What was life like a century ago, before the shadow of World War One? These 1913 pictures – with captions written in 1933 by renowned journalist H V Morton – give a flavour of the times

H. V. Morton, journalist and pioneering travel writer

H. V. Morton

journalist and pioneering travel writer

Metropolitan moments

hyde park

Kensington Gardens was a happy hunting ground for children in the immediate pre-War period; most nurses wore bonnets of the type seen on the right and sheathed their umbrellas in basket scabbards below the perambulators… smart folk in silk or picture hats took the air. Feather boas were the rage and parasols were excessively long in the handle.

Motoring in the ascendant

royal exchange

Horses were rarities in the great thoroughfares of London at this period. Buses were all motor-driven and cabs were motor taxis – mainly Charrons, Renaults, Unics, Napiers, and Panhards. A one-horse tram still plied the south side of the Thames.

Liners of the day

Empress of Russia

Ship construction was laid on smaller lines before the War, although such liners as Titanic were built before 1914. The general run of first-class ships, however, was rather under than over the 20,000-ton mark and tended to tower above the water-line. Shown here is the Empress of Russia, 16,000 tons and built in 1913. Note: the Empress of Russia saw service in both world wars but was damaged by fire and scrapped in 1945.

Outrage at Epsom

Emily Davison deathEmily Davison

The Derby of 1913 was famous for a startling occurrence. At Tattenham Corner a militant suffragette, by name Emily Davison, hurled herself at Anmer, the King’s horse, ridden by H Jones, and brought it down with the loss of her own life. Less violent means were also taken by suffragettes, who paraded the streets in sandwich-boards with provocative wording on them. Every topic of the day was discussed with special reference to ‘Votes for Women’ by the suffragettes.

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Home Rule in Ireland

home rule

Mr John Redmond, the Irish Nationalist leader in the House of Commons (as pictured in Punch). The Unionist majority in the early years of his leadership – from 1900 to 1906 – and the Liberal majority from 1906 to 1910 had rendered him impotent; but thereafter only the Nationalist vote could save the Asquith government. Redmond was campaigning at this period for Home Rule and stigmatising Ulster’s separation as a “mutilation of Ireland”. His greatest barrier was the House of Lords and its power of veto, which he strove to get removed, if necessary, by royal prerogative. Opposed to him were the Unionists, headed by Bonar Law and, especially in Ulster, Sir Edward Carson.

The man who looped the loop

Monsieur Pégoud

Monsieur Pégoud, the intrepid French aviator, was the first man to perform this daring evolution which, in early days, was called “flying upside down”. He is seen above with Monsieur Blériot at Brooklands, where he demonstrated his feat. Note: in fact Russian army pilot Pyotr Nesterov had beaten Adolphe Pégoud to it by just 12 days.

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