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Luncheon party to French and English Aviators

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Luncheon party to French and English Aviators

by Benjamin Stone
platinum print, 15 September 1909
6 1/8 in. x 8 in. (154 mm x 202 mm) image size
Given by House of Commons Library, 1974
Photographs Collection
NPG x32600

Artistback to top

  • Sir (John) Benjamin Stone (1838-1914), Politician and photographer. Artist associated with 1436 portraits, Sitter in 28 portraits.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

Photographed on the terrace of the House of Commons on the occasion of the lunch party held by the MP and photographer Sir Benjamin Stone.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 163 Read entry

    The sitters are: (front row, left to right) Edward Purkis Frost 1842-1922, aviator; Louis Blériot 1872-1936, pioneer aviator; Samuel Franklin Cody 1861-1913, aviator; Alfred du Cros MP, 1868-1946; Frank Hedges Butler 1855-1928, founder of the Aeroplane Club; Col. Harry Stanley Massy 1850-1920, soldier; (back row, left to right) Sir Alliot Verdon-Roe 1877-1958, aviator; Sir George Renwick, Bt. MP, 1850-1931; John Martin 1847¬1944, journalist; D. Macnamara; S. Renwick; Captain Sir Reginald Ambrose Cave-Browne-Cave, Bt. 1860-1930, Royal Navy; Thomas Power O'Connor MP, 1848-1929; the Hon. Charles Steward Rolls 1877-1910, Managing Director of Rolls-Royce; Lt.-Col. the Hon. Robert Lygon 1879-1952, soldier; William James Stuart Lockyer 1868-1936, explorer and astronomer.

    On 25 July 1909 Louis Blériot became the first person to fly the English Channel, crossing in a time of twenty-seven minutes. The military significance of this feat was appreciated by both the British government and public, and the War Office became for the first time involved in the development of aircraft. On 15 September Sir Benjamin Stone MP gave a lunch party in Blériot's honour at the Houses of Parliament, and the guests included many of the pioneer aviators of the day, among them the American Cody (front row, third from left), bearing signs of a recent crash, who was there against doctor's orders: 'He told his doctor … that he should go if he died that night. (Cheers)', as a contemporary report of his speech that day records.

    Stone was an enthusiastic amateur photographer, and, as Conservative MP for Birmingham East for fourteen years, he made it his task to photograph every MP as well as servants and visitors to the Houses of Parliament. The Gallery owns two thousand of his photographs, an invaluable record of the comings and goings about Westminster in the early years of this century.

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Current affairs

The American retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge opens the first British custom-built department store on what was then the 'dead end' of Oxford Street. The revolutionary complex, considered the world's largest at the time, transforms shopping, offering diverse amenities including a post office and a library, and modernises the visual face of retailing through innovative window displays.

Art and science

The Frenchman Louis Bleriot becomes the first person to cross the English channel by aeroplane, winning the £1,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail, and greeted by cheering crowds at Dover station. Bleriot's flight also showed that England was, as H.G. Wells put it, from a military point of view 'no longer an inaccessible island'.
In dance, Alexandre Benois becomes the first artistic director of Sergey Diaghilev's innovative Ballets Russes.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is founded in America to campaign for the rights of African Americans. One of the oldest and most influential civil rights movements, it was founded by a diverse group of individuals from mixed backgrounds, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida Wells-Barnett, Henry Moscowitz and William English Walling.
The Selig Polyscope company sets up the first film studio in Los Angeles.

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