15th November 1959. The Man Who Made Clouds.

Physicist and Meteorologist, Charles Thomson Rees Wilson who died Today in 1959 was the man who made clouds inspired by his observation of cloud formation on Ben Nevis. He was the only Scottish born physicist to win the Nobel Prize, in 1927, for physics.(1)

Scanned at the American Institute of Physics, Emilio Segre Visual Archives.

Wilson started by attempting to recreate clouds working in the Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory, but his inventions and experiments led to massive strides in Particle Physics.

Working there he found that if one saturated air with water vapour in a sealed container and suddenly expanded the volume in which it was contained, it resulted in clouds.

Wilson found that dust particles are required to trigger the process of the formation of water droplets and firing X-rays through the dust speeds-up the process and so proved water droplets can be formed by charged subatomic particles travelling through supersaturated air.

Eventually his work led to the search and discovery of the Higg’s Boson at the large Hadron Collider, which constituted the latest stage in the hunt for the answer to Fundamental Particles. It was also used for decades studying cosmic rays, radioactivity, X-rays and the development of nuclear weapons.

In the late 19th century little was known about Protons, Neutrons and Electrons, with which we are now familiar, but notions concerning the obscure particles, Photons, Neutrinos, Muons and Quarks, were for the future. 

Cloud Chamber.

Dr Alexander Mackinnon, honorary fellow, physicist and astronomer of Glasgow University said; ‘Wilson’s Cloud Chamber developed over 20 years [in the early 20th century], made things visible whose properties had only previously been deduced indirectly’.

First anti-matter particle.

Physicist Alan Walker of Edinburgh University commented; ‘Wilson made possible pioneering work for looking at Particle Tracks, which must have been something to have gone from, being just interested in clouds, to end up to inventing something which was the birth of Particle Physics’.

Wilson’s Chamber was superseded by the Bubble Chamber in the 1950.s and later technologies, but it was using the Cloud Chamber which coincided with massive strides in particle physics.

(1) Wilson was born 6th Feb.1859.

Ref: bbc.co.uk. Steven Brocklehurst.7.12.2012/Pics.

Ref: nndb.com/Pic.




14th November 1665. Gazetted.

Charles II and his  Court fled to Oxford in 1665 to escape the worst plague since 1348; a time when the King even felt uneasy touching the London Intelligencer or the News. The result was the publishing of the Oxford Gazette Today 14th November.(1)

London Gazette 3-10 September 1666 recording Fire of London.

In the 17th century ‘reckless’ publishing of articles in pamphlets was said to endanger the national security and inevitably produced a climate where printing of any news, not pertaining to events abroad , national disasters and Royal declarations was prohibited, and this ban also included the sensational descriptions of crime.

The introduction of censorship in 1663 and the licensing of news didn’t exactly encourage a free press which didn’t bode well for the development of a balanced English Press in those early days. 

After the plague subsided (which killed c15% of the London population), when the King returned to the capital, the Oxford became The London Gazette, which proved so authoritative that when The Times newspaper stopped the presses to include the news of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, it reproduced the dispatch issue of the Gazette Extraordinary 17028.

In 1889 the London Gazette now joined by the Edinburgh and Dublin was published by HMSO and still appears twice weekly as the official organ of government and for military news-promotions and awards-thus the word: Gazetted.

(1) The name could have derived from the Venetian Gazette of about 1620 and whose fee for hearing it read was one gazetta, a coin of about a farthing in value.



13th November 1941. Ark Royals.

It was Today in 1941 that the 3rd Ark Royal aircraft carrier was torpedoed while returning from Malta.(1)

3rd Ark Royal with 3 Group Swordfish 820 Naval Air Squadron.

She had fallen victim to an Italian U-boat-81 and was one of the ten carriers to be lost in WWII. This third Ark Royal built in 1937 at Birkenhead, had cost £3million and the ship was preparing for a final run to Gibraltar when it was hit, listing, and sinking next day only 25 miles from safety.

The first Ark Royal, or originally Ark Raleigh, built for Raleigh’s privateers before being presented to Queen Elizabeth, was one of the finest new ships of her reign. It was a four-masted galleon which during the Armada was the flagship of Lord Howard of Effingham. Later it was renamed Anne Royal after the queen of James 1 (VI). It was broken up in 1636.(2)

Ark Raleigh.

The second Ark Royal was a merchant ship converted to a sea-plane carrier and served in the Dardanelles and WWI.

The 3rd carrier Ark Royal [in the headline] had survived submarine and air attacks, before joining Force K in early 1940 searching for German commerce raiders in the South Atlantic.

