Notable Events - 1936

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Artists Impression of the Byron 1935

The Architect, Alfred J Thraves, vision of the Byron - this picture even shows his signature on the finished product!

Alice Faye in 1936

Image of Alice Faye greeting us and wishing us a Happy New Year as 1936 dawns - courtesy and © of 20th Century Fox

Notable Events 1936 - Headlines

Adolf Hitler opens 11th Olympic Games in Berlin.

The world's first regular high definition service began transmitting to the 100 or so TV sets available in Britain.

The Hoover Dam is completed.

"Peter & Wolf" premieres in Moscow.

Amy Johnson arrives in Croydon from S Africa in record 4d 16h.

Jesse Owens of US sets 100 meter record at 10.2.

A major breach of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal in England sends millions of gallons of water cascading 200 feet into the River Irwell.

Spanish Civil War begins, Gen Francisco Franco led uprising.

1st transatlantic round-trip air flight.

Pacifist/anti fascist writer Carl Von Ossietzky sent to concentration camp, awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

"Green Hornet" radio show is 1st heard on WXYZ Radio in Detroit.

1st radioactive substance produced synthetically (radium E).

Felix the Cat, Cartoon Character, by Van Beuren from Otto Messmer.

1st flight of airship Hindenburg, Germany.

“Mr Deeds Goes to Town” Longfellow Deeds, a simple-hearted Vermont tuba player, inherits a fortune and has to contend with opportunist city slickers.

“Flash Gordon” Three earthlings visit the planet Mongo to thwart the evil schemes of Emperor Ming the Merciless.

“The Great Ziegfeld” This biography follows the ups and downs of Florenz Ziegfeld, famed producer of extravagant stage revues.

Rodgers & Hart's musical "On Your Toes," premieres in NYC.

International Surrealist Exhibition opens in London.

Empire State Building emanates high definition TV-343 lines.

The Jarrow March sets off for London.

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra forms.

9th January, 1936 'Astonished Heart' premiers

Noel Coward Programme Tonight at 8.30

One of a collection of ten (short) plays under the generic heading of 'To-night at eight thirty' written by and starring Noel Coward together with Gertrude Lawrence (for the last time) the 'Astonished Heart' premiered at the Phoenix Theatre on 9th January 1936 - image courtesy & © of

From - "Noel Coward’s collection of ten short plays played over three nights and matinees as a vehicle for the Master and Gertrude Lawrence – it was the last time they performed together. There was a try-out in Manchester (as To-night at 7.30) with six plays and another play was added during the provincial tour following the Manchester run and prior to its opening at the Phoenix Theatre on 9 January 1936. The Phoenix had opened in 1930 with Coward’s Private Lives in which he had also starred with Miss Lawrence. The other three plays were added during the run at the Phoenix. The plays seen on 6 January 1936, the first night at the Phoenix, were Family Album, The Astonished Heart and Red Peppers. On 13 January Hands across the Sea, Fumed Oak and Shadow Play joined the repertoire. On 29 January We were Dancing replaced Family Album. Star Chamber replaced Hands across the Sea on 21 March for only one performance. Ways and Means was added on 5 May and Still Life on 18 May. All nine continued to be performed in three groups until the show closed after 157 performances on 20 June. The closure was due more to Coward’s hate of long runs than a lack of public interest."

20th January, 1936 - the Abdication Timeline

20th January 1936 - King George V dies. Edward becomes King

George VI, Edward VIII and Prince Henry 1936

The late monarch's sons at his funeral in 1936 - l to r the Duke of York (the future) King George VI, HM Edward VIII and the Duke of Gloucester (out of vision is the Duke of Kent) - image via the Daily Express

The unseen coronation portrait of Edwaed VIII

The unused 'Coronation' portrait image courtesy & © of the Illustrated London News via the Daily Mail - Poignant: King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor, fictitiously pictured in royal robes for a coronation portrait which was never published.

17th February 1936 - World's first superhero, The Phantom, makes first appearance in comics.

The Phantom Comic Strip character first two titles

The first two covers of 'The Phantom' - image courtesy of Pininterest

From ComicVine (edited) - "In 1936, Lee Falk created a mysterious costumed crime fighter on the request King Features Newspaper Syndicate to create a new feature. It began as a daily newspaper comic strip on February 17th, 1936. He planned the story for initial few months and then drew them himself for the first two weeks as sample strips. Lee Falk was inspired by different myths and legends - El Cid and King Arthur and some fictional characters namely Zorro, Tarzan and Mowgli. Initially, the Phantom's alter ego was a rich playboy by name Jimmy Wells. But in later stories that introduced the Singh Brotherhood, the Phantom was moved to the jungle making him more of a jungle legend. As there were many other fictional characters carrying the name "Phantom" e.g. The Phantom Detective and The Phantom of Opera Falk thought about calling this masked man "Gray Ghost" but somehow preferred "The Phantom"."

20th February, 1936 - 'Things to Come' premiers

Things to come 1936

Poster of the 'Things to Come' IMDB ref sourced from Project Gutenberg Australia

HG Wells on set of Things to Come

H.G. Wells on set with cast members Raymond Massey and Margueretta Scott - image sourced from The Red List

Cast: Raymond Massey (John Cabal/Oswald Cabal); Ralph Richardson (The Boss); Edward Chapman (Pippa Passworthy/Raymond Passworthy); Margaretta Scott (Roxana/Rowena); Ann Todd (Mary Gordon) Synopsis : The city of Everytown endures thirty years of gruelling war, famine and disease. But in the distant future Everytown is rebuilt, heralding a new era of scientific progress. Source : BFI More here

5th March, 1936 - Spitfire Maiden Flight

The Spitfire - the iconic fighter plane of the Battle of Britain - takes to the skies

1936 inaugural flight of the Spitfire

A Spitfire Mk1 fighter made by Messrs. Vickers, on show to the public for the first time over Eastleigh Aerodrome, Southampton - image courtesy of

The high-speed fighter plane that was to capture the public's imagination - and put fear into the hearts of German pilots - made its maiden flight at a Hampshire airfield.

