On this day in history….14th October 1878

On this day in history : 14th October 1878 – The World’s first football match to take place under floodlights is played at Bramwall Lane in Sheffield….

Electricity was still in its infancy at the time, Edison hadn’t even patented the electric lightbulb yet…. A football match played in artificial light would have been a huge novelty – so much so 12,000 people paid sixpence each to watch…. In reality the crowd was probably double that size as many sneaked into the grounds under the cover of darkness….img_4235

Positioned behind each goal was a ‘portable engine’ powering four lights, which were mounted on plinths situated around the pitch and giving each a height of 30 foot…. The lights put out a power equating to 8,000 candles – the whole experiment was reported as being a resounding success….

The exhibition match between the ‘Blues’ and the ‘Reds’ may have given the crowd unconventional entertainment in comparison to a normal football match – as the brilliance of the lights dazzled the players causing them to make some extraordinary blunders…. The final score : Blues 2 – Reds 0….

Nine day after the match at Sheffield, Glasgow’s Cathrin Park hosted the first floodlit match in Scotland…. Three days later Aston Lower Grounds (to become Villa Park) saw the Midland’s first game under floodlights – when Birmingham XI played Nottingham Forest…. London’s first lit match was played at the Oval between Clapham Rovers and Wanderers in early November 1878….

A floodlit Oval in November 1878 – From the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 16th Nov 1878

On this day in history….13th October 1884

On this day in history : 13th October 1884 – Greenwich is chosen as the universal time meridian of longitude – upon which standard times throughout the world are calculated….

Greenwich Clock with standard measurements – image credit : Alvesgaspar CC BY-SA 3.0

A geographical meridian is the dividing line of an imaginary circle on the Earth’s surface encompassing the North and South Poles, connected by points of equal longitude…. The meridian is the North to South line and is selected as the zero reference line to make observations of an astronomical nature, enabling the ability to produce an accurate map of the sky by comparing observations from the same meridian…. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is the place where East meets West at Longitude 0 degrees…. Just as the Equator divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the Greenwich line divides East to West and from it every place on Earth is measured in distance either to the east or west of the line….


In 1884 the Greenwich line became the reference for mean time…. Before this nearly all the towns and cities of the world kept their own local times….there was no ‘international’ common ground – or even for that matter ‘national’ – as to when the day should officially begin and end…. In fact, it was so unregulated even the humble hour had no determined accepted length….greenwich mean time

So, why Greenwich? There were two main reasons why it was chosen…. Firstly the USA was already using Greenwich for its own national time zone system…. Secondly, during the late 1800s over 70% of the world’s commerce used sea charts that were based on the Greenwich Meridian…. To most, it made sense – as it benefitted the majority of organisations and people…. Obviously it is impossible to please everybody….

41 delegates from 25 nations met in Washington DC for the ‘International Meridian Conference’ to decide the matter…. When put to the vote Greenwich won 22-1 against…. There were two abstentions – France and Brazil….

Royal Observatory, Greenwich – Image credit : Timitrius via Flickr

On this day in history….12th October 1823

On this day in history : 12th October 1823 – The Macintosh raincoat goes on sale for the first time – its inventor, Charles Macintosh….

Charles Macintosh – John Graham Gilbert, public domain

Glaswegian Charles Macintosh was first employed as a clerk but enjoyed experimenting with science in his spare time, especially chemistry…. Before reaching the age of 20 he had given up his regular employment to concentrate on the manufacture of chemicals….

It was his experiments with naphtha, a by-product of tar, that led to his invention of a waterproof fabric…. By cementing two pieces of cotton together with natural rubber a fabric was produced resistant to water but still flexible enough to be suitable for clothing…. With its ability to protect against wind and rain it was an ideal material with which to make coats….

A gentleman’s Macintosh from an 1893 catalogue – Public domain

Macintosh patented the process in 1823…. Early Macintoshes had a tendency to melt in hot weather and were a tad on the smelly side….but over time the design improved…. At some point a ‘K’ was added to the name, giving us the ‘Mackintosh’ – but frequently it is known as the ‘Mac’….

Bonded cotton is still used but is now produced in Japan…. It is then shipped to the Mackintosh factory in Cumbernauld, Scotland…. Techniques used today are little changed since the Mac’s debut nearly 200 years ago…. True classic British style….

Image courtesy : Andrew Dunn http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/ CC BY-SA 3.0

On this day in history….11th October 1919

On this day in history : 11th October 1919 – Handley Page Transport, an airline founded in 1919, serves the first ever in-flight meals on its route between London and Paris….

Food being delivered to an American Airlines Boeing 767 – Renata3 CC BY-SA 3.0

The pre-packed lunch boxes, offering a selection of sandwiches and fruit, cost 3 shillings (15p in today’s money)….

United Airlines installed the first on-board kitchens to provide hot meals in 1936…. Other airlines soon followed….

The 1950s brought ‘silver service’ in the air; in 1969 Concorde’s arrival brought with it high quality cuisine….caviar, black truffles, lobster, champagne….

1960s – British Airways – James Vaughan via Flickr

Budget airlines began to appear in the 1970s with the emphasis on cheap travel rather than fancy food….

Lufthansa in-flight meal, 2017 – Rcsprinter123 CC BY-SA 3.0

On this day in history….10th October 1903

On this day in history : 10th October 1903 – Emmeline Pankhurst forms the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – to fight for women’s emancipation in Britain….

Emmeline Pankhurst c.1913 – Photo credit: Matzene, Chicago. Restored by Adam Cuerden – Public domain

The WSPU was founded at 62, Nelson Street, Manchester – the home of the Pankhurst family…. Emmeline, her husband Richard and their daughters Christabel and Sylvia had all previously been active members of the Independent Labour Party, which was founded in 1893 by Keir Hardie, who was a family friend…. (Hardie went on to form the Labour Party)….

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62, Nelson Street, where the WSPU was formed – Photo credit: Kurt Adkins (WebHamster) CC BY-SA 3.0

Many women had put their faith in the ILP – believing it to be the party to fight for their cause…. However, Emmeline became disillusioned with the party – finding its commitment and support of female suffrage half-hearted….a lot of talk and promises but nothing was happening…. She invited a group of women members of the ILP to her home and together they formed the WSPU…. Their motto ~ “Deeds, not words”….

For further reading – A stitch in time….