Friday, 25 November 2011

Two Firsts for Yorkshire

Apparently, the first-ever aeroplane flight took place at Brompton Hall, the ancestral home of Sir George Cayley in 1853. Sir George studied the flying patterns of gliding seagulls and decided to work (he was an inventor) on a monoplane. He created a glider with kite- shaped cloth wings, 500 sq. feet in size, a small cockpit for the pilot, a tail and fins for steering and an undercarriage which looked like a tricycle. He somehow persuaded his coachman, John Appleby, to take it on a test flight over a small valley on his estate. Thus Appleby became the first man ever to fly (for a very short while!) He reported a sensation of 'glorious peacefulness' as he soared into the air, followed abruptly, and very quickly, by an enormous smash as he collided into the opposite side of the valley. It is said that he emerged from the wreck, pulled himself up to his full height and declared, 'Sir George, I was hired to drive, not to fly. I wish to give notice!' Sir George's scribbled notes on the principles behind the building of the monoplane contributed to the eventual success of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawke 50 years later.
Flight by an expert!
(Click on this to see the insects which are the attraction)

Another Yorkshire first occurred 35 years later in 1888 when the City of Leeds became the location for the first moving pictures ever seen.The photographer, Louis Alme Augustin le Prince, using a single lens camera he had designed, filmed members of his wife's family in their garden at Oakwood Grange Road, Roundhay, on 24th October. We can date it exactly because his mother-in-law, Sarah, who appears in the film, died on that day. The film also shows his father-in-law, Joseph Whitley, and Louis' eldest son.  Louis himself was employed as a designer with Whitley Partners in the City. His films were a great local success. A few days later, he filmed the moving traffic on Leeds Bridge from a window in the building that housed Hick Bros., the ironmongers. People flocked to see this new miracle.  His reputation grew and, in September 1890, he went to Paris to visit his brother and demonstrate his new invention. Mysteriously, he caught a train at Dijon, bound for Paris, and was never seen again. 

Two men who modestly gave Yorkshire immortality and disappeared, pretty much, without trace, never captialising on the huge contributions they made to the world we know today! 

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