Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

The Avro biplane which landed on the Barley Fields at Heckmondwike on October 1, 1913.
The Avro biplane which landed on the Barley Fields at Heckmondwike on October 1, 1913.

A glance up at the skies in 21st century Britain reveals a criss-cross of vapour trails from aircraft jetting off to all sorts of destinations.

But a hundred years ago it was a very different story with very few people having ever seen an aeroplane – as this picture of bemused Heckmondwike folk shows.

Tramcar No 19 at the Birkenshaw terminus in Bradford Road.

Tramcar No 19 at the Birkenshaw terminus in Bradford Road.

The photograph was taken on October 1, 1913, when an Avro biplane landed on the Barley Fields.

According to Norman Ellis’s book, Images of England – Spen Valley, the pilot, F P Raynham was flying from Gainsborough to Moortown in Leeds, to take part in an air race.

Mistaking Heckmondwike for the Leeds area, he landed a few miles short of his destination.

Policemen controlled the crow which gathers, until the plane was able to leave after seven hours.

A decorated cart in Oakenshaw.

A decorated cart in Oakenshaw.

Norman’s book also shows other forms of transport which people used to take to get around one hundred years ago.

This picture of a decorated cart was taken in Oakenshaw and carries the name of E W Lister and Co, who were worsted spinners at Oak Mills on Cliff Hollins Lane.

It is shown decorated for a roual occasion, possibly the June 1911 coronation. (p120)

Apart from trains, tramcars were the most popular method of public transport and this photograph of tramcar No 19 was taken at the Birkenshaw terminus in Bradford Road, with driver Sam Cooper.

The tramcar was originally open topped, but when the photograph was taken it had received a top cover, designed to fit inside the upper deck sides.

The handbell near the driver replaced an earlier foot gong.

These and other features suggest the photograph was taken around the time of the First World War.