Saturday, 2 February 2013

Freighter Wilson Grimsby in stormy weather

Last Thursday (January31) the wind was quite strong in Øresund. The small cargo ship Wilson Grimsby - on its way from Klaipeda to Liverpool - looked like it was struggling a little:

Greenfinches galore

Below are a few greenfinches, which I observed from my living room this morning. I think they looked rather nice:

The hedges, covered with fresh snow, also looked rather nice on this Saturday morning:

Thursday, 31 January 2013

At the height of the British Empire: The 1911 Imperial Durbar in Delhi

The temporary Royal Yacht Medina in 1911. After the voyage to India, the P & O liner had only two years of ordinary service. It was torpedoed by a German submarine on April 28, 1917. 

A few months after their coronation in London in 1911, King George V and Queen Mary embarked on a journey to India, in order to mark their coronation and allow their proclamation as Emperor and Empress of India

At the time, the British Empire was still at the height of its power. The voyage was consequently planned as a grand international event, projecting an image of British might worldwide. 

In order to make the long journey as comfortable as possible for the Royal couple, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company's brand new ocean liner Medina was temporarily commissioned to the Royal Navy as the Royal Yacht. She was provided with an extra mast, necessary to maintain Royal flag etiquette, and bands of royal blue and gold were added to the white hull. Several large rooms intended for public use were redecorated as Royal apartments. 

A number of adjustments in the beds, suggested by the Queen herself, were made in order to minimize the effects of lurching. 
Medina left Portsmouth for India in November 1911. Another ocean liner carrying a great number of British nobility and other dignitaries left for India at about the same time.

On the way to India, the Royal couple made a stopover in Port Said, where they met a number of local dignitaries on board the Medina. The man sitting on the right side of the Queen is the former Grand Vizier of Turkey, Kiamil Pasha. Lord Kitchener is the man with the sword. King George is next to him, and the man on his left side is prince Zia-ed-Din,  successor to the Turkish throne and Khedive of Egypt.

The Royal couple on their way to the coronation ceremony, which took place in Delhi in December 1911. This was the first time a British Monarch visited India.

The royal tent at the coronation ceremony, which was attended by
more than 100,000 people.

After the coronation ceremony the Royal couple appeared at the balcony of the Red Fort to receive more than half a million common Indians who had come to greet them. The King-Emperor was wearing the Imperial Crown of India, which contained 6170 diamonds in addition to a number of sapphires, emeralds and rubies. 

The Royal couple in Bombay.

The Imperial Durbar was also documented on film:

Even in color:

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Fishing in Finland in the the early 20th century

"At Sea", Oil on canvas by Albert Edelfelt (1883)
Gothenburg Museum of Art

As a result of the development of agriculture, industry and commerce, the importance of fishing declined in Finland in the 19th century. In the beginning of the 20th century the share of full time fishermen and hunters - altogether about 16.000 people - had dropped to only about 0,7% of the total work force.

But even during the following decades fishing still was important in Finland, particularly for the Swedish speaking inhabitants of the south-western coastal area of Finland and the Åland islands.

Baltic herring - a smaller variety of herring - was traditionally the most popular seafood in Finland. Perch, pike, bream, pike-perch and whitefish were also among the favorites. (The catch of Baltic herrings amounted to slightly over 20 million kilos in 1934.)

To eke out a living from fishing was not easy in the often cold and windy waters of the vast Finnish archipelago.

The pictures below are from the 1920s:

Hauling back the net.

The catch was placed on the solid granite rock.

Preparing the catch.

Fishermen's huts on Åland Islands.

An ice fishing camp in the Finnish archipelago.

The net being hauled in.

A good catch of Baltic herring.

This type of  "dams" were used for salmon fishing in the rivers.

The catch of salmons.

Fishing boats at the Market Square in the center of Helsinki. 

At the time of the traditional Baltic Herring Fair - which dates beck to at least 1743 - fishermen from the entire southern and southwestern coastal areas and the Åland islands gather at the Helsinki Markets Square. This drawing by Albert Edelfelt is from the 1890s. The Baltic Herring Fair in early October is still a very popular event in Helsinki.. 

