History of Famous British Engineers, Buildings and inventions

28/09/2012 12:06

Please click on above underlined link and then scroll down page for articles

 England is one of the oldest European countries ( over 1000 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. As I have many generations going back to the 7th. century England I thought it would be of interest to write about England's famous people and events.        


The longitude's Marine Chronometer by John Harrison (24 March 1693 – 24 March 1776)

Famous Victorian London Engineer Joseph Bazalgette

Sir Christopher Wren – London Icon

The Crystal Palace Exhibition – London 1851

The London Hackney Carrieage and Hansom Cab – History from 1625

London Routemaster Buses – History

England's House of Parliament - It's History

London Underground – The World's First Underground Railway

The British Invention - Cheques and Their History

 History of Stocks and Shares London from 1688 to Present

London Bridges and Other Thames Crossings – History

List of British Royal Societies

The Royal Mint – Its English 1,100 years of History

Invention of The 17th Century Corkscrew – England

Tower of London – London Icon

Tower Bridge – London Icon

The History of Television - England 1924

British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC History

The Freemasons – It's English Origins and History

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee Inventor of The World Wide Web

 Famous British Engineers – History

British Space Satellites – History

Sir George Cayley, 6th Baronet - The World’s First First Flight - 1849  

The Spitfire – A British Icon

The First VTOL Harrier Jump Jet – A British Icon 1941

Concorde – A British Icon

Sir Isaac Newton – Iconic Scientist – Scientist, Alchemist and Ghost Hunter

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882

Edward Somerset – English Inventor of The First Steam Engine 1653

The First Steam Locomotive – England 1804

Smithfield Market – London Icon

Dr. John Dee An English 16th. Century Alchemist and Ghost Hunter

My Invention – The Unique Virtual Newspaper

Whitefriars Glass – 17th Century History

Windsor Castle – It's Royal Hauntings

Cats Eyes for the Roads– Invented by Percy Shaw 1933

Sir Alexander Fleming – Discoverer of Penicillin

History of The Tank – An England Icon

Jigsaw Puzzles – An English Iconic Game

Stainless Steel – It's English Discovery 1912

The Globe Theatre – London Icon

Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Make

Hawk-Eye The Electronic Referee

History of the RNLI – Royal National Lifeboat Institution – 1824

History of Her Majesty's Coastguard – UK 1809

History of The Poppy Appeal – British Iconic Charity

Josiah Wedgewood (1730-1795) – Potter, Designer and Industrialist

History of World's First Double Yellow Lines - England 1958

History of Zebra Crossings England 1949

Oldest English Brewery and The First Registered Trademark

Cambridge University – History 1209 AD

Oxford University – History from 1096 AD

The Greenwich Prime Meridian

The Press Gang and Its English History

 History Of  English and British Astronomer Royal's

The Neck Tie and It's History

The Morgan Motor Company - The Oldest Continuusly Manufactured Car Maker

Thomas Telford Victorian Engineer 1757 to 1834

Thomas Chippendale 1718 - 1779 Designer and Cabinet Maker

The Great and Good of Britain Buried at Westminster Abbey

Dr. John Snow 1813 to 1858 who found the Source of Cholera

Samuel Johnson 1709 to 1784 an English icon

Inventor of the Pea Whistle by Englishman Joseph Hudson ( 1848-1930 )

History of English Music Hall and Variety Theatre

History of English Theatres

The Union Jack – Iconic British Flag

History of The Passport – England 1414 AD

Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) Pioneer of Umbrella

English Toby Jugs – History

The First Powered Passenger Car and Bus – England 1801

My Favourite British Iconic Cars

History of The Hovercraft

The World's First Electric House – England 1878

Sir JOSEPH WILSON SWAN – Inventor of Light Bulb - England 1878

Sir Francis Walsingham – Spymaster to Queen Elizabeth 1

Isambard Kingdom Brunel ( 1806-1859 )

Wymering Manor House – The Most Haunted House in England

Jeremiah Chubb (1793-1860) and Charles Chubb (1779-1846)

The Victoria Cross – It's History

English Wine and It's History

History of The 17th Century Corkscrew – England

English Morris Dancing – History

History of the English Constitution AD 890 to Present day

English Kings and Queens from 774 AD to Present Day

he English Translated Magna Carta

List of British Royal Societies

History of British Police and Funny Art

England's Trial by Jury


The longitude's Marine Chronometer by John Harrison (24 March 1693 – 24 March 1776)

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and I have a keen interest in English and British history especially English hero's like John Harrison I thought I would write this article.

John Harrison (24 March 1693 – 24 March 1776) was a self-educated English Clockmaker and Yorkshire Carpenter who invented the marine chronometer, a long-sought device in solving the problem of establishing the East-West position or Longitude of a ship at sea, thus revolutionising and extending the possibility of safe long distance sea travel in the Age of Sail. The problem was considered so intractable that the British Parliament offered a prize of £20,000 (comparable to £2.87million / €3.65million / $4.72million in modern currency) for the solution.

John Harrison was born in Foulby near Wakefield in West Yorkshire the first of five children in his family. His father worked as a carpenter at the nearby Nostell Priory estate. The house where he was born bears a blue plaque.

Around 1700, the family moved to the North Lincolnshire village of Barrow upon humber. Following his father's trade as a carpenter, Harrison built and repaired clocks in his spare time. Legend has it that at the age of six while in bed with smallpox he was given a watch to amuse himself, spending hours listening to it and studying its moving parts.

In 1730 Harrison created a description and drawings for a proposed marine clock to compete for the

Longitude Prize and went to London seeking financial assistance. He presented his ideas to Edmond Halley, the Astronomer Royal. Halley referred him to George Graham the country's foremost clockmaker. He must have been impressed by Harrison, for Graham personally loaned Harrison money to build a model of his marine clock.

It took Harrison five years to build Harrison Number One or H1. He demonstrated it to members of the Royal Society who spoke on his behalf to the Board of Longitude. The clock was the first proposal that the Board considered to be worthy of a sea trial. In 1736, Harrison sailed to Lisbon on HMS Centurion and returned on HMS Oxford. On their return, both the captain and the sailing master of the Orford praised the design. The master noted that his own calculations had placed the ship sixty miles east of its true landfall which had been correctly predicted by Harrison using H1.

This was not the transatlantic voyage demanded by the Board of Longitude, but the Board was impressed enough to grant Harrison £500 for further development. Harrison moved on to develop H2, a more compact and rugged version. In 1741, after three years of building and two of on-land testing, H2 was ready, but by then Britain was at war with Spain in the War of Austrian succession and the mechanism was deemed too important to risk falling into Spanish hands. In any event, Harrison suddenly abandoned all work on this second machine when he discovered a serious design flaw in the concept of the bar balances. He was granted another £500 by the Board while waiting for the war to end, which he used to work on H3. Harrison spent seventeen years working on this third 'sea clock' but despite every effort it seems not to have performed exactly as he would have wished. Despite this, it had proved a very valuable experiment. Certainly in this machine Harrison left the world two enduring legacies — the bimetallic strip and the caged roller bearing.

After steadfastly pursuing various methods during thirty years of experimentation, Harrison moved to London in the late 1750's where to his surprise he found that some of the watches made by Graham's successor Thomas Mudge kept time just as accurately as his huge sea clocks. Harrison then realized that a mere watch after all could be made accurate enough for the task and was a far more practical proposition for use as a marine timekeeper. He proceeded to redesign the concept of the watch as a timekeeping device, basing his design on sound scientific principles.

He had already in the early 1750's designed a precision watch for his own personal use, which was made for him by the watchmaker John Jefferys C. 1752 - 53. This watch incorporated a novel frictional rest escapement and was also probably the first to have both temperature compensation and a going fusee, enabling the watch to continue running whilst being wound. These features led to the very successful performance of this "Jefferys" watch and therefore Harrison incorporated them into the design of two new timekeepers which he proposed to build. These were in the form of a large watch and another of a smaller size but of similar pattern. However only the larger No. 1 (or "H4" as it sometimes called) watch appears ever to have been finished. (See the reference to "H6" below) Aided by some of London's finest workmen, he proceeded to design and make the world's first successful marine timekeeper that for the first time, allowed a navigator to accurately assess his ship's position in Longitude. Importantly, Harrison showed everyone that it could be done. This was to be Harrison's masterpiece — an instrument of beauty, resembling an oversized pocket watch from the period. It is engraved with Harrison's signature, marked Number 1 and dated 1759.

This first marine watch (or "Sea watch" as Harrison called it) is a 5.2" diameter watch in silver pair cases. The movement has a novel type of escapement which can be classed as a frictional rest type, and superficially resembles the verge escapement with which it is often incorrectly associated. The pallets of this escapement are both made of diamond, a considerable feat of manufacture at the time. The balance spring is a flat spiral but for technical reasons the balance itself was made much larger than in a conventional watch of the period. The movement also has centre seconds motion with a sweep seconds hand. The Third Wheel is equipped with internal teeth and has an elaborate bridge similar to the balance cocks of the period. It runs at 5 beats (ticks) per second, and is equipped with a tiny remontoire. A balance-brake stops the watch half an hour before it is completely run down, in order that the remontoire does not run down also. Temperature compensation is in the form of a 'compensation curb' (or 'Thermometer Kirb' as Harrison put it). This takes the form of a bimetallic strip mounted on the regulator sector-rack, and carrying the curb pins at the free end. During development of No.1, Harrison abandoned the regulator, but left the regulator disc in place for æsthetic reasons, and the compensation.

H4 took six years to construct and Harrison, by then 68 years old, sent it on its transatlantic trial in the care of his son, William, in 1761. When HMS Deptford reached Jamaica the watch was 5 seconds slow, corresponding to an error in longitude of 1.25 minutes, or approximately one nautical mile. When the ship returned, Harrison waited for the £20,000 prize but the Board believed the accuracy was just luck and demanded another trial. The Harrisons were outraged and demanded their prize, a matter that eventually worked its way to Parliament, which offered £5,000 for the design. The Harrisons refused but were eventually obliged to make another trip to the Caribbean city of Bridgetown on the island of Barbados to settle the matter.

At the time of the trial, another method for measuring longitude was ready for testing: the Method of Lunar Distances. The moon moves fast enough, some twelve degrees a day, to easily measure the movement from day to day. By comparing the angle between the moon and the sun for the day one left for Britain, the "proper position" (how it would appear in Greenwich, England at that specific time) of the moon could be calculated. By comparing this with the angle of the moon over the horizon, the longitude could be calculated.

During Harrison's second trial of "H4" the Reverend Neville Maskelyne was asked to accompany HMS Tarter and test the Lunar Distances system. Once again "H4" proved almost astonishingly accurate, keeping time to within 39 seconds, corresponding to an error in the longitude of Bridgetown of less than 10 miles (16km). Maskelyne's measures were also fairly good, at 30 miles (48 km), but required considerable work and calculation in order to use. At a meeting of the Board in 1765 the results were presented, and once again they could not believe it was not just luck. Once again the matter reached Parliament, which offered £10,000 in advance and the other half once he turned over the design to other watchmakers to duplicate. In the meantime H4 would have to be turned over to the Astronomer Royal for long-term on-land testing.

Harrison began working on his H5 while the H4 testing was conducted, with H4 being effectively held hostage by the Board. After three years he had had enough; Harrison felt "extremely ill used by the gentlemen who I might have expected better treatment from" and decided to enlist the aid of King George III. He obtained an audience by the King, who was extremely annoyed with the Board. King George tested H5 himself at the palace and after ten weeks of daily observations between May and July in 1772, found it to be accurate to within one third of one second per day. King George then advised Harrison to petition Parliament for the full prize after threatening to appear in person to dress them down. In 1773, when he was 80 years old, Harrison received a monetary award in the amount of £8,750 from Parliament for his achievements, but he never received the official award (which was never awarded to anyone). He was to survive for just three more years.

In total, Harrison received £23,065 for his work on chronometers. He received £4,315 in increments from the Board of Longitude for his work, £10,000 as an interim payment for H4 in 1765 and £8,750 from Parliament in 1773. This gave him a reasonable income for most of his life (equivalent to roughly £45,000 per year in 2007, though all his costs, such as materials and subcontracting work to other horologists, had to come out of this). He became the equivalent of a multi-millionaire (in today's terms) in the final decade of his life.

James Cook used K1, a copy of H4, on his second and third voyages, having used the Lunar distance method on his first voyage. K1 was made by Larcum Kendall, who had been apprenticed to John Jeffreys. Cook's log is full of praise for the watch and the charts of the southern Pacific Ocean John Jeffrey's made with its use were remarkably accurate. K2 was on HMS Bounty was recovered from Pitcairn Island, and then passed through several hands before reaching the National Maritime Museum in London.

Harrison died on his eighty-third birthday and is buried in the graveyard of St. John's Church, Hampstead along with his second wife Elizabeth and their son William. His tomb was restored in 1879 by the Worshipful Company of Clockmaker's even though Harrison had never been a member of the Company.

Harrison's last home was in Red Lion Square in London, now a short walk from the Holborn Underground Station. There is a plaque dedicated to Harrison on the wall of Summit House in the south side of the square. A memorial tablet to Harrison was unveiled in Westminister Abbey on 24 March 2006 finally recognising him as a worthy companion to his friend George Graham and Thomas Tompion, "The Father of English Watchmaking", who are both buried in the Abbey. The memorial shows a meridian line (line of constant longitude) in two metals to highlight Harrison's most widespread invention, the bimetallic strip thermometer. The strip is engraved with its own longitude of 0 degrees, 7 minutes and 35 seconds West.

The Corpus Clock in Cambridge, unveiled in 2008, is an homage to Harrison's work. Harrison's grasshopper escapement — sculpted to resemble an actual grasshopper — is the clock's defining feature.

Captain James Cook took the first Chronometer on his voyage of discovery which forced the British government to give his reward.  Though the British Parliament rewarded John Harrison for his marine chronometer in 1773, his chronometers were not to become standard such as those by Thomas Earnshaw, suitable for general nautical use by the end of the 18th century. However, they remained very expensive and the lunar distance method continued to be used for some decades.

Famous Victorian London Engineer Joseph Bazalgette

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren I have been interested in English history and researching fun and interesting bits of England including famous British Engineers..

Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, (28 March 1819 – 15 March 1891) was born at Hill Lodge, Clay Hill, Enfield, London, England, the son of Joseph William Bazalgette (1783–1849), a retired captain of the Royal Navy and Theresa Philo, née Pilton (1796–1850).

He began his career working on railway projects, articled to noted engineer Sir John Macneill and gaining sufficient experience in land drainage and reclamation works for him to set up his own London consulting practice in 1842. By the time he married, in 1845, Bazalgette was deeply involved in the expansion of the railway network, working so hard that he suffered a nervous breakdown two years later.

As Civil Engineer and Chief Engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works his major achievement was the creation in response to "The great stink" of 1858 which caused Parliament to finally create the world's largest Sewer complex and underground sewer tunnels and the cleaning of the River thames.

Championed by fellow engineer Isambaard Kingdom Brunel, Bazalgette was appointed chief engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works, in 1856 (a post he retained until the MBW was abolished and replaced by the london County Council in 1889). In 1858, the year of the Great Stink, Parliament passed an enabling act, in spite of the colossal expense of the project, and Bazalgette's proposals to revolutionise London's sewerage system began to be implemented. The expectation was that enclosed sewers would eliminate the stink ('miasma'), and that this would then reduce the incidence of cholera.

Joseph Bazalgette Civil Engineer and Chief Engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works, was given responsibility for the work. He designed an extensive underground sewerage system that diverted waste to the Thames Estuary, downstream of the main centre of population. Six main interceptory sewers, totalling almost 100 miles (160 km) in length, were constructed, some incorporating stretches of London's Lost Rivers. Three of these sewers were north of the river, the southernmost, low-level one being incorporated in the Thames Embankment. The Embankment also allowed new roads to reduce traffic congestion, new public gardens, and the Circle Line of the London Underground.

The intercepting sewers, constructed between 1859 and 1865, were fed by 450 miles (720 km) of main sewers that, in turn, conveyed the contents of some 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of smaller local sewers. Construction of the interceptor system required 318 million bricks, 2.7 million cubic metres of excavated earth and 670,000 cubic metres of Concrete. Gravity allows the sewage to flow eastwards, but in places such as Chelsea, Deptford and Abbey Mills pumping stations were built to raise the water and provide sufficient flow. Sewers north of the Thames feed into the Northern Outfall Sewer, which feeds into a major treatment works at Beckton. South of the river, the Southern Outfall Sewer extends to a similar facility at Crossness.

During the 20th century, major improvements were made to the sewerage system and to the Sewage treatment provision to substantially reduce pollution of the Thames Estuary and the North Sea.

Sir Christopher Wren – London Icon

My family tree has been traced back to the early Kings of England from the 7th. Century AD. This gives me an interest in English History which is great fun to research. As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren, one of England greatest architect's, I thought it would be of interest to write about his life story and about his famous buildings.

The greatest British architect of all time was born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, in 1632, the son of the rector of Knoyle. Christopher Wren attended Westminster School and Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated with a masters degree in 1651. At this stage Wren was a pure scientist (by the standards of the time) focusing on astronomy, physics, and anatomy. He experimented with submarine design, road paving, and design of telescopes. At the tender age of 25 he was offered the Chair of Astronomy at Gresham College, London from 1657 to 1661.

In 1660 Wren was one of the founding members of the Society of Experimental Philosophy. In 1662, under the patronage of Charles II, this body became known as the Royal Society.

His architectural career began in 1661 when Charles II appointed him assistant to the royal architect and in 1665 he spent six months in Paris studying architecture. The distinguished buildings Wren created in the years thereafter owe much of their cerebral rigor to his mathematical training. After the great fire of 1666 Wren prepared a master plan for the reconstruction of London, which was never executed. He designed, however, many new buildings that were built, the greatest of which was Saint Paul's Cathedral.

In 1669 Wren was named royal architect, a post he retained for more than 45 years. From 1670 to 1711 he designed 52 London churches, most of which still stand, notable for their varied and original designs and for their fine spires. They include:

·       St. Stephen Church, Walbrook;

·       St. Martin Church, Ludgate;

·       St. Bride Church, Fleet Street;

·       St. Mary-le-Bow Church, manifesting the type of spire in receding stages generally associated with Wren's name.

Among his numerous secular works are the:

·       Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford;

·       the elegant library of Trinity College, Cambridge;

·       the garden facade of Hampton Court Palace;

·       and the buildings of the Temple, London.

·       Tom Tower at Christ's Church, Oxford,

·       and the Royal Hospital at Chelsea.

·       He also enlarged and re-modeled Kensington Palace,

·       Hampton Court Palace,

·       The Naval Hospital at Greenwich.

Wren also built residences in London and in the country, and these, as well as his public works, received the stamp of his distinctive style. His buildings exhibit a remarkable elegance, order, clarity, and dignity. His influence was considerable on church architecture in England and abroad. Wren was knighted in 1675, and is buried in the crypt of St. Paul's. He is rightly regarded as the most influential British architect of all time.

The Crystal Palace Exhibition – London 1851

I hope all readers will find my article on The Crystal Palace of interest and let's hope in the future It will be re-built to its former glory.

In 1851 Great Britain was the leader of the industrial revolution and feeling very secure in that ideal. The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London was conceived to symbolize this industrial, military and economic success of Great Britain. It was decided to make the exhibit truly international with invitations being extended to almost all of the colonized world.

It was also felt that it was important to show Britain's achievements right alongside those of other countries. The prevailing attitude in England at the time was ripe for the exhibiting of its many accomplishments. Many felt secure, economically and politically and Queen Victoria was eager to reinforce the feeling of contentment with her reign. It was during the mid-1850s that the word "Victorian" began to be employed to express a new self-consciousness, both in relation to the nation and to the period through which it was passing.

The exhibition was also a triumph for Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, whom she had married in 1840. Despite outbursts of opposition to Albert by the press the family life of the Victorian court began to be considered increasingly as a model for the whole country. Albert had appreciated the achievements of Prime Minister Robert Peel's political and military advances and publicly advocated the advancement of industry and science. These facts began to sway opinion in his favour as respectable foundations of family life and industrial supremacy were becoming rapidly acquainted with the monarchy of Victoria and Albert. Conceived by prince Albert, the Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park in London in the specially constructed Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was originally designed by Sir Joseph Paxton in only 10 days and was a huge iron goliath with over a million feet of glass. It was important that the building used to showcase these achievements be grandiose and innovative. Over 13,000 exhibits were displayed and viewed by over 6,200,000 visitors to the exhibition.

The millions of visitors that journeyed to the Great Exhibition of 1851 marvelled at the industrial revolution that was propelling Britain into the greatest power of the time. Among the 13,000 exhibits from all around the world were the Jacquard loom, an envelope machine, tools, kitchen appliances, steel-making displays and a reaping machine from the United States. The objects on display came from all parts of the world, including India and the countries with recent white settlements, such as Australia and New Zealand, that constituted the new empire. Many of the visitors who flocked to London came from European cities. The profits from the event allowed for the foundation of public works such as the Albert Hall, the Science Museum, the National History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

This "bigger and better" building was divided into a series of courts depicting the history of art and architecture from ancient Egypt through the Renaissance, as well as exhibits from industry and the natural world. Major concerts were held in the Palace's huge arched Centre Transept, which also contained the world's largest organ. The Centre Transept also housed a circus and was the scene of daring feats by world famous acts such as the tightrope walker Blondin. National exhibitions were also staged within its glass and iron walls, including the world's first aeronautical exhibition (held in 1868) and the first national motor show, plus cat shows, dog shows, pigeon shows, honey, flower and other shows.

The Crystal Palace itself was almost outshone by the park in which it stood, which contained a magnificent series of fountains, comprising almost 12,000 individual jets. The largest of these threw water to a height of 250ft. Some 120,000 gallons of water flowed through the system when it was in full play.

The park also contained unrivaled collections of statues, many of which were copies of great works from around the world, and a geological display which included a replica lead mine and the first attempts anywhere in the world to portray life-size restorations of extinct animals, including dinosaurs. Crystal Palace park was also the scene of spectacular Brock's fireworks displays.

After the Great Exhibition closed, the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham Hill in South London and reconstructed in what was, in effect, a 200 acre Victorian theme park. The new Crystal Palace park at Sydenham was opened by Queen Victoria on June 10th, 1854.
In 1911, the year of King George V's coronation, the Crystal Palace was home to the Festival of Empire. Three-quarter size models of the parliament buildings of Empire and Commonwealth countries were erected in the grounds to contain exhibits of each country's products.

The Crystal Palace itself was destroyed by fire on November 30th 1936, following which the area lost much of its focus and began to decline. But many of the most important events in the history of the Crystal Palace took place in the grounds, which retain much of their original overall layout today and are a Grade II listed historic park. Thus, for 140 years, Crystal Palace park has been the scene of innumerable contributions to the nation's social, scientific and sporting history.

The London Borough of Bromley, who own the park today, together with the Crystal Palace Foundation, have recently submitted an outline proposal to the National Heritage Lottery Fund to restore much of the park to its former glory. The proposals covered by this application aim not only to improve the park as an amenity, but also to restore a number of its major heritage features. This will include restoration of the Grand Central Walkway, which originally ran the length of the park, the preservation and restoration of the terraces, and the restoration of the geological islands.

The London Hackney Carrieage and Hansom Cab – History from 1625

The first Powered Passenger Car was driven 160 KM across Cornwall, England in 1801. As my family have lived and worked in London for many centuries I decided to write this article about one of the many London Icons – The London Black Cab.

The Hackney Carriage originated in London, England in 1625. The cabs still come under some of the old rules from the horse drawn days. The Black Cabs' history goes back to the time of horse-drawn cabs which were called Hackney Cabs. The Black Cabs to date are the only taxis that are allowed to pick people up from the street.  

The first Hackney Carriages were licensed in 1662, and were at the time literally horse-drawn carriages. During the 20th century these were generally replaced with cars, and the last horse-drawn Hackney carriage was withdrawn from service in 1947. The name derives not from Hackney in London, but from the French word haquenée, referring to the horse that was pulling it. A carriage house, also called remise or coach house, is an outbuilding which was originally built to house horse-drawn carriages and the related tack.

In the United Kingdom, a hackney carriage is a taxicab licensed by the Public Carriage Office in the London Metropolitan Area or by the local authority (shire district councils or authorities) in other parts of England and Wales, Scottish Executive in Scotland, and the Department of the Environment.

In most of the country hackney carriages are conventional four door saloon cars but in London (and some other cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh) hackney carriages are specially designed vehicles manufactured by Manganese Bronze. These vehicles are designed to take up to 6 passengers in the back, and hold luggage in the front next to the driver. Some modern designs can also accommodate wheelchairs in the back. They were traditionally all black in colour and are popularly known as black cabs.

London Routemaster Buses – History

The first Powered Passenger Bus was exhibited up and down Bond Street, London in England in 1803. This could be called the first London Bus.

The traditional red Routemaster has become one of the famous features of London, with much tourist paraphernalia continuing to bear Routemaster imagery, and with examples still in existence around the world. Despite its fame, the previous London bus classes the Routemaster replaced are often mistaken for Routemasters by the public and by the media.  

The AEC Routemaster is a model of double decker bus that was built by the Associated Equipment Company (AEC) in 1954 (in production from 1958) and produced until 1968. Primarily front-engined, rear open platform buses, a small number of variants were produced with doors and/or front entrances. Introduced by London Transport in 1956, the Routemaster saw continuous service in London until 2005, and currently remains on two heritage routes in central London.

The Routemaster was developed by AEC in partnership with London Transport, the customer for nearly all new Routemasters. In total 2,876 Routemasters were built with approximately 1,000 still in existence.

A pioneering design, the Routemaster outlasted several of its replacement types in London, survived the privatisation of the former London Transport bus operators, and was used by other operators around the UK. The unique features of the standard Routemaster were both praised and criticised. The open platform, while exposed to the elements, allowed boarding and alighting away from stops; and the presence of a conductor allowed minimal boarding time and optimal security, although the presence of conductors produced greater labour costs.

Designed for and largely operated in London, over 2,800 of the original Routemaster buses were built between 1956 and 1968, following a design effort started in 1947. So robust was the design that the Routemaster outlived newer buses intended to replace it, into the deregulated era. It was not eventually withdrawn from regular London passenger service until December 2005.

While older buses were exempt from the disability discrimination requirements until 2017, after the 2004 election, TfL adopted an internal policy aim of requiring all of its bus routes to be operated by low-floor buses, thereby requiring the withdrawal of the Routemaster from London. Contributory factors to the withdrawal were said to be the risk of litigation over accidents arising from using the rear platform, and the cost savings of one man operation, and that passengers preferred the comfort levels of modern buses to the now vintage Routemaster.

The Routemaster continues in operation on two heritage routes awarded as TfL contract tendered routes, but they do not contravene the TfL accessible public transport policy requirement as they are paralleled over their entire route by low-floor vehicles of the same route number.

The new Mayor of London in 2008 announced the re-introduction of the routemaster. The new routemaster will be updated to modern hybrid engineering and the new design has been chosen. It is hoped that the new bus will be operating across London in time for the London Olympics of 2012.

England's House of Parliament - It's History

The Houses of Parliament is always called the "Mother of Parliaments", so I thought it would be of interest to write it's history.

The Houses of Parliament occupy the site of an ancient palace and in virtue of that fact still rank as a royal palace and are in the charge of the hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain (not to be confounded with the Lord Chamberlain of the Household). This ancient palace, altered and added to from time to time was the chief London residence of the sovereign from the reign of Edward the Confessor (or perhaps earlier) until Henry VIII seized Whitehall in 1529.

The English Parliament traces its origins to the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot. In 1066, William of Normandy brought a feudal system, by which he sought advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws. In 1215, the tenants-in-chief secured the Magna Carta from King John, which established that the king may not levy or collect any taxes (except the feudal taxes to which they were hitherto accustomed), save with the consent of his royal council, which slowly developed into a parliament. In 1265, Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester summoned the first elected Parliament. The franchise in parliamentary elections for county constituencies was uniform throughout the country, extending to all those who owned the freehold of land to an annual rent of 40 shillings (Forty-shilling Freeholders).

In the boroughs, the franchise varied across the country; individual boroughs had varying arrangements. This set the scene for the so-called "Model Parliament" of 1295 adopted by Edward I. By the reign of Edward II, Parliament had been separated into two Houses: one including the nobility and higher clergy, the other including the knights and burgesses, and no law could be made, nor any tax levied, without the consent of both Houses as well as of the Sovereign.

In the Middle Ages and early modern period there were the four separate kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and these developed separate parliaments.

In 1605 a chamber at its south end, was the scene of the Gunpowder Plot.

In 1512, the palace was very seriously damaged by fire and it was practically never rebuilt, though Henry VIII. added the cloisters and perhaps also the Star Chamber.

Henry VIII seized Whitehall in 1529.

The Laws in Wales Act of 1535–42 annexed Wales as part of England,

In 1547, the House of Commons, which had hitherto usually met in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, transferred its sittings to St. Stephen's Chapel in the palace; and in 1800 the House of Lords removed to the old Court of Requests, a chamber then situated a little to the south of Westminster Hall.

When Elizabeth I was succeeded in 1603 by the Scottish King James VI (thus becoming James I of England), the countries both came under his rule but each retained its own Parliament.

James I's successor, Charles I, quarrelled with the English Parliament and, after he provoked the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, their dispute developed into the English Civil War. Charles was executed in 1649 and under Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth of England the House of Lords was abolished, and the House of Commons made subordinate to Cromwell. After Cromwell's death, the Restoration of 1660 restored the monarchy and the House of Lords.

Amidst fears of a Roman Catholic succession, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed James II (James VII of Scotland) in favour of the joint rule of Mary II and William III, whose agreement to the English Bill of Rights introduced a constitutional monarchy, though the supremacy of the Crown remained. For the third time, a Convention Parliament, i.e., one not summoned by the king, was required to determine the succession.

The 1707 Acts of Union brought England and Scotland together under the Parliament of Great Britain

Old Palace Yard was an inner court of the palace, and down to 1800 the House of Lords assembled in a chamber at its south end.

The 1800 Act of Union included Ireland under the Parliament of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In 1834, however, the entire palace was burned down, with the exception of Westminster Hall, the crypt of St. Stephen's Chapel, and part of the cloisters. Rooms were hastily repaired for the use of the two Houses, and the rebuilding of the whole was at once begun.

In 1847 The Lords removed to their present abode and the Commons to theirs in 1850.

The first woman-member of Parliament to take her seat, Viscountess Astor, was elected for Plymouth on November 15th, 1919; the first woman minister was Miss Margaret Bondfield, Undersecretary for Labour in 1924. Payment of members (£400 a year) was established by resolution in 1911.

In 1979 The country voted for the first woman Prime Minister "Margaret Thatcher" who was one of Britain's greatest Prime Minister's and whose party invented "Privatisation" which was taken up by the world. With the help of Ronald Reagan she also helped in destroying Communism and what it stood for. The Soviet Union called her "The Iron Lady" which tells you how impressed they were. As an Englishman I would call Mrs. Thatcher the greatest Prime Minister since Churchill.

London Underground – The World's First Underground Railway

The transport system now known as the London Underground began in 1863 with the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway. Over the next forty years, the early sub-surface lines reached out from the urban centre of the capital into the surrounding rural margins, leading to the development of new commuter suburbs.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, new technology—including electric locomotives and improvements to the tunnelling shield enabled new companies to construct a series of "tube" lines deeper underground. Initially rivals, the tube railway companies began to co-operate in advertising and through shared branding, eventually consolidating under the single ownership of the London Electric Railway with lines stretching across London.

Important Dates of The London Underground



Using his patented tunnelling sheild, Marc Brunel begins construction of the Thames Tunnel under the River Thames between Wapping and Rotherhithe. Progress is slow and will be halted a number of times before the tunnel is completed.


1843 The Thames Tunnel opens as a pedestrian tunnel. 1845 Charles Pearson, Solicitor to the City of London, begins promoting the idea of an underground railway to bring passenger and goods services into the centre of the City.


1854 Metropolitan Railway (MR) is incorporated and granted powers to construct an underground railway from Paddington to Farringdon. 1856 Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) opens a line from Leyton to Loughton.


1861 Construction of the Metropolitan Railway near Kings Cross Station.

1870 Tower Subway opens, briefly, using a cabled-hauled carriage before conversion to pedestrian use. Constructed using a circular tunnelling shield developed by Peter W. Barlow and James Henry Greathead and lined with segmental cast-iron rings, this short tunnel under the River Thames successfully demonstrated new tunnelling techniques that would be used to construct most of the subsequent underground lines in London.


1880 MR extends to Harrow on the Hill. MDR extends from West Brompton to Putney Bridge.


1890 City and South London Railway electric locomotive and carriages.

1890 City of London and Southwark Subway changes name to City and South London Railway (C&SLR) and opens between Stockwell and King William Street, the world's first deep-level underground and electric railway.


"Underground"-branded Tube map from 1908 showing the newly opened tube lines in central London.

1910s Tube roundels based on Edward Johnston's design

1910 District line extends from South Harrow to connect to the MR at Rayners Lane and commences services to Uxbridge.

1930s Arnos Grove station designed by Charles Holden

1932 MR extends to Stanmore. Piccadilly line extends from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove.

1940s Londoners sheltering from The Blitz in a tube station

1940 Northern line extends over former EH&LR route to High Barnet.


A rear-end collision between two trains on the Central line between Stratford and Leyton kills 12 passengers. 1955 Aldenham depot opens as bus overhaul works. 1956 Parliament grants approval for the construction of the Victoria line. 1957 Electric tube trains replace steam-hauled shuttles between Epping and Ongar. 1959 District line spur between Acton Town and South Acton is closed.

1960s Hans Unger's tiling design at Blackhorse Road Victoria line station, opened 1968

1960 The last published underground map designed by Harry Beck is released. 


1970 Greater London Council (GLC) takes control of management of London Underground from London Transport Board controlling the Underground through a new London Transport Executive (LTE).

1980s London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

1980 London Transport Museum opens in Covent Garden.


2010 East London line reopens as part of London Overground network.

England is the oldest nation state in the world ( 1000 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD this makes London one of the oldest capitals in the world.

A recent UN survey recently found that London schools had children speaking 365 languages. Please click on links below to visit my various Articles and websites.

The British Invention - Cheques and Their History

In everyday life here in England in 2010  we use cheques to pay all our bills. I thought it would be interesting to write the History of British Cheques. I remember in the early 1980's having cheques that had pictures – called Pictorial Cheques. I hope one day british banks or building socities will re-introduce Pictorial cheques.

By the 17th century, bills of exchange were being used for domestic payments in England. Cheques, a type of bill of exchange, then began to evolve. They were initially known as ‘drawn notes’ as they enabled a customer to draw on the funds they held on account with their banker and required immediate payment. These were hand written and one of the earliest known still to be in existence was drawn on Messrs Morris and Clayton, scriveners and bankers based in the City of London and dated 16 February 1659.

In 1717 the Bank of England pioneered the first use of a pre-printed form. These forms were printed on ‘cheque’ paper to prevent fraud and customers had to attend in person and obtain a numbered form from the cashier. Once written the cheque would have to be brought back to the bank for settlement.

Up until around 1770 an informal exchange of cheques took place between London Banks. Clerks of each bank visited all of the other banks to exchange cheques, whilst keeping a tally of balances between them until they settled with each other. Daily cheque clearings began around 1770 when the bank clerks met at the Five Bells, a tavern in Lombard Street in the City of London, to exchange all their cheques in one place and settle the balances in cash.

In 1811 the Commercial Bank of Scotland is thought to have been the first bank to personalise its customers cheques, by printing the name of the account holder vertically along the left-hand edge. In 1830 the Bank of England introduced books of 50, 100 or 200 forms and counterparts, bound or stitched. These cheque books became a common format for the distribution of cheques to bank customers.

In the late 1800s a number of countries formalised laws around cheques. The UK passing the Bills of Exchange act in 1882 which covered cheques. In 1931 an attempt was made to simplify the international use of cheques with the Geneva Convention on the unification of the law relating to cheques. Many European and South American states as well as Japan joined the convention. However all the members of the Common Law including the United States and the members of The Commonwealth did not participate.

In 1959 a standard for machine readable characters (MRC) was agreed and patented in the United States for use with cheques. This opened the way for the first automated reader/sorting machines for clearing cheques. The following years saw a dramatic change in the way that cheques were handled and processed as automation increased. Cheque volumes continued to grow, and in the late 20th century cheques became the most popular non cash method for making payments, with billions of them processed each year. Most countries saw cheque volumes peak in the late 1980s or early 1990s. At that time electronic payment methods started to become popular and as a result cheque usage started to decline.

In 1969 cheque guarantee cards were introduced in some countries, this allowed a retailer to confirm that a cheque would be honoured when they were used to pay at point of sale. This was done by having the drawer sign the cheque in front of the retailer so it could be compared to the signature on the card and them writing the cheque guarantee card number of the back of the cheque. These were generally phased out and replaced by debit cards starting in the mid 1990s.

As an addendum – The first ATM Machines were developed simultaneously in Sweden and Britain. Both countries developed their own cash machines during the early 1960's. The first of these was put in use by Barclays bank in Enfield – a town in the north london on the 27th. June 1967.

This machine was the first in the UK and was used and advertised by English comedy actor – Reg Varney so as to produce the maximum publicity for the machines that were to become mainstream in the UK. This instance of the invention has been credited to John Shepherd-Baron OBE and other engineers at the British Company De La Rue Instruments.

History of Stocks and Shares London from 1688 to Present


As my family can trace our family tree back many generations of Londoners including directly descended from the famous church builder Sir Christopher Wren I thought I would write about its history. One of the interesting things I learnt in my Commerce Class was the London Stock Exchange saying "My word is my bond". Trading in London accounted for 36.7% of the world total, making London by far the most important global centre for foreign exchange trading.


The trade in shares in London began with the need to finance two voyages: The Muscovy Company's attempt to reach China via the White Sea north of Russia, and the east India Company voyage to India and the east. The trading in the stocks of the second company began in 1688. Unable to finance these expensive journeys privately, the companies raised the money by selling shares to merchants, giving them a right to a portion of any profits eventually made.


The idea soon caught on (one of the earliest was the Earl of Bedford's scheme to drain the Fens). It is estimated that by 1695, there were 140 joint-stock companies. The trade in shares was centred around the City's Change Alley in two coffee shops: Garraway's and Jonathan's. The broker, John Castaing, published the prices of stocks and commodities called The Course of the Exchange and other things in these coffee shops.


In 1697, a law was passed to "restrain the number and ill-practice of brokers and stockjobbers" following a number of Insider Trading and market-rigging incidents. It required all brokers to be licensed and to take an oath promising to act lawfully.


In 1698, when a man named John Castaing began publishing lists of stock prices called 'The Course of the Exchange and Other Things'. London's stock dealers were at this time making trades in the streets and in coffee houses. In 1761, 150 of these stockbrokers started a club for buying and selling shares in a dealing room on Sweeting's Alley, which eventually became known as The Stock Exchange. It became an official, regulated exchange in 1801 and a year later moved into a building in Chapel Court.


Like many other stock exchanges, the London Stock Exchange closed for five months during World War I, and again for six days during World War II.

Previously, all members of the London Stock Exchange had to be British as per Rule 21. The nationality requirement was lifted in 1970. This allowed foreigners to become members of the London Stock Exchange, the first approved membership being that of Egyptian Prince Abbas Hilmi.

Then in 1972 a new office with a 23,000 square foot trading floor was opened for the exchange by Queen Elizabeth II on Threadneedle Street. A year later, all the regional exchanges in England and Ireland merged with the London Stock Exchange.

In 1986 there was a deregulation of the exchange, called the 'Big Bang'. Among other things, this deregulation allowed outside corporations to own member firms, eliminated voting rights for individual members, and transformed the face-to-face trading system into one largely operated over computers and telephones.

In 1995, the London Stock Exchange opened the Alternative Investment Market, creating the division between the trading of large cap and small cap companies.

In 2000, the London Stock Exchange made the decision to go public, and began listing their shares on their own exchange in 2001.

In 2004, the exchange left their building on Threadneedle Street to move to their current location on Paternoster Square near St. Paul's Cathedral.

On February 9, 2011, the London Stock Exchange announced that they had agreed to merge with the Toronto-based TMX Group, the owners of the Toronto Stock Exchange, creating a combined entity with a market capitalisation of listed companies equal to £3.7 trillion.

In October 2010, the London Stock Exchange announced that the new Linux based trading system. named Millennium Exchange, had smashed the world record for trade speed, with 126 microsecond trading times being recorded on the Turquoise dark pool trading venue and would go live on in early 2011.

Due to London's dominance in the market, a particular currency's quoted price is usually the London market price. For instance, when the IMF calculates the value of its SDR's (Special Drawing Rights ) every day, they use the London market prices at noon that day.

London Bridges and Other Thames Crossings – History

The bridges that cross the Thames total 214 with over 20 tunnels, six public ferries and one ford, so I thought it would be of interest to write it's history.

Barrier and Boundary

Until sufficient crossings were established, the river provided a formidable barrier, with Belgic tribes and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms being defined by which side of the river they were on. When English counties were established their boundaries were partly determined by the Thames. On the northern bank were the historic counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex and Essex. On the southern bank were the counties of Wiltshire, Berkshire, Surrey, and Kent. However the permanent crossings that have been built to date have changed the dynamics and made cross-river development and shared responsibilities more practicable. In 1965, upon the creation of Greater London, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames incorporated areas that had been part of both Middlesex and Surrey; and changes in 1974 moved some of the boundaries away from the river. For example, some areas that had been part of Berkshire became part of Oxfordshire, what had been Buckinghamshire became part of Berkshire, and what had been Middlesex became part of Surrey. On occasion – for example in rowing – the banks are still referred to by their traditional county names.

History of Crossings

Many of the present road bridges on the river are on the site of earlier fords, ferries and wooden structures. The earliest known major crossings of the Thames by the Romans were at London Bridge and Staines Bridge. At Folly Bridge in Oxford the remains of an original Saxon structure can be seen, and mediaeval stone structures such as Newbridge and Abingdon Bridge are still in use. Kingston's growth is believed to stem from its having the only crossing between London Bridge and Staines until the beginning of the 18th century. Proposals to build bridges across the Thames at Lambeth and Putney in around 1670 were prevented by the Rulers of the Company of Watermen, since it would mean ruin for the 60,000 rivermen who provided a pool of naval reserve.[1] During the 18th century, many stone and brick road bridges were built from new or to replace existing structures both in London and along the length of the river. These included Putney Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Datchet Bridge, Windsor Bridge and Sonning Bridge. Several central London road bridges were built in the 19th century, most conspicuously Tower Bridge, the only Bascule bridge on the river, designed to allow ocean going ships to pass beneath it. The most recent road bridges are the bypasses at Isis Bridge and Marlow By-pass Bridge and the Motorway bridges, most notably the two on the M25 route Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and M25 Runnymede Bridge.

The development of the railway resulted in a spate of bridge building in the 19th century including Blackfriars Railway Bridge and Charing Cross (Hungerford) Railway Bridge in central London, and the spectacular railway bridges by Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Maidenhead Bridge, Gatehampton Railway Bridge and Moulsford Railway Bridge.

The world's first underwater tunnel was the Thames Tunnel by Marc Brunel built in 1843 and used to carry the East London Line. The Tower Subway was the first railway under the Thames, which was followed by all the deep-level tube lines. Road tunnels were built in East London at the end of the 19th century, being the Blackwall Tunnel and the Rotherhithe Tunnel, and the latest tunnel was the Dartford Crossing.

Many foot crossings were established across the weirs that were built on the non-tidal river, and some of these remained when the locks were built – for example at Benson Lock. Others were replaced by a footbridge when the weir was removed as at Hart's Weir Footbridge. Around the year 2000 AD, several footbridges were added along the Thames, either as part of the Thames Path or in commemoration of the Millennium. These include Temple Footbridge, Bloomers Hole Footbridge, the Hungerford Footbridges and the Millennium Bridge, all of which have distinctive design characteristics.

Some ferries still operate on the river. The Woolwich Ferry carries cars and passengers across the river in the Thames Gateway and links the North Circular and South Circular roads. Upstream are smaller pedestrian ferries, for example Hampton Ferry and Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry the last being the only non-permanent crossing that remains on the Thames Path.

The list starts at the downstream (Estuary) end and follows the river upstream towards the source. A few of the crossings listed are public pedestrian crossings utilising walkways across lock gates and bridges above or adjacent to the adjoining weirs. Most of the other locks on the River Thames also have walkways across their lock gates and weirs, but these either do not completely cross the river, or are restricted to authorised personnel only, and are therefore not listed. Besides the ferry crossings listed, there are commuter boat services operating along the river in London, and tourist boat services operating both in London and upstream. Whilst the principal purpose of these services is not to carry people across the river, it may be possible to use them to do so.

List Of Thames Crossings

North Sea to London

·       proposed Lower Thames Crossing at or east of Dartford Crossing - three options announced in April 2009

·       Gravesend - Tilbury Ferry, a passenger ferry.

·       High Speed 1 rail tunnels from Swanscombe in Kent to West Thurrock in Essex. (Two 2.5 km tunnels, 7.15 m internal diameter.)

·       Dartford Crossing including two Dartford Tunnels (1963 and 1980) and the cable-stayed Queen Elizabeth II Bridge (1991)

·       Dartford Cable Tunnel (2003; tunnel carrying electrical cable; accessible by authorised personnel only)

·       380kV Thames Crossing (power line crossing at West Thurrock)

East London

·       proposed Thames Gateway Bridge, bridge between Beckton with Thamesmead, cancelled in November 2008.

