Index to Chapter 6
- Concorde – A British Icon
- 10 Turning Points that could have lost GB WW2
- The Union Jack – Iconic British Flag
- Sir Francis Drake 1540 to 1596 – British Icon
- Famous London Icons: The Crystal Palace Exhibition – London 1851
- The London Hansom Cab – History
- London Routmaster Buses – History
- City of London Livery Companies
- England's House of Parliament - It's History
- Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot 1605
- London Underground – The World's First Underground Railway
- The London River Thames – It's History
- The London Thames Watermen and Lightermen
- London Bridges and Other Thames Crossings – History
- British Cheques – History
- Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London 1397
- Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park, London Icon – History
- British Silver and Gold Hallmarking from 1300 AD to present
- Portobello Road Market, London Icon
- London Parks and Gardens– Free Entry
- Invasion of Lovebirds and Parrots in London
- Tower of London – London Icon
- The Great Plague of London -1665
- Sir Christopher Wren – London Icon
- Smithfield Market – London Icon
- London Museums and Art Galleries with Free Entry
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.
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".
10 Turning Points that could have lost GB WW2I believe that during WW2 "Fate" seemed to be on the side of Great Britain. Ask yourselves What were the turning points of WW2 that could have meant defeat for GB and the whole of Europe becoming dominated by the Nazi's. Below is a list of turning points that I think could have gone either way. We English have always fought. It is part of our makeup, and provides much of our history. But what makes us so good at being Warriors is our ethos. The ability to stand side by side as ‘shoulder companions' in any conflict and fight for ‘each other'. The Nazi's during WW2 found this out and consequently lost. This is the reason for nearly 1,000 years why England has never been invaded.
In peacetime we English played and invented many sports which we gave the world including Football, Rugby, Cricket etc. I have a website where I have listed the many sports and games invented by us British with links to the relevant web page. http://British.Icons.Resourcez.com
1) Winston Churchill Boer War escape.
If Sir Winston Churchill had been caught by the Boers after he had escaped from prison, he would have been shot and he would not have been able to lead Great Britain during WW2. There were Dead or Alive posters posted all through South Africa concerning Winston Churchill's escape.
2) The Phony War
After the fall of France most of Mainland Europe were conquered and occupied by the Nazi's and during the following 18 months, Britain and its Commonwealth stood alone against Germany and its allies including the Soviets. If the Soviets had decided to join Germany by attacking GB then we may have lost the war.
3) British RADAR
Development work in 1937 led to "beamed radar" for airborne sets and for Coastal Defense (CD) radar that operated on 1.5 m wavelength. The CD system was also called the Chain Home Low (CHL). The CHL used a rotating antenna, which rotated at 1-2.3 rpm and had a range of 160 km with an azimuth accuracy of 1.5 degrees. The Navy used a similar set to the CHL. Called the type 281; it was tested on the HMS Dido in October of 1940 and the HMS Prince of Wales in January of 1941. Over 59 sets were produced during the war. This set could operated on a wavelength of 50 cm and it could locate ships up to a distance of 20 km. Without Radar during the Battle of Britain GB would have lost the battle and been invaded shortly afterwards.
4) Battle of Britain
Towards the end of the Battle of Britain, Britain begun slowly running out of aircraft and pilots. The Germans were targeting airfields and then suddenly changed direction and started to bomb London over a period of days. This gave the RAF time to repair the airfields and replace the damaged aircraft. The other result of losing the Battle of Britain would have been the Invasion of Britain by the Germans.
5) The Battle of Dunkirk
Dunkirk was a battle in the Secomnd World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 24 May to 4 June 1940.
In one of the most widely-debated decisions of the war, Adolf Hitler ordered his generals to halt for three days, giving the Allies time to organise an evacuation and build a defensive line. If Hitler had told his troops to continue to Dunkirk GB would have lost the War. Despite the Allies' gloomy estimates of the situation, with Britain discussing a conditional surrender to Germany,in the end over 338,000 Allied troops were rescued.
6) Japan's Declaring war on the USA
After the japanese declared war on the USA by bombing its Naval base at Pearl harbour, Hitler also made the mistake of declaring war on the USA. If Hitler hadn't declared war on the USA then the Americans may not have become British allies for years in the future.
7) Breaking of enigma code in 1940,
If the British hadn't cracked the ULTRA enigma code than the war would have lasted longer and maybe even had lost the war.
8) Using first computer "COLOSSUS" to break higher settings enigma code in 1943
Colossus was built for the code-breakers at Bletchley Park by Tommy Flowers and his team of post office engineers in 1943. Using standard post office equipment, Tommy Flowers developed a machine that could work at 5000 characters a second, four times faster than anything built before. He went on to develop Colossus Mark 2, which could work at five time faster than the original Colossus.
The computer was as big as a room - 5 metres long, 3 metres deep and 2.5 metres high - and weighed over a ton. Colossus worked by 'reading', through a photoelectric system, a teleprinter tape containing the letters of the coded message. It read5,000 letters a second.
