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‘No gallopping in publick streetes’

The way we travel has dramatically changed over the last two centuries with the rise of the railway, the automobile and our pursuit of flight. These transformations to our society are reflected in some fascinating stories revealed by documents in Hampshire Record Office.


Photographs from the early 20th century often depict street scenes devoid of cars; instead carts pulled by horses and people riding bicycles are commonly seen. Despite these apparently idyllic scenes there were still concerns about speeding as far back as 1716. In the Hampshire Quarter Sessions is an order ‘to prevent gallopping in the [Winchester] High Streete’ recording ‘that no hostler horse keeper or any other person or persons do or shall att any time or times from henceforth ride a gallopp in the High Streete or in any the publick streetes or lanes of and within this City of Winchester’.


If anybody was found to have broken this order, and a credible witness found, they would be given a speeding fine of six shillings and eight pence.


Hampshire has played a significant role in the development of aviation, with the first known flight in Britain occurring at Farnborough in 1908 and Supermarine Aviation being famously connected to the county. There are also some rather less known, but still intriguing, aviation stories to be found in Hampshire, including about William Blake of King’s Worthy. William, with his brother, built his own home-made plane named Bluetit. It was built using various parts from other planes in a disused corn store. On 19th September 1930, despite only 22 hours’ flying experience, William took off in Bluetit and reached 60mph in level flight. After landing, he and his brother commented on how they had proved everybody wrong, that the plane did get off the ground, didn’t crash and that he hadn’t died. Unfortunately, future flights proved less successful, with a difficult landing leading to Bluetit crashing and breaking its propeller.


Another wonderful aviation story found within the archives concerns Strong’s Brewery. It was reported, several weeks after D-Day, that there was a lack of ‘real British beer’ for troops fighting in France. To remedy this, casks of Strong’s beer were attached to modified bomb racks under the wings of Spitfires and flown to France — certainly a unique way of delivering beer.


Join us on Thursday 22nd February, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, for a special evening event exploring transport through the years. Discover the various methods with which our ancestors traversed land, sea and air through an exhibition of documents and an archive filmshow of rarely seen footage. One particularly early film takes a look at the busy streets of Petersfield in the 1910s and we’ll also be taking a peep at some of the less successful modes of transport, the doomed zeppelin and the slow decline of the hovercraft. Cost: £12, including refreshments. Book today: 01962 846154 or www.hants.gov.uk/archives..


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