Brighton Food and Drink Festival, 1 September – 4 October 2011
A hundred years ago, a particularly fascinating dinner took place at the Royal York Hotel in Brighton. The Sussex Motor Yacht Club celebrated Oscar Morison’s achievement of being the first person to fly from ‘London to Brighton’.
A representation of Morison’s Bleriot monoplane had been created in flowers.
‘Pink azaleas formed the main body of the machine; the wing-like planes were made of yellow narcissus; the propeller was of scarlet geraniums’
The menu card recorded the event with a symbolic design (see illustration to the right)
‘depicting Mr. Morison sprouting a fine pair of wings and soaring above the clouds and seagulls..’
Morison autographed many of the menu cards including the one now in the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery collection. His signature can be seen between the two red crosses.
Alderman Geere (Brighton’s Deputy-Mayor) pointed out during his speech that on one occasion a lady walked from London to Brighton on a ball but this was the first time that someone had arrived by aeroplane. He continued by saying that the aeroplane was no longer a romance but a reality and thought it desirable that Brighton should have a proper flying station.
The menu was in French but translation renders it slightly more mundane. Saumon bouilli Concombres becomes boiled salmon with cucumber and Poulet en Cocotte Bouquetaire becomes chicken casserole.
Various toasts were made including one to Mr. Morison by Alderman Geere and a toast to ‘Brighton’ was made by Sir John Blaker (former Mayor of Brighton).
In fact Morison had originally intended to fly only from Brooklands airfield to Cobham, Surrey, but the weather was so good that he telephoned local personality and owner of the Royal York Hotel, Harry Preston, and said to expect him in Brighton. He landed on Brighton beach in just over hour.
Paul Jordan, Senior History Centre Officer