December 17: Unquestionably the most significant event
of 1903, though few realised it at the time, happened on a windy
sand dune in North Carolina and was witnessed by only a handful
of people. Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, bicycle makers
by trade, had been toying with model aircraft and gliders since
They were not alone. Throughout the 19th century, engineers and
dreamers had been experimenting with everything from balloons
to steam engines in many misguided attempts to crack the secret
of powered flight.
The Wright Brothers developed a light but powerful petrol engine
driving two propellors and bolted it to a primitive pair of wings.
Orville lay face down on the optimistically named Flier I and
Orville ran alongside, steadying the wings as it picked up speed
on the launch rails.
Quite suddenly, Flyer 1 took to the air and stayed aloft for
12 seconds. Was it a fluke? The brothers tried again, and again.
By the end of the day, Flyer I had made one flight of 59 seconds
and covered more than 850 feet. It was a turning point in history.
Mankind had acquired wings.
The brothers believed that powered flight would make wars impossible.
Forty-two years later another American flying machine, the Superfortress
Enola Gay, would drop the world's first atom bomb on Hiroshima.
May 29. Comedian Bob Hope born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham.
Like so many young Britons of the age, Hope found fame and fortune
in America. Teamed with Bing Crosby, notably in the great "Road"
series of movies, he became one of the world's best-loved comics.
December 10: Madame Curie and her husband, Pierre, received
the Nobel Prize for physics, following their epoch-making exploration
of radiation. Marie Curie became the first woman ever to win a
Nobel Prize. Her discovery of elements which were far more radioactive
than anything previously known paved the way for X-rays and anti-cancer
Stafford Rural District Council approved plans to extend
the electricity supply into parts of the parishes of Seighford,
Castle Church, Tillington, Hopton, Coton and Berkswich.
At the end of one of its worst seasons, the Albrighton Hunt
lost "one of the very best bitches" when the hounds ran
across the railway line into the path of the Stafford to
Wolverhampton express at Calf Heath.
At Willenhall, a ladies' committee of the National Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was formed. The
first meeting heard that 76 per cent of cases brought by
the society were reported by the public.
Sir John French, one of the greatest generals of the age,
opened the new drill hall at Carter's Green and received
the Freedom of West Bromwich.
The medical officer for Short Heath reported the town's
worst death rate for 30 years, due partly to "a virulent
type of measles."