All possible combinations of the coded message were checked with the cypher key generated by Colossus. A teleprinter typed out the results of Colossus's search, revealing the settings which had been used by the Germans to send their messages. Ten Colossus Mark 2s were eventually built. A complete Mark 2 Colossus machine has recently been rebuilt and is on display at Bletchley Park.
The information revealed by the code-breakers at Bletchley Park was called ULTRA. ULTRA was so secret that only those who needed to know about it - like the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill - were told of its existence. The use of this first computer helped in the organising of the D-DAy Landings. If we hadn't had Colossus's then the war could have lasted longer or been lost.
9) D-Day landing and deception of Landing Ground
Operation Overlord was the code name for the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June; more than 3 million troops were in France by the end of August.
Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on D-Day itself came from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Free French forces and Polish forces also participated in the battle after the assault phase, and there were also minor contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands and Norway. Other Allied nations participated in the naval and air forces. Once the beachheads were secured, a three-week military buildup occurred on the beaches before Operation Cobra, the operation to break out from the Normandy beachhead, began. The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to expand the foothold on France, and concluded with the closing of the Falaise pocket on 24th August, the liberation of Paris on 25th August, and the German retreat across the Seine which was completed on 30th August 1944. If the D-Day landings had failed then we could possibly had lost the war and I as an Englishman would be speaking german.
10) V1 and V2 Rockets introduced to late to affect outcome of war and Allies destroying bases
The V1 and V2 Rockets were devised to cause major devastion. In 1943 intelligence of a new threat to Britain's cities began to emerge - missiles and rockets. The V1 missile, once launched, flew without a pilot until it ran out of fuel and came crashing down, blowing up. The V2 rocket was a long distance weapon that could travel at the speed of sound. If they had neen introduced at the start of the war then GB would have lost the war.
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.
Sir Francis Drake 1540 to 1596 – British Icon
Sir Francis Drake is one of Britain's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as a great sailor, navigator and explorer. I thought it would be interesting to write the history of this famous icon from his early beginnings.
Francis Drake was the eldest son of a yeoman farmer and was born near Tavistock, Devonshire. His father later became a Calvinist lay preacher and raised his children as staunch Protestants. Young Drake received some education; he learned the rudiments of navigation and seaman-ship early and did some sailing near his home. The Drakes were related to the Hawkins family of Plymouth, well-to-do seamen and shipowners. The Hawkins connection got Drake a place on a 1566 slave-trading expedition to the Cape Verde Islands and the Spanish Main.
In 1567 John Hawkins made Drake an officer in a larger slave-trading expedition. Drake ultimately received command of one of Hawkins's ships, the Judith, and accompanied his relative to Africa, Rio de la Hacha, and Santa Marta, where Hawkins disposed of the slaves. The English were caught, however, in the harbor of San Juan de Ulúa by a Spanish fleet that opened fire without warning and destroyed most of their ships. Only Drake's Judith and Hawkins's small vessel escaped to England. Embittered by this, Drake resolved to devote his life to war against Spain.
Elizabeth I of England and Philip II of Spain were not at war then, but grievances were steadily mounting. The Queen declined to offend Philip and would not allow Hawkins to go to sea again immediately, but she had no objections to a voyage by the obscure Drake.
In 1569 Drake had married Mary Newman of Plymouth, but finding domesticity dull. He departed in 1570 for the Spanish Main with a small crew aboard the 25-ton Susan. He hoped to learn how the Spaniards arranged for shipping Peruvian treasure home, and he felt that the ports of Panama City and Nombre de Dios on the Isthmus of Panama were the key. His 1570 voyage was largely one of reconnaissance during which he made friends with the Cimaroons, who were escaped slaves dwelling out of Spanish reach on the Isthmus and stood ready to help him.
During a 1571 expedition he captured Nombre de Dios with Cimaroon help but lost it immediately when, wounded, he had to be carried to safety. After depredations off Cartagena, he intercepted a Spanish gold train near Nombre de Dios and returned to England with the bounty.
His arrival embarrassed the Queen, who still hoped for peace with Spain, and Drake evidently received a broad hint to leave the country temporarily. He is known to have served in Ireland with the Earl of Essex, who was trying to crush a rebellion in Ulster.
By 1576 relations with Spain had worsened, and Drake returned to England, where a new expedition was being planned in which Elizabeth had a financial share. Drake's main instructions were to sail through the Straits of Magellan and probe for the shores of Terra Australis Incognita, the great southern continent that many thought began with Tierra del Fuego. Drake received five ships, the largest being the Pelican (later named the Golden Hind), and a crew of about 160.
The fleet left Plymouth in December 1577 for the southern Atlantic, stopping at Port San Julián for the Southern Hemisphere winter. Ferdinand Magellan had once crushed a mutiny there, and Drake did the same. He tried and executed Thomas Doughty, an autocratic member of the expedition, who had intrigued against him in an attempt to forment a rebellion.
When Drake passed through the strait and entered the Pacific, only the Golden Hind remained; the other ships had been lost or had parted company. Contrary winds forced him southward and he perhaps sighted Cape Horn; in any event, he realized that the two oceans came together and that Terra Australis would not be found there. He traveled along the coasts of Chile and Peru, capturing and destroying Spanish ships but sparing Spanish lives.
