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The Great War, the suffrage movement and The Titanic hits an iceberg

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1910: "I'm Henery the Eighth I am…"

This famous cockney musical hall song tells the story of a man called Henry who is married to a woman who has had seven husbands called Henry before him. It was re-popularised in 1965 in America by Herman's Hermits when it knocked the Stones' Satisfaction off the number one spot!

Holbein's Henry VIII

1910: Searle's B-type bus mass produced

The B-type was the first bus to be so. By 1913, there were around 2,500 in service.

The Routemaster Bus

1910: Edward VII succeeded by George V

George had not expected to ascend the throne and had not been groomed for it, choosing life as a naval officer instead. His older brother Albert died in 1892 and George became the heir apparent.

1910: Bovril ad at Piccadilly Circus

Bovril and Schweppes become the first two companies to advertise using electrical signs at Piccadilly Circus. These lights quickly become a tourist attraction and their descendents have become ever-more sophisticated.

1910: Post-impressionists in London

This first post-Impressionist exhibition features work by Matisse, Van Gogh and Cezanne - sending a shock through the English art world.

1911: English Folk Dance Society founded

Formed by Cecil Sharp to preserve and promote English folk dances in their traditional forms. The society was responsible for the Morris dancing revival at this time. The Society didn't just focus on Morris dancing but included sword dances, social dance and revived dances from John Playford. The emphasis was on the practical enjoyment of the dances and keeping them alive for new generations. You can join in too - contact the English Folk Dance and Song Society at Cecil Sharp House.

17 Mar 1912: Oates' last words to Scott

As recorded in his diary, Scott reports that Oates said, "I am just going outside and I may be some time," before leaving their tent in Antarctica and walking out into a blizzard never to return. Oates had severe frostbite in his feet and knew he could not go on, but knew that his companions would not leave him behind. Displaying true English courage and understatement, he sacrificed himself so his party could survive. Unfortunately, the remaining three men died in their tent somewhere towards the end of March.

14 Apr 1912: Titanic hits iceberg

The unsinkable RMS Titanic does the unthinkable, hits an iceberg in the Atlantic and goes down like a stone. The scale of the disaster is first reported to a worried crowd from the balcony of the White Star Building in Liverpool. Many of the ship's crew were from Liverpool, where White Star was based. The story of the Titanic has been told in practically every medium.

1913: Sons And Lovers published

DH Lawrence's novel is largely autobiographical, set in the coal mining village of Bestwood in Nottinghamshire. It is perhaps the first English novel with a truly working class background. DH Lawrence went on to write Lady Chatterley's Lover, which was banned for many years as being immoral because of its portrayal of an affair between an aristocrat's wife and the gamekeeper.

1913: Love And Labour by Percy Fletcher

This is the first piece of music written especially for brass bands.

1914: Neptune Studios' first film

Neptune is the first studio to open in the "British Hollywood", Elstree Studios. Hitchcock made the first-ever talkie at Elstree in 1929 and many technical innovations in the world of cinema were invented here. The studios played host to the making of Star Wars as well as EastEnders and Grange Hill.

28 Jun 1914: Sarajevo assassination

Archduke Franz Ferdinand is shot in Sarajevo. Events escalate and Britain is dragged into the first world war.

02 Jul 1914: First issue of Blast

This sets out the Vorticist manifesto and revolutionises graphic design.

04 Aug 1914: Horse-drawn bus makes last journey

The journey was from Peckham Rye to Honor Oak Tavern.

The Routemaster Bus

1915: Antrobus family sells Stonehenge

Cecil Chubb buys it from them for £6,600. The family had owned it since 1824 and were the first to start charging admission.


19 Feb 1915: Attempted landings at Gallipoli

The bungled attempt at invading the Gallipoli peninsula with the aim of knocking Turkey out of the war precipitated a change in Prime Minister (Asquith to Lloyd George).

April 1915: Battle of Ypres

With the Western Front at stalemate, both sides tried the use of poison gas to win an advantage. Horrific suffering by the soldiers but little military gain was the result. See Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce Et Decorum Est

1916: British Summer Time begins

The government introduce this innovation in order to capitalise on the longer days of the summer months. The clocks advance an hour on Greenwich Mean Time for the summer (nowadays on the last Sunday in March) and realign in the autumn. Permanent BST was in force during the Second World War.

1916: Parry's setting of Jerusalem

Parry's tune is the one which we all sing today.


1916: First performance of Pygmalion

This play about cockney Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins, whose voice lessons help her pass as aristocracy, was later made into the musical My Fair Lady (1956).

01 Jul 1916: Battle of the Somme begins

Sixty-thousand British soldiers are killed or wounded on the first day alone. The battle lasts until November 13, with an advance of only 8km being achieved. Tanks were used for the first time but proved little use in the horrifically muddy conditions. The battle became a byword for the futility and horror of the war.

1917: Royal family name change

George V decides to change his family name from the German House of Saxe-Coburg to the more English-sounding House of Windsor.

1917: Holst writes The Planets Suite

The Planets consists of a piece of music inspired by each of the known planets in the solar system at the time (seven). Pluto was added in 2000 by composer Colin Matthews. The two most famous planets are Mars (compare the underscoring for the attack on the Death Star in Star Wars and you'll see what we mean) and Jupiter. The music for the hymn I Vow To Thee My Country is the central melody in that piece.

1917: Jeeves and Wooster first appear

The much-loved tales by PG Wodehouse of the hapless Bertie Wooster and his wily manservant Jeeves became an instant hit and Wodehouse wrote many more stories about them. The characters have inspired a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn (By Jeeves) as well as a television adaptation starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Wodehouse also wrote plays, musicals and humorous articles for Punch.

08 Mar 1917: Russian Revolution begins

The Revolution topples the Tsar and institutes a Communist government. The impact is felt around the world. Russia continues to be an ally of Britain during the first world war.

31 Jul 1917: Battle of Passchendaele

Another horrific set of Allied losses, another small advance. Passchendaele will be remembered for the worst rainfall in 30 years, causing rivers of mud in the trenches. Men and horses drowned in it.

04 Nov 1918: Poet Wilfred Owen dies

Merely a week before the end of the war, this eloquent spokesman for the horror of war is killed in action.

26 Oct 1918: Stonehenge given to nation

Stonehenge is given to the nation by Sir Cecil Chubb.


11 Nov 1918: Armistice signed

End of the first world war

Dec 1918: Women gain the vote!

Women over the age of 30 are allowed to vote in the General Election. One of the Suffragette Movement's rallying songs was Parry's setting of Jerusalem.


1919: Elgar composes his Cello Concerto

Possibly the most famous interpreter of this much-loved piece is Jacqueline du Pre.

1919: The Young Visiters published

Written in 1890 by Daisy Ashford when she was only nine years old, The Young Visitors was published with Daisy's original spelling mistakes and illustrations. It is such an innocent and funny spoof of Victorian society that everyone assumed it was actually the work of JM Barrie (author of Peter Pan) who had written the preface.

1919: Economic Consequences Of The Peace

Influential economist John Maynard Keynes foresees the problems that the economic humiliation of Germany will cause.

05 Jun 1919: Race riots begin in Liverpool

Rioting began in Liverpool between West Indian immigrants and native Liverpudlians with the unrest lasting for several days. Riots also occurred throughout June in Newport, Cardiff and London. The first world war had created a need for workers in England attracting higher numbers of immigrants who had settled in to the communities. Tensions were high as demobbed servicemen were not always pleased to find these changes on their return.