·       Docklands Light Railway tunnel (between King George V and Woolwich Arsenal stations)

·       Woolwich foot tunnel (1912)

·       Woolwich Ferry

·       Crossrail tunnel (construction started 15 May 2009)

·       Millennium Dome electricity cable tunnel

·       Thames Barrier (includes service tunnel accessible by authorised personnel only)

·       proposed Silvertown Link (bridge or tunnel to relieve the Blackwall Tunnels)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between North Greenwich and Canning Town; 1999)

·       Blackwall Tunnels (Alexander Binnie, 1897; second bore 1967)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between Canary Wharf and North Greenwich; 1999)

·       Docklands Light Railway tunnel (between Island Gardens and Cutty Sark; 1999)

·       Greenwich foot tunnel (Alexander Binnie, 1902)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between Canada Water and Canary Wharf; 1999)

·       Canary Wharf - Rotherhithe Ferry

·       Rotherhithe Tunnel (Maurice Fitzmaurice, 1908)

·       Thames Tunnel (Wapping to Rotherhithe Tunnel) (Marc Brunel, 1843; the world's first underwater tunnel, now part of the East London Line)

Central London

·       Tower Bridge (1894)

·       Tower Subway (Peter W. Barlow and James Henry Greathead; 1870. The world's first underground tube railway, cable hauled - now used for water mains and telephone cables and not accessible)

·       Northern Line (City branch) tunnels (between London Bridge and Bank; 1900)

·       London Bridge (1973)

·       City & South London Railway tunnels (This railway's original crossing of the river between Borough and King William Street; 1890. Abandoned in 1900 when the Northern Line City branch tunnels were opened on a new alignment)

·       Cannon Street Railway Bridge (1982)

·       Southwark Bridge (1921)

·       Millennium Bridge (footbridge, 2002)

·       Blackfriars Railway Bridge (1886)

·       Blackfriars Bridge (1869)

·       Waterloo & City Line tunnels (between Waterloo and Bank; 1898)

·       Waterloo Bridge (1945) (the "women's bridge")

·       Northern Line (Charing Cross branch) tunnels (between Waterloo and Embankment; 1926)

·       Hungerford Footbridges (Golden Jubilee Bridges) (2002)

·       Charing Cross (Hungerford) Bridge (Railway, 1864)

·       Bakerloo Line tunnels (between Waterloo and Embankment; 1906)

·       Jubilee Line tunnels (between Waterloo and Westminster; 1999)

·       Westminster Bridge (1862)

·       Lambeth Bridge (1932)

·       Vauxhall Bridge (1906)

·       Victoria Line tunnels (between Vauxhall and Pimlico; 1971)

·       Grosvenor Bridge (Victoria Railway Bridge) (1859)

South west London

·       Chelsea Bridge (1937)

·       Albert Bridge (1873)

·       Battersea Bridge (Sir Joseph Bazalgette, 1890) (Henry Holland, 1771)

·       Battersea Railway Bridge (1863)

·       Wandsworth Bridge (1938)

·       Fulham Railway Bridge and Footbridge (1889)

·       Putney Bridge (Sir Joseph Bazalgette, 1886) (Phillips & Ackworth, 1729)

·       Hammersmith Bridge (Sir Joseph Bazalgette, 1887)

·       Barnes Railway Bridge and Footbridge (1849)

·       Chiswick Bridge (1933)

·       Kew Railway Bridge (1869)

·       Kew Bridge (John Wolfe-Barry, 1903)

·       Richmond Lock and Footbridge (1894)

·       Twickenham Bridge (1933)

·       Richmond Railway Bridge (1848)

·       Richmond Bridge (1777)

·       Hammerton's Ferry (F) (Marble Hill Twickenham to Ham House)

·       Teddington Lock Footbridge

·       Kingston Railway Bridge (1863)

·       Kingston Bridge (1828)

·       Hampton Court Bridge (1933)

·       Hampton Ferry (F) (to Hurst Park, East Molesey, 1519)

London to Windsor

·       Walton Bridge (1953 and 1999)

·       Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry (F)

·       Chertsey Bridge (1785)

·       M3 Motorway Bridge (1971)

·       Staines Railway Bridge (1856)

·       Staines Bridge (1832)

·       M25 Runnymede Bridge (Edwin Lutyens, 1961; widened 1983 and 2005)

·       Albert Bridge (1928)

·       Victoria Bridge (1967)

·       Black Potts Railway Bridge (1892)

·       Windsor Bridge (1824)

·       Windsor Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1849)

·       Queen Elizabeth Bridge (1966)

Windsor to Reading

·       Summerleaze Footbridge (1992)

·       M4 Bridge (incorporates footbridge) (1961)

·       Maidenhead Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1838)

·       Maidenhead Bridge (1777)

·       Cookham Bridge (1867)

·       Bourne End Railway Bridge (1895; incorporates footbridge)

·       Marlow By-pass Bridge (1972)

·       Marlow Bridge (William Tierney Clark, 1832)

·       Temple Footbridge (1989)

·       Hambleden Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Henley Bridge (1786)

·       Shiplake Railway Bridge (1897)

·       Sonning Bridge (c.1775) & Sonning Backwater Bridges (1986)

·       Caversham Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Reading Bridge (1923)

·       Caversham Bridge (1926)

Reading to Oxford

·       Reading Festival Bridge (2008, a temporary footbridge on permanent footings for the Reading Festival)

·       Whitchurch Bridge (1902, a toll bridge from Whitchurch-on-Thames to Pangbourne)

·       Gatehampton Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1838)

·       Goring and Streatley Bridge (1923)

·       Moulsford Railway Bridge (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1838)

·       Winterbrook Bridge (1993)

·       Wallingford Bridge (1809)

·       Benson Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Shillingford Bridge (1827)

·       Little Wittenham Bridge

·       Day's Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Clifton Hampden Bridge (George Gilbert Scott,1867)

·       Appleford Railway Bridge (1929)

·       Sutton Bridge

·       Culham Bridge (across Swift Ditch, a backwater and former main course of the river near Abingdon)

·       Abingdon Bridge (1416)

·       Abingdon Lock (incorporates public footbridge)

·       Nuneham Railway Bridge (1929)

·       Kennington Railway Bridge (1923)

·       Isis Bridge (1962)

·       Donnington Bridge (1962)

·       Folly Bridge (1827)

·       Oxford Footbridge

·       Osney Footbridge

·       Osney Rail Bridge

·       Osney Bridge (1885)

Oxford to Cricklade

      .    St. John's Bridge, Lechlade.

·       Medley Footbridge (1865)

·       Godstow Bridge (1792)

·       A34 Road Bridge

·       Swinford Toll Bridge (1777)

·       Pinkhill Lock (Incorporates public footbridge)

·       Hart's Weir Footbridge (1879)

·       Newbridge (13th century)

·       Tenfoot Bridge

·       Shifford Cut Footbridge and Duxford Ford

·       Tadpole Bridge

·       Old Man's Bridge (1868)

·       Radcot Bridge (1787)

·       Eaton Footbridge (1936)

·       Bloomers Hole Footbridge (2000)

·       St. John's Bridge (1886)

·       Halfpenny Bridge (James Hollingworth, 1792) - the start of the navigable Thames

·       Hannington Bridge

·       Castle Eaton Bridge

·       Water Eaton House Bridge

·       Eysey Footbridge

·       A419 Road Bridge

·       Cricklade Town Bridge

Beyond Cricklade

·       Waterhay Bridge

·       High Bridge, Ashton Keynes

·       Three Bridges, Ashton Keynes

·       unnamed road bridge at grid reference 020946

·       Neigh Bridge

·       unnamed road bridge at grid reference 004972

·       Parker's Bridge, Ewen

·       A429 Road Bridge

·       A433 Road Bridge

List of British Royal Societies

Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda ( Suffragette and Headmistress ) traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years. This has made me a great fan of English and British History and below is a description and list of the various British Royal Socities.

This is a list of Royal Societies.

Royal Academy 1768

·       Royal Aeronautical Society 1866

·       Royal Anthropological Institute 1871

·       Royal Asiatic Society 1823

·       Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 1890 incorporated in Ontario, Canada (royal charter 1903)

·       Royal Astronomical Society 1831 formed from the Astronomical Society of London (founded 1820)

·       Royal Bath and West of England Society 1777

·       Royal Dublin Society 1731

·       Royal Geographical Society 1830

·       Royal Heraldry Society of Canada

·       Royal Historical Society 1868 University College London

·       Royal Horticultural Society 1804 and 1861

·       Royal Medical Society

·       Royal Numismatic Society 1836

·       Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain 1841 and 1988

·       Royal Scottish Geographical Society 1884

·       Royal Society 1660

·       Royal Society for Nature Conservation

·       Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

·       Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

·       Royal Society for the Promotion of Health aka Royal Society of Health 1904

·       Royal Society for the Protection of Birds 1904

·       Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1849

·       Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce 1754 aka The RSA, Royal Society of Arts

·       Royal Society of Canada 1882

·       Royal Society of Chemistry 1980 formed from the Chemical Society (founded 1841), the Society for Analytical Chemistry (founded 1874), the Royal Institute of Chemistry (founded 1877) and the Faraday Society (founded 1903)

·       Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783

·       Royal Society of St. George 1894

·       Royal Society of Literature 1820

·       Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge 1660

·       Royal Society of Medicine 1805 formed from the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London

·       Royal Society of New South Wales 1821

·       Royal Society of New Zealand 1851

·       Royal Society of Queensland 1884

·       Royal Society of South Africa 1877

·       Royal Society of South Australia 1880

·       Royal Society of Tasmania 1844

·       Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

·       Royal Society of Victoria 1854

·       Royal Society of Western Australia 1914

·       Royal Statistical Society 1834

·       Royal West of England Academy.

The Royal Mint – Its English 1,100 years of History


One of the oldest English organisations is the Royal Mint which has been minting English Coinage since 886 AD during the time of King Alfred the Great. The Mint originated over 1,100 years ago, but has functioned since 1975 as a Trading Fund, operating in much the same way as a government-owned company. The Royal Mint also manufactures and circulates coins for over 100 other countries, mints collectors' coins, and produces military medals and civilian decorations for the British armed forces and orders of chivalry.


As well as minting coins for the UK, it also mints and exports coins to many other countries, and produces military medals, commemorative medals and other such items for governments, schools and businesses, being known as the world's leading exporting Mint Responsibility for the security of the site falls to the Ministry of Defence Police, who provide an armed contingent.


The Royal Mint began to move its operations from Tower Hill, London to Llantrisant, South Wales, in 1968 and has operated on a single site in Llantrisant, since 1980,[2] where it holds an extensive collection of coins dating from the 16th century onwards. The collection is housed in eighty cabinets made by Elizabeth II's cabinet maker, Hugh Swann.


The London Mint first became a single institution in 886, during the reign of Alfred the Great, but was only one of many mints throughout the kingdom. By 1279 it had moved to the Tower of London, and remained there the next 500 years, achieving a monopoly on the production of coin of the realm in the 16th century. Sir Isaac Newton took up the post of Warden of the Mint, responsible for investigating cases of counterfeiting, in 1696, and subsequently held the office of Master of the Royal Mint from 1699 until his death in 1727. He unofficially moved the Pound Sterling to the gold standard from silver in 1717.


By the time Newton arrived, the Mint had expanded to fill several rickety wooden buildings ranged around the outside of the Tower. In the seventeenth century the processes for minting coins were mechanised and rolling mills and coining presses were installed. The new machinery and the demand on space in the Tower of London following the outbreak of war with France led to a decision to move the Mint to an adjacent site in East Smithfield. The new building, designed by James Johnson and Robert Smirke, was completed in 1809, and included space for the new machinery, and accommodation for the officers and staff of the Mint.

The building was rebuilt in the 1880s to accommodate new machinery which increased the capacity of the Mint. As technology changed with the introduction of electricity and demand grew, the process of rebuilding continued so that by the 1960s little of the original mint remained, apart from Smirke's 1809 building and the gatehouse in the front.

During WWII, the Royal Mint was bombed by the Germans. The Mint was hit on several different occasions and was put out of commission for three weeks at one point.

The Tower Hill site finally reached capacity ahead of decimalisation in 1971, with the need to strike hundreds of millions of new decimal coins, while at the same time not neglecting overseas customers. In 1967 it was announced that the Mint would move away from London to new buildings in Llantrisant, ten miles (16 km) north west of Cardiff.

It was rumoured the reason for the move was the welsh Prime Minister – Harold Wilson wanted to win a local by – election and curry favour with his welsh MP's..

The first phase was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 17 December 1968, and production gradually shifted to the new site over the next seven years until the last coin, a gold sovereign, was struck in London in November 1975. Smirke's 1809 Building is now used as commercial offices by Barclays Global Investors.

Trial of the Pyx

The Trial of the Pyx is the procedure in the United Kingdom for ensuring that newly-minted coins conform to required standards. The trials have been held since the twelfth century, normally once per calendar year, and continue to the present day. The form of the ceremony has been essentially the same since 1282. They are trials in the full judicial sense, presided over by a judge with an expert jury of assayers. Trials are now held at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, having previously taken place at the Palace of Westminster. Given modern production methods, it is unlikely that coins would not conform, although this has been a problem in the past as it would have been tempting for the Master of the Mint to steal precious metals.

The term "Pyx" refers to the boxwood chest (in Greek, πυξίς, pyxis) in which coins were placed for presentation to the jury. There is also a Pyx Chapel (or Pyx Chamber) in Westminster Abbey, which was once used for secure storage of the Pyx and related articles.

The jury is composed of Freemen of the Company of Goldsmiths, who assay the coins provided to decide whether they have been minted within the criteria determined by the relevant Coinage Acts.

Invention of The 17th Century Corkscrew – England

Cork was used already by the ancient Greeks and Romans as stopper for jars  in the 6th  century BC. But after the collapse of the Roman Empire the usage of cork seems to have ceased. In the early part of the 17th century cork re-appears as a wine bottle stopper  together with the use of glass bottles.  

In the early days, before the corkscrew, a cord tied around the top of the cork was used to extract the cork. In the 1700's us British invented the technology to bottle wine and use corkscrews. 

The earliest references for corkscrews came from England in the early part of the 17th  century.  

The heyday of corkscrews coincided with the great period of British manufacturing and invention in the middle of the 1800s.  

The first Corkscrew registered patent was to the British Reverend Samuel Henshall (1765-1807) on August 24th 1795 with patent #2061. This was the first documented patent given for such a device.  

Samuel Henshall, the son of a Cheshire grocer, was born in 1765. Educated first at Manchester Grammar School, he went up to Brasenose as a Somerset Scholar in 1782 and gained his MA in 1789 shortly before his ordination. Samuel Henshall was made a Fellow of the College but his academic career was not as illustrious as he had hoped: his dense scholarly works received a mixed reception and his bid, in 1800, to become Oxford's Professor of Anglo-Saxon was unsuccessful. He became a Curate of Christ Church, Spitalfields, and from 1802 until his death in 1807, he held the post of Rector of St. Mary's which, at that time, was one of the College's livings.

In May 1795, Samuel Henshall approached Matthew Boulton, the famous Birmingham entrepreneur, to arrange for the manufacture of the corkscrew which he invented. Samuel Henshall design included a concave ‘button', fixed between screw and shank, which prevented the screw penetrating too far into the bottle and simultaneously gripped the cork to break its seal with the neck of the bottle.

Samuel Henshall clearly took to the idea and stayed a fortnight with him while they developed the design. However, Samuel Henshall was not an ideal business partner: he was clearly having financial problems and did not put up his portion of the patent expenses. Boulton's legal advisor wrote in 1795: 'I doubt I shall not so easily extract £50 from the Parson, as he would a Cork from a Bottle.'

Within five years, there is evidence of further money woes as Samuel Henshall appeared in court three times being sued for the recovery of debts, the largest amount - some £420 - payable to a brewer. It is said that the remaining stock of corkscrews was buried with Samuel Henshall in the chancel of Bow Church, London.

Tower of London – London Icon

I have decided to create this article about The Tower of London as it's one of the Icons of London.

Her Majestys Royal Palace "The Tower of London" is a castle first founded back in 1066.

When it was built by William The Conquerer in 1078 it was the tallest building in the World. Over several centuries it has been expanded by the many kings and queens that have ruled England during the last 1,000 years. Today it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. During its long history the Tower of London has served many purposes which have ranged from a royal palace to a prison. Today It's a World heritage Site.

The tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. Although the Tower is popularly known today as a place of imprisonment, and was used as such from as early as 1100, that was not its primary purpose. Early in its history, the Tower was a grand palace, serving as a royal residence. The castle underwent several expansions, especially under Kings Richard The Lionheart, Henry III and Edward III, resulting in its current general layout in the 13th century. It was sometimes used as a refuge from the general populace in times of unrest.

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the Brtish Library in London. England.

Thomas B. Costain, writing in the middle of the 20th century, considered the story of Lord Hastings' summary execution to be the "smoking gun" that proved Morton deliberately falsified the record to make King Richard out to be a villain. Morton wrote in his History that at the lords' council meeting in the Tower of London on 13 Jun 1483, Richard suddenly called his men at arms into the room and had them arrest Hastings for treason and take him outside and chop his head off.

There is much to learn from the story of how the head of one of the most revered men in England, Sir Thomas More, ended up on the chopping block on London's Tower Hill in 1535. Few people in history have faced their trials and deaths as squarely, calmly, and with as much integrity as did More. More's road from his post as Lord Chancellor of England to the Tower of London owes its course to a Bible passage, a marriage of a long-dead prince, and the consuming desire of More.

The zenith of the castle's use as a prison came in the 16th and 17th centuries, when many political or religious figures, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I, were held within its walls. This use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower". The Tower is also known as a place of torture and execution, although only seven people were executed within the Tower; executions more commonly took place on the notorious Tower Hill, north of the castle.

Throughout its history, the Tower of London has served variously as an Armoury, Prison, Treasury, Zoo, Royal Mint, Public Records Office and is home to the Crown Jewels. The Tower of London is reputedly the most haunted building in England. The ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn, beheaded in 1536 for treason against King Henry VIII, has allegedly been seen haunting the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, where she is buried, and walking around the White Tower carrying her head under her arm.

Other ghosts include Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, Margarat Pole and the Princes in the Tower. In January 1816, a sentry on guard outside the Jewel House witnessed an inexplicable apparition of a bear advancing towards him, and reportedly died of fright a few days later. In October 1817, an even more inexplicable, tubular, glowing apparition was seen in the Jewel House by the Keeper of the Crown Jewels, Edmund Lenthal Swifte. The apparition hovered over the shoulder of his wife, leading her to exclaim: "Oh, Christ! it has seized me!" Other nameless and formless terrors have been reported, more recently, by night staff at the Tower.

Tower Bridge – London Icon

I have decided to create this article about "Tower Bridge" as it's one of the Icons of London.

In the second half of the 19th century, increased commercial development in the East End of London led to a requirement for a new river crossing downstream of London Bridge. A traditional fixed bridge could not be built because it would cut off access to the port facilities in the Pool of London between London Bridge and the Tower of London.

A Special Bridge or Subway Committee was formed in 1876, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman, to find a solution to the river crossing problem. It opened the design of the crossing to public competition. Over 50 designs were submitted, including one from civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The evaluation of the designs was surrounded by controversy, and it was not until 1884 that a design submitted by Horace Jones the City Architect (who was also one of the judges), was approved.

Jones' engineer, Sir John Wolfe Barry devised the idea of a bascule bridge with two towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways.

During it's building, two piers were sunk into the river bed to support the weight of the bridge. A massive 11,000 tons of steel used then for the walkways and towers. A layer of Cornish granite and Portland stone were used as a covering, to protect the steelwork and to make it look nicer to the eye.

Still in use today the bridge is still opened for river traffic many times in a week. It is said the bridge carries 1,900 vehicles per hour between 7am and 10am during London rush hour. 140 feet above the Thames you can look down and around the tower and see the original steam engines used to lift the huge bridge until 1976.

Historic Dates worthy of note

·       1910 - the high-level walkways were closed down due to lack of use.

·       1912 - Frank McClean flew between the bascules and the high-level walkways in an emergency. Quite a spectacle for onlookers and the bi-plane pilot.

·       1952 - a London bus leapt between the opening bascules to avoid plunging into the river as the bridge opened with the bus still on it.

·       1977 - for the Queen's Silver Jubilee Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue.

Tower bridge was completed and opened in the year 1894. It was opened by Edward 7th when he was Prince of Wales. It took 8 years in it's construction, using 5 major contractors and over 400 labourers. When it was completed and as it stands still today, it is one of London's most famous landmarks, its designers, John Wolfe Barry and Sir Horace Jones can be proud of a splendid piece of engineering.

The History of Television - England 1924

As an Englishman with an interest in English History I thought it would be of interest to tell the History of Television and it's invention by John Logie Baird at Ally Pally in London. The British Broadcasting Company started daily transmissions on November 14th 1922, by which time more than one million ten-shilling (50p) licences had been issued. In 1927 the company was restructured as a public corporation -the BBC that we know today- by its founding father, John (later Lord) Reith, but by this time an even newer technology was being developed -television.

In truth, the Corporation was very interested in the Television invented by John Logie Baird's experiments and wanted them to continue under their sponsorship, and not under that of any other company. Accordingly, Baird's company was offered the use of facilities on London's South Bank. By 1932 the BBC were sufficiently happy to allow regular experimental broadcasting. They now offered Baird a studio in their newly acquired premises in Portland Place, W1. Studio BB, Britain's first dedicated television studio, was housed in the basement of Broadcasting House, and it was from here that Baird continued to experiment and refine the new medium. Competition came from the Electronic and Music Industries (EMI), based in Hayes, Middlesex, where they had been working with the Marconi Company on developing a high definition system.

In May of 1934 the British government appointed a committee, under the guidance of Lord Selsdon, to begin enquiries into the viability of setting up a public television service, with recommendations as to the conditions under which such a service could be offered. The results of the Selsdon Report were issued as a single Government White Paper in January of the following year. The BBC was to be entrusted with the development of television, which had to transmit a definition of not less than 240 lines with a minimum of 25 pictures per second. With the publication of this report the era of the low definition picture came to an end with ballerina Lydia Sokolova being the last artiste in Britain to appear via the old 30-line system.

The committee proposed that the two new high definition systems (Baird's 240 line and Marconi-EMI's 405 line) would be chosen to alternate transmissions by the BBC over a set period, until it was decided which was the better. Looking for a suitable site for the new service, the BBC chose Alexandra Palace in Haringey, Greater London. Its position, high on a hill, made it the ideal place to place a transmitter that would cover all of London and many of its surrounding counties.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the magic of television..."

With those words Leslie Mitchell introduced Britain's first high-definition public television programme from Radiolympia. The date was 26th August 1936. This was the World's first Television broadcast. At the start of the war in 1939 over 80,000 viewers had been watching television 7 days a week.

During September 1st 1939 while Mickey Mouse was being shown on Television, All television's became blank and went off air. This programme returned in 1946 and BBC Television and radio has gone from strength to strength.

Time Line of British Television

1924 Feb

John Logie Baird sends rudimentary pictures over short distance

1925 May

Baird gives first public demonstration of television

1926 Jan 27

Baird demonstrates tv by wireless transmission to the Royal Institution, London

1927 Jan 1

The BBC becomes a public corporation


1932 Aug 22

BBC starts 30-line tests using Baird's system (until Sep 1935)

1936 Nov 2

Start of 405-line high definition service (for a few months alongside Baird's 240-line system)

1937 May 12

First outside broadcast: King George VI's Coronation procession

1939 Sep 1

Suspension of TV service because of WW2

Re - Start of TV Service in 1946.

British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC History

The British Broadcasting Company started daily transmissions on November 14th 1922, by which time more than one million ten-shilling (50p) licences had been issued. In 1927 the company was restructured as a public corporation -the BBC that we know today- by its founding father, John (later Lord) Reith, but by this time an even newer technology was being developed -television.

In truth, the Corporation was very interested in Baird's experiments and wanted them to continue under their sponsorship, and not under that of any other company. Accordingly, Baird's company was offered the use of facilities on London's South Bank. By 1932 the BBC were sufficiently happy to allow regular experimental broadcasting. They now offered Baird a studio in their newly acquired premises in Portland Place, W1. Studio BB, Britain's and the World's first dedicated television studio, was housed in the basement of Broadcasting House, and it was from here that Baird continued to experiment and refine the new medium. Competition came from the Electronic and Music Industries (EMI), based in Hayes, Middlesex, where they had been working with the Marconi Company on developing a high definition system.

In May of 1934 the British government appointed a committee, under the guidance of Lord Selsdon, to begin enquiries into the viability of setting up a public television service, with recommendations as to the conditions under which such a service could be offered. The results of the Selsdon Report were issued as a single Government White Paper in January of the following year. The BBC was to be entrusted with the development of television, which had to transmit a definition of not less than 240 lines with a minimum of 25 pictures per second. With the publication of this report the era of the low definition picture came to an end with ballerina Lydia Sokolova being the last artiste in Britain to appear via the old 30-line system.

The committee proposed that the two new high definition systems (Baird's 240 line and Marconi-EMI's 405 line) would be chosen to alternate transmissions by the BBC over a set period, until it was decided which was the better. Looking for a suitable site for the new service, the BBC chose Alexandra Palace in Haringey, Greater London. Its position, high on a hill, made it the ideal place to place a transmitter that would cover all of London and many of its surrounding counties.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the magic of television..."

With those words Leslie Mitchell introduced Britain's first high-definition public television programme from Radiolympia. The date was 26th August 1936. This was the World's first Television broadcast. At the start of the war in 1939 over 80,000 viewers had been watching television 7 days a week.

During September 1st 1939 while Mickey Mouse was being shown on Television, All television's became blank and went off air. This programme returned in 1946 and BBC Television and radio has since gone from strength to strength.

The Freemasons – It's English Origins and History

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were members of various Freemasonry and London Livery companies I have created this article on the history of the Freemasons. England is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD.

The history of Freemasonry originates from the time of the Knights Templer. The aim of Freemasonry is to study the development, evolution and events of the fraternal organisation known as Freemasonry. This history is generally separated into two time periods: before and after the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. Before this time, the facts and origins of Freemasonry are not absolutely known and are therefore frequently explained by theories or legends. After the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, the history of Freemasonry is extremely well-documented and can be traced through the creation of hundreds of Grand Lodges that spread rapidly worldwide.

English Masonic historians place great importance on 24 June 1717 (St. John the baptist's day) when four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul's churchyard and formed what they called The Grand Lodge of England. Although Freemasonry had existed in England since at least the mid-1600s and in Scotland since The Schaw Statutes were enacted in 1598 and 1599, the establishment of a permanent Grand Lodge in London in 1717 is traditionally considered the formation of organized Freemasonry in its modern sense.

A credible historical source asserting the antiquity of Freemasonry is the Halliwell Manuscript or Regius Poem - believed to date from ca. 1390. This makes reference to several concepts and phrases similar to those found in Freemasonry. The manuscript itself seems to be an elaboration on an earlier document, to which it refers.

There is also the Cooke Manuscript, an undated manuscript constitution from the mid-15th century, the oldest of the Gothic Constitutions. The first statutory use of the word 'Freemason' in England appears in the Statutes of the Realm enacted in 1495 under Henry VI, although the archaic term "frank mason" had been used fifty years earlier. Prior to that, the earliest use of the term "frank Masons" was in a 1376 reference to the "Company of frank Masons," one of the numerous craft guilds of London.

By 1583, the date of the Grand Lodge manuscript, the documentary evidence begins to grow. These are described as Head and Principal respectively. As a side note, following a dispute over numbering at the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland (GLS) - Kilwinning is numbered as Lodge Mother of KilwinningNumber 0 (pronounced 'Nothing'), GLS. Quite soon thereafter, a charter was granted to Sir William St. Clair (later Sinclair) of Roslin (Rosslyn), allowing him to purchase jurisdiction over a number of lodges in Edinburgh and environs. This may be the basis of the Templar myth surrounding Rosslyn Chapel.

The Regius Poem and Cooke manuscript, about 1390 and 1410 respectively, are written in the dialects of the west and southwest of England, and may have been written for the school of masonry associated with Salisbury Cathedral.

Early operative Freemasons, unlike virtually all Europeans except the Clergy, were Free - not bound to the land on which they were born. The various skills required in building complex stone structures, especially churches and cathedrals, allowed skilled masons to travel and find work at will. They were lodged in a temporary structure - either attached to, or near, the main stone building. In this lodge, they ate, slept and received their work assignments from the master of the work. To maintain the freedom they enjoyed required exclusivity of skills, and thus, as an apprentice was trained, his instructor attached moral values to the tools of the trade, binding him to his fellows of the craft.( citation needed ).

Freemasonry's transition from a craft guild of operative, working stonemasons into a fraternity of speculative, accepted, gentleman Freemasons began in Scottish lodges during the early 1600s. The earliest record of a lodge accepting a non-operative member occurs in the records of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), 8 June 1600, where it is shown that John Boswell, Laird of Aucheinleck, was present at a meeting. The first record of the initiation of a non-operative mason in a lodge is contained in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) for 3 July 1634, when the Right Honourable Lord Alexander was admitted a Fellowcraft. The first record of the Initiation of a non-operative on English soil, was in 1641 when Sir Robert Moray was admitted to the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) at Newcastle.

From the early 1600s references are found to Freemasonry in personal diaries and journals. Elias Ashmole was made a Mason in 1646 and notes attending several Masonic meetings. There appears to be a general spread of the Craft, between Ashmole's account and 1717, when four English Lodges meeting in London taverns joined together and founded the Grand Lodge of London (now known as the United Grand Lodge of England). They had held meetings, respectively, at the Cheshire Cheese Tavern, the Apple-Tree Tavern, the Crown Ale-House near Drury Lane, the Goose and Gridiron in St. Paul's Churchyard, and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Westminster.

With the foundation of this first Grand Lodge, Freemasonry shifted from being an obscure, relatively private, institution into the public eye. The years following saw new Grand Lodges open throughout Europe. How much of this growth was the spreading of Freemasonry itself, and how much was due to the public organization of pre-existing private Lodges, is uncertain.

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee Inventor of The World Wide Web

I have decided to create this article about The British inventor of the World Wide Web.

A graduate of Oxford University, Tim Berners-Lee ( born 8 June 1955 ) invented the World Wide Web, an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing while at Cern, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, in 1989. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990. His specifications of URL's, HTTP and HTML were refined as Web technology spread. He is also a Professor in the Electronics and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK.

On December 25,1990 he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet with the help of_Robert Cailliau and a young student staff at CERN whose name is unknown. In terms of the technology that enables all forms of data communication (web,email,instant_messaging,digital phone, etc) between all the connected computer systems of the world.

The first Web site built was at CERN, and was first put on line on 6 August 1991.

The Internet and Transmission Control Protocols were initially developed in 1973 and published in 1974. There ensued about 10 years of hard work, resulting in the roll out of Internet in 1983. Prior to that, a number of demonstrations were made of the technology - such as the first three-network interconnection demonstrated in November 1977 linking SATNET, PRNET and ARPANET in a path leading from Menlo Park, CA to University College London and back to USC/ISI in Marina del Rey, CA.

Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the Web's continued development. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He is a director of The Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI),[4] and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Centre for Collective Intelligence In April 2009, he was elected as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences based in Washington, D.C.


In 1994 he is one of only six members of the World Wide Web Hall of Fame of 1994.

·      In 1999, Time magazine named Berners-Lee one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century.

·      In March 2000 he was awarded an Honorary Degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University.

·      In 2003, he received the Computer History Museum's Fellow Award, for his seminal contributions to the development of the World Wide Web.

·      On 15 April 2004, he was named as the first recipient of Finland's Millenium Technology Prize, for inventing the World Wide Web. The cash prize, worth one million euros (about £892,000, or US$1.3 million, as of May 2009), was awarded on 15 June, in Helsinki, Finland, by the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen.

·      He was awarded the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (the second-highest class in this order of knighthood) by Queen Elizabeth II, as part of the 2004 New Year's Honours, and was invested on 16 July 2004

·      On 21 July 2004, he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Lancaster University.

·      On 27 January 2005, he was named Greatest Briton of 2004, both for his achievements and for displaying the key British characteristics of "diffidence, determination, a sharp sense of humour and adaptability",

·      In 2007, he was ranked Joint First, alongside Albert Hofmann, in The Telegraph's list of 100 greatest living geniuses.

·      On 13 June 2007, he received the Order of Merit, becoming one of only 24 living members entitled to hold the award, and to use 'O.M.' after their name. (The Order of Merit is regarded as a personal gift bestowed by the reigning monarch, and does not require ministerial advice.)

·      On 20 September 2008, he was awarded the IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award, for conceiving and further developing the World Wide Web IEEE.

·      On 21 April 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

·      On 28 April 2009, he was elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

·      In 2009, he won the Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement.

·      In October 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Vriji Universiteit Amsterdam.

In 2010 Berners Lee updated HM Queen Elizabeth II website which is now much easier to navigate and load and is full of really interesting details.

Famous British Engineers – History

Britains history is made up of very famous engineers all through their history. This has made me decide to list just some of the most famous with links to websites with more details on the various engineers.

Thomas Savery (1650-1715)
Thomas Savery was an English military engineer and inventor who in 1698, patented the first crude steam engine.

James Watt (1736-1819)

Was the son of a merchant, was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1736. At the age of nineteen Watt was sent to Glasgow learn the trade of a mathematical-instrument maker.

After spending a year in London, Watt returned to Glasgow in 1757 where he established his own instrument-making business. Watt soon developed a reputation as a high quality engineer and was employed on the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Caledonian Canal. He was also engaged in the improvement of harbours and in the deepening of the Forth, Clyde and other rivers in Scotland.

Thomas Telford (1757-1834) (Famous Bridge Builder)

Was the son of a shepherd, was born in Westerkirk, Scotland in 1757. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a stonemason. He worked for a time in Edinburgh and in 1792 he moved to London where he was involved in building additions to Somerset House. Two years later he found work at Portsmouth dockyard.

George Stephenson (1781- 1848)

Was a British engineer who designed a famous and historically important steam-powered locomotive named Rocket, and is known as the Father of British Steam Railways.

George Stephenson was born in Wylam, England, 9.3 miles (15 km) west of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1748, a wagonway -- an arrangement similar to a railway, but with wooden tracks and designed to support horse-drawn carts -- had been built from the Wylam colliery to the River Tyne, running for several miles (several km). The young Stephenson grew up near it, and in 1802 gained employment as an engine-man at a coal mine. For the next ten years his knowledge of steam engines increased, until in 1812 he stopped operating them for a living, and started building them.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) (Inventor of First Computer)

Charles Babbage was born in Teignmouth, Devon, in 1791. Educated at Trinity College Cambridge, he spent most of his life trying to build calculating machines. The first of these was designed to calculate tables of logarithms and similar functions by repeated addition performed by gear wheels. A small prototype model of the difference engine was produced in 1822 and this resulted in him receiving a government grant to build a full-sized machine.

Robert Stephenson (1803-1859)

In 1827 he began work on the Rocketlocomotive. Robert's abilities as an engineer was illustrated by the success of the Rocket at the Rainhill Trials in October, 1829.

Isaambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859)

Was born in Portsmouth on 9th April, 1806. He was educated at Hove, near Brighton. In 1823 Brunel went to work with his father on the building of the Thames Tunnel. He was later to be appointed as resident engineer at the site.

In 1829 Brunel designed a suspension bridge to cross the River Avon at Clifton. His original design was rejected on the advice of Thomas Telford, but an improved version was accepted but the project had to be abandoned because of a lack of funds.

Sir William Arrol (1839-1913)

Sir William Arrol was born in 1839 and became famous for his building of the Forth Rail Bridge between North and South Queensferry in Scotland. The bridge with its three cantilever towers which are each 104m (340 feet) high was the design of Sir John Fowler (1817-98) and Sir Benjamin Baker (1840 - 1907) and was constructed by Arrol at a cost of some £2½ million. Building began in 1883 and took seven years to complete; the Prince of Wales at the time (later to become King Edward VII) finished the construction by driving home an inscribed gold rivet on 4th of March 1890.

Thomas Andrews (1873-1912)

Born in Comber (pronounced cum-ber), County Down, Thomas Andrews was the son of a politician and a mother whose father owned Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard. In 1884 at the age of 11 Andrews entered the Belfast Academic Institute and left in 1889 to become an apprentice at Harland and Wolff where his parents paid the sum of £100 for his apprenticeship.

Sir Frank Whittle (1907-1996) (Inventor of the Jet Engine)

Whittle's jet-propelled Gloster E28 took its first flight on 15th May, 1941 and travelled at speeds of 350 mph. This was followed by the Gloster Meteor that was used to intercept German V1 Flying Bomb. Power Jets Company was taken over by the British government in 1944.

Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910-1999) (Inventor of the Hovercraft)

In 1953 Cockerell began work on his invention the hovercroft. After successful experiments on Oulton Broad, Cockerell approached the government National Research Development Council (NRDC) who invested £1,000 in his invention. However, it took him another three years before he got full commercial backing for his project.

Below is a list of more British Engineers.

·       James Abernethy - Scottish canal, marine and bridge engineer

·       John Aird - English engineer from the late 19th century

·       David Anderson - Scottish civil engineer and lawyer

William George Armstrong - British engineer and 22nd president of the Institution of Civil Engineers

·       Sir William Arrol - Scottish engineer involved with the construction of the Tay Rail Bridge, Forth Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge

·       Sir Ove Arup - Founder of Arup

·       John Aspinall - British railway engineer

Benjamin Baker - English engineer in late 19th century

James Arthur Banks - British Dam engineer

·       Robert Barker - English railway engineer who also played in the first ever football international game.

·       Peter W. Barlow - English engineer in late 19th century. Notable for Lambeth Bridge (old) and tunnelling shield

·       William Henry Barlow - English engineer in late 19th century; railway engineering

·       Sir John Wolfe-Barry - English engineer in late 19th century; designed Tower Bridge

·       John Frederic La Trobe Bateman - British hydraulic engineer

·       Sir Joseph Bazalgette - English engineer in late 19th century;

·       Sir George Berkley - British railway engineer

·       George Parker Bidder - British engineer; railways, telegraphs and hydraulics

·       Sir Alexander Binnie - English engineer in late 19th century; tunnels and bridges across the Thames

·       William Binnie - British waterworks engineer, son of the above

·       John Blenkinsop - English engineer in mid 19th century; railways, locomotives and mining

·       Benjamin Blyth - Scottish railway engineer

·       Benjamin Blyth II - Scottish railway engineer, first practising Scottish engineer to become president of the Institution of Civil Engineers

·       Sir Thomas Bouch - English engineer in late 19th century; first Tay Rail Bridge disaster

·       William Bragge - English engineer in the 19th century

·       Frederick Bramwell - British Engineer

·       James Brindley - English engineer from mid 18th century - canals and watermills

·       John Alexander Brodie - City Engineer of Liverpool and inventor of the football goal net

·       George Barclay Bruce - English railway engineer

·       Henry Marc Brunel - English engineer in late 19th century.

·       Isambard Kingdom Brunel - English engineer in mid 19th century - designed Great Western Railway, a series of famous steamships, and important bridges.

·       James Brunlees - Scottish engineer notable for designing Southend Pier

·       Peter Bruff - English engineer in 19th century. Notable for work in Clacton on Sea

·       Sir George Buchanan - British civil engineer associated with harbour works in Burma, Iraq and Bombay, during early 20th century.

·       William Tierney Clark - English engineer in mid 19th century; suspension bridges

·       Reginald Coates - British civil engineer and academic

·       John Coode - English engineer, notable for work on Portland Harbour

·       Henry Cronin - British civil engineer

·       William Cubitt - English engineer in 19th century.

·       Jonathan Davidson - British civil engineer

·       Sydney Donkin - British civil, mechanical and electrical engineer

·       Francis Drake

·       Thomas Dadford Junior — canals

·       Robert Elliott-Cooper - British civil engineer

·       William Henry Ellis - British civil engineer and steel maker

·       Joshua Field - telegraph cables, sewerage

·       Maurice Fitzmaurice - Irish bridge, dam and tunnel engineer

·       Ken Fleming - Northern Irish civil engineer and piling and foundations specialist

·       Sanford Fleming - railroads, time zone

·       Sir John Fowler - bridges

·       Sir Charles Fox - British railway engineer

·       Charles Douglas Fox - British railway engineer

·       Thomas Pierson Frank - British civil engineer

·       Ralph Freeman - English bridge and highways engineer

·       Buckminster Fuller

·       Angus Fulton - British civil engineer

·       William George Nicholson Geddes - Scottish engineer

·       Alexander Gibb - Scottish railway and military engineer

·       Alfred Giles - British civil engineer

·       William Glanville - British highways engineer

·       Charles Hutton Gregory - railways,

·       William Grierson - British railway engineer

·       John Griffith - Irish engineer

·       Sir William Halcrow - tunnels

·       Benjamin Hall, 1st Baron Llanover - Big Ben

·       Archibald Milne Hamilton - Callender-Hamilton Bridge and Hamilton Road in Kurdistan

·       Dr Edmund Hambly - British structural engineer

·       Sir William Gordon Harris - British docks and roads engineer

·       Thomas Elliott Harrison - British railway and bridge engineer

·       Arthur Hartley - British oil engineer

·       Sir John Hawkshaw - British railway and harbour engineer

·       John Clarke Hawkshaw - British engineer, son of the above

·       Thomas Hawksley - English engineer noted for his work on water supplies

·       Charles Hawksley - Son of the above, also a water engineer

·       Harrison Hayter - British railway and harbour engineer

·       Brodie Henderson - British railway engineer

·       Hugh Henshall - British canal engineer and student of James Brindley

·       Roger Hetherington - British civil engineer

·       Roger Gaskell Hetherington - British Ministry of Health civil engineer

·       Clement Hindley - British railway engineer

·       George Humphreys - British civil engineer

·       James Charles Inglis, British engineer

·       John Holmes Jellett - docks and harbours

·       John B. Jervis - canals and railroads

·       William Jessop - canals

·       Albert Mussey Johnson - helped design Scotty's Castle.

·       Theodore Judah - railroads

·       Edward Judge - bridges

·       Alexander Kennedy - British maritime and electrical engineer and academic

·       Kirby Laing - former chairman of John Laing plc

·       Anthony George Lyster - British docks engineer

·       John MacAdam - roads

·       Sir John MacNeill - railways

·       William Mahone - plank road, railways

·       Robert Manning - Open channel flow

·       James Mansergh - English railway, water supply and sewage engineer

·       William Marriott - English railway engineer

·       William Matthews - British harbour engineer

·       William Maw - British railway engineer

·       Sir Henry Maybury - British railway and highways engineer

·       John Robinson McClean - British engineer, railways, water supply

·       Conde McCullough - bridges

·       Scott McMorrow - playwright, poet, and engineer

·       John Miller (engineer), 19th century Edinburgh-based railway engineer (Grainger & Miller)

·       Guilford Lindsey Molesworth - English railway engineer

·       General Sir John Monash GCMG, KCB, VD - bridges and precast concrete (also Commander of the Australian Corps in World War I)

·       Charles Langbridge Morgan - British civil engineer

·       James Morgan - Regent's Canal

·       Basil Mott - mines, tunnels, bridges

·       Sir Alan Muir Wood - British tunnelling engineer

·       Benjamin Outram - canals

·       William N. Page - railways, mining

·       Frederick Palmer - Dockyards

·       William Barclay Parsons

·       Thomas Paton - British dam engineer

·       Allan Quartermaine - British civil engineer

·       Robert Rawlinson - English canal engineer and sanitarian

·       Richard Redmayne - British mining and civil engineer

·       Vernon Robertson - British civil engineer

·       Alexander Ross (engineer) - Scottish railway engineer

·       Leopold Halliday Savile - British reservoir engineer

·       Robert Stephenson - railways

·       Robert Stevenson - lighthouses

·       John Edward Thornycroft - British ship builder and president of the Institution of Civil Engineers

·       Ernest Crosbie Trench - British railway engineer

·       William Unwin - British civil and materials engineer

·       Charles Blacker Vignoles - British railway engineer

·       James Walker

·       William Kelly Wallace - Irish railway engineer

·       André Waterkeyn designed the Atomium

·       John Duncan Watson - British sewage treatment engineer

·       David Mowat Watson - British civil engineer

·       Francis Wentworth-Shields - British civil engineer

·       William Henry White - British engineer and chief constructor of the Admiralty

·       William Willcocks - British irrigation engineer served in India and Egypt

·       Edward Leader Williams - canals, bridges

·       George Ambler Wilson - British port engineer

·       Norman D. Wilson - mass transit

·       John Wolfe-Barry

·       A. Baldwin Wood - pumps

·       Edward Woods - British railway engineer

·       William Barton Worthington - British railway engineer

·       Robert Wynne-Edwards - British tunnel and pipeline engineer

·       Andrew Yarranton - English navigation engineer

British Space Satellites – History
In the Autumn of 1945 an RAF electronics officer and member of the British Interplanetary Society, Arthur C. Clarke, wrote a short article in Wireless World that described the use of manned satellites in 24-hour orbits high above the world's land masses to distribute television programs. His article apparently had little lasting effect in spite of Clarke's repeating the story in his 1951/52 The Exploration of Space. Clarke's concept, outlined clearly (incidentally, it was unpatented) in the October 1945 edition of the British publication Wireless World and showed how geostationary satellites would work. Twenty years later the idea was tested by the Soviet Union. The first British Satellitte Ariel 1 was sent into space in 1962 from the USA.

Time Line


Oct 1945 - Clarke's concept, outlined clearly (incidentally, it was unpatented) in the October 1945 edition of the Britishpublication Wireless World, showed how geostationary satellites would work. Twenty years later the idea was tested by the Soviet Union and led to the ...Clarke's concept, outlined clearly (incidentally, it was unpatented) in the October 1945 edition of the British publication Wireless World, showed how geostationary satellites would work. Twenty years later the idea was tested by the Soviet Union and led to the more than one thousand geostationary satellites that now orbit our planet. A phone call, routed through satellite service, reaches its "uplink" point and is directed via microwave toward one of the geostationary.


Oct 7, 1957 - One British writer called the satellite a potential spy-in-thesky. Fears Satellite May BeLie a Spy in the Sky. Army Men Dispute ... past chairman of the British society said: . "This launching is a tremendous thing. It is one of the greatest scientific ad. vances in world history.