'The Supermarine Spitfire - the British fighter aircraft that became the iconic plane of the Battle of Britain - made its first flight on this day in 1936. On the night of March 5, Captain Joseph 'Mutt' Summers - chief test pilot at Supermarine's parent company Vickers-Armstrongs - took off in the Type 300 K5054 prototype from Eastleigh airfield in Hampshire. At the end of the eight-minute flight, Summers climbed out of the cockpit and said to the small group of observers "I don't want anything touched", indicating that nothing required correcting before his next test flight.'

More about 1930s air travel here

20th May, 1936 - 'Odeon' Well Hall, Eltham opens

Well Hall Odeon 1936

The Odeon cinema on Well Hall Road. The cinema opened in 1936 to the designs of Andrew Mather, a specialist in cinema architecture.
Images courtesy & © of Viewfinder.historicengland from the John Maltby* collection
*Odeon cinema collection. John Maltby (1910-80) was a professional photographer. In 1935 he was commissioned to photograph every cinema in the Odeon chain.

Odeon opening Well Hall, Eltham souvenir programme

Those were the days when you got a souvenir programme when you attended a grand opening of a cinema. See more about 1930s cinemas here.

27th May, 1936 - RMS Queen Mary

As the RMS Queen Mary celebrates her 80th anniversary it seems right to give her pole position on this page - for a spectacularly in-depth report visit the Daily Mail article here

Queen Mary Promotional material

Promotional material courtesy of

The RMS Queen Mary, a luxurious ocean liner that carried the world’s rich and famous before the dawn of the jet age, is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its maiden voyage. One of the greatest passenger ships ever built, the 1,020ft Queen Mary left Southampton on 27 May 1936 en route to New York, the first of many transatlantic crossings that attracted the likes of Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, TS Eliot, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope and many other glamorous guests.

Celestial Map by MacDonald Gill

A fascinating decorative map, 24ft. by 15ft. occupies a similar position at the forward boundary of the apartment. The work of Mr. MacDonald Gill, F.R.I.B.A., this map represents the North Atlantic Ocean, and the artist has treated the subject in a bold formalistic style, with the composite groups of typical buildings of England and America at the sides, a large illuminated chart being the main feature. Further interest is added by the introduction of a clock and the vessel’s summer and winter courses; while an illuminated model in crystal indicates the position of the ship on the voyage between Bishop’s Rock and the Nantucket lightships.

Crowd admiring the Queen Mary in Glasgow 1936

A crowd admires the Cunard-White Star Line passenger ship the RMS Queen Mary at Clydebank, near Glasgow, in Scotland in 1936

The Art Deco liner was the largest and fastest passenger ship in the world when it launched, and had three classes of cabins, an opulent first class dining room, ballroom, cocktail bars, a stage for music, two indoor swimming pools, a squash court, libraries, a telephone connection and a small hospital. It was the flagship of Liverpool-based Cunard-White Star Line when it left John Brown & Company’s shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland after six years of construction.

The historic Queen Mary transported Allied soldiers during World War Two and returned to passenger service until it was retired in 1967 as profits dropped and the jet age took off. Today, the historic ship is permanently moored in Long Beach, California, where it has been preserved as a tourist attraction with a museum, hotel, restaurants and an exhibition containing some of Princess Diana's belongings. 

The Queen Mary offered a 'souvenir' launch book which detailed artists work and provided comprehensive pictures of the ship and its accommodation - for an interesting tour visit here. See more about the Queen Mary and Sea Travel here.

22nd June, 1936 - Jubilee Kiosk

Kiosk Particulars

1936 Jubilee Kiosk

Name : Kiosk No 6 | Designed by : Giles Gilbert Scott |Designed : 1935 |Introduced : 1936 |End of production : 1968
Construction : Cast iron |Width : 3 ft 0 in Total installed: 60,000 | Total remaining : 10,700 - Image & Kiosk Particulars Source : The Telephone Box

Kiosk No. 6 - the K6 - was introduced to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of King George V. The 'Jubilee Kiosk', as it became known, was once again designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and was similar in appearance to Kiosk No. 2, the main difference being that the vertical bars in the windows and door were spaced further apart to improve visibility. The K2 had not penetrated far outside London, but the 'Jubilee' model became the first genuinely standard kiosk and was installed all over the country. Under the "Jubilee Concession", introduced as part of that year's celebrations, kiosks were to be provided in every town or village with a post office, regardless of cost. As a result of this scheme over 8,000 new kiosks were installed, adding impetus to the spread of the K6. Source : BT | Read more here

6th July, 1936 - Agatha Christie publishes 'Murder in Mesopotamia'

1st Edition Murder in Mesopotamia

Crime Club 1st edition

4th July, 1936 Fred Perry wins 3rd Men's Singles Wimbledon Title

Perry wins 1936 Wimbledon Championships

Image provided by Vice Sports as circa 1935 - which trophy it is is more blurred as there does not seem to be a sourceable picture of Perry holding the Wimbledon Trophy after any three of his victories at the AELTC

1936 Wimbledon Programme acknowledgements page detail

Fred Perry and some of is trophies around 1934

Fred Perry poses with his trophies in March 1934. He went on to win the first of his three Wimbledon men’s singles titles in the summer that year
© Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

1936 Programme page of Wimbledon Finals

Image of the official Wimbledon programme in the historic year that Perry won his third and final Wimbledon Men's singles - image courtesy of 'The Saleroom' who described it as "1936 Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship programme - for day one to incl Fred Perry v Stratford – some hand written results – usual pocket fold and rubbing to exposed areas – otherwise (F) Note: Fred Perry went onto win his 3rd successive Wimbledon Men’s title"

Tribute to Perry's three wins at Wimbledon

Image courtesy & © of Getty Images

Fred Perry and his statue in 2013

In 1984, with still no viable British player likely to wrest his Wimbledon crown, the great man himself, Fred Perry poses with the statue depicting his glory days, created to honour him and to celebrate his achievements.

