Quake lays 'Frisco waste

April 19: San Francisco was laid waste by a huge earthquake, followed by countless fires. It was a terrible blow to the United States and the Western world. 'Frisco had grown from a small-time port full of carpetbaggers and card dealers to one of the most elegant and cosmopolitan cities in North America.

The scene of the quakeIn the space of a few hours, the San Andreas earthquake fault line put paid to all that. More than 1,000 people perished and thousands more fled for the safety of the countryside, away from the perils of falling masonry. The fire-fighting effort was hampered by broken water mains. Demolition teams were reduced to using dynamite to create gaps and control the fires. Inevitably, the underclass of the former gold-rush town began looting. But martial law was declared, soldiers were drafted in and looters were shot dead in the streets.

December 10. The Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology in Stockholm for his work on the reflexes of dogs. Pavlov's most famous experiments were on what he called conditioned reflexes. Every time he fed his laboratory dogs, he rang a bell. Before long, the dogs began salivating when the bell was rung - even though there was no food in sight. The scientist went further, showing that even when a dog's gullet had been cut, gastric juices were still released into the stomach. From this, Pavlov deduced that conditioned reflexes might play a part in the human process of learning.

December 15. President of the Board of Trade David Lloyd George opened the new Piccadilly Line in London, crossing the West End beneath Piccadilly Circus. The new line was a true "Tube," excavated at far greater depth than the earlier "cut and cover" tunnels.

September 11. The Indian-born lawyer Mohandas Gandhi, aged 37, spoke at a meeting in the Empire Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa, to launch a campaign of peaceful resistance to protest against discrimination against Indians. Gandhi had been decorated for bravery as a British stretcher-bearer during the Boer War. The small, bespectacled and shrewd lawyer was to spend 21 years campaigning for Indian rights in South Africa before returning to India after the First World War.


In brief

January 8.
Walsall Town Council voted to spend a further 13,000 on the electricity supply to guarantee the service through the next winter.

January 20.
A Wolverhampton inquest heard how three-year-old Ethel Cadman of Ettingshall died of burns after bailiffs had seized the family's fire-guard. The coroner said those enforcing debts should not remove fire-guards in future.

July 6.
At Birmingham a melting pot exploded without warning at Messrs Samuel Mason, injuring five men.

July 24.
The Express & Star attacks the "abominable evils" of moneylending between masters and workers in the Black Country lockmaking industry.

August 15.
Inquiry at West Bromwich into the town council's plan to borrow 740 to buy a motor fire engine to replace the "unsatisfactory" horse-drawn vehicle. Mr Tozer, the brigade superintendent said that sometimes the men could not get the horses to start and on occasions the firemen had to get off the appliance to help the horses up hills.