Aug 11, 1958 - A combined British and Australian operation to launch a satellite into space will be made soon at the Warmora Rocket Ranze in Central Australia ... The British government official said the Royal Society in London is now examin ing the probable value of a UK satellite program to ...


Jun 20, 1959 - Britain named today an eightman team of space experts to leave here soon for talks in Washington about putting British scientific instruments into orbit in an American earth satellite. The group, which will arrive in time to begin talks on June 25.


Dec 16, 1960 - WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (AP)-The first British space i satellite will be launched " in about one year" from a United States site and will be powered by an American Scout rocket, it was announced today.


Dec 7, 1961 - Britain plans ,to fire its first space satellite around ,the earth next spring aboard a United States Delta rocket,'the House of Lords was told tonight. Viscount Hailsham, Minister for Science, told the House "it is flattering to be told the Americans regard the payload of the first ...


Feb 1962 - A series of six British satellites launched by NASA. The first four were devoted to studying the ionosphere, the remaining two to X-ray astronomy and cosmic-ray studies. Ariel 1 was the first international satellite. It was named inFebruary 1962 for the ...A series of six British satellites launched by NASA. The first four were devoted to studying the ionosphere, the remaining two to X-ray astronomy and cosmic-ray studies. Ariel 1 was the first international satellite. It was named in February 1962 for the spirit of the air who was released by Prospero in Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The name "Ariel" – a traditional one in British aeronautics – was chosen by the UK Ministry of Science and endorsed by NAS


Mar 11, 1962 - WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI)-The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said today it would join with the British Ministry of Science this spring to launch the first international satellite from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Britain is supplying the equipment for experiments to be ...

Mar 12, 1962 - CAPE CANAVERAL FlaAPNext assignment for ThorDelta America's proven and reliable space booster is to hoist Britain's first scientific satellite into orbit next month. The British payload UK1 for United Kingdom will probe the ionosphere a series of electrically charged layers in the atmosphers.

Jun 1, 1962 - Jun 1962 Orbiting of First British SatelliteRanger IV hits Far Side of Moon American and Soviet Space Developments .... alaser oroptical masersee below was beamed on the moon and reflected back to earth–the first time inhistory that man had illuminated the surface of another celestial.

Aug 3, 1962 - 2 (Reuters) Ariel, Britain's first earth satellite, has produced interesting and valuable information about the structure of the ionosphere and the higher atmosphere, Freeth, Parlia- ,mentary Secretary for Science, ;said today. Thesatellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla,, ...


Sep 2, 1962 - It was somewhat ironic that the Briotish Satellite Ariel should have been one of those knocked out. For it was from Britain that had come the strongest advance pro tests against the high altitude test on primarily scientific grounds — as contrasted with those from Communist sources and ...


Jun 7, 1963 - 3, the first all-british satellite, is to be built by the British Aircraft Corporation's guided weapons division at Stevenage, Herts. will be launched in about four years ... 3 will be the third in a series of joint british-american scientific research satellites.


Jan 15, 1964 - The space agency has already agreed to launch two British satellites, including one earlv this year, and a French satellite in 1965. i Both the British and French satellites will make various measurements of the ionosphere, the electrically charged layer in the upper atmosphere. ...


Nov 27, 1965 - It made France the third nation to launch a satellite with its own rocket. US rockets were used to launch Italian, Canadian and British satellites. The successful orbiting seemed certain to boost President Charles de Gaulle's stock in the Dec. 5 when he will be a candidate to succeed ...


Dec 29, 1966 - UK Satellite LONDON reutersThe British Government intends to proceed with plans to launch an allbritish satellite in years time The Daily Mail ... says the satellite weighing up to 200 pounds would be put into orbit from the Australia rocket range by a new British rocket Black Arrow It.


May 5, 1967 - UK-3 was launched from the Western Test Range in California by (NASA) On Friday, 5th May, 1967. Now that it is in orbit the satellite is known as Ariel III.


Nov 21, 1969 - CAPE KENNEDY, Fla. The— first British military communications satellite is to rocket into space today to link defense units in bases as far apart as England and Singapore. Perched atop a US Delta rocket, the 535-pound payload called skynet is to. into an egg-shaped orbit with a high ...


Oct 28, 1971 - On 28 October 1971, the Prospero satellite was blasted into orbit by a Black Arrow launch vehicle. It was the only time a British satellite has been launched on a British rocket. Future legacy Although many were saddened by the cancellation of Black Arrow ...On 28 October 1971, the Prospero satellite was blasted into orbit by a Black Arrow launch vehicle. It was the only time a British satellite has been launched on a British rocket. Future legacy Although many were saddened by the cancellation of Black Arrow, the legacy of the UK's space pioneers lives on. The technology of the rocket itself was reused in the European rocket programme - now flying as the Ariane series of launchers.


Jan 18, 1974 - satellite Skynet 2 soared into space Friday night, the first space launch in 1974 from Cape Canaveral and the 100th firing of a Delta, the rocket workhorse of the space . the 960 pound satellite on the first part of its journey to a stationary orbit over the Indian Ocean.


Jun 12, 1978 - ... ... a group of British engineers and physicists has just published a remarkable scientific document that is certain to go down in history ... The same British company which has won business worth many millions of dollars for giantspace dish satellite terminals has come in at the other end.


Oct 1, 1981 - This commemorative push button telephone in black & silver was made to mark the inauguration of British telecom on 1 October 1981. CONNECTED EARTH: GOONHILLY SATELLITE EARTH STATION.


May 19, 1982 - WASHINGTON The Soviet Union has launched a nuclear-powered radar satellite into low orbit over the South Atlantic that could aid Argentina in spying on British warships near the Falklands Islands, government sources say. The United States has nothing like the satellite, identified as ...


Aug 17, 1984 - satellites, fired into orbit with an American pay load, await a radio signal that will boost them to a higher orbit where the German craft ... wind The first release is planned in September British satellites are to ob serve from well outside the magnetic fields.


Jul 8, 1985 - The British are coming final ly They may be a few decades behind the Americans but that doesnt matter a bit really ac cording to a team of properly enthusiastic English astronauts who were in Huntington Beach on Friday to inspect McDonnell Douglas satellite launch equip ment ...


Jul 18, 1986 - Charlotte Observer, The : Complete full-text content of local and regional news, including community events, schools, politics, government policies, cultural activities, local companies, state industries, and people in the community. Paid advertisements are excluded.


Jul 16, 1987 - The order, from British Satellite Broadcasting Ltd., a London-based consortium, is believed to be the first firm agreement to launch commer cial ...


Aug 28, 1989 - A privately owned rocket fired a payload into orbit yesterday for the first time in the history of the space age. The 11-story Delta rocket, ... Hughes was hired by British Satellite Broadcasting to build two such satellites and have them launched into space under a $300 million contract.


Jan 1, 1990 - LEAD: A Titan 3 rocket carrying British and Japanese communications satellites roared into space tonight after nine postponements. ... About an hour after liftoff, the British satellite was released, officials said. The other satellite was to be released later.


Dec 9, 1995 - AG Rogers says that the only British satellite was launched by a Black Arrow in 1971Letters 4 November That is incorrect The first allBritish satellite was UK3 renamed Ariel 3 when in orbit launched by a NASA Scout rocket in May 1967.


Jun 19, 1997 - The deal with Primestar sees Murdoch selling ASkyB to the enemy, the cable companies -- the very same companies whose dominance of the American pay television market he originally intended to challenge with a US version of his successful British satellite business, BSkyB. ...


Oct 7, 1998 - Smaller lightweight satellites have been widely used in communications monitoring environmental changes and natural disasters and in scientific experiments in space The Tsinghua1 is 1.2 metres high and weighs 75 kg It will be the first of seven satellites forming a SinoBritish Treaty.


Apr 21, 1999 - Nehoda said that the Dnipro carried a British scientific satellite (?WoSAT-12) weighing 320 kg. He noted that the use of modernized SS-18 missiles, ... in December this year the Dnipro will launch into orbit a Ukranian microsatellite.


Nov 9, 2001 - As Nigeria warms up to join the league of space explorers next year, Minister of Science and Technology Prof Turner T. Isoun yesterday in Abuja commissioned the multi-million-naira annexe expected to house its earth station for its own satellite. The low earth orbit micro-satellite is built by Britain.

Feb 27, 2002 - Britain's armed forces are to be provided with a new satellite communications system under a private finance initiative programme worth about £2bn and creating or sustaining up to 1500 jobs across Britain, the Ministry of Defence announced yesterday. The British consortium Paradigm was ...


Sep 26, 2003 - KUN0078 4 GEN 0289 KUWAIT /KUNA-JRQ6 SCI-BRITISH-SATELLITES Three British-Built satellites for disasters monitoring to be launched tomorrow LONDON, Sep 26 (KUNA ) -- A rocket is due to launch tomorrow, carrying three British-built " International Rescue" satellites.


Jun 2, 2005 - LONDON — The satellite operator Inmarsat announced plans on Wednesday to raise $690 million in an initial public offering here this month. Inmarsat said it would sell 164.5 million shares at 215 pence to 245 pence each, giving the company a total market value of £1.1 billion, ..


Jan 18, 2006 - GUILDFORD, ENGLAND--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 18, 2006) - The primary objective of the GIOVE-A satellite, launched on the 28th December 2005 was to secure frequencies with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) without which the operation of Europe's new satellite navigation system ...


Mar 12, 2007 - The British military's communications satellite has blasted off into space after a last-minute glitch delayed its launch by 24 hours. The Ariane rocket carryingSkynet 5A, part of a £3.6 billion British armed forces programme, had been set to take off from the European spaceport at ...


Dec 18, 2008 - BRUSSELS, Dec 18 (Reuters) - European aircraft manufacturer EADS (EAD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) gained clearance from European Union antitrust regulators on Thursday to buy British satellite maker Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.


Feb 3, 2009 - By Jonathan Amos. Two British companies are involved in discussions about developing a low-cost rocket capable of putting small satellites in orbit. The idea is being promoted by SSTL, a firm in Guildford, Surrey, best known for its Earth observation spacecraft.

British Radar – It's HistoryI have decided to create this article about Radar which invention helped us British win the second world war.

In 1934 a large-scale Air Defence exercise was held to test the defences of Great Britain and mock raids were carried out on London. Even though the routes and targets were known in advance, well over half the bombers reached their targets without opposition. Prime Minister Baldwin's statement "The bomber will always get through" seemed true.

To give time for their guns to engage enemy aircraft as they came over, the Army was experimenting with the sound detection of aircraft by using massive concrete acoustic mirrors with microphones at their focal points.

Dr H.E. Wimperis, the first Director of Scientific Research for the Air Ministry, and his assistant Mr A.P. Rowe arranged for Air Marshall Dowding to visit the Army site on the Romney Marshes to see a demonstration. On the morning of the test the experiment was completely wrecked by a milk cart rattling by. Rowe was so concerned by this failure that he gathered up all the Air Ministry files on the subject of Air Defence. He was so appalled that he wrote formally to Wimperis to say that if we were involved in a major war we would loose it unless something new could be discovered to change the situation. He suggested that the best advisors obtainable should review the whole situation to see whether any new initiatives could be found. On 12th November Wimperis put this proposal to the Secretary of State and a Committee was set up under Henry Tizard.

In 1935 the British Air Ministry asked Robert Watson-Watt of the Radio Research Station whether a "death ray" was possible. He and colleague Arnold Wilkins quickly concluded that it was not feasible, but as a consequence suggested using radio for the detection of aircraft and this started the development of radar in Britain. The idea of using rays to kill or disable people or machines was very popular, so to start things off Wimperis got Professor Hill to estimate the radio energy needed to cause damage to humans. He sent this to Mr Watson-Watt, Superintendent of the Radio Research Station at Slough for his views on the possibility of developing a radio "Death Ray" to melt metal or incapacitate an aircraft pilot. Watson-Watt passed the letter to A.F. Wilkins who reported that there was no possibility of achieving these destructive effects at a distance but that energy reflected from aircraft should be detectable at useful ranges. This was reported to the first meeting of the Tizard Committee on 28th January and Rowe was instructed to get quantitative estimates for detection.

Wilkins made further calculations from which Watson-Watt wrote a memorandum proposing a system of radio-location using a pulse/echo technique. The Committee gave this a very favourable reception and Wimperis asked Dowding for £10,000 to investigate this new method of detection. Dowding, though very interested, said he must have a simple practical demonstration to show feasibility before committing scarce funds to the project.

For this demonstration Watson-Watt and Wilkins decided to make use of transmissions from the powerful BBC short-wave station at Daventry and measure the power reflected from a Heyford bomber flying up and down at various ranges. Detection was achieved at up to 8 miles and the £10,000 was granted.

A site at Orfordness was chosen to do the detection experiments over the sea. Aerials mounted on three pairs of 75ft wooden lattice masts were installed and detection ranges of 17 miles were obtained. These were rapidly increased to 40 miles by July. Work was done to show how map position and height might be determined and Watson-Watt submitted proposals for a chain of stations to be erected round the coast to provide warning of attack and to tell fighters where to engage the attackers. He suggested that a full-scale station should be built at once, to be followed, if successful, by a group of stations to cover the Thames Estuary and then by a final chain covering the South and East coasts. Construction of 5 stations was authorised and the one at Bawdsey was in operation by August 1936. The others followed shortly after. Plots were to be telephoned to a central operations room and combined with data from the Royal Observer Corps and the radio direction-finding system.

In February 1936 Bawdsey Manor became the centre for the expanding research team and Tizard inspired the RAF at Biggin Hill to investigate fighter control and interception techniques. Their results convinced him that effective interceptions could be obtained against mass raids by day, but not against dispersed attackers at night. He therefore pressed for equipment to go into fighters for them to find and engage targets when positioned within a few miles. Initial tests using a large television transmitter on the ground operating on a wavelength of 6 metres and a receiver in a Heyford Bomber with an aerial between its wheels gave detection ranges of over 10 miles. To get a transmitter into an aircraft and reduce the size of the aerial a much lower wavelength was required. Bowen installed a crude equipment operating at 1 metre in an Anson and in the autumn of 1937 aircraft were detected and also Naval ships several miles away in appalling weather.

From then on Air Interception (AI) and Air to Surface Vessel (ASV) equipments were developed. Further Air Defence Trials showed that better detection of low flying aircraft was needed and Chain Low (CHL) stations were evolved from Coastal Defence (CD) equipments which had been developed for the Army. Gun laying equipments (GL) were developed and also equipments to improve navigation (GEE) and bombing (OBOE) and (H2S).

Sep 1940 - The cavity magnetron was perhaps the single most important invention in the history of radar and played a major part in the Allies' victory. In the Tizard Mission during September 1940, it was given free to the US, together with several other inventions such as jet technology, so that we British could use American R&D and their production facilities.

The problem with us Brits giving away many of out Top Secret Gizmo's and inventions to the Americans was that our official secrets act lasted indefinately wheras the Americans did not have such laws holding them back and subsequently after WW2 the Americans decided to claim Computers and many other British Inventions (which were still secret) as their own. My goal is to rectify this situation and publish rights to many old and previously published wrongs. The first manned flight was in Brompton, England in 1849.

The First Manned Flight – England 1849Britains history is made up of very famous engineers all through their history. This has made me decide to write about one of the the most famous English Engineers called the "Father of Aviation" Sir George Cayley who flew the first manned flight in Brompton, England in 1849.

Sir George Cayley, 6th Baronet- World’s First First Flight  (27 December 1773 – 15 December 1857)

was a prolific English Engineer, one of the most important people in the history of aeronautics. Many consider him the first true scientific aerial investigator and first person to understand the underlying principles and forces of flight.

In 1799 he set forth concept of the modern aeroplane as a fixed-wing flying machine with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control. Often known as "the father of Aerodynamics", he was a pioneer of aeronautical engineering. Is called the "Father of Aviation" and designer of the first successful glider to carry a human being aloft, he discovered and identified the four aerodynamic forces of flight — weight, lift, drag and thrust — which are in effect on any flight vehicle. Modern aeroplane design is based on those discoveries including cambered wings. He is credited with the first major breakthrough in heavier-than-air flight and he worked over half a century before the development of powered flight. He designed the first actual model of an aeroplane and also diagrammed the elements of vertical flight.

By 1804 Sir George Cayley had built his first model gliders which appeared similar to modern aircraft: a pair of large monoplane wings towards the front, with a smaller tailplane at the back comprising horizontal stabilisers and a vertical wing.

In 1809 Sir George Cayley was quoted as saying, "I feel perfectly confident that we shall be able to transport ourselves and families, and their goods and chattels, more securely by air than by water, and with a velocity of from 20 to 100 miles per hour."

By 1810 Sir George Cayley had published his now-classic three-part treatise "On Aerial Navigation" which stated that lift, propulsion and control were the three requisite elements to successful flight, apparently the first person to so realize and so state.

By 1816 Sir George Cayley had turned his attention to lighter-than-air machines and designed a streamlined airship with a semi-rigid structure. He also suggested using separate gas bags to limit an airship's lifting gas loss due to damage. In 1837 Cayley designed a streamlined airship to be powered by a steam engine.

1832 to 1835 Sir George Cayley had served for the whig party as member of parliament for Scarborough, and helped found the Royal Polytechnic Institution (now University of Westminster), serving as its chairman for many years. He was a founding member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and was a distant cousin of the mathematician Arthur Cayley.

Around 1843 Sir George Cayley was the first to suggest the idea for a convertiplane, an idea which was published in a paper written that same year.

During some point prior to 1849 Sir George Cayley designed and built a biplane powered with "flappers" in which an unknown ten-year-old boy flew.

During 1853 Sir George Cayley with the continued assistance of his grandson George John Cayley and his resident engineer Thomas Vick, he developed a larger scale glider (also probably fitted with "flappers") which flew across Brompton Dale.

Later during 1853 the first adult aviator has been claimed to be either Cayley's coachman. One source (Gibbs-Smith) has suggested that it was John Appleby, a Cayley employee — however there is no definitive evidence to fully identify the pilot. The Plane Cayley built was a triplane glider (a glider with three horizontal wing structures) that carried his coachman 900 feet (275 meters) across Brompton Dale in the north of England before crashing. It was the first recorded flight by an adult in an aircraft.

An obscure entry in volume IX of the 8th Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1855 is the most contemporaneous account with any authority regarding the event. A 2007 biography of Cayley (Richard Dee's The Man Who Discovered Flight: George Cayley and the First Airplane) claims the first pilot was Cayley's grandson George John Cayley (1826-1878). Dee's book also reports the re-discovery of a series doodles from Cayley's school exercise book which suggest that Cayley's first designs concerning a lift-generating inclined plane may have been made as early as 1793.

A replica of the 1853 machine was flown at the original site in Brompton Dale in 1974 and in the mid 1980s by Derek Piggott. The glider is currently on display at the Yorkshire Air Museum. Another replica flew there in 2003, first piloted by Allan McWhirter and later by Richard Branson.

In 1857 Sir George Cayley died in Scarborough. There is a memorial to his life at Hull University at the Scarborough Campus.

The Spitfire – A British Icon

I have decided to create this article about The Spitfire as it's one of the Icons of The Battle of Britain. The designer and builder was R. J. Mitchell and his greatest legacy was the Spitfire single-seat fighter, designed between 1934 and 1936. It was a hybrid of many diverse technical developments. Using high-speed flight experience gained through the Schneider Trophy successes, influences from the German aircraft manufacturer, Junkers, and learning vital lessons from Supermarine's unsuccessful Type 224, the Spitfire was a masterpiece of practical engineering design that Mitchell would never see fly in combat.

The Spitfire designed by R. J. Mitchell came into being as a result of a new Air Ministry requirement for an interceptor fighter to respond to the growing threat of a modern Luftwaffe. The RAF interceptors of the day having a top speed of around 220mph, and a speed of 300 mph was considered vital to ensure interception of the new Luftwaffe aircraft under development.

R J Mitchell, Chief Designer at Supermarine had a reputation for designing high speed airplanes, having been the designer of the successful Schneider Trophy Seaplanes in the late 20's and early 30's. Mitchell's first attempt at a fighter was the Type 224 in 1933, driven by a Rolls Royce Goshawk steam cooled engine. This engine never realised its' full potential due to extreme unreliability of the steam cooling system. The 224 was both slow and underpowered, and was therefore never seriously considered as an interceptor by the Royal Air Force.

Mitchell then went back to the drawing board to design a better fighter using revolutionary techniques in airframe construction. He also had consultations with Henry Royce of Rolls Royce, who himself had ideas for a new V12 engine, which Rolls developed as a private venture, as the PV12, later called the Merlin. This powerful engine, of nearly 1000 hp in its' initial form, coupled with a state-of-the-art airframe promised much, and Mitchell worked on the design through the second half of 1935. The prototype at this stage, was simply called the F37/34, and first flew at Eastleigh airfield, near Southampton, on 5th March 1936. The chief test pilot of Vickers/Supermarine, Mutt Summers, took it up on its' first flight and allegedly said on landing "I don't want anything touched". Most people took this to mean that he believed the aircraft was perfect, although in reality he probably simply did not want any settings changed at that time. The aircraft however, even at that early stage, showed much promise as a fighter. Mitchell had calculated the top speed to be 350 mph, whereas trials showed its' top speed at 349 mph - Mitchell is said to have been satisfied with this!

Development went on during the rest of 1936 with Mitchell often turning up to watch his new creation fly, even though by this time he was very ill with cancer - which he succumbed to in June 1937 at the young age of 42. Subsequently, Joseph Smith became Chief Designer at Supermarine, and presided over the development of the prototype into a production airplane, by now called Spitfire, a name coined originally for the Type 224 by Sir Robert MacLean, MD of Vickers. It is said that prior to his death Mitchell expressed his dislike of the name, saying "It's just the sort of bloody silly name they would choose", and it was very nearly named the Shrew. Fortunately for posterity this view did not prevail.

Armament for the new fighter was originally set at four machine guns, set in the wings, but this was later increased to eight machine guns, to ensure a lethal weight of fire in a typical three second burst. The new type of construction employed in the Spitfire caused Supermarine numerous problems in mass production, especially the revolutionary new type of wing construction. Production of the rival Hurricane fighter was far greater due to its' simpler structure, and it was mid 1938 before the aircraft was starting to be produced in quantity for deliveries to the Royal Air Force.

The First VTOL Harrier Jump Jet – A British Icon 1941

I have decided to create this article about the first Vertical Take Off Aircraft – The Harrier Jump Jet, which is one of the Icons of Britain. In October 1960 the forerunner of the Harrier Jump jet made its first tethered flight there, which led to its maiden conventional flight in November of the same year.

Studies of "vertical take off or landing (VTOL)" aircraft began late in the Second World War, with Alan A. Griffiths the famous British Engineer had come up with the Vertical Take Off Aircraft idea in 1941.

Many nations began to work on flight-worthy VTOL machines after the war, though initially these aircraft were purely experimental in nature. In the UK, Rolls Royce began work on Britain's first VTOL aircraft, known by the bland name of "Thrust Measuring Rig (TMR)", apparently as a dodge to conceal the real nature of the project from those who might have thought it too far-fetched. It was designed to evaluate hovering flight using raw jet thrust, with no capability for serious horizontal flight.

The first of two TMRs was rolled out in 1953. It hardly looked like an aircraft at all, consisting only of a frame with four legs and twin Rolls Nene centrifugal-flow turbojet engines, arranged exhaust-to-exhaust with their exhausts tilted downward through the TMR's center of gravity. There were reaction jets -- "puffers" -- on arms out to each side, fed by exhaust bleed from the engines to provide maneuvering capability during a hover. The pilot sat perched on top, with little protection if the clumsy-looking thing decided to flip over. It was referred to as the "Flying Bedstead" due to its appearance; more or less the same nickname was applied to comparable VTOL evaluation rigs developed in other countries.

Initial tethered flights were performed in 1953 and 1954. The first free flight was made on 3 August 1954 with Rolls chief test pilot R.T. Shepherd at the controls. The Bedstead had an empty weight of 2,720 kilograms (6,000 pounds) and a loaded weight, with enough fuel for ten minutes of flight, of 3,400 kilograms (7,500 pounds). Since the twin Rolls Royce Nene engines only provided a total of 36.0 kN (3,675 kgp / 8,100 lbf) together and about 8% of that thrust was siphoned off for the puffers, the Bedstead had little margin of power. In addition, the throttle response of the old Nene engines was sluggish, making hovering difficult. All in all, the thing was apparently very hair-raising to fly.

After the first Flying Bedstead was moved to the Royal Aeronautical Establishment (RAE) it crashed, killing the pilot. The second Bedstead performed its first flight in late 1957, only to crash within a week. Its parts were used to repair the first Bedstead, which eventually ended up as a museum piece in the UK.

Nobody could have mistaken the ugly Bedstead for anything but a purely experimental lashup. As the Bedstead program was winding down, work was beginning on a new British VTOL machine that looked much more like a proper aircraft.

The basis for the effort was a new type of engine known as a "liftjet", the brainchild of Dr. Alan A. Griffiths, one of the pioneers of British jet technology and a major figure in the history of materials science. A liftjet was a small turbojet that was fitted vertically into a VTOL aircraft for straight-up lift, and was not generally used in forward flight. It were designed to be as compact as possible and to generate large amounts of thrust for a short time. It also had a sensitive throttle to permit fine control in hover.

Griffiths had come up with the idea in 1941, and in 1955 he had bench-tested one of the first liftjet engines, the Rolls Royce "RB.108". It weighed 122 kilograms (269 pounds) and could generate 9.0 kN (920 kgp / 2,030 lbf) thrust, not including 11% bleed to drive puffer thrusters. The British Ministry of Supply (MoS) issued a request for an experimental VTOL aircraft based on the RB.108 and several companies replied. The contract was awarded to Short Brothers of Belfast in August 1957, with funding provided for two machines, designated "SC.1".

In April 1966, the Marines operated a Hawker Siddeley Kestrel off the commando assault ship and were impressed with the aircraft. This then led to the Marines obtaining the Harrier AV-8A jump jet for use from their assault ships.

In 1969 the first flying prototype of what became known as the Harrier 'jump jet ,' entered service. Displayed directly below the airframe is a Rolls Royce Pegasus jet engine whose unique design coupled with the Harrier makes the VTOL feat possible. The Pegasus engine has 4 vectored thrust nozzles that can be swiveled to provide the vertical thrust necessary to counter the Harrier's weight while hovering.

There are four main versions of the Harrier family: Hawker Siddeley Harrier, British Aerospace Sea Harrier, Boeing/BAE Systems AV – 8B Harrier II and BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II. The Hawker Siddeley Harrier is the firstgeneration version and is also known as the AV-8A Harrier. The Sea Harrier is a naval strike/air defence fighter. The AV-8B and BAE Harrier II are the US and British variants respectively of the second generation Harrier aircraft.

Between 1969 and 2003, 824 Harrier variants were delivered. While manufacture of new Harriers concluded in 1997, the last remanufactured aircraft (Harrier II Plus configuration) was delivered in December 2003 which ended the Harrier production line.

Concorde – A British Icon

I have decided to create this article about The Concorde aeroplane as it's one of the Icons of Britain.

The BAC Concorde aircraft was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport (SST), which flew from 1969 to 2003. It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation. Concorde entered service with British Airways in 1976.

The British Minister of Aviation and the French ambassador signed a preliminary agreement for cooperation. The treaty stated that Britain and France would share equally in both the costs of production and the profits from future sales. Four companies would get the contracts for work on the SST. The British Aircraft Corporation and Sud Aviation would build the airframe. Bristol Siddeley (Britain) and SNECMA (France) would manufacture the Olympus 593 jet engines.

In 1964, a management group was organized between the two governments. BAC (England) and Aerospatiale (France) would build the airframe, and Rolls Royce and SNECMA (France) would make the jet engines. These companies signed hundreds of contracts with suppliers from Britain, France and the USA. A "mini concord" made its first experimental flight in France on May 1. The spelling became the French "Concorde", with Britain saying that the "e" stood for England, Europe and Excellence. This was a government financed and managed program.

In September 1965, work began on the production airframe. Final assembly of the British prototype began in 1966. The following year the first prototype was presented in Toulouse, France. In 1968 the first supersonic airliner to fly was not British of French. The Tupolev Tu-144 took off from a runway near where it was built, in Zhukovski, USSR. The French and British were painstakingly building, rebuilding and testing theirs. Funding was a hot electoral issue in England and was halted for a few months by the new Labor government.

On March 2nd 1969, The French Concorde 001 made its first take off run and on April 9th, the 002 in England first flew. Both aircraft were displayed at the Paris Air Show that year. By October the French model had made 45 test flights, reaching a speed of Mach 1 on October 1. In February 1970 the Olympus 593 engine made a test run and ran continuously for 300 hours, the equivalent of 100 Trans-Atlantic SST flights. Residents of London voiced the first complaints about noise in September when Concorde 002 landed at Heathrow airport.

The first pre-production aircraft rolled out of the hangar at Filton, England on the 20th of September 1971. In December the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) announced that Concorde was within American airport noise limits. The next year the British Concorde made a 45,000-mile sales tour of twelve countries and China indicated her intention to purchase two of them. BOAC of England ordered five and Air France requisitioned four. The jet had yet to be proved but intense testing and re-design was ongoing.

In June 1973 the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144, at the Paris Air Show, crashed killing 14 people, 6 aboard the aircraft and 8 on the ground. The pilot of the Tu-144 appeared to maneuver in order to avoid hitting a Mirage jet, lost a wing and broke apart. The first production model of the Concorde 201 made a flight in France and reached a speed of Mach 1.57.

In a contest reminiscent of the old horse vs. car days, the French Concorde was pitted against a 747 in 1974. The conventional 747 left Boston's Logan Airport en route to Paris at the same time as the Concorde left Paris' Orly for Boston. The Concorde landed in Paris, spent 68 minutes on the ground, and returned to Boston 11 minutes ahead of the 747.

The production and testing of the SST was exceedingly costly for France and England. Because the companies were government financed it was a political issue too. A decision was made by Harold Wilson and Valery Giscard d'Estaing to continue the program but limit production to 16 aircraft. All of the US airline companies that had originally expressed interest in purchasing the Concorde had decided not to.

In 1975 the fourth production type aircraft Concorde 204 made two return flights from London to Gander, Newfoundland in a single day. British Airways and Air France started taking reservations for scheduled service to Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro starting the following January. By the 21st of January 1977 the Concorde had been in service for one year and had carried over 45,000 paying passengers. On the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's flight in the 'Spirit of St Louis' from New York to Paris, a Concorde flew the same route in 3 hours 44 minutes. Lindbergh's time was 33 hours 29 minutes. In April 1979 the last production Concorde 216 was completed.

By 1982 the Concorde had been in service for 6 years and The British Industry and Trade Committee was concerned with the mounting costs of the Concorde program. The British government informed British Airways that they were no longer willing to fund manufacturers Rolls Royce and British Aerospace. British Airways responded that they would investigate the possibility of running the program for profit. On January 1, 1983 the Concorde made the fastest ever time from New York to London at 2 hrs. 56 min. In 1984 British Airways took over responsibility for funding Concorde's British manufacturers.

Aside from a few rudder problems and cracked external windows in the early 1990's the Concorde proved to be the most reliable airliner ever put into service. Cracks were discovered in the wings of a few planes in July 2000 but the cracks were deemed not critical. On July 25th, 2000 Air France Concorde F-BTSC crashed in Paris killing all 109 passengers and crew and 4 on the ground.

The Concorde:

Cruising speed: Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound)

Cruising altitude: 15,000-18,000 meters (50,000-60,000 ft.)

Takeoff speed: 360 km/h (223 mph)

Landing speed: 300 km/h (186 mph)

Runway length required for takeoff: 3,590 meters (11778.2 ft.)

Acceleration on takeoff: zero to 360 km/h in 20 seconds

Passenger capacity: 100

Overall length: 62 meters (203 ft.)

Maximum takeoff weight: 185,000 kilograms (84,000 lbs.)

Engines: Four, with 17,000 kilograms thrust each

Fuel capacity: 94,800 kilograms

Range: 6,545 kilometers (4,058 miles)

Round-trip fare: New York-Paris: $US 8,720

Flight time: New York-Paris: three hours 35 minutes

Concorde remains an icon of aviation history and is known as "Concorde" rather than "the Concorde" or "a Concorde".


Sir Isaac Newton – Iconic Scientist – Scientist, Alchemist and Ghost Hunter

One of England's greatest Icons is Sir Isaac Newton the discoverer of the equation of gravity. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), mathematician and physicist was one of the foremost scientific intellects of all time. Born at Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire in 1642, where he attended school. Many years ago at school I was taught the story that Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree (Which is still there today) in his garden when he saw a falling apple.

He conceived that the same force governed the motion of the Moon and the apple. He calculated the force needed to hold the Moon in its orbit, as compared with the force pulling an object to the ground. This eventually became the book “Principia”.

He also calculated the centripetal force needed to hold a stone in a sling, and the relation between the length of a pendulum and the time of its swing. These early explorations were not soon exploited by Newton, though he studied astronomy and the problems of planetary motion.

Book I of the Principia states the foundations of the science of mechanics, developing upon them the mathematics of orbital motion round centres of force. Newton identified gravitation as the fundamental force controlling the motions of the celestial bodies. He never found its cause. To contemporaries who found the idea of attractions across empty space unintelligible, he conceded that they might prove to be caused by the impacts of unseen particles.

Book II inaugurates the theory of fluids: Newton solves problems of fluids in movement and of motion through fluids. From the density of air he calculated the speed of sound waves.

Book III shows the law of gravitation at work in the universe: Newton demonstrates it from the revolutions of the six known planets, including the Earth, and their satellites. However, he could never quite perfect the difficult theory of the Moon's motion. Comets were shown to obey the same law; in later editions, Newton added conjectures on the possibility of their return. He calculated the relative masses of heavenly bodies from their gravitational forces, and the oblateness of Earth and Jupiter, already observed. He explained tidal ebb and flow and the precession of the equinoxes from the forces exerted by the Sun and Moon. All this was done by exact computation.

Newton's work in mechanics was accepted at once in Britain, and universally after half a century. Since then it has been ranked among humanity's greatest achievements in abstract thought. It was extended and perfected by others, notably Pierre Simon de Laplace, without changing its basis and it survived into the late 19th century before it began to show signs of failing. See Quantum Theory; Relativity.

Newton has been regarded for almost 300 years as the founding example of modern physical science, his achievements in experimental investigation being as innovative as those in mathematical research. With equal, if not greater, energy and originality he also plunged into chemistry, the early history of Western civilization, and theology; among his special studies was an investigation of the form and dimensions, as described in the Bible, of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.

Time line of Sir Iasaac Newton

1642 Born at Woolsthorpe, Nr. Grantham, Lincs.

1661 he entered Cambridge University.

1665-1666 was "the prime of my age for invention".

1667 He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

1669 became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

Until 1696 he remained at the university, lecturing in most years.

During two to three years of intense mental effort he prepared Philosophiae Naturalis Published in 1687 Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) commonly known as the Principia.

1696 he moved to London as Warden of the Royal Mint.

1699 he became Master of the Mint an office he retained to his death in 1727.

1671 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

1689 and again between 1701-1702 Newton was elected Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge to the Convention Parliament.

1703 he became President of the Royal Society.

1704 “Opticks” was published.

1705 was knighted in Cambridge.

1710), Newton published an incomplete theory of chemical force.

After Sir Isaac Newton's death in 1727 he had posthumously published his writings which included: The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728), The System of the World (1728), the first draft of Book III of thePrincipia, and Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John (1733).

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882

I thought it would be of interest to write this article about one of England's greatest scientist - Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.

Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury,Shropshire, England on 12th  February 1809 at his family home, the Mount. He was the fifth of six children of wealthy society doctor and financier Robert Darwin and Susannah Darwin (née Wedgwood). He was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin on his father's side, and of Josiah Wedgwood on his mother's side. Both families were largely Unitarian, though the Wedgwood's were adopting Anglicanism.

Robert Darwin, himself quietly a freethinker, had baby Charles baptised in the Anglican Church, but Charles and his siblings attended the Unitarian chapel with their mother. The eight year old Charles already had a taste for natural history and collecting when he joined the day school run by its preacher in 1817. That July, his mother died. From September 1818, he joined his older brother Erasmus attending the nearby Anglican Shrewsbury School as a boarder.

Beginning on the 27th of December, 1831, the voyage lasted almost five years and, as Fitzroy had intended, Darwin spent most of that time on land investigating geology and making natural history collections, while theBeagle surveyed and charted coasts. He kept careful notes of his observations and theoretical speculations, and at intervals during the voyage his specimens were sent to Cambridge together with letters including a copy of his journal for his family. He had some expertise in geology, beetle collecting and dissecting marine invertebrates but in all other areas was a novice and ably collected specimens for expert appraisal. Despite repeatedly suffering badly from seasickness while at sea, most of his zoology notes are about marine invertebrates, starting with plankton collected in a calm spell.

His five year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.

Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838. Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russell Wallace sent him an essay which described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories.

He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book On the Origins of Species. The scientific community and much of the general public came to accept evolution as a fact during his lifetime.

It was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences which explained the diversity of life.

Darwin's work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. In 1871, he examined human evolution. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.

In recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence as a scientist, he was one of only five 19th-century UK non-royal personages to be honoured by a state funeral and is buried in Westminster Abbey close to John Herschel and Sir Isaac Newton.

Edward Somerset – English Inventor of The First Steam Engine 1653

I though as England has produced so many famous inventors and engineers I thought it may be of interest to write this short article on the world's first Steam Engine.

Edward Somerset (1601 –  1667)  was an English nobleman involved in royalist politics; he was also an inventor. In the book he authored in 1655 of over 100 inventions, the power and applications of what would become the steam engine are clearly described.

Edward Somerset  was a Cavalier who supported Charles I in Wales and raised a regiment of horse for him. His campaigning in the West of England and in Wales did not go well.

After a month with his force of over 2,000 troops encamped at Higham outside Gloucester in March 1643, Herbert decided to leave them as he travelled to meet the king at Oxford.

In his absence the entire force surrendered without any exchange of fire, earning it the title "The Mushroom Army". He was rewarded in 1644, however, with a peerage, being created Earl of Glamorgan and Baron Beaufort, of Caldecote. However, due to irregularities in the letteers patent these titles were not recognized after the Restoration.

Sent to Ireland, he made a false move in concluding a treaty, in great secrecy, on behalf of Charles that was considered to concede too much to the Catholics there; he himself was a Catholic. In extricating himself from that position, he became a close ally of Giovanni Battista Rinuccini and a potential replacement for James Butler as royalist leader.

His plans to bring Irish troops over to England were overtaken by events, and he left for France with George Leyburn. He succeeded his father as Marquess of Worcester in 1646.

He was formally banished in 1649, but after four years in Paris returned to England in 1653. He was discovered, charged with high treason and sent to the Tower of London he was treated leniently by the Council of State and released on bail in 1654. That year he took up again his interest in engineering and inventions, leasing a house at Vauxhall where his Dutch or German technician Kaspar Kalthoff could work. After this he largely avoided politics, and did not press his claims to the various other titles of nobility.

In 1655 he authored a book which consisted of textual descriptions of 100 separate inventions. It was eventually printed in 1663 and included a device described as his "Water-commanding Engine". Constructed from the barrel of a cannon it was an obvious prototype design for what would later become the steam engine which clearly anticipated the power and applications of that machine.

When Edward died he suggested that a model of his engine should be buried with him. Almost 200 years later in 1861, this prompted Victorian collector Bennet Woodcroft to mount an expedition, on behalf of The Science Museum to the vault of Raglan church, to try and find a model of the invention in Somerset's tomb. Despite opening the coffin lid and searching thoroughly, no model was found. Woodcroft did, however, return with one of Edward's fingers as a memento

The London Science Museum has plans of his "Water-commanding Engine" which shows it was a working steam engine for pumping water.

The First Steam Locomotive – England 1804

As an Englishman born and bred and a fan of history of steam Locomotives I thought it may be of interest to write an article about the history of the earliest steam locomotive. The first full scale working railway steam locomotive was built by Richard Trevithick in the United Kingdom on 21st  February 1804 when the world's first railway journey took place as Trevithick's unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Penydarren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales.

This is different from the first Steam Engine which was first invented in 1653 by Edward Somerset (1601 –  1667)  was an English nobleman.

On Christmas Eve 1801 in West Cornwall, England an engineer called Richard Trevithick took his new steam car, ( or the "Puffing Devil" as it became known) out for its first test run. After a number of years research, Trevithick had developed a high-pressure engine powered by steam. His vehicle was no more than a boiler on 4-wheels but it took Trevithick and a number of his friends half a mile up a hill. The vehicle's principle feature was a cylindrical horizontal boiler and a single horizontal cylinder let into it. The piston propelled back and forth in the cylinder by pressure from the steam. This was linked by piston rod and connecting rod to a crankshaft bearing a large flywheel.

The vehicle was used for several journeys until it turned over on the unsuitable trails that were used for pack horses in Cornwall at that time. After having been righted, Trevithick and crew drove it back to Camborne and retired to a hostelry.

The water level dropped in the boiler and the fusible plug melted, sending a jet of steam into the furnace where it blew embers all around, setting fire to the surroundings and the wooden parts of the engine.

In 1802 a steam-powered coach designed by British engineer Richard Trevithick journeyed more than 160 km from Cornwall to London.

The "Puffing Dragon" was the world's first passenger car. Despite the disaster of losing his first vehicle, undeterred, Trevithick built a 3-wheeled steam carriage but this time complete with seats and a real carriage like appearance. In 1803, he drove it through London's Oxford Street on demonstration runs and reached speeds of 8-9 mph (13 - 14 km/h). Despite the runs, nobody was interested and so when he ran out of funds, he sold the power unit to a local Miller. Trevithick's vehicle was the first self-propelled carriage in the capital and in essence the first London bus.

Regular intercity bus services by steam-powered buses were also pioneered in England in the 1830s by Walter Hancock and by associates of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney among others, running reliable services over road conditions which were too hazardous for horse-drawn transportation. Steam carriages were much less likely to overturn, did not "run away with" the customer as horses sometimes did. They travelled faster than horse-drawn carriages (24 mph over four miles and an average of 12 mph over longer distances). They could run at a half to a third of the cost of horse-drawn carriages. Their brakes did not lock and drag like horse-drawn transport (a phenomenon that increased damage to roads).

According to engineers, steam carriages caused one-third the damage to the road surface as that caused by the action of horses' feet. Indeed, the wide tires of the steam carriages (designed for better traction) caused virtually no damage to the streets, whereas the narrow wheels of the horse-drawn carriages (designed to reduce the effort required of horses) tended to cause rutting.

However, the heavy road tolls imposed by the Turnpike Acts discouraged steam road vehicles and left the way clear for the horse bus companies, and from 1861 onwards, harsh legislation virtually eliminated mechanically-propelled vehicles altogether from the roads of Great Britain for 30 years, the Locomotive Act of that year imposing restrictive speed limits on "road locomotives" of 5 mph in towns and cities, and 10 mph in the country.

In 1865 the Locomotives Act of that year (the famous Red Flag Act) further reduced the speed limits to 4 mph in the country and just 2 mph in towns and cities, additionally requiring a man bearing a red flag to precede every vehicle. At the same time, the act gave local authorities the power to specify the hours during which any such vehicle might use the roads. The sole exceptions were street trams which from 1879 onwards were authorised under licence from the Board of Trade.

Smithfield Market – London Icon

I have always been interested in English History and arts and as a fan of London Icons I thought I would write an article about It's famous Smithfield Market.

Meat has been bought and sold at Smithfield for over 800 years, making it one of the oldest markets in London. A livestock market occupied the site as early as the 10th century.Smithfield (also known as West Smithfield) is an area of the City of London in the ward of Farringdon Without. It is located in the north-west part of the City of London, and is mostly known for its centuries-old meat market, today the last surviving historical wholesale market in Central London. Smithfield has a bloody history of executions of heretics and political opponents, including major historical figures including the leader of the Peasant's Revolt Wat Tyler and a long series of religious reformers and dissenters.

A livestock market occupied the site as early as the 10th century. In 1174 the site was described by William Fitzstephen as:

"... a smooth field where every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses to be sold, and in another quarter are placed vendibles of the peasant, swine with their deep flanks, and cows and oxen of immense bulk".

The livestock market expanded over the centuries to meet the demands of the growing population of the City. In 1710, the market was surrounded by a wooden fence to keep the livestock within the market; and until its abolition, the gate house of Cloth Fair was protected by a chain (le cheyne) on market days. Daniel Defoe referred to the livestock market in 1726 as "without question, the greatest in the world". and the available figures appear to support this claim. Between 1740 and 1750 the average yearly sales at Smithfield were reported to be around 74,000 cattle and 570,000 sheep. By the middle of the 19th century, in the course of a single year 220,000 head of cattle and 1,500,000 sheep would be "violently forced into an area of five acres, in the very heart of London, through its narrowest and most crowded thoroughfares". The volume of cattle driven daily to Smithfield started to raise major concerns.

Today, the Smithfield area is dominated by the imposing, Grade II Listed covered market designed by Victorian architect Sir Horace Jones in the second half of the 19th century. Some of the original market buildings were abandoned for decades and faced a threat of demolition, but they were saved as the result of a public inquiry and will be part of new urban development plans aimed at preserving the historical identity of this area.

Approximately 120,000 tons of produce pass through the market each year. As well as meat and poultry, products such as cheese, pies, and other delicatessen goods are available. Buyers including butchers, restaurateurs and caterers are able see the goods for themselves and drive away with what they have bought. Bargaining between buyers and sellers at Smithfield sets the guidelines for meat and poultry prices throughout the UK.

The market has recently undergone a £70 million refurbishment to equip it for the future and enable it to comply with modern hygiene standards. The ancient meat market has been transformed into the most modern in Europe, possibly even the world.