From the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) the tribute details and description of the sculpture - Small bronze statue (1/3 life size) of Fred Perry depicted in action, holding a racquet and ball, standing on a flat bronze base. Statue mounted on a rectangular base clad in marble. Small flower stand and marble ash urn (inscribed) at foot of front side of base, added later to hold Perry's ashes after his death. Situated in small grassed enclosure surrounded by flower beds and railings.
Commissioned and donated by Perry's family to the Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club
Portrait sculpture of Fred Perry to celebrate his victories at Wimbledon in the thirties. Erected in his lifetime and therefore not intended as commemorative.
History : Date of Design : None | Year of unveiling : 1984 | Unveiling details : 20th May 1984 | Commissioned by : Private commission by subject's family and donated to AELTC | Duty of care : None

From Pitch to Plinth - the Sporting Statues Project -

Subject(s): Fred Perry | Sport: Tennis Location: Wimbledon LTC, Wimbledon, London (From 1984-2010 sited just inside Gate 5)
Sculptor: David Wynne
Unveiled: 20/5/1984 | Material: Bronze | Status: In Situ Inscription(s):
Inscribed on plinth, side 1: F.J.Perry, Wimbledon Champion 1934, 1935 & 1936. David Wynne Sculptor 1984
Inscribed on plinth, side 2: Unveiled by H.R.H. The Duke of Kent G.C.M.G. G.C.V.O. A.D.C. President AELTC 20th May 1984.

Why the tennis establishment shunned Fred Perry, Britain's previous Wimbledon men's winner in 1936

From the Independent | Liam O'Brien | Sunday 7 July 2013

Born in Stockport in 1909, he was the world number one for three years, taking in four Davis Cup wins for Britain and eight major singles titles - including three Wimbledon championships between 1934 and 1936. However, in a game still ruled by the middle classes, Perry's working class roots meant he was not quite as popular among British tennis fans as you might expect. He was known as an upstart, and his ruthless ambition on the court came as something as a shock to spectators accustomed to more gentlemanly displays. A quick mover, he had an all-court game and hit a mean 'early-ball' running forehand.

When he won his first title against the Australian Jack Crawford - comfortably, with a score of 6-3 6-0 7-5 - he overheard a Wimbledon committee member saying it was a day "when the best man didn't win". His All England Club member's tie, the acknowledgement of his Wimbledon win, was dropped over the back of his seat in the dressing room. There was no word of congratulations, and the incident still irked him late into his life. "Instead of Fred J Perry the champ I felt like J Fred Muggs the chimp," he said. "The Perry balloon was certainly deflated."

Perry's off-court activities were just as notable as his tennis. He dated Marlene Dietrich, teaching her to play tennis "with great patience and lots of little passionate hugs, punctuated with rapid kissing between flying balls," according to her daughter Maria Riva. He dated Jean Harlow and Loretta Young, played tennis with Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx at the Beverly Hills Club, and became close with Bette Davis to the extent they were "not exactly family, but almost". At the end of 1936, he left Britain to join a professional circuit in the USA. It meant he could make money from tennis, but he could no longer play what was at the time an amateur tournament at Wimbledon.

Fred Perry with Marlene Dietrich 1936

Fred Perry with Marlene Dietrich 1936

Fred Perry with Marlene Dietrich 1936

Perry and Dietrich in Palm Springs - with thanks to The Dietrich Collection for the three images above

After the Second World War, he coached and commentated, as well as building his eponymous clothing brand. Towards the end of his life, he was accepted back into the tennis fold and in 1984 a bronze statue was erected at the All England Tennis Club to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his first Wimbledon title. Perry died in 1995 at the age of 85. He was in Melbourne at the time, attending the Australian Open

Fred Perry: the icon and the outcast

From 'History Extra' (edited on this page) Kevin Jefferys reviews the career of the man who triumphed 78 years ago, Fred Perry

Britain dominated the world of lawn tennis in the mid-1930s thanks largely to Fred Perry. For three years he was the undisputed world number one, winning a string of major titles and making a vital contribution to Britain’s domination of the premier international competition in tennis, the Davis Cup.

His legacy remains powerful today. Today Perry has iconic status, but it was not always so: this champion was once Britain’s unsung tennis hero. A hundred years on from his birth, it should not be forgotten that in his prime playing days, and for many afterwards, Perry was acclaimed across the tennis world but was not universally admired in his homeland.

Top, but not ‘the best'

Journalists watching him defeat the Australian Jack Crawford to lift the Wimbledon crown in 1934 commented on the “strange lack of excitement” among spectators, and one American magazine went as far as to say: “Perry is not a popular champion at home”. In an incident that rankled for the rest of his life, Perry’s elation at taking the title turned to anger when he overheard a Wimbledon committee member saying to Crawford in the dressing room after the final that this was one day “when the best man didn’t win”. A major factor in explaining this coolness towards Perry was his social background. The Perry family had northern working class roots and Fred only had the chance to take up tennis when his father, developing a career in left-wing politics, moved after the First World War to an area of London where suburban tennis clubs were expanding rapidly. Instead of being confined exclusively to the rich, tennis was becoming an option for aspiring families such as the Perrys.

