8 May 1945: Victory in Europe

On 8 May 1945 Europe celebrated the end of World War II, although it would be mid-August before the world saw peace with VJ Day (victory over the Japanese) when war in the Far-East was declared over. The German surrender was anticipated for days and General Jodl, the German Army Chief of Staff, finally signed their unconditional surrender at 2.41 a.m. on 7 May 1945. … Continue reading 8 May 1945: Victory in Europe

RAF Plane Crash: Irish Sea Rescue Attempt

On the morning of 27 September 1950 an RAF twin-seater Meteor 7 aircraft crashed into the Irish Sea, off Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire. It was on its way from Jurby, Isle of Man to Driffield, Yorkshire. An RAF rescue attempt was launched immediately with assistance from those in the vicinity. It was briefly reported in some newspapers, where it was stated that one body was recovered … Continue reading RAF Plane Crash: Irish Sea Rescue Attempt

1881: When the River Mersey Froze

Britain shivers and many people who have it much tougher over the winter months mock our unpreparedness and histrionics regarding late winter – and very early spring – snowfall. However, we’ve just had our coldest March day on record. It’s an unusual start to spring with the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma affecting our weather for several days. It might be an unusual … Continue reading 1881: When the River Mersey Froze

Hampton Court Palace: Vote 100 – The Palace Under Attack

Hampton Court Palace: Celebrating 100 years since women won partial suffrage in Britain 6 February 2018 marked 100 years since the Representation of the People Act. This afforded nearly all men, and women over thirty who met property requirements, the right to vote in Britain. The Act was a huge paradigm shift for British democracy and can be seen as a victory for both the … Continue reading Hampton Court Palace: Vote 100 – The Palace Under Attack

The Glen Cinema Disaster: 71 Children Dead on Hogmanay 1929, Scotland’s Forgotten Tragedy

On 31 December 1929, Hogmanay, seventy-one children died and more than fifty were injured when young cinema-goers panicked after thick smoke billowed around the darkened auditorium during a children’s matinee performance of The Dude Desperado at the Glen Cinema, Paisley, Scotland. Calls of ‘fire’ prompted terrified children to flee towards the exits. Survivor Sadie Elias said she had chosen the Glen Cinema as it had … Continue reading The Glen Cinema Disaster: 71 Children Dead on Hogmanay 1929, Scotland’s Forgotten Tragedy

Titanic: the Hero Musicians

The night of April 14/15 1912 will be remembered as the night the ‘unsinkable’ RMS Titanic sank. The ship struck an iceberg soon after 11.30 p.m. and it was gone by 2.20 a.m., with not enough lifeboats for the passengers and crew, women and children were placed into lifeboats that were scandalously nowhere near filled to capacity. More than 1500 people lost their lives,  only … Continue reading Titanic: the Hero Musicians

British Home Children

For over a hundred years, starting in 1869 until the 1970s, Britain sent children abroad; to Canada prior to the Second World War and later to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Rhodesia. Over 100,000 children were sent to Canada alone. The children ranged in age from four to fifteen and would be sent from seemingly well-meaning philanthropic or religious organisations, such as Dr Barnardo’s, … Continue reading British Home Children

The Sale of Arsenic Regulation Act 1851

The 1851 Act regulated the sale of arsenic by imposing a series of measures aimed to ultimately control the arsenic panic that gripped the country. The six parts to the Act covered: On every Sale of Arsenic, Particulars of Sale to be entered in a Book by the Seller in Form set forth in Schedule to this Act. Restrictions as to Sale of Arsenic Provision for … Continue reading The Sale of Arsenic Regulation Act 1851

25 December 1840, The London Evening Standard: A Report

Regular readers of my blog know that I often draw inspiration from the British Newspaper Archives. This does involve a small subscription, however, you can search and view a permitted three articles for free here. As it is the season of goodwill, I decided to share with you part of a report published on Christmas Day 1840 showing the festive food the poor of London were … Continue reading 25 December 1840, The London Evening Standard: A Report

The Royal Double Wedding

Almost 200 years ago there was a very different royal wedding. It was not held in the grand and historically significant Westminster Abbey, like the 2011 marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, but in the relatively small summer palace in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Kew Palace, originally ‘the White House’, was the home of Frederick, the Prince of Wales and his wife … Continue reading The Royal Double Wedding

Spanish Flu: The Deadliest Pandemic the World has Ever Seen

As World War One drew to a close, a new terror materialised that would more than double, and some suggest treble, the 16 million people killed during the conflict. A deadly global pandemic was facilitated by an airborne virus, the movement of troops around Europe, global commerce and migration. More died in a single year than four years of the black death, or bubonic plague … Continue reading Spanish Flu: The Deadliest Pandemic the World has Ever Seen

Remember, Remember the Sixth of November: Commemorating Princess Charlotte 200 Years After her Death

‘Alas, that England’s hope – her greatest pride, Should thou in youthful loveliness have died!’ The Morning Post, 7 November 1817 Monday 6 November 2017 is the 200th anniversary of the death of Princess Charlotte, the granddaughter of King George III. She died at Claremont in Surrey after a protracted fifty-hour labour during which she delivered a stillborn son. Charlotte Augusta of Wales was born … Continue reading Remember, Remember the Sixth of November: Commemorating Princess Charlotte 200 Years After her Death

Typhoid Mary: the Tragedy of Mary Mallon

On 11 November 1938, a 69 year old Irishwoman died on North Brother Island, New York. She had been held in isolation for 23 years, yet she had not been charged or convicted with any criminal offence. Mary Mallon was born in Cookstown, Ireland in 1869. She immigrated to America when she was a teenager and found employment in domestic service. She developed an aptitude … Continue reading Typhoid Mary: the Tragedy of Mary Mallon

Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?

Thirty-two years after being built, Walton Prison in Liverpool witnessed its first execution. On 14 March 1887, Elizabeth Berry suffered the ignominy of being the first prisoner and one of only two women to be executed there. The execution chamber was hastily built. It appears that a reprieve for the prisoner was expected and when this was not granted, the Coach House, an outbuilding where … Continue reading Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?