The process of change at Smithfield has not been restricted to the buildings alone, but has extended to the whole environment and working practices that had hardly changed in 130 years. The result has been the creation of a thoroughly modern temperature controlled environment inside a magnificent Grade II listed Victorian building.

Dr. John Dee An English 16th. Century Alchemist and Ghost Hunter


English history is full of weird and wonderful characters and one of the most spooky characters was John Dee who was born in London on 13th July 1527 and died in 1608 and was a noted mathematician, Astronomer, Astrologer, Occultist, Navigator, Imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination and hermetic philosophy.

He visited Portsmouth a few times during his lifetime - mainly when embarking for Europe.

By the time of his death the whole of Europe new him as the Magician of Queen Elizabeth.

His writings are said to have influenced Shakespeare and he frequently consulted mediums in his attempts to communicate with spirits. Dee had a large library of books on witchcraft, the occult and magic.

When Queen Elizabeth I ascended the throne, Dee was asked by Lord Dudley to name a propitious day for the coronation. On this occasion he was introduced to the queen, who took lessons in the mystical interpretation of his writings, and made him great promises, which, however, were never fulfilled. In 1564 he again visited the continent, in order to present his Monas hieroglyphica to the Emperor Maximillian, to whom he had dedicated it. He returned to England in the same year; but in 1571 he was in Lorraine, whither two physicians were sent by the queen to his relief in a dangerous illness.

Returning to his home at Mortlake, in Surrey, he continued his studies, and made a collection of curious books and manuscripts, and a variety of instruments. In 1578 Dee was sent abroad to consult with German physicians and astrologers in regard to the illness of the queen. On his return to England, he was employed in investigating the title of the crown to the countries recently discovered by British subjects, and in furnishing geographical descriptions. Two large rolls containing the desired information, which he presented to the queen, are still preserved in the Cottonian Library. A learned treatise on the reformation of the calendar, written by him about the same time, is also preserved in the Ashmolean Library at Oxford.

From this period the philosophical researches of Dee were concerned entirely with necromancy. In 1581 he became acquainted with Edward Kelly, an apothecary, who had been convicted of forgery and had lost both ears in the pillory at Lancaster. He professed to have discovered the philosopher's stone, and by his assistance Dee performed various incantations, and maintained a frequent imaginary intercourse with spirits.

He began his experiments in trying to contact discarnate entities in 1581, mainly fuelled by strange dreams, feelings and mysterious noises within his home. On 25th May 1582 he recorded that he had made his first contact with the spirit world, through the medium of his crystal ball. This had taken Dee years of work to achieve, through studying the occult, alchemy and crystallomancy. Spirit contact would prove to be a major driving force behind Dee for the rest of his life.

Dee found contacting the spirits tiring, and started to employ gifted scryers so that he would be free to make extensive notes on the communications received. Dee had been working with a scryer called Barnabas Saul, until he had experienced some disturbing encounters, and could no longer see nor hear beings from the other realm, so in March 1582 Dee started to search for a work colleague.

Shortly afterwards Kelly and Dee were introduced by the Earl of Leicester to a Polish nobleman, Albert Laski, palatine of Siradz, devoted to the same pursuits, who persuaded them to accompany him to his native country.

They embarked for Holland in September 1583, and arrived at Laski's residence in February following. Upon Dee's departure the mob, believing him a wizard, broke into his house, and destroyed a quantity of furniture and books and his chemical apparatus. Dee and Kelly lived for some years in Poland and Bohemia in alternate wealth and poverty, according to the credulity or scepticism of those before whom they exhibited.

They professed to raise spirits by incantation; and Kelly dictated the utterances to Dee, who wrote them down and interpreted them.

Dee at length quarrelled with his companion, and returned to England in 1589. He was helped over his financial difficulties by the queen and his friends. In May of 1595 he became warden of Manchester College. In November 1604 he returned to Mortlake, where he died in December 1608, at the age of eighty-one, in the greatest poverty.

Aubrey describes him as "of a very fair, clear sanguine complexion, with a long beard as white as milk — a very handsome man — tall and slender. He wore a goune like an artist's goune with hanging sleeves." Dee's Speculum or mirror, a piece of solid pink-tinted glass about the size of an orange, is preserved in the British Museum.

My Invention – The Unique Virtual Newspaper

We in Britain are famous for our inventors and designers and as part of that great tradition I have decided to mention this idea for replacing newspapers with an electronic version. Now I do not mean the I – Pad or other similar versions but a unique and different Virtual newspaper.

The Unique Virtual Newspaper

1)     Imagine an A4 binder with 50 clear pockets.

2)     In the binder is an electronic chip

3)     Instead of the clear A4 pockets are Clear A4 Sheets

4)     On the spine of the binder is a USB socket

5)     You connect the binder to the computer using the USB lead

6)     You visit an online daily newspaper of your choice

7)     At the newspaper site is a download button

8)     You download the coloured newspaper for a set price

9)     Prior to downloading you deposit credits to cover the weekly downloads.

10)  The front page of the coloured newspaper appears on the front of the binder.

11)  Inside the binder the clear sheets become the various pages of the newspaper

12)  Another idea is instead of using 50 + pages of clear pockets you have 2 pages and you click the top of the clear page for the the next newspaper page to appear.

13)  The Virtual publication is very flexible in that you can read it on the train, on the beach or anywhere you could read a normal newspaper. 

14)  The size of the Viewing Pockets could be A4, A5, A3 etc. 

This invention is very green in that instead of printing millions of pages of paper and knocking down many millions of trees this virtual newspaper will replace same. Imagine all those forests around the world being destroyed for newspapers which will no longer be needed.  

In the future, schoolbooks will also be replaced with virtual books that have pages that can be turned and downloaded direct from the internet. 

In the future, Magzines will also be replaced with virtual magazines that have pages that can be turned and downloaded from the internet. 

I believe this invention will replace the future of Newspapers / Magazines / Books and make Publications available online worldwide and could possibly make publishers very rich. I believe people prefer the feel and touch and the turning of the page. The great thing about this invention is the possibilities of design and the feel of the virtual newspaper is similar to an original newspaper in that you can turn the page as like a newspaper. 

Our there any IT companies that would be interested in my idea then please feel free to email. Another idea I have had is an interactive Tomb Stone which replays the departed messages and maybe in the future a Holographic Image telling the departed's life story.

Whitefriars Glass – 17th Century History 

The Whitefriars Glass company is one of the oldest glass companies in Britain from the 17th Century to the present day and is famous for its uniquely shaped glass. As a long established British glass designer and maker I thought readers may be interested in it's history.

The firm of James Powell and Sons, also known as Whitefriars Glass, were English glass-makers, lead lighters and stained glass window manufacturers. As Whitefriars Glass, the company existed from the 17th century, but became well known as a result of the 19th century Gothic Revival and the demand for stained glass windows.

In 1834 James Powell (1774-1840), a London wine merchant and entrepreneur, purchased the Whitefriars Glass Company, a small glass works off Fleet Street in London, believed to have been established in 1680. Powell and his sons were newcomers to glass making, but soon acquired the necessary expertise. They experimented and developed new techniques, devoting a large part of their production to the creating of church stained glass windows. The firm acquired a large number of patents for their new ideas and became world leaders in their field, business being boosted by the building of hundreds of new churches during the Victorian era. While Powell's manufactured stained glass windows, they also provided glass to other stained glass firms.

A major product of the factory was decorative quarry glass which was mass-produced by moulding and printing, rather than hand-cutting and painting. This product could be used in church windows as a cheap substitute for stained glass. It was often installed in new churches, to be later replaced by pictorial windows. Most of this quarry glass was clear, printed in black and detailed in bright yellow silver stain. Occasionally the quarries were produced in red, blue or pink glass, but these are rare. Surprisingly few entire windows of Powell quarries are to be seen in English churches, although they survive in little-seen locations such as vestries, ringing chambers and behind pipe organs. St Philip's Church, Sydney, retains a full set of Powell quarry windows. Powell also produced many windows in which pictorial mandorlas or roundels are set against a background of quarries. See picture right

During the latter part of the 1800s the firm formed a close association with leading architects and designers such as T. G. Jackson Edward Burne Jones, William De Morgan and James Doyle. Whitefriars produced the glass that Phillip Webb used in his designs for William Morris. The firm’s production diversified in the 1850s to include domestic table glass after supplying the glassware for William Morris's Red House.

In 1875 Harry James Powell, grandson of the founder and an Oxford graduate in chemistry, joined the business. His training, which led to more scientific production and innovations such as previously unattainable colours and heat-resistant glass, for applications in science and industry, like X-Ray tubes and light bulbs.

New production lines such as opalescent glass proved to be extremely successful. The firm took part in major exhibitions around the world. Designs were copied from historical Venetian and Roman glass found in European museums and art galleries. Harry Powell, an admirer of Ruskin delivered numerous lectures on glass manufacture.

The firm's name was changed to Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd in 1919 and the growth in business demanded new premises. In 1923 the new factory was opened in Wealdstone despite a flourishing business, the great expense of the new factory scuttled plans to construct a village to house the workers in a style fashionable during the Arts and Crafts Movement. The furnaces were lit at the new factory using the flame from a furnace at the old works, which had been carefully carried across London in a brazier. The company also had showrooms on Wigmore Street, and this attracted customers for both domestic and window glass.

In the years between World War 1 and World War 11 business and the financial situation were much improved. Glassware trended to the colourful and heavy, and optic moulding and wheel engraving played a major part in bringing the Art Deco style to the middle and upper classes.

In the 1930s the firm started production of Milefiori paperweights, characterised by shallow domes and wide bases. This period of prosperity was ended with the onset of World War 11. Glass manufacture was restricted to that aiding the war effort. Cessation of hostilities found the company in a desperate struggle for survival, aggravated by the loss of key personnel who had enlisted and not returned.

The Festival of Britain of 1951 led to a much-needed financial infusion for the economy. Whitefriars was selected as an outstanding example of modern British industry. The following years saw austere and functional Scandinavian design sweeping Europe, and dominating stock purchases by major outlets such as Selfridge's and Fortran's & Mason.

The arrival of glass bricks which were cheap, thick slabs of coloured glass set in concrete bricks, dispensed with the need for expensive stained glass in new churches.

One of the many well-known glass designers who worked at Whitefriars was Geoffrey Baxter. He joined the factory in 1954 after graduating from the Royal College of Art. Baxter had a great influence on Whitefriars table and domestic glass designs. In the 1960s, he began to experiment with a new moulded glass. This led to the introduction of the Textured range in 1967. The pieces were made in moulds using tree bark, nails, wire and other materials to produce alternative textures to the glass.

In 1962 the company name was changed back to Whitefriars Glass Ltd. and specialised in freeform domestic glass ware until its purchase in 1981 by Caithness Glass.

Windsor Castle – It's Royal Hauntings

Windsor Castle in England is famous for it's many hauntings seen over the centuries by many famous kings and queens of kings and queens. I thought it would be of interest to write this article about the various hauntings of Windsor Castle.

William the Conqueror began the building of Windsor Castle in 1075 after the Norman Conquest. The castle is almost one mile in circumference and is the largest in Britain. Since it was built, the Castle has been embroiled in legends of suicide, witchcraft and demonic ghosts. The list of ghostly sightings reported at the Castle is huge.

The castle was nearly destroyed during the civil war of the 1600s. While the castle served as a prison, it was also a safe haven for the Royal family for a long time.

Queen Elizabeth I haunts the Royal Library and is said to have been seen by several members of the Royal family. The sounds of her high heels are heard on bare floorboards, before her imposing figure appears and passes through the library and into an inner room. She has also been seen standing at the window in the Dean's Cloister. She is always dressed in a black gown with a black lace shawl draped over her shoulders.

King Charles I has often been seen in the library and the Canon's house. Although he was beheaded during the English Revolution, his ghost is seen as a whole. It is reported that he looks exactly like his portraits.

A young guard shot and killed himself and another guard on duty saw him afterwards.

The most frequently seen specter is Herne the Hunter whose ghost has been seen by hundreds of people in Great Windsor Park. According to legend, he was a royal huntsman who was framed by those who were jealous of his relationship with the king. He felt disgraced and hanged himself. His ghost is seen astride a phantom black steed, often accompanied by spectral baying hounds.

Both Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn haunt the Tower of London.

Henry VIII haunts the Deanery Cloisters. People heard his footsteps and groans.

One of the most famous ghosts reported at the Castle is that of King Henry VIII, while various guests staying at the castle have reported hearing the king's footsteps along the long hallways of the Castle. Some have even claimed to hear moans and groans coming from the hallway.

Anne Boleyn, one of his wives, whom he had executed, has been sighted and seen standing at the window in the Dean's Cloister.

In the last 250 years, hundreds of people have claimed to have seen the spirit of Herne the Hunter, who was the favourite huntsman of King Richard II. He is often seen accompanied by his pack of hounds, careering across the Great Park searching for lost souls.

The story is that Herne was one of the Royal keepers in the time of King Richard II (1367-1400). Herne had two large black hounds and was hated by the other keepers because of his great skill. One evening King Richard was hunting a stag in the grounds of Windsor Park, but the stag turned on him and he would have been killed if Herne hadn't stood between the enraged animal and Richard.

However, Herne was fatally wounded and fell to the ground. At this point a strange dark man appeared and said he could cure Herne. Richard asked him to go ahead and the dark man cut the stag's head off and put it on Herne's body. The Dark Man then took Herne away to his hut on Bagshot Heath some miles away, to complete the cure. The King was so grateful to Herne that he swore that if Herne recovered he would make him his chief keeper.

The other keepers disliked Herne so much that they wished that he would die. The Dark Man overheard them and offered them a bargain - if they would grant him the first request he made, he would ensure that, though Herne would recover, he would lose all his hunting skills. They agreed and everything happened as the Dark Man said. Herne was so distraught at the loss of his skill that he found a mighty oak in Windsor Park and hanged himself from it. Instantly, his body disappeared.

The other keepers weren't happy for long though, because they too lost all their hunting abilities. They found the Dark Man and asked him to help them. He said that if they went to the oak the following night, they would have a solution to their problem. When they went to the Oak, the spirit of Herne appeared to them. He told them to go and fetch his hounds and horses for a chase.

This they did and when they returned, Herne took them to a Beech tree. There he invoked the Dark Man who burst from the tree in a shower of sparks and flame. His first request of the unfortunate keepers was that they form a band for Herne the Hunter. Bound by their oath, they had to swear allegiance to Herne. After that, night after night, they hunted through the forests.

The ghostly haunt's is presaged by flashes of lightning, wind in the tree tops, the rattling of chains and tolling of bells and the terrible din of a pack of dogs in mad pursuit. As the legend goes, if you hear the baying of the ghostly hounds in the sky, run away, because if they catch you, you too will be forced to follow Herne and his Wild Hunt, ranging across the night skies for eternity.

In the early 1860's the tree from which Herne was found hanging, was cut down, and Queen Victoria kept the oak logs for her fire "To help kill the ghost". Her plan didn't work however.

King George III had his moments of insanity and was detained in a room. People have seen his sad face looking out of the window I that room. King George III had many bouts with mental deterioration. During these times he was kept out of the public's eye. He has been seen looking out the windows located below the Royal Library, where he was confined during the recurrence of his illness.

William of Wykeham and Sir George Villiers, the First Duke of Buckingham, are also haunters. Sir George Villiers, The first Duke of Buckingham, is said to haunt one of the bedrooms of Windsor castle.

The 'Prison Room' in the Norman Tower is haunted, possibly by a former Royalist prisoner from Civil War times. Children playing there have seen him and adults have felt him brush past.

The Deanery is haunted by a boy who yells that he doesn’t want to go riding. Footsteps are also heard there and many believe they are his. Children playing in the Norman Tower’s Prison Room have seen the ghost of a man. Adults felt him brush by them.

A kitchen in the castle is home to a spectral man and a horse. The room was once part of the cavalry stable. The ghost of a young girl standing by an evergreen tree has been sighted here.

Ghostly footsteps are often heard on the staircase in the Curfew Tower. On one occasion, the bells began to swing on their own while the temperature became distinctly chilly.

A visitor saw a new group of statues near St. George’s Chapel one night. They were dressed in black. One was crouched and the others stood. One of statues was wielding a sword. When asked about the tableau, a sentry replied he knew nothing about the new statues. When the visitor returned to the scene, the statues were gone.

Many spirits haunt the Long Walk, one of whom is a young Grenadier Guard who shot himself while on duty there in the 1920s. During his guard watch, he saw marble statues moving "of their own accord." He was seen by at least two of his colleagues, immediately after his death. Two Grenadier Guards saw his ghost while on duty on the Long Walk.

In 1873, a night-time visitor to the castle noticed an interesting new statuary group had been erected near St. George's Chapel: three standing figures, all in black, and a fourth crouching down. The central standing character was in the act of striking with a large sword. The sentry knew nothing of this artwork and when the visitor returned to re-examine it, it had gone!

There is a demonic horned being said to bring death and disease to those who are unfortunate enough to see it, especially the Royal family. Other legends tell of witchcraft, murder and suicide.

During the reign of King George IV in the nineteenth century, it was transformed into a palace. In 1917, King George V adopted the castle’s name as the Royal family’s, replacing the old one, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

From that time, the name of the monarchy would be the House of Windsor. Windsor Castle survived the bombs of two world wars. Today, Queen Elizabeth II goes to church in its St. George Chapel.

Cats Eyes for the Roads– Invented by Percy Shaw 1933

Britain's history is made up of many famous Inventor's all through our history. This has made me decide to write about one of the most famous British Inventors – Percy Shaw the Inventor of the road safety device called “Cat's Eye's”.  This invention has saved many lives, worldwide and as a driver, late at night, It is always comforting to see the Cats Eyes guiding the way with its glowing light. 

The cat's eye is a retro-reflective safety device used in road markings and was the first of a range of raised pavement markers. It originated here in the UK in 1933 and is today used all over the world. It consists (in its original form) of two pairs of reflective glass spheres set into a white rubber dome, mounted in a cast iron housing. This is the kind that marks the centre of the road, with one pair of cat's eye showing in each direction. A single-ended form has become widely used in other colours at road margins and as lane dividers. Cat's eyes are particularly valuable in fog and are largely resistant to damage from snow ploughs.

A key feature of the cat's eye is the flexible rubber dome which is occasionally deformed by the passage of traffic. A fixed rubber wiper cleans the surface of the reflectors as they sink below the surface of the road (the base tends to hold water after a shower of rain, making this process even more efficient). The rubber dome is protected from impact damage by metal 'kerbs' – which also give tactile and audible feedback for wandering drivers.

The inventor of cat's eyes was Percy Shaw of Boothtown, Halifax,West Yorkshire. When the tram-lines were removed in the nearby suburb of Ambler Thorn when he realised that he'd been using the polished strips of steel to navigate. The name "cat's eye" comes from Shaw's inspiration for the device: the eye shine reflect

ng from the eyes of a cat. In 1934, he patented his invention (patent No.436.290 and 457.536), and on 15 March 1935, founded Reflecting Roadstuds Limited in Halifax to manufacture the items. The name Catseye was their trademark. The reflective lens had been invented six years earlier for use in advertising signs by Richard Hollins Murray, an accountant from Herefordshire and as Shaw acknowledged, they had contributed to his idea.

·       The following Types of Cats Eyes are used on UK roads:·        

·       White cat's eyes are used for the centre of a road on many roads which lack street lighting but are subject to high speeds or high volumes of traffic. They are also used for lane markings, soft traffic islands and on "double-white lines" where no overtaking is permitted.

·       Red cat's eyes are placed along the hard shoulder of a motorway or sometimes dual carriageways

·       Amber cat's eyes are placed along the edge of the central reservation (median).

·       Green cat's eyes denote joining or leaving slip roads at junctions

·       Blue cat's eyes are used for police slip roads.

These units are not very visible in daylight and are generally used in conjunction with traditionally painted lines. Temporary cat's eyes with just a reflective strip are often used during motorway repair work. These are typically day glow green/yellow so they are easily visible in daylight as well as in darkness, they can then be used on their own for lane division.

Also seen during motorway repair work are plastic traffic pillars that are inserted into the socket of a retractable cat's eye rather than being free-standing. These are often used in conjunction with two rows of the temporary cat's eyes to divide traffic moving in opposite directions during motorway road works.

Solar powered cat's eyes known as solar road studs and showing a red or amber LED to traffic, have been introduced on roads regarded as particularly dangerous at locations throughout the world. However, shortly after one such installation in Essex in the Autumn of 2006 the BBC reported that the devices, which flash almost imperceptibly at 100 times a second, could possibly set off epileptic fits and the Highways Agency had suspended the programme.

Proposed enhancements, for an "intelligent cat's eye" of the future, will see the standard white light change to amber for four seconds after the passing of a vehicle, or red if the following vehicle is too close or traffic ahead is stationary.

My family tree has been traced back to the early Kings of England from the 7th  Century AD. I am also a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren which has given me an interest in English History, English Sports, English Icons, English Discoverers and English Inventions which is great fun to research.

Sir Alexander Fleming – Discoverer of Penicillin

Britain's history is made up of very famous Scientists all through their history. This has made me decide to write about one of the most famous British Scientist – Sir Alexander Fleming the discoverer of Penicillin. The discovery of penicillin was more than a mere chance event.

Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin is one of the most celebrated case of an accident in science. In the conventional story, a stray mould spore was borne through an open window and landed on an exposed bacterial culture, Fleming later noticed a clear zone where the bacteria had been killed, he immediately recognized the therapeutic significance of the event, and it was only a matter of time before penicillin became a miracle drug. Fleming himself often underscored the role of chance in his work. Despite the numerous honours and awards he received, he was fond of reminding others, "I did not invent penicillin. Nature did that. I only discovered it by accident."

There was even more "chance" to the story than is often told, however. In addition, the traditional account obscures a considerable amount of scientific work that identified the efficacy of penicillin as an antibacterial agent. Without several researchers, who aggressively pursued the potential in Fleming's initial observation, penicillin would probably not have become a "discovery" on this occasion. The fuller story suggests a more complex view of science--as guided both by the contingencies of circumstance and by the focused effort of researchers.

Renewed interest in the history of Fleming's work began quite a few years ago when a bacteriologist in London noted that the windows of Fleming's lab at St. Mary's Hospital were so constructed that they could not open. How could a stray mould spore have wandered in, even by chance? Second, he observed, spores of Penicillium will not germinate under the conditions described by Fleming. Someone else then observed that the particular species of Penicillium would not likely have been floating in the air of London. Though common bread mould is a variety of Penicillium, it was the much rarer P. notatum that produced Fleming's penicillin.

The most likely source of the mould, it now appears, was a mycology lab downstairs from Fleming. There were likely spores all over the building. Further, Fleming was never known for neatness in his lab. Open cultures would not have been uncommon. It almost seems inevitable, then, that the mould would contaminate one of his cultures sooner or later.

The conditions of contamination would also have been important. Fleming believed, based on his earlier work on lysozyme, that penicillin acted by lysing bacteria open. This would certainly have accounted for the watery appearance of the area on his culture where the bacteria were absent. In this case, the spore would merely have needed to land on the culture plate--and this is how Fleming reported his own chance observation. But we have since learned that penicillin acts by blocking the synthesis of chemicals used by bacteria to build cell walls. Penicillin does not kill bacteria outright. Rather, it prevents their effective reproduction. A spore landing on an existing culture would thus be unlikely to have any immediate observable effect. The mould would have had to establish itself first if it was to prevent the further growth of bacteria. Temperature conditions while Fleming was away from his lab on vacation may have allowed this, or Fleming may have inoculated a plate that was already mouldy. In either case, a stray mould spore alone would not have created what Fleming observed.

The circumstance whereby Fleming noticed the original culture also seems quite improbable. Fleming did not notice themould's effect while routine-ly examining his cultures, though he did inspect them when he returned from his one-month summer vacation in 1928. In fact, he had discarded the now famous culture and left it to soak in a tray of lysol. A former member of his lab stopped by to visit, however, and Fleming showed him several cultures. Among these he casually selected the critical culture from the top of the discarded stack, where it had escaped the liquid disinfectant. Only then was Fleming struck by the unusual pattern of growth. He was obviously impressed, though, because he showed the culture to numerous colleagues the rest of the day and went on to investigate some of the strange antibacterial properties he saw.

Fleming was certainly not the first scientist to have noticed the antibacterial effects of moulds. In 1871, Joseph Lister (noted for introducing antiseptic practice into surgery) had found that a mould in a sample of urine seemed to be inhibiting bacterial growth. In 1875 John Tyndall reported to the Royal Society in London that a species of Penicillium had caused some of his bacteria to burst. In 1877 Louis Pasteur and Jules Joubert observed that airborne micro-organisms could inhibit the growth of anthrax bacilli in urine that had been previously sterilized.

Most dramatically, Ernest Duchesne had completed a doctoral dissertation in 1897 on the evolutionary competition amongmicro-organisms, focusing on the interaction between E. coli and Penicillium glaucum . Duchesne reported how the mould had eliminated the bacteria in culture. He had also inoculated animals with both the mould and a lethal dose of typhoid bacilli, showing that the mould prevented the animals from contracting typhoid. He urged more research, but went into the army following his degree and died of tuberculosis before ever returning to research. Chance, here, worked against his discovery (or potential discovery?) bearing fruit.

Several other researchers--almost certainly unknown to Fleming--had noticed the effects of Penicillium moulds on bacteria. Fleming was not unique in this regard. But noticing a phenomena does not always mean that it will be followed up. The chance in Fleming's case may have been less the appearance of the mouldy culture itself than that Fleming had a habit of pursuing odd phenomena. Fleming pursued his observation.

Still, Fleming did not follow through on his own "discovery" in ways that we might expect, knowing the current role and importance of penicillin. Fleming originally observed the action of penicillin in 1928. Yet he did not initiate clinical trials. Nor did he strongly advocate the use of penicillin in treating humans until 1940. The events during this twelve-year hiatus are perhaps the most telling in the history of penicillin.

Fleming was certainly searching for antibacterial agents in 1928 and he investigated penicillin's potential. But he was not impressed. He found that penicillin was not toxic to animals and that it did not harm white blood cells (leukocytes), yet he also found that penicillin would not be absorbed if taken orally. Penicillin taken by injection, alternatively, was excreted in the urine in a matter of hours--well before it could have its effects. For Fleming, penicillin's therapeutic potential was limited, perhaps to topical antisepsis.

Fleming did continue to use and advocate penicillin in the years following his initial discovery. But he saw the value of penicillin primarily in the context of bacteriology. Penicillin suppressed the growth of certain bacterial species, allowing one to selectively culture certain others (such as those causing influenza, acne and whooping cough). In this role penicillin became a valuable tool in the manufacture of vaccines--a major task Fleming managed at St. Mary's Hospital. Production of penicillin continued on a weekly basis throughout the 1930s, but all for purifying bacterial cultures. The penicillin was crude--good enough for Fleming's purpose, but hardly strong enough to destroy a serious human infection. Meanwhile, Fleming had turned his research to another group of chemical bactericides, the sulphonamides.

The pursuit of penicillin in treating human infections was due ultimately to another lab, led by Howard Florey in Oxford. In 1938 Ernst Chain, an associate of Florey's, began a search for natural antibacterial agents, as part of an effort to under-stand their mechanisms more fully. He chose three to study, penicillin among them. Fleming's 1929 paper offered a thread of information that Chain could pick up, though with a quite different purpose in mind. By early 1939 Chain and Florey began to suspect the medical potential of penicillin. But they could not simply test it: penicillin was difficult to produce and to purify. Florey had difficulty finding funding. By that time, the war effort in Britain meant that extra funds were not available for exploring mere possibilities. Support eventually came in late 1939 from the Rockefeller Foundation in the U.S.

Florey shifted the resources of his department to the penicillin project. Before they could demonstrate the efficacy of penicillin, they had several technical challenges. They needed to improve extraction methods, refine an assay for determining the strength of their extracts, and scale up production. After five months of work--in May, 1940--they had enough of the brown powder to test on mice. The penicillin allowed several mice injected with lethal doses of virulent streptococci to survive. The potential of penicillin for treating infections then seemed demonstrably real. Florey and Chain repeated their tests as a double-check, and then went on to determine appropriate dosages and treatment duration, publishing their results in August.

But the research was hardly done. Would the results transfer to humans? To know, they had to scale up production yet again. Based on relative weight, a human would need roughly 3,000 times the penicillin used by a mouse. And commercial support was still not forthcoming. In the Oxford labs, flasks and biscuit tins used for the mould cultures gave way to hundreds of bedpan-like vessels stored on bookshelves. Purification turned from the laboratory to dairy equipment. Column chromatography allowed the group to isolate the relevant fractions and to concentrate their solutions. All this was in the service of a clinical test. --And after the first test in early 1941, they had to return to their methods to find a way to remove some impurities that had caused side effects. The tests eventually went quite well, but it had required two professors, five graduates and ten assistants working almost every day of the week for several months to produce enough penicillin to treat six patients.

Fleming took notice of the striking results. But he did not disturb his research agenda. He knew that the value of penicillin still lay in research on economical mass production. Thus, the research--and, in a sense, the discovery--was still not complete. Florey took his cause to America once again, where work began on the scale of breweries. One key technical assistant found a new medium for the mould cultures, increasing yields tenfold. Other drug companies in England were by now interested, but the scale of production was at first somewhat limited. After a second set of clinical trials in 1942-43, though, production began in earnest. In another half-year, industry could produce enough for treating 200 persons per month. Two years later, the U.S. was producing enough to treat a quarter-million patients per month.

Many scientists, Fleming among them, were confident that determining the chemical structure of penicillin would enable chemists to produce it synthetically and thus more economically. Once the structure was determined, however, synthesis proved to be at least as costly as extraction. The "failure" seems an exception in this tale otherwise graced by good fortune. But not all research ventures pay off as expected--chance works both ways in science.

Nobel Prize winner Peter Medawar once commented, "I was sorry that the traditional story of Fleming's discovery did not stand up to critical scrutiny because I should have liked to have believed it true; but even if it had been true, it would not have told us very much about the efficacy of luck." Here, Medawar referred to the substantial work that transforms a lucky event into a genuine discovery. There is more to science that what meets the eye. First, one must recognize and be ready to pursue the meaning of one's observations. Fleming had a habit of playing in the lab and of toying with oddities. He pursued a chance phenomenon that even his colleagues found insignificant, even without guessing its ultimate significance.

Further, the import of an observation is not always obvious. Chain and Florey recognized a therapeutic potential where Fleming saw it only vaguely. And they were willing to invest resources to pursue it. Fleming, Chain and Florey all shared in the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945. Their joint award reminds us that the discovery of penicillin was more than a mere chance event.

History of The Tank – An England Icon

As the Tank became an integral part of WW1 and helped in the defeat of Germany I thought I would tell the history of the Tank. If it wasn't for Sir Winston Churchill the Tank would probably have never seen the light of day.

The name tank first came about during World War I. The first armoured fighting vehicles were built in the United Kingdom by William Foster and Co. Ltd. of Lincoln. The development was cloaked in secrecy by making up a story that they were making mobile water cisterns (tanks) for use on the Eastern Front and the boxes were even labelled "with care to Petrograd" in the Cyrillic alphabet. Thus originated the name of tank for the new weapon. The naval background of the tank's development also explains such nautical tank terms as hatch, hull, bow, and ports.

The great secrecy surrounding tank development, coupled with the scepticism of infantry commanders, often meant that infantry had little training to cooperate with tanks. As a result, the infantry would become separated from the tanks, allowing the German infantry to defeat the two arms separately.

The Royal Navy, largely at Churchill's urging, sponsored experiments and tests of the vehicle as a type of "land ship" during 1915, and the tank at last became a reality.

Small, local attacks, beginning at Flers on the Somme on 15 September 1916, dissipated the initial surprise of the tank. Not until 20 November 1917, at Cambrai, did the British Tank Corps get the conditions it needed for success. around 400 tanks penetrated almost six miles on a 7-mile front in an attack at Cambrai. This was the first large-scale employment of tanks in combat. Unfortunately, success was not complete because the infantry failed to exploit and secure the tanks' gains.

The British scored another victory the following year, on 8 August 1918, with 600 tanks in the Amiens salient. General Eric von Ludendorff referred to that date as the "Black Day" of the German Army. The German response to the Cambrai assault was to develop its own armoured program.

Numerous sustained tank drives in the early tank actions showed the usefulness of tanks and by 1918 tanks were also accompanied by infantry and ground-attack aircraft and both of which worked to locate and suppress antitank defences.

The first appearnce of the tanks on the battlefield was at Flers-Courcelette on 15th  September 1916 during the Somme offensive, and the memorial to this event on the outskirts of Pozieres will be familiar to all who have visited the battlefields.

igsaw Puzzles – An English Iconic Game

I thought as Jigsaw Puzzles was invented by us English I thought I would tell its history. The first jigsaw was made by John Spilsbury (an Englishman) in 1766 who was a renowned mapmaker and engraver from London who mounted a map of England on a thin sheet of mahogany board, used a hand held fretsaw to cut round the county boundaries and sold the boxed pieces for children to assemble. They were known as "Dissected maps". The result was an educational aid, which could be used for teaching Geography to children.

John Spilsbury certainly spotted a great  business opportunity. In the space of two years he marketed the eight map subjects most likely to appeal to upper class English parents: The World, the Four Continents then known (Africa, America, Asia and Europe), England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

During the next 40 years several other manufacturers (including individuals in Holland) copied John Spilsbury's ideas and introduced historical scenes to compliment his map subjects. In the early part of the century, puzzles were made almost exclusively for wealthy children and almost always with education in mind.

To save on cutting labour the puzzles consisted of only a few large pieces and only the outside interlocked – the rest was cut quickly with straight or wavy lines. The wood used was usually Mahogany or Cedar. The jigsaw named “The Parable of the Sower” on the right was cut by Betts in about 1870 and typifies the style of jigsaws up to that date. Only the outside pieces interlock and the quality of the print is very poor by modern standards.

Towards the end of the century great strides were made in many manufacturing techniques and three of these influenced jigsaws:

Treadle operated jigsaws were invented.

Techniques were developed to produce THIN sheets of wood.

Printing improved in leaps and bounds.

These technological advances enabled jigsaws to be made that were much more intricate, durable and colourful. Adults became interested in doing jigsaws and this spurred the manufacturers to widen the range of subjects available and to make them more difficult to do.

It became evident that colourful, complex jigsaws held a fascination for many people.
In the late 1800’s a German furniture dealer named Raphael Tuck and his two sons developed 4 techniques that set the scene for jigsaw development into the next century:

2)    Their subjects included many varied and colourful topics.

3)    Cutting was made more intricate and included "Whimsies" – individual pieces cut into recognisable shapes like animals and household goods.

4)    Plywood and thick card started to be used instead of expensive hardwood.

5)    Attractive boxes (that for the first time included an image of the uncut puzzle) were introduced.

Those with an interest in history might like to know that Raphael Tuck was also instrumental in the development of other industries – he is credited with the first commercial production of Christmas cards and also the first picture postcards. He set up printing establishments in London, Paris and New York and in 1893 he received the Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria for printing the Queen’s letter to the nation on the occasion of the death of the Duke of Clarence.

Stainless Steel – It's English Discovery 1912

I thought as Stainless Steel was discovered here in England, by Harry Brearley, I thought it would be interesting write It's history. Brearley was born in Sheffield, England in 1871. His life had humble beginnings as the son of a steel melter. He left school at the age of twelve to enter his first employment as a labourer in one of the city's steelworks, being transferred soon afterwards to the post of general assistant in the company's chemical laboratory.

For several years, in addition to his laboratory work, he studied at home and later in formal evening classes, to specialize in steel production techniques and associated chemical analysis methods.

By his early thirties, Brearley had earned a reputation as an experienced professional and for being very astute in the resolution of practical, industrial, metallurgical problems. It was in 1908, when two of Sheffield's principal steel making companies innovatively agreed to jointly finance a common research laboratory (Brown Firth Laboratories) that Harry Brearley was asked to lead the project.

In 1912, Harry Brearley of the Brown-Firth research laboratory in Sheffield, England while seeking a corrosion-resistant alloy for gun barrels, discovered and subsequently industrialized a martensitic stainless steel alloy. The metal was later marketed under the "Staybrite" brand by Firth Vickers in England and was used for the new entrance canopy for the Savoy Hotel in London in 1929.

Brearley died in 1948, at Torquay, a coastal resort town in Devon, south west England. He is buried at Sheffield Cathedral.

It was probably Harry Brearley’s upbringing in Sheffield, a city famous for the manufacture of cutler since the 16th century, which led him to appreciate the potential of these new steels for applications not only in high temperature service, as originally envisioned, but also in the mass production of food-related applications such as cutlery, saucepans and processing equipment etc. Up to that time carbon steel knives were prone to unhygienic rusting if they were not frequently polished and only expensive sterling silver or EPNS cutlery was generally available to avoid such problems. With this in mind Brearley extended his examinations to include tests with food acids such as vinegar and lemon juice, with very promising results.

Brearley initially called the new alloy "rustless steel"; the more euphoric "stainless steel" was suggested by Ernest Stuart of R.F. Mosley's, a local cutlery manufacturer, and eventually prevailed. It is reported that the first true stainless steel, a 0.24wt% C, 12.8wt% Cr ferrous alloy, was produced by Brearley in an electric furnace on August 13, 1913.

The well told story is that Brearley noticed in his sample bin one of his pieces which had not shown signs of rusting after being exposed to air and water. This was further examined and analysed, a new steel, which he called "rustless steel", was born, the first commercial cast coming from the furnaces in 1913. Its name was changed to the more euphonic “Stainless Steel” following a suggestion from Ernest Stuart of R.F. Moseley's, a local cutlery maker, and this eventually prevailed.

 He was subsequently awarded the iron and steel institutes's Bessemer Gold Medal in 1920.

Virtually all research projects into the further development of stainless steels were interrupted by the 1914-18 War, but efforts were renewed in the 1920s. Harry Brearley had left the Brown Firth Laboratories in 1915, following disagreements regarding patent rights,

The research continued under the direction of his successor, Dr. W.H. Hatfield. It is Hatfield who is credited with the development, in 1924, of a stainless steel which even today is probably the widest-used alloy of this type, the so-called "18/8", which in addition to chromium, includes nickel (Ni) in its composition.

The Globe Theatre – London Icon

I have created this article about The Globe Theatre as it's one of the newly re-built Icons of London.

The Globe Theatreis a reconstruction of the open air playhouse originally designed in 1599. The theatre was in London and associated with William Shakespeare. It was built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company and the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

The Globe was owned by actors who were also shareholders. Two of the six Globe shareholders, Richard Burbage and his brother Cuthbert Burbage owned double shares of the whole, or 25% each; the other four men, Shakespeare, John Hemmings, Augustine Phillips and Thomas Pope owned a single share, or 12.5%. (Originally William Kempe was intended to be the seventh partner, but he sold out his share to the four minority shareholders leaving them with more than the originally planned 10%). These initial proportions changed over time as new sharers were added. Shakespeare's share diminished from 1/8 to 1/14, or roughly 7%, over the course of his career.

The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre which had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 21-year lease of the site on which The Theatre was built but owned the building outright. However, the landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street's waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. With the onset of more favourable weather in the following spring, the material was ferried over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark.

On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry The Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale. It was rebuilt in the following year.

Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was pulled down in 1644, or slightly later—the commonly cited document dating the act to 15 April 1644 has been identified as a probable forgery—to make room for tenements.

A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named "Shakespeare Globe", opened in 1997 approximately 230 metres (750 ft) from the site of the original theatre. Open-air performances are held May -September. The Globe Exhibition, situated beneath the theater itself, offers a fascinating glimpse of Elizabethan theater and audiences and the design and reconstruction of the new Globe.

The Globe was owned by actors who were also shareholders in Lord Chamberlain's Men.

Two of the six Globe shareholders, Richard Burbage and his brother CuthbertBurbage, owned double shares of the whole, or 25% each; the other four men, Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, and Thomas Pope, owned a single share, or 12.5%. (Originally William Kempe was intended to be the seventh partner, but he sold out his share to the four minority sharers, leaving them with more than the originally planned 10%). These initial proportions changed over time as new sharers were added. Shakespeare's share diminished from 1/8 to 1/14, or roughly 7%, over the course of his career.

The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre, The Theatre, which had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage, in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 21-year lease of the site on which The Theatre was built but owned the building outright. However, the landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street's waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. With the onset of more favourable weather in the following spring, the material was ferried over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark.

On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry the Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale.It was rebuilt in the following year.

Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was pulled down in 1644 to make room for tenements.

Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Maker

One of the most famous Furniture makers in England in the last 80 years is the Mouseman - Richard Thompson who was born in Kilburn, Yorkshire, England on the 7th May 1876. If you love beautiful, handmade wooden furniture that's also highly collectible, you should investigate Robert Thompson's Mouseman furniture. On any piece of Robert Thompson Furniture was carved  a mouse – hence his name “The Mouseman”.

The story began when one day in 1919 an offhand remark about being as poor as a church mouse, lead him to carve a mouse on the finished cornice he was working on. In that moment, a famous trademark was born - even though it wasn't registered until the 1930's.

Even though Robert Thompson adopted the mouse as his trademark, not all the furniture created in the early years had it.

The patina of the furniture, the colour and degree of adzing, the use of a specific tool to shape the timber, also aid in identifying the pieces that weren't marked with the mouse.

His mouse has changed also.

Thomson removed the front legs from the mouse design in 1930 because they tended to break off easily.

The facts the mouse has no front legs but clearly recognisable whiskers are important things to look for when you find a piece identified as Mouseman furniture for unfortunately, there are imposters. (If you're worried about fakes, check out The Vintage Mouseman. where a "Rogue's gallery" of known replicas and fakes is maintained.)

Each piece of Mouseman Furniture is truly unique. It's not made by committee. Each craftsman starts a piece of furniture and remains responsible for it from selecting the wood to carving the signature mouse. In fact, just by looking at the pieces, most avid collectors of Robert Thompson's furniture can tell which craftsman made the piece.

Inspired by the medieval oak furnishings at Ripon and York Cathedrals, Robert Thompson became determined to spend his life bringing back the spirit of craftsmanship in English Oak, and set about teaching himself how to use traditional craft tools. He soon developed a technique of finishing the surfaces of his oak furniture with a pronounced “tooled” effect using an adze, a medieval tool which had been much used in the past for roughing out the broad shapes of ships' timbers, etc, and this still remains a feature of today’s items.

Fr Paul Nevill, a former Headmaster of Ampleforth College asked Thompson to make the Ampleforth Abbey's furniture; they liked it so much that Ampleforth kept asking Thompson for more works, including the library and most of the main building. Fr Gabriel Everitt, current Headmaster, has recently asked the Mouseman company for more work. Most of Ampleforth College houses are decorated with Robert Thompson's furniture.

The “Mouseman” style was based on sound construction and a straightforward fitness for purpose, using the three basic materials of English Oak, real cowhide and wrought iron.  During his working life he worked alongside architects such as Sir Giles Scott and J S Syme, who in turn have left their mark on buildings throughout the United Kingdom.

The workshop, which is now being run by his descendants includes a showroom and visitors' centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains "Mouseman" Pews, fittings and other furniture. Please enter into any Search Engine  The company which is now known as "Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd - The Mouseman of Kilburn.". The original Robert Thompson – The Mouseman died on December 8th 1955 and is buried in the small church graveyard at Kilburn overlooking his beloved workshop, which was later extended by his two grandsons and is still in production today.

Hawk-Eye The Electronic Referee

As a fan of many sports including tennis, cricket and football and with the recent development of Hawk-Eye to sort out line calls etc. I thought it would be of interest to write about this British invention and how it came about. As a football fan I have hopes that Goal Line technology will eventually be taken up by Football clubs here in England (Hopefully Sepp Blatter will have left FIFA by then).

In a few days time the World Cup hosting city will be decided for 2018 and 2022 and if England are not awarded the hosting of the World Cup in 2018 then the earliest the cup could come to England will be in 2026 – a good 60 years since it was last held in England!!! If this is the case then I think the Premier League should just introduce Goal Line technology and ignore FIFA who are just a bunch of corrupt jumped up plonkers.

Hawk-Eye is a complex computer system used in Cricket, Tennis and other sports to visually track the path of the ball and display a record of its most statistically likely path as a moving image. In some sports, like tennis, it is now part of the adjudication process. It is also used in some instances to predict the future path of a ball in cricket. It was developed by engineers at Roke Manor Research Ltd of Romsey in Hampshire, England, in 2001. A UK patent was submitted by Dr Paul Hawkins and David Sherry. Later, the technology was spun off into a separate company, Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd., as a joint venture with television production company Sunset + Vine.

All Hawk-Eye systems are based on the principles of triangulation using the visual images and timing data provided by at least four high-speed video cameras located at different locations and angles around the area of play. The system rapidly processes the video feeds by a high-speed video processor and ball tracker. A data store contains a predefined model of the playing area and includes data on the rules of the game.

In each frame sent from each camera, the system identifies the group of pixels which corresponds to the image of the ball. It then calculates for each frame the 3D position of the ball by comparing its position on at least two of the physically separate cameras at the same instant in time. A succession of frames builds up a record of the path along which the ball has travelled. It also "predicts" the future flight path of the ball and where it will interact with any of the playing area features already programmed into the database. The system can also interpret these interactions to decide infringements of the rules of the game.

The system generates a graphic image of the ball path and playing area, which means that information can be provided to judges, television viewers or coaching staff in near real time. The pure tracking system is combined with a back end database and archiving capabilities so that it is possible to extract and analyse trends and statistics about individual players, games, ball-to-ball comparisons, etc.

The technology was first used by Channel 4 during a Cricket test match between England and Pakistan on Lord's Cricket Ground on 21 May 2001. It is used primarily by the majority of television networks to track the trajectory of balls in flight. In the winter season of 2008/2009 the ICC trialled a referral system where Hawkeye was used for referring decisions to the third umpire if a team disagreed with an LBW decision. The third umpire was able to look at what the ball actually did up to the point when it hit the batsman, but could not look at the predicted flight of the ball after it hit the batsman.

