This website uses cookies to provide a rich user experience. Please consult our Cookie Policy to learn about what cookies this website uses, or to control the cookies you receive. You need do nothing if you are happy to receive cookies.
Look and Learn History Picture Library License images from £2.99 Pay by PayPal for images for immediate download Member of British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA)

Archive for June, 2013

All of these articles and images are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.

The craze for speed soon spread among car designers and drivers

Posted in Cars, Engineering, Historical articles, History, Sport on Thursday, 27 June 2013

This edited article about cars originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 305 published on 18 November 1967.

Paris Madrid race 1903,picture, image, illustration

Paris to Madrid motor race of 1903, which ended in death for many by Graham Coton

By the year 1900, the making of motor cars had become a major industry, and about 209 different makes were being built, half of them by American manufacturers. This impressive total rose to 300 in 1902, and by 1905 it had reached 700.

Although the internal combustion engine was constantly being modified and improved, the power units of the early 1900s were crude, clumsy affairs compared with the modern petrol engine.

At this period, the only known way of increasing the speed of motor cars was by building bigger engines, and capacities had reached 14 litres, giving 90 horsepower and speeds of 80 m.p.h. on level roads.

Motor-racing and rallying as a sport was becoming well established, but meetings tended to be somewhat risky ‘free-for-all’ affairs. Around 1900, a wealthy American newspaper proprietor named Gordon Bennett asked the Automobile Club of France to draw up a set of rules for an annual sporting event of an international nature. As a prize, he gave an International Challenge Trophy which became known as the Gordon Bennett Trophy. This trophy was the forerunner of that for which the famous Tourist Trophy races were held in Britain.

The French club, the oldest motoring organisation in the world, decreed that each country should nominate a team of three cars of any make to represent it. A weight limit of 18 ¾ cwt. was set, and each vehicle had to be built exclusively in the country it represented. Races were held over a minimum distance of 300 miles. Oddly enough, in the early Gordon Bennett races, not once did an American car come even in the first three.

The great Paris-Madrid race of 1903, organised by the French and Spanish Automobile Clubs, was planned to be a big step forward in international motor-racing. Many cars with famous names took part – De Dion, Renault, Darracq, Mercedes, Wolseley, Fiat – but unfortunately the affair became a disaster. By the end of the first stage, at Bordeaux, ten people had been killed, including six spectators, and the authorities stopped the race.

The Holiday Folk Fair of Milwaukee celebrates many cultures

Posted in America, Customs, Historical articles on Thursday, 27 June 2013

This edited article about American festivals and customs originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 305 published on 18 November 1967.

Milwaukee, picture, image, illustration

Panoramic view of Milwaukee, Wisconsin with prominent streets and buildings identified, c1898.

Old traditions and customs are dying out. Nowadays, in almost every country of the world, the emphasis is on speed and development. Ancient skills and ceremonies are gradually being forgotten.

Particularly this is so in the ‘new’ countries which have comparatively recently been settled by immigrants. Canada, New Zealand, Australia and America all have, within their boundaries, families from virtually every country in the world. These people have taken on the manners and customs of their adopted lands, and to many of them the traditions and customs of their homelands are little more than a memory.

As an example of this, the 753,000 inhabitants of the city of Milwaukee, in the State of Wisconsin, USA, represent over 50 nationalities, the largest single group being of Germanic origin.

Before 1944, representatives of these national groups used to meet occasionally to hold their own traditional festivities. Then, when America’s entry into the Second World War threatened to wipe out their cultures, the city’s International Institute offered to sponsor a yearly festival to revive as many as possible of the various national arts and traditions.

Thus was born the Holiday Folk Fair, the biggest event of its kind in the world, which is now held in Milwaukee every mid – November before 50,000 to 55,000 visitors. This year, Americans of 35 different national origins are taking part.

Read the rest of this article »

A children’s novel based on the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940

Posted in Adventure, Boats, Bravery, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, World War 2 on Thursday, 27 June 2013

This edited article about Dunkirk originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 305 published on 18 November 1967.

Dunkirk evacuation, picture, image, illustration

Some of the craft laden with French and British troops, and a paddle steamer towing some of the small boats used to carry the men from the beaches of Dunkirk to waiting vessels. by Gerry Wood

To begin with, 13-year-old Pat Riley hated living at the seaside. He was a Cockney born and bred, and much preferred the noise and grime of London’s East End to the peace of the small Kent fishing village to which he was evacuated in the spring of 1940.

Because of his unfamiliar accent, he was made fun of by the local boys. They followed him along the High Street shouting ‘lousy Londoner!’ after him as he made his way to the derelict railway carriage that was ‘home’ to him and his step-mother.