Between Callao and Panama Drake took an unarmed treasure ship, bearing gold, emeralds, and all the silver the Golden Hind could carry. Knowing that Spaniards would try to waylay him in the strait, Drake bypassed Panama and, near Guatalco, Nicaragua, captured charts and directions to guide him across the Pacific. Perhaps seeking the Strait of Anian he sailed nearly 48 degrees north, and then descended to a point at or near Drake's Bay, in California, where he made friends with the Indians and overhauled the ship. He left a brass plate naming the country Nova Albion and claiming it for Elizabeth. (In 1936 a plate fitting the description was found near Drake's Bay.)
Drake then crossed the Pacific to the Moluccas and near there almost came to grief when the ship struck a reef. Skilled handling freed it, and his circumnavigation of the globe continued via the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope. Drake arrived in Plymouth in 1580, acclaimed by the public and his monarch. In April 1581 he was knighted on the deck of theGolden Hind.
Drake did not immediately go to sea again and in 1581 became mayor of Plymouth. After his wife died, he married a young aristocrat Elizabeth Sydenham. Drake, now a wealthy man, made the bride a substantial settlement. He had no children by either wife.
By 1585 Queen Elizabeth, after new provocations by Philip, felt ready to unleash Drake again. A large fleet was outfitted, including two of her own vessels. Drake, aboard his command ship, the Elizabeth Bonaventure, had instructions to release English vessels impounded by Philip, though Elizabeth certainly knew he would exceed orders.
Drake fulfilled the Queen's expectations. He sacked Vigo in Spanish Galicia and then sailed to Santo Domingo and Cartagena, capturing and holding both for ransom. He would have tried to cross the Isthmus and take Panama, a project he had cherished for years, but an epidemic so reduced his crews that he abandoned the idea. On the way to England he destroyed the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine, in Florida, and farther north, took home the last remaining settlers at Sir Walter Raleigh's unfortunate North Carolina colony.
The expedition, which reached Portsmouth in July 1586, had acquired little treasure but had inflicted great physical and moral damage on Spain, enormously raising English prestige in the bargain. Formal war was now inevitable, and Philip started plans to invade England. In February 1587 the Queen beheaded Mary of Scotland who had been connected with plots to dethrone or murder Elizabeth, to the outrage of Catholic Europe and many English Catholics. Philip began assembling his Armada in Portugal, which had been in his possession since 1580.
Elizabeth appointed Lord Charles Howard of Effingham commander of her fleet and gave Drake, Hawkins, and Martin Frobisher immediately subordinate posts. Drake advocated a strong preventive blow at Philip's unprepared Armada and received permission to strike. In April 1587 he recklessly sailed into Cadiz and destroyed or captured 37 enemy ships. He then occupied the Portuguese town of Sagres for a time and finally, in the Azores, seized a large Portuguese carrack bound homeward from Goa with a rich cargo.
The Cadiz raid damaged but did not cripple the Armada, which, under Alonso de Guzmán, Duke of Medina Sidonia sailed in May 1588. It was alleged that Lord Howard was a figurehead and that the "sea dogs" Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher won the victory in the July encounters. Recent evidence refutes this and shows Howard to have been in effective command. Drake took a conspicuous part in the channel fighting and captured a galleon, but he does not seem to have distinguished himself above other English commanders.
The Armada was defeated, and Drake's career thereafter proved anticlimactic. He met with his first formidable defeat in 1589, when he commanded the naval expedition sent to take Lisbon. He seemed to have lost some of his old daring, and his cautious refusal to ascend the Tagus River for a naval bombardment partly accounted for the failure. Drake did not go to sea again for 5 years. He concerned himself mainly with Plymouth matters. He sat in Parliament, but nothing of note marked his presence there.
In 1595 Queen Elizabeth thought she saw a chance of ending the war victoriously by cutting off the Spanish treasure supply from the Isthmus of Panama. For this she selected Hawkins, then 63, and Drake, in his 50s. The cautious Hawkins and the impetuous Drake could never work well together, and the Queen further complicated the situation by giving them equal authority; in effect, each commanded his own fleet. The Queen's order that they must be back in 6 months scarcely allowed time to capture Panama, and when they learned of a crippled Spanish treasure ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, they decided to go there. Through Drake's insistence on first going to the Canary Islands, their destination was revealed, and the Spaniards sent word ahead to Puerto Rico. Hawkins died as they reached the island, leaving Drake in sole command. The Spaniards had strengthened their San Juan defenses, and Drake failed to capture the city.
Ignoring the Queen's 6-month time limit, the aging Drake, still trying to repeat his earlier successes, made for the Isthmus to capture Nombre de Dios and then Panama. He easily took the former, not knowing that it had been superseded by Puerto Bello as the Caribbean terminus of the Plate fleets. His landing party, which soon realized it was following a path long out of use, was ambushed by Spaniards and forced to retreat.