But as he sought to make his way in the game, Fred Perry faced many who saw him as not ‘one of us’ – the traditional public-school educated middle classes who still dominated British tennis as players, administrators and officials. One insider summed up the attitude towards Perry when he first won a place on the Davis Cup team by saying: “as we’ve got to have the bloody upstart, we might as well knock him into shape and try and get the best out of him”. As the dressing room episode in 1934 illustrated, even winning Wimbledon did not remove all traces of social prejudice. Perry was not entirely a passive victim of the class distinctions in British society between the wars. His abrasiveness and refusal to “let people tell me what to do or order me about” made him enemies in tennis circles. Players in the 1930s were expected to behave with decorum; ‘gentleman Jack Crawford’ was known for his exemplary court manners. Fred Perry, by contrast, possessed a ruthless streak, refused to conceal his ambition and indulged in gamesmanship such as making offensive personal remarks to opponents.

Despite dominating the world scene he offended the sensibilities of well-to-do Wimbledon spectators because his court persona was so much at odds with the ethos of the day. It also mattered that tennis remained firmly wedded to amateur principles. Lacking the pedigree and temperament of traditional gentleman amateurs such as Crawford, Perry clashed with the authorities and was increasingly tempted to cash in on his global fame. Simmering difficulties with the LTA continued until, at the end of 1936, he left Britain to join a small professional circuit living and touring mostly in the USA. This move enabled him to make large sums of money but meant he was banned from the world’s top amateur events, including Wimbledon and the Davis Cup. At the start of 1937, Perry thus found himself a sporting outcast in his homeland. He was relieved of his honorary membership of the prestigious All England Club – awarded to him as Wimbledon champion – and when his professional tour visited Britain he was barred from appearing on the courts of any LTA-affiliated club. There was no campaign in Britain in the late 1930s to find and cultivate new champions in Perry’s wake. Instead, the most successful player the nation had produced became almost a non-person in the eyes of the tennis establishment.

After the Second World War, Perry built a new life based around business enterprises (notably the famous Fred Perry sportswear label), coaching and commentating. Based mainly in the USA, which he found less hidebound than Britain about social distinctions, his frosty relationship with the All England Club and the LTA improved slowly over the years, especially when tennis finally embraced professionalism after 1968. Even so, it was only towards the end of his life that reconciliation became complete. The same bodies that once shunned him were ever more anxious to honour Perry, in part because his reputation soared as the years passed in which no British man was able to match his success. His appreciation of the unveiling of the statue in 1984 was enhanced when the All England Club chairman said he hoped that Fred agreed Wimbledon was “today the most hospitable of clubs”, in contrast to the unfriendliness of earlier times.

In the same year, a quarter of a century ago, Perry was the only tennis player listed in a survey of 2,000 Britons aimed at finding the ‘Best of the Best’ British sportsmen of the 20th century. At long last, Fred Perry was no longer Britain’s unsung tennis hero. His place as a domestic sporting legend was secure.

1936: Fred Perry’s third title

Fred Perry’s achievement in winning Wimbledon in three successive years still shines beacon-bright. When he pulled off the first hat-trick of titles it marked a quarter of a century since Britain’s previous men’s winner, Arthur Gore in 1909 (the year Fred was born), and since then 75 years have passed without a British men’s champion. The fact all three of Perry’s victories were achieved in straight sets was testimony to a fitness regime, which included training with the Arsenal football team, and the first was possibly the most impressive when in the 1934 final he overcame the defending champion Jack Crawford 6-3, 6-0, 7-5. Gottfried von Cramm, the first German to reach a Wimbledon men’s final, was Perry’s 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victim in the 1935 final, but there was concern when von Cramm defeated Perry in the 1936 French Open final. Aided by the knowledge that the German was carrying a leg injury, though, Perry swept home 6-1, 6-1, 6-0. And after winning the US title two months later, Perry was lost to the professional game. Source - the All England Lawn Tennis Association

25th-28th July, 1936 - GB wins the Davis Cup

Official Programme

The Davis Cup programme of 1936 © Getty Images

Winning Scores

Training in 1936

The team of Austin, Perry, Hughes, Tuckey and Dan Maskell running at Beachy Head in Eastbourne, 14 July 1936 image courtesy of LTA and © of Getty images

The Davis Cup trophy was originally a silver punchbowl, to which plinths have been added over time to include the winners' plaques. The trophy was donated by US tennis player Dwight Davis. He founded the competition in 1900 and it's named after him.

The current format of the competition is the same as in 1936. A best-of-five with two singles matches, a doubles, followed by reverse singles. But it was played over Saturday, Monday and Tuesday rather than Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In 1936, Britain won the first two matches but lost the third (doubles) and fourth, taking it to a fifth round decider. It was down to Fred Perry to win Britain the trophy 3-2 by beating Jack Crawford in straight sets. Perry is famously the last British man before Murray to win Wimbledon (coincidentally also in 1936).

Handshake at the net

1936: Britain won the opening match - Bunny Austin beat Jack Crawford in four sets

Davis Cup Doubles

1936: Britain's Raymond Tuckey and Pat Hughes in their doubles match (they lost)

Fred Perry winning 1936 Davis Cup

1936: Britain's Fred Perry playing against Jack Crawford in the decider

Davis Cup Team

1936: Britain's winning team (l to r Bunny Austin, Fred Perry, Raymond Tuckey and Pat Hughes - they beat Australia 3-2) with the Davis Cup trophy - images © and courtesy of Getty Images via the BBC

9th September - 'Odeon' Muswell Hill opens

Odeon, Muswell Hill 1936 under constructionOdeon, Muswell Hill 1936 completed

The 'Odeon' Muswell Hill under construction (left - image courtesy of Bowes & Bounds via modernism in metroland) and completed (right - image courtesy of Modern Tourists)

Exterior of Odeon Muswell Hill 1936Grand Opening Odeon Muswell Hill

A view of the front of the cinema and a window display with photographs of the stars appearing at the opening ceremony of the cinema on September 9th 1936 - images courtesy & © of Viewfinder.historicengland

