints since 1931, their shop at the Revival was based upon the firm’s original 1930s Mayfair shop. Founders of Bendicks, Mr Oscar Benson and Colonel ‘Bertie’ Dickson, produced their first ever chocolate mint in 1930. Benson and Dickson acquired a small confectionery business at the unassuming address of 184 Church Street, in Kensington, London.

Showcasing the Elizabethan Dark Chocolate Mints on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time
Showcasing the Elizabethan Dark Chocolate Mints on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time

This year’s Revival took place 2 days after the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II (1926- ) becoming the longest-serving monarch, having reigned longer than her great-great Grandmother Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who reigned for 23,226 days. In recognition of this extraordinary milestone, Bendicks launched a limited edition box of Elizabethan Dark Chocolate Mints in celebration of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Bendicks were awarded a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen in 1962.

1960s Tesco supermarket on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time
1960s Tesco supermarket on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time

Tesco, one of the major sponsors of Goodwood Revival, recreated a mid 1960’s store stocked with authentic products on The Revival High Street. This is one of the event’s most popular exhibits, the interior of the supermarket is truly spectacular to behold. Shelves stacked high with period accurate products, packaging had been recreated with painstaking attention to detail. If Tesco return to Goodwood Revival in 2016, I urge you to visit this exhibit.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

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Tesco has been a retail icon on the British high street since 1919, when Jack Cohen (1898-1979) started selling surplus groceries from a stall in the East End of London. The Tesco brand first appeared 5 years later in 1924 when he bought a ship of tea from a Mr T.E. Stockwell. The initials and letters were combined to form Tes-co and in 1929 Mr Cohen opened the flagship Tesco store in Burnt Oak, North London.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

In the 1960s, self-service supermarkets gradually became a common sight on many high streets in Britain. This new style of supermarket allowed the customer to push a trolley or carry a wire basket around an open-plan food emporium and choose products for themselves. The latter task having previously been carried-out by a shop assistant who would fulfil your order, collate and package up the items for you.

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Supermarkets carried a much wider range of stock than the humble village store and shoppers now enjoyed a more emancipated shopping experience. In 1968, Tesco opened its first ‘superstore’ in Crawley, West Sussex. If the Tesco exhibit returns to Goodwood Revival in 2016, do take the time to visit, it won’t disappoint. It is great fun identifying products that we can still see on our supermarket shelves in 2015!

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The incredible, revolving, retro Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
The incredible, revolving, retro Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
The 1940s kitchen from Kenwood's Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
The 1940s kitchen from Kenwood’s Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

The Kenwood Theatre at Goodwood Revival was another personal favourite and a must-see for fans of retro food and historic kitchenalia. My short film, at the start of this article, contains many images of The Kenwood Theatre including action shots of well-known cookery demonstrators, Brendan Lynch, Miranda Gore-Browne and burlesque baker, Charlotte White.

Burlesque baker, Charlotte White, demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Burlesque baker, Charlotte White, demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off finalist, Miranda Gore Browne demonstrating cake-making in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off finalist, Miranda Gore Browne demonstrating cake-making in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off contestant, Brendan Lynch demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off contestant, Brendan Lynch demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

Kenneth Maynard Wood (1916-1997) first became interested in food mixers after World War Two when he brought a Sunbeam mixer, stripped it down and redesigned it. The first kitchen product Ken Wood retailed on the British market was actually the ‘Turn Over Toaster’ (model A100), manufactured in 1947 from his company based in Woking. This style of toaster had been popular since the 1920s.

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Kenwood Kitchen Icons Through The Ages mini-exhibition in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Kenwood Kitchen Icons Through The Ages mini-exhibition in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A700 Kenwood Chef (1950-1957) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A700 Kenwood Chef (1950-1957) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

Kenwood food mixers have been kitchen icons since 1950 when the company launched model A700, Kenwood Chef, at the Ideal Home Exhibition with the promise that it was ‘The world’s most versatile kitchen machine!’. The A700 was so popular that when Harrods stocked it, the mixer sold-out within a week and shot straight to the top of every bride’s wedding wish list. By 1956, Kenwood’s turnover reached £1.5 million and the company employed 400 staff.

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A305 Kenwood Minor Hand Mixer (1960s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A305 Kenwood Minor Hand Mixer (1960s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 1962, Kenwood moved its manufactory to Havant, Hampshire (and are still there today). In the 1960s, Kenwood ran into difficulties, in part due to a manufacturing problem with one of its refrigeration products. There followed a hostile takeover by Thorn Electrical Group in 1968 which resulted in Ken Wood being ousted out of his own company.

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A901 Kenwood Chef (1980s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A901 Kenwood Chef (1980s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

Ken Wood then became Managing Director of Dawson-Keith Holdings where he remained until 1981. Following the Thorn takeover, Ken Wood continued to live near Havant and created a golf course there, he also founded the Forest Mere Health Farm, Liphook, Hampshire.