Drake knew the expedition was a failure; he cruised aimlessly to Honduras and back and then fell ill of fever and dysentery. He died off Puerto Bello on Jan. 28th 1596, and was buried at sea. Sir Thomas Baskerville his second in command, took the expedition back home to England.
The English navigator Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) was the first Englishman and the second person in the World to circumnavigate the globe. His daring exploits at sea helped to establish England's naval supremacy over Spain.
Famous London IconsEngland is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 43 AD.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 Hansom Cab – History
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 calledHackney 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.
City of London Livery CompaniesEngland is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD. The London livery companies began in London as craft guilds. At present there are 108 guilds covering most crafts and professions. The oldest guild is the *Bakers Company Guild which started in 1155 AD. 'Guild' derives from the Saxon word for payment, since membership of these fraternities was, and still is, paid for. The word 'livery' refers to uniform clothing as means of identification, hence the term of freemen being "clothed in livery" when they become liverymen of their Company.
A to Z of London Livery Guilds and Year of incorporation:Actuaries 1979
Air Pilots & Air Navigators 1929
Armourers & Brasiers 1453
Bakers* 1155 ( The Oldest Livery Company - See Link Above )
Builders Merchants 1961
Chartered Accountants 1977
Chartered Architects 1985
Chartered Secretaries & Administrators 1977
Chartered Surveyors 1976
Coachmakers & Coach-Harness Makers 1677
Environmental Cleaners 1972
Fan Makers 1709
Framework Knitters 1657
Furniture Makers 1963
Glass Sellers 1664
Glaziers & Painters of Glass 1637
Gold & Silver Wyre Drawers 1693
Hackney Carriage Drivers 2004
Information Technologists 1992
International Bankers 2001
Joiners & Ceilers 1571
Makers of Playing Cards 1628
Management Consultants 2004
Master Mariners 1926
Merchant Taylors 1327
Scientific Instrument Makers 1955
Security Professionals 2000
Spectacle Makers 1629
Stationers & Newspaper Makers 1403
Tallow Chandlers 1462
Tax Advisors 2005
Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers 1670
Tobacco Pipe-Makers & Tobacco Blenders 1960
Tylers & Bricklayers 1416
Water Conservators 2000
Wax Chandlers 1484
World Traders 2000
Companies without Livery
Watermen & Lightermen
England's House of Parliament - It's HistoryThe 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.
Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot 1605
On every November 5th 1605 we in England and all over the World including New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, parts of the Canada and Caribbean and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda celebrate the failed gunpowder plot by Guy Fawkes and his fellow catholics with a bonfire and the burning of an effigy called a "Guy" and the exploding of Fireworks. The failed plot involved the blowing up of the Houses of Parliament and the murder of the elite of England including the King James I, Princes, Lords and Parliamentarians.
As an addendum, Colonial America also celebrated November 5th until the war of Independence against Britain when George Washington Banned the celebration due to its British connections. This is a bit hypocritical since The Freemasons were founded in London, England yet he still supported and encouraged freemasonry to his friends after the war of independence ( Typical Politician ).
The plot involved 13 conspirators: Robert Catesby, Thomas Wintour, Robert Wintour, Guy fawkes, John Wright, Christopher Wright, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham and Thomas Bates.
The 13 conspirators planned to place a hoard of gunpowder in an undercroft directly underneath the House of Lords. The plotters believed it to be the perfect place to hide explosives, as the undercroft had gone unused for some time. As October came and the plot was finalised, concerns arose that there may be Catholics present in Parliament when the device was to explode. On Saturday 26 October William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, Francis Tresham's brother-in-law, received an anonymous letter warning him not to attend Parliament. On Friday 1 November the King was shown the letter, and it was later decided that a search of the Houses of Parliament would be undertaken on Monday.
According to the King's account, searchers discovered a servant nearby a large pile of firewood in the undercroft on Monday 4 November. He informed the searchers that the firewood belonged to his master, Thomas Percy. The servant's true identity was Guy Fawkes. As the searches had so far failed to locate anything untoward the King demanded that a more thorough search must commence. Shortly after midnight a search party under the command of Thomas Knyvet discovered Fawkes in the undercroft. Fawkes, who identified himself as John Johnson, was placed under arrest, and his possessions searched. He was discovered to be carrying a pocket watch, matches, and torchwood. The search team then unearthed barrels of gunpowder hidden beneath the pile of firewood.
Fawkes, still using the alias John Johnson, claimed when interrogated that he had acted alone. "Johnson" was relocated to the Tower of London on 6 November, where he was to be tortured, after the King gave his consent for the torture to take place. On 7 November Fawkes confessed that he had not acted alone, and the full extent of the plot was unearthed.
The plotters were all executed, aside from Catesby and Percy, who had already been killed amidst their refusal to surrender, however the bodies were exhumed and their heads were added to the other conspirators and placed on spikes outside the Houses of Lords.
