Category Archives: August

Britain’s first known car fatality

It happened on Monday 17th August 1896 when Bridget Driscoll was knocked down by Arthur Edsell who was reportedly driving at 4mph.

The Morning Post’s report on Friday 21st tells us that Mr Percy Morrison held an inquest at Penge on the body of Bridget Driscoll, the 44 year old wife of a labourer of 137 Old Town, Croydon, who was fatally injured by a motor-car at the Crystal Palace on Monday 17th August.

May Driscoll, daughter of the deceased, said she had gone to the Palace with her mother and a friend named Elizabeth Murphy to see the Catholic fete connected with the League of the Cross taking place that day.  They were on the Terrace when she saw three motor cars approaching, the last one of which was coming at a very fast rate, and going from one side of the road to the other.  The ladies safely avoided the first two cars, but the third one, which was a good distance behind, swayed towards them. As soon as Miss Driscoll had run close to the rails she turned and saw the car passing over her mother.

At the subsequent inquest the Coroner [c] asked: Did the car knock the deceased down?’  The Witness [w] replied: ‘Yes’.

[c]: ‘Did the driver appear to be attending properly to his duty?’

[w]: ‘I don’t think he understood how to drive; he kept going from one side to the other, whereas the other two were going straight.’

[c]:’Did your mother do anything to warn the driver?’

[w]: ‘Yes, she put her umbrella up.’

[c]: ‘Was your mother quite sober?’

[w]: ‘Yes, and I am sure she did not fall down in front of the car.’

The jury returned a verdict of “accidental death” after an inquest enduring some six hours, and no prosecution was made.

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It was just ‘One of those days’.

We’ve all had one of these – for me Friday 14th August 1908 was one of them.  The information sources I found told me that this day was the days of ‘The first International Beauty Contest in Britain – it was held at the Pier Hippodrome at Folkestone in Kent.’   That was all that was said!  I dug deeper and found another source that said that ‘Felixstowe held the first international beauty contest on 14 August 1908. Entries were said to include six English girls, three French, one Irish, one Austrian and ‘a number of fisher girls from Boulogne’ – and nothing more!  I dug further and finally found ‘The West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser’ and that told me that:

‘Folkestone Beauty Show: A crowded audience assembled at the Pier Pavilion on Friday evening in connection with the final of the International Ladies’ Beauty Show. Three visitors and three residents had been selected by the votes of the audience to compete against a selection of foreign beauties – representatives from Paris, Boulogne, Vienna and America. The English visitors all came from London. They were Miss Nellie Jarman from East Molesey; Miss Lever from Maida-vale and Miss Winnie Pickworth of Chelsea – who were adjudged first, second and third respectively at the preliminary adjudication. The former lady is an accomplished long-distance swimmer. The prizes were a grand cottage piano, a lady’s cycle and a gold watch. The Mayors of Folkstone, Hythe and Maidstone superintended the voting on Friday in which the audience took part. Whilst the counting process went on the ladies sat in full view of the audience.  Amidst a scene of great enthusiasm the Mayor announced the winners as follows:             

At 3rd place with 209 votes – Miss Winnie Osborn, Folkestone

At 2nd place  with 346 votes – Miss Asta Fleming of Vienna with 346 votes

At 1st place with 470 vote we have Miss Nellie Jarman, East Molesey

Each of the losers was presented with a souvenir medal. 

I must admit that I would have loved to watched this