 

  • TV documentary from 1981 on the history of Kenwood Food Mixers. Includes interviews with the founder Kenneth Wood and the industrial designer Kenneth Grange. Uploaded to John Wood’s You Tube Channel 23.10.2015. (John is Kenneth Wood’s step son. You can follow John on Twitter @uptone – he often posts Kenwood related Tweets including images and archive footage of his late step father. John also blogs at http://uptone.blogspot.co.uk/ ).
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Retro fashionistas are never disappointed at Goodwood Revival. The fashion focus at this year’s event was the 50th anniversary since ‘Youthquake’ and emergence of the miniskirt in 1965.

The freedom of a mini skirt! It feels so modern, so pop, so now. This is fashion shaking off the shackles of our parents and instead finding something that the young want to wear. It’s all thanks to Mary Quant, our home-grown fashion designer currently setting the agenda everywhere. Quant is the patron saint of the young, the hip and the cool, and her King’s Road shop Bazaar is the mecca for all the faces in London town.
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
And we have mini icons for inspiration, such as Jean Shrimpton, model and muse of photographer of David Bailey. She caused a sensation at this year’s Melbourne Cup in Australia, when she turned up wearing a white dress cut four inches above the knees, made by Colin Rolfe; and without the hat, gloves and stockings usually required at such events.
(‘Mini Skirts’ by Lauren Cochrane, Goodwood Revival 2015 official programme)
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

On the Richmond Lawn at Goodwood Revival, there was a special celebration of the mini skirt and a ‘live’ billboard of models in the very latest fashions. One of the outfits I wore during the weekend, was a 1960s inspired dress with ‘Mod’ detailing teamed with a beehive style updo.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Taking a quick, 1960s style, selfie. ©Come Step Back In Time
Taking a quick, 1960s style, selfie. ©Come Step Back In Time
There is something for everyone at Goodwood Revival, young and old. Whether you are a vintage lifestyle enthusiast, petrolhead, living history or aviation fanatic you will not fail to enjoy your day-out (or weekend) at Goodwood. But do hurry, tickets sell-out incredibly quickly. You cannot purchase tickets on the gate, all tickets must be brought in advance.
  • What can you expect to see at Goodwood Revival 2016? An exciting ‘teaser film’ made by Goodwood Road & Racing. Uploaded to You Tube 3.11.15.
  • To book tickets for Goodwood Revival 2016, CLICK HERE.
  • Keep an eye on Twitter (@goodwoodrevival) for all the latest event news.
  • Check-out my Pinterest board of Goodwood Revival 2015, showcasing some of my favourite photographs taken during the weekend. You may find inspiration on there for creating your outfit for 2016’s event. CLICK HERE.
  • For more tips and hints on how to ‘Get The Goodwood Look’, CLICK HERE.
  • Every year at Goodwood Revival there is a ‘Best Dressed’ competition. Take a look at 2015’s runners and riders for inspiration when creating your own ‘Goodwood look’. CLICK HERE.
L-R = Honey B'Zarre, Miss Scarlett Luxe and Bryce Hunt for Vintage Hair Lounge.
L-R = Honey B’Zarre, Miss Scarlett Luxe and Bryce Hunt for Vintage Hair Lounge.
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Posted in Film, History, Maritime History, World War One, World War Two

Happy New Year 2015 & Historical Pinboard 1915

 

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  • Greetings card from 1915. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Happy New Year readers, welcome to 2015!  I’ve no idea what this year holds but as with everything in life, best ‘roll with the punches’. I have never been a fan of making New Year’s resolutions but am rather partial to writing endless lists. One such list I have compiled contains historical anniversaries coming-up over the next twelve months, there are quite a few of them, here’s my top selection:

  • January 24th (50th) death of Sir Winston Churchill;
  • April 25th (100th) start of the Gallipoli Campaign in World War One which ended on 9th January, 1916;
  • May 7th (250th) launch of the HMS Victory, (100th) sinking of the RMS Lusitania, (70th) 8th V.E. Day, (75th) 27th-4th June – Dunkirk invasions;
  • June 2nd (175th) birth of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), 16th (100th) foundation of the British Women’s Institute, 18th (200th) Battle of Waterloo, 15th (800th) Magna Carta issued;
  • July 10th-31st October (75th) Battle of Britain;
  • September 6th (100th) first Women’s Institute meeting held in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Wales;
  • October 12th (100th) British nurse Edith Cavell (1865-1915) is executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium, 15th (600th) Battle of Agincourt.

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  • Battle of Britain Memorial, unveiled in 1993, situated on the white cliffs near Capel-le-Ferne between Dover and Folkestone, Kent.

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  • Engraving (1873) featuring King John (1166-1216) signing The Magna Carta (1215).

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some newspaper reports from a hundred years ago:

A New Year is dawning – a year of great possibilities, great responsibilities, and, we believe, great achievements. The year of 1914 has marked an epoch in the history of the world, and as it recedes into the shadows of the past our thoughts go back to its early days, before the German war of aggression darkened the peaceful lands of Europe.