In January 1606 the Thanksgiving Act was passed, and commemorating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot became an annual event. Early traditions soon began after the act was passed, such as the ringing of church bells and the lighting of bonfires, and fireworks were even included in some of the earliest celebrations. The act remained in place until 1859. Despite the repeal of the act taking place over 150 years ago, Guy Fawkes Night still remains a yearly custom throughout Britain. When I was at school all children were taught the following rhyme:
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, I see no reason Why the Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent To blow up the King and Parli'ment. Three-score barrels of powder below To prove old England's overthrow; By God's providence he was catch'd (or by God's mercy*) With a dark lantern and burning match. Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring. Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King! And what should we do with him? Burn him!
London Underground – The World's First Underground RailwayThe 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.
1840s1843 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.
1850s1854 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.
1860s1861 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.
1880s1880 MR extends to Harrow on the Hill. MDR extends from West Brompton to Putney Bridge.
1890s1890 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.
1900s"Underground"-branded Tube map from 1908 showing the newly opened tube lines in central London.
1910s Tube roundels based on Edward Johnston's design1910 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 Holden1932 MR extends to Stanmore. Piccadilly line extends from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove.
1940s Londoners sheltering from The Blitz in a tube station1940 Northern line extends over former EH&LR route to High Barnet.
1950sA 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 19681960 The last published underground map designed by Harry Beck is released.
1970s1970 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 Garden1980 London Transport Museum opens in Covent Garden.
2010s2010 East London line reopens as part of London Overground network.
England is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD this makes London a world capital. 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 London River Thames – It's HistoryThe Thames is always called the "Artery of England", so I thought it would be of interest to write it's history.
The story of the Thames goes back to over 30 million years ago when the river was once a tributary of the River Rhine, because Britain was not an island but joined at the hip to France. During the Great Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, the Thames changed its course and pushed its way through the Chiltern Hills at the place now known as the Goring Gap. The Thames was then 10 times its present size, a high-energy fast flowing river, fuelled by the melting ice sheets. However, this rapid progress slowed down, and by 3,000 years ago the river had settled down into its familiar meandering pattern that – with a few exceptions – we know today.
The first settlements along the Thames valley began 400,000 years ago by early Neolithic Tribes. Later the Romans came to the site of Londinium in 43AD, present day London, and they consolidated the Thames as an international port by constructing wharves mills and, of course, London Bridge, the first man-made crossing of the river. The story of why they selected the site we now see as the place for the bridge is an interesting one. It was where there was the first easy crossing of the river after they sailed upstream from the estuary. The Romans discovered that by using the rising tide their boats could be swept over 50 miles inland up the Thames from the North Sea, with no wind or muscle power needed. Later invaders also made use of this free energy source.
Old Father Thames is at present 346 kilometres in length (215 miles) – and is one of the most famous rivers in the world. It is the longest and most important waterway in England. Roman writers mention it as the Tamesis, and the name is probably a Celtic word which means ‘broad river'. The Thames connects the Heart of London to the North Sea. Its source starts in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds down to the mighty Thames Barrier on the London estuary. It is a magnificent river and many places of interest lie on its banks (Eton, Oxford, Henley, Windsor, Hampton Court, Richmond). In London the river flows past the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. Ocean tides move up the river to south-west London. The Thames is 250 yards wide (229 metres) at London Bridge and 700 yards (600 metres) wide at Gravesend. It widens until it joins the North Sea at the London estuary. Its fame includes its history, its culture and its amazing variety of wildlife, archaeology and scenery – called The river with Liquid History.
During the 19th century The Thames became one of the busiest rivers in the world. The Thames today is one of the cleanest rivers in the world and has more river tourists than any other types of River traffic.
Some of the famous poems about the River Thames include the following poem by Wordsworth Lines written near Richmond, upon the Thames at Evening composed in 1790.
Glide gently, thus forever glide,
O Thames! that other bards may see,
As lovely visions by thy side
As now, fair river! come to me.
Oh glide, fair stream! for ever so;
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
‘Till all our minds forever flow,
As thy deep waters now are flowing.
Another Wordsworth poem and written in September 1802, entitled Composed upon Westminster Bridge.
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep:
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
In 1929 the MP John Burns once famously described the river as "liquid history" – the actual quote was "The St Lawrence is water, the Mississippi is muddy water, but the Thames is liquid history".
The London Thames Watermen and LightermenAs I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were members of various Livery companies I have created this article to the Company of Waterman and Lighterman.
By Elizabethan times Thames watermen had become some of the most important tradesmen in London. But work on the river could be dangerous for poorly qualified men in unsuitable boats. Accidents were frequent, and passengers were often overcharged.
In 1514, in Henry VIII's reign, Parliament found it necessary to introduce an Act to regulate watermen's fares. A further Act of 1555 led to the foundation of the Company of Watermen and the introduction of apprenticeships on the river.
In 1585 Elizabeth I granted the Company its own coat of arms showing the tools of the watermen's trade, and soon afterwards their first Hall was built.
The original one-year waterman's apprenticeship became seven years in 1603.
Then in 1700, another group of river workers, the lightermen, who carried goods rather than passengers, joined with the Company. It became the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames, a title it still holds. The Company moved to its present Hall in 1780.
