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 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"
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.
Walsall Town Council voted to spend a further 13,000 on
the electricity supply to guarantee the service through
the next winter.
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.
At Birmingham a melting pot exploded without warning at
Messrs Samuel Mason, injuring five men.
The Express & Star attacks the "abominable evils" of moneylending
between masters and workers in the Black Country lockmaking
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.