Mystery photos of Brighton and Hove

Walking the Globe from London to Brighton

By David Ransom

I recently purchased a very strange photograph which apparently had been found under floorboards in a house in Burgess Hill. Then, much to my surprise, I found a postcard which shows a different view of the same event.

At least three of the people in both views are the same. Perhaps they are Mdlle Florence's minders? Can anyone date this event and tell me why it happened? The postcard was published by 'Rapid Art Photography. Brighton Palace Pier', it is undated.

Photo:Walking the globe

Walking the globe

From the private collection of David Ransom

Photo:Walking the globe

Walking the globe

From the private collection of David Ransom

This page was added on 13/08/2008.
Comments about this page

I think this is the London solicitors' walk from London to Brighton which was a yearly event. I recall seeing a photo similar to this taken at the Kings Head Pub in Albourne.

By Bob (13/08/2008)

The lady depicted was Mademoiselle Florence who, in June 1903, walked her 2 foot diameter globe from London to Brighton over a period of 3 days and 22 hours.  She was reputed to be the Champion Globe Walker of the World and appeared regularly at the Empire Theatre. Here she demonstrated feats such as descending a flight of steps and performing dance routines upon her globe.  Globe walking was popularised as a music hall and variety act, particularly by a Madame Alphonsine about 20 years prior to this.

By Andy Grant (15/08/2008)

Florence shown walking on the globe was my great-grandmother. I have been searching for a photograph of this for several years.

By Simone Williamson (17/01/2009)

Hi Simone, I'm glad you have found this photograph at last. Would you like a better scan?

By David Ransom (11/03/2009)

I googled the lady globe walker this evening because earlier today I came across a similar photo and reference in 'Victorian and Edwardian Sussex From Old Photographs' by James S Gray ISBN 071340311 pub BT Batsford London. The book states that she took approximately a week to cover the distance from London to Brighton, on a 75lb ball, arriving at the Aquarium in Brighton at 2.45pm on Sunday 21 June 1903, having reputedly worn through 7 pairs of boots. Apparently she got off at each mile marker and rested 3 hours per day. I was hoping to find out more...

By Kahn Priestley (03/06/2009)

I have just seen the message posted about Florence walking the globe asking if I would like a better scan of the photographs posted here. I would appreciate that very much if that is still possible.

By Simone Williamson (29/11/2010)

We have a different picture of her on a post card.

By Willis Thorpe (26/03/2011)

A belated comment re the London to Brighton Globe Walk: there's a full article in the Sussex Daily News of Monday the 22nd June, 1903 in which it's stated that Mlle Florence arrived at the Aquarium "in the small hours" (of Sunday 21st June) - so presumably around 2.45am. Her original intention was to merely access the Borough of Brighton (which at that date would have been close to Harrington Road in Preston where she, by chance, took a rest on the way into the town). Despite the late hour of her arrival, the crowds who had gathered to welcome her delayed her final arrival at the sea front.

By Peter Booth (05/05/2011)

I am working on a research project about this woman, and the Edwardian period, the lives of women etc. Mademoiselle Florence is an intriguing and inspiring example of a woman of that period. If anyone could supply me with any more biographical information about her I would really appreciate it. Especially the lady who is her great granddaughter! Thanks.

By Tara Gould (04/06/2011)

I too am a distant relative of this incredible lady. The photo I have has been taken from the front of the ball and the gentleman standing next to Florence is my great-grandfather Isaac Thomas West. Isaac went on to marry Florence's sister Susan (my great grandmother). Thank you for the other photos which are of a much better quality than the one I have.

By Rhonda Fardon (21/08/2011)

How did she keep her balance on that ball for 3 days?!

 

By Aaron (09/12/2013)

Mlle Florence appeared at Brighton Hippodrome in the week beginning 3 August 1903, already billed as 'champion globe walker of the world'. She had been filmed on her approach to Brighton by 'Hove pioneer' George Albert Smith.

By David Fisher (21/08/2016)

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