Watermen flourished in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and many popular prints and ceramic figures illustrate their activities. Some of these caricatures make fun of the watermen's rivalry when touting for passengers and the reputation of the less scrupulous for overcharging.
However, competition from new bridges, improved road and rail transport and Thames steamers with their heavy wash, eventually led to a decline in the number of watermen.
The lightermen, however, benefited at first from the increase in the shipping trade of the Port of London. But they were severely affected by new cargo-handling methods introduced into the docks in the second half of the 20th century.
The Company was responsible throughout the 19th century for regulating watermen and lightermen and their fees, and for registering their boats. Later, the Thames Conservancy and the Port of London Authority took over most of these duties. However, the Company continued to be responsible for apprenticeships and the granting of Freedoms.
Today, the principal activities of the Company are the training of apprentices and the charitable support of watermen and their families. The Watermen's Company also continues to encourage an interest in rowing and the use of the Thames, as well as traditional City of London ceremonial river events.
London Bridges and Other Thames Crossings – HistoryThe 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 CrossingsMany 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. 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
British Cheques – 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 was developed simultaneously in Sweden and Britain which both developed their own cash machines during the early 1960s. The first of these that was put into use was by Barclays Bank in Enfield Town in North London on 27th June 1967. This machine was the first in the UK and was used by English comedy actor Reg Varney, so as to ensure 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. and other engineers at De La Rue Instruments who contributed to the design and development of that machine. Nevertheless, Shepherd-Barron was awarded an OBE in the 2005 New Years Honour's List. His design used special checks that were matched with a personal identification number, as plastic bank cards had not yet been invented.
Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London 1397
Dick Whittington and His Cat is a British folk tale that has often been used as the basis for stage pantomines and other adaptations. It tells of a poor boy in the 14th century who becomes a wealthy merchant and eventually the Lord Mayor of London because of the ratting abilities of his cat. The character of the boy is named after a real-life person, Richard Whittington, but the real Whittington did not come from a poor family and there is no evidence that he had a cat.
The first recorded pantomime version of the story was in 1814, starring Joseph Grimaldi as Dame Cecily Suet, the Cook. The pantomime adds another element to the story, rats, and an arch villain, the Pantomime King (or sometimes Queen) Rat, as well as the usual pantomime fairy, the Fairy of the Bells. Other added characters are a captain and his mate and some incompetent pirates. In this version, Dick and his cat "Tommy" travel to Morocco, where the cat rids the country of rats. The Sultan rewards Dick with half of his wealth. Sybil Arundale played Dick in many productions in the early years of the 20th century
The real Richard Whittington ( Dick Whittington ) lived from about 1350-1423. He achieved many things in his life. Now he is known for having a pet cat and 'turning again'.
Richard or 'Dick' Whittington was born during the 1350s. He was the younger son of Sir William Whittington, Lord of the Manor of Pauntley in Gloucestershire. Sir William died in 1358. The oldest son inherited the estate, so Richard travelled to London to find work.
Whittington served an apprenticeship, and eventually became a ‘mercer', dealing in valuable cloth from abroad, such as silks, velvets and cloth of gold. The main market for selling these cloths was the Royal Court. Whittington supplied large quantities to King Richard II (who owed Whittington £1000 when he was deposed in 1399) and to King Henry IV. Whittington became rich. After 1397 he often lent large sums of money to the Crown. In return he was allowed to export wool without paying customs duty on it.
He became a City alderman, or magistrate, in 1393. In 1397 the Mayor, Adam Bamme, died in office and the King chose Whittington to become the new mayor. He was re-elected the following year, and again for 1406-7 and 1419-20. This made him Mayor of London four times.
Whittington died in March 1423. His wife Alice, daughter of Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn (or Fitzwarren) of Dorset, had died before him. They had no children.
The gifts left in Whittington's will originally made him famous. However, Londoners did not know how he first made his money. Stories began about how a poor boy became rich with the help of his cat. There is no evidence that Whittington kept a cat, and as the son of a Lord he was never very poor. Despite being untrue the stories flourished. A play produced in 1606 tells most of the story. There are many different versions, but essentially the tale was:
Dick Whittington was a poor boy from Gloucestershire who walked to London to seek his fortune. He found work in the house of a rich merchant Fitzwarren, and fell in love with Fitzwarren's daughter, Alice. Dick had a cat to keep down the mice in the attic where he slept. Fitzwarren invited his servants to put money into a sailing voyage. Dick had no money, but gave his cat to the captain to sell.
Dick decided there was no future for him in London, and left to go home to Gloucestershire. He stopped on top of Highgate Hill on the way out of London. There he heard the bells of London ringing - they seemed to say: ‘Turn again, Whittington, three times Lord Mayor of London'.
Dick thought this was a good omen and returned to Fitzwarren's house. He learnt that the ship had returned with great news. The sailing party arrived in a foreign land where the king's court was overrun by rats. Dick's cat killed or drove out all the rats. In thanks the king paid a huge sum of gold to buy the cat. Dick was now a very wealthy man. He married Alice Fitzwarren, and eventually became Lord Mayor of London.
