Suffragettes cause a storm

February 14. The suffragettes, women campaigning for female voting rights, were staging increasingly violent protests. A record number of 57 were sent to prison in London after fighting with police. After a struggle lasting five hours in the streets around Westminster the previous day, 15 suffragettes reached the House of Commons where they, too, were arrested.

Emmeline PankhurstAs the suffragettes stepped up their campaign by chaining themselves to railings and even setting fire to churches, they suffered violent repression. In Holloway prison, some went on hunger strike and endured the agonising indignity of force-feeding rather than surrender.

December 10. Rudyard Kipling became the first British writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Kipling is best known for his poetry about the British in India - including the legendary Gunga Din - although he only spent a few years in the sub-continent. Often accused of peddling a jingoistic, over-rosy view of the Empire, Kipling became markedly more subdued after the death of his son in the First World War

July 29. Major-General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, hero of the defence of Mafeking in the Boer War, organised a boys' camp on Brownsea Island, near Poole. The experimental camp involved 20 youngsters from a variety of backgrounds in learning woodcraft, tracking, firemaking, first aid and life saving. Baden-Powell was inspired by army scouts he encountered in Africa, India and Afghanistan to found the Boy Scout movement.

October 11. The golden age of the liners was dawning and the Lusitania set the standard by crossing the Atlantic in a record-breaking four days and 20 hours. The huge Cunard ship covered 617 miles in a single day, 17 miles better than her nearest rival, Germany's sleek Deutschland. Few of those lining the quayside in New York to welcome the great liner could have guessed that a few years later, in May 1915, Lusitania would be sunk by a German submarine off Ireland, an act which helped persuade the United States to enter the First World War on the side of the British.

August 2. In an age when smoking was regarded as sociable and rather dashing, a GP, Dr Herbert Tidswell, told the British Medical Association that the habit was poisoning the nation's children. He wanted all children to sign a pledge swearing never to touch the wicked weed. But Dr Tidswell was a voice in the wilderness. While he warned that tobacco could cause cancers of the lip and tongue, the general medical view was that no convincing case had been established.


In brief

January 3.
Industries throughout the Black Country predicted a prosperous year ahead. At the Sunbeam Motor works, a spokesman reported that they were working double shifts, night and day, to keep up with demand.

February 8.
An inquest in Wolverhampton suggested that railway companies should ban the wearing of steel-shod boots after hearing how railwayman Albert James Leary (25) of Heath Town, was decapitated by a bridge after he slipped on the engine's footplate.

April 15.
West Bromwich reported an infantile death rate "not yet of a satisfactory character" with 347 children under the age of one having perished in the previous 12 months. Many of the cases, involving babies left unattended in prams, showed "a want of care among the mothers".

May 31.
At Wolverhampton a verdict of "suicide during temporary insanity" was recorded on 65-year-old Albert Middlebrooke of Portland Street who drowned himself in the canal because he was too old to work, and it "fairly broke his heart".

June 28.
Health authorities in Wednesbury reported that 85 people in the town were licensed to sell milk.