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Memories of Gladstone Adams

It was such a novelty to see a car in those days it was put into a car showroom window while he went to the match.

My father in law, Captain Gladstone Adams, was born in 1880 and at one time was Chairman of Whitley Bay Urban District Council.

In April 1908 he drove down to Wembley in a 1904 Darracq-Charron motor car, to see Newcastle play against Wolves in the FA Cup final (Wolves won that year).  It was such a novelty to see a car in those days that it was put into a car showroom window while he was down there because so many people wanted to see it.  On the way back from the cup final snow kept getting on the windscreen and Gladstone had to keep getting out of the car to clear it.  This experience led to his invention of the windscreen wiper.  In April 1911 Gladstone patented the design of a windscreen wiper with Sloan & Lloyd Barnes, patent agents of Liverpool.

In World War I, he served in the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the RAF and one of his duties was to arrange the burial of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the ‘Red Baron’ after he had been shot down and killed.  When World War II broke out he was sixty years of age, too old for active service.  However, he joined the Whitley Bay Air Training Corps.  A trophy given by him to the cadets is still awarded each year and bears his name, the Gladstone Adams Cup.

Gladstone was a professional photographer and he owned two studios, one in Barras Bridge in Newcastle and the other in Station Road, Whitley Bay.  As well as running a business he was also a local councillor, becoming Chairman of Whitley Bay Urban District Council.  One of his official duties at that time was to attend the Duke of Northumberland’s wedding in St Margaret’s Westminster (the present Duke’s mother and father).  Coming out of St Margaret’s, one of the crowd standing outside shouted ‘there’s Gladdy Adams of Whitley Bay’.  I think they were amazed to see an ‘ordinary’ person at such a society event.

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