Nobody commented on the Wokingham Whale. Above is a photograph of this unlikely beast, dating from 1910 or so. All I know about it is from the Globe and this site, which has several other photos as well.
The Whale was not an airship, although that word was used to describe it. Despite the shape, that's not a gasbag but a fuselage. A 80hp engine was to drive a 1200rpm 'rotoscope' (presumably meaning a propeller, which Patrick Alexander apparently designed). The 'portholes' are actually to slide poles through, to support canvas wings. The fuselage was 66 feet long, and was designed to extend 'telescopically' to 140 feet in length. It would be fitted for long-distance overseas flights, with seats, electric lights, hammocks and toilets.
It's clearly an example of reach exceeding grasp: there's no way something that big and solid could be made to fly with the technologies of 1910. I don't understand what the point of a telescoping fuselage would be, either. But we do travel overseas today in long enclosed tubes with the amenities mentioned (minus the hammocks!), so the Whale's inventor, A. M. Farbrother (owner of a Wokingham joinery), did have some insight into the future of aviation.
Unfortunately, Farbrother sold his own cottage to fund his flying machine. He and the locals who also contributed must have been bitterly disappointed when money ran out and the fuselage broken up.
Supposedly Flight had some contemporary articles about the Whale but a quick search didn't turn up anything.
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