Read more : Historic England | Cinema Treasures | Local History - More about Odeon and 1930s Cinemas here

2nd November, 1936 - BBC Television begins Broadcasting (80th Anniversary)

Muswell Hill, London - 2nd of November 1936

Transmission Tower at Alexandra Palace

It was a momentous time: the rise of Nazi Germany reflected in Mosley’s rally in Mile End Road; the economic depression symbolised in the Jarrow arch which began the following day; and a month after those events, something that could seem of lesser consequence, but which proved more enduring than either: the launch of BBC TV.
At the time it is thought only 500 television sets had been sold in Britain to a target market limited by the expected range of the transmissions, a 25-mile radius centred on Alexandra Palace where the studios and the transmitter were found. Sometimes it feels as if the BBC never got the memo about that viewership having changed.
The razzmatazz seen with modern station-launches was not the thing at the BBC of the 1930s: instead certain senior figures in the organisation gathered in a dully decorated studio and made speeches heralding the new service.
This was the first high image-resolution service of the time, or rather the first two such services given that it had not yet been decided whether to go with the Baird 240-line, or Marconi 405-line technology. The latter, technically superior system soon triumphed, but the honour of inaugurating the BBC Television service proper went to the Baird version, decided by the toss of a coin. The Marconi EMI one followed it after a short intermission to shift studios, with the same suits making the same speeches, thus establishing BBC TV’s love of repeats on its very first day. Source : informationBritain

On the 75th Anniversary (2011) the BBC wrote:

On 2 November 1936, the BBC launched the first ever high definition TV service in the world, from Alexandra Palace. One of the first broadcasts featured the musical theatre and film actress, Adele Dixon, who performed the very first rendition of the specially commissioned ‘Magic Rays of Light’, as seen in the video clip above. By the late 1950s Alexandra Palace had become the BBC’s main production centre for television broadcasts, producing ground-breaking programmes such as ‘Picture Page’ (the first audience interaction TV programme), ‘The Grove Family’ (the nation’s first soap), children’s favourite Muffin the Mule, significant historical events such as the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, and becoming the home for TV News and the Open University.

First regular hi-definition television service 2nd November 1936

At 3pm on 2 November 1936 the BBC began the world's first regular hi-definition television service, from specially constructed studios at Alexandra Palace in North London. As part of this, two different technical systems were being tested on alternate weeks for six months: John Logie Baird's mechanical system producing pictures of 240 lines, and the EMI-Marconi electronic system, which produced images of 405 lines. On the toss of a coin, Baird's system inaugurated the service, followed by EMI-Marconi's. The latter was to prove the winning system.

The formal opening ceremony was followed by a Movietone newsreel and then a variety show, featuring Adele Dixon and the BBC Television Orchestra. A short documentary, Television Comes to London, revealed the preparations leading up to the launch. In all, the service was on the air for two hours on its first day.

BBC Director General John Reith did not like the new medium, and in later life said he never watched television. However, he was in a minority as television became the dominant medium of the twentieth century. The term hi-definition as used in 1936 was defined as a minimum of 240 lines, and was applied in contrast to Baird's earlier system which used only 30. Today, standard definition at 625 lines is being replaced by digital hi-definition, which offers picture resolution of 1080 lines.

The full programme on the first day of transmission - source BBC

1936 Radio Times Cover

The cover of the Radio Times for the week when broadcasting was scheduled to start

Radio Times Open at Launch page

The first day

Launch extract Radio Times 1936

Detail of the first ever day of television broadcasting - all images courtesy and © of the BBC


15.00 : Opening of the BBC Television Service

by Major the Right Hon. G.C. Tryon, M.P., H.M. Postmaster-General.
Mr. R.C. Norman (Chairman of the BBC) and the Right Hon. the Lord Selsdon, K.B.E. (Chairman of the Television Advisory Committee) will also speak.


Speaker: the Right Hon. G.C. Tryon, M.P.
Speaker: H.M. Postmaster-General Mr. R.C. Norman
Speaker: The Right Hon. the Lord Selsdon, K.B.E.

15.15 : Interval

Time, Weather

15.20 : British Movietone News

Female Presenter at the BBC

The caption to this image is 'Matt Cooke, chair of Alexandra Park And Palace Trust said the first broadcast in 1936 "not only paved the way for a new kind of social entertainment, but it also prompted technological advancements in the way we communicate with each other which still impact on us today"' - there is no acknowledgement or identity attributed to the anonymous, but very elegant, female presenter.

15.30 : Variety

Adèle Dixon - Musical Comedy Star
Buck and Bubbles - Comedians and Dancers
The Lai Founs - Chinese Jugglers
The BBC Television Orchestra - Leader, Boris Pecker; Conductor, Hyam Greenbaum
Adèle Dixon is now playing lead opposite Laddie Cliff in the West End musical comedy "Over She Goes". Amongst recent radio shows she has played in are "Lots of Love" and "Cottage Loaf". Buck and Bubbles are a coloured pair who are now playing in "Transatlantic Rhythm". They are versatile comedians who dance, play the piano, sing, and cross-chat. An Oriental juggling act, the Lai Founs consist of four men and two women who specialise in plate-spinning.


Musical Comedy Star: Adèle Dixon
Comedians/Dancers: Buck and Bubbles
Jugglers: The Lai Founs
Musicians: The BBC Television Orchestra
Leader: Boris Pecker
Conductor: Hyam Greenbaum
Producer: Dallas Bower

16.00 : Close

At the close of this afternoon's programme a chart arranged in co-operation with the Air Ministry will forecast the weather

21.00 : Programme Summary

21.05 : Television Comes to London

A BBC Film
In this film, specially taken for the BBC, viewers are given an idea of the growth of the television installation at Alexandra Palace and an insight into production routine. There will be many shots behind the scenes. One sequence, for instance, will show Adele Dixon as she appears to viewers in the Variety at 3.30 this afternoon, and will then reveal the technical staff and equipment in the studio that made this transmission possible.


