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A capital feat of engineering

Date Sent:  12 AUG 1924

Sender: Vinnie (?)

Recipient: Mrs C Robinson 33, Landsdowne Street, Burnley, Lanc.

Transcript:

Having a lovely time.  Just off to Wembley for the day.  Went to see G Robey in “Leap Year” last night was very good. We leave for Eastbourne Wed. or Thursday.

Best Love Jennie

A hand written letter with two green stamps

It seems more than coincidence that in the week that Tower Bridge stuck open (Monday 10th August) this week’s pre-selected Postcard from the Tower features the very same bridge in faultless action 97 years earlier. Even more ironic that this version of the image was published as part of Valentine’s “British Manufacture” Series.  As is customary with Valentine’s photographs it is numbered (43871) and with the accompanying encircled initials ‘JV’.

A corner of the White Tower, rather more of the Main Guard (post 1900 model) and the Wharf lurk behind the one bascule, thus justifying the card’s inclusion in this series. But our correspondent – Vinnie, or perhaps a somewhat convoluted Jennie? (Memo, pick cards with clear signatures in the future) – makes no reference to a Tower visit.  Presumably the view was chosen as generic and instantly recognisable enough to symbolise their whole London trip.

A coloured image of Tower Bridge

The paddle steamer passing under Tower Bridge is the London Belle. Built in 1893 by Denny Brothers of Dumbarton, she was the largest of the Belle steamers’ fleet carrying passengers to and around the east coast stopping at the piers along the way.  Her main route was London to Clacton, but she was prone to running aground near Clacton Pier’s shallows. From 1916 she was requisitioned for mine sweeping duties, and from spring 1919 – summer 1920 acted as a hospital carrier to the White Sea, Northern Russia. After a brief spell in private ownership, she returned to Thames’ duties in 1923 until the end of the 1928 season.  She was scrapped in 1929. Want to know more about the Belle steamers? Do try http://paddlesteamers.info/BelleSteamers.htm

As with many London trips in 1924, the prime draw was the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, offering exotic pavilions, an amusement park and a window onto the wider world, all bundled onto a 216-acre site in north-west London. Vinnie’s Monday evening trip to “Leap Year” at the London Hippodrome, starring the Prime Minister of Mirth himself – former music hall star George Robey – was the perfect curtain raiser to Tuesday’s Wembley outing. Set across South Africa, Canada and Australia, the revue was staged with the exhibition’s tourists as target audience.  Julian Wylie knew his market and the show ran for 471 performances. Paul Chesney’s cover oozes glamour – see for yourself http://www.creative-me.co.uk/programme-cover-leap-year-1924-9349767.html .  Looks as if recuperation in Eastbourne was definitely called for.

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