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Elements of this Lagos Nigeria era remain with us, including the mainline railway stations that, with their high, arched iron and glass roofs to protect boarding passengers from soot, Lagos Nigeria smoke, rain and snow, were the point of departure in this first era of mass adventure travel. But a contemporary Fogg would likely leave his ‘man’ behind as he set out from Lagos Nigeria on the Heathrow express. Armed with a round-the-world ticket, his circumnavigation would take considerably less than eighty hours, not days. Passing the time before boarding he might (rather than pencilling notes in his Bradshaw) Lagos Nigeria check his email in the British Airways Galleries Lounge, where the interior and furnishings are considerably plainer and more utilitarian than those in a first-class Victorian railway waiting room.

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That nineteenth century stylistic heaviness was already passing when the Wright Brothers made the first powered flight (1903) at Kitty Hawk Sands, North Carolina. In both private homes and public buildings, the ornate balustrades and dark mahogany of Victorian furniture were being replaced by the straight lines, more modest oak and built-in bookcases that we associate with the Edwardians and the Arts and Crafts movement. The Art Nouveau ornateness of William Morris wallpaper and elegant Tiffany light fittings provided a measure of decoration, but the overall effect on architecture and furniture was to emphasise simplicity and utility. First emerging in France, the next stylistic transformation was to an even lighter ‘architecture of the air’, though the full impact of Art Deco was delayed for a decade by the horror of the Great War.

In Fogg’s England, the Edwardian era bowed out with the accession of George V, who saw during his reign (1910-36) both the accelerated evolution of the flying machine and the emergence of Art Deco silverware, including the 1935 Crown coin that bears his likeness. Airplane design advanced rapidly with the First World War, as military necessity ensured that construction dominated by wooden struts, exposed wires and fragile fabrics soon yielded to the greater use of metals, more aerodynamic designs and better protection for the pilot. The idea of individual combat high above the blood and mud of the trenches, the image of the fighting airplane flying free, burned itself into our consciousness. Many of those knights of the air burned too, as they were not given parachutes and, depending on the aircraft model, were seated right behind, or in front of, the highly flammable gas tank.

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