Archive for the ‘History’ Category

A (not so) Brief History of Aviation at Shoreham. Part Four:- The Daily Mail £10,000 ‘Circuit of Britain’ race

June 28, 2017


Daily Mail Circuit of Britain pilots 1911. Flight magazine.

Hot on the heels of the Circuit of Europe air race, came the Circuit of Britain race, which had been announced by the sponsor, the Daily Mail, shortly after their famous £10,000, London to Manchester race between Claude Graham-White, and Louis Paulhan, a year earlier, during April, 1910. This epic encounter between the English and French airmen caught the imagination of the general public, virtually guaranteeing the success of any future great air race.

Some of the pilots entered in the £10,000 Daily Mail Circuit of Britain 1911. Flight magazine.

The Daily Mail Circuit of Britain would also be for a prize of £10,000, and would be using Shoreham Aerodrome as one of the control points, which is why I have included a good amount of the race details in this aviation history of Shoreham, but also to give an idea of just what a sensation these aviators and their flying machines were creating all over the country. Among the entrants were a number of aviators who had been associated with Shoreham, James Valentine, O.C. Morison, Gustav Hamel, E.C. Gordon-England, C.P. Pizey, Lieut. J.C. Porte, and C. Howard-Pixton, with the unfortunate Gilmour under suspension, missing out. For this race though, the emphasis would be on the durability of the machines, whereas in the Circuit of Europe, the aviators could change entire planes, or any parts thereof, as often as was felt necessary, now they had to finish the course in the aeroplane they started with. Added to that proviso, there were to be ten parts of the machine which would be marked by officials before the race, of which only 6 parts could be changed during the course of the contest. These conditions were intended as a test of the resilience of the various machines, something that had not yet been done in a race situation.

Flight magazine, July 22nd 1911, reports on the Shoreham flying ground:-

‘Great preparations are being made here for the reception of the racers in the Daily Mail second £10,000 contest, and for the accommodation and comfort of the public, who will have a splendid opportunity of seeing the men and their machines for 1s, 2s.6d, and 5s. each person, while cars, including the chauffeur, can enter at 5s. or 10s., according to the enclosure chosen. Holders of season tickets are admitted free.’

Daily Mail Circuit of Britain course 1911. Flight magazine.


In the Leeds Mercury, Monday 24th July, 1911, it reports on the scenes their correspondent witnessed on the first leg, Brooklands to Hendon:-

‘The whole of the twenty mile route from Brooklands to Hendon was crowded with spectators afoot and in conveyances, and at some points great multitudes assembled. In the immediate neighbourhood of the aerodrome at Hendon, there were fully 50,000 people. “Beaumont” was the first to arrive, the time being 04.20’

Entrant number 2, H.J.D. Astley taking off at Brooklands 22nd July 1911 in the Circuit of Britain race. Before chocks were used, the air machines were held back by human force until told to ‘let go’.


The Hendon and Finchley Times, Friday 28th July, 1911 describes the human sea descending upon the area to catch a sight of this highly publicised air race:-

‘The London crowds began to gather here before midnight. Thousands tramped through eight miles of long roads leading to the aerodrome. Cyclists streamed by all night. In taxi cabs and motor cars, by early trains and motor omnibuses, in costermongers’ carts and tradesmen’s vans, the army of sightseers passed north and west, through the black night and grey dawn. Scenes strange beyond experience resulted from this midnight gathering of the people. Within a mile of the aerodrome men and women slept by the wayside and on the sun baked earth of the fields, heedless of the throng which passed onwards chanting choruses.’

‘Every Hampstead tube station on the route to Golders Green had its crowd waiting for the first train at 2.45a.m. At the Golders Green terminus all the horse omnibuses available and at least 300 taxicabs were plying for hire, hooting and rumbling through the night, scattering the stream of wayfarers and rousing the sleepers by the wayside.’

Daily Mail Circuit of Britain 1911. 4a.m to see the aviators take off from Hendon for Harrogate. Flight magazine.


While the race itself was a rousing success, (it was estimated that around half a million people saw the start from the Hendon to Harrogate stage at 4a.m!), it also highlighted once more just how far behind France, Great Britain was in the aviation technology race. The first stage from Hendon to Brooklands, a mere twenty miles, whittled the field down from 29 starters, to just 16, with Vedrines and Beaumont already establishing a lead, with a further 9 entrants dropping out of the contest by Harrogate, where a crowd of between 70-150,000, (depending on which newspaper you read), were waiting for the first arrival, Vedrines, at 7.03a.m, very closely followed by Beaumont four minutes later. Only three more aviators made it to Harrogate, Valentine, Hamel, and Cody, with Hamel causing a great deal of concern on his arrival. The London Daily News, Tuesday 25th July, 1911, reports-

‘The 70,000 people who from daybreak till dusk thronged the fine green stretch of the Stray were perhaps most moved by the dramatic circumstances which attended the descent of Hamel, the young British flier. We saw his Bleriot monoplane gleaming in the sun five miles to the south east soon after half past eleven, and ten minutes later, having planed gradually down from a height of 1000ft, it was hovering over the Mayoral enclosure. A moment more and the machine had gently dropped in the centre of the ground. But there was no movement on the part of the flying man. Officials and mechanics hastened to the machine, and found to their dismay that the aviator was unconscious. Lifting him tenderly from the seat, they stretched him on the ground, and while some rendered first aid, others went in search of a doctor. Luckily a medical man was near and hurried to the spot. He found a man with faintly fluttering pulse, ashen cheeks, and hands and feet stiff and cold, and a quarter of an hour passed before there came a glimmer of returning consciousness.’

By the end of the second days flying, only Beaumont, on a Bleriot monoplane, Vedrines, on his Morane-Borel monoplane, and Valentine, flying a Deperdussin monoplane, had made it to Edinburgh, having stopped at the control point at Newcastle en-route. Gustav Hamel, having recovered sufficiently at Harrogate, later struggled on to Edinburgh, and then to Chryston, Glasgow, but he had been having engine problems for most of the race, and it finally gave out at Dumfries, forcing his retirement on Wednesday 26th July. Of the other Shoreham ‘associated’ aviators forced to retire, were;- Gordon-England, retired with engine trouble at the start at Brooklands, Lieut. Porte, crashed at the Brooklands start, Pixton, crashed his plane on a forced landing at Spofforth, while Pizey was forced to land at Melton Mowbray owing to propeller issues, only to damage the undercarriage when landing.

Gustav Hamel, Circuit of Britain, Chryston, Glasgow 1911

Gustav Hamel taking off from Chryston, near Glasgow. Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race 1911


Hamel at Stirling. Daily mail Circuit of Britain race 1911

Entrant number 24, Gustav Hamel, at Stirling. Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race 1911

The Yorkshire Post, Tuesday, 25th July, 1911, takes up the story from Edinburgh:-

‘Beaumont started off again from Edinburgh in the great flight at 03.10 this morning. He was closely followed by Vedrines at 03.25. According to one report, Valentine had also left, but another account states that up to 04.20 Valentine had not left. Large crowds had gathered to see the start, and the aviators, as they rose from the ground and soared off to the west, barely outlined on the grey sky, were very loudly cheered.’

Further on it reports the arrival of the leaders at Stirling:-

‘It was 03.40 when the great crowd assembled on the aviation ground outside Stirling caught sight of the first aviator. At first barely visible by telescope, the great Bleriot soon became visible to the naked eye. The machine came right over the town, not by the castle, as expected, made a gliding half circle, and then came down. Vedrines, 18 minutes later, came from the same direction, and also alighted. As the first to arrive, Beaumont was presented by the Provost with a silver inkstand. Both aviators met with a tremendous cheering when they descended.’

Vedrines at Kings Park, Stirling. 25th July, 1911. Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race

Beaumont flew that stage just three minutes faster than Vedrines, they were still neck and neck, with Valentine not too far behind them, while Cody, determined to finish, hadn’t yet reached Newcastle. The next stage for the leaders, was from Edinburgh to Bristol, via control points at Stirling, Glasgow, Carlisle, and Manchester, both having decided they were going to try and complete the stage that same day. The Western Daily Press, Wednesday 26th July describes this stage:-

Keenness of the Frenchmen

Later in the day the race resolved itself in to a struggle between the two great French aviators. Leaving Edinburgh at fifteen minutes behind Beaumont, Vedrines was, roughly, 16 minutes behind at Sterling, 54 minutes at Glasgow, and 44  minutes at Carlisle. Beaumont it will be seen, had gained substantially on his opponent, and the latter, when stopping at Glasgow to take refreshment, made no secret of his chagrin in not being able to maintain his original lead. Nothing apparently happened to Beaumont or Vedrines until they had passed Carlisle. Some 60,000 people were waiting at that town to give them a hearty welcome. The first to arrive was Beaumont, who flew over the racecourse nearly due north. He planed down quietly and landed without the slightest difficulty.’

Crowds at Manchester use rolling stock freight wagons to get a better view of the aviators in the Circuit of Britain race 1911. Flight magazine.

Manchester received the French aviators as everywhere, with vast crowds and tremendous enthusiasm, and down at Filton, near Bristol, it would be no different, further on in the Western Daily Press article, it explains:-

‘The scene which greeted Beaumont’s arrival this evening baffles description. The crowds had thickened beyond proportion since the news was received of Beaumont’s departure from Manchester at 5.44, Vedrines following upon his tail at 6.11’

False sightings kept the huge crowds ever alert, until;-

‘Glasses were trained upon this tiny black point, and it seemed absurd to believe that a man could so appear. But the speck increased in size until it resembled nothing so much as a huge blackbird with long, outstretched wings. The cheers from the aerodrome grew in volume, and the great Bleriot monoplane, with its red wings, and Beaumont sitting serenely at the controls. The fire was situated at the back of the hangars, and Beaumont steered directly for it, planing down upon that strip of the aerodrome nearest Filton station, and coming to a standstill quite near the fire.’

Beaumont’s landing time was 8.37, having taken 2 hours, 55 minutes. Unfortunately for Vedrines, the British and Colonial Company, that build the Bristol aeroplanes, have their own aerodrome nearby, and he landed there by mistake, but to compound the error, he sustained damage to his aircraft too, holding him up even further. Eventually he made it to the correct control point, but it was now after ten, and dark, Vedrines had lost valuable time to Beaumont.

Bristol to Shoreham stage

When the race was devised, Shoreham was intended to be an overnight rest stop, but Beaumont and Vedrines had already used up a good deal of their allotted rest time, so opted for a short stop there and push on to the finish line at Brooklands. Flight magazine of  29th July 1911 gives details of the final stage:-

‘They were astir in the small hours of Wednesday morning looking over their machines, and at ten minutes to five, “Beaumont” was given the signal to start, and getting away sharply, was followed two minutes later by Vedrines. The latter again proved the Morane was the faster machine, and arrived at Exeter two minutes before “Beaumont” at ten minutes past six. He was away again at a quarter to seven, while “Beaumont” did not start again till twenty minutes after, his engine requiring a little attention. A straight course was set for Salisbury Plain, where Vedrines arrived at ten minutes past eight to be followed about twenty minutes later by “Beaumont”. No sooner was “Beaumont’s” machine reported to be in sight, then Vedrines was anxious to be away, and as a matter of fact he started for Brighton (Shoreham Aerodrome) after resting only thirty three minutes, just about ten minutes after his rival had landed. About nine o’clock there was a sharp shower of rain at Brighton (Shoreham), and this probably kept the general public away, so that when Vedrines arrived at three minutes to ten the crowd to welcome him was not very large.’

Vedrines waits at Shoreham, Daily Mail Circuit of Britain 1911.

Meanwhile, horse racing enthusiasts on a train to Goodwood had been keeping an eye out for a glimpse of these famous aviators, as reported in the Leeds Mercury, Thursday 27th July, 1911:-

‘On the journey up from Brighton to Chichester this morning, the chief topic of conversation was not the Goodwood Plate, or whether Mushroom would beat Sunder, but the great air race. It was known that Beaumont and Vedrines were expected to arrive at the Shoreham Aerodrome during the morning. The aerodrome is only a few miles out of Brighton, on the way to Chichester, and is close to the railway. We saw plenty of people in the Aerodrome, but no flying machines. Just after passing Ford Junction, however, about 10.30, a fellow traveller, who was keeping a look out on the side facing the sea, shouted, “Here you are”, and in the distance we saw one of the air monarchs approach. The machine was at a great height, and travelling at a great speed. As if to give us a better view the train happened to come to a standstill just at the moment, and from every carriage window appeared the heads of eager and delighted sightseers. The aeroplane was having a very smooth journey in spite of the fact there was a good breeze, and it would arrive at Shoreham soon after half-past ten. We afterwards learned that this was Beaumont’s machine, and that Vedrines had arrived nearly an hour before.’

Vedrines and his mechanics waiting in a hangar at Shoreham Aerodrome. Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race 1911. Flight magazine.

Flight magazine, Saturday 29th July, 1911 details the finish of the race, Wednesday 26th :-

‘ “Beaumont” did not leave Salisbury Plain until 09.47 and so was practically an hour after Vedrines in arriving at the Shoreham Aerodrome, which formed the control station at Brighton. He, however, had used up a good deal of his rest time and so was due to start before Vedrines on the last stage to Brooklands. He had 3 hours and 40 minutes to rest, and took advantage of this to have a little sleep and a rub down. Punctually at 1.28.15 he was in the air and winging his way to Brooklands Motor Course, where he landed after a flight of practically forty minutes. Vedrines was not due to start from Shoreham until 2.41, when punctually to time he was away, reaching Brooklands at nineteen minutes past three. On his arrival at Brooklands, “Beaumont” was carried shoulder high, and after the officials had examined the seals, &c., on his machine and found them all in order he was declared to be the winner of the race and the £10,000 prize.’

Beaumont at the finish line, Brooklands 1911, in the £10,000 Daily mail Circuit of Britain race. Flight magazine.

James Valentine on his Deperdussin monoplane, and S.F. Cody on his self-built Cody biplane, were doggedly continuing, determined to see it through, and still the crowds turned out in their thousands throughout the route, as the sheer noise of the machines advertised their arrival well in advance. The Gloucestershire Echo, Friday 4th August 1911 writes:-

‘Valentine arrived at the Shoreham Aerodrome at 7.30p.m, having covered the distance from Salisbury Plain in sixty eight minutes. He thus wins the gold cup presented by the Brighton Hotels Association to the first British aviator reaching Shoreham in connection with the British aviation circuit.’ It concludes:- ‘Valentine left Shoreham for Brooklands in the “Daily Mail” aerial race this morning.’

The Leeds Mercury, Friday 4th August, 1911, updates Cody’s progress:-

‘Cody, who is still trying to complete the course of the great air race, left Clifton, Bristol, en route for Exeter, at 7.25 last night. He arrived at Weston-super-Mare at 8.15, effecting an easy landing on the sands in the presence of  a large crowd. He expected to Leave for Exeter at three o’clock this morning.’

Valentine finishes!

Nearly two weeks after setting off from Brooklands, and nine days after the Frenchmen, Beaumont, and Vedrines, had crossed the finish line, James Valentine finally completed the Circuit of Britain course, but not without mishaps even on the final leg from Shoreham to Brooklands. In the Globe, Saturday 5th August 1911, is announced his valiant effort:-

‘Mr Valentine, after being detained near Horsham by a broken stay, reached Brooklands at 6.49 last evening. He was cordially greeted as the first English competitor to complete the distance.’