Singer: Adele Dixon

Adele Dixon

Adele Dixon sang a song about the "mystic rays" of television - Image courtesy and © of the BBC

Picture Page

A Magazine of Topical and General Interest.
This is the first of a series in which people of interest will be introduced. In the recent test transmissions, Squadron-Leader Swain, who broke the aeroplane altitude record, was one of the subjects. In every way the technique is novel. For instance, Joan Miller, who links the show introduces each person by plugging in a telephone switchboard after a few preliminary words of description. She is a young Canadian actress who was recently leading lady at the Clemenceau play "The Tiger", and last December she played in the radio version of "On the Spot". Curiously enough, when she was in Vancouver she used to train telephone operators.


Devised and edited by: Cecil Madden
Produced by: G. More O'Ferrall
The Switchboard Girl: Joan Miller

British Movietone News

22.00 : Close

Read 'The Story of BBC Television - Television as we know it' here
Read how the BBC plan to recreate this first night of broadcasting in The Telegraph
Read about me at the BBC here

21st November, 1936 - BBC televises first ever Gardening Programme

Mr Middleton pioneer of gardening programmes on radio and television

'Good afternoon. Well, it's not much of a day for gardening, is it?' - Mr. Middleton' famous catchphrase - image and dialogue © and courtesy of the BBC

During the Second World War Middleton was happy to lend his support to the government Dig for Victory campaign, encouraging listeners to grow vegetables on every spare piece of land. Mr Middleton was also the obvious choice when In Your Garden was tried out on the early television service in 1936.

From Parks & Gardens UK - 'Mr Middleton’s  success on radio put him a good position when television broadcasting began and on  21 November 1936 he presented in the first gardening program. Sadly there are no surviving recordings since the recording tape was expensive and so continually reused.'

Radio Times HeaderMr Middletons TV programme

The 4th of June 1937 Radio Times edition extract featuring Mr. Middleton's new venture in the grounds of Alexandra Palace

23rd November, 1936 - 'Life' Magazine is launched

Life Magazine 1st issue 1936

Luce set the tone of the magazine with Margaret Bourke-White’s stunning cover photograph of the Fort Peck Dam, which has since become an icon of the 1930s - image courtesy and © of Life Magazine

On November 23, 1936, the first issue of the pictorial magazine Life is published, featuring a cover photo of the Fort Peck Dam by Margaret Bourke-White.

Life actually had its start earlier in the 20th century as a different kind of magazine: a weekly humor publication, not unlike today’s The New Yorker in its use of tart cartoons, humorous pieces and cultural reporting. When the original Life folded during the Great Depression, the influential American publisher Henry Luce bought the name and re-launched the magazine as a picture-based periodical on this day in 1936. By this time, Luce had already enjoyed great success as the publisher of Time, a weekly news magazine.

From his high school days, Luce was a newsman, serving with his friend Briton Hadden as managing editors of their school newspaper. This partnership continued through their college years at Yale University, where they acted as chairmen and managing editors of the Yale Daily News, as well as after college, when Luce joined Hadden at The Baltimore News in 1921. It was during this time that Luce and Hadden came up with the idea for Time. When it launched in 1923, it was with the intention of delivering the world’s news through the eyes of the people who made it.

Whereas the original mission of Time was to tell the news, the mission of Life was to show it. In the words of Luce himself, the magazine was meant to provide a way for the American people “to see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events … to see things thousands of miles away… to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed… to see, and to show…” Luce set the tone of the magazine with Margaret Bourke-White’s stunning cover photograph of the Fort Peck Dam, which has since become an icon of the 1930s and the great public works completed under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Life was an overwhelming success in its first year of publication. Almost overnight, it changed the way people looked at the world by changing the way people could look at the world. Its flourish of images painted vivid pictures in the public mind, capturing the personal and the public, and putting it on display for the world to take in. At its peak, Life had a circulation of over 8 million and it exerted considerable influence on American life in the beginning and middle of the 20th century.

With picture-heavy content as the driving force behind its popularity,the magazine suffered as television became society’s predominant means of communication. Life ceased running as a weekly publication in 1972, when it began losing audience and advertising dollars to television. In 2004, however, it resumed weekly publication as a supplement to U.S. newspapers. At its re-launch, its combined circulation was once again in the millions. - Source

30th November, 1936 - Fire guts Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

The giant Crystal Palace (built 1851) centre before it was destroyed in a fire in 1936.

Crystal Palace gutted

The original Palace stretched from what is now the bus station to the TV mast - The burnt out shell of a building which was left after the blaze in 1936. Nearly 80 years after it was destroyed, work may begin on a replacement in winter 2015 - both images courtesy of the Associated Press via the Daily Mail

Disaster Strikes - source Crystal Palace Foundation

In 1914 a charitable trust under the control of the Ministry of Education was formed and the trustees hired Henry James Buckland (lately Manager of Harrogate Spa) as the Manager of the Crystal Palace. He was a firm but fair man who had a great love for the Crystal Palace - so much so that he even named one of his daughters Chrystal. Because of the War he was not able to take up his duties until the Navy had moved out. When Henry took over it was evident that the deterioration suffered by the building up to 1913 had worsened further still during the First World War through being used as a Royal Naval Shore Station - HMS Victory. Over 125,000 men and women serving in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), Royal Naval Division (RND), Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) and Women's Royal Naval service (WRNS) were trained there for war service.

Shortly after the War John Logie Baird opened workshops, a television studio and tube manufacturing plant in various parts of the Palace and grounds. Henry and his staff performed miracles on the building and Park, repairing, cleaning, improving and the Palace was even starting to show a slight profit. But on Monday 30th November 1936 something happened to change the now Sir Henry's life and that of the whole area for ever.

