Saturday, 10 November 2012

Harriet Quimby - the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the English Cannel

A photo of Harriet Quimby, published  in the Swedish news magazine Hvar 8 Dag in 1912.
"There is no reason why the aeroplane should not open up a fruitful occupation for women. I see no reason they cannot realize handsome incomes by carrying passengers between adjacent towns, from parcel delivery, taking photographs or conducting schools of flying. Any of these things it is now possible to do."
Harriet Quimby

This stylish aviator, American Harriet Quimby, was the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the English Channel. Her flight did not receive much media attenion at the time. as the sinking of the Titanic, which took place on April 12, 1912 - the day before the flight - filled the newspapers. 

Sadly, Quimby lost her life less than three months later in a flight accident.

This year, on the centenary of the Channel flight, Quimby was inducted into the Long Island Air and Space Hall of Fame

More information on Harriet Quimby here.

The centenary of the Stockholm Olympics 1912

With the spectacular London Olympics fresh in our memory, I thought it might be of interest to take a look what happened at the Summer Olympic games in Stockholm, a hundred years ago.

Wikipedia gives us the basic facts:

The 1912 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the V Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held inStockholmSweden, between 5 May and 27 July 1912. Twenty-eight nations and 2,408 competitors, including 48 women, competed in 102 events in 14 sports. With the exception of tennis (starting on 5 May) and football and shooting (both starting on 29 June), the games were held within a month with an official opening on 6 July. It was the last Olympics to issue solid gold medals and, withJapan's debut, the first time an Asian nation participated. Stockholm was the only bid for the games, and was selected in 1909.

The opening ceremony on 6 July was of course a huge event in Sweden at the time:

A local newspaper reporter described the highlight of the opening ceremony enthusiastically: "Then at last came the maybe most beautiful part of the ceremony - the march of the nations past the Royal stand and around the Stadium. All troups were warmly welcomed  - of course with the Swedes receiving the warmest, and the Finns the next warmest welcome. All over the Stadium people were constantly cheering and waving - to the jaunty Danes, the confident Americans, the numerous Englishmen, the two Japanese, the Chileans, the Australians, the South Africans, and other strangers from far away countries."
The "confident Americans" at the opening ceremony. 
The "jaunty Danes".
In 1912 Finland was still an autonomous Grand Duchy of Imperial Russia, but was allowed to send a team  to the Stockholm olympics.
A Swedish sport writer wrote about the this French "outdoor" tennis player: Mlle Broquedis won the sympathies of the audience because her playing was both skillful and gracious."
The Swedish team - 8 strong policemen - won the gold medal in the rope pulling contest. What a pity that tug of war - or rope pulling - is no more part of the Olympics! Maybe it could be re-introduced?
Neither is long jump from a standing position anymore an Olympic discipline. This picture shows the start  position of the Stockholm gold medal winner, Mr. Tsiclitiras from Greece.
The winner of the high jump competition,  Mr. Richards from the U.S.A. 
The Swedish pole jumper B. Uggla  won a  bronze  medal with this jump (3,8 m). 
The American R.W. Rose won the gold medal in  shot put with  to arms.
The British gold medal team in 400 swimming for ladies. 
The winner of the 100 m free style swim competition, American Duke Kahanamoku was looking cool already 100  yars ago.
The Finn Kolehmainen, who won both the 5000 and 10000 m competitions, became a great hero in his homeland.
These two well dressed gentlemen - King Gustav of Sweden  and  the  Crown  Prince - are on their way to the  prize ceremony. 
This proud Finnish football (soccer) team beat Italy - after 2 x 15 min. extra time - with 3-2. That was probably the first and only time Finland has beaten Italy in football!
Norway's Magda, the winner of the 12 m class in sailing.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Royal Swedish Navy on the eve of World War I

The Swedish Royal Navy's armoured cruiser Fylgia visiting Antwerpen in 1912.

On the eve of World War I, the Royal Swedish Navy appears to have been in a fairly good shape, with a number of modern - or modernized - ships of different types. As Sweden was able to maintain its neutral status, the navy ships were not directly involved in the war. However, the Royal Navy played an important role in protecting Swedish territorial waters during the war.

In March 1912 the Swedish magazine Hvar 8 Dag (Every 8th Day) published an overview of the Royal Navy, written by Captain Erik Hägg. In his article Hägg listed the number and type of ships at the time:
  • 12 First class battleships
  • 1 Armoured cruiser
  • 5 Torpedo cruisers
  • 8 Destroyers (one of them was being built)
  • 31 First class torpedo boats
  • 22 Second class torpedo boats
  • 2 mineships (one of the two was under construction)
  • A number of submarines
(It is interesting to note that Hägg does not give the exact number of submarines!)

