16th April 1621. Light Up!
Smoking in the British House of Commons has been banned since 1693: ‘No member do presume to take tobacco in the gallery of the House or at a Committee Table, owing to the noxious atmospheres that the smoke of the unrefined tobacco could produce in an enclosed space’.
Today in 1621 Sir William Stroud a disciple of James I moved that ‘he would have tobacco banished wholly out of the Kingdom’. Sir Grey Palmes also: ‘If to be not banished, it will overthrow 100,000 men in England…hath seen ploughmen take it as they were at plough’.(1)
However the men be they ploughmen or other, as ever, voted with their feet, or nostrils, which included the ladies. In 1912 the novelist Dorothy Leigh Sayers up at Somerville College, Cambridge, asked her clergyman father to send her a box of cigarettes, ‘as there is no objection to smoking, except in Common Room…one better than Girton’. Though it was somewhat ‘advanced’ for a woman to smoke then, her father duly sent the cigarettes.
By World War I cigarettes were included in soldiers’ rations and the padre ‘Woodbine Willie’ acquired his reputation for distributing the ‘smokes’.
For the pipe-smoker of past years, there were many brands: Fryer’s ‘Special Smokynge (sic Mixture’; Robinson & Son’s ‘Terracotta Flake’; Richard Lloyd & Son’s ‘Stirling Castle, Navy Cut’; Ogden’s, ’Redbreast Flake’; from Richmond & Butlers of Liverpool came their ‘Pioneer Brand’, (picture of pioneering type with pipe) all brands available in 1910.
Swan brand matches came in 1883, when Collard and Kendall of Bootle, acquired ‘Swan Wax Matches’ and ‘Swan White Pine Vestas’, from Diamond Matches.
In 1901 the American Diamond Match Company bought a factory in England and sold Captain Webb (named after the famous English Channel swimmer, and Swan Vestas, brands.
These merged with Bryant and May in the 1930s and became Britain’s best selling match with a slogan, ‘The Smokers’ Match’ and then ‘The Original’.
Swan was the preferred brand for pipe-smokers and many a match was struck to light Lambert & Butler’s ‘Log Cabin’, ‘Blue Stock Perique Mixture’ (1905), Cope Brothers ‘Golden Cloud’ and ‘Aromatic Plug’ (1895).(2)
The 1900 Cope’s ‘Bond Union’ showing John Bull (with a Scot and Englishman either side), Gallaher’s ‘Rich Dark Honeydew’, 1910 (Label registered under Trade Mark Act)’, and Hignett’s ‘Pilot Flake’( showing a seaman in a ‘sou‘-wester’, at the wheel ) of 1920.
‘Plug and Twist’, looking like liquorice and often sweetened, tobacco was aimed at the chewing market of miners as smoking tobacco was not allowed underground.
(1) House of Commons Debate Wed. April 16th 1621.
(2) Vestas are mentioned in ‘Silver Blade’ and ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’, Conan Doyle, and also in Buchan’s ‘39 Steps’.
Ref: Pic Ref. Remember When. Robert Opie. 1999 Mitchell Beazley.
Ref: The Social history of Smoking, GL Apperson Ap 1st 2006 (Ebook 18096).