At about 7pm he and Chrystal left their house ('Rockhills') on the northern corner of Crystal Palace Parade, to walk their dog. He walked towards the Crystal Palace and noticed a red glow in the building. He ran inside to see two night-watchmen attempting to extinguish a small fire in the office area in the centre transept. It soon became obvious that the situation was very serious. The first fire brigade call was received by Penge fire station at 7:59pm, the first fire engine arriving at 8:03. By the morning of Tuesday 1st December the building was no more. There had been 88 fire engines, 438 officers men from 4 fire brigades and 749 police officers on duty that historic night. The cause was never truly established and stories of arson abounded but because of the size of the building and the huge amounts of flammable material it contained, the cause was probably just a terrible accident. Shortly after the fire there was held a pre-booked engagement that opened a new chapter in the life of Crystal Palace - work started on constructing a tarmac motor-racing track. Following the fire, work started on removing the ironwork and by 1937 most of it had been removed by W. Ward & Co. Ltd, scrap merchants.

8th December, 1936 - Barbara Hulanicki Born

Founder of the Iconic 'Biba' franchise - Barbara Hulanicki, OBE born on 8th December, 1936

BH wearing the OBE

10th December 1936 - Edward VIII signs the Instrument of Abdication

Newspaper headline abdication of Edward VIII

The Daily Sketch dated 11th December 1936 - image courtesy of yooniqueimages via ® John Frost Newspapers/Mary Evans Picture Library

Proclamation of the Duke

King Edward VIII announced his abdication yesterday. The Duke of York is now the King-Designate. it is authoritatively stated that the Accession Council will be held tomorrow morning. The new King will be proclaimed tomorrow afternoon. It is considered likely that he will choose to be known as George VI rather than Albert I. King Edward will leave the country immediately after signing his Act of Abdication - probably tonight. A broadcast by the King to the nation this evening is under consideration. The King on abdicating cannot stay in this country or any other Dominions of the Empire. King Edward will renounce with the Throne all his titles. He will be plain Mr. Windsor. It is probable that his successor will confer a high peerage, probably a dukedom on him.

The King's Note to Premier

With the accession of the new King and the presence of a Queen Consort again it is probable that Queen Mary will be known as Mary, the Queen Mother. Following the announcement by the Speaker in the House of Commons of the Abdication, Mr. Baldwin state that the King said to him many times : "You and I must settle this matter together. I will not have anyone else interfering." "The King said to me," the Premier added, "I am going to marry Mrs. Simpson and I am prepared to go." Mr. Baldwin produced a pencilled note sent to him by the King yesterday morning. It said that the Duke of York and the King " have always been on the best of terms as brothers and the King is confident the Duke deserves and will receive the support of the 'whole Empire'. "I honour and respect him" added the Premier " for the way he behaved at that time. There is not a soul of us who will not regret from the bottom of our heart what has happened but we are not the judges." Just after 4.3- Queen Mary left 145 Picadilly, where she had stayed for about an hour and a half. Crowds rushed forward as she stepped into her car and greeted her with cheers as she drove away. The Duchess of York, is the first Scotswoman since Mary, Queen of Scots to become Queen.

11 December 1936: - Abdication endorsed by Parliament. King broadcasts his decision to the nation on the BBC

Edward VIII broadcasting his abdication speech

On 11 December 1936, Edward made a BBC radio broadcast from Windsor Castle; having abdicated, he was introduced by Sir John Reith as “His Royal Highness Prince Edward”. The official address had been polished by Churchill and was moderate in tone, speaking about Edward’s inability to do his job “as I would have wished” without the support of “the woman I love”. Edward’s reign had lasted 327 days, the shortest of any British monarch since the disputed reign of Lady Jane Grey over 380 years earlier. The day following the broadcast he left Britain for Austria. Image and Source : British Monarchist Foundation

Edward VIII - the Abdication Timeline

The Ford Flathead V8 three-wheeler

Ford Flathead v8

As showcased by J.H. McCrory of the Los Angeles Times and used by the Arrowhead Spring Water Company which is still going strong today.

2016 - 1936 Camper Van

A wonderful story has emerged about a Camper Van that was built in 1936 and has been fully restored following the death of the owner and his wife - I have prepared a condensed version with pictures but you can read the full story here:

A relic from the golden age of British holidays: Britain's first motorhome goes on sale for £40,000 (complete with empty grapefruit tins and Oxo cubes from the 1930s). The 'Pontiac Six' was shipped over from the US by Captain Dunn, from Bexhill-on-Sea, in 1935 for conversion. He asked coach builders to build a home in the back, which features kitchen with oven, sofa and dining room and has remained untouched since 40s but is perfectly preserved and still contains the maps he used to plan trips. Total mileage was only 10,000 miles and still drives well as the engine was turned over every few months by Mrs Dunn.

Original 1936 CamperVan

Off the road: The van is said to have been placed in a barn in the 1940s, raised on blocks with the spark plugs removed and oil tipped into the cylinder bores

Camper Hood Ornament

Crafted: Those who see it are always impressed with the craftsmanship of the motorhome, which people fawn over whenever it is taken to shows. Pictured is the badge on its front

Front cab housing wheelchairCamper interior living space

l to r - Modern living: The sophistication of the amenities on the inside is staggering. Food and drink preparation is carried out from the humble kitchen, where there is a gas oven (pictured, right), stove and two-litre water filter / Time capsule: Empty tins of grapefruit and Oxo cubes (pictured) from the 1930s can be found inside the cupboards and a box of 'Borwick's' baking powder is perched on top of the oven

Camper interior food cupboard Camper interior kitchen / living space

l to r - Perfectly preserved: The 80-year-old vehicle stands as a time-capsule in the 21st century, with original cutlery and crockery while brands from pre-war Britain are dotted around / Driving innovation: The unique vehicle was created by naval aristocrat Captain Dunn, from Bexhill-on-Sea, who shipped a Pontiac Six chassis over from America in 1935 and tasked local coach builders to built a home on the back

