On this day: the Lusitania arrives in the United States

The Lusitania at end of record voyage 1907

The RMS Lusitania arrives in New York on the 13th of September, 1907.

At 9:05am on the 13th of September, 1907, the RMS Lusitania completed her maiden voyage from England.

The voyage from Liverpool, England via Ireland on what was then the world’s largest ocean liner had taken five days (and fifty-something minutes) to complete.

Drawing of the First class dining saloon of the RMS Lusitania (style Louis XVI) Dining Saloon of the RMS Lusitania 1906..

Promotional material for the ship’s first class dining room, alongside a photograph of the same scene.

The Lusitania stayed in New York for a week before departing again for England. During that time she was made available for tours.

RMS Lusitania arriving in New York on her maiden voyage.

New York, September 1907.

The ocean liner’s career would end when she was sunk by a German U-boat in the First World War, killing 1198 of the 1959 people on board.

September 11

New York Fire Department McSorley’s September 11 2009 Sonya Heaney.

(Apologies for the pictures – we weren’t trying to win photography awards here!)

In 2009, when we were in New York, we went to visit the Ukrainian district of Manhattan. There’s a shop, a museum, a church, and a famous restaurant that is in all the guidebooks.

However, what we didn’t know until we got there was that the pub next door to the shop – McSorley’s – is the place the New York firefighters gather on September 11, because of some story about a fireman killed that horrible day who said he’d meet everyone there.

So we dropped by for a drink, only to find all these men and women who were involved in the horror of the Twin Towers collapse there. The pub stops usual functioning that day and just stocks the top of the bar with glasses of beer.

We were the only non-US fire-fighting, military people there. Three Australians versus a pub full (literally pressed up against them!) of GIANT men in uniform. Whoops!

I have never met such friendly people, who flat out refused to let us buy a drink. We said we should leave because we didn’t belong there, but they just kept on insisting they were honoured to have us there.

It was still a bit odd, but wow, what an afternoon.

I had met my parents in New York in the middle of their North American trip, and had two weeks there on my own, and there was my Vietnam Veteran father, and boy, didn’t he win some admiration! Not like the reception Vietnam Vets get here!

New York Fire Department McSorley’s September 11 2009 Sonya Heaney. And Ukrainian Mudeum.

The parade, with Ukrainian building in the background.

Then after the drinks, everyone went outside and had a small parade with bagpipes, to honour their dead.

It is one of those travel memories that will always stay with you.

Yes, I know this post is dated the 12th! But we’re a day ahead of the US in time zones here…

Christopher Wren’s plan for London

Following the Great Fire that destroyed much of London in early September 1666, Christopher Wren put forward a plan for the rebuilding of the city. It was rejected.

This is a dated 1744 plan, which is allegedly a copy of the original.

Though aspects of the plan would not have been feasible, had it been accepted and used it would have significantly modernised London.

An extremely scarce 1744 map of London showing Sir Christopher Wren's plan for reconstructing the city following the 1666 Great Fire of London.

On this day: the Treznea Massacre

Iuliu Maniu Square in Zalău on September 8, 1940 few days after the Second Vienna Award, Hungarian Army troops entering in Zalău. The Assumption Cathedral can be seen in background.

Hungarian troops nearby the day before the massacre

On the 9th of September, 1940, at least 93 (and up to 263, depending on which country is reporting) Romanians were massacred by Hungarian troops in the village of Treznea during the handing over of Northern Transylvania.

Amongst the dead were the local priest, the schoolteacher and his wife. The Orthodox church was partially burnt down.

This is a controversial event in the history of the Second World War, and historians in Hungary present a very different version of events to historians in Romania.

On this day: the Barn Fire on Cuckolds Row

Georgian era memorial to the Burnwell Cambridgeshire puttpet show barn fire. 8th Septemeber 1727.

The original gravestone, restored 105 years ago. X

On the 8th of September, 1727, a fire broke out at a puppet show in a barn in Burwell, England, killing 78 people, 51 of them children.

The fire happened when it was decided to stop more people entering the barn, and so the door was nailed shut. When an extra spectator attempted to watch the show from outside, the candle lantern he was using to see was knocked over, setting the place alight.

Nobody could escape.

On the 26th of February, 1774, it was reported in the Ipswich Journal that:

It is reported that an old man who died recently near Newmarket who just before his death confessed that he set fire to a barn at Burwell, Cambridgeshire on the 8th of September 1727

Barn Fire of 1727

The memorial plaque, unveiled on the 8th of September, 2005. X

On this day: the Lusitania’s maiden voyage in 1907


The launch in 1906

On the 7th of September, 1907 the RMS Lusitania began her maiden voyage, travelling from Liverpool, England to New York City, USA. At the time she was the world’s largest ocean liner.

The voyage began at 9:00pm, and travelled via Queenstown (now Cobh, Ireland) to take on more passengers. Around 200 000 people turned out to watch her depart.

The Lusitania at end of record voyage 1907

Arriving in New York

The Lusitania arrived in New York on the 13th of September.

On this day: The Great Theatre Royal Fire

The burnt out Theatre Royal of 1887

The Theatre Royal after the fire. 1887.

On the 5th of September 1887, the Theatre Royal in Exeter, England burnt down, killing 186 people.

The first Theatre Royal that was destroyed in 1885..

The Theatre Royal that burnt in 1885

It was not the first time the theatre burnt down. After earlier versions were also destroyed by fire, the most recent disaster had been only two years earlier, in 1885.

The 1887 fire broke out backstage during a performance of Romany Rye, when gas lighting set gauze on fire. Panic and crowded exits meant that audience members were trapped.

Only 68 bodies were recovered.

Burnt programme for Romany Rye. Theatre Royal Exeter England. 1887.

A burnt scrap of a programme from the performance

A national campaign collected £20,763 for the victims’ families.

Emma Livry in the title role of the Taglioni-Schneitzhoeffer La Sylphide. Paris, 1862.

Emma Livry shortly before her death

Gas lighting was dangerous backstage in the nineteenth century theatre, and a particular danger for ballet dancers, who wore light, floaty fabrics that were highly flammable. Young French ballerina Emma Livry died a few years earlier after her costume caught on fire while she waited for her entrance.

Exeter theatre fire memorial England United Kingdom

The memorial to the victims

The new Theatre Royal had only been opened the year before the fire. The final version of the theatre was finally closed in 1962.

On this day: the Great Fire of London began

Great_Fire_LondonDetail of the Great Fire of London by an unknown painter, depicting the fire as it would have appeared on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666.

A depiction of the fire as it was on the 4th of September, by an unknown painter.

The tallest flames surround St Paul’s.

Shortly after midnight on the second of September, 1666, a fire broke out in a bakery on Pudding Lane in the City of London (the part of London that falls in the Roman “Square Mile”). It quickly became out of control, and would go on to become the Great Fire, destroying the homes of 70 000 of the 80 000 inhabitants of the area, and wiping out the London of the Middle Ages.

Despite the size of the catastrophe, only six deaths were recorded. However, it is likely the deaths and disappearances of poorer people were never registered.

Copperplate_map_Bridewell Bridewell Palace London in the 1550s.

Bridewell Palace in the 1550s

Included in the destruction was St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as eighty-seven parish churches, the Royal Exchange, Bridewell Palace (which at the time was operating as a prison), and a number of city gates.

Old St Paul's Cathedral in London

Old St Paul’s

The fire burnt until the fifth of September.