Cody over the line at last, beats the telegraph.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Monday 7th August 1911, gives account of S.F.Cody, as the last competitor to finish what was considered to be the greatest air race to date:-

‘Telegraph service put to shame

Leaving Salisbury at four o’clock on Saturday, Cody landed at Shoreham Aerodrome at 06.15, and after partaking of breakfast, considerately provided for him by the manager of the aerodrome, left again at 08.25 for the final flight to Brooklands, which he reached at nine o’clock. Valentine when flying from Salisbury to Shoreham on Thursday evening beat the telegraph by twelve minutes, but Cody did still better on Saturday, the telegram announcing his departure from the Cathedral City at four o’clock not being received at Shoreham till 9.16.’



For a more full description of the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race, 1911, follow the link below for an excellent summary.



Next up in part 5;- Horatio Barber’s Valkyrie School at Shoreham, Miss Trehawke Davies flies in to Shoreham, James Valentine flies down the river and over the Adur bridges, Chanter school comes to Shoreham, and Piffard’s seaplane trials.



A (not so) Brief History of Aviation at Shoreham. Part Three

June 16, 2017




Aviation cartoon in ‘The Sphere’ 8th July 1911, showing the dangerous nature with which observers regarded the flying craze.

Returning to May 1911, the aviators based at Shoreham were keeping busy flying all across the south coast, testing their machines, honing their aviation skills, and entertaining the local populace. Of these aviators, judging by the news reports of the time, D.G. Gilmour and O.C. Morison were among the busiest of these young men. Going through the old newspaper archives, it seems barely a day goes by without one aviator or another taking up column inches in the publications around the country. Britain had aviation fever, and any news of these intrepid airmen was eagerly digested.

Douglas Graham Gilmour, aviator, based for a time at Shoreham Aerodrome.

Of these two aviators, Gilmour was blazing a trail which would result in a bill being rushed through parliament by none other than a certain Winston Churchill, to “provide for the protection of the public against dangers arising from the navigation of aircraft”. On the 1st April, 1911, a number of aviators had taken the opportunity to fly over the University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, reported in the Reading Mercury, 8th April, 1911:-

‘Huge crowds and several aviators witnessed the annual race between Oxford and Cambridge from Putney to Mortlake on Saturday.’ Further on it writes:-

‘The race was accompanied for the first time in its history by an aeroplane, which circled over the rival crews at a height of about 300ft. There were several other aeroplanes over the course. The aviators who had a view of the boat race from their aeroplanes were, Mr. Graham-White, who carried a passenger on his biplane; M. Hubert (biplane), and Messrs. G. Hamel, C.H. Gresswell, and Prier (monoplanes). These all started from Hendon. Mr. D.G. Gilmour, flew from Brooklands over the course.’

The Framlingham Weekly News, Saturday 8th April, 1911, reported:-

‘The presence of the aeroplanes pleased everybody, and one aviator, accompanied by a passenger who took several photographs while in full flight, responded to the hearty cheers of the huge crowd at Putney by waving his hands’

Further on it describes Douglas Graham-Gilmour’s exploits:-

‘The Bristol biplane, driven by Mr. Gilmour, followed the boat race from start to finish. In great circling sweeps Mr. Gilmour crossed and recrossed the river, and in this way kept fairly level with the crews, although he was travelling at about thirty five miles an hour. “I wanted to see the race” said Mr. Gilmour in an interview, “so I went straight down to Brooklands, jumped into my machine, and came right away. I was in such a hurry that I had no time to fill up my petrol tank. I had four gallons, and that lasts about an hour. I should not have come down at all but for that. Yes it is a novel way of seeing the boat race, and I was the only aviator to follow the crews all the way up to Mortlake. It is far the best way to see the struggle, and I was able to follow all the changes of position easily. The distance between the two boats can be gauged as easily as between two points on a map. It is a curious site to see the swing of the crews and the sweep of the oars from above, and it was the dark blue of the Oxford oars that distinguished the two boats.”


On May 15th, Police Inspector Marsh of Shoreham was given the task of arresting Gilmour at Shoreham Aerodrome, to face charges relating to the death of a young boy in a motor accident. Having been bailed, he flew from Shoreham to Salisbury to face trial on the 26th May, circling Salisbury Cathedral on his arrival. After evidence, he was acquitted by the jury after just ten minutes of deliberation. This was also the day that Churchill tried to have his ‘Aerial Navigation Bill’ rushed through Parliament.

Between the arrest and the trial, Gilmour flew from Shoreham to Hove, reported in ‘Flight magazine’, 27th May 1911, it states:-

‘Mr Gilmour at Brighton. (Hove actually)

‘While flying with Mr Gordon England from Shoreham to Brighton on Sunday last, Mr. Graham Gilmour steered his biplane out to sea. When still at a good height the engine suddenly stopped and the machine commenced to glide down. Fortunately before it touched the water Mr. Gilmour got the engine going again, and rising for a short distance was able to land safely on the Lawn Gardens. Later in the day the two aviators successfully made the return journey to Shoreham.’

Douglas Graham-Gilmour at Hove lawns. May 21st 1911

In the same edition of Flight magazine, 27th May, it relates more flying activity at Shoreham:-

‘Doings at Shoreham 

Apart from the visit to Hove by Mr. Gilmour and Mr. England, a good deal of flying was seen at the Shoreham Aerodrome on Sunday last. Shortly after Mr. Gilmour left for Brighton, Mr. Morison was out on his Bristol biplane and made a circular trip over Shoreham and Lancing College. He then visited Brighton in his motor car, but soon after the return of Mr. Gilmour he was back at the aerodrome giving passenger flights. Mr. Gilmour and Mr. England also took up some passengers, heights attained being well over 1000 ft.’


The Great Aviation Race, June 1911.

Otherwise known as the ‘Four Kingdoms Race’, and the ‘European Circuit’, this was the biggest air race to date, with total prize money of £20,000, starting in Paris, and finishing at Hendon. Only two English aviators were entered, O.C.Morison, and Mr. James Valentine, both flying French built aeroplanes, although Morison appears not to have actually started. The Courier reported on Thursday 15th June 1911:-

‘Sixty aviators will start from Vincennes, near Paris, on Sunday morning next to compete in the great aerial race across France, Belgium, Holland and England, known as the European Circuit. The course is via Rheims, Liege, Verloo, Utrecht, Breda, Brussels, Roubais, and Calais to London. The competitors are due to arrive at Calais on June 26th. On June 27 they leave Calais early in the morning and fly across the channel to Dover, thence to the Shoreham Aviation ground at Brighton, and finally to the London Aerodrome at Hendon. There they will be met by a distinguished committee, and entertained on the following day in London. On the 29th they start for the final stage of the journey from Hendon to Paris; proceeding via Brighton and Dover.’


18th June 1911 Start of the European Circuit. Stage one, Paris to Liege.

R.Dallas Brett sets the scene in his, History of British Aviation 1908-1914, page 78:-

‘It was an imposing array of forty-three aeroplanes that lined up in three rows at Vincennes, ready for the start at 6 a.m. Since midnight a vast crowd, estimated at more than half a million people, had waited in driving rain to see the departure. A guard of 6000 soldiers and police had all their work cut out to keep control.’

Further on he continues:-

‘The perilous nature of the contest was shown up in terrible fashion on the first day. Before the control at Rheims was reached, three pilots had been killed and another badly injured.’

Flight magazine of  24th June 1911, writes:-

‘Altogether 43 of the 52 competitors who figured on the official programme were started, and 21 got through without trouble to Rheims, the “halfway” control for the day. Unfortunately, a fatality occurred during the starting operations to Lemartin on one of the Bleriots. He had made a good start, and was heading off to Joinville at a height of about 80 metres, when the machine seemed to suddenly collapse and fall to the ground, the aviator being so terribly injured that he died very shortly after admission to the hospital. Almost at the same time that this accident occurred came the news that Lieut. Princeteau, one of the officers who had received permission to follow the course, had met with a fatal accident while starting from Issy for Rheims. He had only risen to a height of about 30 metres, when apparently the carburettor of his machine caught fire, and in the sudden landing rendered necessary the monoplane capsized. The wrecked machine at once burst into flames and before anything could be done the unfortunate officer was burned to death. The third fatality occurred at Chateau Thierry, where Landron met his death in somewhat similar fashion to Lieut. Princeteau. The machine fell from a great height and the wreckage immediately burst into flames, making it impossible to rescue the pilot.’

Tabuteau flying at Dover, European Circuit 1911

Arriving at Calais on Thursday 29th June, the competitors were told that the stage across the channel to Dover had been postponed until first thing Monday morning, which allowed the stragglers to catch up. Flight magazine continues its coverage:-

‘At four o’clock exactly, as soon as the starting rockets were fired, Vedrines was in the air, and shaping his course by the great arrow laid down at Les Baraques, he soon disappeared out to sea. At three minute intervals he was followed by Vidart, “Beaumont”, Kimmerling, Gibert, Garros, Renaux, Train, Tabuteau, Barra, and Valentine. After the last of the aviators had gone, the crowd still remained at the arodrome awaiting news of the cross channel flyers, and at six o’clock a message was received by wireless telegraphy that ten of the aviators had arrived.’


The Courier, Tuesday 4th July 1911 reported the arrivals at Dover:-

Aviators Make Safe Passages

Leaving Calais at four o’clock yesterday morning, and subsequently at four minute intervals, the competitors engaged in the ‘Standard Journal Europe Aviation Circuit’ made safe and speedy passages across the channel to Dover, from whence, with a stop at Shoreham Aerodrome, the journey to Hendon Aviation Ground, in the north of London, was to be made.’

It seems amusing now, but was doubtless deadly serious at the time, but to be sure the aviators would find their way on the course, as stated in The Sphere, 24th June 1911:-

‘The organisers of the forthcoming European aviation circuit have sought the assistance of the Automobile Association and Motor Union in connection with the work of marking the course to be taken by the competitors in the English portion of the circuit. The route is chosen from Dover to Shoreham and from Shoreham to Hendon. The route will be marked by a series of large white arrows, 72 ft. in length by 12 ft. in width, placed at intervals on the ground in conspicuous places; smaller arrows, 36 ft. in length, will be used intermediately. Captive balloons are also being utilised at certain points along the route.’

(Authors note:- The imp in me wonders if they had to hurriedly turn those arrows round ready for the trip back after the last competitor had passed on his way to Shoreham?)

Cartoon in ‘The Sphere’, 8th July 1911, depicting the arrows laid out for the contestants in the European Circuit


Preparations at the Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome

In the same edition of Flight magazine, (Saturday 1st July 1911), which announced the official opening of the Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome at Lancing, it reports on the work carrying on to ready the aerodrome for the first arrivals of the European Circuit race:-

‘Owing to the very bad weather this week, nothing has been done in the way of flying, though the inventor of the Valkyrie, (Horatio Barber), has been down here all week with a machine waiting for the first reasonable opportunity to get into the air. Although nothing has been done in the way of flying, great progress has been made on the ground itself in preparation for the large crowd which is expected to witness the arrival of the aviators in the great European Circuit on Friday this week. During the last few days the grand stand and ten new hangars have been completed. Refreshment booths are in the course of erection, and the band stand is nearly complete. Visitors to the aerodrome during the week, therefore, will be well catered for; they will be able to see exhibition flights every day by the Valkyrie, and the arrival and departure of those flying in the European Circuit, both on their way from Europe and on the return journey to France, which is down for tomorrow (Sunday).’

Barber's Valkyrie at Marble Arch on the way to Shoreham July 1911

Horatio Barber’s Valkyrie monoplane by the Marble Arch, London, on its way to Shoreham Aerodrome, July 1911


 First in at Shoreham on the European Circuit: 7th and 8th Stages

Only two weeks after the official opening of the Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome, it has the prestigious honour of being one of the control point stops in the world’s greatest air race to date, not once, but twice, as the race continues up to Hendon, then returns on the way back, back across the channel, before the finish line at Paris.

The Courier, Tuesday 4th July 1911, relays the latest race details:-

‘There was great interest and excitement at Dover, where people were astir at an early hour, and each arrival was the signal for outbursts of cheering. Leaving again at 6 a.m, Vedrines was first in at Shoreham at 07.16, and all the other competitors, with the exception of Train, who, losing his bearings, injured his machine in a descent at the village of Heighton, had reached Shoreham by 07.55.’

Train at Newhaven after experiencing problems on the European Circuit, July 3rd, 1911

Aviator, Monsieur Train, (identified by his racing number, 67), at Newhaven after experiencing problems on the European Circuit, July 3rd, 1911

The Aberdeen Press and Journal, Tues 4th July, 1911, picks up the story:-

‘Vedrines led off in the stage to Hendon at 07.33, and, was the first to receive the congratulations of the officials and the general public at Hendon, in which there was a large sprinkling of the French element. He effected a graceful landing at 08.34. Vidart, who left Shoreham at 07.43, was the next in at 09 o’clock. Kimmerling, who departed at 07.50, followed at 09.04. Altogether, seven completed the journey yesterday morning.’


Regarding the aviators that had been held up on this short stage, the Aberdeen Press and Journal remarks:-

Mishaps to Airmen

Tabuteau lost his way, and came in from the north, and in addition to Train, Barra, Gibert, and Renaux carrying a passenger, met with minor mishaps. Barra had to descend at Heathfield, near Eastbourne, and eventually arrived at Shoreham at 5.45 p.m. He left again at 6.25, and ultimately reached Hendon at 7.40 p.m. Gibert, who won the trophy for the fastest cross channel flight, 37 minutes odd, was found in a hayfield near Dorking. The machine was removed to Holmwood Common, which he left at 5.35 p.m. and gained the goal at Hendon at 6 p.m. Renaux, who had to come down at Bodiham Park, just over the Kentish border, obtained mechanical assistance from Shoreham, and took two hours and a quarter in the flight from there to Hendon, which he reached at 8.33 p.m. still carrying his passenger, M. Senouques. Train, the only competitor failing to finish, sent a message from Newhaven saying it would take him a day at least to repair his machine, damaged by collision with a wire fence at Heighton.  Renaux was cordially greeted by the few remaining spectators at Hendon, among whom was his wife in a state of considerable anxiety.’

French aviator, Barra’s, biplane awaiting repairs at Heathfield, Sussex. 3rd July, 1911



 Meanwhile, over the Thames:-

On the 5th July, Douglas Graham-Gilmour flew his Bleriot monoplane up and down the Thames, causing a sensation which filled column inches throughout Britain and beyond, the first time an aviator had dared to try such a thing. Two days later, he flew down the Thames over the Henley Regatta course, The London Daily News, Saturday 8th July, reported the incident:-

‘-there were a few moments of great excitement when a Bristol biplane appeared over the course between the two races. It was manoeuvred beautifully, descending so that the starting wheels touched the water and sent up a shower of spray. It rose again, and the cheering at least equalled that given to the closest race of the day. Mr. Graham-Gilmour is believed to be the aviator.’

Gilmour’s daring display was considered a step too far, and brought him in to inevitable conflict with the Royal Aero Club, who hauled him before their committee and issued him with a flying ban for one month. This proved a most unfortunate situation for the popular aviator, as it precluded him from taking part in the coming ‘Circuit of Great Britain’ air race, organised by Lord Northcliffe’s Daily Mail, which carried a prize of £10,000.

There was understandable concern regarding the possible dangers of aviation, especially where crowds were gathered. As recently as 21st May, 1911, the French War Minister, Monsieur Bertreaux was killed by an aeroplane whose pilot had lost control of his machine. ‘The Daily News, Monday 22nd May, 1911, reports the scene:-

‘The tragic event occurred at the aviation ground Issy-les-Molineux, where huge crowds had gathered from the early hours to witness the start of the Paris-Madrid flying race. M.Train, one of the aviators, was seen to be in difficulties from the moment he rose from the ground. He had turned back in the direction of the sheds, and was endeavouring to avoid a squadron of cuirassiers who had been clearing the course, when he lost control and dashed in to the Ministerial group of sightseers with appalling results. M. Bertreaux, the Minister of War, was killed instantly, his arm being completely severed. M. Monis sustained a double fracture of the leg, and is believed to have received internal injuries.’