Speedometer in Campervan

Like new: The motorhome has done less than 10,000 miles (pictured on the dial, left) since it was made 80 years ago

Restored Campervan

Classic : An 80-year-old motorhome believed to be the first ever built in Britain is expected to fetch £40,000 when it goes up for auction

All images of the Pontiac Six are courtesy and © of Bonhams/BNPS

An 80-year-old motorhome believed to be the first ever built in Britain is expected to fetch £40,000 when it goes up for auction. The unique vehicle was created by naval aristocrat Captain Dunn, from Bexhill-on-Sea, who shipped a Pontiac Six chassis over from America in 1935 and tasked local coach builders to build a home on the back. He then set off into the British countryside behind the wheel but it has remained untouched since Dunn died in the 1940s.

The sophistication of the amenities on the inside is staggering considering it was constructed 80 years ago, boasting the same facilities as a 21st century campervan. Food and drink preparation is carried out from the humble kitchen, where there is a gas oven, stove and two-litre water filter. Sleeping quarters are located at the rear, where the sofa pulls out in to a double bed. There is even a lavatory and the interior is clad with elegant mahogany wood.

The 80-year-old vehicle stands as a time-capsule in the 21st century, with original cutlery and crockery while brands from pre-war Britain are dotted around. Empty tins of grapefruit and oxo cubes from the 1930s can be found inside the cupboards and a box of 'Borwick's' baking powder is perched on top of the oven.

The renovation was carried out by Russell's Coachworks of Bexhill, who were more accustomed to constructing horse drawn fire engines. The blend of American and English styles is clear to see when looking at the finished product, the front end adopting Art Deco, while the rear exemplifies old English. The four-litre motor, which tops out at 50mph, has done under 10,000 miles. Capt Dunn initially made good use of the motorhome and his travels through southern England in the late 1930s are documented in four photo albums that come with the purchase. The travel guides he is thought to have used to plan his journeys are also contained within a drawer in the living area.

Philco Radios Factory opens in Perivale 1935/6

Pbilco Radios UK

Architects sketch for the new Philco building which started being built in 1935

Company History

Philco’s roots date back to 1892 when the Heilos Electric Company was founded in Philadelphia.  Its primary product then was the storage battery, and in 1906 the company changed its name to the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company and adopted the abbreviated name Philco.  Its history as an exporter goes back as far back as 1916 when it began exporting Philco batteries to Great Britain and Latin America under the Philco trademark.

Several significant dates and events marked Philco’s place in the appliance industry.  Here are some of them:

1920’s and 1930’s:
Business expanded so rapidly that subsidiaries were established and production licenses issued around the world.  Argentina, Canada and Great Britain became productive extensions of the Philco name.  Philco became famous for that period included the first hermetically sealed room air conditioner and the use of foam in refrigerator insulation. Source : Philco International

Philco in 2014

Still standing in 2015

Philco Radio Factory Assembly Line

The photo caption read: “Putting the finishing touches to a batch of the new Philco 'People's Radio' in the Philco factory at Perivale in Middlesex.” Women workers at Perivale Philco radio factory, Middlesex, 20 April 1936.

Workers at Perivale Philco radio factory, London, 31 August 1936. One of a series of photographs taken by Daily Herald staff photographer, Edward G. Malindine, during a visit to the new production line at the Philco Radio & Television Corporation factory in Perivale in London. The radio was designed to be mass produced so that the price could be kept down to six guineas ( £6 6s 0d). The cabinet was made from moulded Bakelite, which was the first plastic to be used for making radios. Bakelite was a plastic formed when phenol formaldehyde was combined with a wood flour filler. It was a useful mouldable plastic, with very good electrical insulating properties. Its trade name 'Bakelite' was derived from the name of its inventor, Leo Baekeland.

Lucky Perivale to have such wonders built there

Well - that's what I thought when I found the Philco factory images - I already knew that Hoover had built their (dare I say it) iconic building there now owned by Tesco and thriving - and the Philco building, although now owned/leased by Playwell was doing well until 2015 when the dream went up in flames!

Extract from

The population of Perivale, before the twentieth century, was tiny. In 1664 and in 1841, there were only five inhabited buildings. These were the farm houses; Horsenden Farm to the northwest, Grange Farm and Church Farm in the southwest, Manor Farm to the east and Alperton farm to the north. Only 28 people lived in Perivale in 1801 and in 1901, only 60.  The major development in transport was the coming of the roads. These were Greenford Road, which ran north to south and the Western Avenue, built in the 1930s. Because Perivale had so few buildings, was so close to central London and now had such excellent transport links (canal, rail and road), it seemed ideal for new buildings, both industrial and residential.

Many factories were built in Perivale between 1930 and 1939. They centred on the Western Avenue, Horsenden Lane and the branch Paddington Canal. There was also industrial building to the north of the railway line and in and around Wadsworth Road and Bideford Avenue. One of the first factories, which was built in 1929, was Sanderson Wallpapers Ltd. When they opened, they employed 900 people. By 1963, they employed 1650 people and their premises had expanded to ten acres. Perhaps the most famous factory is that facing the Western Avenue, which was opened in 1932 by Hoover Ltd. They sold vacuum cleaners and other household appliances. By 1963 they employed more than 3000 people. In 1982, they closed but the art deco building was preserved, being used by the supermarket Tesco's. Both Sanderson's and Hoover's were, in the 1930s, thought to be model factories, in which the workers enjoyed good working conditions. Apart from the building of factories, many houses were also built. Much of this initially occurred to the north of the Western Avenue and between the railway line and the canal.

More on 1936 here

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Page updated : 11th May 2017