The story continued to grow in the 17th and 18th centuries and appeared in many children's books. In the 19th century, the story became the subject for pantomimes and other characters were added. The story is still told today in pantomimes and new versions of the story are still published. Even now, Dick Whittington and the cat that made his fortune are familiar to people who have never heard of the ‘real' Richard Whittington.
Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park, London Icon – HistoryI have created this article about Speakers Corner as it's one of the Icons of London.
Speakers Corner is situated in the north-eastern corner of Hyde Park, opposite Marble Arch. Whilst it is nothing much to look at, it is London's most famous place for public debate. Free speech and banter is the name of the game here, and anyone with something to say can step up and speak their mind.
This was the first royal park opened to the public in 1637. On its corner stands Speakers Corner where on a Sunday morning speakers pontificate of every subject under the sun. During the summer band concert, softball games and boating on the lake takes place. However whilst safe during the day it is better avoided at night.
Its origins date from the 1700s, when Tyburn was still a site of public execution. Condemned men were allowed one last speech before they met their maker, and the memory has stuck throughout the centuries. It gained a huge boost in 1855, when a crowd gathered to rail against the Sunday Trading Bill. When the police arrived to arrest the ringleader, they were met by a mob 150,000 strong.
It moved to its present location, the northeast corner of Hyde Park in 1851. Just beyond it, in the park, is the Speakers'Corner, where soap- box orators sometimes put on a diverting show.It runs through Oxford Circus and passes many department stores on its way to Marble Arch. Modeled on the Arch of Constantine in Rome, Marble Arch was designed to serve as a gate to Buckingham Palace, but was British Travel Association BEHEMOTH -- London tour bus passes Parliament Square and Big Ben. moved to its present location, the northeast corner of Hyde Park in 1851. Just beyond it, in the park, is the Speakers' Corner, where soap- box orators sometimes Speak there mind.
The events of June 1855 at Speakers' Corner inspired Karl Marx ( the disliker of democracy ) to declare that the English proletariat had begun their inexorable rise and that social revolution leading to a communist state was under way. "This alliance between a degenerate, dissipated and pleasure-seeking aristocracy and the church -- built on a foundation of filthy and calculated profiteering on the part of the beer magnates and monopolistic wholesalers -- gave rise to a mass demonstration in Hyde Park.
As in most things neo-communist this was another failed attempt to create a revolution in England which failed because we in England held with suspicion anyone who tried to cause dis-harmony and invariably they would fail miserably. This is probably why Karl Marx and his ilk went back to where they came from. Typically they used our freedoms to try to undermine our freedoms.
The history of Speakers Corner began in 1872. It was then that an Act of Parliament, otherwise known as law, was passed giving up a small corner of Hyde Park to pubic speaking. Throughout the years, great debates and large crowds were common. Today, not so much, but this is still considered a must see. If you are easily offended by many of today's political and religious issues or if you cannot stand to hear another word about the "impending apocalypse," it may be best to walk away or put your hands over your ears.
During 1872 the place had started to gain a nationwide fame, and a legal licence was granted to allow sizeable meetings.
There are many Speakers Corner around the world in Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore, Trinidad and tobago, Thailand and Malaysia and in English Cities Nottingham, Worthing based on London's Speaker Corner.
British Silver and Gold Hallmarking from 1300 AD to presentHallmarking is necessary because when jewellery is manufactured, precious metals are not used in their pure form, as they are unworkable. Gold, Silver, and Platinum are always alloyed with copper or other metals to create an alloy that is more suitable to the requirements of the jeweller. Such an alloy needs to be strong, workable and attractive.
Due to the high value of gold, platinum and silver, there are significant profits to be gained by reducing the precious metal content of an alloy at the manufacturing stage. Even an expert cannot determine the quality or standard of precious metal items by eye or touch alone. Base metal articles plated with a thin coat of gold or silver are indistinguishable from the same articles made wholly of precious metal until subjected to expert testing.
With volume manufacturing, enormous profits can be made from undercarating. Without compulsory independent testing there is huge potential for deception and fraud.
The UK Hallmarking system has offered valuable protection for over 700 years. Compulsory Hallmarking protects all parties; the public who receive a guarantee of quality, the manufacturer who is given quality control and protection from dishonest competitors at a very low cost and the retailer who avoids the near impossible task of checking standards on all his goods.
Brief History of UK Hallmarks
Hallmarking is the world's first known instance of consumer protection law, in the UK it dates back to about 1300 AD.