Its major use in cricket broadcasting is in analysing leg before wicket decisions, where the likely path of the ball can be projected forward, through the batsman's legs, to see if it would have hit the stumps. Consultation of the third umpire, for conventional slow motion or Hawk-Eye, on leg before wicket decisions, is not currently sanctioned in international cricket and doubts remain about its accuracy in cricket.

Due to its real-time coverage of bowling speed, the systems are also used to show delivery patterns of bowler's behaviour such as line and length, or swing/turn information. At the end of an over, all six deliveries are often shown simultaneously to show a bowler's variations, such as slower deliveries, bouncers and leg-cutters. A complete record of a bowler can also be shown over the course of a match.

Batsmen also benefit from the analysis of Hawk-Eye, as a record can be brought up of the deliveries batsmen scored from. These are often shown as a 2-D silhouetted figure of a batter and colour-coded dots of the balls faced by the batsman. Information such as the exact spot where the ball pitches or speed of the ball from the bowler's hand (to gauge batsman reaction time) can also help in post-match analysis.

The system was also officially introduced to Tennis in the 2006 Hopman Cup in Australia. Now it is used in Tennis, it has become much more exciting and nail biting, as in Cricket..

At the World Snooker Championship 2007, the BBC used Hawk-Eye for the first time in its television coverage to show player views, particularly in the incidents of potential snookers. It has also been used to demonstrate intended shots by players when the actual shot has gone awry. It is now used by the BBC at every World Championship, as well as some other major tournaments. The BBC uses the system sporadically, for instance in the 2009 Masters at Wembley the Hawkeye was at most used once or twice per frame. In contrast to tennis, the Hawkeye is never used in snooker to assist referees' decisions.

In the future the hope is that many other sports will take up the Hawk Eye system such as Baseball, Football (Soccer), Rugby, Hockey (Grass and ice versions) and many other sports.

History of the RNLI – Royal National Lifeboat Institution - 1824


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution ( RNLI ) was founded in 1824 and is a charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland the Channel islands and the Isle of man, as well as on selected inland waterways. It was created by Sir William Hillary who came to live on the Isle of man in 1808. He drew up plans for a national lifeboat service manned by trained crews. Initially he received little response from the Admiralty but on appealing to the more philanthropic members of London society, the plans were adopted with the help of two members of parliament – Thomas Wilson and George Hibbert - the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck was founded in 1824.

Thirty years later the title changed to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the first of the new lifeboats to be built was stationed at Douglas in recognition of the work of Sir William.

At the age of 60 Sir William took part in the rescue, in 1830, of the packet St George, which had foundered on Conister Rock at the entrance to Douglas harbour. He commanded the lifeboat and was washed overboard with others of the lifeboat crew, yet finally everyone aboard the St George was rescued with no loss of life. It was this incident which prompted Sir William to set up a scheme to build the Tower of Refuge on Conister Rock - a project completed in 1832 which stands to this day at the entrance to Douglas Harbour.

In its first year, the RNLI added 13 boats to the existing 39 independent lifeboats. By 1908 there were 280 RNLI lifeboats and 17 independents.

The RNLI was founded on 4 March 1824 as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, adopting the name National Lifeboat Institution in 1854, and then receiving Royal Patronage from King George IV of England and Ireland shortly after. It now operates as an international service to the peoples of the UK and Ireland and has official charity status in each nation.

The RNLI operates 444 lifeboats (332 are on station, 112 are in the relief fleet), from 235 Lifeboat stations around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The RNLI's lifeboats rescued an average of 22 people a day in 2009. RNLI lifeboats launched 9,223 times in 2009, rescuing 8,235 people. The RNLI's lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 139,000 lives since 1824.

RNLI lifeguards placed on selected beaches around England and Wales, aided 15,957 people in 2009.

The RNLI Operations department defines 'rescues' and 'lives saved' differently.

In 2009, the RNLI Lifeguards service was expanded to cover more than 140 beaches. RNLI lifeguards are paid by the appropriate town or city council, while the RNLI provides their equipment and training. In contrast, most lifeboat crew members are unpaid volunteers. The RNLI is funded by voluntary donations and Legacies (together with tax reclaims), and has an annual budget of £147.7 million (€168 million).

The RNLI has two main categories of lifeboat:

  • All weather boats - Large boats that are capable of high speed in extreme weather conditions and have a large range.
  • Inshore lifeboats - Smaller boats that operate closer to the shore than all weather boats and are able to operate in shallower waters and closer to cliffs.

There are other Lifeboat Services that are independent of the RNLI, available to the coastguards that provide lifesaving lifeboats and lifeboat crews 24 hours a day all year round.

Lifeboat crewmen have been awarded medals for their bravery. The RNLI awards three classes of medal; Gold, Silver and Bronze. To date the number of medals awarded are:

  • Gold: 150
  • Silver: 1564
  • Bronze: 793 (Bronze only issued since 1917).

One of the most notable recipients is Henry Blogg, of the Cromer lifeboat crew, who was awarded the RNLI gold medal three times (and the Silver four times). He also received the George Cross and the British Empire Medal. He is known as "The Greatest of all Lifeboatmen".

The youngest recipient of an RNLI medal was eleven-year-old Frederick Carter who, along with sixteen-year-old Frank Perry, was awarded a Silver Medal for a rescue at Weymouth in 1890.

The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum is also given for notable acts.

One lifeboat received an award. For the Daunt lightship rescue in 1936, the RNLB Mary Stanford and her entire crew were decorated.

When Grace Darling was 22 years old she risked her life in an open boat to help the survivors of the wrecked SS Forfarshire on 7 September 1838. With her father, she rowed for over a mile through raging seas to reach them.

History of Her Majesty's Coastguard – UK 1809


As an Island the United Kingdom depends on the safe passage of her trading ships to and from around the world. To help in their safety Her Majesty's coastguard is the service of the government of the United Kingdom concerned with co-ordinating air – sea rescue. In 1809 the Preventive Water Guard was established and can be regarded as the immediate ancestor of HM Coastguard. Its primary objective was to prevent smuggling, but it was also responsible for giving assistance to shipwrecks.

Each Water Guard station was issued with Manby's Mortar which was invented by Captain George William Manby. The mortar fired a shot with a line attached from the shore to the wrecked ship and was used for many years.

In 1821 a committee of enquiry recommended that responsibility for the Preventative Water Guard be transferred to the Board of Customs. The Treasury agreed and in a Minute dated 15 January 1822, directed that the preventative services, which consisted of the Preventive Water Guard, cruisers and Riding Officers should be placed under the authority of the Board of Customs and in future should be named the Coast Guard.

In 1829 the first Coast Guard instructions were published and dealt with discipline and directions for carrying out preventative duties. They also stipulated that when a wreck took place, the Coast Guard was responsible for taking all possible action to save lives, to take charge of the vessel and to protect property.

Efficiency drives in the 1990s made Her Majesty's Coastguard a government executive agency and in 1998 the Marine Safety Agency and the Coastguard Agency were joined to become the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The Coastguard has a museum at Sewerby Hall near Bridlington to commemorate the 200 year history of the agency. HRH The Prince of Wales is an honorary Commodore of HM Coastguard.

HM Coastguard is a section of the Maritime and Coastguard agency responsible for the initiation and co-ordination of all civilian maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) within the UK Maritime Search and Rescue Region. This includes the mobilisation, organisation and tasking of adequate resources to respond to persons either in distress at sea, or to persons at risk of injury or death on the cliffs or shoreline of the United Kingdom. The chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is Sir Alan Massey Operational and the control of the service is the responsibility of the Chief of the Coastguard.

Typical emergencies to which the Coastguard is summoned include:

  • Sail boarders too exhausted to reach the shore;
  • Walkers and animals who slip from cliff paths;
  • Boats losing rudder control;
  • Crew stranded aboard a container ship battered by freak waves;
  • Medical emergencies;
  • Incidents involving oil rigs (such as fire);
  • Suicide victims that have jumped from cliffs or bridges;
  • Missing adults and children around the cliffs or beach area;
  • Broken Down Merchant Vessels in English waters;
  • Evacuating injured persons at sea;
  • Locating missing persons and vessels at sea;
  • Fires on Board Merchant vessels;
  • Groundings;
  • Collisions at sea;

Depending on the circumstances of each incident, the Coastguard may also arrange for other emergency services to be deployed to the incident or to meet other units returning from the incident, for example in the case of a medical emergency. A full list of 'Declared Assets' is below:

  • HM Coastguard's own CRO (Coastguard Rescue Officers) Initial Response and Coastguard Rescue Teams;
  • Inshore lifeboats, all-weather lifeboats and inshore rescue hovercraft operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
  • Other nominated inshore rescue services
  • Search and Rescue helicopters under contract to the MCA
  • Ministry of Defence SAR helicopters and fixed wing aircraft operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN)
  • Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV) - powerful tugs contracted to the MCA
  • Nominated Fire Service teams for cliff and mud rescue as well as fire fighting and chemical incident response for vessels at sea
  • Nominated beach lifeguard units.

History of The Poppy Appeal – British Iconic Charity


The history of the Poppy appeal is entwined with the history of The Royal British Legion which began in 1921 just 3 years after the end of the Great War. During my school days here in England in the 1960's and 1970's as part of our school curriculum we learnt the importance of World War 1 and what we owed to the generations who fought defending our country and those who lost there lives. Wearing the poppy during the 2 weeks of the Poppy Appeal is an acknowledgement of our thanks for all the sacrifices for the past and present wars.


The British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the ex-Service community as a merger of four organisations: the Comrades of the Great War, The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers and the Officers' Association. It was granted a Royal Charter on 29th May 1971 to mark its fiftieth anniversary which gives the Legion the privilege of the prefix 'Royal'. Earl Haig, commander of the Battle of the Somme and Passchendaele was one of the founders of the Legion, and was President until his death.

The Legion organises a fund-raising drive each year in the weeks before Remembrance Sunday, during which artificial poppies, meant to be worn on clothing, are offered to the public in return for a charitable donation. Over the course of the preceding year a team of around 50 people, the majority of them disabled and ex-Service connected – work all year round producing millions of poppies at the factory in Richmond. However, pin badge poppies are increasingly being worn, and prove to be extremely popular, with locations often selling out of the pin badges very quickly.


The idea of poppies dates back to the poem In Flanders Fields about the First World War, after which the Legion was founded. Poppies are worn until Remembrance Sunday to remember the fallen and injured of the First World War, and implicitly of all wars.


The Poppy Appeal has a higher profile than any other charity appeal in the UK, with the poppies ubiquitous from late October until mid-November every year and worn by the general public, politicians, the Royal Family, and others in public life. It has also become increasingly common to see poppies on cars, lorries and other forms of public transport, such as aeroplanes, buses and trams. Many Magazines and newspapers also display the poppy on their publications (usually on the cover page), and some Twitter users are adding poppies to their avatars as a Twibbon.


The Royal British Legion has an extensive network of Social Clubs called Legion Halls throughout the United Kingdom: sometimes these are known as United Services or Ex-Servicemens Clubs. The Royal British Legion also has branches in the Republic of Ireland, and spread around the world, mostly in mainland Europe, but also in America, and Azerbaijan amongst other world nations


In 2010 the aim of the appeal is to raise £36 Miliion ( or US $ 50 Million ).


Josiah Wedgewood (1730-1795) – Potter, Designer and Industrialist

Wedgewood porcelain is known worldwide for its quality and designs and was founded by Josiah Wedgewood. He was an English potter and industrialist born at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent on July 12th 1730. Josiah Wedgewood was the youngest child of the potter Thomas Wedgwood, and came from a family whose members had been potters since the 1600's. At the age of nine, after the death of his father, he worked in his family's pottery where he learnt the very high standards of workmanship and a keen interest in science.


He became well respected and his customers included the rich and famous, including royalty. In 1754 Wedgwood began to experiment with coloured creamware and In 1759 he set up his own pottery works in Burslem.


He established his own factory, but often worked with others who did transfer printing (introduced by the Worcester Porcelain Company in the 1750s). He also produced red stoneware; basaltes ware, an unglazed black stoneware; and jasperware, made of white stoneware clay that had been coloured by the addition of metal oxides. Jasperware was usually ornamented with white relief portraits or Greek Classical scenes. Wedgwood's greatest contribution to European ceramics, however, was his fine pearlware, an extremely pale creamware with a bluish tint to its glaze.


Wedgwood's basalt, a hard, black, stone-like material known also as Egyptian ware or basaltes ware, was used for vases, candlesticks, and realistic busts of historical figures. Jasperware, his most successful innovation, was a durable unglazed ware most characteristically blue with fine white cameo figures inspired by the ancient Roman Portland Vase. Many of the finest designs were the work of the English sculptor and artist John Flaxman.

He produced a highly durable cream-coloured earthenware that so pleased Queen Charlotte that in 1762 she appointed him royal supplier of dinnerware. From the public sale of Queen's Ware, as it came to be known, Wedgwood was able, in 1768, to build near Stoke-on-Trent a village, which he named Etruria, and a second factory equipped with tools and ovens of his own design. At first only ornamental pottery was made in Etruria, but by 1773 Wedgwood had concentrated all his production facilities at Etruria.


Wedgewood Timeline:



Baptised July 12, 1730, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, England.


After his father's death in 1739, he worked in the family business at churchyard Works, Burslem, becoming very skilful at the potter's wheel.


Became an apprentice to his elder brother Thomas.
However an attack of smallpox seriously reduced his work (the disease later affected his right leg, which was then amputated); the result of this inactivity, enabled him to read, research, and experiment in his craft as a Master Potter.


In 1749 Thomas (Josiah's elder brother) refused his proposal for partnership and Josiah formed a brief partnership with John Harrison at Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.


Wedgwood formed a partnership with Thomas Whieldon of Fenton Low, Stoke-on-Trent, probably the leading potter of his day. This became a fruitful partnership, enabling Wedgwood to become a master of current pottery techniques. He then began what he called his "experiment book," an invaluable source on Staffordshire pottery.


After inventing the improved green glaze which is still popular even today, Wedgwood finished his partnership with Whieldon and went into business for himself at the Ivy House factory in Burslem.


On one of his frequent visits to Liverpool to arrange export of his ware, Wedgwood met the merchant Thomas Bentley.


Because the sale of his ware had spread from the British Isles to the Continent, Wedgwood expanded his business to the nearby Brick house (or Bell Works) factory.


Queen Charlotte's patronage of Wedgwood's cream-coloured earthenware in 1765, led the well finished earthenware which Wedgwood produced to be called Queens Ware. Queen's ware became, by virtue of its durable material and serviceable forms, the standard domestic pottery and enjoyed a worldwide market.


The merchant Bentley became his partner in the manufacture of decorative items that were primarily unglazed stonewares in various colours, produced and decorated in the popular style of Neoclassicism.
Chief among these wares were:
- black basaltes, which by the addition of special painting (using pigments mixed with hot wax, which are burned in as an inlay), could be used to imitate Greek red-figure vases; and
-Jasper, a fine-grained vitreous body resulting from the high firing of paste containing barium sulphate.


Wedgwood built a factory called Etruria, for the production of his ornamental vases. Later the manufacture of useful wares was also transferred. (At this site his descendants carried on the business until 1940, when the factory was relocated at Bariston, near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire - the Etruria site was used as part of the 'National Garden festival' and Wedgewood's great house can still be seen as it has been incorporated into an hotel.


Evidence of the popularity of Wedgwood's creamware is found in the massive service of 952 pieces made for Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.


Jasper's introduction in 1775 was followed by other wares such as: - rosso antico (red porcelain), cane, drab, chocolate, and olive wares.


In 1782 Etruria was the first factory to install a steam-powered engine.


Wedgwood's invention of the pyrometer, a device for measuring high temperatures (invaluable for gauging oven heats for firings), earned him commendation as a fellow of the Royal Society.

As a result of the close association that grew up between the Wedgwood and Darwin families, Josiah's eldest daughter would later marry Erasmus' son. One of the children of that marriage, Charles Darwin, would also marry a Wedgwood — Emma, Josiah's granddaughter. This double-barreled inheritance of Wedgwood's money gave Charles Darwin the leisure time to formulate his theory of evolution.

After Wedgwood's death in Etruria on January 3rd 1795, his descendants carried on the business, which still produces many of his designs.

History of World's First Double Yellow Lines - England 1958


I thought as Road Double Yellow lines were first created and introduced in the UK in 1958 I would write its history. At the time of the introduction of double yellow lines in the UK it was also decided to introduce them throughout the British Empire as it then stood. Double yellow lines were originally used by George Bamber in Yorkshire as boundary markers and to identify access routes to his farm when the roads were congested with other vehicles on market day. It was on one of these market days that the local mayor saw the double yellow lines realised the potential and implemented this idea to restrict access to Masham market square on Market days.

The double yellow lines are one of the most famous road markings that indicate that parking restrictions are afoot. Double yellow lines are along the edge of the carriageway indicate that parking restrictions apply to the road (which includes the carriageway, pavement and verge).


A driver may stop for passengers to board or alight and to load or unload (unless there are also 'loading restrictions' as described below). The regulation applies to all vehicles other than those with disabled parking permits - see below.

Double yellow lines mean no waiting at any time, unless there are signs that specifically indicate seasonal restrictions.

Only one wheel needs to be on the line for this to count as parked on a yellow line.

Loading is allowed on double-yellow lines unless there are also yellow marks on the kerb or at the edge of the carriageway.

A double mark on the kerb indicates that loading is not allowed at any time. A single mark on the kerb indicates that loading is prohibited at time indicated on a nearby sign. Regulations apply every day including Sundays and Bank Holidays unless a nearby sign indicates otherwise. You may stop while passengers board or alight.

Loading and unloading is defined as: 'taking the items to and from the vehicle' but does not cover packing, unpacking or assembly and stopping for a conversation. Stopping to go to the toilet is also not covered. The ban also covers pavements and verges beside the marked section of road.

In the UK Disabled Parking (Blue badge) holders are exempt from the restrictions imposed by the lines for up to three hours if there are no loading restrictions in place. The Blue Badge must be displayed and the clock must be set to the time of arrival.

Offenders who parked on the double yellow lines in 1958 were fined 4d and hence the double yellow line as we know it today was born. This system is still used today of fining motorists who park on double yellow lines.


The single yellow line originated as another restriction from the double yellow line. This parking restriction indicates that parking is prohibited at specific times of the day or week but you should refer to the sign that is in the vicinity to clarify this.


History of Zebra Crossings England 1949


As Zebra Crossings are a way of life here in England and especially after The Beatles made famous the Zebra Crossing near Abbey Studios, on their Abbey Road Album I thought it would be interesting to write its history. Since the Abbey Road photo was taken, zigzag lines at the kerb and in the centre of the road have been added to all zebra crossings to indicate the no-stopping zones on either side. The band Shriekback's album, Sacred City contains an entire song, "Beatles Zebra Crossing?", about the Abbey Road zebra crossing and its status as a tourist attraction.

There is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to zebra crossings in the science-fiction comedy The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy by English author Douglas Adams, in reference to Man using the improbable creature called the Babel Fish as proof to the non-existence of God... the novel says, "Man then goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed at the next zebra crossing."

A zebra crossing is a type of pedestrian crossing used in many places around the world. Its distinguishing feature is alternating dark and light stripes on the road surface, from which it derives its name. A zebra crossing typically gives extra rights of way to pedestrians.

After isolated experiments, the zebra crossing was first used at 1000 sites in the UK in 1949 in its original form of alternating strips of blue and yellow, and a 1951 measure introduced them into law. In 1971, the Green cross Code was introduced to teach children safer crossing habits, replacing the earlier "kerb drill".

In the United Kingdom the crossing is marked with Belisha Beacons, flashing amber globes on black and white posts on each side of the road, named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, the Minister of Transport, who introduced them in 1934. The crossings were originally marked by beacons and parallel rows of studs, and the stripes were soon added for visibility.

The crossing is characterised by longitudinal stripes on the road, parallel to the flow of the traffic, alternately a light colour and a dark one. The similarity of these markings to those of a zebra give the crossing's name. The light colour is usually white and the dark colour may be painted – in which case black is typical – or left unpainted if the road surface itself is dark. The stripes are typically 400 to 600 Millimetres (16 inches to 2 feet) wide.

If there are no additional traffic lights, pedestrians always have right of way on a zebra crossing. In countries such as the United Kingdom, zebra markings are used only where pedestrians have permanent right of way. In other countries they are also used on pedestrian crossings controlled by traffic, and pedestrians have priority only when the lights show green to pedestrians.

Oldest English Brewery and The First Registered Trademark


As we Brits are famous for our drinking culture and our love of Beer I thought I would write about the oldest British beer and trademark. The oldest brand is actually Bass Pale Ale Beer. Bass is the name of a former brewery and the brand name for several English beers brewed in Burton upon Trent. Bass is most particularly associated with their pale ale. The distinctive Red Triangle logo for Bass Pale Ale was Britain's first registered trademark. The Bass & Co Brewery was established by William Bass in 1777.


Early in the company's history, Bass was exporting bottled beer around the world with the Baltic trade being supplied through the port of Hull. Growing demand led to the building of a second brewery in Burton upon Trent in 1799 by Michael Bass the founder's son, who entered into partnership with John Ratcliff. The water produced from boreholes in the locality became popular with brewers, with 30 different breweries operating in the mid-19th century. Michael's son, another Michael succeeded on the death of his father in 1827 and renewed the Ratcliff partnership and brought in John Gretton, and created the company of 'Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton' as it traded in the 19th century.


The opening of the railway through Burton in 1839 led to Burton becoming pre-eminent as a brewing town. In the mid-1870s, Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton accounted for one third of Burton's output.The company became a public limited company in 1888, following the death of Michael in 1884, who was succeeded by his son, another Michael, later Lord Burton.

Both Michael Bass and Lord Burton were considerable philanthropists with extensive charitable donations to the towns of Burton and Derby. Early in the 20th century, in a declining market, many Burton breweries closed down. The numbers fell from twenty in 1900 to eight in 1928. Bass took over the breweries of Walkers in 1923, Worthington and Thomas Salt in 1927 and James Eadie in 1933.

Bass was one of the original FT30 companies on the London Stock Exchange when the listing was established in 1935. Over the next half-century, Bass maintained its dominance in the UK market by the acquisition of other brewers such as Birmingham based Mitchells and Butlers (1961), London brewer Charringtons (1967), Sheffield brewer William Stones Ltd (1968) and Grimsby based Hewitt Brothers Limited (1969) (with the overall company being known as Bass, Mitchells and Butlers or Bass Charrington at various times).

By the end of the 20th century, following decades of closures and consolidation, Bass was left with one of the two large breweries remaining in the town. It also had substantial holdings in hotels, now owned by Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). The Mitchells and Butlers name lives on as the company that retained the licensed retail outlet business when it was separated from the Six Continents PLC company (the successor to Bass plc) in 2003.

The National Brewery Centre (formerly the Bass Museum is a museum and tourist attractions in Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, England. The centre celebrates the brewing heritage of Burton and features exhibits showcasing the history of brewing techniques. The centre also houses a bar and cafe, a history of the town, a collection historic vehicles, a micro brewery and a Shire horse collection.

On 18th March 2008 owner, Coors announced that it was to close the Visitor Centre which the company was subsidising to the tune of £1 million a year. The museum closed on 30th June 2008 but the attractions were mothballed in the hope that the museum could be reopened at a later date. A steering group was established to investigate reopening the museum. The museum reopened as the National Brewery Centre on 1st May 2010 and was officially reopened by HRH The Princess Royal on September 21st 2010.


The National Brewery Centre is also home to an extensive array of historical collections that relate to brewing. This includes an extensive archive of ledgers, books, photographs and film from the breweries that once occupied the site; a library containing brewing-related books and journals and objects that include paintings, ceramics, glass, bottles, cans, beer mats.


Cambridge University – History 1209 AD


As the University at Cambridge is known Worldwide and is such a symbol of England and its education system I thought I would write about its famous alumni and history. The University at Cambridge owes much to "town and gown" troubles at Oxford university. In 1209 scholars and masters escaping troubles between the university and townsfolk in Oxford began arriving in Cambridge.

By 1226 the scholars had organized themselves, offered regular courses of study, and named a Chancellor to lead them. The first great boost to the formation of a university came from Henry III, who gave the scholars his support as early as 1231. Henry decreed that only students studying under a recognised Master were allowed to remain in Cambridge.

A standard course of study consisted of grammar, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, music, geometry, and astronomy. Examinations were conducted as oral disputations or debates. Most, but not all, of the university Masters were also in holy orders of some sort. (For more on medieval universities.) Rules and regulations governing behaviour and awarding of degrees were not codified until the mid 13th century. These clergy were originally under the authority of the local ecclesiastical authority, represented by the Bishop of Ely. By the mid 15th century, however, the Chancellor of the University had taken over much of this authority, and heard cases involving discipline and morals. The Chancellor also set up a secular court for scholars, to hear cases involving minor crimes.

Like Oxford, Cambridge experienced a fair share of trouble between townsfolk and scholars. Both sides were protective of their unique rights and privileges. The university had the right to enforce laws regulating the quality of bread and ale sold in the town, and to monitor rates charged for food, fuel, and candles.

In 1381 tension between the town and university exploded into violence, with attacks on university property throughout Cambridge. The result was that even more civil authority was awarded to the University Chancellor, including the right to prosecute lawsuits arising from trade and market disputes. The university retained many of these legal rights until the 19th century.

From the 13th century private teaching institutions, the forerunners of today's colleges, were established, most with only a few Masters and students. Peterhouse (1284) was the first college, but others soon followed. These colleges were founded by individual benefactors, not by the university as a whole. Under the influence of Chancellor John Fisher (1509-35) the university attracted scholars from the European mainland, including Erasmus, who helped foster a climate of classical studies, religious debate, and reform that characterized the upheavals of the English Reformation.

Several prominent colleges were founded in the years following the Dissolution of The Monastries, taking over former religious foundations. Emmanuel College, for one, took over the buildings used by a Dominican friary. This change from a religious to a secular focus was emphasized when Henry VIII took measures to forbid the study of Canon Law. Henry also established professorships in Greek, divinity, Hebrew, physic, and civil law.

Over the centuries that followed, successive monarchs and governments sought to influence which courses were taught, and the university was even compelled to award degrees to candidates put forward by the royal court.

A royal charter in 1534 gave the university the right to print books, though this right was only infrequently exercised until the late 17th century. From the 1690s Cambridge University Press enjoyed prominent status as an academic press, encouraged by the monopoly in Bible printing it shared with Oxford.

The university continued to expand, both physically and in focus of studies. The foundation of the Fitzwilliam Museum (created after the Bequests of my Antecedent the Earl Fitzwillum) the University Botanical Gardens, to name just two, opened the way for study of art, architecture, and botany at Cambridge.

Perhaps to balance this scholarly emphasis, the university encouraged student activities, notably in sporting endeavors. A boat race against Oxford University ("The Boat Race") became an annual event in 1839, as did a cricket match between the two schools. A regular intramural program of inter-college athletics began at the same time.

In the devastation following World War I, when many students and teachers died, Cambridge received regular state funding for the first time.

The 1950s and 60s saw a great expansion of facilities, with many new college buildings added or old ones expanded. Due to space problems in central Cambridge many new buildings were established much further away from the university core. Much of the teaching emphasis was on the sciences, and as a consequence the Cambridge area became a centre for scientific industry, fueled by research at university laboratories.

Cambridge University today boasts 31 colleges and over 13,000 students.

Cambridge University Trivia

  • Peterhouse, founded in 1284, is the oldest college at Cambridge.
  • Students began university at the tender age of 14 or 15, and it took 7 years to graduate.
  • University courses of study are known as "tripos" after the three legged stools used by BA candidates in the Middle Ages.
  • Until 1869 Cambridge was only open to men. Girton College was founded for women in that year, to be followed two years later by Newnham. There are now no men-only colleges.
  • A huge wooden spoon was awarded to students coming last in the class in mathematics. According to reports the wooden spoon was deemed a great honour by the students themselves!
  • Cambridge has a tradition of each college maintaining a chapel choir. Students can receive scholarships for musical skills, and most college chapel choirs maintain a regular program of choral concerts.

List of famous Alumni from Cambridge University:

Christ's College (1505)

Richard Clerke, John Milton, Charles Darwin, Jan Smuts, CP Snow, David Mellor, Richard Whiteley, Lord Mountbatten, Colin Dexter, Sacha Baron-Cohen (Ali G), Simon Schama, Rowan Williams

Clare College (1326)

Nicholas Ferrer, Hugh Latimer, Charles Cornwallis, David Attenborough, Peter Lilley, Siegfried Sassoon, Richard Stilgoe, James Watson, Andrew Wiles, Peter Ackroyd, Roger Norrington.

Corpus Christi College (1352)

Christopher Marlowe, John Fletcher, Matthew Parker

Darwin College (1976)

Jane Goodall

Downing College (1800)

John Cleese, Michael Winner, Mike Atherton, Brian Redhead, Quentin Blake, Trevor Nunn, Michael Apted, Thandie Newton

Emmanuel College (1584)

John Harvard, FR Leavis, Fred Hoyle, Griff Rhys Jones, Graeme Garden, Cecil Parkinson, John Wallis, Michael Frayn, Graham Chapman

Fitzwilliam College (1896)

Lord Fawsley, Norman Lamont, Derek Pringle, Phil Edmonds, Lee Kuan Yew, David Starkey, Nick Drake

Girton College (1869)

Sandi Toksvig, Queen Margarethe of Denmark, Raquel Cassidy, Delia Derbyshire

Gonville and Claus College (1348)

William Harvey, Thomas Shadwell, George Green, David Frost, Kenneth Clarke, Harold Abrahams, John Venn, Keith Vaz, Alastair Campbell

Homerton College (1894)

Julie Covington, Nick Hancock, Cherie Lunghi, Sandi Toksvig, Graham Wynne

Jesus College (1496)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Cranmer, Laurence Sterne, Alastair Cooke, Prince Edward, Lord Snowdon, Ted Dexter, Thomas Malthus, Nick Hornby, Tony Wilson

King's College (1441)

Francis Walsingham, Rupert Brooke, JM Keynes, EM Forster, Robert Walpole, Martin Bell, Salman Rushdie, Alan Turing, David Baddiel, John Graham, Charles Clarke, Lily Cole

Magdalene College (1542)

Samuel Pepys, Charles Kingsley, CS Lewis, Michael Ramsey, Lord Tedder, Bamber Gascoigne, John Simpson, Michael Redgrave, Gavin Hastings, Charles Parnell, George Mallory, Katie Derham, Rob Wainwright, Mike Newell, Alan Rusbridger, Lloyd Grossman

New Hall College (1954)

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, Sue Perkins

Newnham College (1871)

Eleanor Bron, Emma Thompson, Germaine Greer, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Drabble, AS Byatt, Rosalind Franklin, Anne Campbell, Dorothy Hodgkin, Shirley Williams, Claire Balding, Jane Goodall, Diane Abbott

Pembroke College (1347)

William Pitt, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Gray, Peter Cook, Ted Hughes, Clive James, Peter May, Eric Idle, Bishop Nicholas Ridley, George Stokes, Rab Butler, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, Tom Sharpe, Arthur Bliss, Jonathan Lynn

Porterhouse College (1284)

Thomas Gray, Henry Cavendish, Lord Kelvin, Charles Babbage, Frank Whittle, Christopher Cockerell, Michael Howard, Michael Portillo, Richard Baker, John Whitgift, James Dewar, Sam Mendes, Stephanie Cook, David Mitchell

Queen's College (1448)

Desiderius Erasmus, Isaac Milner, Stephen Fry, Mike Foale, Charles Stanford, Richard Hickox, Osborne Reynolds

Robinson College (1977)

Adrian Davies, Charles Hart, Konnie Huq, Robert Webb

St Catharine's College (1473)

John Addenbrooke, James Shirley, Ian McKellen, Jeremy Paxman, Steve Punt, Peter Hall, Richard Ayoade, Joanne Harris

St John's College (1511)

William Wordsworth, Paul Dirac, William Wilberforce, Jonathan Miller, Douglas Adams, Viscount Goderich, Lord Aberdeen, Viscount Palmerston, Trevor Bailey, Mike Brearley, Hugh Dennis, Rob Andrew, Sid Waddell

Selwyn College (1882)

Hugh Laurie, Rob Newman, Clive Anderson, John Selwyn Gummer, Malcolm Muggeridge, Simon Hughes, Robert Harris

Sidney Sussex College (1596)

Oliver Cromwell, David Owen, John Patten, Carol Vorderman, Ian Lang, Tom Kilburn

Trinity College(1546)

(living alumni only) Freeman Dyson, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, John Nott, John Tusa, Douglas Hurd, Edward Stourton, Peter Bottomley, Leon Brittan, Prince Charles, Raymond Keene, Jonathan Mestel, Antony Gormley, Vanessa Feltz, John Crawley, Peter Shaffer, Mel Giedroyc, Stephen Frears, Alex Comfort, Edward Atterton, Thomas Gold, John Stott, Chris Weitz, Charles Moore

Trinity Hall College (1350)

Admiral Howard, Robert Herrick, JB Priestley, Terry Waite, Norman Fowler, Tony Slattery, Geoffrey Howe, Donald Maclean, David Sheppard, Rachel Weisz, Stephen Hawking, Hans Blix.,

Oxford University – History from 1096 AD


As the University at Oxford is known Worldwide and is such a symbol of England and its education system I thought I would write about its famous alumni and history. The University of Oxford does not have a clear date of foundation. Teaching at Oxford existed in some form in 1096.

The expulsion of foreigners from the University of Paris in 1167 caused many English scholars to return from France and settle in Oxford. The historian Gerald of Wales lectured to the scholars in 1188, and the first known foreign scholar, Emo of Friesland, arrived in 1190. The head of the University was named a chancellor from 1201, and the masters were recognised as a universitas or corporation in 1231.

The students associated together, on the basis of geographical origins, into two “nations”, representing the North (including the Scots) and the South (including the Irish and the Welsh). In later centuries, geographical origins continued to influence many students' affiliations when membership of a college or hall became customary in Oxford. Members of many religious orders, including Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustinians, settled in Oxford in the mid-13th century, gained influence, and maintained houses for students. At about the same time, private benefactors established colleges to serve as self-contained scholarly communities.

Among the earliest were William of Durham, who in 1249 endowed University College, and John I de Balliol, father of the future King of Scots: Balliol College bears his name. Another founder, Walter de Merton, a chancellor of England and afterwards Bishop of Rochester, devised a series of regulations for college life; Merton College thereby became the model for such establishments at Oxford as well as at the University of Cambridge. Thereafter, an increasing number of students forsook living in halls and religious houses in favour of living at colleges.

The new learning of the Renaissance greatly influenced Oxford from the late 15th century onward. Among University scholars of the period were William Grocyn, who contributed to the revival of the Greek language, and John Colet, the noted biblical scholar. With the Reformation and the breaking of ties with the Roman Catholic Church, Catholic Recusant scholars from Oxford fled to continental Europe, settling especially at the university of Douai.

The method of teaching at the university was transformed from the medieval Scholastic method to Renaissance education, although institutions associated with the university suffered loss of land and revenues. In 1636, Chancellor William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, codified the university statutes; these to a large extent remained the university's governing regulations until the mid-19th century. Laud was also responsible for the granting of a charter securing privileges for Oxford University Press, and he made significant contributions to the Bodleian Library, the main library of the university.

The university was a centre of the Royalist Party during the English Civil War (1642–1649), while the town favoured the opposing Parliamentarian cause. From the mid-18th century onward, however, the University of Oxford took little part in political conflicts.

The mid nineteenth century saw the impact of the Oxford Movement (1833–1845), led among others by the future Cardinal Newman. The influence of the reformed model of German university reached Oxford via key scholars such as Benjamin Jowett and Max Müller.

Administrative reforms during the 19th century included the replacement of oral examinations with written entrance tests, greater tolerance for religious dissent, and the establishment of four women's colleges. Twentieth century Privy Council decisions (such as the abolition of compulsory daily worship, dissociation of the Regius professorship of Hebrew from clerical status, diversion of theological bequests to colleges to other purposes) loosened the link with traditional belief and practice. Although the University's emphasis traditionally had been on classical knowledge, its curriculum expanded in the course of the 19th century to encompass scientific and medical studies.

The mid twentieth century saw many distinguished continental scholars, displaced by Nazism and Communism, relocating to Oxford.

The list of distinguished scholars at the University of Oxford is long and includes many who have made major contributions to British politics, the sciences, medicine, and literature. More than forty Nobel laureates and more than fifty world leaders have been affiliated with the University of Oxford.

Famous Alumni of Oxford University:

Balliol College (1263)

John Wycliffe, Adam Smith, William Beveridge, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hilaire Belloc, Aldous Huxley, King Olav V of Norway, King Harald of Norway, Edward Heath, Harold Macmillan, Grahame Greene, Siegfried Sassoon, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins, Cosmo Lang, Frederick Temple, William Temple, Herbert Asquith, Joe Grimond, Nevil Shute, Chris Patten, Lionel Blue, Boris Johnson, Lord Peter Wimsey

Brasenose College (1509)

William Webb Ellis, Colin Cowdrey, William Golding, Robert Runcie, Michael Palin, John Buchan, Field Marshal Haig, Stephen Dorrell, John Gorton, David Cameron

Christ Church College (1546)

Philip Sidney, John Locke, Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren, John Ruskin, Zulfikar Bhutto, John Taverner, Adrian Boult, William Walton, Lewis Carroll, WH Auden, Auberon Waugh, Edward VII, Ludovic Kennedy, Lord Fawsley, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, William Penn, Albert Einstein, David Dimbleby, Robert Peel, William Gladstone, Marquess of Salisbury, Anthony Eden, Alec Douglas Home, Nigel Lawson, Trevor Huddleston, Alan Clarke.

Corpus Christi College (1517)

William Waldegrave, John Keble, Vikram Seth, Robert Bridges, Isaiah Berlin

Exeter College (1314)

RD Blackmore, JRR Tolkien, Geoffrey Fisher, Hubert Parry, Edward Burne-Jones, Roger Bannister, Ned Sherrin, Robert Robinson, Richard Burton, Martin Amis, Russell Harty, Alan Bennett, William Morris, Imogen Stubbs, Will Self

Hertford College (1740)

John Donne, William Tyndale, Jonathan Swift, Henry Pelham, Evelyn Waugh, Thomas Hobbes, Charles James Fox, Natasha Kaplinsky, Fiona Bruce, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Jacqui Smith

Jesus College (1571)

Harold Wilson, Magnus Magnusson, Paul Jones, TE Lawrence

Keble College (1870)

Imran Khan, Chad Varah, Timmy Mallett

Lady Margaret Hall College (1878)

Benazir Bhutto, Antonia Fraser, Barbara Mills

Lincoln College (1427)

John Wesley, John Le Carre, Manfred von Richtofen, Dr Seuss

Magdalen College (1458)

John Betjeman, Edward VIII, Keith Joseph, Ivor Novello, Dudley Moore, Kenneth Baker, CS Lewis, Desmond Morris, John Redwood, Oscar Wilde, Cardinal Wolsey, William Hague, Malcolm Fraser, Bertie Wooster

Mansfield College (1886)

Adam Von Trott

Merton College (1264)

William Harvey, Max Beerbohm, TS Eliot, Sheridan Morley, Roger Bannister, Frank Bough, Kris Kristofferson, Prince Naruhito, John Wycliffe

New College (1379)

William Spooner, John Galsworthy, Hugh Gaitskell, Tony Benn, Dennis Potter, Gyles Brandreth, Douglas Jardine, Hugh Grant, Brian Johnston, John Fowles, Kate Beckinsale

Oriel College (1326)

Cardinal Newman, Cecil Rhodes, Beau Brummel, Sir Walter Raleigh

Pembroke College (1624)

Michael Heseltine, Samuel Johnson, Julian Critchley, Denzil Davies, George Whitefield, James Smithson

Queen's College (1341)

Edmund Halley, Brian Walden, David Jenkins, Jeremy Bentham, Rowan Atkinson, Henry V, Gerald Kaufman, Tim Berners-Lee

St Anne's College (1893)

Edwina Currie, Penelope Lively, Simon Rattle, Iris Murdoch, Sister Wendy Beckett, Baroness Young, Libby Purves, Jancis Robinson

St Catherine's College (1963)

John Birt, John Paul Getty, Joseph Heller, AA Milne, Matthew Pinsent, Peter Mandelson, Jeanette Winterson

St Edmund Hall College (1278)

Robin Day, Terry Jones

St Hilda's College (1893)

Gillian Shephard, Zeinab Badawi, Helen Jackson, Ros Miles, Susan Greenfield, Val McDermid

St Hugh's College (1886)

Barbara Castle, Ruth Lawrence, Kate Adie

St John's College (1555)

AE Housman, Jethro Tull, Kingsley Amis, Robert Graves, Philip Larkin, John Wain, Tony Blair, Inspector Morse

St Peter's College (1929)

Peter Wright, Rev W Awdry, Paul Condon, Ken Loach

Somerville College (1879)

Margaret Thatcher, Vera Brittain, Iris Murdoch, Dorothy L Sayers, Esther Rantzen, Indira Gandhi, Shirley Williams, Dorothy Hodgkin

Trinity College (1554)

Laurence Binyon, Terence Rattigan, Jeremy Thorpe, Cardinal Newman, Norris McWhirter, Miles Kingston, Robin Leigh-Pemberton

University College (1249)

Clement Atlee, Hugh Gaitskell, Harold Wilson, William Beveridge, Stephen Hawking, Paul Gambaccini, Peter Sissons, CS Lewis, Bill Clinton, Willie Rushton, Peter Snow, Bob Hawke, Richard Ingrams, VS Naipaul, Percy Shelley, Chelsea Clinton

Wadham College (1610)

Cecil Day Lewis, Thomas Beecham, Michael Foot, Melvyn Bragg, Christopher Wren

Worcester College (1714)

Alastair Burnett, Richard Adams, Rupert Murdoch, John Sainsbury, Thomas de Quincey.

The Greenwich Prime Meridian

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the Prime Meridian of the world. Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th. Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years and this has made me a great fan of English and British Icons including the history of GMT.

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is a term originally referring to mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. It is commonly used in practice to refer to Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) when this is viewed as a time zone, especially by bodies connected with the United Kingdom, such as the BBC World Service, the Royal Navy, the Met Office and others, although strictly UTC is an atomic time scale which only approximates GMT with a tolerance of 0.9 second. It is also used to refer to Universal Time (UT), which is a standard astronomical concept used in many technical fields and is referred to by the phrase Zulu Time.

In the UK, GMT is the official time only during winter; during summer British Summer time ( BST ) is used. GMT is substantially equivalent to Western European Time.

In 1884 the Prime Meridian was defined by the position of the large "Transit Circle" telescope in the Observatory's Meridian Building. The transit circle was built by Sir George Biddell Airy, the 7th Astronomer Royal, in 1850. The cross-hairs in the eyepiece of the Transit Circle precisely defined Longitude 0° for the world. As the earth's crust is moving very slightly all the time the exact position of the Prime Meridian is now moving very slightly too, but the original reference for the prime meridian of the world remains the Airy Transit Circle in the Royal Observatory, even if the exact location of the line may move to either side of Airy's meridian.

The line in Greenwich represents the Prime Meridian of the World - Longitude 0º. Every place on Earth is measured in terms of its distance east or west from this line. The line itself divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth - just as the Equator divides the northern and southern hemispheres.

The Greenwich Meridian was chosen as the Prime Meridian of the World in 1884. There were Forty-one delegates from 25 nations who met in Washington DC for the International Meridian Conference. By the end of the conference, Greenwich had won the prize of Longitude 0º by a vote of 22 to 1 against (San Domingo), with 2 abstentions ( France and Brazil – what a surprise the French was against us Brits.!! ). There were two main reasons for choosing Greenwich as the Prime meridian:

·       The first was the fact that the USA had already chosen Greenwich as the basis for its own national time zone system.

·       The second was that in the late 19th century, 72% of the world's commerce depended on sea-charts which used Greenwich as the Prime Meridian.

The decision, essentially, was based on the argument that by naming Greenwich as Longitude 0º, it would be advantageous to the largest number of people. Therefore the Prime Meridian at Greenwich became the centre of world time, and was the official starting point for the new Millennium.

In the future, when we Earthlings set out to explore the solar system GMT will still be used as the Point Of Earth time. As an example the Earth GMT will be called: E-GMT.

History Of English and British Astronomer Royal's

As an Englishman with an interest of The Stars, Solar System, English and British History I thought it would be of interest to describe the history of the 'Astronomer Royal' and list the previous holders of this prestigious post.

Astronomer Royal is a senior post in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. There are two officers, the senior being the Astronomer Royal dating from 22 June 1675; the second is the 'Astronomer Royal for Scotland' dating from 1834.

King Charles II, who founded the Royal Observatory Greenwich in 1675 instructed the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed "... forthwith to apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so-much desired longitude of places for the perfecting the art of navigation."

From that time until 1972 the Astronomer Royal was Director of the Royal Observatory Greenwich. As Astronomer Royal he receives a sum of 100 GBP per year and is a member of the Royal Household, under the general authority of the Lord Chamberlain. After the separation of the two offices the position of Astronomer Royal has been largely honorary, though he remains available to advise the Sovereign on astronomical and related scientific matters, and the office is of great prestige.

English Astronomer Royal's

The first Astronomer royal was John Flamsteed who was born in Denby in 1649. Because of ill health, which was to dog his career, he was forced to leave school early and was therefore largely self educated. He started his scientific career under the patronage of William Brouncker, the first president of the Royal Society, having impressed him by computing an almanac of celestial events for 1670.

