A non-stop bit of history

June 15. Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown crash-landed their Vickers Vimy biplane in an Irish bog, 16 hours after taking off from Newfoundland. The pair became the first non-stop transatlantic fliers; a seaplane had done the crossing the previous month, but only in a series of short hops.

Alcock and Brown's epic flight almost ended in disaster. At one stage, ice forming on the wings threatened to bring the aircraft down into the Atlantic. The 1,900-mile flight showed that the impossible could be done. In July, it was the turn of the British airship, R-34, powered by Sunbeam engines built in Wolverhampton, to make the first two-way trip over the Atlantic. The first leg, to New York, took a leisurely four days - slightly longer than a fast liner.

January 3. At Manchester University Professor Ernest Rutherford split the atom for the first time. He used alpha particles emitted by radioactive elements to bombard nitrogen atoms. Rutherford proved conclusively that atoms were not the indivisible building blocks of nature that some scientists believed.

June 21. In a final act of defiance, the German Fleet scuttled itself in Scapa Flow rather than hand its ships over to the Royal Navy. The battleships and other vessels had been impounded at Scapa since the end of the war in 1918, to await the outcome of the Versailles peace conference. Outraged at the stern conditions imposed on Germany in the treaty, Admiral Von Reuter gave the order for his ships' crews to open the underwater valves.

July 4. Jack Dempsey beat Jess Willard to take the world heavyweight boxing championship. He forced Willard to retire in three rounds. Dempsey, who died in Manhattan at the age of 87, was said to be one of the three most famous heavyweights of all time.

November 11. At 11am Britain fell silent for the first Armistice Day act of remembrance since the end of the First World War one year earlier. In France the war graves were still a muddy jumble of pathetic white crosses. In Whitehall, a temporary timber Cenotaph had still to be replaced by the permanent structure.

Nancy AstorNovember 28. Viscountess Nancy Astor became Britain's first woman MP, holding her husband's safe seat in Plymouth for the Tories in a by-election. The outspoken Lady Astor promised to become a role model for all women. "I want to make it possible," she declared, "for the humblest woman who may be elected to follow the precedent I set."


In brief

January 2.
Tipton Council, with a population of 24,000, decided to apply for a certificate of incorporation to become a borough. "It cannot conceivably cost more than 500," said the Chairman, Councillor W W Doughty.

March 1.
Willenhall unveiled its plans for a war memorial and garden of remembrance at a cost of 7,000.

June 11.
A 16-day coal-winders' strike in the Black Country was settled "amicably" with the re-instatement of Evan Parker, a winder sacked unfairly at Baggeridge. Five thousands miners had been laid off.

October 3.
Frederick McCulloch, a conman who claimed he had 500,000 in an Irish bank, was jailed for 18 months after Dudley Quarter Sessions heard he had taken an old lady's savings and "debauched her daughter".

November 25.
Wolverhampton Profiteering Committee ordered a 1s 11d refund on a hat after hearing that the hatter had made 100 per cent profit on it.