The European Circuit race finale

The competitors were now closing in on the final stages of the Four Kingdoms/European Circuit air race, flying from Hendon to the control point at Shoreham, before heading east to Dover, and crossing the channel and on to Paris for the finish line. The Evening Telegraph and Post, Wednesday 5th July, writes:-

‘From a very early hour this morning a stream of motors and other vehicles conveyed spectators to Hendon Aviation Ground to witness the start of the ten competitors in their return flight via Shoreham and Dover to Paris.’

Later in this correspondence:-

‘As six o’clock approached the aeroplanes were brought out, and practically as the hour struck Beaumont got away in fine style. Garros, Vidart, and Vedrines followed in quick succession. Then came Gibert, whose red coloured machine had a striking appearance. Renaux, the only competitor to carry a passenger was next, and apparently found his burden no obstacle to his progress. Tabuteau, Valentine, and Barra got off in the order named, and thus nine men had started within half an hour. There was some little delay owing to Kimmerling’s machine requiring attention, but the last of the ten starters got away by a quarter to seven.’

Flight magazine of 15th July 1911 reports on the aviators at Shoreham as they await the European Circuit contestants:-

‘Mr Barber made several trial flights early in the morning of Tuesday last week with a Valkyrie (Type B), taking with him one of his mechanics as a passenger, and also Miss Meeze. Next day Mr Barber started about 5 a.m on a Valkyrie with Miss Meeze, to fly to Hendon, as mentioned last week. Messrs. Gordon-England, Pizey and Fleming, who had flown over on Monday on Bristol biplanes, gave exhibition flights, and some pretty glides were witnessed by the visitors, who were already assembled to see the arrival of the aviators in the European Circuit.’

The Times newspaper, 6th July 1911, takes up the story of arrivals at the Shoreham Aerodrome:-

‘Ten airmen left Hendon early yesterday morning for Dover on the final stage of the circuit of Europe air race, organised by the Standard, and the Journal (newspapers) of Paris, and the Petit Bleu, of Brussels, and nine of them succeeded in reaching Dover after landing at Shoreham. They will leave on the cross Channel flight for Calais and thence for Paris at 4 o’clock this morning. A feature of the days flying was the fine performance of Vedrines, who occupied just under two hours on the journey from Hendon to the Whitfield Aerodrome at Dover. He wins the Shoreham £200 prize for the fastest flight between Hendon and Shoreham.’

Further on it continues:-

‘Vedrines was the first of the competitors  to arrive at the Shoreham Aerodrome, where a considerable number of spectators had assembled before 7 o’clock. He was sighted at ten minutes to 7, travelling at a great speed, and in a little over five minutes had made a skilful descent amid hearty cheering. Without leaving his seat he signed the official record and was on his way to Dover. The next arrivals were Garros and “Beaumont”, the former alighting only 40 seconds before the latter, and before Vedrines had quite cleared the aerodrome. These were joined in about five minutes by Vidart. “Beaumont” was  next away at 07.10, and was followed by Vidart and Garros at 07.20. Gibert in his red monoplane, descended at 07.11 and within six minutes of his arrival had taken the air again. It was nearly 07.40 before the next airman, Tabuteau, had alighted, and he was quickly followed by Renaux with his passenger, while two minutes later Kimmerling was on the scene. Of the three machines then on the ground that of Kimmerling’s was first away at 07.52, and Tabuteau’s was only a minute behind. In the meantime Barra had arrived, and after resting for half an hour started for Dover at 08.16 before Renaux, who left two minutes later. All the ten competitors had now arrived at Shoreham with the exception of Valentine, who, on finding that his engine was misfiring, descended without accident at Brooklands.’


(Meanwhile, also at Shoreham on the 4th July, 1911, the world’s first air freight delivery is dispatched)

Aviator Horatio Barber made the news for the inaugural transport by air of goods- ‘The Sphere’ 22nd July, 1911, writes:-

‘Brighton and Hove’s people have had the distinction of witnessing what is believed to be the first time in the world’s history that aerial transport has been accomplished, the flight having been made on July 4 from Shoreham to Hove. Notwithstanding that a large number of people were disappointed at the flight not taking place on the 3rd, which was due to the absence of a searchlight arranged to be in Marine Park, Hove, to show the aviator where he should land, hundreds of people assembled in the park in the evening to watch the flight and descent. They were not disappointed either. The aeronaut was Mr. Barber of Hendon, and the novel and interesting exhibition was arranged in conjunction with the General Electric Company, LTD, of 67 Queen Victoria Street, London, E.C., Mr. Barber carrying on his powerful Valkyrie, type B, No.5, monoplane a consignment of Osram lamps for delivery to Messrs. Page and Miles, LTD, Western Road, Hove. Arrangements were to have been made to enable the monoplane to be illuminated with Osram lamps, but this was not carried out.’

Harold Barber 4th July, Osram lamps to Hove

European Circuit final stage, 7th July.

This race had highlighted how far ahead France were from Britain in aviation design, construction, and piloting, with James Valentine, the only Briton who actually started, and despite his valiant efforts to continue in the race, eventually gave up after encountering problems on the Hendon to Shoreham leg. So Britain’s only involvement at the final stage was Maurice Tabuteau, who was flying a Bristol biplane, built by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, Ltd, at Filton, Gloucestershire. Flight magazine of 15th July, 1911, describes the Paris finish:-

‘At Vincennes there was another huge crowd, among whom was General Roques and several other highly placed Government officials. At half past eight an extra sharp eye detected a speck in the sky, while an expert ear caught the sound of the unmistakable hum of a Gnome motor. Within a few seconds the news had spread round the concourse, and the cry went up, “They are here!”. The next question was “who could it be” as the news of  Vedrine’s accident had come through, and it was realised he could not be the arrival. It only needed a few minutes, however, to bring the monoplane nearer in to view, for it to be seen that it was the Deperdussin monoplane, and of course piloted by Vidart. He landed at 8.37, and was at once carried shoulder high to the Deperdussin shed to the strain of the Marseillaise. There was then a delay of seven minutes before the arrival of Gibert, who it should be remembered is the only monoplanist who had completed the full distance on the one machine, whereas the others have changed their machines several times. The third to arrive was Garros, at 9.15, and then the others came in at fairly lengthy  intervals, “Beaumont” being fourth at 9.26.’

‘The overall winner was Andre Beaumont, with a total race time of 58 hours, 38 minutes, followed by Roland Garros*, on 62hrs, 17 mins, 3rd place was Vidart, on 73hrs, 32 mins, and Vedrines, who had led for much of the race, came in fourth with a time of 86hrs, 34 minutes, having damaged his machine while landing on the next to last leg. 

* (This was the Roland Garros whose name would be given to a rather famous tennis arena in Paris).

Beaumont wins the European Circuit 1911

Oscar Morison flies from Paris to Shoreham.

While the  worlds press followed the race around Europe, aviators elsewhere continued to push the boundaries of what could be achieved in their fragile looking aeroplanes, and O.C.Morison was one of these intrepid aviators. He had hoped to race his new Morane monoplane in the European Circuit, but it wasn’t ready in time, and actually picked it up from the factory in Paris just after the race had finished. ‘The Daily News’, Monday 10th July, 1911 reports:-

Paris to Shoreham in 5 Hours

A remarkable feat was accomplished by an English aviator on Saturday (8th July), Mr. O.C. Morison (one of the most successful flying men in this country) getting from Paris to Shoreham with only two brief stops, and setting up what must almost be a record. Mr. Morison showed considerable pluck, for he did not announce the attempt, and there was consequently no tugs or torpedo boats out to render assistance should he require it. In five hours the aeroplane covered 250 miles, giving the high rate of 50 miles an hour, and this included the stops. Mr. Morison started his monoplane at Paris shortly before noon, and averaged a mile a minute to Calais. Stopping just long enough to replenish his petrol tank, he went on straight for Dover, and mounted at a great speed to a height of nearly two thousand feet, seeming through the heat haze to be almost among the lower clouds. The channel was crossed in half an hour, and, passing over Dover Castle, Mr. Morison made straight for Eastbourne, and descended in a field there at ten minutes to four. A quarter of an hour was occupied in once more taking in petrol, the engine was again restarted, and just before five p.m, the machine descended at Shoreham.’

Coming up in part four:- Lord Northcliffe, owner of the Daily Mail, offers £10,000 as a prize for the aviator that wins a Circuit of Britain race. Shoreham gets busy, more top aviators set up at the newly expanded facilities.


A Brief History of Aviation at Shoreham. Part Two

June 11, 2017

Harold Piffard and friends with his own designed and built hydroplane at Bungalow Town, Summer of 1911




In the summer of 1911 Piff was back in Shoreham, but this time he used a large shed on the shingle peninsula known as ‘Bungalow Town’, on the beach front, near Ferry road. Thanks to fellow local history enthusiasts, Howard Porter and Roger Bateman, the bungalow has been identified as ‘Palghar’, and the shed they used to house his hydroplane, was the old Lifeboat House.

Piff’s next designs were forerunners of the seaplane, but the challenge now was to be able to ‘unstick’ from the sea. Flight magazine of 22nd July 1911 reports:-

Hydro-Aeroplane at Shoreham.

Mr Harold Piffard, who last year experimented at the Shoreham Aerodrome with an aeroplane, has now had another machine built, and this is fitted with airbags so that the experiments may be made over water. On Saturday evening Mr Piffard had it out on the sea at Shoreham for the first time, and although no flight was attempted, six people took their place on the machine and successfully tested its buoyancy. Motive power is provided by a 40-h.p. E.N.V. engine’

Piff, at the front, wearing the Boater hat, on Bungalow Town beach (Shoreham) with the latest hydroplane design. Summer 1911


A month later, Flight magazine of 19th August 1911 writes:-

Mr Piffard’s Hydroplane Capsizes.

After making one or two alterations to it, Mr Piffard had his hydroplane taken down to the sea at Shoreham on the 8th inst. Almost as soon as it was launched however, it capsized; but this was an emergency for which Mr Piffard and his assistants were well prepared, as they are all expert swimmers, and they soon had the machine ashore.’

Before Piff and his band of friends returned to carry on their hydroplane trials at Bungalow Town, on Shoreham beach, the nascent Shoreham Aerodrome had already become ever more popular with the British flying fraternity, with a number of aviators making it their base. 1911 was also turning out to be a ground breaking year for British aviation.

One of Harold Piffard’s hydroplane designs capsizes at Bungalow Town, Shoreham. August 1911

Earlier in 1911:-

Brooklands to Brighton Flight, Harry Preston get a Memento, 14th Feb

The Northern Daily Mail reported on Thursday 15th Feb, 1911, that Oscar Colin Morison flew his Blériot monoplane from Brooklands to Brighton, a distance of 40 miles, in 65 minutes the day previously. The flight would have been quicker had Morison not gone via Worthing, although he insisted, “there was not a hitch throughout the journey”. He had only intended to fly to Cobham, but as the weather was so fine, on arrival he phoned up Harry Preston, (owner of the Royal York, and Royal Albion, hotels), to let him know he would be landing in front of the Royal Albion that afternoon. Descending on to the beach between the Palace, and West Piers, he mistook the pebbles for sand, and his plane crumpled under him on landing, damaging the undercarriage and prop. No injury was incurred, but Harry ended up with the broken propeller hung up in his hotel smoking room as a memento of the landmark occasion. A reporter on the spot informed Morison that, “you are the first aviator to drop down on Brighton beach”, to which he replied, “So I am told. I have no particular impressions about the flight except that it has been a jolly fine trip” .

In Harry Preston’s book, ‘Leaves From My Unwritten Diary’ 1936, page 79, he recalls:-

“In my smoking room I have many air mementoes, among them a broken propeller. Oscar Morison gave it to me- he smashed it on Brighton beach, on an historic day in February, a quarter of a century ago, when he flew from Brooklands to Brighton”

He continues:-

“The intrepid aviator told me at luncheon at the Royal York that followed, that he would have made better time, only he had got off his line of flight. He was circling to land, when he noticed that there was only one pier, and he knew Brighton had two. “Wrong town,” said he, and flew along the shore line until he sighted a town with two piers. It was Worthing he had mistaken for Brighton. Air navigation was not quite what it is now’

This lunch at the Royal York had been quickly arranged by Harry as a member of the Sussex Motor Yacht Club, in Morison’s honour. Afterwards they presented the aviator with a silver cigarette case in memory of his historic flight.

Oscar Morison flies from Brooklands to Brighton to see Harry Preston. Feb 15th 1911

The Daily Graphic, Wednesday 1st March 1911, writes about Morison’s exploits, and his patronage of the new aerodrome at Shoreham:-

‘Brighton for the past week has been entertaining her first visitor to arrive by air, in the person of O.C. Morison, who safely landed  upon the beach at Kemptown after a surprise flight from Brooklands. The aviator is now stormbound, and his 50 h.p Gnome Bleriot is causing great interest among the visitors and residents who have inspected it in its temporary home in a local garage. When the present gale has blown itself out- and to judge by the “glass”, this will not be for some days- the Bleriot will be wheeled along the front to Hove lawns, and from this spot Mr Morison intends to fly to Brighton and Hove’s new aviation ground, where during the coming summer the town hopes to have the pleasure of receiving all the air’s conquerors.’

After repairs had been carried out, Morison took his Bleriot to Shoreham, on 7th March 1911 becoming the first aviator to fly in to the Aerodrome, from there, flying above Bungalow Town, and over to Lancing College at the invite of the Headmaster, Reverend Henry Thomas Bowlby. He put down on the College cricket field but the bowling green surface meant the plane hurried on a tad more than he expected, running the Bleriot in to a grass bank, breaking the elevator and thus rendering the machine temporarily inoperable. Morison put this opportunity to good use, showing the captive audience of schoolboys over the aeroplane, and the explaining the purpose of the controls. Given their former pupil, Piffard’s, exploits the year previous, a foundation of lasting aviation interest had surely now been cemented.

Bungalow Town resident, and regular columnist for ‘The Daily News’, John Frederick Macdonald, of number 2, Coronation bungalow, Beach Road, described the scene of Morison’s arrival at Shoreham, giving a wonderful first hand account of not just how he saw it, but also a reporters eye view of how some of the other residents reacted to this novel event, for ‘The Daily News’, Tuesday 14th March 1911:-

‘At eleven o’clock this morning I behold Shoreham-on-Sea, a simple and picturesque little town of three thousand inhabitants, in a state of excitement and delight. Out on their doorsteps come the trades people of the inevitable High Street, and, shading their eyes with their hands, they look eagerly upwards. More ardent interest in the skies on the part of the weatherbeaten old boatmen; still more rapturous gazing at the heavens from the maidens of Shoreham- and all kinds of incoherent exclamations from a group of small boys. “What,” I ask timidly one of the Shoreham maidens, “what is the matter?”, “we’re waiting for Mr. Morison”, excitedly replies the maiden- most radiant of blondes. “He’s left Brighton. He may arrive at any moment. He-“ , “Who is Mr. Morison”, I ask ignorantly. Then as the blonde regards me blankly- “I’m awfully sorry I don’t know Mr. Morison. In fact, it’s disgraceful of me. But I’m a stranger to these parts, and I’ve come here to lead the simple life, and-“

“That’s ‘im- no it’s not”, cries a boatman. “’Ere ‘e comes- no ‘e don’t”, shouts a small boy.