In addition the Royal Swedish Navy had a number of older ships, built during the 1860s and the 1870s, which were used solely for local defense purposes. 

Here are some of the pictures Hägg used in his article as examples for the different types of navy ships:

First class battleship Oscar II (in service since 1907). It had a max. speed of 18 knots The number of crew was 340..
The armoured cruiser Fylgia was about the same size as the Oscar II, but because of lighter armour it  was faster, with max. speed of 23 knots.
The torpedo cruiser Class Uggla and the other four torpedo cruisers were built during the years 1897 -  1900. 
First class torpedo boat Castor. 
The Hvalen was the only submarine not built in Sweden. It was designed and built by Fiat San Giorgio in Spezia. The submarine, which had a crew of 17, reached a speed of 8 knots while under water.  
Second class submarine. 
A model of the destroyer Vale.
Torpedo excercise 

Chemical tanker MCT Almak in Øresund

This morning the Liberia registered chemical tanker MCT Almak (149 x 24m) was on its way from Stenungsund to Baltysk:


I added this picture of the Russian cargo ship Ivan Ryabov (130 x 17m), which early this afternoon passed by in the Sound on its way from Arkhangelsk to Kaliningrad:

Views from my balcony (2): The coastline of Zealand

From where I live the distance to the Danish side of Øresund is only about 4,5 km. The picture below shows a part of the Zealand (Sjælland in Danish) coastline today at about 9 AM.

The large building in the middle is the hotel and conference center Marienlyst.

The Moscow Kremlin in the 1880s

The exterior of the Moscow Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has not changed very much since the 1880s:

The Moscow Kremlin in the 1880s
A contemporary view of the Kremlin (Wikipedia)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Drott - a command ship and Royal yacht in Sweden in the late 19th century

Drott (53,4 x 8,1m), King Oscar II's favorite ship

Oscar II (1829 - 1907), King of Sweden from 1872 until his death in 1905, entered the Royal Swedish Navy already at the age of eleven, and was appointed junior lieutenant in 1845. Throughout his life King Oscar retained his love for the sea and the navy, his favored military branch. 

Oscar, who also was a distinguished writer and musical amateur, showed his love for the navy even in his poetry; a collection of his lyrical and narrative poems, Memorials of the Swedish Fleet, published anonymously, obtained the second prize of the Swedish Academy in 1858.

As a young navy officer Oscar had the command of this "Cannon dinghy" (1845). 
During his years as King of Sweden Oscar II's favorite ship was the former navy mine cruiser Ran (built in 1877), which in 1883 was converted into a command ship and royal yacht, renamed Drott

 Drott in Marstrand on the southwestern coast of Sweden.. (drawing)
A photograph of Drott anchored in Marstrand, from the late 1890s.
In 1905 Drott had white paint and one funnel less.
Drott became a well-known sight during King Oscar's annual summer visits to the Swedish west coast. In his book Från Slott till Koja (From Castle to Hut), the American ambassador to Sweden, W.W. Thomas Jr, describes the enthusiasm of the local people of Lysekil - particularly the ladies - who came to see the arrival of King Oscar on board Drott in 1887:

"And the ladies, how they stared at His Majesty! They looked like they would have wanted to swallow him up with their gazes. When we arrived in the old town, there stood a strong and wide madam, with beautiful features. I will never forget how her countenance glowed and shone, her nostrils widened, her eyes flashed, and her bosom rose, as she from the folds of her headscarf, firmly fixed her eyes on the king." 

King Oscar posing for the photographer on board the Drott  in  Lysekil.
The King, surrounded by officers of the Royal Swedish Navy.
A drawing showing the Drott and the flotilla of small sailing yachts which came to welcome King Oscar in Lysekil in 1887. U.S. Ambassador W.W. Thomas Jr. had been invited to act as the "admiral" of the lead boat of the greeting flotilla.
Also king Oscar's successor Gustaf V used the Drott for visits. This photograph was taken in 1909.

During the WW I years the Drott was not properly taken care of. In 1923 it was decommissioned and sold to a Danish firm in order to be scrapped. A sad fate for a beautiful ship.

Sir Walter Scott's stunning Abbotsford in the late 19th century

Sir Walter Scott's stunning home Abbotsford in the 1880s.