The ship and her planes played an active role throughout the Norway Campaign. She was responsible for helping to sink the Bismarck in May 1941 which Churchill had made his top priority.

The commissioning took place in 1955 (launched in 1950), of the fourth Ark Royal, the last fixed-wing conventional carrier, being the largest ever built at 36,800 tons. Building had started in the War and was originally to be called Irresistible.

4th Ark Royal at Spithead for Silver Jubilee. The Audacious Class Ark Royal was sister ship to the Eagle (originally Audacious) hence the name of the Class. Ark Royal left Plymouth on her final commission to the USA and Caribbean in 1978, being decommissioned in December and broken up in 1980.

The 20,000 ton and fifth. ‘Invincible Class’ Ark Royal (originally to be named Indomitable), was launched in 1981 and decommissioned in November 2010.

In 2005 the 3rd and ill-fated, Ark Royal was located underwater in the Mediterranean Sea.

In July 2007 it was announced that two giant carriers would be built of 65,000 tons and optimistically set to come into commission by 2014 and 2016. They are to carry 40 of the advanced F35 joint strike fighters or 25 Chinook helicopters. To be named the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, they were built in sections at Portsmouth, Rosyth, Barrow and on the Clyde.

(1) Built by Cammell Laird. Launched on 13.4.1937.

(2) Anne of Denmark.

Ref: shipspotters.com/Pic.

Ref: alamy.com.


Ref: wikipedia.org/Pic.

12th November 1947. Who’d be a Chancellor?

Budgets over the years have been less than disaster proof as shown Today in 1947 when Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton, whilst walking to present his budget spoke to Star Newspaper reporter John Carvel.

It resulted in an off-the-cuff remark on taxation, thinking Carvel was going to the Press Gallery, in fact he telephoned his office for the 3.45pm edition. It resulted in Dalton’s resignation.(1)

However most of the dangers comes from the nature of the budget itself with a Chancellor’s future depending on whether it is a give-away or ‘tight’ budget, depending on the state of the economy.

Inter-war monetary stability meant balanced budgets this being the case in 1925 when Churchill, as Chancellor, was persuaded to return to the international Gold Standard at pre-war parity, and financial orthodoxy.

Churchill’s response after accepting official advice: ‘I would rather see finance less proud and industry more correct’: However the exchange-rate proved to be at a too high a rate, thus exports came under pressure. (2)

The 1925 budget fixed the rate vis-a vis the dollar at $4.80 to the pound in the grand notion of restoring Britain’s position at the centre of world finance. However as the slump worsened, the policy became discredited, with economist, John Maynard Keynes calling it the ‘Golden Cage’ impeding industry.

Hugh Dalton.

Unemployment in reducing demand has a ‘multiplier effect’ causing a downward spiral of depression and deflation which was set to last until we were forced off the Gold standard in 1931

Post War War II we were all Keynesians with the emphasis on inflation and devaluation of the pound in 1949 and 1967 to help exports with Hire Purchase (HP) and credit or ‘tick’ fuelling a growing prosperity as new technologies increased supply of goods. Thus grew up the philosophy of ‘have now pay later’.

However unrestricted borrowing can bring disaster as happened in the new millennium when  we were on a roller-coaster of debt, difficult to get off, until too late by 2008, after 11 years of Labour rule, most of the time being when ‘prudence’ Gordon Brown, was Chancellor.

Dalton in 1947 was unfortunate as the Commons was sitting in the Lords, after being bombed, and he was forced to crossed the Press Lobby. The austere Stafford Cripps replaced him.

(1) J.H. Thomas had to resign from the Cabinet when a Tribunal found he had leaked Budget details in 1936.

(2) Private memo to Treasury 1925.

Ref: B. Hollowood Punch. No 6545. vol. 250 Feb 16th 1966.

Ref: gold.org.

Ref: guardian.com/Pic.

11th November 1857. The Sarah Sands.

The steamship Sarah Sands named after the Mayor of Liverpool could never have known when it set off with relief soldiers to quell the Indian Mutiny that its name would go down in the annals of history as synonymous with disciplined action in the face of adversity.

The ship was then at the cutting edge of maritime technology being the second screw-propeller driven steamship after the famous Great Eastern. It had previously been used to transport emigrants to America and Australia.

Built as a sailing ship, but with two coal-powered engines she had been chartered by the Royal Navy in 1857 to transport troops to India.