·       1675-1719 John Flamsteed

·       1720-1742 Edmond Halley

·       1742-1762 James Bradley

·       1762-1764 Nathaniel Bliss

·       1765-1811 Nevil Maskelyne

·       1811-1835 John Ford

·       1835-1881 Sir George Biddell Airy

·       1881-1910 Sir William Christie

·       1910-1933 Sir Frank Dyson

·       1933-1955 Sir Harold Spencer Jones

·       1956-1971 Richard van der Riat Woolley

·       1972-1982 Sir Martin Ryle

·       1982-1990 Sir Francis Graham-Smith

·       1991-1995 Sir Arnold Wolfendale

·       1998-present, Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow

Irish Astronomer Royal's

The Royal Astronomer of Ireland was a title attached to the Andrews Professorship of astronomy in Trinity College Dublin and the directorship of its astronomical observatory at Dundalk, near Dublin. The eight title-holders included Charles Jasper Joly, Professor Sir Robert Stawell Ball, Professor Sir William Rowan Hamilton, and Professor John Brinkley. The title of Royal Astronomer of Ireland was introduced by Letters Patent of George III in 1792 so John Brinkley was the first Royal Astronomer.

1783–1792 Henry Ussher

·       1792–1827 John Brinkley

·       1827–1865 Sir William Rowan Hamilton

·       1865–1874 Franz Friedrich Ernst Brunnow

·       1874–1892 Sir Robert Stawell Ball

·       1892–1897 Arthur Alcock Rambaut

·       1897–1906 Charles Jasper Joly

·       1906–1912 Sir Edmund Taylor Whittaker

·       1912–1921 Henry Crozier Keating Plummer

Scottish Astronomer Royal's

Astronomer Royal for Scotland was originally the title of the director of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, but since 1995 it has simply been an honorary title.


·       1834–1844 Thomas Henderson

·       1846–1888 Charles Piazzi Smith

·       1889–1905 Ralph Copeland

·       1905–1910 Sir Frank Watson Dyson

·       1910–1937 Ralph Allen Sampson

·       1938–1955 William Michael Herbert Greaves

·       1957–1975 Hermann Bruck

·       1975–1980 Vincent Cartledge Reddish

·       1980–1990 Malcolm Longair

·       1991–1995 vacant

·       1995–present John Campbell Brown

The Neck Tie and It's History


The neck tie in Britain is one of the stand alone style statements which during the daytime separates Office Workers from other workers. In the evening the non office workers, when going out on the town, will dress up and wear a tie and jacket. I thought it would be interesting to write about the history of the neck tie from 1800 to present day.

1800–1850: Cravat, Stocks, Scarves, Bandanna's

At this time, there was also much interest in the way to tie a proper cravat and this led to a series of publications. This began with Neckclothitania which is a book that contained instructions and illustrations on how to tie 14 different cravats. It was also the first book to use the word ‘tie’ in association with neck wear.

It was about this time that black stocks made their appearance. Their popularity eclipsed the white Cravat, except for formal and evening wear. These remained popular through to the 1850s. At this time, another form of neck wear worn was the scarf. This was where a neckerchief or bandanna was held in place by slipping the ends through a finger or scarf ring at the neck instead of using a knot. This is the classic sailor neck wear and may have been adopted from them.

1860–1920s: Bow ties, Scarf/Neckerchief, the Ascot, the Long tie

The industrial revolution created a need for neck wear that was easy to put on, comfortable and would last an entire workday. The modern neck tie, as is still worn by millions of men today, was born. It was long, thin and easy to knot and it didn’t come undone.

We English called it the “Four in Hand” because the knot resembled the reins of the four horse carriage used by the British upper class. By this time, the sometimes complicated array of knots and styles of neck wear gave way to the necktie's and bow ties, the latter a much smaller, more convenient version of the cravat. In formal dinner parties and when attending races, another type of neck wear was considered de rigueur; this was the Ascot Tie which had wide flaps that were crossed and pinned together on the chest.

This was until 1926, when a New York tie maker, Jesse Langsdorf came up with a method of cutting the fabric on the bias and sewing it in three segments. This technique improved elasticity and facilitated the fabric's return to its original shape. Since that time, most men have worn the “Langsdorf” tie. Yet another development of that time was the method used to secure the lining and interlining once the tie had been folded into shape. Richard Atkinson and Company of Belfast claim to have introduced the slip stitch for this purpose in the late 1920s.

1920s – present day

Wide short tie with print, 1953, part of the post-War "Bold Look".

After the First World War, hand-painted ties became an accepted form of decoration in America. The widths of some of these ties went up to 4.5 inches (110 mm). These loud, flamboyant ties sold very well all the way through the 1950s.

In Britain, Regimental stripes have been continuously used in tie designs since the 1920's. Traditionally, English stripes ran from the left shoulder down to the right side; however, when Brooks Brothers introduced the striped ties in the United States around the beginning of the 20th century, they had theirs cut in the opposite direction.

Before the Second World War ties were worn shorter than they are today; this was due, in part, to men wearing trousers at the natural waist (more or less at the level of the belly button), and also due to the popularity of three-piece suits, for which it is considered a faux pas to let the tie stick out below the vest. Around 1944 ties started to become not only wider, but wilder. This was the beginning of what was later labelled the Bold Look ties which reflected the returning GIs' desire to break with wartime uniformity. Widths reached 5", and designs included Art Deco, hunting scenes, scenic "photographs," tropical themes, and even girlie prints, though more traditional designs were also available. The typical length was 48".

The 1960s brought about an influx of pop art influenced designs. The first was designed by

Michael Fish when he worked at Turnbull & Asser, and was introduced in Britain in 1965; the term Kipper Tie was a pun on his name. The exuberance of the styles of the late 1960s and early 1970's gradually gave way to more restrained designs. Ties became wider, returning to their 4½ inch width, sometimes with garish colours and designs. The traditional designs of the 1930's and 1950s reappeared, particularly Paisley patterns. Ties began to be sold along with shirts, and designers slowly began to experiment with bolder colours.

In the 1980s, narrower ties, some as narrow as 1½" but more typically 3" to 3¼" wide, became popular again. Into the 1990s, as ties got wider again, increasingly unusual designs became common. Novelty (or joke) ties or deliberately kitschy ties designed to make a statement gained a certain popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. These included ties featuring cartoon characters, commercial products or pop culture icons, and those made of unusual materials, such as plastic or wood. During this period, with men wearing their pants at their hips, ties lengthened to 57".

At the start of the 21st century, ties widened to 3½" to 3¾" wide, with a broad range of patterns available, from traditional stripes, foulards, and club ties (Ties with a crest or design signifying a club, organization, or order) to abstract, themed, and humorous ones. The standard length remains 57", though 2008 and 2009 saw a return to narrower ties. While ties as wide as 3¾" are still available, ties under 3" wide also became popular, particularly with younger men and the fashion-conscious.

The Morgan Motor Company - The Oldest Continuusly Manufactured Car Maker

The “Morgan Car” is one of Britain's most famous Iconic Cars and is known the world over for its classic styling and It's sheer Englishness. As the Morgan Car Company is over 100 years old, which makes it is the oldest continuous car manufacturer in the world, I thought the reader may be interested in it's long and prestigious history. 

When in 1909, at the age of twenty-eight, Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan (HFS as he came to be known throughout the motoring world) designed and built
his first single-seater three-wheeled experimental car, he could never have dreamt that he would become one of the world's major manufacturers of three-wheeler motor cars.

The son of a country clergyman, HFS was lucky not to be forced to enter the church as a profession. Far from discouraging him from making his own way in life,
his parents and grandparents gave him every assistance. He was educated at Stone House, Broadstairs, and Marlborough College and then entered Crystal Palace
Engineering College in south London, and it was here that his design and artistic talents developed.

In 1906 he opened a garage in Malvern, Worcestershire. The venture flourished and HFS was then able to turn his thoughts to making a car of his own design.

The prototype, completed in 1909, was a single-seater fitted with tiller steering. It also incorporated Morgan's special form of sliding pillar independent front
suspension. With the addition of such refinement as rebound springs and shock absorbers, this form of front suspension is still used on modern four-wheeler
Morgan's. The whole car was very light and was powered by a 7 horsepower Peugeot motorcycle engine.

On Boxing Day 1910 HFS entered the first London-Exeter Two Day Trial in the JAP-engined single-seater fitted with tiller steering. He won a gold medal
and received favourable press coverage. So well did his cars do in competition that at the Motor Cycle Show in November 1911 he was inundated with enquiries
and orders. He realized that to maintain momentum he must enter as many sporting events as he could.

In 1912 the company became the Morgan Motor Company Ltd, and made a small but significant profit of 1314pounds.

After the war (WWI) public demand for motors far outstripped supply...By 1923 Morgan were being manufactured under license by Darmont in France.
In 1936 the government announced that the following year it was going to abolish the Road Fund Tax, which did away with the three-wheeler's tax advantage.

That year Morgan Motor Company introduced the four wheeler called the 4-4, for the four cylinders and four wheel car. The 4-4 model Morgan is still in production.

During World War II the company was converted to the war effort and no cars were built.

After the war the company slowly began producing cars again and they concentrated on producing cars just for export. Today it takes a year on a waiting list to receive your Morgan Car.

Thomas Telford Victorian Engineer 1757 to 1834


One of the most famous victorian engineers was Sir thomas Telford who built the world's first Iron Bridge. I thought it would be of interest to write about his life and accomplishments. Sir Thomas Telford was born in Westerkirk, Scotland on August 9th 1757. He was a stonemason, architect and civil engineer - a noted road-, bridge- and canal- builder.

At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a stonemason, and some of his earliest work can still be seen on the bridge across the river Esk in Langholm in the Scottish borders. He worked for a time in Edinburgh and in 1782 he moved to London where (after meeting architects Robert Adam and Sir William Chambers) he was involved in building additions to Somerset House. 1784 Two years later he found work at Portsmouth dockyard and - although still largely self-taught - was extending his talents to the specification, design and management of building projects.

In 1787, through his wealthy patron William Pulteney, he became Surveyor of Public Works for Shropshire, England. At this time, 'civil engineering' was a discipline still in its infancy, so Telford was set on establishing himself as an architect. His projects included renovation of Shrewsbury's Castle, the town's prison (during planning of which he met leading prison reformer John Howard), a church (St Mary Magdalene) in Bridgnorth and another at Madeley.

As county surveyor, Telford was also responsible for bridges. In 1790 he designed a bridge carrying the London-Holyhead road over the Severn river at Montford, the first of some 40 bridges he built in Shropshire, including major crossings of the Severn at Buildwas, Bridgnorth and Bewdley. The Buildwas bridge was Telford's first iron bridge (he was heavily influenced by the famous bridge at Ironbridge), but was 30 ft (10 m) wider in span and half the weight. As his engineering prowess grew, Telford was to return to this material again and again.

Telford's reputation in Shropshire led to his appointment in 1793 to manage the detailed design and construction of the Ellesmere Canal, linking the ironworks and collieries of Wrexham via the north-west Shropshire town of Ellesmere, with Chester (utilising the existing Chester Canal), and then the River Mersey.

Among other structures, this canal involved building an aqueduct over the River Dee in the Vale of Llangollen; for the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Telford used a new method of construction consisting of troughs made from cast iron plates and fixed in masonry.

Eminent canal engineer William Jessop oversaw the project, but the detailed execution of the project was very much left in Telford's hands.

The Ellesmere Canal was finally completed in 1805 but alongside his canal responsibilities, Telford's reputation as a civil engineer meant he was constantly consulted on numerous other projects. These included water supply works for Liverpool, improvements to London's docklands and the rebuilding of London Bridge (c.1800).

Most notably (and, again, William Pulteney was influential in his 1801 appointment), Telford devised a masterplan to improve communications in the Highlands of Scotland, a massive project that was to last some 20 years. It included the building of the Caledonian Canal along the Great Glen (and redesign of sections of the Crinan Canal), some 920 miles of new roads, over a thousand new bridges, numerous harbour improvements (including works at Aberdeen, Dundee, Peterhead and Banff, to name but four), and 32 new churches.

Telford also undertook highway works in the Scottish Lowlands, including 184 miles of new roads and numerous bridges, ranging from a 112 ft (34 m) span stone bridge across the Dee at Tongueland in Kirkcudbright (1805-1806) to the 129 ft (39 m) tall Cartland Crags bridge near Lanark (1822).

Telford was consulted in 1806 by the King of Sweden about the construction of a canal between Gothenburg and Stockholm. His plans were adopted and construction of the Göta canal began in 1810. Telford travelled to Sweden at that time to oversee some of the more important initial excavations.

During his later years, Telford was responsible for rebuilding sections of the London to Holyhead road (a task completed by his assistant of ten years, John MacNeill; today, the route is the A5 trunk road). Between London and Shrewsbury, most of the work amounted to improvements (including the Archway cutting in north London and improvements at Barnet and South Mimms). Beyond Shrewsbury, and especially beyond Llangollen, the work often involved building a highway from scratch. Notable features of this section of the route include the iron bridge across the River Conwy at Betws-y-Coed, the ascent from there to Capel Curig and then the descent from the pass of Nant Ffrancon towards Bangor.

On the island of Anglesey a new embankment across the Stanley Sands to Holyhead was constructed, but the crossing of the Menai Straits was the most formidable challenge, finally overcome by the Menai Suspension Bridge (1819-1826).

Telford also worked on the north Wales coast road between Chester and Bangor, including another major
suspension bridge at Conwy, opened later the same year as its counterpart at Menai.

(The punning nickname Colossus of Roads was given to Telford by his friend and Poet Laureate Robert Southey.)

Other works by Telford include the St Katharine Docks (1824-1828) close to Tower Bridge in central London, the Gloucester and Berkeley Ship Canal (today known as the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal), the second Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal (1827), and the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (today part of the Shropshire Union Canal) - started in May 1826 but finished, after Telford's death, in January 1835. At the time of its construction in 1829, Galton Bridge was the longest single span in the world.

In 1820, Telford was appointed the first President of the recently formed Institution of Civil Engineers, a post he held until his death on September 2nd 1834. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

When a new town was being built in the Wrekin area of Shropshire in 1968, it was named Telford in his honour.


Thomas Telford's works can be seen all over Europe: they include a canal in the English midlands, canal tunnels in the north country, the Gota Canal in Sweden; St. Katherine Docks in London and roads that opened up the Scottish Highlands. If any Britain made a difference to countless generations, it surely was Thomas Telford. His work in improving highways and bridges, canals and road made much of the Industrial Revolution possible, for they provided means of transporting, men, machinery, raw materials and finished goods.

Thomas Chippendale 1718 - 1779 Designer and Cabinet Maker


Thomas Chippendale is one of my favourite furniture designers who was a London cabinet maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo and Neoclassical styles. In 1754 he published a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. The designs are regarded as establishing the fashion for furniture for that period and were used by many other cabinet makers.


The Chippendale family had long been in the wood working trades and so he probably received his basic training from his father, though it is believed that he also was trained by Richard Wood in York, before he moved to London. Wood later ordered eight copies of the Director. On 19 May 1748 he married Catherine Redshaw at St George's Chapel, Mayfair and during there marriage they had five boys and four girls alas his wife, Catherine, died in 1772.


In 1754 he went into partnership with James Rannie, a wealthy Scottish merchant, who put money into the business at the same time as Chippendale brought out the first edition of the Director.


After James Rannie died in 1766, Thomas Haig seems to have borrowed £2,000 from his Rannie's widow, which he used to become Chippendale’s partner. One of Rannie's executors, Henry Ferguson, became a third partner and so the business became Chippendale, Haig and Co. Thomas Chippendale (Junior) took over the business in 1776 allowing his father to retire. He moved to what was then called Lob's Fields (now known as Derry Street) in Kensington. Chippendale married Elizabeth Davis at Fulham Parish Church on 5 August 1777. He fathered three more children.


Chippendale was much more than just a cabinet maker, he was an interior designer who advised on soft furnishings and even the colour a room should be painted. Chippendale often took on large-scale commissions from aristocratic clients. Twenty-six of these commissions have been identified. Here furniture by Chippendale can still be identified, The locations include:

  • Blair Castle, Perthshire, for the Duke of Atholl (1758);
  • Wilton House, for Henry, 10th Earl of Pembroke (c 1759-1773);
  • Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, for Sir Roland Winn, Bt (1766–85);
  • Mersham Le Hatch, Kent, for Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt (1767–79);
  • David Garrick both in town and at his villa at Hampton, Middlesex;
  • Normanton Park, Rutland and other houses for Sir Gilbert Heathcote Bt (1768–78) that included the management of a funeral for Lady Bridget Heathcote, 1772;
  • Harewood House, Yorkshire, for Edwin Lascelles (1767–78);
  • Newby Hall, Yorkshire, for William Weddell (c 1772-76);
  • Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, for Lord Irwin (1774);
  • Paxton House, Berwickshire, Scotland, for Ninian Home (1774–91);
  • Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire for William Constable (1768–79);
  • Petworth House, Sussex and other houses for George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1777–79).


He also collaborated in furnishing interiors designed by Robert Adam and at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, and Melbourne House, London, for Lord Melbourne, with Sir William Chambers (c. 1772-75).

His Director was used by many other cabinet makers. Consequently recognisably "Chippendale" furniture was produced in Dublin, Philadelphia, Lisbon, Copenhagen and Hamburg. Catherine the Great and Louis XVI both possessed copies of the Director in its French edition.


The Director shows four main styles: English with deep carving, elaborate French rococo in the style of Louis XV furniture, Chinese style with latticework and lacquer, and Gothic with pointed arches, quatrefoils and fret-worked legs. His favourite wood was mahogany; in seat furniture he always used solid wood rather than veneers.


His workshop was continued by his son, Thomas Chippendale, the younger (1749–1822), who worked in the later Neoclassical and Regency styles, "the rather slick delicacy of Adam's final phase", as Christopher Gilbert assessed it.[5] A bankruptcy and sale of remaining stock in the St. Martin's Lane premises in 1804 did not conclude the firm's latest phase, as the younger Chippendale supplied furniture to Sir Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead until 1820 (Edwards and Jourdain 1955: 88).


His designs became very popular again during the middle to late 19th century, leading to

widespread adoption of his name in revivals of his style. Many of these later designs that attach his name bear little relationship to his original concepts.

In 1779 Chippendale moved to Hoxton where he died of Tuberculosis and was buried at St. Martin-In-The-Fields on 13th November 1779.


There is a Statue and memorial plaque dedicated to Chippendale outside his old school,

the Old Prince Henry's Grammer School in Manor Square, in his home town of Otley near Leeds, Yorkshire. There is a full-size sculpted figure of Thomas Chippendale on the façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


The Great and Good of Britain Buried at Westminster Abbey


One of England's most famous burial sites is at Westminster Abbey where the Famous and Good of Britain are buried. I thought as a fan of history I would list all those buried at Westminster Abbey through the ages. Virtually every royal burial for the nearly 500 years between the deaths of Henry III in 1272 and George II in 1760 took place in Westminster Abbey. The two notable exceptions were Henry VIII and Charles I, both of whom were buried at Windsor Castle. (All monarchs from George III onwards have since been interred at Windsor.)


The Abbey is also the final resting-place for the great and the good of the nation. Many of Britain’s most celebrated statesmen, scientists, writers and composers are buried here, while others among the notability – such as Shakespeare and Churchill – have memorials in the Abbey, even though their remains lie elsewhere.

This is a selection of the names you might look out for on a visit to the Abbey, and where to find them:


The Nave

  • Clement Attlee (1883-1967) – Labour prime minister 1945-51, whose government oversaw the creation of the National Health Service and the disengagement from India.
  • Charles Darwin (1809-82) – naturalist, proponent of evolution, author of The Origin Of Species.
  • Ben Jonson (1572-1637) – dramatist, actor and Poet Laureate.
  • David Livingstone (1813-73) – explorer and medical missionary.
  • Isaac Newton (1643-1727) – physicist and mathematician.
  • Robert Stephenson (1803-59) – civil engineer, designer of railway bridges.


The North Transept

Buried here are three more of the great prime ministers:

  • William Pitt the Elder (1708-78).
  • His son, William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806).
  • William Gladstone (1809-98).


The South Transept

Here you'll find the famous Poets’ Corner, final home of…

  • Novelist Charles Dickens (1812-70), composer, George Handel (1685-1759), actor, Laurence Olivier (1907-89), poets Robert Browning (1812-89), Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400), John Dryden (1631-1700), Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Samuel Johnson (1709-84), Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), Edmund Spenser (1552-99) and Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-92).


North Choir Aisle

Appropriately enough, two composers are buried here:

  • Henry Purcell (1659-95).
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).


Henry VII's Chapel


  • Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
  • Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87)
  • Here lies the father of the modern postal system, Rowland Hill (1795-1879).

Gone but not forgotten

  • Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was originally buried in the Abbey, but his remains were exhumed on the orders of Charles II in 1661, and subjected to a posthumous hanging at Tyburn.
  • Admiral Robert Blake (1599-1657), parliamentarian and naval commander during Cromwell’s Commonwealth, was buried in the Abbey too, but was also exhumed after the Restoration.

Below is the A to Z of Famous Icons buried at Westminster Abbey:



  • Joseph Addison
  • Anne of Cleves
  • Clement Attlee


  • Aphra Behn
  • Lady Frances Brandon


  • Caroline of Ansbach
  • Charles Darwin
  • Geoffrey Chaucer



  • Charles Dickens


  • Edward the Confessor
  • Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany


  • Thomas Hardy


  • Samuel Johnson
  • Ben Johnson


  • Rudyard Kipling


  • Isaac Newton
  • Anne Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk


  • Laurence Olivier


  • Henry Purcell


  • The Unknown Warrior


Dr. John Snow 1813 to 1858 who found the Source of Cholera


Dr. John Snow was born 15th March 1813 in York, England and is one of the greatest epidemiologist who famously traced the source of a Cholera outbreak in Soho, England in 1854. He was an English physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene. He is considered to be one of the fathers of epidemiology. He was the first of nine children born to William and Frances Snow in their North Street home. His neighbourhood was one of the poorest in the city and was always in danger of flooding because of its proximity to the River Ouse.


His father worked in the local coal yards, which were constantly replenished from the Yorkshire coalfields through the barges on the Ouse. Dr. Snow was baptised at the Anglican church of All Saints, North Street..


Snow studied in York until the age of 14, when he was apprenticed to William Hardcastle, a surgeon in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and physician to George Stephenson and family. William Hardcastle was a friend of Snow's uncle, Charles Empson who was both a witness to Hardcastle's marriage and executor of his will. Charles Empson also went to school with Robert Stephenson and it was probably through these connections that Snow acquired his apprenticeship so far from his home town of York. Snow later worked as a colliery surgeon.


Between 1833 and 1836 he was an assistant in practice, first in Burnopfield, County Durham and then in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire. In October 1836 he enrolled as a student at the Hunterian school of medicine in Great Windmill Street, London. A year later, he began working at the Westminster hospital and was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on 2 May 1838. He graduated from the University of London in December 1844, and was admitted to the Royal College of Physicians in 1850.


Snow was a skeptic of the then dominant miasma theory that stated that diseases such as cholera or the Black Death were caused by pollution or a noxious form of "bad air". The germ theory was not to be created until 1861, so he was unaware of the mechanism by which the disease was transmitted, but evidence led him to believe that it was not due to breathing foul air. He first publicized his theory in an essay On the Mode of Communication of Cholera in 1849. Contrary to what is often still written he was not awarded 30000 French francs for this work by the Institute de Franc. In 1855 a second edition was published, with a much more elaborate investigation of the effect of the water-supply in Soho, London epidemic of 1854.


By talking to local residents (with the help of Reverend Henry Whitehead), he identified the source of the outbreak as the public water pump on Broad Street (now Broadwick Street). Although Snow's chemical and microscope examination of a sample of the Broad street pump water was not able to conclusively prove its danger, his studies of the pattern of the disease were convincing enough to persuade the local council to disable the well pump by removing its handle. Although this action has been commonly reported as ending the outbreak, the epidemic may have already been in rapid decline, as explained by Snow himself:


There is no doubt that the mortality was much diminished, as I said before, by the flight of the population, which commenced soon after the outbreak; but the attacks had so far diminished before the use of the water was stopped, that it is impossible to decide whether the well still contained the cholera poison in an active state, or whether, from some cause, the water had become free from it.


Snow later used a spot map to illustrate how cases of cholera clustered around the pump. He also made a solid use of statistics to illustrate the connection between the quality of the source of water and cholera cases. He showed that the Southwark and Vauxhall Waterworks Company was taking water from sewage-polluted sections of the Thames and delivering the water to homes with an increased incidence of cholera. Snow's study was a major event in the history of public health and geography and can be regarded as the founding event of the science of epidemiology.


In Snow's own words:

On proceeding to the spot, I found that nearly all the deaths had taken place within a short distance of the [Broad Street] pump. There were only ten deaths in houses situated decidedly nearer to another street-pump. In five of these cases the families of the deceased persons informed me that they always sent to the pump in Broad Street, as they preferred the water to that of the pumps which were nearer. In three other cases, the deceased were children who went to school near the pump in Broad Street...

With regard to the deaths occurring in the locality belonging to the pump, there were 61 instances in which I was informed that the deceased persons used to drink the pump water from Broad Street, either constantly or occasionally...


The result of the inquiry, then, is, that there has been no particular outbreak or prevalence of cholera in this part of London except among the persons who were in the habit of drinking the water of the above-mentioned pump well.


I had an interview with the Board of Guardians of St James's parish, on the evening of the 7th inst [Sept 7], and represented the above circumstances to them. In consequence of what I said, the handle of the pump was removed on the following day.


—John Snow letter to the editor of the Medical Times and Gazette

It was discovered later that this public well had been dug only three feet from an old cesspit that had begun to leak fecal bacteria. A baby who had contracted cholera from another source had its nappies washed into this cesspit, the opening of which was under a nearby house that had been rebuilt farther away after a fire had destroyed the previous structure, and the street was widened by the city. It was common at the time to have a cesspit under most homes. Most families tried to have their raw sewage collected and dumped in the Thames to prevent their cesspit from filling faster than the sewage could decompose into the soil.


There is a plaque commemorating Snow and his 1854 study in the place of the water pump on Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) with a water pump with its handle removed, near what is now "The John Snow" public house which is rather ironic, given that Snow was a teetotaller for the majority of his life. The spot where the pump stood is covered with red granite.

In York, there is a blue plaque to Snow on the west end of the Park Inn, a hotel in North Street.

John Snow was voted in a poll of British doctors in 2003 as the greatest physician of all time.

Snow gives his name to John Snow College, founded in 2001 on the University of Durham's Queen's Campus in Stockton-on-Tees.

Snow is one of the heraldic supporters of the Royal College of Anaesthetists.

The public health consulting firm John Snow Inc. is named after him.

At the age of 45, Snow suffered a stroke while working in his London office on 10 June 1858. He never recovered, dying on 16 June 1858 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.


Samuel Johnson 1709 to 1784 an English icon


Samuel Johnson is one of my favourite English Icons who changed the way way we English looked at ourselves and is often referred to as Dr Johnson. He was a British author who made lasting contributions to English Literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of "the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature": James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson.


Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire on 18th September 1709 and attended Pembroke College, Oxford for just over a year, before his lack of funds forced him to leave. After working as a teacher he moved to London, where he began to write miscellaneous pieces for The Gentleman's Magazine. His early works include the biography The Life of Richard Savage the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes and the play Irene.


After nine years of work, Johnson's Dictionary of The English Language was published in 1755; it had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship." The Dictionary brought Johnson popularity and success. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson's was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary. His later works included essays, an influential annotated edition of William Shakespeare's Plays and the widely read tale Rasselas.

In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson described their travels in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the most Eminent English poets, a collection of biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets.

Johnson had a tall and robust figure, but his odd gestures and tics were confusing to some on their first encounter with him. Boswell's Life, along with other biographies documented Johnson's behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome (TS), a condition not defined or diagnosed in the 18th century.

After a series of illnesses he died on the evening of 13th December 1784, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In the years following his death, Johnson began to be recognised as having had a lasting effect on literary criticism, and even as the only great critic of English literature.

Inventor of the Pea Whistle by Englishman Joseph Hudson ( 1848-1930 )

As a fan of most sports I thought I would write about how the first referee's Pea Whistle was invented and by whom. Way back in the 1860s, Joseph Hudson, who was originally a Farm Worker from Derbyshire who moved to Birmingham during the Industrial Revolution. He later trained as a toolmaker and converted his humble wash room at St. Marks Square, Birmingham which he rented for 1s. 6d. (one shilling and six pence per week) into a workshop where he could supplement the family income by watch repairing and to cobbling shoes


Joseph Hudson was well known as an inventor in Birmingham, England during the late 19th century and the founder of J Hudson & Co. in 1870 later to become the world largest whistle manufacturer.


He entered a competition held by the Metropolitan police force in London in 1883 to design a better way of attracting people's attention. He won a contract to supply the police with their new devices, a small but loud 'Whistle'.


Prior to this time the police force had to rely on hand rattles and whistles were only thought of as musical instruments or toys, his whistle is still used by the force and many others world side.


He later invented the first referee whistle for footballl matches, prior to this handkerchiefs were used at games. Hudson also invented the 'Acme Thunderer' (first ever pea whistle) which has been, and remains, the most used whistle in the world, from train guards to dog handlers, party goers to police officers.


Joseph Hudson set up his whistle factory in Birmingham, England in 1870. Around 1878, his ACME Whistles were the first to replace the handkerchiefs and sticks of football referees.


In 1883 the Home Secretary invited competition from companies to replace the hand rattle that the London Metropolitan Police of the time relied on. Joseph Hudson, basing a new whistle on the sound he had heard when a violin broke from a fall, was awarded the contract for over 7,000 whistles. During testing on Clapham Common, the sound of the whistle was heard over a mile away.


In 1884, the company continued their whistle revolution, inventing the first reliable pea-whistle, the ACME Thunderer which is still the most popular whistle today and has sold in the hundreds of millions. Today Acme whistles are recognized as some of the finest whistles manufactured in the world today.

History of English Music Hall and Variety Theatre


As a child my first memory of visiting a theatre was at the Kings Theatre, Southsea in 1969 to see a Christmas Pantomine called Puss N' Boots. This opened up a whole new world and since, I have been to the theatre many times. One of the best shows I have seen was in London's West end to see a Musical play about Sir Winston Churchill. The Special effects and drama was brilliant and Robert Hardy who played Winnie was excellent.


Music hall and Variety Theatre was popular entertainment that featured successive acts by singers, comedians, dancers, and actors. The form derived from the taproom concerts given in city taverns in England in the 18th–19th centuries.

To meet the demand for entertainment for the working class, tavern owners often annexed nearby buildings as music halls, where drinking and smoking were permitted. The originator of the English music hall as such was Charles Morton, who built Morton's Canterbury Hall (1852) and Oxford Hall (1861) in London. Leading performers included Lillie Langtry, Harry Lauder (1870–1950), and Gracie Fields. Music halls evolved into larger, more respectable variety theatres, such as London's Hippodrome and the Coliseum. Variety acts combined music, comedy acts, and one-act plays and featured celebrities such as Sarah Bernhardt and Herbert Tree.

Before Music Hall was given its name, similar types of entertainment would have been going on for many centuries. In essence, Music Hall brought together a variety of different acts which together formed an evening of light hearted entertainment.

The origins of Music Hall are found in a number of institutions which provided entertainment in the populous towns and cities of Britain in the 1830s. These were:

- The backroom of the pub, where simple sing-songs gave way to the singing saloon concert.
- Popular theatre, sometimes in pub saloons but mainly at travelling fairs.
- Song & Supper Rooms, where more affluent middle class men would enjoy a night out on the town.
- The Pleasure Gardens, where entertainment became more low brow as the years passed.

By the 1850s, the tavern landlords had moved the entertainment function of pubs into purpose built halls; these new premises still retaining the traditional ambience of the inn. The format of the evening was unchanged: a chairman would introduce song and dance acts onto a simple stage, whilst trying to keep order with a gavel. In all cases, eating, drinking and smoking continued throughout the performances.

The audience, often exuberant with alcohol, both heckled and joined in with their favourite songs and performers.The growth of the Halls was rapid and spread across Britain with the first great boom in the 1860s, so that by 1870, 31 large halls were listed in London and 384 in the rest of the country. This growth was not only in the number of halls, but also in the amenities and catering facilities. In addition, performers now became a professional workforce, appearing in London at several Halls each night and making frequent provincial tours.

At its peak, music hall was the television of its day. Its stars were enormously popular in a way it is hard to believe nowadays. They had their songs specially written for them, and permission would have to be sought if other performers wanted to sing them in public.

After consolidation during the 1870s, music hall then started another period of expansion. The London Pavilion was restyled in 1885 and incorporated much from traditional theatre's ideas of house and stage design. This lead to the era of the de-luxe hall or Variety theatre. Now there was fixed seating in the stalls and the performer was more distant from the audience. With the increase in costs from the introduction of safety regulations and the inflation of the star's fees, the music hall industry began to combine into a number of Syndicates. A number of nationwide chains such as Moss, Stoll and Thornton with their "Empires" and "Palaces" started to dominate the business.

Changes to licensing laws made a music and dancing licence a requirement. This allowed moral and social reformers the opportunity to challenge the style and operation of the halls; most notable in this respect was Mrs Ormiston Chant who campaigned against lax morals in the Empire, Leicester Square. Later, there was the prohibition of drink in all new halls such that by 1909, of the 29 halls belonging to Stoll, only 8 held a drinks licence.

With just a few proprietors controlling the majority of the halls, the owners attempted to extract the maximum work for minimum pay from the performers. This lead to the formation of the Variety Artists' Federation, which in 1907 organised the first music hall strike. In 1912, music hall gained a level of respectability with the first Royal Command Performance.

The London County Council, after a series of fires in theatres and music halls finally banned eating and drinking in the auditorium in 1914. From that time, the music halls simply had to be run on the same lines as theatres. After this, music hall became known by its earlier name of Variety and, with the coming of cinema and later radio, became extinct by the time of World War II.

As far as sound recording goes, a convenient watershed is the year 1925 when the electrical recording process was first commercially introduced, making obsolete the previous mechanical "acoustic" recordings. In W. Macqueen-Pope's book The Melody lingers on he attempts to give the difference between Music Hall and Variety. "Music Hall", he states, "was Variety (although Variety is not Music Hall)." This shows the difficulty of any definition, although one can understand what he means. On this site, we have used the term "Variety" for recordings made after 1925, and Music Hall where Artists bridged both methods of recording.

Although generally regarded as a particularly British institution,one other countriy namely  the USA, also have a music hall tradition. In America vaudeville developed on parallel lines to music hall in Britain.

Attempts have been made at revival in Britain on British television in the 1960's to 1970's with "The Good Old Days" which has been something of a pastiche. Unfortunately, sound recording came too late for most of very first generation of artists, for example George Leybourne. However, at the turn of the 19th/20th century a number of survivors such as Dan Leno, as well as younger artists, started to make recordings. Initially these were very expensive (typically you could buy twelve of the best seats in the house for the price of one record), but with time, prices fell and these records eventually became more affordable by typical music hall clientele.

Over the first three decades of the 20th century many artists committed their songs and performance to record, and these can still be heard and enjoyed today.

Music hall and variety died in the mid fifties with the arrival of Rock n Roll which attracted the youth of Britain. The previous clientele were the mums and dads which lost the habit of going to Music Hall and Variety shows and by the time of the 1960's the end was nigh.

In the modern era the West End in London is the theatre centre of the world and has become a mixture of acting greats from the Movie World and Theatreland. In 1994 Shakespeare's The Globe Theatre was rebuilt and is now one of the most popular theatres in London.

History of English Theatres


As a child my first memory of visiting a theatre was at the Kings Theatre, Southsea in 1969 to see a Christmas Pantomine called Puss N' Boots. This opened up a whole new world and since, I have been to the theatre many times. One of the best shows I have seen was in London's West end to see a Musical play about Sir Winston Churchill. The Special effects and drama was brilliant and Robert Hardy who played Winnie was excellent.


Several hundred years after the Romans left England, towns re-emerged. The Church dominated religion, education and often politics. Theatre was reborn as liturgical dramas performed by priests or church members.


Then came vernacular drama spoken in the vulgar tongues (i.e the language of the people as opposed to Church Latin); this was a more elaborate series of one-act dramas enacted in town squares or other parts of the city. There were three types of vernacular dramas. Mystery or cycle plays, like the York Mystery Plays or Wakefield Cycle were series of short dramas based on the Old Testament and New Testament organized into historical cycles. Miracle plays dealt with the lives of saints. Morality plays taught a lesson through allegorical characters representing virtues or faults. Secular plays in this period existed, but medieval religious drama is most remembered today.


Plays were set up in individual scenic units called mansions or in wagon stages which were platforms mounted on wheels used to move scenery. Often providing their own costumes, amateur performers in England were only men, but other countries had female performers. The platform stage allowed for abrupt changes in location which was an unidentified space and not a specific locale.


Among the more notable religious plays were "The Summoning of Everyman" (an allegory designed to teach the faithful that acts of Christian charity are necessary for entry into heaven), passion plays (such as the later Oberammergau Passion Play, which is still performed every ten years), and the great cycle plays (massive, festive wagon-mounted processions involving hundreds of actors, and drawing pilgrims, tourists, and entrepreneurs) York Corpus Christi Play Simulator. The morality play and mystery play (as they are known in English) were two distinct genres.


Since many of the more theatrically successful medieval religious plays were designed to teach Catholic doctrine, the Protestant Reformation targeted the English Renaissance theatre, in an effort to stamp out allegiance to Rome.


During the 1580's a group of men formed a group called "The University Wits." These were men who were interested in writing for the public stage. The "wits" included Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, and Robert Greene.


Thomas Kyd wrote The Spanish Tragedy, the most popular play of the 16th century. He constructed a well-planned plot which made for a very interesting play. The Cambridge-educated Christopher Marlowe was important in the development of chronicle plays such as Edward II. He also wrote the well-known play Doctor Faustus.


John Lyly was another member of the University Wits who wrote primarily pastoral comedies in which he used mythology along with English subjects. Campaspe, Endimion, and Love's Metamorphosis are just a few examples of Lyly's work.


Yet another University Wit, Robert Greene, wrote pastoral and romantic comedies. Greene took many different aspects and pieces and combined them into a single play. Two of his adventurous works are Friar Bacon & Friar Bungay and James IV.

The man known as the greatest dramatist of all time is William Shakespeare.


Shakespeare was involved in all aspects of theatre, more than any other writer of his day. Shakespeare is said to have written 38 plays--histories, tragedies, and comedies-- including Comedy of Errors, Taming of the Shrew, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth. No writer has been more effective and powerful with the use of the language as Shakespeare. Emotions, pride, attitudes are all incorporated into Shakespeare's dramatic situation. He was effective and at the same time sensitive to needs of his audiences and actors. Although well-known during his life, Shakespeare's popularity didn't flower until after his death.


Ben Jonson was also a popular playwright in England, who some scholars consider the finest Elizabethan playwright (after Shakespeare, of course). In an effort to combat the dramatic excesses of his English contemporaries, Jonson addressed classical principles and sought to bring back the practices of the ancients in his own plays. Two of Jonson's 28 plays are The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair. He was awarded the title of England's poet laureate in 1616.


After 1610, changes started to occur in English drama . There was an increase in technical skill, playwrights handled exposition better, they began to compress action to fewer episodes, and they built startling climaxes to surprise audiences. With these changes came a new breed of playwrights who created a drama more focused on thrilling and exciting subject matter than complex characterization or tragic emotion.


John Fletcher was one of these new playwrights who became very successful writing jointly with Francis Beaumont. Together they wrote about 50 plays including The Maid's Tragedy, Philasta, and A King and No King. Fletcher also wrote plays on his own after Beaumont retired. A Wife for a Month and The Scornful Lady are two of his most famous solo works. Interestingly enough, during the Restoration, Fletcher's plays were performed more frequently than Shakespeare's or Jonson's.


Thomas Middleton, Philip Mossinger, John Webster, John Ford, and James Shirley were also strong dramatists who helped shape and encourage theatre during this time. With Mossinger's A Way to Pay Old Debts, Webster's The White Devil, Ford's The Broken Heart and Shirley's The Cardinal, these men became well-known playwrights who made a great impression on the world of theatre.


Whereas most churches carefully watched over the scripts of their dogmatic plays, in order to ensure that the faithful were being taught the accepted doctrine, by the end of the 16th century Queen Elizabeth I was controlling the stage just as effectively through a system of patronage, licensing, and censorship. Hamlet's reference to a frenetic performance that "out-Herods Herod" refers to the tradition of presenting King Herod as a bombastic figure, suggesting that Shakespeare expected his audience to be familiar with this particular medieval tradition, long after the religious landscape in England had changed.

Puritan opposition to the stage – informed by the arguments of the early Church Fathers who had written screeds against the decadent and violent entertainments of the Romans – argued not only that the stage in general was pagan, but that any play that represented a religious figure was inherently idolatrous. In 1642, at the outbreak of the English Civil War the Protestant authorities banned the performance of all plays within the city limits of London. A sweeping assault against the alleged immoralities of the theatre crushed whatever remained in England of the dramatic tradition.


In the modern era the West End in London is the theatre centre of the world and has become a mixture of acting greats from the Movie World and Theatreland. In 1994 Shakespeare's The Globe Theatre was rebuilt and is now one of the most popular theatres in London.

The Union Jack – Iconic British Flag

The Union Jack is one of Britain's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide. I thought it would be interesting to write the history of this famous icon from its early beginnings.

When King James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne, thereby becoming James I of England, the national flags of England and Scotland on land continued to be, respectively, the red St George's cross and the white St Andrew's cross. Confusion arose, however, as to what flag would be appropriate at sea. On 12 April 1606 a proclamation was issued:

"By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Kingdome of Great Britaine ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Cross commonly called St. George's Crosse and the White Crosse commonly called St. Andrew's Crosse joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed. – 1606."

This is the first known reference to the Union Flag. Although the original design referred to has been lost, it is presumed that it was the flag which, with the addition of the St. Patrick's cross, It forms the basic design of the British Union Flag today. It is also interesting to note that the new flag was not universally popular nor accepted. The English were not overly pleased at the obscuring of the white field of the St George's flag. The Scots, with more justification, were upset at the fact that the red cross was laid over the white. The Scots proposed a number of alternative designs.

While the flag appears symmetric, the white lines above and below the diagonal red are different widths. On the side closest to the flagpole (or on the left when depicted on paper), the white lines above the diagonals are wider; on the side furthest from the flagpole (or on the right when depicted on paper), the converse is true. Thus, rotating the flag 180 degrees will have no change, but if mirrored the flag will be upside-down.

Placing the flag upside down is considered jese majeste and is offensive to some, However, it can be flown upside down as a distress signal. While this is rare, it was used by groups under siege during the Boer War and during campaigns in India in the late18th    century.

The Union Flag is flown from Government buildings at half-mast in the following situations:

·       from the announcement of the death of the Sovereign (an exception is made for Proclamation Day – the day the new Sovereign is proclaimed, when the Flag is flown at full staff from 11 am to sunset)

·       the day of the funeral of a member of the British Royal Family

·       the funeral of a foreign ruler

·       the funeral of a current or former Prime Minister

The Sovereign sometimes declares other days when the Union Flag is to fly at half-mast. Half-mast means the flag is flown two-thirds of the way up the flagpole with at least the height of the flag between the top of the flag and the top of the flagpole.

Individuals, companies, local authorities, hospitals, and schools are free to fly the flag whenever they choose. Planning permission is not required to fly the Union Flag from a flagpole.

The Union Flag can be flown by any individual or organisation in England, Scotland or Wales on any day of their choice. Legal regulations restrict the use of the Union Flag on Government buildings in Northern ireland. Long-standing restrictions on Government use of the flag elsewhere were abolished in July 2007.

History of The Passport – England 1414 AD

As the passport is such an integral part of travelling the world I thought I would tell the history of the earliest passport from England in 1414 AD.

In England, the earliest surviving reference to a "safe conduct" document appears during the reign of Henry V, in an Act of Parliament dated 1414. At that time, documents like these could be issued by the king to anyone, whether they were English or not. Foreign nationals even got theirs free of charge, while English subjects had to pay. Needless to say, the monarch did not - and still does not - need a safe conduct document.

From 1540, the granting of travelling papers became the business of the Privy Council. By this point the term "passport" was being used, although whether it originated with the idea of people passing through maritime ports or through the gates in city walls ("portes" in French) remains a matter for debate. A passport from this period, issued on June 18 1641 and signed by Charles I, still exists. From 1794, the office of the secretary of state took control of issuing passports, a function that the Home Office retains today. Records remain of every British passport granted from this time, although they continued to be available to foreign nationals and were written in French until 1858, when the passport first acquired its role as a British identity document. Nevertheless, passports were not generally required for international travel until the first world war.

It was in the early 20th century that passports as we would recognise them today began to be used. The first modern British passport, the product of the British Nationality and Status Aliens Act 1914, consisted of a single page, folded into eight and held together with a cardboard cover. It was valid for two years and, as well as a photograph and signature, featured a personal description, including details such as "shape of face", "complexion" and "features". The entry on this last category might read something like: "Forehead: broad. Nose: large. Eyes: small." Remarkably, some travellers claimed to find this dehumanising. Following an agreement among the League of Nations to standardise passports, the famous "old blue" was issued in 1920. Apart from a few adjustments to its duration and security features, the old blue remained a steady symbol of the touring Briton until it gradually began to be replaced by the burgundy-coloured European version in 1988.

The passports of other countries are, on the whole, remarkably similar to Britain's, although some do have their quirks. The new Nicaraguan passport, for instance, boasts 89 separate security features, including "bi dimensional bar codes", holograms and watermarks, and is reputed to be one of the least forgeable documents in the world. The Israeli passport, through no flaw in its design, must be one of the most useless, as it is not accepted by 23 different Muslim countries, nor by Cuba or North Korea. The Vatican, incidentally, has no immigration controls, but it does issue passports. The Pope, among his other honours, always carries "Passport No 1".

The passports of the future will feature embedded microchips and biometric data, such as photographs, fingerprints and iris patterns. Malaysia was the first country to introduce this technology, and Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, the UK, the US, Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Poland, among others, have recently followed.