“You don’t know Mr. Morison?” exclaims the radiant blonde, with indignation. “Why we’ve been expecting him for five days. And I tell you he’s left Brighton at last. And I—“

“Here he is, here he is”, cries another maiden. “Coming along like mad”, declares a boatman. “Ooray”, yells a small boy. A whirring noise in the heavens. All eyes strained upwards. The whirring becoming stronger, almost thunderous. And over the narrow High Street of Shoreham, at a height of six or seven hundred feet, an aeroplane flies by. “That’s Mr. Morison”, gasps the blonde. And she and the other charming maidens, and a few of the tradepeople and a number of battered boatmen and, of course, all the small boys, run off down the High Street, and over the Norfolk Bridge, and along the high road that leads to the field in which Mr. Morison, the flying man and the idol of the South Coast, has descended.


It was an admirable flight. I am informed that Mr. Morison (who has travelled successfully from Brooklands to Brighton in his Bleriot machine) came over to Shoreham from the”Queen of the Watering Places”, a distance of six miles, at a speed of a mile a minute. Admirable, too, are the flights he made twenty four hours later—over Lancing College and over Bungalow Town, that colony of villas, chalets, and other strange miniature habitations formed out of abandoned old railway carriages, which has sprung up, quaintly, amazingly, to the number of three hundred on Shoreham Beach. So is Mr. Morison, most justifiably, Shoreham’s hero. So does Shoreham flock to the field and surround the shed, in which the aeroplane is housed. So does Shoreham proudly  refer to the field as “OUR Aviation Ground”. So does Shoreham triumphantly allude to Mr. Morison as “OUR Flying Man”. And so—since Mr. Morison is stated to have declared himself satisfied with the field—so does Shoreham confidently announce that its fortune as a popular seaside resort is made.

“That’s what we wanted—a flying man, and I’m sure we’re most grateful to Mr. Morison for taking a fancy to our town”, a tradesman informs me. “With an aviation ground, and a flying man, there’s no reason Shoreham shouldn’t become a fashionable place. Flying, there’s nothing like it. Flying is what you London folk call the limit. Why, I can see Shoreham swelling and swelling in size, until Brighton and Worthing get green and yellow with envy and jealousy. To borrow another word from the Londoners, Shoreham is going to be  IT”

In “The Brass Bell”

I cannot exactly imagine the “face” of Worthing and Brighton discoloured with jealousy; but I do know that I myself am envious of Mr. Morison’s popularity. A week ago I made quite a little sensation by appearing in High-street. I was a newcomer—and the old boatmen saluted me, and the small boys stared and gaped at me, and the blondes and brunettes gazed–O exquisite moment—curiously at me as I passed by. Gone, those attentions. Now I am a nobody; only Mr. Morison counts—and so how I wish I were Mr. Morison the idol of Shoreham! The fact is, one ought nowadays to be a flying man. Once it was splendid to be a Caruso, or George Alexander, or Wilkie Bard, or Sandow, or Prime Minister, or King; but the hero-worship of the hour is reserved for the gentlemen who fly—a throne up in the air excites infinitely more respect and enthusiasm than a throne in a palace. Is not simple Shoreham, since Mr. Morison’s coming, a new town? The whirring of the Bleriot has shaken it out of its slumber, frantically modernised it—rendered it ambitious, feverish, hectic, delirious. The very children now babble of aeroplanes. Old Joe the grocer, aged seventy, mumbles about aeronautics, as he searches for tins of sardines and packets of tea behind the counter. At the bakers, the “Standard” bread gossip has given way to aviation gossip. And one talks and talks of nothing but flying at the chemists, at the tobacconist’s, at the bootmaker’s, at–.

“Two Bass—one dry ginger—yes, now that flying ‘as come to Shoreham it’s going to make a powerful bit of difference”, states the landlord of “The Brass Bell”. “There was at least forty motors come over from Brighton today”, says a customer. “As many more from Worthing”, states another. “People will be coming from everywhere—just get flying and you get the money”, declares a third. But the landlord of the “Brass Bell” goes even further. He vows that simple Shoreham must be advertised—“you know, great big posters in the railway stations, on the ‘oardings, in the papers; pictures of a bloke flying, with the sky painted all blue, and words written underneath it like this—‘Shoreham for Flying. Shoreham and Air. Shoreham the ‘ome of Aviation and the Centre of ‘appiness and ‘ealth. Shoreham for the English’ “.

“What a time it will be!” exclaims a customer. “We shall have to have a theatre and a music hall, two shows a night”, says another. “You’ll have to enlarge your hotel. You know, a winter garden, and a band, and a garage, and an American bar—cocktails; and coffee beans placed handy on the counter for nothing”, advises a third. “Trust me”, replies the landlord. “Now that flying ‘as come to Shoreham, well, old Shoreham’s going to sit up”.’


James Valentine sets up at Shoreham

With a new railway station having been built at Shoreham airport, called the ‘Bungalow Town Halt’, the previous October, Shoreham Aerodrome was now attracting aviators of distinction, among them, James Valentine, who, as the Daily Graphic, Weds 1st March, 1911, reports further on from the previous article:-

‘Mr Valentine, who flies a passenger carrying machine of his own design, has decided to make the new ground his headquarters, and during the summer will conduct a series of week-end trips between Brooklands and Brighton, a distance of 34 miles, via Leatherhead, Dorking, and Horsham. The railway line will make a splendid guide, and prevent any chance of the machine and its occupants arriving at some rival seaside resort by mistake. Mr Valentine’s spare time is to be given to perfecting a machine of English make which will land and rise from the sea, so that he could not have chosen a better ground for his work.’


The Brooklands to Brighton Race, 6th May

The Brighton beach landing had inspired Harry and his brother, Dick, (Hugh Richard Preston, who helped run the two hotels with Harry, the Royal York, and Royal Albion), to put up a prize for a race from Brooklands to Brighton via Shoreham as the turning point, on the 6th May 1911, a large balloon was attached to the Palace Pier acting as the finishing marker for the competing aviators. The proprietor of the Palace Pier, Mr Rosenthal, put up £80 for first prize, while Harry Preston put up £30 for second place. There was also a third prize of £20.

There were 8 entries for the race, but for various reasons only four aviators started, Graham Gilmour on a Bristol biplane with Gnome engine, Lieutenant Snowden-Smith on a Farman biplane with Gnome, Howard Pixton on an Avro D type biplane with a Green engine, and lastly, Gustav Hamel on a Bleriot monoplane with Gnome. It was a handicap race, with Gilmour starting first, followed by Snowden-Smith 4 minutes later, Pixton ought to have been next, but was at the time trying to win another prize, while Hamel took off 12 minutes after Gilmour, who was already out of sight, and Snowden-Smith was disappearing in to the haze ahead. Pixton got going 8 minutes later, having completed his flight with passenger, competing for the Manville Prize.

The four aviators missing from the starting line up were:-

J Ballantyne (Farman biplane)

Mr Gordon England (Bristol biplane)

Mr C.H.Cresswell (Bleriot monoplane) Got lost in fog flying from Hendon to Brooklands.

Mr Hubert (Farman biplane) Also lost in fog flying to Brooklands.


Interest in the race had drawn crowds along the route, The Globe, 6th May, 1911, reported:-


“All the competitors made two circuits of the course before heading for Brighton. There was great enthusiasm among the spectators, and there were high hopes that a fine race would ensue. – Along the route- Holmwood (three miles from Dorking)- Four aeroplanes passed here at 3.40. Large crowds had assembled in the town, and loudly cheered as the machines passed. Lancing.- Three aeroplanes have passed here heading for Shoreham. Shoreham.- Mr Hamel passed here at 3.50. Another machine, a biplane at 4.7.”


The ’machine’ at 4.7 would have been Lieut. Snowden-Smith.

Spectators at Shoreham Aerodrome for the Brooklands to Brighton race, 6th May 1911

The Lichfield Mercury, Friday 12th May 1911, reporting a week later of the finish line at Brighton, stated:-

“Quite early in the afternoon an immense crowd gathered at Brighton, filling the front from pier to pier and even beyond. Just after four o’clock the first aeroplane hove in sight in blaze of the sun. It was flying high and dipping a little in the wind, which was evidently stronger at that height than on the ground, where the flags scarcely fluttered. Slowly as it seemed, but surely, and heralded by a burst of cheers that rippled along the front, it gradually dropped and crossed the pier accurately in the middle. One saw the number clearly, though it was scarcely necessary for identification, because it was known Mr Hamel was flying the only monoplane in the race.”

It continues:-

“From the terrace of the Royal Albion Hotel, Mr Hamel’s father “snapped” his son with a hand camera as he came sailing triumphantly past, and turned to congratulate his wife on the success of the young aviator.  After circling twice round the pier head, Mr Hamel flew back to the Shoreham Aerodrome, and afterwards departed for Brooklands.”

The ‘Sussex Express, Surrey Standard and Kent Mail’, picks up the story:-

“The first sight of an aeroplane renders one speechless for a time, but as Mr Hamel on his Bleriot monoplane gets nearer to the great mass of people the volume of cheers gets louder and louder. He is scarcely out of sight when Lieut. Snowden Smith, on his Farman biplane, arrives, and Mr Gilmour, on a Bristol biplane, comes next. The ease and grace which characterised the flying won great admiration. The times taken by these three competitors were:- Mr Hamel, 57 mins, 10 secs.; Lieut. Snowden Smith, 1hr. 21 mins. 6secs.; Mr Gilmour, 1hr. 37mins. 0secs.”

Explaining Pixton’s absence, it reports:-

“Mr Pixton, who descended on his all British Roe biplane on Plumpton Racecourse, received a warm welcome there. The people decorated his machine with primroses, and hundreds of names were written on it. He made the journey to Brighton after tea.”

Lieut. Snowden-Smith, who had finished second, it was pointed out, had missed the Shoreham turn, the competitors were supposed to keep west of the Adur Railway bridge before turning for Brighton, the Lieutenant had gone inside, to the east, so was disqualified, leaving Gilmour, who had finished in 1 hour, 37 minutes, promoted to 2nd place. From Shoreham later, Hamel flew back to Brooklands in just 34 minutes, suggesting a strong headwind may have held them up during the race. Gilmour stayed the weekend at Shoreham, possibly taking advantage of the entertainments along at Bungalow Town, when he left, he flew to Portsmouth, according to a report in the Jarrow Express, Friday 12th May 1911:-

“The first aeroplane to pass over Portsmouth made its flight on Tuesday from Brighton (Shoreham aerodrome actually) to Gosport, as a sequel to last Saturday’s aerial race from Brooklands to Brighton. The aviator was Graham Gilmour, who paid a visit by air to his brother in-law, Fleet Surgeon Capps, one of the staff  of Haslar Naval Hospital. Without alighting at Portsmouth, the aviator flew across the harbour to the hospital, and landed safely in the grounds, where it was reported that he had “shelled” a fort blockhouse at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour with oranges”

Douglas Grahame Gilmour, Shoreham to Black Rock race. May 13th 1911


Stuck in a Tree at Haywards Heath

Oscar Morison decided to fly to Haywards Heath on Tuesday 9th May, taking Eric Cecil Gordon England with him as passenger. It was an incredibly costly business maintaining their machines, especially when they crashed, so occasionally, when they turned up at a town or village, where crowds would very soon gather, they could charge between a pound and a fiver a time for a quick flight, which was not unknown among the aviators of the time. Reported in the London Daily News, 10th May 1911, it states:-

‘Mr Morison, the well known aviator, had a narrow escape from a serious accident tonight. Mr Morison arrived here from Shoreham yesterday on his biplane, and arranged to return tonight. A start was made about half past seven, Mr Gordon travelling in the machine as passenger. The aeroplane had only just started its flight however, when the engine suddenly stopped, and the biplane came down rapidly at the edge of a wood near a railway line. The crowd who had watched the ascent ran to the spot expecting to find the aviators seriously injured. On their arrival however, they found that the aeroplane had not reached the ground, the wings having been caught in the branches of an oak. The aviators, who were uninjured, were rescued by means of ladders. The biplane was considerably damaged.’

 The Shoreham to Black Rock Race

On 13th May 1911 Morison was in a well-publicized air-race with Graham Gilmour from Shoreham Aerodrome to the eastern boundary of Brighton at Blackrock, Morison taking the straight course passed the winning post one minute before Gilmour. Reported in the Belfast News-Letter of May 15th 1911, it states:-


“The contestants used Bristol biplanes of equal power, but whereas Morison went straight for the winning post at a height of 800 feet, Gilmour flew farther out to sea and rose to 1100 feet. What might have been a neck and neck race consequently ended in Morison’s favour by about a hundred and fifty yards. The winner crossed the line just after five o’clock, having covered the course in a quarter of an hour. He, however, made a bad landing in the grounds of Roedean College, breaking his skids and damaging the elevator. Gilmour, who descended there, alighted perfectly, and afterwards flew back to Shoreham.”

Oscar Morison at Roedean school, east of Brighton, after the Shoreham to Black Rock race, 13th May 1911

Aviators, Gordon-England, O.C.Morison, and Graham-Gilmour at Roedean school, May 13th 1911. Also, Harry Preston’s brother, Dick.

Shoreham Aerodrome inauguration. 20th June 1911

Reported in the ‘Flight’ magazine of 1st July 1911, the Mayors of Brighton, Hove, and Worthing officially opened the ‘Brighton and Shoreham Aerodrome’. It writes:-

“The ceremony was preceded by a luncheon, at which the aims of the promoters were explained, and it was stated that the proposals included a clubhouse on the ground. The ground is about a quarter of a mile square, but surrounding it is a flat stretch of country about a thousand acres in extent, free from trees, and eminently suitable for flying purposes. Already a large number of hangars have been erected, and the arrival of the competitors in the European Circuit race on the grounds this week, from which point they “take off” for Hendon, should give the fine aerodrome a splendid send off. Brighton should be under a great obligation to the enterprising men who have thus given it, at this early stage, so important a chance in alluring aviators to the district”

The Mayors of Brighton, Hove, and Worthing, at the occasion of the inauguration of ‘Brighton and Shoreham Aerodrome’ 20th June 1911

In the next part, the ‘Four Kingdoms’ race around Europe comes to Shoreham.

A Brief History of Aviation at Shoreham. Part One- Harold Hume Piffard

June 8, 2017

Harold Piffard’s Hummingbird biplane preparing for take off at Shoreham, 1910


While trawling the car boot sales last year, I stumbled upon an old book, ‘The History of British Aviation 1908-1914’, by R. Dallas Brett, 1933. As with so many of my car boot, book acquisitions, it took a while before I picked it up and had a decent nose through. When I did though, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many times our local airport was mentioned, and this inspired me to delve deeper in to Shoreham’s aviation history, beginning with its very own pioneer, H.H. Piffard. I hope any local history, or aviation enthusiasts will enjoy reading the results of my research. Here is the first part:-

Aviation inventor and artist, Harold Hume Piffard was born at 33 Blandford Square, Marylebone, London, on 10th August 1867, to Charles Piffard, a barrister at law who became ‘Clerk of the Crown’ at the High Court of Calcutta, and Emily Hume. Harold’s two eldest brothers, Hamilton, (1862), and Reginald, (1863), had both been born in Calcutta, while he and his other brother, Lawrence, (1865) were both registered as having been born in Marylebone, London. Harold’s first introduction to the Adur Valley came when he followed his elder brother, Lawrence, and started at Lancing College School House in 1877. He was given the nickname, ‘Piff’, by his friends, and made a name for being a bit of a jester. According to Lancing College archivist, Janet Pennington:-

‘On Sunday afternoons, a train passed over the railway bridge near Beeding Cement Works, when Piffard apparently often took the opportunity to ‘execute a war dance – in puris naturalibus – in front of the engine, and then drop into the river through a hole in the track.’