Pat felt lonely and unwanted. He had no friend at all until he unexpectedly chummed up with John Aston, who was a few years older than he was.

Outwardly, the boys could not have been more dissimilar. John came from a well-to-do family and lived in a comfortable cottage in the village. Unlike Pat, he was destined to go to Oxford University. But as they chatted together, the boys discovered that they had quite a lot in common. Both their fathers were away from home, fighting for their country. Pat’s Dad was in Belgium with the British army, and John’s was serving in the Merchant Navy, as the Captain of a large tanker.

Together, the boys followed the progress of the war against Hitler on John’s map of Europe. They stuck in German and Allied flags to show the latest troop movements, and positioned tanks and toy soldiers where the battles were fiercest.

The dark days of 1940 continued, and the British troops were pushed back nearer and nearer to the French coast. When, on 29th May, the two boys heard on the wireless that more than 300,000 soldiers were to be evacuated, they decided to take part in the rescue operation.

Read the rest of this article »

Thomas Parr (1483-1635) lived through the reigns of 10 kings of England

Posted in Historical articles, History, Oddities, Royalty on Thursday, 27 June 2013

This edited article about Thomas Parr originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 305 published on 18 November 1967.

Thomas Parr, picture, image, illustration

Thomas Parr, the Old Man of Shropshire

Thomas Parr was born in 1483 and lived until 1635. During his 152 years of life he saw the reigns of 10 kings, from Edward IV to Charles I. It is no wonder, therefore, that he was given the nickname of ‘Old’ Parr.

Thomas Parr was born at Winnington, near Alderbury, in Shropshire, where his father was the owner of a small-holding. In the year 1500, he left home to become a servant, but 18 years later he returned to inherit the small-holding, following his father’s death. Here he remained for over a century.

His life went peacefully by. He was said to be a hard worker with temperate habits. At the age of 80, he married for the first time, and lived with his wife until her death 32 years later. His second marriage, to a widow, took place when he was 120. It is recorded that 10 years after this he was fit enough to thresh corn on his small farm.

News of this remarkable old man reached the ears of the Earl of Arundel who was so intrigued that he went to see Old Parr. He also conducted investigations which satisfied him that Parr really had been born in 1483.

The Earl decided that Old Parr was such a curiosity that he should go to the court in London so that King Charles could see him. A special litter was constructed so that he would not be tired by the journey. In London he met the king, and became a person of great interest at court. People flocked to see him, and to talk to him about things which happened during his long lifetime.

It was this attention, coupled with the change of air and diet, which brought his life to a close. On 14th November, 1635, Old Parr died at the Earl of Arundel’s house. He was buried in the South transept of Westminster Abbey.

Tzu-Hsi, Empress of China, was one of the world’s most powerful women

Posted in Historical articles, History, Politics, Royalty on Thursday, 27 June 2013

This edited article about Tzu-Hsi, Empress of China originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 305 published on 18 November 1967.

Tzu-Hsi, picture, image, illustration

Tzu-Hsi, Empress Dowager of China by Andrew Howat

At the age of 15, a Chinese girl named Tzu-Hsi entered the Imperial Palace to become one of the wives of the Emperor Hienfung. As she was escorted to the women’s quarters, where the Emperor’s many wives lived, she little dreamed that one day she would be regarded as one of the world’s most remarkable rulers.

Born in Peking in 1835, Tzu-Hsi had the good luck to be the only Imperial wife to bear Hienfung a son. This meant that, when the Emperor died, in 1861, her son Tung-Chih came to the throne. He was only five at the time so the Dowager Empress ruled as regent. And when Tung-Chih died, in 1875, another minor succeeded him, so the Empress continued to rule as before.

Tzu-Hsi had very pronounced ideas about building up China into a mighty nation again, and about resisting the influence of the West. It was during her reign that the Boxer Rising occurred, when fanatical Chinese tried to wipe out all the ‘foreign devils’ in China. This eventually resulted in the foreign powers concerned increasing their bases in China to protect their people, who were mainly engaged in opening up trade.

Probably one of the best-known acts of Tzu-Hsi was her suppression of the Chinese opium trade.

In 1895, the Chinese forces were defeated by the Japanese. Tzu-Hsi was blamed for this and for a while it looked as though the old lady might lose her throne. But, by great cunning, she managed to defeat her political enemies and continued to wield her enormous power.

Though the Empress Tzu-Hsi sincerely believed she was doing what was best for her country, many of her subjects were critical of her, and particularly of her practice of appointing her favourites to important government positions, whether they were suitable for such posts or not.

She died on 15th November, 1908. Four years later, China became a republic.

The Congress of Vienna settled Europe for a generation

Posted in Famous battles, Historical articles, History, Politics, Royalty, War on Thursday, 27 June 2013

This edited article about the Congress of Vienna originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 305 published on 18 November 1967.

