On this day…

The township of Batemans Bay on the New South Wales South Coast on the 30th of May, 1937.

Batemans Bay is now a popular beach holiday location for residents of Australia’s capital city, Canberra.

Source

Bateman's_Bay_Township-_30th_May_1937_(18892424994)Aerial view of the Bateman's Bay Township in the South Coast of New South Wales NSW.

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On this day: the demolition of the Old Melbourne Gaol

Australia’s Old Melbourne Gaol photographed while being taken apart on the 19th of April, 1937.

The gaol is most famous for being the place of the execution of bushranger (highwayman) Ned Kelly in 1880.

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Victoria the Great – for fans of anything Victorian

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I commented on the new television series, Victoria, and how horrified I was by the deliberate changes to history (such as making a teenage girl’s ageing mentor her love interest!).

Recently a different version of Queen Victoria’s life was on television: Victoria the Great, released in 1937 on the centenary of the real queen’s ascension to the throne.

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Victoria being woken early to be informed she is now queen.

The movie version and a 19th century depiction of the moment.

Now, I don’t usually expect much of films from the 1930s (though Gone with the Wind has some spectacular crowd scenes that hold up today).

So how surprised I was to realise this old movie was the best interpretation of Queen Victoria’s life I’ve seen!

Actual, recorded historical moments are recreated beautifully, and accurately. I even learnt a few things – yes, I checked that they were true.

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The queen’s (played by Anna Neagle), and Prince Albert’s (played by Anton Walbrook, all the way down to his dorky hair) costumes and hairstyles are spot-on. In an era where historical licence was practically expected, the people working on this film have all but recreated the costumes from official portraits.

The sets and filming locations are spectacular, even in black and white. Unlike so many “historical” movies today, the dances are accurate for the period (Anna Karenina, I’m looking at you!), and the women have their hair pinned up! The forms of transport they use (such as the early train they depart London on) look accurate to me.

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I usually sit and nit-pick when watching historical dramas, but I couldn’t find much to complain about here.

I never liked The Young Victoria. For all the praise heaped on it, neither Emily Blunt or Rupert Friend suited their roles, and the less said about the horrific rewriting of history in the more recent Victoria, the better.

So far, this eighty-year-old film is my favourite version of the life of Britain’s most famous queen. I’m not sure how easy it is to track down these days, but it’s worth a watch.

In its time, Victoria the Great was so successful a second film was immediately made.

On this day: the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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On the 21st of December, 1937, Disney’s first feature-length film premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles.

Guests at the premiere included Charlie Chaplin, Shirley Temple, Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant.

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs went on to receive Oscar and Grammy nominations, and won an award at the Venice Film Festival.

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The film’s general release came in February the following year.

On this day: the execution of Seraphim Chichagov

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Seraphim Chichagov, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Saint Petersburg (named Leningrad under Soviet rule), was executed by firing squad on the 11th of December, 1937.

He was one of more than 20 000 political prisoners executed at Butovo firing range outside Moscow during Stalin’s Great Purge of 1936-38.

Aged eighty-one at the time of his execution, Seraphim was ill and had lost most of his mobility. When he was arrested in his home on charges of spreading “monarchist propaganda”, Russian authorities had to carry him to prison on a stretcher.

Fresh air for city babies…

1934 The baby cage, patented in the United States in 1922, was invented for babies in overcrowded urban areas to get some fresh air.

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The baby cage, patented in the United States in 1922, was invented for babies in overcrowded urban areas to get some fresh air. It was also promoted as a place to store toys for families living in small apartments, and a convenient place for babies’ naps.

A nanny is pictured supervising a baby suspended in a wire cage attached to the outside of a flat window in Chelsea, London in 1937.

Baby and nanny in Chelsea, London in 1937

Even though they look incredibly dangerous, the East Poplar borough of London made a promise to fix these devices to the sides of buildings.