 ‘Keen on dramatics, (obviously) at the age of 12 he absented himself from Lancing one winter Sunday afternoon and walked to London, arriving on the Tuesday. He tried all the theatres and music halls, unsuccessfully seeking employment. He slept on the Embankment for several nights before returning to face the wrath of the Head Master, the Revd. R. E. Sanderson.’ 

‘On leaving Lancing in 1883, Piffard returned to India and was employed on a Darjeeling tea plantation for a while.’


Harold Piffard was to become a successful artist, exhibiting 4 paintings at the Royal Academy from 1895 to 1899. At the 1895 exhibition, held between 6th May and 5th August, his first exhibit was number 881, ‘The Last of the Garrison’, in 1897, number 527, ‘The Last Review: Napoleon at St Helena in 1820, watching the children of General Bertrand playing at soldiers’. At the 1899 Royal Academy exhibition, Piffard had two entries, lot 64- Saragossa: 10 February 1809’, and lot 956- ‘The Execution of the Duc d’Enghien’. He is listed as having two addresses in the Royal Academy Exhibitors catalogue:- 29 Cambridge Avenue, Maida Vale, London, and 18 Addison road, Bedford Park, London.

‘The Execution of the Duc d’Enghien’ by Harold Piffard, 1899

His brother, Hamilton Piffard, was a successful actor touring Britain, receiving warm praise from the newspapers of the time, and also confusing this researcher for a while in to believing it was Harold, with yet another string to his already impressive bow. It took a while before an article eventually gave the full name rather than initialled ‘H.Piffard’, and the penny dropped.

Following the recognition of his obvious talent at the 1895 exhibition, Harold married Helena Katherina Docetti Walker on the 1st June 1895  at St John’s church, Dundee. Together they had four children, Harold (b 1896), Dorothy (b 1898), Ivan (b 1899), and Grahame (b 1900). It would seem the last child must have had complications at birth, as Helena died 27th November that same year, and Grahame died 12th Feb 1901, aged just 3 months.



Harold had also become a renowned illustrator of adventure books for boys, among which were:-


‘The City of Gold’ by E Markwick 1895

‘Sybil Falcon’ by E. Jepson 1895

‘Zoraida. A Tale of Arab Romance’, by William Le Queux 1895

‘Yerut the Dwarf’ by Max Pemberton 1897

‘Living London’, March 1903

‘The Boys Book of Battles’, Dec 1902

‘Victory Adventure Book’, compilation edited by Herbert Hayens. 1916


Was it coincidence perhaps, that in the Victory Adventure Book, the previous story to ‘A Terrible Night’, which Piff illustrated, was ‘How an Aeroplane Flies’, written by Claude Grahame-White, another pilot strongly associated with Shoreham Airport, from around the same time as Piff would be trying out his hydroplane at Bungalow Town in the summer of 1911.


On the 8th January 1902, Harold married Eleanor Margaret Hoile (b 1871) at the Chapel Royal of Scotland, Edinburgh, and on the 28th July 1905, they had a son, Hume Piffard, at 178 High street, Aberdeen, Harold’s occupation:- ‘Artist (portraiture)’


Sometime during the first decade of the 1900’s, he became interested in designing and constructing model aeroplanes at his studio in Ealing, with a friend, Barbara O’Manning, one of his students, (possibly the Barbara Blank mentioned in later photographs of Piffard’s experimental aircraft designs at Shoreham).

Piff in his studio

Harold Hume Piffard at his art studio in Ealing, North London, circa 1900

In April of 1907, models of aeroplanes and flying machines caught the imagination of visitors to Cordingley’s Motor Show and Aero Club Display at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, London. Of all the competitors only two attained anything close to success, A.V. Roe and F.W.Howard, who were streets ahead of their rivals. Mr Howard’s glider, the screw driven by a coiled spring, went over 70 ft, while A.V. Roe’s Aeroplane flew the distance into the safety net ninety feet away. Harold Piffard’s model was recorded as having bent its propeller on the first attempt.


The Wright brothers exploits were the talk of the town following the announcement of their first controlled, sustained flight on the 17th December 1903, near Kitty hawk, North Carolina. It’s not unreasonable to believe this may have helped to inspire Piffard’s aerial hobby, winning a bronze medal for one of his glider models in March 1909. Having decided to build and learn to fly a full-size aeroplane, he built it at his studio and transported it in sections to Hanger Hill, North Ealing. Unfortunately, after flying just a short distance, it was destroyed on the ground during an overnight storm. Not to be put off by this misfortune, Harold determined to construct another aeroplane, with a small band of fellow amateurs to assist, learning on the hoof, as all the early aviators had to do. Remembering from his time at Lancing College in the Adur valley, the expanse of flat land to the south of the college, north of the London Brighton & South Coast railway line, and to the west of the River Adur, Piffard realised that this would be the perfect place to continue his aerial experiments.

It was reported in the Bexhill-On-Sea Observer, Saturday 16th Oct 1909, that:-

‘A proposal is in the air for the establishing of an International  ground for Aviation purposes at Shoreham’

 This was the first mention I had found of a potential aerodrome, (or proposal for one at least), at Shoreham.

An early ‘star’ of aviation, was Monsieur Louis Paulhan, one of a number of world leading French flyers, and he was to be recognised, along with some noted British aeronauts of the time, by a dinner in their honour, among them, a certain H.Piffard. The Morning Post, Thursday 4th November 1909 reports:-

‘M. Louis Paulhan, who made such excellent flights on his Farman biplane “Le Gypaete” at Brooklands last week, has been engaged to fly at Sandown racecourse on Friday and Saturday next, when he will make attempts on the records for duration and height. M. Paulhan has inspected the racecourse, and expressed the opinion that it is suitable in every way as a flying ground. His aeroplane left Brooklands for Esher yesterday. The following distinguished aviators will be the guests of the New Vagabond Club at the opening dinner on the 15th inst. Mr G.T.C. Moore-Brabazon, Mr. Harold Piffard, the Hon. C. Rolls, M. Latham, M. Paulhan, and M. Delagrange.’

Louis Paulhan on Le Gypaete 1909

Louis Paulhan on his Farman biplane, “Le Gypaete” at Blackpool 1909

In Flight magazine of 28th May 1910, a picture of his latest aerial invention is shown:-

Piffard in Flight magazine May 28 1910


The Lancing College Magazine of May 1910 reported that Piffard was:-

‘…the first aviator to have made use of the Shoreham Aerodrome and we have been much interested in watching his ‘wheeling’ flights round the field. He lunched in Hall on May 8th …Rumour suggests that he will alight on Upper Quad and demand a ‘half’ ere long.’ (The latter was no doubt a hoped-for half day holiday rather than a half pint of beer). LCM June 1910 notes that, ‘Piffard…came sadly to grief towards the end of May…none of the aviator’s bones were broken and we understand that his courage is still unshaken.’

Piffard had apparently joined solicitor George Wingfield and established The Aviators’ Finance Co. Ltd., leasing the land next to New Salts Farm, Shoreham, with a view to creating a permanent flying ground. They built a hangar, (or shed as they called it then) for his aircraft that Piff had named Hummingbird, and achieved a few short hops, which were enough to capture the attention of a pub landlord, whose hostelry was off the road north of the airfield. One of Piff’s helpers, E.M.Sutton, recalls in a 1968 issue of Sussex Life Magazine:-

‘It is difficult to realise nowadays, the incredibility which the majority of people held in regard to mechanical flight. For instance, there was the landlord of an inn (Alfred Evans of the Sussex Pad Inn) situated at the farther end of the field where the aeroplane was housed in its shed. He was one of those who thought that, to try to fly like a bird was “against Nature”. After inspecting the machine in its shed he turned to ‘Piff’ and said, “If you ever fly the length of this field, walk in to my pub and I’ll give you a crate of champagne”

The weather not being favourable until a week later, when the time came, Piff was eager to win some champagne, as Mr Sutton writes:-

‘Piffard seated himself precariously on the leading edge of the lower wing with his legs stretched out in space to reach the rudder bar. He gripped the control column and signalled that he was ready. After several attempts at starting the engine by swinging the propeller by hand, a welcome noise announced the power of 40 horses had been released. “Piff”, with a determined grin on his face which plainly said, “I’ll show him”, pointed the aeroplane at the hotel at the farther end of the field. He opened the throttle and the machine moved forward. In a run of two or three hundred yards it was airborne. The first flight over Sussex had been achieved. As the hotel loomed nearer, “Piff” throttled back and allowed the machine to touch the ground. This of course was a manoeuvre which had not been rehearsed, and it was only at this juncture it was discovered that the landing gear would not bear the force of impact. It folded up fairly gradually, so not too much stress was put on the rest of the machine. “Piff” was pitched forward on to the grass with nothing worse than a few bruises. However, that expensive piece of wood carving, the propeller, was badly damaged. “Piff” surveyed the wreck, “The engine’s all right”, he announced, “this machine only needs a new undercarriage and a new propeller. Come on lads, let’s get her back to the shed”. That was hours of hard work, not made easier by the weight of the crate of champagne.’

Piff postcard

A postcard showing Piffard’s ‘Hummingbird’ flying machine in various poses at Shoreham aerodrome, 1910

This exciting activity could hardly have failed to capture the attention of pupils and masters alike at Lancing College, resulting in the Head Master, the Revd. Henry Thomas Bowlby, inviting their former pupil, now aged 43, for a special dinner at the College in honour of his achievement. This would have had an inspiring effect no doubt on any aspiring aviators at the college.

After this initial success came many more flights, and no shortage of accidents to go with them, Piff sustaining various injuries which included being knocked unconscious, having stitches to a gashed leg, and doubtless, numerous bruises. In the September 10th 1910 issue of Flight magazine, it reports:-

Mr H. Piffard at Shoreham.

As a result of solid perseverance and experiments, Mr Piffard is now starting practical work in earnest, and last week was making some satisfactory essays over a half-mile stretch with his bi-plane.’

Piff early flight at Shoreham 1910

Piffard achieves flight at Shoreham aerodrome, 1910. The ‘shed’ they built is in the background, with the railway track behind that.

With the summer of 1910 over, sadly, in October 1910, Piffard crashed again, which resulted in his flying machine being broken beyond repair. Leaving the Hummingbird stored in its shed, he returned to his studio in London, and set about designing an aeroplane which could take off from water.


Article written by Janet Pennington, the Lancing College Archivist, and published in the Lancing College Magazine, vol 80, no 603 (Summer-Advent 1999)

Flight Magazine archives:-

British Newspaper Archives Online:-

Shoreham Airport. The Story of Britain’s Oldest Licensed Airport.  By T.M.Webb and Dennis L Bird. 1996

The First Man to Fly Over Sussex. By E.M. Sutton. Sussex Life Magazine May 1968

Shoreham Airport, an Illustrated History. By Peter C. Brown. 1988

The History of British Aviation 1908-1914. By R. Dallas Brett. 1933

William Ramus family tree

May 17, 2017



Ma at Ransoms 1957

Having recently posted an old photo of my mother, Lavender Ramus, in Ransoms record shop, 33/34 Bond Street, Brighton, in 1957, to the ‘Brighton Past’ group on Facebook, I received a comment from one member, saying what a lovely name she had, but also that her husband had relatives by the name of Ramus. This lady wondered, as Ramus is such an unusual surname, whether we may have a connection, she then mentioned her husband’s uncle, William Ramus, who is apparently in his 80’s, and his sister, Deirdre Ramus. This was enough information for me to get going, and while I already suspected our lines would not coincide, I knew of this particular family line from my earlier research, and enjoy a challenge.

The family line of William and Deirdre was soon unearthed in an hour or so, I had done much of the work a few years back, purely because so many of this family have names and dates similar to my own family lineage, and I wanted to be certain which name belonged where. Having happily given this lady the family line dating back to 1725, and a Louis Ramus, born in Cudrifin, Vaud, Switzerland on the 1st May, I then began fleshing out the family info. Without going in to too much family detail, I’ll list the direct descendants here:-

Louis, (William’s Great Great Great Great Grandfather)married Ann Hibberd (1740-1782), and they had 4 children:

Joseph Ramus: Born 1766 Bungay, Suffolk

Ann Ramus: 1769 Bungay, Suffolk

James Ramus: 1771 Bungay, Suffolk (William’s Great Great Great Grandfather)

Joseph Ramus: 1772 Bungay, Suffolk


After Ann’s death, Louis married Sarah Ann Cobbet (1730-) on the 21st Oct 1783. According to 1774, and 1780, UK Poll Books records, Louis was a ‘Cheesemonger’, in Charing Cross, London.


James Ramus (1771-1837) married Elizabeth Elmore (1869-1839), among their children, they had a son:

Charles: born 05-02-1800, Bungay, Suffolk


Charles married Sarah Rebecca Rudland (1802-1881), on the 6th August 1822, at Walpole, Suffolk. (Charles is William’s Great Great Grandfather). They had four children that I have traced:-


Charles Henry Ramus: Born 28th July 1823 Bungay, Suffolk (William’s Great Grandfather)

Rudland Ramus: Born 16th March 1830, Bungay, Suffolk

Alfred Ramus: Born 8th Jan 1832, Bungay, Suffolk

Ann Ramus: Born 22nd July 1836, Bungay, Suffolk

James Ramus death, 21st June 1837


Charles Henry Ramus married Maria Hall (1825-1903) on the 19th July 1846, at the parish church of  Lambeth. (On the marriage record, both Charles Henry, and his father, Charles, are listed as, ‘Carpenter’s’, for their occupation). They had 9 children, one of which was:-

Charles Henry Ramus marriage to Maria Hall 19th July 1846

James Ramus: Born 22nd April 1864, City of London. On the 1st August 1886, James married Jane Hall (1866-1915), at the parish church of Christchurch, Southwark, London. James’ occupation on the wedding certificate was listed as ‘Tea Cutter’. (James is William’s Grandfather). He and Jane had 12 children, of which 9 had survived to the 1911 census report, which found them living at 62 Windsor road, Holloway. James’ occupation here was noted as ‘Printer’ in the newspaper industry.

James Ramus marriage to Jane Hall. 1st August 1886

Their children living with them at this time, were:-


James Ramus: Born 7th April 1888, Islington. Occupation-  ‘Sorter’ Post Office

Charles Ramus: Born 1891, Islington. Occupation- ‘Musician’ Board Ship

Sidney Harold Ramus: Born 3rd April 1893, Walton. Occupation- ‘Barman’ Public House

Mable Ramus: Born 16th Feb 1895, Holborn, London. Occupation- ‘Dressmaker’

John Ramus: Born 25th Sept 1896, Holborn, London. Occupation- ‘Messenger’ Post Office. (John is William’s father).

Lydia ramus: Born 1899, Holborn, London. School

Winnie Ramus: Born 1901, Shoreditch, London. School

Frank Ramus: Born 1902, Islington, London. School

Bessie Ramus: Born 1906, London. At home

Walter Ramus: Born 1907, London. At home

Doris Ramus: Born 1909, London. At home

James Ramus 1911 census report.



When the 1914-18 war began,  James, Charles, Sidney, and John, all joined up.


James joined the 8th City of London Battalion, Post Office Rifles. Regiment Number-2401

Charles joined the 10th Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment. Regiment Number-4559

Sydney also joined 10th Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment. Regiment Number- 4560

John joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner. Regiment Number- 45717


On the 25th May, 1915, James was killed in action at Flanders, and buried at Flers, Department De La Somme, Picaride, France.

James Ramus WW1 Effects, 1915

Sadly, the news of James’ death hit his mother, Jane, particularly hard. She had been informed of the dreadful news by letter from a friend of James, who had seen him killed in action. This news sent her in to a deep grief, so much so that she became depressed, leading eventually to taking her life by poisoning.

Jane Ramus suicide 1915 copy

On the 19th November, 1915, Sydney Harold was killed in action at Camiers, buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Calais, France.