Congress of Vienna, picture, image, illustration

The Congress of Vienna

With Paris in the hands of his enemies, and beset on all sides by their armies, the Emperor Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau on 11th April, 1814, and ‘retired’ to the Mediterranean island of Elba.

Representatives of the victorious Allies – Great Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia – congregated in Paris after Napoleon’s departure and drew up a treaty of peace with France. It was a remarkably generous one.

The first and most important question was who should now rule France, and to this there was really only one answer: the Bourbon line of Kings which had been dispossessed by the Revolution. The folly of crushing France utterly was wisely realised, and she even gained a little territory beyond her original boundaries. She also regained most of her colonies, was not asked to pay a war indemnity and was even allowed to keep the art treasures to which Napoleon had helped himself during his years of conquest.

A settlement in France, however, did not solve the problems of Europe. It was proposed in Paris that every state which had been involved in the wars should send representatives to Vienna to take part in a Congress there. The Great Powers had no intention, however, of throwing open matters of great importance to general discussion. They intended to decide such matters themselves beforehand.

During September, 1814, Europe’s most important statesmen and rulers began to arrive in Vienna, where they were magnificently entertained by the bankrupt Austrian state. But not all the representatives succumbed to the glittering social round. The greatest statesmen of Europe had come to do business.

Alexander I, Tsar of Russia, was the most illustrious of those sovereigns who came to Vienna to conduct their own diplomacy. He brought with him a handful of expert advisers. Imaginative, intelligent and headstrong, he combined lofty idealism with a strong determination to advance Russian interests, especially in neighbouring Poland.

Lord Castlereagh, the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, came to Vienna anxious to ensure that Europe should be made safe from future aggression by any single nation. He worked hard to find a just solution to Europe’s many problems, and his prestige among statesmen was high.

Prince Metternich, at home in his own capital represented the Austrian Emperor, Francis II. Above all an opportunist, he made the most of Austria’s uncertain position at the Congress, and won for her more, probably, than she deserved.

Read the rest of this article »

Ancient Man believed in the mysterious power of the Moon

Posted in Customs, Historical articles, Superstition on Thursday, 27 June 2013

This edited article about superstitions originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 305 published on 18 November 1967.

Man in the Moon song, picture, image, illustration

A Victorian songsheet showing the Man in the Moon watching seaside lovers

“I see the Moon, and the Moon sees me . . .” This little saying reveals man-on-earth’s age-old attitude to Man-in-the-Moon – that curious ‘face’ seen on the nearest of the heavenly bodies. To our ancestors this un-earthly Man was a god, capable of doing him both good and harm. The word ‘lunacy’ describes the madness once thought to be induced by the angered moon-god. As it waxed and waned it had different powers and demanded different types of reverence. It undoubtedly affected the sea, and tides, and children of north-east coast fishermen added to the line, already quoted, the prayer: ‘God help the sailors on the sea . . .’. Turning a sixpence was one way of ensuring future prosperity – perhaps its silver-gilt colour suggested this sacrificial gesture. It was also customary to bow three times, turning between bows and making a secret wish. In Somerset the bow was accompanied by this rhyme:

“New moon, new moon, first time I’ve seen ‘ee.
Hope before week’s out I’ll ha’ summat gi’ed me.”

For good luck the new moon should be seen direct – never through glass or trees – preferably on the right or directly ahead (though in East Anglia it is lucky to see it over the left shoulder).

Some people believed the moon could cure warts! In Cornwall they were ‘washed’ in a basinful of moonlight, while saying:

“I wash my hands in this thy dish,
Oh, Man-in-the-moon do grant my wish –
And come and take away THIS . . .”

The moon’s effect on the weather led to many strongly-held beliefs: two moons in one month meant bad weather, especially in May – when it meant ‘rain for a year and a day’! A full moon at Christmas foretold a bad harvest; Cornishmen called a Saturday moon ‘the sailors’ curse’.

A new moon at the week-end meant bad luck almost everywhere – a Cheshire rhyme says:

“Saturday’s change and Sunday’s full,
Never brought good and never wull!”

The great Henry Ford was a humble farmer’s son

Posted in America, Cars, Engineering, Famous Inventors, Historical articles, History, Inventions, Transport, Travel on Wednesday, 26 June 2013

This edited article about Henry Ford originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 304 published on 11 November 1967.

Henry Ford, picture, image, illustration

Henry Ford with his first "horseless carriage", which he built in a shed, and had to knock down part of a wall to get it out.

Many great car designers have given their names to the vehicles they built, and people like William Morris (later Lord Nuffield), Rolls and Royce, Austin, Daimler, Renault, and others are well-known on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

But for Americans, the greatest name in automobiles is undoubtedly Henry Ford.