English Passport History Timeline

Date        Event

1414        A reference is made to 'Safe Conducts' (the earliest passports) in an Act of Parliament during the reign of King Henry V.

1450        The Privy Council Register begins, leaving us a record of Privy Council business. According to the Register, this includes granting passports.

1641        A passport from this date still exists. It was issued on 18 June and signed by King Charles I.

1644 -1649      References in the Commons Journal show that both the House of Commons and the House of Lords grants passes to foreign and British subjects during these years.

1772        Until this date, passports were written in Latin or English. From this date onwards they are written in French (but see 1858).

1794        From this date, all passports are issued by the Secretary of State and their issue is recorded. (Before this date some passports were issued and signed by the king or queen.)

1858        From this date, passports are restricted to United Kingdom nationals. (Before this date a 'passport' could be issued to a person of any nationality as a promise of 'safe conduct' from the King or Queen.) Passports start to be written in English again from this date, having been written in French since 1772.

1914        Start of the First World War. By this point, British passports are printed on paper and contain a photograph of the passport holder. The British Nationality and Status Aliens Act is passed. Around the world, countries start issuing passports as a way of distinguishing their citizens from others they think of as 'foreign nationals'.

1915        The first modern UK passport is issued. It is a folded one-page document valid for two years.

1918        End of the First World War.

1920        The League of Nations International Conference on Passports agrees on a new book format for passports.

1954        UK passports no longer show the name of the Secretary of State.

1961        The British Visitor's passport is introduced. It is available from Crown Post Offices and can be used for visiting western Europe.

1968        The first 10-year UK passports are issued.

1972        Passports are changed slightly, for example, the paper used now has a special watermark for security.

1973        A 94-page passport is introduced for frequent travellers.

1975        Passport photographs are now laminated for security - it is harder to change the photograph.

1981        An overprint is added to the laminate to further increase security.

1984        Occupation and country of residence details are no longer included on passports.

1988        'Family' or 'joint' passports are no longer issued.
The first burgundy-coloured machine-readable UK passports are issued. A common format is introduced for European Community member states' passports.

1995        The British Visitor's passport is discontinued.

1997        The first UK passports with references to the European Union are issued.

1998        New security measures include the use of a digital facial image rather than a laminated photograph and intaglio or raised printing on the inside on the front and back covers is introduced. Children under 16 can no longer be included on new adult passports but must have a separate child passport.

2006        26 October: Passports featuring electronic chip and antenna introduced.

2010        October: New passport design includes strengthened security features and iconic images from across the nation.


Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) Pioneer of Umbrella

He was the founder of the Magdalen Hospital and has the credit of being the first man who ventured to dare public reproach and ridicule by carrying an umbrella habitually in London. As he died in 1786, and he is said to have carried an umbrella for thirty years, the date of its first use by him may be set down at about 1750.

While still a child, his father, a victualler, died, and the family moved to London. In 1729 Jonas was apprenticed to a merchant in Lisbon. In 1 743, after he had been some time in business for himself in London, he became a partner with Mr Dingley, a merchant in St Petersburg, and in this way was led to travel in Russia and Persia. Leaving St Petersburg on the 10th of September 1743, and passing south by Moscow, Tsarist and Astrakhan, he embarked on the Caspian on the 22nd of November, and arrived at Astrabad on the 18th of December. He was the first Londoner, it is said, to carry an umbrella and he lived to triumph over all the hackney coachmen who tried to hoot and hustle him down.

English Toby Jugs – History

I have created this article about Toby Jugs as they are an English icon.

A Toby Jug - also sometimes known as a Fillpot (or Phillpot) - is a pottery jug in the form of a seated person, or the head of a recognizable person (often an English king). Typically the seated figure is a heavily-set, jovial man holding a mug of beer in one hand and a pipe of tobacco in the other and wearing 18th century attire: a long coat and a tricorn hat. The tricorn hat forms a pouring spout, often with a removable lid, and a handle is attached at the rear. Jugs depicting just the head and shoulders of a figure are also referred to as Toby Jugs, although these should strictly be called "Character Jugs".

The original Toby Jug was produced by Ralph Wood in about 1761. Many other Toby Jug's were produced with a brown salt glaze, which was developed and popularised by the various members of the Wood Family and other Staffordshire potters in the 1770s. Similar designs were also produced by other potteries around England and eventually in other countries from around the 1800's.

The typical toby is a comic depiction of a short fat fellow, comfortably seated, with a jug on his knee and wearing a three-cornered hat . Sometimes he has a pipe as well as a jug, and sometimes his faithful dog is crouched at his feet. Ralph Wood Toby Jugs were of this sort, but he also produced his "Thin Man," "Gin Woman," "King Hal," and the "Hearty Good Fellow," the latter a smiling urbane figure with jug and pipe. Ralph's cousin, Enoch Wood, also made toby jugs, such as "Night Watchman," and a standing representation of Benjamin Franklin taking a pinch of snuff.

The Toby Jug was named after a notorious 18th century Yorkshire drinker, Henry Elwes, who was known as "Toby Fillpot" (or Phillpot). It was inspired by an old English drinking song, "The Brown Jug", which paid tribute to Toby Fillpot; the popular verses were first published in 1761.

Toby Jugs have many collectors Worldwide. They were brought back by Royal Doulton in the 19th century, who developed the idea into a range of character jugs. Today, their popularity shows no signs of declining and they have held their value at auction sales. Their appeal is wide reaching because Royal Doulton jugs are quite different both in their craftsmanship and their subject matter.

Royal Doulton have made Toby jugs in the traditional manner since 1815 but in the 1920's Harry Simeon added colour. This inspired Charles Noke, a Royal Doulton artist to rethink the Toby jug tradition. He pictured a more colorful and stylish jug based on the head and shoulders of a character rather than the full figure. He had in mind characters from English song, literature, history and legend, made to appeal to future generations. It took him almost ten years to be satisfied with the standards of design and production, but in 1934 the first character jug was launched. He chose as his subject John Barleycorn, a figure symbolizing whisky. John Barleycorn became such an instant success that Old Charley, the Night Watchman, Sairey Gamp, Parson Brown and Dick Turpin was added to the jug making. Two years later the first character jug modeled on a real person was made with Herry Fenton's John Peel, a trend which has continued to the present day.

The First Powered Passenger Car and Bus – England 1801

As an Englishman born and bred and a fan of history of steam buses I thought it may be of interest to write an article about the English history of the earliest steam Cars and Busses.

On Christmas Eve 1801 in West Cornwal (UK) an engineer called Richard Trevithick took his new steam car, ( or the "Puffing Devil" as it became known) out for its first test run. After a number of years research, Trevithick had developed a high-pressure engine powered by steam. His vehicle was no more than a boiler on 4-wheels but it took Trevithick and a number of his friends half a mile up a hill. The vehicle's principle feature was a cylindrical horizontal boiler and a single horizontal cylinder let into it. The piston propelled back and forth in the cylinder by pressure from the steam. This was linked by piston rod and connecting rod to a crankshaft bearing a large flywheel.

The vehicle was used for several journeys until it turned over on the unsuitable trails that were used for pack horses in Cornwall at that time. After having been righted, Trevithick and crew drove it back to Camborne and retired to a hostelry.

The water level dropped in the boiler and the fusible plug melted, sending a jet of steam into the furnace where it blew embers all around, setting fire to the surroundings and the wooden parts of the engine.

In 1802 a steam-powered coach designed by British engineer Richard Trevithick journeyed more than 160 km from Cornwall to London.

The "Puffing Dragon" was the world's first passenger car. Despite the disaster of losing his first vehicle, undeterred, Trevithick built a 3-wheeled steam carriage but this time complete with seats and a real carriage like appearance. In 1803, he drove it through London's Oxford Street on demonstration runs and reached speeds of 8-9 mph (13 - 14 km/h). Despite the runs, nobody was interested and so when he ran out of funds, he sold the power unit to a local Miller. Trevithick's vehicle was the first self-propelled carriage in the capital and in essence the first London bus.

Regular intercity bus services by steam-powered buses were also pioneered in England in the 1830s by Walter Hancock and by associates of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney among others, running reliable services over road conditions which were too hazardous for horse-drawn transportation. Steam carriages were much less likely to overturn, did not "run away with" the customer as horses sometimes did. They travelled faster than horse-drawn carriages (24 mph over four miles and an average of 12 mph over longer distances). They could run at a half to a third of the cost of horse-drawn carriages. Their brakes did not lock and drag like horse-drawn transport (a phenomenon that increased damage to roads).

According to engineers, steam carriages caused one-third the damage to the road surface as that caused by the action of horses' feet. Indeed, the wide tires of the steam carriages (designed for better traction) caused virtually no damage to the streets, whereas the narrow wheels of the horse-drawn carriages (designed to reduce the effort required of horses) tended to cause rutting.

However, the heavy road tolls imposed by the Turnpike Acts discouraged steam road vehicles and left the way clear for the horse bus companies, and from 1861 onwards, harsh legislation virtually eliminated mechanically-propelled vehicles altogether from the roads of Great Britain for 30 years, the Locomotive Act of that year imposing restrictive speed limits on "road locomotives" of 5 mph in towns and cities, and 10 mph in the country.

In 1865 the Locomotives Act of that year (the famous Red Flag Act) further reduced the speed limits to 4 mph in the country and just 2 mph in towns and cities, additionally requiring a man bearing a red flag to precede every vehicle. At the same time, the act gave local authorities the power to specify the hours during which any such vehicle might use the roads. The sole exceptions were street trams which from 1879 onwards were authorised under licence from the Board of Trade.

My Favourite British Iconic Cars

As an Englishman born and bred and a fan of British iconic Cars I thought it may be of interest to list some of the most popular British Car Icons which are instantly recognised Worldwide. I have decided to list the cars and descriptions about the Iconic Cars which may be of interest to the reader.

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

Rolls and Royce were in fact people before the history of Rolls-Royce as a company every began. Frederick Royce was a British electrical equipment manufacturer who built the first Royce cars in 1904. The three two-cylinder, 10-hp cars he built attracted the attention of Charles Rolls, a longtime car enthusiast from way back in 1894 and son of a baron. He owned a dealership in London, where he first encountered a Royce. He was so taken with the engineering that he partnered with the car's creator. Royce would built the cars, and Rolls would sell them. Like many manufacturers of the day, Rolls entered the first Rolls-Royces in races in order to promote them. These cars were similar to the first one built by Royce. Real fame came with the 1907 introduction of a 6-cylinder engine inside a silver-painted four-passenger chassis dubbed "The Silver Ghost." This car was driven 15,000 continuous miles with little wear, cementing the R-R reputation for reliability. Unfortunately, Rolls' passion for excitement ended in 1910, when his biplane (based on the Wright brothers' flyer) crashed and killed him almost instantly.

The Silver Ghost chassis, built in Derby, U.K., was toughened with armor so it could serve as a combat car in Flanders, Africa, Egypt, and with Lawrence of Arabia during WWI. In the Jazz Age that came after the war, people had money to spend on these reliable Rollers. There were Silver Ghosts built in Springfield, Mass., from 1920-1924, and a smaller 20-hp "Baby Roller" was introduced. Big cars were still popular, though, with the Phantoms I, II, and II all appearing in the 1920s. During WWII, the company built Rolls-Royce Merlin airplane engines in a facility in Crewe, U.K., rather than cars.

The Austin Mini ( 1959 )

Announced in 1959, and still manufactured 40 years later at the end of the century, Alec Issigonis's cheeky little Mini-Minor changed the face of motoring. The world's first car to combine front-wheel-drive and a transversely-mounted engine in a tiny ten-foot long package, was the most efficient and effective use of road space that had ever been seen. In so many ways, this must qualify as the ‘car of the century'.

In scheming up the car Issigonis and his team, which had already designed the Morris Minor, was given a difficult brief by the British Motor Corporation. In the aftermath of the Suez Crisis, and threatened world-wide petrol rationing, Issigonis was asked to provide a minimum-size, minimum-price four-seater package – all built around an existing BMC engine. Choosing front-wheel-drive and the A-series engine, he then minimised the size of the car by turning the engine sideways, and mounted the transmission under the engine. Tiny (10 in /254 mm) diameter road wheels, independent suspension by rubber cone springs, and a careful packaging of the cabin, all helped to provide one of the most amazing little cars of all time. So what if the driving position was cramped, and the steering wheel too vertical? This was a Mini, after all.

Although Issigonis insisted that he was only providing a super-small, super-economy saloon, almost by chance his Mini had superb handling, precise race-car-like steering and unmatched agility.

Even before more powerful versions were available, the Mini had started winning rallies, and showing well in saloon car racing: later, in Mini-Cooper S form, size-for-size it was unbeatable. Originally sold only as two-door saloons in near-identical ‘Austin' and ‘Morris' forms, Minis soon spawned derivatives. Not only would there be vans, estate cars and pick-ups, but plusher Riley and Wolseley types followed, as did the stark ‘topless' Mini-Moke machines.

Engines were eventually enlarged, tiny front-wheel disc brakes were added, the Mini-Cooper and Mini-Cooper S followed, and by the mid-1960s this was a car which had won the Monte Carlo Rally on several occasions. For years there was nothing a Mini could not do, for it appealed to everyone, and every social class, from royalty to the dustman, bought one. At peak, production in two factories (Longbridge and Cowley) exceeded 300,000 every year, BMC's only problem being that it was priced so keenly that profit margins were wafer thin.

Even the arrival of the larger Mini Metro in 1980 could not kill off the Mini, whose charm was unique. By the 1980s, with larger wheels, re-equipped interiors and wind-up windows, the Mini was a better car than ever, and, looking much the same, it was still selling steadily at the end of the 1990s: more than five million had already been made. Now in the 2000s, we have the New Mini, larger and heavier than before.

The Morgan ( 1946 ) 4 X 4

Although the original four-wheeler Morgan was shown in the mid-1930s, it was overshadowed by the company's older three-wheeler models until the end of the Second World War. From that point, while altering the original style only slightly as the years passed by, Morgan concentrated on their four-wheeler sports cars.

Morgans were first made by a family-owned business in 1910 (a situation which has never changed), and even the first cars employed a type of sliding-pillar independent front suspension which is still used to this day. Assembly was always by hand, always at a leisurely pace, and even in the post-war years it was a good week which saw more than ten complete cars leave the gates in Malvern Link.

The post-war 4/4 retained the simple ladder-style chassis and the rock-hard suspension for which the marque is noted, and still looked like its 1939 predecessor. It used to be said that the ride was so hard that if one drove over a penny in the road, a skilled driver would know whether ‘heads' or ‘tails' was uppermost. Although pre-war cars had been powered by Coventry-Climax, the post-war chassis was exclusively fitted with a specially-manufactured overhead-valve Standard 1,267 cc engine (which never appeared in Standard or Triumph models). Although this engine only produced 40 bhp, the Morgan was such a light car that it could reach 75 mph, while handling in a way that made all MG Midget owners jealous.

The style was what we must now call ‘traditional Morgan' – it was a low-slung two-seater with sweeping front wings, and free-standing headlamps, along with cutaway doors and the sort of weather protection which made one drive quickly for home in a shower, rather than stop to wrestle with its sticks and removable panels. Up front, there was a near-vertical radiator, flanked by free-standing headlamps, while the coil spring/vertical-pillar front suspension was easily visible from the nose. Most 4/4s were open-top two-seaters, though a more completely trimmed and equipped two-seater drop-head coupé (with wind-up windows in the doors) was also available. Bodies were framed from unprotected wood members, with steel or aluminium skin panels tacked into place, and were all manufactured in the Morgan factory.

Here was an old-style, no-compromise sports car made in modern times – a philosophy which Morgan has never abandoned. Requests for a more modern specification were politely shrugged off, waiting lists grew, and Morgan has been financially healthy ever since. Before the 4/4 was replaced by the altogether larger 2.1-litre Plus 4 of 1950, a grand total of 1,720 4/4s were sold.

Hand assembled, these low-slung two-seater sports cars had cutaway doors and a near vertical radiator which was flanked by free-standing headlamps. Most were open topped and had rock-hard suspension.

Aston Martin DB5 ( 1963 )

Fame comes in strange and unexpected ways. Although the Aston DB4 and DB5 models were already respected by the cognoscenti, the DB5 did not become world-famous until used as James Bond's personal transport in the film Goldfinger. Although not equipped with Bond's ejector seat, it appealed to millions, and the DB5's reputation was secure for ever. Technically, of course, Aston Martin had always been a marque of distinction.

Following the success of the DB2, DB2/4 and DB Mk III models of the 1950s, Aston Martin commissioned a totally new and larger series for the 1960s, beginning with the DB4 in 1958. Built around a simple steel platform chassis, it was clothed in a sleek light-alloy fastback body style by Superleggera Touring of Italy (but built at Newport Pagnell). The skin panels were fixed to a network of light tubing, a method patented by Superleggera. Power (and what power!) came from a magnificent new 3.7-litre twin-cam six-cylinder engine, which soon proved to be strong and reliable in motor racing. The DB4 came close to matching anything so far achieved by Ferrari. All this, allied to a close-coupled four-seater cabin, and high (traditionally British) standards of trim and equipment, made the expensive DB4 very desirable.

The DB5, which was launched in 1963, was a direct development of the DB4; it had a full 4-litre engine, a more rounded nose with recessed-headlamps, and many equipment improvements. Two varieties of engine – the most powerful with a claimed 314 bhp – were on offer, as were non-sporting options such as automatic transmission, which came a full decade before Ferrari stooped to such action.

It was such a complicated, mainly hand-built, machine that it had to sell at high prices. The saloon cost an eye-watering £4,175 in 1963 (there was also a convertible version, at £4,490) and because assembly was a lengthy and careful business, sales were limited to only ten cars a week. It was not for years, incidentally, that it became clear that even these prices did not cover costs, for Aston Martin was merely the industrial plaything of its owner, tractor magnate David Brown.

DB5s could safely reach 140 mph, with roadholding, steering and brakes to match, all the time producing the characteristic booming exhaust notes for which they became famous. Although they looked sinuous and dashing, they were heavy machines and there was no power-assisted steering on this model.

Clearly, this was a bespoke GT machine which would run and run, as the longer and more spacious DB6 which took over in 1965 would prove. In only two years, a total of 1,063 cars (123 convertibles, and 12 of them very special estate car types) were produced. Almost all have survived.

The DB5 became world-famous as James Bond's car in the film Goldfinger. Lacking the ejector seat, this mainly hand-built car appealed to millions. Although it was a heavy car to drive, as it lacked power-assisted steering, the DB5 had good roadholding.

The Jaguar E Type ( 1961 )

By almost any reckoning, Jaguar's original E-type was the sexiest motor car ever launched. It looked wonderful, it was extremely fast, and it was always sold at extremely attractive prices. For more than a decade, it was the sports car by which all other supercar manufacturers had to measure themselves.

Originally conceived in 1956 as a successor to the D-type racing sports car, the E-type was not to be used for that purpose. Re-engineered and re-developed, it became an outstanding road-going sports car, taking over from the last of the XK cars – the XK150 – in 1961. Like the D-type, its structure acknowledged all the best contemporary aerospace principles, utilising a multi-tubular front chassis frame which surrounded the engine and supported the front suspension and steering, and was bolted up to the bulkhead of the pressed steel monocoque centre and rear end.

Power came from the very latest version of the famous XK six-cylinder twin-cam engine, with three SU carburettors and no less than 265 bhp (according to American SAE ratings). It was matched by all-independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and a unique, wind-cheating body style. As with the C- and D-type racing cars, the E-type's shape had been designed by ex-aircraft industry specialist Malcolm Sayer, who combined great artistic flair for a line with the ability to calculate how the wind would flow over a car's contours. For practical purposes, the E-type's nose might have been too long, its cabin cramped, and its tail too high to hide all of the chassis components, but all this was forgiven by its remarkable aero-dynamic performance – and its enormous visual appeal.

Open and fastback two-seaters were available from the start, and although a 150 mph top speed was difficult for an ordinary private owner to achieve, this was a supercar in all respects, being faster than any other British road car of the period (and, for that matter, for many years to come). Much-modified types eventually won a series of motor races at just below world level, for they were really too heavy for this purpose. Only three years after launch, a 4.2-litre engine, allied to a new synchromesh gearbox, was adopted, and a longer wheelbase 2+2 coupé followed in 1966.

The E-type sold well all around the world, especially in the USA although new safety laws caused the car to lose its power edge, and its headlamp covers before the end of the 1960s. The Series II's performance did not match that of the original, and by 1971, the E-type was a somewhat emasculated car. A final Series III type was powered by Jaguar's new 5.3-litre V12 engine, and a top speed of 150 mph was once again within reach.

Drivers did not seem to mind the small cabin and less than perfect ventilation, but in the end it was more safety regulations and changes in fashion that caused this wonderful motoring icon to fade away. The last of 72,520 E-types was built in 1975, when it was replaced by an entirely different type of sporting Jaguar, the larger, heavier and not so beautiful XJ-S.

Considered to be the sexiest car ever launched, the E-type was a fast and outstanding sports car. Designed by an ex-aircraft specialist, it had a remarkable aerodynamic performance.

Land Rover 1948

Here is a classic case of the stop-gap project which soon outgrew its parent. Before the Land Rover appeared, Rover had been building a relatively small number of fine middle class cars. By the 1950s they were building many more Land Rover 4x4s, and the cars were very much a minor part of the business.

Immediately after the war, Rover found itself running a massive former ‘shadow factory' complex at Solihull, and needed to fill it. (A ‘shadow factory' was an aero-engine factory established during the rearmament of the 1930s.) Faced with material shortages, it could not build many private cars, and elected to fill the gaps with a newly-developed 4x4, which it would base unashamedly on the design of the already legendary Jeep from the USA.

Early Land Rovers shared the same 80 in/2,032 mm wheelbase as the Jeep, and the same basic four-wheel-drive layout. The Land Rover, however, was much more versatile than the Jeep, in that it was built in myriad different guises, shapes and derivatives, and it used aluminium body panels, which ensured that it was virtually rust-free. Apart from the fact that it was not very fast or powerful, (though time and further development would solve those problems) the Land Rover could tackle almost any job, climb almost any slope, and ford almost every stream, which made it invaluable for farmers, contractors, surveyors, explorers, armies, public service companies – in fact almost anyone with a need for four-wheel-drive traction, and the rugged construction which went with it.

It wasn't long before the original pick-up was joined by vans, estate cars, short and long wheelbases to choice, petrol and diesel engines. A long list of extras became available: winches, extra-large wheels and tyres, and liaison with specialist companies ensured that it could be turned it into an impromptu railway shunting vehicle, a portable cinema truck, an equipment hoist, and a whole lot more. Its short-travel leaf spring suspension gave it a shatteringly hard ride and the Land Rover engineers stated that this, at least, limited cross-country speeds to keep the chassis in one piece.

Later models grew larger, longer, and more powerful, but it would not be until the 1960s that the first six-cylinder type appeared, not until 1979 that the first V8 Land Rover was sold, and not until the early 1980s that coil spring suspension finally took over. Sales, however, just went on and on, with the millionth being produced in the mid 1970s. By the late 1990s, when the ‘Freelander' model appeared, 1.5 million Land Rovers had been manufactured, although by then it had been renamed ‘Defender' and

Bentley Continental R-Type 1952

After Rolls-Royce took over Bentley in 1931, it was more than 20 years before the new owners produced another truly sporty new model. But the wait was worthwhile. The R-type Continental of 1952–55 was a great car by any standards, which not only looked sensational, but was also extremely fast.

Even before 1939, Rolls-Royce had dabbled with super-streamlined prototypes (one of them being called a ‘Bentley Corniche'), but production cars had to wait until after the war. Using only slightly modified versions of the existing Bentley Mk VI saloon car's chassis, but with a superbly detailed two-door four-seater coupé designed by the coachbuilder, H.J. Mulliner, the company produced an extremely fast (115 mph), exclusive, and very expensive car, whose title told its own story.

The Continental certainly did not gain its high performance by being light, but by a combination of high (unstated) horsepower, and by the remarkable aerodynamic performance of the bulky, yet sleek shell. There was, of course, no way of taming the drag of the proud Bentley radiator grille, but the lines of the rest of the car were as wind-cheating as possible, the long tapering tail being a delight to the eyes. Like all the best 1930s Bentleys, it had two passenger doors, and a full four-seater package. Leather, carpet and wood abounded – for no concessions were made to ensure a high performance.

Here was an expensive grand tourer for the connoisseur and, by definition, it was likely to sell in small numbers. Put on sale in 1952 at £7,608 (at a time when Morris Minor prices, for instance, started at £582 ), it was ideal for the ‘sportsman' who liked to drive far and fast, wherever conditions allowed. It was produced in the traditional Bentley/Rolls-Royce style, for the engine was low-revving, the steering and most other controls quite heavy, and the fuel consumption ferocious – but the fit, finish and quality of every component (especially the interior trim) were of the very highest quality.

As ever, Rolls-Royce/Bentley never thought it necessary to reveal the power output of the big six-cylinder engine, whose overhead inlet/side exhaust valve layout was only shared with one other British make of car – the Rover of the period. Needing only to point out the easily provable performance of their cars, they let acceleration figures speak for themselves.

In a career of only three years, the R-type Continental needed little improvement, for the engine was a very powerful 4.5-litre u

Lotus Elite ( 1958 )

Right from the start, when he built his original special- bodied Austin Seven trials car, Colin Chapman showed signs of engineering genius. Setting up Lotus, he sold his first car kits in the early 1950s, and soon progressed to building advanced racing sports cars. The first true Lotus road car, however, was the very advanced Lotus Elite.

First shown in 1957, but not available until a year later, the new two-seater Elite coupé was irresistibly attractive. Even though Lotus was still a small company, Chapman had laid out a car which pushed technology to the limit. In particular, he decided to make the Elite without a separate chassis, using a fully-stressed fibreglass monocoque body which would only include steel sections for a few local reinforcements.

Not only was this amazing machine to be powered by a race-proved overhead-camshaft engine from Coventry-Climax, and had four-wheel independent suspension, but it was achingly beautiful, and was quite amazingly light in weight. No-one, it seems, was ever likely to confuse the Elite with any other car, for its tiny, smooth and always curving lines had no rivals. Looking back into history, its only real drawback was that the door windows could not be wound down, but had to be removed to provide better ventilation.

In engineering terms, though, ‘adding lightness' often adds cost too, and there was no doubt that the Elite was always going to be a costly car to make and sell. The fibreglass monocoque body shells proved to be difficult to make in numbers, major bought-in items like the Coventry-Climax engine were very expensive, and owners soon found that a great deal of maintenance and loving care was needed to keep the new sports car running.

Refinement was not then a word which Lotus understood and the Elite was a rather crudely equipped and finished machine at first; the interior environment was very noisy, for there was little attempt to insulate the drive line and suspension fixings from the monocoque, which acted like a fully matured sound box.

As the years passed, the Elite's specification changed, with the power of the engine gradually being pushed up to 100 bhp (which brought the top speed to more than 120 mph, quite amazing for a 1.2-litre car), a ZF gear-box adapted and (for Series II cars) a different type of rear suspension geometry specified.

Special Elites, particularly when prepared at the factory, were outstandingly successful class cars in GT racing, even appearing with honour in major events such as the Le Mans 24 Hour and Nurburgring Six Hour events. Years later Colin Chapman admitted that the Elite had never made profits for Lotus, which may explain why he was happy to phase it out in 1962, ahead of the arrival of the backbone chassised Elan. Nothing can ever detract from the gracious style and inventive engineering which went into the car. A total of 988 Elites were made.

Committed owners usually forgave the Elite for the car's failings, as here was a car which drove and handled like no other rival. Light by the standards of the day, it was not only fast, but remarkably economical too.

History of The Hovercraft

I thought it would be a good idea to tell the story of the invention of the Hovercraft in 1955.

The idea of using an air-cushion as a means or aid to acceleration and reduction in (hydrodynamic) drag was first explored by Sir John Thornycroft, a British engineer, who, in the 1870's built some experimental models on the basis of an air cushion system that would reduce the drag of water on boats and ships.

In 1877 he successfully patented the idea and his theory was that if a ship's hull was given a concave bottom, which could be filled - and replenished - with air, it would create significant additional lift. And so the air cushion effect was born.

Decades later scientists and inventors were still busy with his ideas but without any practical applications. With the coming of the airplane however, it was noticed that additional lift was obtained if the plane flew closer to land or water, creating a "funnel effect", a cushion of air.

The air lift that this funnel effect created differed with the type of wing and its height above ground. The effect was strongest if this height was between one half and one third of the (average) front-to-rear breadth of the wing. Also known as "chord".

The next two decades saw little interest in air cushion development.

The successful use of the air cushion effect was not lost on engineers after World War 2 was over and in the early 1950's British, American and Swiss engineers started to rethink Sir John Thornycroft's problem.

The Englishman Christopher Cockerell, commonly seen as the father of the hovercraft, being retired from the army, settled into boat building where he soon got captivated by Thornycroft's problem of reducing the hydrodynamic drag on the hull of a boat by using some kind of air cushion.

His theory was that, instead of using the plenum chamber - an empty box with an open bottom as Thornycroft had devised - air was instead pumped into a narrow tunnel circumnavigating the entire bottom, it would flow towards the center and form a more effective air cushion. This peripheral jet would cause the air to build up enough pressure to equal the weight of the craft and, as it would have nowhere to go, the pressure would force the craft up, clearing it off the ground altogether.

Cockerell successfully tested his theory and filed his first patent in 1955. The year after he formed a company called Hovercraft Ltd. He further envisioned and partially worked out other problems of the hovercraft principle that still have to be fully exploited by modern hovercraft builders. One of these was to re-use the air for greater overall efficiency.

Thinking that his air cushion vehicles would be eminently suitable as amphibious craft he approached the British Ministry of Supply, the government's defence equipment procurement authority with his findings. Soon after, in 1956, the air cushion vehicle was classified as "secret" and a construction contract was placed with a British aircraft and seaplane manufacturer. The result was the SR.N1 in 1959.

The first SR.N1 weighed four tons and could carry three men. Its maximum speed was 25 knots (1 knot = 1.15 miles or 1.85 kilometres per hour) on calm water. It had a 6-inch (15 cm) rubberized skirt to make it easier to contain the air cushion on uneven ground.

Significant wear and tear of the skirt through friction with the water at high speeds made it necessary to use more durable material and a rubber and plastic mixture was developed by 1963. The length of the skirt had also been extended to about 4 feet (1.2 m).

Early interest in hovercraft enjoyed a peak in the early 1960's as everyone jumped to take advantage of this amazing vehicle. However, by the end of the decade only the British had produced a range of feasible and practical craft.

The problems inherent of the air cushion vehicle, such as Cockerell and others had foreseen, regarding steering control, noise, salt and skirt erosion, caused many countries to abandon their hovercraft development programs in favour of other, more established multi-function vehicles or to use different vehicles specialised in each terrain or function.

Since the 1970's however, and especially over the last decade, a renewed interest in the hovercraft as (passenger) transport, military transport and weapons carrier and exploratory vehicle has taken ground, solving many of these problems in their development.

Technology in general made large steps forward during the past twentyfive years, enabling organisations and governments, as well as many enthusiasts at Hovercraft Clubs to enjoy the hovercraft vehicle in its many forms including the very popular Remote Control model size hovercraft!.

As far as hovercraft and their spinoff technology is concerned the future looks ever brighter.

The World's First Electric House – England 1878


One of the most important developments in the history of modern life took place in the north - the use of electric light. The most important figures were Sir William Armstrong and  the Sunderland-born Joseph Swan, inventor of the first practical light bulb, whose developments would result in the widespread use of electric light throughout the world. Newcastle was one of the first towns to be lit with electricity, Cragside in Northumberland was one of the first houses to be lit and a light bulb factory at Benwell, Newcastle was the first in the world. The region was witnessing the birth of modern times.


Lord Armstrong (1810-1900)

William George Armstrong was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1810. He was educated at Bishop Auckland Grammar School, before being articled to a firm of solicitors, Messrs Donkin and Stable. Having completed his training, in 1834 he became a junior partner in the firm.

He became involved with engineering through experimentation with hydraulic machinery in his leisure time. At the age of 36 he decided to give up the legal profession, and established a small engineering business in partnership with Mr. Donkin; his father, Alderman Armstrong; and Messrs Potter, Cruddas, and Lambert. They purchased a small plot of land at Elswick on which to erect their works.

At first, the main concern of the business was the hydraulic machinery that had so fascinated Armstrong. Later, during the Crimean War, the company began to look at the improvement of ordnance. Armstrong was appointed Director of Rifled Ordnance in 1859, and held this position until retiring in 1863.

In the same year, he purchased a large piece of land near Rothbury, Northumberland, an area in which he had spent much time as a boy. He began to build a house for himself in 1864, which was completed by 1866, though much added to from this date on. In 1866, he created an artificial lake. The head of water produced powered a hydraulic ram, which supplied water to the house and grounds. Armstrong soon developed a further four lakes, and began to use them to supply electric power to the house, as well as hydraulic lifts and a hydraulic spit in the kitchen. They also powered what Joseph Swan believed to be the first proper installation of electric lighting. He also bought Bamburgh Castle and restored it, intending it to be used as a convalescence home.

Armstrong received many honours during his life, including the Albert Medal of the Society of Arts for his inventions in hydraulic machinery, and the Bessemer gold medal of the Iron and Steel Institute for his services to the steel industry. He was Knighted in 1859 and created a Baron in 1887.

Lord Armstrong was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers 1861,1862,1869.

In 1878 Sir William Armstrong installs a small hydro electric plant on his estate for generating electric light in his picture gallery at Cragside, Northumberland using lakes in the grounds, Cragside is the first house in the world to be lit by electricity generated from water power.


Sir William Armstrong also installed Swan's light bulbs in his house at Cragside in 1880.

He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1881. He died in 1900.

Sir JOSEPH WILSON SWAN – Inventor of Light Bulb - England 1878

Joseph Wilson Swan was born on Oct. 31, 1828, in Sunderland, and he served an apprenticeship with a pharmacist there. He later became a partner in Mawson's, a firm of manufacturing chemists in Newcastle. This company existed as Mawson Swan and Morgan until recently. He worked at the company premises at 13 Mosley Street. In 1860 Swan developed a primitive electric light bulb that used a filament of carbonised paper in an evacuated glass bulb. However, the lack of good vacuum and an adequate electric source resulted in a short lifetime for the bulb and an inefficient light.

In December 1878 Joseph Swan demonstrates his incandescent electric light bulb to an audience at the Newcastle Chemical Society, but it burns out after only a few minutes.  

In January 1879 Joseph Swan demonstrates his incandescent electric light bulb during a lecture to an audience at the Athenaeum in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

On October 20th 1880 Joseph Swan once again demonstrates his incandescent electric light bulb, this time at the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society. In front of an eminent audience, he has 70 gas jets turned down and their light immediately replaced by just 20 electric bulbs.

Swan's light bulb design was substantially that used by Thomas Alva Edison in America nearly 20 years later. In 1880, after the improvement of vacuum techniques, Swan  produced a practical light bulb.

In 1881 a company is formed at Benwell, Newcastle for the manufacture of Joseph Swan's newly-patented electric lamps. It is thought to be the world's first light bulb factory. 

In 1883 while searching for a better carbon filament for his light bulb, Swan patented a process for squeezing nitro-cellulose through holes to form fibres. Swan was knighted in 1904. He died on May 27, 1914, in Warlingham, Surrey.

Sir Francis Walsingham – Spymaster to Queen Elizabeth 1

Sir Francis Walsingham was one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as the greatest Spymaster of the 16th Century. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in 1532.

Francis Walsingham was born at the Walsingham family seat, Scadbury Park near Chislehurst, Kent to William Walsingham and Joyce Denny. His father died the following year, and later, his mother married Sir John Carey a relative by marriage of Queen Anne Boleyn.

On July 27th 1588 this letter was sent to Sir Francis Wasingham in reply concerning the Spanish Armada’s possible attack on Portsmouth.

“Your Honour's letter of the 25th of this present I received this last night at 12 of the clock, being then within 4 miles of Calais, and according to your Honour's commandment I have dealt with Mr Borough who is most ready to obey your Honour's commandment and will, I dare undertake, most faithfully to perform it. The long staying to the westwards of the King of Spain's army, which might have been here 4 days past if they had been disposed to have come so low, doth confirm the opinion which I have held that their intention is to surprise Portsmouth and to possess the Isle of Wight; for if that were had, in my poor conceit, it were the only degree to bring to pass their desires. And truly, I have ever loved and honour my Lord Admiral: but now, in respect of the wise and honourable carriage of himself in preventing of the army, that they gain not that place which, I do assure myself, is the only thing that they hunger for, doth double my service towards him; and under your Honour's correction, speaking for my Lord with his army to put it to a journey for that were the hazarding of all. Sir, these huge ships that are in the Spanish army shall have but a bad place to rest in, if they come so low to the eastward of Portsmouth.”


Walsingham was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth 1st of England from 1573 till 1590, and is popularly remembered as her “Spymaster”. Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security. He oversaw operations which penetrated the heart of Spanish military preparation, gathered intelligence from across Europe, and disrupted a range of plots against the queen, securing the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

Walsingham studied at Kings College, Cambridge from 1548 with many Protestants but as an undergraduate of high social status he did not sit for a degree. In 1550, he travelled abroad, returning two years later to enrol at Gray's Inn. Upon the death of  Edward VI and accession of Catholic Queen Mary, he fled to continue his studies as a law student at the University of Padua. Between April 1556 and November 1558, he visited Switzerland and cultivated contacts among the leading Protestant statesmen on the continent.

When Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558, Walsingham returned to England and, through the support of Sir William Cecil, was elected to the House of Commons for Banbury in 1559 and then Lyme Regis in 1563.

After his return, Walsingham was appointed joint principal secretary ("of state": the phrase was not used at this time in England) with Sir Thomas Smith, succeeding Sir William Cecil. Smith retired unexpectedly in 1576, leaving Walsingham in sole charge.

Elizabeth called him her "Moor", perhaps due to his complexion or a preference for sombre clothes. She put up with his blunt, often unwelcome, advice because she valued his competence and industry, his passion for her security, and his grasp of foreign affairs.

On 1 December 1577, Walsingham received a knighthood. He spent the years between 1574 and 1578 consolidating his control of the routine business of the English state, foreign and domestic. This included the substantial rebuilding of Dover Harbour and the coordination of support for Martin Frobisher's attempts to discover the North West passage and exploit the mineral resources of Labrador. Walsingham was among the foremost promoters of the career of Sir Francis Drake and was a major shareholder in his 1578–1581 circumnavigation of the world. Walsingham's participation in this venture was calculated to promote the Protestant interest by provoking the Spanish and demonstrating the vulnerability of their Pacific possessions.

He was sent on special embassies to the Netherlands in 1578, and again in 1581 to the French Court, suggesting both the Queen's high confidence in his abilities, and also that she knew how to exploit his standing as a committed Protestant statesman to threaten the Catholic powers.

Between 1578 and 1581, Walsingham was at the forefront of debate on the attempt by a group at court to encourage the Queen to marry the Duke of Anjou, heir to the French throne. Walsingham passionately opposed the marriage, perhaps to the point of encouraging public opposition. Walsingham canvassed the variety of consequences of a Catholic French consort of a Queen now past the age of childbearing, and with no clear successor. He believed that it would serve England better to seek a military alliance with France against Spanish interests, and the debates in council raged around the viability of an independent England against the increasing threat posed by Spain, and by the forces of international Catholicism which were undermining the unity of the French state.

Walsingham advocated direct English intervention in the Low Countries, and eventually, after the deaths of both Anjou and William of Orange in 1584, English military intervention was agreed at the Treaty of Nonesuch in 1585.


In the realm of counter-espionage, Walsingham was behind the discovery of the Throckmorton and Babington Plots to overthrow Elizabeth I, return England to Catholicism and place Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne.

In November 1583, after months of surveillance, Walsingham had Throckmorton arrested. He extracted, under torture, Throckmorton's confession — an admission that he had plotted against Elizabeth with the Spanish ambassador, Bernardino de Mendoza and others. The plot, which may not have been known to Mary, called for a two-pronged invasion of England and Scotland along with a domestic uprising. Throckmorton was executed in 1584, and Mendoza was expelled from England.

Although Mary was not prosecuted, Walsingham became so concerned about her influence that he was determined to hold her responsible for any further conspiracies.

Babington's Plot was the result of that determination. Walsingham drew deeply on his spies among the English Catholic community, and abroad, on whose divisions he was adept at playing. The uncover of the Babington plot, which is unusually well documented, is a compelling piece of counter-espionage, and stretched the policing resources of the Elizabethan state to the limits, with Walsingham's private secretaries carrying out surveillance in person. This led to Mary's execution in 1587, for which Walsingham had worked since before his advent to power. He was an active participant at her trial. He briefly experienced his share of the Queen's displeasure after the execution of Mary, which the queen claimed not to have sanctioned, due to Elizabeth's desire to distance herself from this action.

Prior to the attack of the Spanish Armada, he received a large number of dispatches from his agents from mercantile communities and foreign courts. Walsingham's recruitment of Anthony Standen in particular represented an intelligence triumph, and Standen's dispatches were deeply revealing. However the close security enforced by Philip II meant that Walsingham remained in the dark about the Spanish strategy and the planned destination of the Armada. This, plus his naturally bold spirit, lay behind his encouragement of the more aggressive strategies advocated by Drake in particular. The Cadiz raid in 1587 wrought havoc on Spanish logistics, and Walsingham would have repeated this the following year if more cautious counsels had not prevailed.

In foreign intelligence, the full range of Walsingham's network of "intelligencers" (of news as well as secrets) may never be known, but it was substantial. While foreign intelligence was part of the principal secretary's duties, Walsingham brought to it flair and ambition, and large sums of his own money. He also cast his net more widely than others had done hitherto, exploiting the insight into Spanish policy offered at the Italian courts; cultivating contacts in Constantinople and Aleppo, building complex connections with the Catholic exiles.

Among his minor spies may have been the playwright Christopher Marlowe, who seems to have been one of a stream of false converts whom Walsingham planted in foreign seminaries for gathering intelligence and insinuating counter-intelligence (citation needed). A more central figure was the cryptographer Thomas Phelippes, expert in deciphering letters, creating false handwriting and breaking and repairing seals without detection.

Walsingham was one of the small coterie who directed the Elizabethan state, overseeing foreign, domestic and religious policy. He worked to bring Scotland and England together. Overall, his foreign policy demonstrated a new understanding of the role of England as a maritime and Protestant power in an increasingly global economy. He was an innovator in exploration, colonization and the use of England's potential maritime power. He is also a convincing prototype of the modern bureaucrat.

Francis Walsingham died on 6 April 1590, leaving great debts, in part arising from his having underwritten the debts of his son-in-law and colleague, Sir Phillip Sidney. But the true state of his finances is undocumented and may have been less dismal than regularly alleged, and he pursued the Sidney estate for recompense, and had carried out major land transactions in his later years.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel ( 1806-1859 )

Brunel, perhaps, was the most prodigious Engineer of his time and many of his works, which challenged and inspired his colleagues during this period, have survived to our own time and some are still in use.

He was born in 1806, the son of a distinguished French engineer, Sir Marc Brunel, who had come to England at the time of the French Revolution. Unlike most engineers of the time, Isambard Brunel received a sound education and practical training - partly in France - before entering his father's office and taking full charge of the Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe when he was only 20.

At the age of 26, he was appointed Engineer to the newly-formed Great Western Railway and acted with characteristic boldness and energy. His great civil engineering works on the line between London and Bristol, are used by today's high-speed trains and bear witness to his genius He eventually engineered over 1,200 miles of railway, including lines in Ireland, Italy and Bengal. Each of his three ships represented a major step forward in naval architecture.

Brunel's other works included docks, viaducts, tunnels and buildings and the remarkable prefabricated hospital, with its air-conditioning and drainage systems for use in the Crimean War. Inevitably, in such a prolific career, there were setbacks and disappointments such as the atmospheric railway but he readily admitted his mistakes. Indeed he himself suffered financially by supporting his ventures with his own money.

Brunel suffered several years of ill health, with kidney problems, before a stroke at the age of 53. Brunel was said to smoke up to 40 cigars a day and to sleep four hours each night.

Wymering Manor House – The Most Haunted House in England.

As I am from Portsmouth, England I thought it may be of interest to write about the oldest house in Portsmouth and the most haunted house in England, called “Wymering Manor House” and dated from 1042 AD.

Although most of the current structure dates back to the 16th century, the manor goes back much further. Records show the first owner of Wymering Manor was King Edward the Confessor in 1042 and then after the Battle of Hastings it fell into the hands of King William the Conqueror until 1084. The house has been altered and renovated continually over the centuries, yet remarkably it has retained materials dating back to medieval and even ancient Roman times.

Having changed ownership many times over these hundreds of years, the property was eventually adopted by the Portsmouth City Council, then sold for a short time to a private organization for development into a hotel. When the development fell though, the property reverted to the council, which has again put it up for auction.

Once a country manor, the structure is now surrounded by modern houses. And when it was saved from demolition and used as a youth hostel, many areas of the building were "modernized" and have an unfortunate, institutional feel.

With this rich history it's no surprise perhaps that Wymering Manor should be haunted.

Below are some of the Ghosts that haunt Wymering Manor:

The Lady in the Violet Dress. When Mr Thomas Parr lived at Wymering Manor, he awoke one night to the sight of an apparition standing at the foot of his bed. It was his cousin, who had died in 1917. Dressed in a full-length violet-coloured dress, the spirit spoke to him in a friendly and matter-of-fact manner, telling him of her recent religious experiences and about other deceased family members. Suddenly the ghost said, "Well, Tommy dear, I must leave you now as we are waiting to receive Aunt Em." In the morning, Parr received a telegram with the news that his Aunt Em had died during the night.

The Blue Room. An elderly relative of Thomas Parr, who was staying in the "Blue Room," was careful always to lock her door at night, as she feared break-ins by burglars. One morning she was surprised to find her door unlocked and open.