Sidney Ramus WW1 Effects 1915

On the 21st September 1916, Charles was killed in action in Flanders, buried at Flers, Departement De La Somme, Picardie, France.

Charles Ramus WW1 Effects, 1916


During this dreadful time for the family, their mother, Jane, also died, within a month of her eldest son, James, death. She was buried on the 22nd June, 1915, at St Pancras, Camden, London, Roman Catholic cemetery.


John Ramus survived the war, and was registered on the WW1 Service Medal and Awards Rolls, 1914-1920 as ‘Entitled to the Victory Medal and/or British War Medal granted under Army Orders’

John Ramus WW1 war record and medals roll


In 1929, John married Alice Dorothy Lowndes(1902-2001), at Islington, London


80 Years Reminiscences, by an Old Brightonian. Frederick John Ogburn

March 6, 2017

The following images are from a pamphlet of reminiscences, by an ‘Old Brightonian’, Frederick John Ogburn. He had worked as a baker through his life lived in Brighton, dying at the ripe old age of 92 in 1920.

Frederick John Ogburn  1828-1920

Frederick was born in Brighton, 1828, to James and Elizabeth Ogburn (Baptised 17th Feb 1828).. In 1841 they were living in Cavendish street, Brighton,  James’ occupation was listed as, ‘shoe maker’.


In 1850 Frederick married Eliza Reirdon, and by 1851, they had their first child, Clara Josephine, born in Lindfield. They would go on to have 12 children, 7 of were alive by the 1911 census report.

In the 1854 Brighton Trade Directory, Frederick is listed at 9 Montague Place, Brighton, under the ‘Grocers and Tea Dealers’ section.

In the 1858 ‘Melville’s Directory and Gazetteer of Brighton’, Frederick is now at 7 Montague Place, still as a Grocer and Tea Delaer.

In the 1861 census they are still at 7 Montague Place, Frederick is listed as a ‘Grocer and baker’. He and Eliza now have 6 children, and they have a niece living with them, Elizabeth Tullett, who is listed as a ‘Shopwoman’, presumably working in Frederick’s shop.

In the 1866 Post Office Directory of Sussex, Frederick is listed as a Grocer and Baker, of 7 and 17 Montague Place, Brighton.

In 1867, Frederick was a witness against an embezzler, George Greenstock. This was reported in the Brighton Gazette, Thursday 19th December. In the same year, Frederick was also declared under the Bankruptcy Act, to make payments to creditors of 4 shillings in the pound, in the London Gazette, dated 9th April, addresses given as, 7 and 17 Montague Place, Brighton.

By 1871, Frederick is listed in the census as living at 70 Sussex street, Brighton, occupation, Baker. Of the 7 children they have living with them, their eldest daughters,  Eliza, (18), and Elizabeth, (14), are listed as ‘shop assistant’.

In 1874, Frederick is again mentioned in the London Gazette, ‘in the matter of proceedings for liquidation by arrangement or composition’. A meeting of the creditors to be held at the Railway Hotel, Burgess Hill, on the 12th August at 4pm, ‘dated this 24th day of July 1874’. Black, Freeman, and Gell, 58 Ship street, Brighton, Attorneys for Frederick John Ogburn.

1877, and once again Frederick is forced into liquidation by arrangement, mentioned in the London Gazette on the 26th June, ‘Creditors to prove debts by 12th March’, and in the Morning Post newspaper, Thursday 28th June, ‘dividend of 6d on and after July 2 at Fenner’s, Brighton’.

By the 1881 census, Frederick and Eliza are still at 70 Sussex street, with two of their children, Ernest, and Amelia. Ernest, aged 16, is also listed as a baker.

In the 1882 Kelly’s Directory, in the Bakers section, Frederick John Ogburn has 3 addresses listed, 63 Albion Hill, Southern Cross, Portslade, and 18 North street, Portslade.

1891 census report shows Frederick and Eliza living at 63 Albion Hill, with their son, Ernest, and Granddaughter, Emeline Scammell. Frederick and Ernest listed as bakers.

In the 1894 Kelly’s Directory of Essex, Herts, and Middlesex,  Frederick is listed as a ‘Baker and Confectioner’, at 236 High street, Willesden.

In the 1901 census, Frederick and Eliza are still at 63 Albion Hill, with Ernest and Amelia living with them, and the Grandson, Frank. Frederick is listed as a ‘Baker and Shopkeeper’, Ernest, as a, ‘Baker’.

The 1911 census shows Frederick, Eliza, and Ernest, as lodgers at 23 Queens Park road, Brighton, the residence of Louise Ovenden. Frederick and Ernest both listed as bakers.

In 1914, Frederick has his pamphlet, ‘Eighty Years Reminiscences of Brighton, Hove, and District’, published.

In the 1918 Kelly’s Directory for Surrey, Frederick John Ogburn is listed as a private resident at Mount Pleasant road, Lingfield.

Frederick was registered as having died in the first quarter of the year of 1920, Brighton.

These are the details I have been able to find relating to the life of Frederick John Ogburn, in the hope that others may be able to add more at a later date, and maybe even some pictures.

The Great Storm- 22nd March 1913

March 28, 2016


The Great Storm on the Sussex Coast

At a recent auction of old postcards and photo’s, held at Toovey’s auction rooms in Washington, West Sussex, the collection of the late Maurice Stevens was apparently sold for over £40,000. Among this vast collection of rare photographic memorabilia, covering most of the known world, lay moments in the history of Sussex captured on film, and a surprising coincidence, given this Easter Weekend storm just gone.

Thanks to the Toovey’s website, many of these images were available to view, and download. It was quite a trawl, there were some 30 pages, each of 50 lots, from just a single picture, to some lots of over 700 photo’s and postcards. I started downloading Shoreham images, then any surrounding towns, until I noticed I had been seeing many different images of storm damage during March, 1913. From Worthing to Hastings, and all coastal towns in between and beyond, there was devastation caused by the storm which hit the south coast on the Easter weekend, Saturday 22nd March 1913. The events of that stormy night were reported all across Britain, and can be accessed through British Newspaper Archives online.

Storm damage at Worthing promenade, March 1913

Storm damage at Worthing promenade, March 1913

Reporting in the Sunderland Daily Echo on Monday 24th March, stated that,
‘Worthing was the town to suffer most. Huge seas repeatedly broke over the parade, flooding the adjacent streets. Shortly after midnight about 200 yards of the pier were swept bodily away, completely isolating the pavilion and the landing stages at the far end.’

Worthing pier destroyed March 1913

Worthing pier destroyed March 1913

The Echo continued:-
‘The scene of the front yesterday morning was one of indescribable confusion. Huge piles of shingle and wreckage made the parade east of the pier well nigh impassable to pedestrians, whilst a number of iron seats from the pier were found on the beach more than a mile distant.’

Worthing pier the day after the storm of midnight, Saturday 22nd March 1913

Worthing pier the day after the storm of midnight, Saturday 22nd March 1913

Havoc in Bungalow Town

Bungalow Town storm damage 23rd March 1913

Bungalow Town storm damage 23rd March 1913

Bungalow Town, as Shoreham Beach was known in the early 1900’s, was like an early version of Hollywood, with stars of the entertainment world choosing to live on this bohemian shingle bank. The elaborate wooden beach front bungalows which had sprung up from Shoreham to Lancing were extremely vulnerable to heavy storms, the Lichfield Mercury reported on Friday 28th March:-

‘Bungalow Town for a distance of more than a mile between Lancing and Shoreham was devastated. Fifteen structures at least disappeared, and about the same number are irretrievably damaged. Thanks to warnings on Saturday evening the danger to life was reduced, but seven persons, mostly visitors, were temporarily isolated in a bungalow where they had a terrifying experience until the receding tide permitted of their release in the early hours of the morning. A man named Doick was blown into the Widewaters (a stretch of shallow water between the beach and the main road) during the height of the gale, and was rescued in the nick of time. Artificial respiration had to be resorted to before consciousness was restored’.

Storm damage at Bungalow Town, 23rd March 1913

Storm damage at Bungalow Town, 23rd March 1913

Describing the resulting damage, the Lichfield Mercury goes on:-

‘The damaged bungalows are twisted out of shape, and several appear on the point of collapsing. The shingle bank was strewn with heaps of bedding, furniture, and other household goods that had been hurriedly removed from the threatened residences. The sea defences also suffered extensive damage’,

Bungalow Town storm damage

Bungalow Town storm damage

further on it states:- ‘

‘At one point the shingle bank on which the bungalows stood has been moved inland a distance of nearly a hundred yards, completely altering the contour of the coast, and only the main Brighton to Worthing road, which rests on a bank of clay, now stands between the sea and 400 or 500 acres of low-lying land on either side of the railway. The main road between Lancing and Worthing was impassable owing to accumulations of shingle and wreckage’


The ‘Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette’, wrote of Hove and Brighton:-

Sea’s inroads at Hove

The eastern end of the Hove Esplanade was partly washed away. The ashphalte slope which marks off the long parade at West Hove from the beach disappeared, and the sea carried the shingle over the ashphalte and left it there to a depth of several inches. Yesterday large gangs of men were busy clearing a path two feet wide

Brighton’s share

Brighton was saved to some extent by an abundance of beach accumulated by stone groynes, but a considerable amount of damage was done. The swimming stage at the head of the Palace Pier, on the east side, was practically destroyed, while the doors of several arches on the Lower Esplanade were forced in. Volk’s Electric Railway was torn up in parts. Portions of the wreckage from Worthing Pier were washed up on the shore at the point whence the old chain pier projected.

While the Lichfield Mercury states:-

‘Brighton also can scarcely remember a gale so fierce. On Saturday afternoon it began with a sudden whirlwind, followed by torrential rains. As the night came on the wind increased, and for several hours blew with hurricane force. Houses seemed to be shaken to their foundations, and there was general alarm. Much damage was done to the front, which on Sunday morning presented an extraordinary appearance. The sea in places made great in-roads, and at the most easterly end the road-way was torn up. At this point so completely was the road covered with stones thrown up by the waves that it was closed to vehicular traffic. On the trim bowling greens at King’s Cliff fishing and other boats found a safe anchorage. Several boats were smashed to pieces. Some arches on the under parade were considerably battered, and the “sea-going electric railway” was in parts demolished’

Flooding at Hastings

Of the Hastings storm damage, the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette writes:-
‘On Saturday midnight the tide at Hastings was the highest for years. It was accompanied by heavy wind, and considerable damage was done along the seafront. The rough seas dashed past the Memorial Clock Tower some distance from the front, and numbers of basements were flooded.’

Hastings after the gale, 23rd March 1913

Hastings after the gale, 23rd March 1913

W. W. Sampson: Auction Ring Master

February 18, 2016

William Walker Sampson at his residence, 25 Putney Hill, London. S.W.15

January 2016

While researching my family tree, I discovered previously unknown links to a Sephardim Jewish heritage, interconnected with the art market of the late Victorian and Edwardian era. Through my Great Grandfather, Henry Ramus (1872 – 1911), I unearthed a story which emanates outward from Christie’s auctions room, and his business partner, one of their greatest art dealers, William Walker Sampson (1864-1929), which illuminated the practices among many established dealers of the time, known as the ‘Knockout’, and auction ‘Ring’. Through these dealers, we see connections from British Royalty, American oil, railway, and banking magnates, all the way down to the poorest streets of London, from which Dickens drew many of his tales.

Investigating other Christie’s dealers of the time revealed patterns of buying, and a concentration of certain artists and styles. Favoured artists such as J.W.Godward, T.S.Cooper, B.W.Leader, W.P.Frith, and others of the, mainly, British ‘Modern’ School, would be bought within the ring, and taken on tours of the provinces by dealers to publicise their acquisitions, promoting the lucrative market of reproductions. With the networks of dealers and commission agents providing outlets throughout the country, we can map the far reaching tentacles of the Ring via the railway lines of the United Kingdom, and luxury ocean liners around the world.

The Ring Explained

A web article showed Henry Ramus had been in business with W. W. Sampson as fine art dealers during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The same article named W. W. Sampson as being head of an art cartel, or, ‘Ring’ leader. Researching Sampson led me to a closer understanding of the mystery of the auction, “Ring”, and the “Knock-out,” (or ‘combination’ as it was also referred to). Further research in to other potential ring dealers brought striking results, highlighting extensive Jewish family connections, and Hampstead, London, as a hot bed for art dealers, many having migrated from the densely populated East End of London, and generally not far from a synagogue.

The remit here, is not to discuss the morality of a dealer’s Ring (it wasn’t illegal at the time) but to demonstrate that there is compelling evidence pointing to Sampson being the “Ring Master” of the London auction scene at this time, and head of the most prolific Ring of this period, until his death in 1929 in Brighton. Below are descriptions which give the reader an idea of what the Ring represented:
The aim of the ‘Ring,’ usually consisting of a group of dealers, is to reduce the competition and buy the intended work(s) for lower prices than would be achieved in a truly competitive marketplace; that is, beneath real market value. The members of the ring rather than the original vendor and auctioneer, therefore reap the financial benefits.

Dealer V Connoisseur
A story in the Nottingham Evening Post, 1909, headed, ‘DEALER V CONNOISSEUR, TESTATORS DESIRE TO DEFEAT DEALERS “RINGS”‘, tells of the effort to beat the ring by having a sale held at Derby, rather than London, where apparently, the rings reigned supreme. The deceased had stated this desire in his will. The article however, explains,
‘The question affects all the classic sales in London of pictures, prints, silver, coins, and the like. The great dealers concerned with the traffic in these objects have and do, and probably will continue to control the market in them when any famous lot is to be sold’
Under the sub heading, ‘HOW THE “RINGS” WORK’, it explains:
‘”It means hundreds of thousands a year to someone or another,” he said, “but I do not see how you can alter things. It is all business, and the machinations of the members of these rings do not alter the market prices, though they may lower the profits of a collector who sells. If Mr Bemrose’s executors think they are going to escape the “ring” by selling at Derby instead of London, they are very much mistaken. Why, I have seen many a knockout auction held in a railway carriage after a provincial sale’.
Finally, the expert tells his interviewer,
‘The “ring” and the “knock out”, it appears, are intimately connected. A member of the “ring” secures the object, cheaply’, and then, ‘In a tavern or railway carriage, or in a set of chambers, the confederates afterwards hold a “knock-out” auction, when the picture, or whatever it is, can be bought from the original buyer. Meanwhile the connoisseur, who really wants the object, is still waiting somewhere- anxious and ignorant’.

The topic of knockouts and the Ring from R. Chichester-Clark’s perspective, as he debated the issue in the House of Commons in 1964, is enlightening:

“There was the knockout graphically described by the Sunday Times as having taken place in the “hired snug” in a hotel. There, it is said the ring had a poor day because after the first round those who dropped out received only £1 apiece. However, it is accepted I think, that the first round of some knockouts can be very exciting indeed. Three or four dealers may still confront one another; they are the experts in their subjects; and the ultimate share-out in the would-be final round can be about £1,000 apiece. Small wonder the one of those who, I believe, has been engaged in this practice described the process as ‘twice as exciting as poker.’”

W. W. Sampson, the Early Days

William Walker Sampson was born illegitimately in Tynemouth on the 6th of September, 1865, to Margaret Walker. On February 9, 1869, Margaret married Charles Sampson, both of them aged twenty-four, with Charles’ profession given as ‘Mariner.’ Charles and Margaret were married at the parish church of Tynemouth, Northumberland, a maritime and mining community, and by the 1871 census, they were living at Little Bedford Street, Chirton, Northumberland. William then had the Sampson surname added to his full name.
William became the adopted son of Charles Sampson, and was raised in Tynemouth and Newcastle. According to his obituary in the London Times, one of William’s first jobs was as a newspaper boy on the streets outside the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne railway station. By the 1881 census, at the age of seventeen, and living at Beech Street, Newcastle, William was noted as being a ‘stationer’.
A. C. R. Carter, who started writing for art trade journal, The Years Art, from 1887, wrote of Sampson in his book of reminiscences. Having clearly known William as a friend, he recounts memories that W. W. had shared with him, beginning with the first time a young Sampson was captivated by art. He saw his first art gallery on a school trip and how he skipped the feast laid-out for the boys to sneak a second glance at Sir John Everett Millais’ 1867 canvas of Jephthah’s Daughter.


