Thousands of artefacts encased in centuries of concrete-like deposits – ranging from Roman antiquities to the contents of a 280-year-old shipwreck – are to have their secrets revealed by a state-of-the-art X-ray system…
Graham Holden and his partner were walking their dog on a Cleethorpes beach when they discovered wreckage that left him “amazed.”
Experts believe that what they found is the remains of an RAF Bristol Beaufighter which crashed shortly after it took off from North Coates in Lincolnshire one day in April 1944. RAF North Coates was located six miles southeast of Cleethorpes when it operated from 1914 until its closure in 1990. The airfield is now operated privately…
At around 9pm on the evening of the 16th December 1908, the pulling and sailing Lifeboat ‘Queen Victoria’ under coxswain John Holbrook answered signals of distress made from a vessel which had grounded on the ledge at…
“The book that can never be written”. So Sharon Wright was told every time she proposed the idea of a biography of the Brontë sisters’ mother, Maria. The accepted view in Brontë scholarly circles has always been that Maria’s life was eclipsed by the genius of her children.
On the 12th of May 1820, Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Tuscany, the city she owes her name to. She was a national heroine in her lifetime already, elevated to near sainthood by some and bitterly criticised by others.
“It is frequently alleged that women are less discreet than men, that they are ruled by their emotions, and not by their brains: that they rely on intuition rather than on reason; and that Sex will play an unsettling and dangerous role in their work. … it is curious that in the history of espionage and counter-espionage a very high percentage of the greatest coups have been brought off by women … this – if it proves anything – proves that the spymasters of the world are inclined to lay down hard and fast rules, which they subsequently find it impossible to keep to, and it is in their interests to break.”
I’m halfway through the book and it’s a riveting read. Sarah
At the end of the 19th century and during the first years of the 20th century there was considerable competition to demonstrate powered flight…
Fifty years ago, in early April 1970, there was a horrific racist murder in the East End, but the memory of this tragic case has been obscured by later similar events in that locality…
Source: Lessons from a forgotten murder
Jessie Fawsitt was an aviation pioneer in a quiet, unassuming way. She became Britain’s first Civil Air Guard in 1938. This was not planned by Jessie, more a case of serendipity, being in the right place at the right time…
The village of Tudeley in Kent, England, contains a small church that dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. It’s even believed that parts of the structure may date back to the pre-Norman Conquest of 1066. Once inside, visitors are not greeted by medieval or even Victorian stained glass, but the unmistakable stylings of 20th-century master Marc Chagall…
Source: All Saints’ Church of Tudeley
London is situated upon a river basin and owes its origin to the Thames. Yet once upon a time many other rivers flowed through the city which have been ‘lost,’ mostly absorbed into the modern drainage network or occasionally diverted into decorative water features such as the Serpentine in Hyde Park…
Source: Spitalfields Life
To her neighbours, Dorothy O’Grady was a pleasant middle-aged woman who liked walking her Labrador around their sleepy seaside town.
So when the unassuming landlady of Osborne Villa in the Isle of Wight was suddenly arrested in 1940 on suspicion of being a Nazi spy, few believed it possible…
Today is the 199th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, an epochal event in the development of British democracy.
On August 16th, 1819, St Peter’s Fields, a large open space in the centre of Manchester, was the scene of an atrocity in which mounted soldiers attacked a crowd of over 60,000 peaceful suffrage protesters. Eighteen people, including four women and a child, died from sabre cuts and trampling, and nearly seven hundred more received grievous injuries – all in the name of political emancipation.
Peterloo occurred during a period of immense social tension and mass protests caused by political repression, economic depression and widespread poverty in aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. Fewer than one in fifty people had the vote, and hunger was widespread, with bad harvests, and the disastrous Corn Laws, making the people’s staple food barely affordable.
On the morning of August 16th, crowds began to congregate, coming in from the outlying districts of Manchester, and the surrounding towns; all conducting themselves, according to contemporary accounts, with dignity and discipline, the majority of them dressed in their Sunday best.