This is AbbotsfordSir Walter Scott's stunning home, photographed in the 1880s. The romantic castle, designed by the first English-language author to have a truly international career, is since 2007 in the care of The Abbotsford Trusta charity created to safeguard the future of the estate and the legacy of Sir Walter Scott. 

This is how the trust defines its task and the house it safeguarding:

 The trust is determined to restore the house and redevelop the estate in order to make it self-sustaining. It is the objective of the trustees to ensure that Abbotsford becomes the centre of a renaissance of Scott’s works, but in a way that a modern audience will appreciate.

Perhaps nowhere else in the world can evoke the power of the romantic past more than Abbotsford, stunningly located on the banks of the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders. Abbotsford sits at the heart of the landscape that inspired the poetry and novels of its creator, Sir Walter Scott. Unlike the homes of other great writers, this is a house that the writer himself designed and as such uniquely embodies a physical representation of the Romantic Movement that he helped to create. When you touch the bricks and mortar of Abbotsford, you are touching the soul of Scott.
The house contains an impressive collection of historic relics, weapons and armour, including Rob Roy’s gun, dirk and sword, and an extensive library containing over 9,000 rare volumes. It sits amid formal gardens and a wider landscape that Scott designed and planted.

Here you can read more about The Abbotsford Trust. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Nissan´s futuristic car carrier City of St. Petersburg in Øresund

The MV City of St. Petersburg is Nissan´s futuristic looking roll-on/roll-off car carrier. The semi-spherical prow is said to to save 800 tons of fuel annually. There is room for 2000 vehicles on the 140m x 22m ship, which early this afternoon was on its way northwards in the Sound.

Views from my balcony (1): Trees in the Kulla Gunnarstorp nature reserve

This is how the trees in the southern corner of the Kulla Gunnarstorp Nature Reserve looked like this afternoon. These photos are the first in a series, which I have chosen to call  "Views from my balcony". More  will hopefully follow in the next few days and weeks ...

Oaks and pines are common in the Kulla Gunnarstorp Nature Reserve

The trunks of the pine-trees are particularly beautiful

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Höganäs church - a functionalist masterpiece by Ivar Tengbom

The Church of the Ascension in Höganäs

Of all the buildings in Höganäs, a coastal town in southwestern Sweden, the church from 1934 is easily the most impressive. It was designed by the architect Ivar Tengbom (1878 - 1968), one of the best known representatives of the neo-classical - and later also functionalist - style in Sweden.

Internationally Tengbom is perhaps most well-known as the architect of the Stockholm Concert Hall (1923 - 1926), the home of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and the venue for the annual Nobel Prize ceremony. 

The Stockholm Concert Hall 
(picture by wikipedia)

Monday, 5 November 2012

Marshal Gustaf Mannerheim's ethnographic photographs

"Dancing Kalmucks"
During and after Finland's struggle for independence Marshal Gustaf Mannerheim - the greatest Finn of all times - was Commander-in-Chief in in three wars and twice Head of State. During the heroic 105 days of the Winter War (1939-1940), when Finland fought alone against Stalin's Red Army, Mannerheim was hailed as a champion of liberty throughout the western world.

Before joining Finland's fight for independence Mannerheim was a succesful General in the Russian army (until 1917 Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian empire). The fact that he was an able sportsman and and wellknown for his excellent horsemanship must have been one of the reasons why he was chosen for the formidable task of undertaking a reconnaisance mission on horseback through Asia.

Mannerheim began his two year long expedition at Kashgar in Turkmenistan in October 1906. Accompanied by only a handful of men, he rode through areas belonging almost entirely to China. The purpose of the exhibition was to investigate the vast, mostly uninhabited mountain and desert regions, which were of strategic interest for Russia. Mannerheim's expedition also served scientific, particularly ethnographic, objectives.

"The way in which Mannerheim studied the customs, languages, ethnic traits and regional archelogy of the tribes that he encountered, collected objects and took photographs showed considerable scientific talent and ambition. The collection of objects wen to the Finno-Ugrian Society (Suomalais-ugrilainen Seura), which later published Mannerheim's detailed journal and helped him in the preparation of a description of his travels intended for the general public."

Read professor Matti Klinge's article on Mannerheim here

A map of Mannerheim's route from Samarkand to Peking
During the expedition Mannerheim took a great number of pictures, many of which show ordinary people in the remote areas he visited. Some of the (at least for me) most fascinating photos show natives dressed in clothes with very long sleeves. I have no idea about the reason for the extended sleeves - could it be that they make it easier to keep warm in a cold climate? 

(The photos are from the book "Fra Samarkand til Peking Paa Hesteryg", published in Copenhagen in 1940)