Dickinsons; Fire Aboard the ‘Sarah Sands’, 11 November 1857; The Keep Military Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/fire-aboard-the-sarah-sands-11-november-1857-59793

On board were Royal Naval officers and sailors and 700 soldiers of the 54th Regiment (later Devon and Dorsets), under Lt. Colonel Boland Moffat, along with wives and children as well as the Colonel’s family.

However from the start there was so much trouble with the unreliable crew that as they were sailing via South Africa many were arrested and put in irons and replaced.

By now in the Indian Ocean, 800 miles from the nearest land, on November 11th, a fire broke out in the hold and the ship’s crew soon abandoned ship in the lifeboats.

The soldiers jettisoned barrels of ammunition from the magazine very near the blaze and made sure that women and children were in the lifeboats. However, unfortunately for his reputation, Boland Moffat keen to make sure his family were safe in a lifeboat somehow became detached from the ship.

The soldiers after doing all they could and in the lifeboats realised their Regimental Colour was still on board and on returning to retrieve it managed to quell the fire.

The decision was made to get to Mauritious 800 miles away, arriving to great acclaim on the 23rd, before eventually setting sail on The Clarendon for Calcutta.

When news reached London Queen Victoria commanded a Special Order be read to all regiments.

The burning of the Sarah Sands was an example military discipline and gallantry in contrast to the ship’s crew, (apart from Captain Castles who stuck to his post), which according to Rudyard Kipling writing later, didn’t acquit themselves very well.


keepmilitarymuseum.org. Dorchester Museum.


bbc.co.uk article on Sarah Sands.

10th November 1847. Fastnet.

One result of the Stephen Whitney, passenger ship disaster Today, in thick fog, off the southern coast of Ireland was the building of the Fastnet lighthouse. (1)

Shipping Zones.

The rock was the last part of Ireland that 19th century emigrants saw as they set sail for America and is a small clay-slate islet with quartz veins, rising 98ft above low-water. In modern times it is the mid-point of the classic off-shore yacht race from Cowes, Isle of Wight.(2)

The construction of the lighthouse began in 1853, showing its first light on 1st January a year later, replacing an earlier construction of 1818 on Cape Clear island.

Fastnet Lighthouse.

This was in its turn replaced by another structure in 1897. Designed by William Douglass it was commissioned by the Keeper of Irish Lights as the previous light was considered not powerful enough, with stone replacing cast-iron and brick.

Most now fondly recall Fastnet as part of the Radio 4 litany of the Shipping Forecast where Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea come in the middle of the 32 Shipping Areas.

(1) 92 died on the American ship  out of 110 on board.

Ireland was then part of the United kingdom.

(2) In 1979 fifteen yachtsmen died as a result of a violent storm.


9th November 1910. Tonypandy Riots.

As a result of the conflict in 1910 between miners and owners in the Welsh Rhonnda Valley, the mines were flooded and Churchill as Home Secretary sent five-hundred London policemen as well as the military to deal with the riots.

Serious trouble in the 10-month strike started in early November and by the 8th a serious riot took place and police protected pits after miners had demanded a minimum wage and special pay for ‘abnormal work’.

Strikers impassioned by hand-to-hand fighting with the Glamorgan Constabulary reinforced by the Bristol City force smashed windows in Tonypandy.

In the riots a miner was killed and sixty shops looted forcing Churchill to send troops including the Somerset Light Infantry under General Macready after a demand from the local authority, but in fact not deployed. The Riot Act was read and firing took place, two men were killed.

Police blocking the roads.

The Daily Express on 9th November was to report: ‘Nothing was ever more contemptible in childish and vicious folly than Mr. Churchill’s message to the miners’. The Conservative Press, which was anti-Churchill, as he had become a Liberal, also demanded more action.

They accused him of shilly-shally in withholding troops for a week, but Keir Hardie, the first socialist MP elected to Parliament in 1892, also attacked Churchill for, ‘letting loose troops upon the people’.

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

The Rhonnda Riots resulted from the uncompromising stance of the Cambrian Combine, the Cartel of mining companies formed to regulate prices and wages in south Wales..

One of the problems miners were experiencing was the difficulty working a new seam which had a band of stone running through it, exacerbated by the fact that the miners were paid on output.

Industrial disputes cast long shadows and In 1940 Labour Leader, Clement Attlee said he might not support Churchill, as Cabinet leader, after Chamberlain’s departure, due to his action in 1910.

Also throughout the war Churchill was booed in the south wales valleys when he was shown on the cinema newsreels and as late as 2010 a local Rhonnda council objected to a street being named after the war hero.