At the beginning of January, 1914, the British public, which dearly loves deeds of adventure, was thrilled by the news that Sir E. Shackleton had decided to lead another expedition to the South Polar regions, and in November tidings were received that the party had reached Sydney on its journey southwards.

Scarcely a year has passed, and Great Britain is engaged in the greatest venture she has ever undertaken – a venture which has stirred the imagination, the sympathy, and the loyalty of Britons all over the world. As the bells welcome in the New Year the sons of the great World Empire are fighting with the Allies in France and Belgium; against the Germans in Africa; and Volunteers are devoting themselves to strenuous exercise in the Dominions and in the training camps of England, preparing  themselves for active service in the early spring. 

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  • August 1915: Posters at Marylebone Station advertising war loans. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Day by day tales of unflinching courage, resourcefulness, and heroism reach us from the theatre of war. The news of the great air and sea battle of Cuxhaven, which came filtering through on Sunday night, outvied for sheer daring, skill, and ingenuity the most romantic story of adventure penned by novelists of any age. And while Great Britain can produce men like these she is able fearlessly to bring to a successful conclusion tasks, however difficult, with which she may be confronted in the immediate future.

Therefore, with high hopes, unbounded enthusiasm, and never-faltering optimism, she greets the New Year of 1915. British commerce is satisfactory in spite of the depression caused by the war, and British goods are in ever increasing demand all over the world. The great British Fleet is patrolling the seas, and merchant ships pass to and fro to neutral countries carrying their freight to distant parts. German and Austrian goods, which were stocked in quantities by many English shops, have now been largely superseded by British, bearing a label “British Made”. For quality, finish, and general workmanship they cannot be equalled.

(Preston Leader, 13.2.1915)

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  • Soldiers reading the Suffragette newspaper, April 1915. That week’s editorial by Christabel Pankhurst expressed intensely anti-German sentiments typical of the time. The front cover image is a reproduction of a French cartoon of Joan of Arc (St Joan) in full military armour, hovering as an angel above Rheims Cathedral, which had been badly damaged in September 1914. The headline screams: ‘That which the fire and Sword of the Germans Can Never Destroy’. (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Votes for women announced at the beginning of 1915. We may claim that our efforts to keep the suffrage flag flying in spite of the war have met with a gratifying and stimulating measure of success. In several instances we have through the columns of the paper and by means of meetings, deputations & etc  been able to draw public attention to serious abuses which have made the lot of women in wartime harder even than in peace; but never for a moment have we lost sight of our single goal; the enfranchisement of women.

The Woman’s Right-To-Serve Demonstration: A Great Procession. The demonstration, on July 17, of thousands of women from all classes-aristocrats, professionals, workers in many forms of art and industry, women who rejoice in demonstrating, and women whom nothing but clear conviction and a strong sense of duty would draw from their quiet homes into the glare of publicity – which was organised to demand as a right that women should be allowed to take their share in munition and other war work, was a success in every detail, except the weather, which was deplorable.

….it was picturesque, enthusiastic and impressive, and drew a concourse of many thousands, some of whom may have “come to scoff”, and when the story of the World War comes to be written, the patriotic part played by women of the Empire, of France, of Belgium, of Italy, of Russia, will be chronicled, and this great demonstration of women craving to work for the war will find honourable place.

(The Illustrated London News, 24.7.1915)

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  • A lithographic comical postcard promoting an anti-suffrage sentiment concerning women’s rights, published in New York City (1915). The husband washes clothes and watches the baby and cat at home. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

  • Suffragette Rally, Trafalgar Square, London, ‘Suffragettes Help The War Effort’ (1915). British Pathe – Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

Undoing the Dardanelles blunder: The withdrawal of the British troops from two of the three points held on the Gallipoli Peninsula may be taken as a sign that the Government has at least realized the stupendous blunder is committed in venturing upon this expedition, the earlier phases of which Mr Churchill described as a ‘gamble.’ A gamble it has proved in the lives of the most heroic of our race. The casualties at the Dardanelles numbered up to November 9 no fewer than 106,000 officers and men. In addition, sickness on this front accounted for 90,000 down to October. A loss of nearly 200,000 men was thus incurred without any adequate result.

Not only did the Government despatch to the Dardanelles forces which, judiciously utilized at other points, might have achieved the greatest results; not only did it divert to the Near East munitions at a time when we were perilously short of high-explosive shells. It also deceived the nation as to the position and prospects after its strokes had signally failed through initial mismanagement or the inadequacy of the army employed. The public has not forgotten the optimistic assurances of Mr Churchill, Lord Robert Cecil, and Lord Kitchener.

Mr Lloyd George’s speech last evening really contains the gravest indictment that has as yet been drawn against the Government. Here is a confession that when the Germans were in May making 250,000 high-explosive shells a day the British production was only 2,500. Even now he implies that, despite great efforts, we have not equalled the German output. Shall we ever overtake it? Only if the nation works its hardest. The fatal words of the war, he said, were ‘too late’. These words have dogged the Allies’  every step.

(Daily Mail, 21.12.1915)

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