The Choir of Nuns. Mr Leonard Metcalf, an occupant of the house who died in 1958, said he occasionally saw a choir of nuns crossing the manor's hall at midnight. They were chanting, he claimed, to the clear sound of music. His family never believed his story as they didn't know - and neither did Mr Metcalf - that nuns from the Sisterhood of Saint Mary the Virgin visited the house in the mid-1800s.

The Panelled Room. The so-called "Panelled Room" may be the manor's most dreaded. The Panelled Room served as a bedroom in the manor's south east corner, and as Metcalf was using the washbasin one day, he was startled by the distinct feeling of a hand on his shoulder. He turned quickly to find no one there. Others have felt an oppressive air in this room, instilling a strong feeling to flee. When the building served as the youth hostel, its warden and wife expressed an unexplained fear of the room.

Other Paranormal occurrences reported at the manor include visitors who claim to have heard the whispers of children, spotted strange apparitions and seen items in the manor move of their own accord. Dramatic drops in temperature and accounts of unusual or intimidating 'spirit energies' have also been reported. Film and video footage has captured both orbs and other strange light anomalies.

Jeremiah Chubb (1793-1860) and Charles Chubb (1779-1846)

Both brotherswere born, lived and worked in Portsmouth & are Famous Chubb Locksmiths.
The name of Chubb is famous in the lock world for the invention of the detector lock and for the production of high quality lever locks of outstanding security during a period of 140 years. The detector lock was patented in 1818 by Jeremiah Chubb of Portsmouth, England, who gained the reward offered by the Government for a lock which could not be opened by any but its own key. It is recorded that, after the appearance of this detector lock, a convict on board one of the prison ships at Portsmouth Dockyard, who was by profession a lock maker, ad had been employed in London in making and repairing locks, asserted that he had picked with ease some of the best locks, and that he could pick Chubb's lock with equal facility. Improvements in the lock were made under various patents by Jeremiah Chubb and his brother Charles.

The Victoria Cross – It's History

The Victoria Cross is the highest gallenatry medal given to the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces. Mr. Charles Davis Lucas was the first recipient of the Victoria Cross in 1857. The bravery of the soldiers is second to non and it's true what the Chinese call Britain "The Island of Hero's" which I think sums up what we British are all about.

The idea of the Victoria Cross had been suggested by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria and Lord Panmure, the new Secretary of State for War, continued to correspond with Prince Albert on the subject. Queen Victoria herself was actively involved in the proposals. On the original draft warrant it had already been decided that the award should carry her name. The Civil Service proposed that the award should be called 'the Military Order of Victoria', Prince Albert thought that this was rather long-winded and on making pencil alterations to the draft document scored through the word Order and suggested instead 'the Victoria Cross'. Queen Victoria showed a lot of interest especially in the design of the Cross. From the original drawings that were submitted to her, the Queen selected one that was closely modelled on an existing campaign medal, the army Gold Cross from the Peninsular War.

Queen Victoria suggested that the Cross should be 'a little smaller'. The Queen also made a significant alteration to the motto, scoring out 'for the brave' and replacing it with 'for valour', in case anyone should come to the conclusion that the only brave men in a battle were those who won the cross. Hancock's of Bruton Street, London, jewellers who had a high reputation for silver work received the commission from Lord Panmure for the new medal. It had already been decided that the new decoration would be made of base metal. The first proof that Queen Victoria received was not at all to her taste. 'The Cross looks very well in form, but the metal is ugly; it is copper and not bronze and will look very heavy on a red coat'.

An unknown person perhaps inspired by Queen Victoria's remarks made the suggestion that it would be fitting to take the bronze for the new medals from Russian guns captured in the Crimea. Two 18-pounders were placed at the disposal of an engineer who was sent off to Woolwich Barracks. The two 18-pounder guns were clearly of an antique design and were found to be inscribed with very un-Russian characters. Many years had passed before it was pointed out that the 'VC guns' were in fact Chinese and not Russian as was first thought, and may or may not have been anywhere near the Crimea. The dies which Hancock's used began to crack up, this was as a result of the Chinese gunmetal being so hard. It was therefore decided to cast the medals instead, this fortunately turned out to be a lucky chance as it resulted in higher relief and more depth in the moulding than would have been possible with a die-stamped medal.

It was not until the 29th January 1856 when a Royal Warrant was finally signed instituting the Victoria Cross. Queen Victoria had made it plain to Lord Panmure that she herself wished to bestow her new award on as many of the recipients as possible. The Queen decided that the 26th June 1857 was a suitable date and that a grand parade was to be laid on in Hyde Park and that she would 'herself' attend on horseback. Preparations for the great day were made, the final list of recipients being published in the London Gazette on the 22nd June 1857.

Hancock's the jewellers had to work around the clock to engrave the names of the recipients on the Crosses. Those who were to receive the award from the Queen had somehow to be found and then rushed to London, together with detachments of the units in which they had served. Some of the recipients were not in uniform for the ceremony, this was as a result of them having left the services. Regardless, the Queen herself was well satisfied with the arrangements. Public interest in the ceremony on the 26th was intense.

At an early hour crowds of well dressed sightseers swarmed into Hyde Park, where a vast amphitheatre of seats, capable of accomodating 12,000 persons had been erected. In the centre stood a simple table, on which were laid the bronze Maltese crosses, their red and blue ribbons being the only patches of colour that caught the eye. In front, a body of 4,000 troops, consisting of the corps d'elite of the army - Guards, Highlanders, Royal Marines, the Rifle Brigade, Enniskillens, and Hussars, Artillery and Engineers - was drawn up. Between them and the Royal Pavilion stood the small group of heroes-sixty-two in number-who were to be decorated. At 10 a.m. the Queen, the Prince Consort, Prince Frederick William of Prussia, and a brilliant train, rode into the Park. The Queen, mounted on a gallant and spirited roan, and wearing a scarlet jacket, black shirt, and plumed hat, rode up to the table, but did not dismount.

One by one each hero was summoned to her presence, and bending from her saddle, her Majesty pinned the Cross on his breast with her own hands, whilst the Prince Consort saluted him with grave and respectful courtesy. As each soldier or sailor was decorated, the vast concourse of spectators cheered and clapped their hands. Whether he were an officer whose breast was already glittering with stars and orders, or a humble private or Jack Tar whose rough tunic carried no more resplendent embellishment than the ordinary war medal. But of all the cheers none were heartier than those which were given for a man who, when called out, stepped forward arrayed in what was then the grotesque and pacific garb of an ordinary policeman.

Since the Victoria Cross was created the medal has been awarded 1,356 times to 1,353 individual recipients. Only 13 medals, nine to the British Army and four to the Australian Army have been awarded since the start of the Korean War. The first ceremony was held on 26 June 1857 where Queen Victoria invested 62 of the 111 Crimean recipients in a ceremony in Hyde Park. Charles Davis Lucas was the first recipient.

English Wine and It's History

As an addendum to the history of English Wine I thought to mention that we English Invented Sparkling Champagne and Wine in the 1650's. Because of the leading English Technology in bottle making and cork making by Admiral Sir Robert Mansell in 1651 and the ability of the wine bottle's to withstand high pressure this led to the deliberate invention of sparkling wine.

At the time of the compilation of the Domesday Survey in the late eleventh century, vineyards were recorded in 46 places in southern England, from East Anglia through to modern-day Somerset. By the time King Henry VIIIth ascended the throne there were 139 sizeable vineyards in England and Wales - 11 of them owned by the Crown, 67 by noble families and 52 by the church.

It is not exactly clear why the number of vineyards declined subsequently. Some have put it down to an adverse change in the weather which made an uncertain enterprise even more problematic. Others have linked it with the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. Both these factors may have had some part to play but in all probability the decline was gradual (over several centuries) and for more complex reasons.

In the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century there is evidence of various noblemen experimenting with growing grapes and making wine - such as the Hon. Charles Hamilton who grew vines at Painshill in Surrey (a garden which has in recent years been restored). Isolated enthusiasts, however, kept some of the art and science of vine-growing alive, in gardens both grand and humble in the south of the country, and in greenhouses too. Samuel Pepys records his consumption of wines from several vineyards around London.

In the late nineteenth century, the Marquess of Bute established a vineyard on a commercial scale at Castell Coch in South Wales - this is very well documented. The Marquess died in 1900 but in 1905 there were 63,000 vines at Castell Coch and Swanbridge superintended by the Marquess's 19 year old son who had succeeded him, but no wine making seems to have been carried out after the First World War.

The period from the end of the First World War to shortly after the end of the Second World War may well be the only time in two millennia that vines to make wine on a substantial scale were not grown in England or Wales. Doubtless, during that time, there were some vines being grown on a garden scale by amateur growers, but for more than 25 years there was a total cessation of viticulture and winemaking on a commercial basis.

After the Second World War, two men seem to have been the inspiration for the re-establishment of the English Wine industry. One was Ray Barrington Brock (who died only this year). He was a research chemist and set himself a private research mission to discover which varieties of grape would grow and ripen well in Britain. The other was Edward Hymans, a writer on garden matters who planted a vineyard and researched for a book he was writing on the history and practice of grape-vine cultivation in England.

The work of these two pioneers inspired others: Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones planted a vineyard at Hambledon, north of Portsmouth, in Hampshire. He initially planted 4,000 vines on a 1.5 acre site in 1952 and in 1955 the first English Wine to be made and sold commercially since the First World War went on sale.

The rest, as they say, is history. An ever-increasing number of pioneers followed these leads and especially during the 1960s, 70s and 80s there was a rapid increase in the number of English vineyards to a figure well over 400 by 2010. The total area under cultivation rose to more than 2,000 acres.

In recent years, English sparking wine has started to emerge as the UK wine style receiving the most attention. Theale Vineyard Sparkling Chardonnay 2003 beat off stiff competition from fine Champagnes and top sparkling wines to make it into the world's Top Ten Sparkling Wine at the world's only dedicated sparkling wine competition, French-based Effervescents du Monde (sparkling wines of the world) 2007.

History of The 17th Century Corkscrew – England


Cork was used already by the ancient Greeks and Romans as stopper for jars  in the 6th  century BC. But after the collapse of the Roman Empire the usage of cork seems to have ceased. In the early part of the 17th century cork re-appears as a wine bottle stopper  together with the use of glass bottles.


In the early days, before the corkscrew, a cord tied around the top of the cork was used to extract the cork.


In the 1700's us British invented the technology to bottle wine and use corkscrews.


The earliest references for corkscrews came from England in the early part of the 17th  century.


The heyday of corkscrews coincided with the great period of British manufacturing and invention in the middle of the 1800s.


The first Corkscrew registered patent was to the British Reverend Samuel Henshall (1765-1807) on August 24th 1795 with patent #2061. This was the first documented patent given for such a device.


Samuel Henshall, the son of a Cheshire grocer, was born in 1765. Educated first at Manchester Grammar School, he went up to Brasenose as a Somerset Scholar in 1782 and gained his MA in 1789 shortly before his ordination. Samuel Henshall was made a Fellow of the College but his academic career was not as illustrious as he had hoped: his dense scholarly works received a mixed reception and his bid, in 1800, to become Oxford's Professor of Anglo-Saxon was unsuccessful. He became a Curate of Christ Church, Spitalfields, and from 1802 until his death in 1807, he held the post of Rector of St. Mary's which, at that time, was one of the College's livings.

In May 1795, Samuel Henshall approached Matthew Boulton, the famous Birmingham entrepreneur, to arrange for the manufacture of the corkscrew which he invented. Samuel Henshall design included a concave ‘button', fixed between screw and shank, which prevented the screw penetrating too far into the bottle and simultaneously gripped the cork to break its seal with the neck of the bottle.

Samuel Henshall clearly took to the idea and stayed a fortnight with him while they developed the design. However, Samuel Henshall was not an ideal business partner: he was clearly having financial problems and did not put up his portion of the patent expenses. Boulton's legal advisor wrote in 1795: 'I doubt I shall not so easily extract £50 from the Parson, as he would a Cork from a Bottle.'

Within five years, there is evidence of further money woes as Samuel Henshall appeared in court three times being sued for the recovery of debts, the largest amount - some £420 - payable to a brewer. It is said that the remaining stock of corkscrews was buried with Samuel Henshall in the chancel of Bow Church, London.

English Morris Dancing – History

As an Englishman with an interest in English History I thought it would be of interest to tell the History of Morris Dancing which has a long recorded history in England, the earliest reference being from 1448.

By the early 16th century morris dancing had become a fixture of Church festivals. In mediaeval and Renaissance England, the churches brewed and sold ales, including wassail. These ales were sold for many occasions, both seasonal and sacramental - there were christening ales, bride's ales, clerk, wake and Whitsun ales - and were an important means of fund-raising for churches.

Later in the century the morris became attached to village fetes, and the May Day revels; Shakespeare says "as fit as a Morris for May Day" and "a Whitsun Morris Dance".

William Kemp danced a solo morris from London to Norwich in 1600. Morris Dancing was popular in Tudor times. However under Cromwell it fell out of favour and was actively discouraged by many Puritans. The ales were suppressed by the Puritan authorities in the seventeenth century and, when some reappeared in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, they usually had associated dancing.

By the mid 18th century in the South Midlands region, morris dancing was a fixture of the Whitsun ales. Morris Dancing was now in the hands of common folk who couldn't afford the fancy costumes of a couple centuries earlier, and they were resorting to ordinary clothing decorated with ribbons and flowers. There was a separate variety of morris, called bedlam morris, being done in a swath from the Welsh border counties through Warwickshire and Northamptonshire down to Buckinghamshire; the bedlam morris seems to have been mainly or exclusively done with sticks. Whether this ‘bedlam' morris had an alternative origin we cannot say.

During the nineteenth century Morris Dancing declined rapidly. New forms of entertainment, rapid social change and its association with an older unfashionable culture were all contributing factors.

For various reasons, church ales and Whitsun ales survived quite late in the south-west Midlands. Most of the Cotswold Morris tradition comes from this region and many of the Cotswold Morris sides gave dances to Cecil Sharp and other collectors which formed the basis for the dance revival in the early twentieth century. As well as the Cotswold dances other regional versions of the the morris also survived long enough to be collected. These included ‘Border Morris' from the Welsh border counties of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, North West from Lancashire and Cheshire, and Molly dancing from East Anglia. In the north of England long sword dancing was collected from Yorkshire and Rapper sword from the North East. It was widely believed that other regional varieties of the dance had been forgotten and lost. New evidence has recently been unearthed of ‘lost morris' in other areas of the country and that is what Rattlejag are all about.

History of the English Constitution AD 890 to Present day

AD 890 The Anglo Saxon Chronicles.

Originally compiled on the orders of King Alfred the Great, approximately A.D. 890, and subsequently maintained and added to by generations of anonymous scribes until the middle of the 12th Century. The original language is Anglo-Saxon (Old English), but later entries are essentially Middle English in tone.

AD 1086: The Domesday Book

Domesday is Englands most famous and earliest surviving public record. It is a highly detailed survey and valuation of all the land held by the King and his chief tenants, along with all the resources that went with the land in late 11th century England. The survey was a massive enterprise, and the record of that survey, Domesday Book, was a remarkable achievement. There is nothing like it in England until the censuses of the 19th century.

1215: Magna Carta

The 'great charter' is most famous for consolidating judicial rights, notably habeas corpus, the right not to be unlawfully imprisoned. However, it was also an important first step in removing power from the central authority - King John - and spreading it wider.

Its 61st clause, known as the Security Clause, declared that a council of 25 barons be created with the power to overrule the will of the King, by force if necessary.

This was repealed angrily by the King shortly afterwards, and mediaeval rulers largely ignored the document altogether, but it became an early foundation of England's - and later the United Kingdom's - unwritten constitution.

1376: The first Speaker of the House of Commons is appointed
An English Parliament had existed since late in the 13th century, and had been divided into two houses since 1341, with knights and burgesses sitting in what became known as the House of Commons while clergy and nobility sat in the House of Lords. However, its duties largely consisted of ratifying taxes for the Crown. In 1376, Thomas de la Mare was appointed to go to the King with complaints about taxation, and the Commons for the first time impeached some of the King's ministers. While de la Mare was imprisoned for his actions, the House created the position of Speaker to represent the Commons permanently. Above is Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker from 1992 to 2000.

English Petition of Right in 1628

Parliament passed the Petition of Right in 1628 in response to a number of perceived violations of the law by Charles I in the first years of his reign. In 1626, Charles had convened Parliament in an effort to obtain desperately needed funds for the continuation of his unsuccessful war with Spain. Unhappy with the prosecution of the war, however, Parliament swiftly began impeachment proceedings against Charles' favorite and principal counselor, the Duke of Buckingham. In order to protect Buckingham, Charles was forced to dissolve Parliament before it had voted any subsidies. Left without recourse to parliamentary taxation, Charles resorted to two forms of extra-parliamentary taxation to raise the funds he needed - a benevolence and a Forced Loan - that were of doubtful legality at best. He also began to billet soldiers in civilian homes, both as a cost-saving measure and as a means of punishing his political opponents.

Citing the Forced Loan's illegality, a number of gentlemen refused to pay, and many of them were imprisoned as a result. Ultimately, five of the imprisoned gentlemen - the so-called "Five Knights" (since they were all knights) petitioned the Court of Kings Bench for writs of habeas corpus to force the government to specify the reason for their imprisonment. Seeking to avoid a direct challenge of the legality of the Loan, Charles refused to charge the prisoners with a specific crime, instead declaring on the return to the writs that the knights were detained "per speciale mandatum domini regis" ("by special command of our lord the king"). In the resulting hearings before the King's Bench - the famous Five Knights case - counsel for the Knights argued that imprisonment by "special command" amounted to a fundamental violation of the principle of due process established by chapter twenty-nine of Magna Carta, which declared that imprisonment could only occur in accordance with the law of the land. The Five Knights' counsel claimed, therefore, that the king, upon receipt of a writ of habeas corpus, must return a specific cause of detention, the legality of which could be assessed by the courts. In contrast,Robert heath, the Attorney General, claimed that the king had a prerogative right to imprison by royal command for reasons of state, and these detentions could not be challenged by habeas corpus.

Faced with conflicting precedents, and, undoubtedly, political pressure, the Court decided to remit the Knights to prison while taking the case under advisement. Although equivocal, this decision was taken as a major victory for the king, and a significant blow to the opponents of his extra-legal policies. It was largely a desire to overturn immediately this ruling that would provide the primary impetus for the House of Commons decision to create the Petition of Right in the subsequent Parliament.

The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 is an Act of the Parliament of England passed during the reign of King Charles 11 to define and strengthen the ancient prerogative writ of habeas corpus, whereby persons unlawfully detained cannot be ordered to be prosecuted before a court of law.

The Act is often wrongly described as the origin of the writ of habeas corpus, which had existed for at least three centuries before. The Act of 1679 followed an earlier act of 1640 which established that the command of the King or the Privvy Council was no answer to a petition of habeas corpus. Further Habeas Corpus Acts were passed by the British Parliament in 1803, 1804, 1816 and 1862, but it is the Act of 1679 which is remembered as one of the most important statutes in English constitutional history. Though amended, it remains on the statute book to this day.

The Act came about because the Earl of Shaftsbury encouraged his friends in the Commons to introduce the Bill where it passed and was then sent up the Lords. Shaftesbury was the leading Exclusionist—those who wanted to exclude Charles II's brother James, Duke of York from the succession—and the Bill was a part of that struggle as they believed James would rule arbitrarily. The Lords decided to add many wrecking amendments to the Bill in an attempt to kill it; the Commons had no choice but to pass the Bill with the Lords' amendments because they learned that the King would soon end the current parliamentary session.

The Bill went back and forth between the two house, and then the Lords voted on whether to set up a conference on the Bill. If this motion was defeated the Bill would stay in the Commons and therefore have no chance of being passed. Each side—those voting for and against—appointed a teller who stood on each side of the door through which those Lords who had voted "aye" re-entered the House (the "nays" remained seated). One teller would count them aloud whilst the other teller listened and kept watch in order to know if the other teller was telling the truth. Shaftesbury's faction had voted for the motion, so they went out and re-entered the House. Gilbert Burnet, one of Shaftesbury's friends, recorded what then happened:

Lord Grey and Lord Norris were named to be the tellers: Lord Norris, being a man subject to vapours, was not at all times attentive to what he was doing: so, a very fat lord coming in, Lord Grey counted him as ten, as a jest at first: but seeing Lord Norris had not observed it, he went on with this misreckoning of ten: so it was reported that they that were for the Bill were in the majority, though indeed it went for the other side: and by this means the Bill passed.

The clerk recorded in the minutes of the Lords that the "ayes" had fifty-seven and the "nays" had fifty-five, a total of 112, but the same minutes also state that only 107 Lords had attended that sitting.

The King arrived shortly thereafter and gave Royal Assent before proroguing Parliament. The Act is now stored in the Parliamentary Archives.

1688: The Great Revolution
The Civil War a few years before had removed the monarchy, and then reinstated it in a weakened form, setting the stage for the attenuated 'constitutional monarchy' that we have today. But it was the arrival of William of Orange from Holland to take the throne from James II which led to the creation of the Bill of Rights, constitutionally preventing absolute rule by the Kings and Queens of Great Britain to this day, and leaving Parliament as the true seat of power in the country.

The English Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament in December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1688, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. It enumerates certain rights to which subjects and permanent residents of a constitutional monarchy were thought to be entitled in the late 17th century, asserting subjects' right to petition the monarch, as well as to have arms in defence. It also sets out—or, in the view of its drafters, restates—certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in parliament.

Along with the 1701 Act of Settlement the Bill of Rights is still in effect, one of the main constitutional laws governing the succession to the throne of the United kingdom and—followingBritish Colonialism, the resultant doctrine of reception, and independence—to the thrones of those other Commonwealth realms, by willing deference to the act as a British statute or as a patriated part of the particular realm's constitution. Since the implementation of the statute of Statute of westminister in each of the Commonwealth realms (on successive dates from 1931 onwards) the Bill of Rights cannot be altered in any realm except by that realm's own parliament, and then, by convention and as it touches on the succession to the shared throne, only with the consent of all the other realms.

In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British Constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act applies in Scotland. The English Bill of Rights 1689 inspired in large part the United States Bill of Rights.

4 July 1776 American Declaration of Independence The American Congress formally declares the separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain through the Declaration of Independence.

17 September 1787 Constitution of the United States The Constitution of the United States is signed and then ratified the following year. It establishes the system of federal government that begins to operate from 1789.

15 December 1791 American Bill of Rights Based on the English Bill of Rights - The American Bill of Rights is added to the U.S. Constitution as the first ten amendments.

1832: The Reform Act
Democracy of sorts had existed in England for centuries - as far back as 1432, Henry VI passed statues declaring who was eligible to vote (male owners of land worth at least 40 shillings, or a freehold property - perhaps half a million people nationwide). However, the counties and boroughs that sent Members to Parliament were of wildly differing size. The county of Yorkshire had more than 20,000 people, and the borough of Westminster had around 12,000, but they only sent one representative to the Commons - as did, for example, Dunwich, which had 32 voters, or Gatton, which had seven.

The Reform Act increased enfranchisement to over a million, or about one in six of all adult males, by allowing men who rented property above a certain value to vote too. It also tore up the mediaeval boundaries of counties and boroughs, giving more equitable representation for the cities that had sprung up since the Industrial Revolution. A second Act, in 1837, enfranchised all male householders, regardless of value.

1913: Emily Davison's death
Campaigns for women's suffrage go as far back as 1817, when the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote Plan of Parliamentary Reform in the form of a Catechism. William Thompson and Anna Wheeler also published a pamphlet in 1825 on the subject. However, despite these green shoots of support, the 1832 Act for the first time explicitly limited suffrage to "male persons". It was not until 1861, when John Stuart Mill published The Subjection of Women, that the movement began to gain momentum.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country to allow women to vote. In Britain, progress was slower, and in the early 20th century women took to direct and sometimes violent action; chaining themselves to railings, arson attacks, and even bombings. Many were imprisoned, and some went on hunger strike. Emily Davison died at the Epsom Derby in 1913, when she ran out in front of the King's horse, Anmer, clutching the banner of the Women's Social and Political Union. It was around this time that the originally derogatory word 'suffragette' was coined, in a Daily Mail article.

1918: The Representation of the People Act
World War I could not be said to have had many silver linings, but it gave British women - who had spent the last four years, in a country shorn of young men, keeping the war effort running in munition factories and farms - a newfound political confidence. The 1918 Act recognised that not only these women, but many soldiers who had supposedly fought for British democracy, were still unable to vote. It removed all property restrictions from male voters, and allowed women to vote for the first time - although not those under 30, and with property restrictions - and to stand for election. The first woman, Nancy Astor, was elected to Parliament just 18 months later, in Plymouth Sutton. Ten years later, the restrictions on women were lifted, allowing them to vote at 21 whether or not they held property.

10th  December 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1969: The Representation of the People Act
After one final loophole was closed in 1948 - weirdly, up until that point, some seven per cent of the electorate had two votes per person - voting in the United Kingdom reached essentially its modern state in 1969, when Harold Wilson's government dropped the voting age for all citizens from 21 to 18. Further acts in 1983, 1985 and 2000 changed the laws on prisoners and overseas voters (essentially, convicted criminals may not vote while in prison; expatriates can still vote in their last constituency for 15 years after they left the country, and holidaymakers can vote by postal ballot or proxy). In 2000, a hoary constitutional prejudice against "lunatics" was weakened when psychiatric hospitals were allowed to be designated as registration addresses. 2 October 2000 British Human Rights Act The British Human Rights Act 1998 came into force. This makes the European Convention on Human Rights enforceable in UK courts. ( As an Englishman this is one of the worst drafted Acts in the history of the British Constitution.)

English Kings and Queens from 774 AD to Present Day

Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th. Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years. This has made me a great fan of English and British History and below is a list of English and British Kings and Queens.

774-796 Offa King of the Angles and not necessarily the Saxons.

802 - 839



839 - 856



856 - 860



860 - 866



866 - 871

Ethelred I

the unready

871 - 899

Alfred the Great

He who burnt cakes

899 - 924

Edward the Elder


924 - 939


May have been the son of his fathers mistress

939 - 946

Edmund I


946 - 955


955 - 959


Aged 13 when he became king

959 - 975


His wife was the first to be crowned Queen

975 - 979

Edward the Martyr


979 - 1013

Ethelred II the Unready


1013 - 1014


Installed by the nobility he was Canute's father

1014 - 1016

Ethelred II the Unready

Unready means No-counsel or Unwise

1016 - 1016

Edmund II Ironside

Only ruled for 6 months

1016 - 1035


Tried to hold back the tide

1035 - 1040

Harold Harefoot

He usurped Hardicanute and murdered the only other contender

1040 - 1042


Also King of Denmark he drunk himself to death

1042 - 1066

Edward the Confessor

Responsible for the building of Westminster Abbey

1066 - 1066

Harold II

Killed at Hastings - that he was shot in the eye is a myth

The Normans

1066 - 1087

William I the Conqueror

A comtemporary chronicle described him as a stern and violent man. The Bayeaux Tapestrey was created by weavers in Kent, England.

1087 - 1100

William II

Killed in hunting accident

1100 - 1135

Henry I

Died from eating too many Lampreys

1135 - 1154


Briefly usurped by Matilda

House of Plantagenet

1154 - 1189

Henry II

died in Battle

1189 - 1199

Richard I The Lion Heart

Famous for his crusades and for leaving John as his Regent

1199 - 1216


The King John of Robin Hood fame who was forces to sign Magna Carta

1216 - 1272

Henry III

Unsuccessfully tried to set aside the Magna Carta

1272 - 1307

Edward I

Conquerer of the Welsh and the King Edward of Braveheart fame

1307 - 1327

Edward II

Renounced throne and later murdered

1327 - 1377

Edward III

Created the Duchy of Cornwall to support the heir to the throne

1377 - 1399

Richard II


House of Lancaster

1399 - 1413

Henry IV

Died of Leprosy and epilepsy. His wife was later convicted of witchcraft

1413 - 1422

Henry V

Of Agincourt fame

1422 - 1461

Henry VI


House of York

1461 - 1470

Edward IV


House of Lancaster

1470 - 1471

Henry VI


House of York

1471 - 1483

Edward IV


1483 - 1483

Edward V

Murdered - One of the Princes in the Tower

1483 - 1485

Richard III

Killed in battle

House of Tudor

1485 - 1509

Henry VII

Won the crown at the Battle of Bosworth Field

1509 - 1547

Henry VIII

Of 6 wives fames. Formed the Protestant church

1547 - 1553

Edward VI

Tricked in to declaring Jane his heir.

1553 - 1553

Lady Jane Grey

Reigned for 9 days later executed

1553 - 1558

Mary I

Bloody Mary

1558 - 1603

Elizabeth I

Her reign is often described as the Golden Age

House of Stuart

1603 - 1625

James I

James VI of Scotland

1625 - 1649

Charles I



1649 - 1658

Oliver Cromwell

Lord Protector

1658 - 1660

Richard Cromwell

Lord Protector

House of Stuart

1660 - 1685

Charles II

A trouble reign that encompassed the Great Plague & the fire of London

1685 - 1688

James II


1689 - 1702

Williams III & Mary II

William of Orange.Joint Sovereigns Mary died 1694

1702 - 1714


The last monarch to veto an act of Parliament.

House of Hanover

1714 - 1727

George I

Sometimes known as German George

1727 - 1760

George II

The last King to fight with his troops

1760 - 1820

George III

Sometimes called Mad George. Lost the American Colonies

1820 - 1830

George IV

Prince Regent for part of his fathers reign.

1830 - 1837

William IV

Presided over the great Parlimentry Reform Act

1837 - 1901


The longest reigning monarch

House of Sax-Coburg-Gotha

1901 - 1910

Edward VII


House of Windsor

1910 - 1936

George V

1936 - 1936

Edward VIII


1836 - 1952

George V

1952 - present

Elizabeth II

The English Translated Magna Carta

Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th. Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years. This has made me a great fan of English and British History and below is a document that we English class as part of of what we are about. The Chinese call England “The Island of Hero's” which I think sums up what we English are all about.


JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin Fitz Gerald, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects:

(1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.

TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a 'relief', the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of 'relief'. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s. at most for the entire knight's 'fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of 'fees'

(3) But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without 'relief' or fine.

(4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be similarly answerable to us.

(5) For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.

(6) Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be made known to the heir's next-of-kin.

(7) At her husband's death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her.

(8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.

(9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor's lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.

(10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.

(11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

(12) No 'scutage' or 'aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied. 'Aids' from the city of London are to be treated similarly.

(13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.

(14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an 'aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a 'scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.

(15) In future we will allow no one to levy an 'aid' from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied.

(16) No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knight's 'fee', or other free holding of land, than is due from it.

(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

(18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets.

(19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done.

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a villein the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.

(21) Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.

(22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

(23) No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so.

(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.

(25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and riding shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.

(26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay 'fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay 'fee' of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man’s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children.

(27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved.

(28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.

(29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this service.

(30) No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.

(31) Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.

(32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the 'fees' concerned.

(33) All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.

(34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.

(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russet, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly.

(36) In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused.

(37) If a man holds land of the Crown by 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's 'fee', by virtue of the 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', unless the 'fee-farm' owes knight's service. We will not have the guardianship of a man's heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like.

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

(42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.

(43) If a man holds lands of any 'escheat' such as the 'honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other 'escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the 'relief' and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the baron's hand. We will hold the 'escheat' in the same manner as the baron held it.

(44) People who live outside the forest need not in future appear before the royal justices of the forest in answer to general summonses, unless they are actually involved in proceedings or are sureties for someone who has been seized for a forest offence.

(45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.

(46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.

(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.

(48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed.

(49) We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service.

(50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers.

(51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.

(52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace. In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.

(53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first afforested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another person's 'fee', when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a 'fee' held of us for knight's service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person's 'fee', in which the lord of the 'fee' claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters.

(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.

(55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgement shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.

(56) If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of lands, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgement of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgement of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way.

(57) In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgement of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions.

(58) We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.

(59) With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgement of his equals in our court.

(60) All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.

(61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security: The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.


If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.


Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.

If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.


In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear. The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.


We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.


(62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215) and the restoration of peace.


In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf.

(63) IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.


Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the above-mentioned people and many others. Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year began on 28 May.



As might be expected, the text of Magna Carta of 1215 bears many traces of haste, and is clearly the product of much bargaining and many hands. Most of its clauses deal with specific, and often long-standing, grievances rather than with general principles of law. Some of the grievances are self-explanatory: others can be understood only in the context of the feudal society in which they arose. Of a few clauses, the precise meaning is still a matter of argument.


In feudal society, the king's barons held their lands 'in fee' (feudum) from the king, for an oath to him of loyalty and obedience, and with the obligation to provide him with a fixed number of knights whenever these were required for military service. At first the barons provided the knights by dividing their estates (of which the largest and most important were known as 'honours') into smaller parcels described as 'knights' fees', which they distributed to tenants able to serve as knights. But by the time of King John it had become more convenient and usual for the obligation for service to be commuted for a cash payment known as 'scutage', and for the revenue so obtained to be used to maintain paid armies.


Besides military service, feudal custom allowed the king to make certain other exactions from his barons. In times of emergency, and on such special occasions as the marriage of his eldest daughter, he could demand from them a financial levy known as an 'aid' (auxilium).

When a baron died, he could demand a succession duty or relief (relevium) from the baron's heir. If there was no heir, or if the succession was disputed, the baron's lands could be forfeited or 'escheated' to the Crown. If the heir was under age, the king could assume the guardianship of his estates, and enjoy all the profits from them - even to the extent of despoliation - until the heir came of age.


The king had the right, if he chose, to sell such a guardianship to the highest bidder, and to sell the heir himself in marriage for such price as the value of his estates would command. The widows and daughters of barons might also be sold in marriage. With their own tenants, the barons could deal similarly.


The scope for extortion and abuse in this system, if it were not benevolently applied, was obviously great and had been the subject of complaint long before King John came to the throne. Abuses were, moreover, aggravated by the difficulty of obtaining redress for them, and in Magna Carta the provision of the means for obtaining a fair hearing of complaints, not only against the king and his agents but against lesser feudal lords, achieves corresponding importance. About two-thirds of the clauses of Magna Carta of 1215 are concerned with matters such as these, and with the misuse of their powers by royal officials.


As regards other topics, the first clause, conceding the freedom of the Church, and in particular confirming its right to elect its own dignitaries without royal interference, reflects John's dispute with the Pope over Stephen Langton's election as archbishop of Canterbury. It does not appear in the 'Articles of the Barons', and its somewhat stilted phrasing seems in part to be attempting to justify its inclusion, none the less, in the charter itself. The clauses that deal with the royal forests  over which the king had special powers and jurisdiction, reflect the disquiet and anxieties that had arisen on account of a longstanding royal tendency to extend the forest boundaries, to the detriment of the holders of the lands affected. Those that deal with debts reflect administrative problems created by the chronic scarcity of ready cash among the upper and middle classes, and their need to resort to money-lenders when this was required.


The clause promising the removal of fish-weirs was intended to facilitate the navigation of rivers.

A number of clauses deal with the special circumstances that surrounded the making of the charter, and are such as might be found in any treaty of peace. Others, such as those relating to the city of London and to merchants clearly represent concessions to special interests.


List of British Royal Societies

Many years ago in the 1920's my great Aunt Hilda ( Suffragette and Headmistress ) traced our family tree back to the Kings and Queens of England from the 7th Century. This basically means I am related to most of the British Royal Family going back 1500 years. This has made me a great fan of English and British History and below is a description and list of the various British Royal Socities.

This is a list of Royal Societies.

Royal Academy 1768

·       Royal Aeronautical Society 1866

·       Royal Anthropological Institute 1871

·       Royal Asiatic Society 1823

·       Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 1890 incorporated in Ontario, Canada (royal charter 1903)

·       Royal Astronomical Society 1831 formed from the Astronomical Society of London (founded 1820)

·       Royal Bath and West of England Society 1777

·       Royal Dublin Society 1731

·       Royal Geographical Society 1830

·       Royal Heraldry Society of Canada

·       Royal Historical Society 1868 University College London

·       Royal Horticultural Society 1804 and 1861

·       Royal Medical Society

·       Royal Numismatic Society 1836

·       Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain 1841 and 1988

·       Royal Scottish Geographical Society 1884

·       Royal Society 1660

·       Royal Society for Nature Conservation

·       Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

·       Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

·       Royal Society for the Promotion of Health aka Royal Society of Health 1904

·       Royal Society for the Protection of Birds 1904

·       Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1849

·       Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce 1754 aka The RSA, Royal Society of Arts

·       Royal Society of Canada 1882

·       Royal Society of Chemistry 1980 formed from the Chemical Society (founded 1841), the Society for Analytical Chemistry (founded 1874), the Royal Institute of Chemistry (founded 1877) and the Faraday Society (founded 1903)

·       Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783

·       Royal Society of St. George 1894

·       Royal Society of Literature 1820

·       Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge 1660

·       Royal Society of Medicine 1805 formed from the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London

·       Royal Society of New South Wales 1821

·       Royal Society of New Zealand 1851

·       Royal Society of Queensland 1884

·       Royal Society of South Africa 1877

·       Royal Society of South Australia 1880

·       Royal Society of Tasmania 1844

·       Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

·       Royal Society of Victoria 1854

·       Royal Society of Western Australia 1914

·       Royal Statistical Society 1834

·       Royal West of England Academy.

History of British Police and Funny Art

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were also members of various London Police Forces, I thought it may be of interest to write an article about British Policing's history.

I also have some funny Victorian British Bobbies on art prints please click here.

Policing in its present form has existed for about 150 years. The earliest form of policing in Britain predates the Norman Conquest. The Saxon frankpledge was a private, social obligation in which all adult males were responsible for the good behaviour of others. The people were expected to live peaceably and lawfully, keeping the King's peace.


This was more formally arranged with men between the ages of 12 and 60 organised into groups of 10 family units called tithings (also spelled tythings). These were headed by a tythingman. Each tything was grouped into 100, which in turn was headed by a hundredman. He acted as an administrator and judge. The hundredman reported to the King's deputy, the local shire reeve whose responsibility was it to keep order in the county. In 1750 Henry Fielding, novelist and Chief Justice of Westminster, set up the Bow Street Runners, their numbers started with just six police officers, by the end of the 18th century their numbers had risen to approximately seventy.


Debate continued during the early part of the 19th century as to the importance of a police force in England. The Home Secretary of the time, Robert Peel, later Sir Robert Peel, sponsored the first successful bill for a salaried civilian police force. The Metropolitan Police Act 1829 was limited to the London area; however it excluded the City of London and provinces.


Policemen were to be easily recognised and dressed in uniform. Patrols would prevent crime and disorder. As the police were to be salaried, stipend or rewards were not permitted for the resolution of crime or the return of stolen property. Along with their regular duties, the new police force would continue some of the duties of the watchmen such as lighting lamps, calling time and fire detection.

As Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel main achievement was the reforming of the London Police force, the forerunners of the modern day British Police services. The nickname of the police officers were nicknamed "Peeler's" and named after the prime minister.


In Britain in 1812, 1818 and 1822 a number of committees had examined the policing of London. Based on their findings the home secretary Robert Peel passed the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, introducing a more rigorous and less discretionary approach to law enforcement. The new Metropolitan Police Service, founded on September 29th was depersonalized, bureaucratic and hierarchical with the new police constables (US = patrol officers) instructed to prevent crime and pursue offenders. However in contrast to the more paramilitary police of continental Europe the British police, partly to counter public fears and objections concerning armed enforcers, were initially clearly civilian and their armament was limited to the truncheon, a fear of spy systems and political control also kept 'plain clothes' and even detective work to a minimum. The force was independent of the local government, through its commissioner it was responsible direct to the Home Office. The new constables were nicknamed 'peelers' or 'bobbies' after the then home secretary, Sir Robert Peel.


Even within the Metropolitan Police districts created from 1829, there remained a number of police establishments outside the control of the Metropolitan Police. These were the Bow Street patrols; both mounted and on foot, latterly named the Bow Street Runners. Police constables attached to these offices were under the control of the magistrates. By 1839, with the exception of the Marine or River police and transport Police, all of these establishments were absorbed by the Metropolitan Police force. The City of London Police Force was set up in 1839 and to this day remains independent.


The first Detective Force was created by the Metropolitan Police Force in 1842 and eventually became the famous Scotland Yard.

Outside of the metropolitan area the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 and further legislation in 1839 and 1840 allowed counties to create their own constabulary. The first county force created was Wiltshire in 1839. Around thirty counties had done so before the County and Borough Police Act of 1856 made such forces mandatory and subject to central inspection. There were over 200 separate forces in England and Wales by 1860.

England's Trial by Jury

Many of my London relatives are Magistrates and this has made me a great fan of English and British Law history including the Jury Service and it's history.

A jury is a group of persons selected from the community that is charged with hearing a legal case and delivering a verdict on it. Juries are used in both civil and criminal cases, and they base their decisions on testimony and other evidence that is presented at trial.


The English King Ethelred the Unready set up an early legal system through the Wantage Code of Ethelred, one provision of which stated that the twelve leading minor nobles of each small district were required to swear that they would investigate crimes without a bias. These juries differed from the modern sort by being self-informing; instead of getting information through a trial, the jurors were required to investigate the case themselves.


In the 12th century, Henry II took a major step in developing the jury system. Henry II set up a system to resolve land disputes using juries. A jury of twelve free men were assigned to arbitrate in these disputes. Unlike the modern jury, these men were charged with uncovering the facts of the case on their own rather than listening to arguments in court. Henry II also introduced what is now known as the "Grand Jury" through his Assize of Clarendon. Under the assize, a jury of free men was charged with reporting any crimes that they knew of in their hundred to a "justice in eyre," a judge who moved between hundreds on a circuit. A criminal accused by this jury was given a trial by ordeal this sometimes involved tying up the miscreant and putting them in the river. If they floated they were innocent and if they sank they were guilty and killed.


The Church banned participation of clergy in trial by ordeal in 1215. Without the legitimacy of religion, trial by ordeal collapsed. The juries under the assizes began deciding guilt as well as providing accusations. The same year, trial by jury became a pretty explicit right in one of the most influential clauses of Magna Carta, signed by King John. Article 39 of the Magna Carta read: It is translated thus by Lysander Spooner in his Essay on the Trial by Jury: "No free man shall be captured, and or imprisoned, or diseased of his freehold, and or of his liberties, or of his free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor will we proceed against him by force or proceed against him by arms, but by the lawful judgement of his peers, and or by the law of the land."


Although it says and or by the law of the land, this in no manner can be interpreted as if it were enough to have a positive law, made by the king, to be able to proceed legally against a citizen. The law of the land was the consuetudinary law, based on the customs and consent of John's subjects, and since they did not have Parliament in those times, this meant that neither the king nor the barons could make a law without the consent of the people. According to some sources, in the time of Edward III, by the law of the land had been substituted by due process of law, which in those times was a trial by twelve peers.


During the mid-14th Century, it was forbidden that persons who had sat on the Presenting Jury (i.e., in modern parlance, the Grand Jury) to sit on the trial jury for that crime. 25 Edward III stat 5., c3 (1353). Medieval juries were self-informing, in that individuals were chosen as jurors because they either knew the parties and the facts, or they had the duty to discover them. This spared the government the cost of fact-finding.Over time, English juries became less self-informing and relied more on the trial itself for information on the case. Jurors remained free to investigate cases on their own until the 17th century. The Magna Carta being forgotten after a succession of benevolent reigns (or, more probably, reigns limited by the jury and the barons, and only under the rule of laws that the juries and barons found acceptable), the kings, through the royal judges, began to extend their control over the jury and the kingdom. In David Hume's History of England, he tells something of the powers that the kings had accumulated in the times after the Magna Carta, the prerogatives of the crown and the sources of great power with which these monarchs counted.


The case against William Penn and William Mead in the late seventeenth century illustrated the importance of the jury and its rise to power within the judicial system. Penn and Mead were religious dissenters who were given to preaching in public. Around this time, we British were so suspicious of King Charles II's Catholic leanings that they passed laws against preaching in public. Pennand Mead were arrested, and opponents of the king sought to have Penn and Mead prosecuted and imprisoned, which would have embarrassed the king. The court impaneled a jury and, after both sides presented their case, they retired todeliberate, knowing full well that they were expected to deliver verdicts of guilty. Around this time, the judge had a tremendous amount of power over jurors. A judge could keep jurors until they delivered a verdict desired by thejudge, and in some cases, a judge could lock the jury in a room and deprivethe jurors of food and water and other amenities until they delivered the desired verdict. Several members of the jury led by Edward Bushell, refused to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict.


The jury was sent off to deliberate againand again, without food, drink, fire, or tobacco, but it still could not deliver a guilty verdict. It did absolve Mead, but the judge ruled that Mead could not be released because he was charged with conspiring with Penn. Penn, from his cage in the courtroom (Mead likewise was kept in a cage), bellowed that"[i]f not guilty be not a verdict, then you make of the jury and Magna Cartabut a mere nose of wax." The Lord Mayor of London threatened to cut Bushell's throat and the jury was sent away for another night without food or drink.The next morning, it returned with not guilty verdicts again, and the judge imposed a fine on each juror.


The jurors refused to pay the fine and were sentto jail. Eight jurors eventually relented, but four did not, and they eventually brought their own case against the court from jail. In what became knownas Bushell's Case, the Court of Common Pleas declared that the punishment of the jurors was illegal and that no jury could be punished for its verdict. Penn and Mead, both of whom were sent to jail after the fiasco, were released when Penn's father paid their fines. The four jurors were released from jail after the decision in Bushell's Case, and their ultimate success helped to establish the power of the jury system in England.


England is the oldest European country ( over 1000 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. As I have many generations of family from England I thought it would be of interest to write about its famous people and events.


Copyright © 2012 Paul Hussey. All Rights Reserved