“Although William Walker Sampson was merely a dealer, yet he grew up to be the auction champion of British art”…
[He] “Vowed another vow that if ever he became a rich man (he was then selling newspapers in the streets), he would try to buy that picture by Millais.”
The picture, in essence sealed his fate as someone who must be surrounded by paintings.


Around 1891, William and family head south to Harrogate where he stayed with (Major) John Potts and his sister Fanny. They were from a wealthy coal owner’s family, of Wallsend, Newcastle. John was a retired Major of the Northumberland Light Infantry Militia by this time, and was living at Bedford Lodge in Harrogate. Sampson’s occupation interestingly is now stated as ‘solicitor’ an attorney. His wife and son were staying as guests at Mortlake, Surrey, during this census, at the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Fife, where William’s aunt and sister, Mary Walker and Lizzie Sampson, were servants, as was his wife’s sister, Nellie. A curious, and very interesting fact, considering the value of ‘inside contacts’ when it came to aristocracy and their art collections.
Sometime after this he began his art and picture dealing career, employed by Mr Dyson Lister of No’s 8 and 9 Montpelier Parade in Harrogate.
When Major Potts died five years later in 1896 he named William Walker Sampson as one of the executors of his will, which amounted to just under £6,000, a small fortune at the time. The Yorkshire Gazette reported:-


‘A Yorkshire will:- By his will, dated Feb 10 1896, Major John Potts, of Bedford Lodge, Harrogate, who died on 14th Feb, bequeathed to the National Gallery, free of legacy duty, his picture of “Cleopatra going to meet Mark Antony”;, to his sister Fanny £100, the furniture of his drawing room, and of her bedroom, and £4000; to Elizabeth Mary Deeley of Teddington, £50; and to Mr W. W. Sampson’s son, John, £300. All residue of his property, the value of personalty being £5,884, 19s 7d, Major Potts left to Mr Wm. Walker Sampson of King Street, St James Square, (London), formerly of Harrogate, one of the Executors.’

At the time of discovery, this was the earliest reference thus far of Sampson in London, and in Major Potts probate record, W. W. is stated as being a “Fine Art Dealer,” also the first reference to this fact. (It also provides a tantalizing clue as to the possible identity of Sampson’s actual father). Certainly sometime between the time he came to Harrogate in 1891 and his first buy at Christie’s in 1895, Sampson had made his move. This elevation to a larger stage would have a monumental effect on the London art market, strengthening its hold as the auction capital of the world.
Sampson at Christie’s

The earliest known account of W. W. at auction was from the London Times of July 22, 1895. There he is recorded as having paid 150 Guineas at the Christie’s King Street sale on behalf of the late Coleridge J. Kennard, for Sheep Entering a Shed by the French Barbizon painter, Charles Emile Jacque (1813-1894). At this auction he was very much the new kid among the major established art dealers of the time, such as Thomas Agnew, Arthur Tooth, and James Theodore Vokins, as well as his former employer, Dyson Lister. We must assume that Sampson’s finances were greatly assisted by Major Potts, as it would be doubtful in the extreme for him to have amassed the necessary funds to have firmly established himself in London on the wage of a junior solicitor.
It was again in the London Times of March 23, 1896, a little over a month after the death of Major John Potts, that William began to flex his newly acquired financial muscle, picking up Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s A Roman Scribe Writing Dispatches for 325 Guineas. In the auction room that day were, Arthur Tooth of No’s 5 and 6 Haymarket, and Thomas McLean of No.7 Haymarket, both art dealers with more than a passing interest in Tadema already. This was the beginning of a taste for Alma-Tadema’s paintings that Sampson would continue to back for nearly the next thirty-five years, as well as Tadema’s younger protégé, John William Godward (1861-1922).


The Synagogue connection

A little after this time, recorded links between William and Henry Ramus begin to appear. When Henry married May Simmons on the 21st of December 1899, their address was given as 21 Mecklenburgh Square, London, with Henry noted as being an “Art Dealer.” In the 1901 census, W. W. Sampson, along with his wife and son, are also now living at 21 Mecklenburg Square. Sampson’s occupation is given as “Fine Art Dealer.” Living at the same address in 1891 , was Henry’s Uncle Benjamin Ramus, whose second wife, Rose (Simmons nee Solomons) was the mother of Henry’s wife, May.
Henry came from a Sephardim Jewish family, arrived from Amsterdam in June 1793. He was related by marriage to art dealers, Nathan Mitchell, (1862-1945), Louis Wolff, (1859-1938), Isaac Simmons, (1869-1928), and Maurice Angel Isaacs, (1874-), (both of Lewis and Simmons), Isaac Percy Mendoza, (1846-1897), of James Street Galleries, King Street, and Joseph Nathan, (1838-1905), of the Burlington Gallery, all had become big players in the London art dealing world, and were followers of the Jewish faith. It’s no coincidence that they all lived around Hampstead, and not far from the Sephardim synagogue in Lauderdale road, having made their way out of the impoverished East End of London. Each family had an extensive network of art dealers and commission agents, and a history in the business.


The Case of a Bankrupt Dealer

By 1907 W. W. Sampson had become Britain’s leading wholesale fine art dealer “to the trade.” His specialty was modern British and Continental pictures. By modern was meant art from about 1850 to that time of a realistic and representational manner. Towards the end of his life, the kind of modern art he championed had become severely challenged by the new Modernist (avant-garde) paradigm.

Here are a few extracts of a court case reported in 1907, giving a glimpse into the art dealing world which William Walker Sampson inhabited, as well as providing evidence of a business connection between Sampson and Nathan Mitchell, (related by marriage to Henry Ramus).
During the case, which brings to the dock, artists, dealers, patrons, and commission agents, as witnesses, it is the evidence of Girling and son which shines a light on the activities of art dealers of the time, and both William Walker Sampson, and Nathan Mitchell are cited in the defendant’s evidence. During the giving of evidence, both the Girling’s talk of Sampson and Mitchell in such a way as to suggest they saw no difference between one and the other, as if they were a partnership.
Under cross examination, Girling gives his account:-

(Friday, July 26.)
‘Between September, 1904, and then, (when he went bankrupt) I was helping Mr. W.W. Sampson in Air Street, Piccadilly.’
‘I have sold “Green Leaves,” Mr. Farquharson’s picture, to Mr. N. Mitchell, a dealer, in Copthall Avenue; I believe for £130, part pictures and part cash. I could not tell you exactly; it may have been £20 or £30 cash. That money was laid out in other pictures. The pictures from Mr. Mitchell we exchanged for others. It is a recognised thing in the fine art trade that we do not sell for cash. Another picture which I bought from Mr. Farquharson for £16, I sold to Mr. Mitchell for £30 cash. I gave £10 to my son, the rest I kept. That was my own picture, which I had paid for. The one I bought for £45, “The Forest of Glenquoich,” I did a deal with Mr. Sampson; no cash, but all pictures. The £16 picture was bought in July, 1906. Between November, 1904, and January, 1905, I went to Mr. Sampson’s, buying for him on commission. When Mr. Sampson had sufficient pictures I was done with him. I had only a certain number to buy. I have paid Mr. Sampson over £30,000 in his time.’

If the minor art dealer H.T.Girling had £30,000 worth of business with W.W.Sampson, and Sampson had commerce with a myriad of other art dealers, his slice of the art market must have been formidable.

Lord Darling cartoon Vanity Fair

Lord Justice Charles Darling cartoon by Spy. May 13th 1897

1907-08 A Turning Point

In the Daily Telegraph of Monday, Feb 3rd 1908, William Walker Sampson was proclaimed, ‘The Champion of Modern Art’. This was almost certainly written by A.C.R. Carter, editor of, ‘The Years Art’, who also happened to write art reviews for the Daily Telegraph, and following the strongest yet showing by Sampson at Christie’s that season. He had won bids on 161 paintings at Christie’s for the 1907 season at the time this story went to press, and 75 in the first five weeks of 1908. His total haul at Christie’s for the season between Nov 1907 and July 1908, was an astounding 619 lots of paintings and drawings, (no reproductions), more purchases than any other single dealer that season. As the leader of any auction ring, it makes sense that he would have been the most prolific buyer. The next highest buyers for this Christie’s season were, Agnew (495), Mitchell (280), Gooden and Fox (235), Leggatt Brothers (234), and Edwin Parsons and Sons (181).

‘Art Price Current 1907-08’

January 18.
Ancient and modern pictures and drawings, the property of Mr Thomas Maclean, 7 Haymarket, S.W, sold owing to his retirement from business:-

33 of the pictures and drawings were knocked down to Sampson this day, and the point where he picked up the baton from Thomas Maclean as leading buyer of J.W.Godward paintings, with the winning bid for all six on offer, which were:-

An Egyptian Slave 36 & 1/2″ circle £32.11s
Thoughts Far Away 20″ x 8 & 3/4″ £9.9s
Ethel 19″ x 6&1/2″ £6.6s
A Pompeian Beauty 7&1/2″ x 4&1/4″ £9.9s
Reverie 10&1/2″ x 5&1/2″ £9.9s
After the Bath 6&1/2″ £15.15s

1911 Court Case: The Ring Revealed

Here are extracts of a court case, tried at the Old Bailey, reported in the Times, January 24 1911. Giving a glimpse into the art dealing world in which William Walker Sampson, and Henry Ramus inhabited, including evidence of collusion within the auction rooms by dealers-
A Picture by Sir Luke Fildes’
Turner v Sampson
(Before Mr Justice Channell)
‘In this case, Sir Montague Cornish Turner sued Mr W.W.Sampson, a fine art dealer, carrying on partnership with Mr Henry Ramus, at Air-street, Regent-street, for the recovery of a picture by Sir Luke Fildes, R.A, or its value, which the plaintiff alleged was wrongfully detained from him.’
‘The picture in question, which was called, ‘Fair, Sweet, and Quiet Rest’, was painted by Sir Luke Fildes some 20 or 30 years ago, and was purchased from the artist for £871. In 1907 it was sold at Christies for £109, but on that occasion, counsel stated, the value of the picture was reduced owing to a combination between the dealers’
(This last sentence showing evidence of the ‘Ring’, which Sampson was already believed to be at the head of.) At one point, Justice Channell comments:-

“Pictures were notoriously things which one (art dealers) bought as cheaply as one could and got as much as one could for”
This illuminates what art historian, Vern Grosvenor Swanson, captioned, ‘The Wild West’, when explaining the art dealing world of the Edwardian era, and the anything goes attitude to buying and selling. If anything, research shows a profit of £50 to be quite conservative.

Justice Channell Vanity Fair copy

Lord Justice Channell, High Court Judge, circa 1909

Huntington V Lewis and Simmons: A Knockout Comment

In May 1917 Maurice Lewis, and Isaac Simmons, of Lewis & Simmons, fine art dealers, 74 South Audley Street, and 180 New Bond Street, were involved in a high profile court case with Henry Edwards Huntington. The American railway magnate brought an action against them over a painting, alleged to be of Mrs Siddons and her sister Miss Fanny Kemble, which for £20,000, they had sold him as having been painted by George Romney (1734-1802). It was eventually proved to have been a painting of the Waldegrave sisters, by Oziah Humphrey, (1742-1810), a lesser known portrait painter. During the trial, under examination Mr Lewis stated that the picture was bought at a ‘Knockout’, Mr Scott examining asked, “That means when the dealer gets a picture cheap?”, “sometimes”, answered Lewis. When Mr Justice Darling asked for clarification, Lewis explained that a knockout meant that the dealers did not bid against each other.
By 1920, Sampson would appear to be firmly established at the high table of Christie’s auction room. At sales owing to the late Mr Hilton Philipson, and Mr Montague Stanley Napier , (another patron of J.W.Godward pictures), brought the headlines:- ‘£5,250 for a Meissonier.’ and, ‘High Prices for Modern Pictures’. W.W picked up the Meissonier, ‘Le Guide’, engraved by J.Jacquet, for 5000 guineas, a drawing by J.M.W.Turner, ‘An Italian Scene’ 11″ x 15&1/2″, 950 guineas, and a couple of drawings by Birket Foster, ‘A cottage at Sandhills, Surrey, with peasant girl’, 420 guineas, and, ‘A view near Dalmally, with figures’, 410 guineas, not forgetting John William Godward’s, ‘Dolce Far Niente’ 30″x50″, 300 guineas. £7434 for five pictures.
The Rosenbach’s


A.S.W.Rosenbach at Sotheby’s auction rooms. He’s the one holding a book open, looking at it.

Sampson had been dealing with the Rosenbach’s of Philadelphia since the first decade of the 1900’s, crucially, they were a Sephardim Jewish practicing family, which would have aided their introductions from Philip Rosenbach’s first visit to London in 1903, to establish lines of credit . Records show transactions between the companies from at least 1909 , and almost certainly earlier than that. It was at the Burdett Coutts sale at Christie’s, May 15th 1922, that the Rosenbach’s used Sampson’s position as ring leader at the auction rooms to secure a Shakespeare portrait, by Felton on their behalf, for the American oil magnate Henry Clay Folger (1857-1930). In the biography of A.S.W.Rosenbach, it states,
‘The portraits would not be bought under the Rosenbach name, but under that of friend Bill Sampson, a major buyer at Christie’s, which would both eliminate his competition and keep Rosenbach’s name out of the limelight’
In 1923 William Walker Sampson took over the gallery at 7 Haymarket, from Eugene Cremetti, which had been the McLean Galleries for over one hundred years. Cremetti had taken it over from Thomas Miller McLean in 1908, but was retiring from the business. Thomas McLean was one of the earliest patrons of John William Godward, a patronage which both Cremetti and Sampson continued

On April 22nd 1926, (reported in the Times newspaper), Sampson held a dinner party at the Embassy Club, Piccadilly, for A.S.W.Rosenbach, who was returning to Philadelphia after another successful European trip of rare book buying. Other guests were, A.C.R.Carter, editor of The Years Art, Alec Martin, of Christie’s, and the famous hotelier, Harry Preston, (boxing adviser to the future King Edward the 8th). With the future Sir Alec Martin, a director of Christie’s as friend, it would suggest that Sampson’s position as ring leader was not considered an issue with the auction establishment.

Lord Justice Darling: Bidding Agreement Bill 1926

On the 1st July 1926, having dealt with many cases involving alleged knockouts, or combinations, between dealers to secure goods cheaper at auction, Lord Justice Darling introduced a bill to ‘render illegal certain agreements as to bidding at auctions, and move that it be read a first time’ in the House of Lords . On the 29th July 1927 the ‘Auctions (Bidding Agreements) Act’ was passed in to law.

Bidding Agreements Act 1927-2 Photoshop copy

Auctions (Bidding Agreements) Act 1927


Death of the Ring Master

On the 31st October 1929, only two days after the Wall Street Crash, William Walker Sampson died of a heart attack at 122 Kings Road, Brighton. In his will he left just £10 to his son, Jack. One of the greatest dealers of his generation, Sampson, it turned out, had a gambling problem. As A.C.R. Carter wrote in his ‘Reminiscences’, “The sad part of the story is that this resolute man and bold speculator in the art market could not quench the temptation to gamble on the race course. In the end, therefore, it fell about that his losses on the Turf outweighed his gains in art dealing”

The Dealers:-

Here is a link to an Edwardian Dealers Directory which I have been researching to give readers of this piece an insight in to the dealers involved:-

They can also be found individually on this wordpress site.


