30 November 1936

The Crystal Palace in London is destroyed by fire.

On November 30, 1936, the Crystal Palace, an iconic structure which had come to epitomise the pomp of the Victorian era, was destroyed by one of the greatest fires ever seen in London.

The 990,000 square foot cast iron and plate glass building was constructed in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition in 1851, at the behest of the Queen’s husband Prince Albert. In 1854 it was redesigned and reconstructed on Penge Common, by Sydenham Hill in South East London.

At just after 7pm on the evening of November 30 the Palace’s manager, Sir Henry Buckland, was walking in the grounds of the building when he saw a red glow emanating from it. He found two nightwatchmen trying to douse a fire that had begun in the women’s cloakroom and spread to the central transept.

The blaze took hold with alarming speed as the flames, helped by a strong wind, swept across the Palace’s acres of timber flooring, up into galleries and along glazing bars. The Penge Fire Brigade was not called until nearly 8pm; by that time, the building was an inferno.

1 August 1936

The Summer Olympics are opened in Berlin by Adolf Hitler.

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In 1933, Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and quickly turned the nation’s fragile democracy into a one-party dictatorship. Police rounded up thousands of political opponents, detaining them without trial in concentration camps. The Nazi regime also put into practice racial policies that aimed to “purify” and strengthen the Germanic “Aryan” population.

A relentless campaign began to exclude Germany’s one-half million Jews from all aspects of German life. For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler camouflaged his antisemitic and expansionist agenda while Berlin hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Hoping to impress the many foreign visitors who were in Germany for the games, Hitler authorized a brief relaxation in anti-Jewish activities (including even the removal of signs barring Jews from public places).

The games were a resounding propaganda success for the Nazis. They presented foreign spectators with the image of a peaceful and tolerant Germany. Here, Hitler formally opens the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. Inaugurating a new Olympic ritual, a lone runner arrived bearing a torch carried by relay from the site of the ancient Games in Olympia, Greece.

15 June 1936

The first flight of the Vickers Wellington bomber.

The Wellington, which served Bomber Command so well in the early years of World War II, is remembered by the RAF and the people of Britain as the ‘Wimpey’ – a nickname derived from an American cartoon character possessing the proud name J. Wellington Wimpey. It was designed to meet an Air Ministry requirement for a long-range medium bomber under Specification B.9/32 and evolved as a mid-wing monoplane with a fuselage of oval cross-section. Both of these major structures were of the geodetic construction which Barnes Wallis had introduced in the Wellesley. But experience with the latter and development of the geodetic concept made it possible for the individual components (which were built up into the ‘basket-weave’ structure) to be smaller and lighter in weight without any loss of structuial integrity by comparison with the Wellesley. Wings, fuselage and tail unit were fabric-covered; power plant comprised two wing-mounted engines; and the tailwheel-type landing-gear units were hydraulically retractable.

‘Heavy’ defensive armament – comprising five machine-guns in nose and tail turrets and a ventral dustbin – would, it was believed, enable a flight of these aircraft to put up such a curtain of fire that fighter escort would be superfluous. Those who held such beliefs (as for the Boeing B-17 Fortress developed in America) were to discover their error very quickly.

The prototype Wellington made its first flight on 15 June 1936, but it was not until October 1938 that production aircraft began to enter RAF service. Less than one year later (on 4 September 1939) Wellingtons were in action against targets in Germany. Early deployment on daylight raids showed that these and other British bomber aircraft were extremely vulnerable to fighter attack. Following the loss of ten Wellingtons from a force of 24 despatched on an armed reconnaissance of Wilhelmshaven on 18 December 1939, the type was withdrawn from daylight operations. As a night bomber, however, the Wellington proved an invaluable weapon during the early years of Bomber Command’s offensive against Germany.

1 March 1936

The Hoover Dam is finished.

Hoover Dam, also known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete gravity-arch dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada. The dam, located 48 km southeast of Las Vegas, is named after Herbert Hoover, who played an instrumental role in its construction, first as Secretary of Commerce and then later as President of the United States. Construction began in 1931 and was completed in 1936, over two years ahead of schedule. The dam & the powerplant are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, Hoover Dam was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985. Lake Mead is the reservoir created behind the dam, named after Elwood Mead, who oversaw the construction of the dam.

Before the construction of the dam, the Colorado River Basin periodically overflowed its banks when snow from the Rocky Mountains melted and drained into the river. These floods endangered downstream farming communities. In addition to essential flood control, a dam would make possible the expansion of irrigated farming in the parched region. It would also provide a dependable supply of water for Los Angeles and other Southern California communities.

One of the major obstacles for the project was determining the equitable allocation of the waters of the Colorado River. Several of the Colorado River Basin states feared that California, with its vast financial resources and great thirst for water, would be the first state to begin beneficial use of the waters of the Colorado River and therefore claim rights to the majority of the water. It was clear that without some sort of an agreement on the distribution of water, the project could not proceed.

 

 

30 November 1936

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The Crystal Palace in London is destroyed by fire.

On November 30, 1936, the Crystal Palace, an iconic structure which had come to epitomise the pomp of the Victorian era, was destroyed by one of the greatest fires ever seen in London. The 990,000 square foot cast iron and plate glass building was constructed in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition in 1851, at the behest of the Queen’s husband Prince Albert. In 1854 it was redesigned and reconstructed on Penge Common, by Sydenham Hill in South East London.

The blaze took hold with alarming speed as the flames, helped by a strong wind, swept across the Palace’s acres of timber flooring, up into galleries and along glazing bars. The Penge Fire Brigade was not called until nearly 8pm; by that time, the building was an inferno. Despite the best efforts of 88 fire appliances and 438 men from four brigades, the building could not be saved, its central transept collapsing with a deafening roar. Buckland told reporters that the magnificent structure would “live in the memories not only of Englishmen, but the whole world”.