Henry Ford was born in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1863. He was the son of a farmer, and from a very early age he was fascinated by the power of steam. His first job was as a steam fitter, and in one of his boyhood experiments he made a steam boiler from a ten-gallon lard can, filled it full of water and lit a fire under it.

Needless to say, the can blew up, and young Henry got into trouble for damaging the school fence. It was a dangerous experiment he never repeated, but he had learned the power of steam!

As he grew older, Henry Ford became more and more involved in making self-propelled vehicles. He tried first to make a farm locomotive, and then a steam-powered road carriage. Then in 1891, he saw a pump being worked by a small petrol engine, and he determined to build a vehicle propelled by this new source of power.

It took him five years, and he had to make almost every part of it himself. He used four old bicycle wheels, made two cylinders from the exhaust pipe of a steam engine and used an old bicycle saddle for a seat, which he fitted on top of the fuel tank. Steering was by means of a tiller.

Young Henry worked half the night to put the finishing touches to his ‘quadricycle’, and he had to knock some bricks down to get it out of the shed he used as a workshop.

It was two o’clock on a wet morning in May 1896, but Henry couldn’t wait to try out his machine. He pushed it out into the alley. The engine coughed and started, and Henry drove in triumph round his house. He had built his first car.

The ‘Cock of the Rock’ defied the might of Spain and saved Gibraltar

Posted in Bravery, Famous battles, Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, Ships, War on Wednesday, 26 June 2013

This edited article about Gibraltar originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 304 published on 11 November 1967.

Lord Heathfield, picture, image, illustration

Lord Heathfield with the key of the fortress of Gibraltar in his hand by Sir Joshua Reynolds (after)

The Rock of Gibraltar juts out from the tip of southern Spain like a vast stone lion. It lies basking in the sun, for centuries one of the greatest fortresses in the world.

In 1779, Gibraltar had been a British possession for seventy-five years. During this time, the Spaniards, who regarded the Rock as their own rightful property, had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to regain it. But each time they had failed.

A historian of the day wrote that, “No power whatever can take that place, unless a plague, pestilence, famine, or the want of ordnance, musketry, and ammunition, or some unforeseen stroke of Providence should happen.”

Despite this, Spain decided to make a last, mighty effort, and on 16th June, 1779, the Spanish ambassador in London announced that his country was to besiege Gibraltar until the garrison was forced to surrender.

At this time, Gibraltar was guarded by 9,000 troops under the command of the Governor, Sir George Eliott, who was known in the army as the ‘Cock of the Rock’. In the time since Sir George had taken over command, he had strengthened the men’s morale, kept them in first-class physical trim, and ensured a regular sea delivery of food and supplies.

Gibraltar is connected to the Spanish mainland by a narrow isthmus, and across this Sir George watched the Spaniards erecting their blockade. They dug trenches, positioned gun batteries, stored ammunition, and moved in sixteen infantry battalions and twelve cavalry regiments. It was obvious that the Spanish ambassador in London had been in earnest, and that the Spaniards were prepared to maintain a long siege.

It was now well into October, and the British troops were beginning to realise that they had a lean winter ahead of them. Bread was becoming so scarce that Sir George ordered the men to stop using flour to powder their hair. There was also a grave shortage of vegetables, and, to establish the least amount of food on which someone could live, the Governor experimented by personally existing on four ounces of rice a day.

By the middle of January, 1780, the garrison had only ten days’ supply of food left. There was a danger of scurvy breaking out, and it was with relief that they learnt that a convoy of supply-ships was on its way.

Read the rest of this article »

The 140-mile Death Valley reveals the Earth’s entire geological history

Posted in America, Geology, Historical articles, History on Wednesday, 26 June 2013

This edited article about Death Valley originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 304 published on 11 November 1967.

Borax ad, picture, image, illustration

An American advertisement for Borax

The wagons were dirty and battered, the horses exhausted and barely able to pull them. The half-starved men, women and children riding in them had the listless, vacant look of people who had given up all hope of surviving.

They had started out as a happy band of adventurers seeking their fortunes in the gold-fields of California. Along the trail, however, they had deserted their guide to take a short cut across unknown country.

Now they were lost in a wilderness of salt flats under a merciless sun. Two of their party had gone ahead to try and find a way through to the nearest cavalry fort. Everything depended on these two men.

With their last drop of water gone, the miserable emigrants were on the point of resigning themselves to death when their scouts returned and led them out of the barren country. As they struggled out, many of them looked back and cried, “Goodbye, Death Valley!”

The valley has kept its grimly descriptive name, although cars, modern roads and air-conditioned hotels have now conquered the countryside that once awed travellers.

Read the rest of this article »