In the 1930s, the rivers of Petsamo, on the shore of the Arctic (at the time still in Finnish hands) became popular among international - particularly British - sport fishers:

Monday, 28 January 2013

An Italian diving apparatus with artificial arms from 1906

In 1906 the Swedish weekly Hvar 8 Dag published this photograph of an interesting diving apparatus, designed by the Italian inventor Giuseppe Restucci

This is how the weekly described the apparatus:
"The arms are artificial, and are operated from the inside by the diver. There is an electric lantern on the helmet.Very heavy objects can be lifted by this new model, which has been officially approved by the Italian Navy." 

On this Dutch website you will find more information on Restucci's diving inventions. 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Grand Hôtel du Cap-Martin - a hotel for the rich and famous on the French Riviera

The Grand Hôtel du Cap-Martin seen from the sea.
(photograph probably from 1906)
Since the mid-19th century the French Riviera (French Côte d'Azur) was the preferred vacation spot for European royals and aristocrats, as well as wealthy entrepreneurs and and financiers. One of the most popular areas, particularly among royals, was Cap Martin, a small town between Menton and Monaco.

Hans Georg Tersling
(image by  wikipedia)

The popularity of the cape also attracted investors, who understood that there was a need to build high class accommodation facilities for the rich and famous. In the late 1880s, a consortium led by the Mr. White of Black&White whisky fame, commissioned the Danish architect Hans Georg Tersling (1857 - 1920) to design a new luxury hotel on a beautiful spot on the cape.

(image by Wikipedia)

The Grand Hôtel du Cap-Martin, which was opened in 1891, became an instant success. The hotel, which the French poet Stephen Liegeard (who invented the name Côte d'Azur) described as "the Leviathan of luxury and comfort" soon received a great number of famous guests; Empress Eugénie ( wife of Napoleon III), Emperor Franz Joseph and his Empress, Elisabeth (also known as Sissi), King Edward VII (when he as Crown Prince) were just a few of them. 

In March 1906 King Oscar II of Sweden and his wife, Queen Sofia enjoyed their stay at the "quiet and cosy" Grand Hôtel du Cap-Martin. 

King Oscar II on a walk in the Grand Hôtel du Cap-Martin garden. The gentleman behind him, on the right, is probably architect Tersling, who served as the Swedish honorary consul in Menton at the time.
Tersling soon became one of the most sought after architects on the Riviera, designing hotels, villas and and mansions for aristocrats and the elite, who resided in the area. Among his most well known designs are e.g. the Hotel Metropole (both in Monte Carlo and Cannes), Empress Eugénie's Villa Cyrnos, the Russian church and the Casino in Menton as well as Alfred Nobel's villa in San Remo

Tersling also served as honorary consul in Menton, both for Denmark and Sweden. 

The outbreak of World War I brought a sudden end to Tersling's career:

His many wealthy clients disappeared and left him with many outstanding receivables. He died in 1920 almost without means.

The Grand Hôtel du Cap-Martin building still stands, but it has been converted to a holiday residence facility. 

An African king in the Caribbean

King Behanzin and his two wives in Martinique. 
The man on this early 20th century photograph is the exiled king of Dahomey, Behanzin, here shown together with his two wives. When the French conquered Dahomey in 1894, Behanzin was sent to exile in Martinique, where the photograph was taken.

When Behanzin felt that his days were numbered, he appealed to the French government to be allowed to return to his former kingdom. The French did not grant him his wish, but he was allowed to travel to Algeria, where he died in 1906.

The kingdom of Dahomey played a major role in the Atlantic slave trade:

The Atlantic slave trade was the primary international trade from the kingdom for much of its history. The slave trade was heavily organized by the king himself and the money provided him with significant funds to purchase guns, iron, and cloth.[10] Although the king did make some money from domestic taxation, most of the funds to the king derived from the slave trade. The Dahomey coast was known in many European accounts at this time as the "Slave Coast" because of the active trade.[5] Dahomey contributed possibly as much as 20% of the total Atlantic slave trade making it one of the largest suppliers to the trade.

Gezo was the king of Dahomey from 1818 to 1858. In 1851-1852 the British instituted a naval blockade on Dahomey in order to prevent the slave trade forcing Gezo to promise to end the slave trade.
(image by wikipedia)
Dahomey remained a French colony until 1960, when it became the Republic of Dahomey, to be changed to Benin in 1975.