Victorian/Edwardian art dealers directory. Part 14

February 15, 2016

Eugene Cremetti
Eugene Cremetti was born in Belgium, 1851, to Pierre Cremetti and Catherine Jeanette, nee Verhoeven . The earliest record I have found for him was a newspaper notice of arrivals at the Bath Hotel, with his business partner, Max Hollender, 1876. In 1877, Cremetti and Hollender had a sale by auction of ‘Modern’ pictures, by British and Continental artists , at 115 Union Street, Aberdeen.

Hollender Cremetti, Aberdeen Sat 20th Oct 1877 sale copy

Aberdeen Journal. Saturday 20th October 1877

In 1881 Cremetti has premises at 133 Gower street, St Pancras, London . March 12, 1881, Messrs. Cremetti and Hollender have a sale arranged by auctioneer, Mr J. Buckley Sharp, to sell pictures from their collection at the British Gallery, Bridge Street, Bradford . Eugene and Florence Mary Cremetti have a son, Harold Eugene, in 1883. December 1883, Messrs. Cremetti and Hollender have another auction sale , at Messrs. Robinson and Fisher, 21 Old Bond Street, of ‘High class modern pictures, chiefly by artists of the foreign school’, owing to their lease at 64 New Bond Street having been sold.

Hollender Cremetti 12 March 1881 Yorkshire Post copy

Yorkshire Post Sat 12th March 1881

On the 25th January 1885, Florence Mary died at 2 Avenue road, Regents Park, London.

July 1887, Hollender and Cremetti, as their firm was known, held an exhibition at the Cutlers Hall, Church Street, Sheffield, comprising of British and Continental artists works . Regularly touring the country with their pictures, the firm had, according to this last report, already made, ‘112 tours through our principal towns’.

Cremetti Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 14 July 1887

Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 14 July 1887

In 1887, Eugene Cremetti married Lydia Maud Bramble . On 14th Sept, 1888, they had a son, Paul Eugene Cremetti , baptised 12th June 1889, their address listed as 68 Avenue road, Eugene’s profession, ‘Proprietor of the Hanover Gallery’.

In 1891, living at 68 Avenue road, Hampstead , Eugene and Lydia Maude have three sons, Harold, (by Florence Mary), 8, Paul, 2, and Pierre Eugene, 1. Eugene is listed as a part proprietor of the Hanover Gallery, which is at 47 New Bond Street, London. On the 24th September 1892, Maximillian Arthur Eugene Cremetti was born, baptised 26th Jan 1893 , his parent’s address, 68 Avenue road, father’s profession, merchant.

On the 18th March 1897, Eugene Cremetti is accepted as a U.K citizen , citing his profession as picture dealer. Later the same year, he was re-elected as a director of the Palace Theatre , where his business partner, Max Hollender, was chairman. As well as being an art expert, and theatre director, Cremetti also owned race horses. In 1898, his horse, Full Stop, won the Great Foal Stakes at Lingfield . The link of the sporting, theatrical, and art dealing worlds is a common one. When Cremetti was re-elected as director of the Palace Theatre in 1897, the motion was seconded by fellow art dealer, Arthur Tooth, of 5 and 6 Haymarket, (next door to the famous McLean Gallery at no.7, which was itself, next door to the even more famous Haymarket Theatre).

In 1901, Hollender and Cremetti, are listed as picture dealers at Hanover Gallery , at 47 New Bond Street, London. They also have premises at 30 Old Bond Street, holding an exhibition there of the paintings of John Varley in June 1905 . On the 11th June 1906, Max Hollender died of pneumonia, at Lowfield Heath, Surrey, leaving £92,710.0s.1d to his wife, Rose, Edgar Cohen, merchant, and Alfred Beyfus, solicitor (his brother in law). In December 1906, there was a sale by auction at Christie’s, of the stock of modern pictures and water colour drawings of Messrs. Hollender and Cremetti , owing to the death of Hollender, terminating the partnership. Many of the pictures were knocked down to Cremetti.

In the 1908 London phone book, Eugene Cremetti is listed as a ‘Fine Art Expert’, at 44 Dover Street, London , his home address, 68 Avenue Road, Hampstead. In this year, Cremetti takes over the McLean Galleries at 7 Haymarket, from Thomas Miller McLean, owing to McLean’s retirement from the business. In the 1907-08 season at Christie’s, Cremetti won bids on 25 lots of pictures , highest bid, £504, for ‘In the woods at Meudon, above Sevres’ by C. Troyon. In the 1908-09 season , he won bids on 25 lots again, four of which were over £500, and the highest bid, £1050, on 16th July, 1909, for lot 19, J. Israel’s ‘Portrait of a Girl in Brown Dress’.

In the 1909-10 at Christie’s , Cremetti won bids on 35 lots, with three bids over £300, two over £500, and the two highest bids, on 30th June 1910, £1,995, for J.B.C. Corot’s ‘The Moat’, and £6,510 for ‘L’Abreuvoir’ by the same artist. At Christie’s on the 13th December 1909, Cremetti’s son Harold bought lot 83, ‘The Old, Old Story (1904)’, by J.W.Godward, for £88.4s. Godward was an artist favoured by many of W.W.Sampson’s art ring, it would appear that Harold bid on his father’s behalf, as this was his only mention in the Art Price Current records. Harold didn’t follow Eugene in to the art business, instead having trained as a motor engineer.

In the 1910-11 season , Eugene Cremetti won just eleven bids, with three over £300, and one over £500, ‘Pink and White Roses in a Glass vase’, by Fantin Latour, for £567 on 29th April. In March 1911, Eugene and Lydia Maude are living at 68 Avenue road , Hampstead with four of their sons. Their second eldest, Paul, aged 22 is an art dealers clerk, while the three youngest are students at Harrow. (Harold had married in 1908, by 1911, living in Kings Norton with his wife and two children, his profession, motor engineer).

In the 1911-12 auction season at Christie’s, Cremetti won bids on 43 lots of pictures , 31 of which he acquired on May 17th, and the three highest bids that season were for two pictures by J.C.Cazin, at £399, and £294, and £1,281 for the ‘View on the Campagna’ by H.Harpignies, all bought on May 3rd 1912. In February 1912, advertising as ‘Eugene Cremetti of Thomas McLeans Galleries, London’ , there is an exhibition of British and Continental paintings at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bridge Street, Bath. Opened by the Mayor, Alderman T.F.Plowman, it was a collection of 200 paintings by masters of the French and Dutch schools.

In the 1912-13 season at Christie’s , Cremetti won bids on 15 lots of pictures, two over £300, ‘The Hay Cart’, by J.B.C.Corot,(£315), ‘Mrs Mordant’, by J.Reynolds P.R.A, (£378), and one at £588, by E.van Marke, ‘Cattle in a Meadow’. In the 1913-14 season Cremetti had the winning bid on 18 lots, of which, the five highest priced were, ‘Lady in a Yellow Dress’ by J.Jackson R.A (£388.10s), ‘Lady in Pink Dress’ by F.Cotes R.A (£399), ‘Normandy Pastures’ by E. van Marcke (£462), ‘Twilight’ by H. Harpignies (£714), and ‘L’Immortalite’ by H. Fantin Latour (£1,680). Cremetti picked up four Fantin Latour pictures that season, and also bought two by J.W. Godward on February 13th 1914, ‘Endymion’ (£84) from the Walter Archibald Clark sale, and ‘The Siesta’ (£81.18s) at the Henry Mungall sale.

On the 2nd April 1914, Eugene and Lydia Maud’s son, Pierre (Peter) Eugene Cremetti died at Guildford, Surrey, age 24. In the 1914-15 season at Christie’s , Cremetti was notable by his absence, buying just the one picture, ‘Landscape, with a hay cart on a sandy road’ by J.B.C. Corot. The 1915-16 season saw Cremetti pick up 17 lots at Christie’s, of which, three were by H. Fantin Latour, and the two most expensive, by Sir Laurence Alma Tadema, R.A:- ‘The Favourite Poet’ 1888 (£483), and ‘In a Rose Garden’ 1889 (£672), from the sale of the late Sir Frederick Wigan, December 9th and 10th, 1915.

On the 14th August 1917, Max Arthur Eugene Cremetti died in an aeroplane accident at Hendon Aerodrome, age 24 . At the outset of WW1 he volunteered, starting as a dispatch rider with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and was involved in the retreat of Mons. He was later decorated, gaining the D.C.M at the Battle of the Marne, where he was injured, and was mentioned several times for bravery. When his wounds meant he had to leave the infantry, he joined the Royal Flying Corps, training to be a pilot at Shoreham-by-sea, Sussex . As a 2nd Lieutenant, he gained his flying certificate on the 1st June 1916, in a Maurice Farman Biplane. Returning to action, he was wounded again, while flying over enemy lines in France, after which he was put on aircraft training duties. His funeral was accorded full military honours, with an escort of over 150 men of the R.F.C, also in attendance were leading art dealers, Arthur Tooth, David Croal Thomson, Ernest Lefevre, and Harry Wallis .

2nd Lieutenant M.A.E. Cremetti. R.F.C Trained at Shoreham by sea on a Maurice Farman biplane in 1916

2nd Lieutenant M.A.E. Cremetti. R.F.C
Trained at Shoreham by sea on a Maurice Farman biplane in 1916


In 1918, the youngest son of Eugene and Lydia Maud, Cecil William Eugene Cremetti, married Dorothy Phylis Law. Tragically, Cecil died on the 28th Nov 1919, aged 26. With Harold working in the motor industry, this left Paul as the last of their sons involved in the art dealing business.

In 1923, Eugene Cremetti decided to retire, with William Walker Sampson taking over the gallery at 7 Haymarket, both are listed at this address in the 1923 phone book . There was a sale on 1st June 1923 at Christie’s, ‘of modern pictures and drawings of the British and Continental schools’ , sold owing to Eugene Cremetti, of the McLean Galleries, Haymarket, retiring from business. His son Paul would carry on in the business, but under his own name. There were 188 lots, realising £12,055.11s.6d. W.W.Sampson was reported to have picked up Josef Israel’s, ‘Pancake Day’ for 1,850 guineas, Sir John E Millais’, ‘The Rescue’, and ‘Just Awake’, for 1,400 and 430 guineas, F.Roybet’s, ‘Carrousel’, 430 g, and Fantin Latour’s, ‘Deux Ondine’ and ‘Narcissi in a glass’, 440, and 155 guineas.

On the 12th May 1927, Eugene Cremetti died, leaving £76,173.1s.3d to his son, Paul Eugene Cremetti. Eugene had been a member of the Fine Art Provident Institute, listed among their donors as having donated £228.7s.

Victorian/Edwardian art dealers directory. Part 13

February 4, 2016

John Albert Cooling
The Cooling Galleries

Cooling Galleries 92 Bond street 1931


John Cooling 1832-1905

On 13th March 1853, John Cooling married Elizabeth Hayes at Saint Anne, Soho, Westminster . When their first child, Elizabeth Caroline was baptised on 25th January 1857 , they lived at 4 Castle street, Marylebone, John’s profession given as artist. The registry of their following six children gives baptism date, abode, fathers occupation:- Sarah Amelia 10th Jan 1858, 4 Castle street, artist. John Albert, 24th April 1859, Castle street, restorer of paintings. William Alfred, 31st March 1861, Castle street, restorer of paintings. Thomas Arthur, 12th Oct 1862, Castle street, artist. Esther Gertrude, 21st Oct 1866, Castle street, picture restorer. James Frederick, 13th March 1870, 3 Wardour street, picture cleaner.

John Albert Cooling 1859-1931

John Albert Cooling was born at 4 Castle street East, Marylebone, London, on 11 March 1859. By 1881, living with his parents at 186 Wardour street, London , his father was a picture cleaner, and (John) Albert was an academy art student, his brother Alfred, a gilder, and Arthur, an apprentice gilder. Educated at UCS London, South Kensington School, and the Royal Academy Schools, he was a medalist and exhibitor in 1880, aged 21. He originally worked as a portrait painter.

On the 12th May 1881, John Albert married Alice Ann Hallam (1857-1938), at the Trinity church, Marylebone, London , his profession listed as artist, his father’s, picture dealer. They had their first child, Theodore Albert in 1882, the next, John Herbert, was baptised 7th November 1886 , their address, 1 Doughty street, Surrey, father’s profession, artist and picture dealer. Lilian Alice, baptised 29th July 1887, 1 Doughty street, picture dealer. Sydney Percy, baptised 4th May 1890, 18 Park road, Surrey, art dealer. Winifred Maud, baptised 1st May 1892, 109 Adelaide road, Hampstead, picture dealer.

In 1888, John senior, and John Albert had premises together at 106 Great Russell street, Holborn . John senior and Elizabeth were living at 213 Brecknock road, St Pancras, in 1891 , John’s occupation, picture restorer., that same year, his son John Albert was living with his family at 109 Adelaide road, Hampstead , occupation, dealer in fine arts. In March 1901, John Albert and Alice were living at 109 Adelaide road, Hampstead , John’s profession, fine art dealer, employer. Theodore, aged 19, is a stock brokers clerk.
In the 1907-08 auction season at Christie’s, John Albert Cooling won bids on 51 lots , among them, picking up 7 pictures by E.M. Wimperis, 4 by T.S. Cooper, and 2 by D. Cox, all artists favoured by Sampson, Mitchell, and other members of the ring.
In 1910, John.A. Cooling is listed as a fine art dealer at 47 Fleet street, London.E.C .


In 1911, living at 109 Adelaide road, Hampstead , John and Alice have their five children with them. John is a fine art dealer, as are John Herbert, and Sidney Percy. Theodore Albert is a fancy leather merchant. Lilian and Winifred show no occupation. They have 14 rooms and 2 servants. Adelaide road is in the heartland of London’s successful art dealers, Hampstead.

John A Cooling moving premises sale

John A Cooling moving premises sale

On 14th December 1911, there was an auction at 67 and 68 Cheapside by Messrs Protheroe and Morris , to sell the collection of pictures belonging to John A Cooling, having disposed of his gallery at 31 Cheapside. Among the artists named were, Sir John Gilbert R.A, Frederick Goodall R.A, Sir Alfred East R.A, and T.S.Cooper R.A. In 1912 John A Cooling is listed as ‘John A Cooling, Fine Art Dealer’ at both, 31 Cheapside, and 92 New Bond street .
In the years up to 1916, John Albert Cooling remained a low level buyer, with just 18 lots in 1908-09, building up to 106 lots in 1915-16 , when he picked up 6 by K.Heffner, 3 by J.Varley, as well as single buys of F.W. Topham, D.Cox, and W. van der Nat. Other artists he bought, which were favoured among dealers during this time, were, G.Cattermole, W.L.Leitch, W.L.Wyllie, Bernard Evans, and F.Goodall.

Cooling Galleries

The first record for the Cooling Galleries I have found, was 22nd March 1927 , regarding the artist, Miss Audrey Weber, exhibiting her water colour drawings, and oil paintings. She also had the story run in the London Times . In November 1927, the soon to be famous Cecil Beaton had his artistic photographs exhibited at the Cooling Galleries . From this point on, the Cooling Galleries have their exhibitions reported widely in the press, and notably, in The Times.

John Albert Cooling died on the 26th May 1931, leaving £9,088.2s.5d to Theodore Albert Cooling, Gentleman, and John Herbert Cooling, Art Dealer. John Herbert Cooling was a member of the Fine Art Provident Institute, as quite likely, would John Albert have been.