Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New Blog introduction and R101

The idea of this blog is to show the World (or at least a few enlightened souls) some examples from my collection of historical (i.e. old) newspapers. The great majority of the papers are from the 20th Century and are British national publications, although there are a few from the 19th Century, a few foreign papers and a few oddities.
I will endeavour to post once a week with each post including an image of a front cover, possibly one or more items from other pages of the issue, along with background explanations if warranted.

So, to kick-off -

Daily Mirror dated Monday, October 6th 1930
R101 Airship Disaster

It is an unfortunate fact that most surviving individual coies of newspapers (as opposed to runs of papers saved by libraries etc) tend to dwell on wars, deaths and disasters along with the occassional Royal event, so I start with a disaster - the crash of the British Airship the R101 which came down in France.
The R101 was a rigid airship built between 1926 and 1929 at Cardington near Bedford and was the largest man-made flying object in the World at that time. It was built, along with the R100, to provide long distance luxury air travel and provided 50 cabins, a main lounge, a dining room to seat 60 people and promenade decks for viewing the land or sea only 1500 to 2000 feet below.
After test flights it was decided that the ship did not provide enough lifting capacity (i.e. it wouldn’t carry enough cargo and passengers to make it profitable) so during the winter of 1929 and 1930 it was modified.
A proving voyage was planned for October 1930; a 15 day round trip from Cardington to India (Karachi) and back. The R101 left on 4th October with 54 crew and passengers on board and headed over London and across the Channel, passing just to the east of Hastings. The weather was not good with heavy rain and gusting winds. At about 2 a.m. the airship suddenly dived but was levelled out at about 250 feet. This was not a healthy altitude because the craft was 777 feet long. Another dip of the nose brought the ship into contact with the ground. It was only doing about 13 mph at this point so settled onto the ground pretty well intact. Unfortunately almost immediately the flammable hydrogen gas caught fire and gutted the ship. 48 of the 54 people aboard lost their lives.
Work on her sister ship, the R100, was stopped and all plans for further airships abandoned. 

Back page -

On a different note from the same edition - Going out but with nothing to wear? How about antelope or skunk or even your favourite pony?

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