The main address was to be given by the inspirational speaker Henry “Orator” Hunt, from a hustings platform consisting of a large agricultural cart, and the Fields were filled with banners – REFORM, UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE, EQUAL REPRESENTATION and, ironically, LOVE. Many of the banner poles were topped with the red cap of liberty – a powerful symbol from revolutionary France (it was only 26 years since the Terror).
Watching the ever-increasing assembly from a window overlooking the Fields, a local magistrate who had been charged with keeping the peace became uneasy, and after a brief consultation, decided to have the crowd disperse by the officially sanctioned method of reading the Riot Act aloud. Above the hubbub preceding the event, the words could scarcely be heard; but that gave legal cover for what happened subsequently.
In neighbouring streets, an extensive military force had been assembled, in anticipation of disorder: unbelievably, there were six hundred mounted Hussars; two hundred infantrymen; an artillery unit with two six-pounder guns; four hundred men of the local Cheshire cavalry; and additionally, four hundred rapidly sworn-in special constables.
With all these troops held in reserve, the local Yeomanry, led by Captain Hugh Birley and Major Thomas Trafford, a paramilitary force drawn from the ranks of the local mill and shop owners, was given the task of moving and arresting the speakers. Many of them had been drinking while they waited, on an unusually warm summer day. On horseback, armed with sabres and clubs, many were familiar with, and had old scores to settle with, the leading protesters. (In one instance, on spotting a reporter from the radical “Manchester Observer”, a Yeomanry officer was heard to cry “There’s Saxton, damn him – run him through!”)
As the Yeomanry approached the hustings, people in the crowd linked arms to try and prevent the arrests. An order was given to advance regardless, and the first rank of the Yeomanry drew their swords, and proceeded to cut down banners and slash at protestors below them with their razor-edged swords.
The surge of panicked people trying to get out of the way was interpreted from a distance as the crowd attacking the Yeomanry, and the Hussars (experienced professional soldiers led by Lieutenant Colonel Guy L’Estrange) were ordered in. Their vanguard cut a swathe through the crowd from the far side of the Fields.
Despite this, there were unlikely heroes among the military. An unnamed cavalry officer attempted to strike up the swords of the Yeomanry, crying, “For shame, gentlemen: what are you about? The people cannot get away!”; while the Cheshire cavalry did not move forward. The Hussars, though, disciplined and relentless, rapidly cut through the crowd and joined up with the Yeomanry, in some cases striking down fleeing protesters.
In only a few minutes, by 2 pm, the carnage was over, leaving St Peter’s Fields piled with abandoned banners and the bodies of the dead and wounded – and the whole of Manchester reeling in shock. The term ‘Peterloo’ was rapidly coined, to mock the soldiers who had attacked unarmed civilians – contrasting their cowardice with the valour of troops at Waterloo, four years earlier.
On the orders of the magistrates, journalists who had been present at the event were arrested; others who went on to report the event were subsequently jailed. As a direct reaction to what he’d seen at St Peter’s Fields, the businessman John Edward Taylor went on to raise a subscription to set up the Manchester Guardian newspaper.
In the weeks that followed, most of the speakers and organizers of the rally were arraigned in court – a charge of High Treason only reluctantly being dropped by the prosecution after a public outcry. The Hussars, and the magistrates, by contrast, received a message of congratulation from the Prince Regent, and all the authorities policing the event were cleared of any wrongdoing by the subsequent official inquiry.
The indignant reaction to Peterloo was hugely influential in prompting a long-lived national debate about who should have the right to vote. After the Great Reform Act of 1832, the late 1830s saw the rise of the mass Chartist movement, with its Six Demands, which pressured governments for nearly twenty years. All those demands bar one (annual Parliaments) were later enacted, in the franchise reforms of 1867 and 1884, and successive Representation of the People Acts in the 20th Century.