Hallmarking introduced in UK
Town Marks Introduced
18 Carat Replaces 191/5 Carat as Standard Gold
Date Letters Introduced
London Assay Office Opened
Lion Mark Introduced for Sterling Silver
22 Carat Replaces 18 Carat as Standard Gold
First Edinburgh Date Letters
Britannia Mark Introduced for Silver
Castle Mark Introduced for Exeter
Sterling Silver Standard Re-admitted
Hibernia Mark Introduced for Dublin
Thistle Mark Introduced for Edinburgh
Birmingham Assay Office Opened
Sheffield Assay Office Opened
Duty Mark Imposed
18 Carat Reintroduced in Addition to 22 Carat
Lion Rampant Mark Introduced for Glasgow
Customs Act Requiring Foreign Goods to Have British Hallmark
9 Carat Introduced
12 Carat Introduced
15 Carat Introduced
York Assay Office Closed
Foreign Mark Introduced
Exeter Assay Office Closed
Duty Mark Dropped
Carat Marks Compulsory on Gold
12 Carat Mark Discontinued
15 Carat Mark Discontinued
14 Carat Introduced
1934 - 1935
Silver Jubilee Mark Used
1952 - 1953
Silver Jubilee Mark Used
1953 - 1954
Coronation Mark Used
Chester Assay Office Closed
Glasgow Assay Office Closed
British Hallmarking Council Formed
Platinum Mark Introduced
UK Ratifies Convention Mark
Silver Jubilee Mark Used
Revised Hallmarking Acts
New Acts Become Effective
1999 - 2000
Millennium Mark Used
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing; Standard Mark, City Mark, Date Letter, Duty Mark and Maker's Mark.
The Standard mark indicates the purity of the silver.
A - Sterling .925
B - Britannia .958, used exclusively 1697 - 1720, optional afterwards.
C - Sterling .925 for Glasgow
D - Sterling .925 for Edinburgh
E - Sterling .925 for Dublin
The date letter system was introduced in London in 1478 (elsewhere as the hallmarking system evolved). Its purpose was to establish when a piece was presented for assay or testing of the silver content. The mark letter changed annually in May, the cycles of date letters were usually in strings of 20 and each cycle was differentiated by a changing of the font, letter case and shield shape.
In 1784 the duty mark was created to show that a tax on the item had been paid to the crown. The mark used was a profile portrait of the current reigning monarch's head. The use of this mark was abolished in 1890.
The enforced use of the maker's mark was instituted in London in 1363. Its purpose was to prevent the forgery of leopard's head marks upon silver of debased content. Originally, makers' marks were pictograms, but by the beginning of the 17th Century it had become common practice to use the maker's initials.
Portobello Road Market, London IconI have created this article about Portobello Road as it's one of the Icons of London.
When Sir William Bull wrote his description of Portobello Road's Market in the 1730's it was already a place where commerce and entertainment met.
Portobello Road is a legacy of its rural origins when it was a country lane that ran from Notting Hill Gate to Portobello Farm, named by a patriotic farmer after Admiral Vernon captured the city of Puerto Bello in the Caribbean in 1739. One hundred and thirty years later houses and shops stood in an almost continuous line on each side of the road and Sir William Bull described the market in the following way "on Saturday nights in the winter it was thronged like a fair. The people overflowed from the pavement so that the roadway was quite impassable for horse traffic which, to do it justice, never appeared. On the left hand side there were costermongers barrows, lighted by flaming naphtha lamps. In the side streets were side shows, vendors of patent medicines, conjurers, itinerant vocalists, etc."
In 1740, at a society dinner in honour of the admiral, 'Rule Britannia' (see THE BRITANNIA) was performed for the first time, stirring up great national pride. Over time Portobello Lane became, of course, Portobello Road, one of the best-known London street names and the location of possibly the most famous street market.
After the end of the second world war there were many "rag and bone" men in the area who would sell goods on the market stalls. Such were the stupendous bargains to be found that it developed a reputation amongst those in the know as the place to find and buy antiques. As a result the antique trade developed, profiting often from amateurs who came to sell on a Saturday bringing useful stock which would be snapped up by the more knowledgeable professional dealers.
Nowadays in the road there are 30 individual antique markets which open at different times to allow in the crowd of buyers who move from one market to another. The Good Fairy Antique Market is the busiest market of them all and it is the first to open, raising its shutters every Saturday at 4 p.m. Many of the buyers are specialists who appreciate the fresh stock brought into the market each week. Later in the day crowds of tourists shuffle past the rows of pastel painted terraced cottages at the Notting Hill end of the road weaving slowly past the market stalls. The market has an extraordinary draw on people from far and near, fulfilling some kind of human need, presumably on an emotional level.
London Parks and Gardens– Free Entry
London Parks are the lungs of London and are famous for there beauty, history and serenity and are ideal for visitors to enjoy a picnic or just to chill out and enjoy nature and It's water features. To find the London Parks listed below (Which are Free to enter) just enter the name into a search engine.
● Alexander Park
● Barnard Park
● Battersea Park
● Bishop's Park
● Bonnington Gardens
● The Bothy
● Bushy Park
● Chelsea Physic Gardens
● College Farm
● Crystal Palace Park
● Dean's Park
● Dulwich Park
● Furnival Gardens
● Golden Square
● Golders Hill Park
● The Green Park
● Greenwich Park
● Gunnersbury Park
● Gunnerbury Triangle
● Hainault Forest Country Park
● Hampstead Heath
● Hannover Square
● Holland Park
● Hoxton Square
● Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
● Inner Temple
● Island Gardens
● Kew Gardens
● Lee Valley Regional Park
● Leicester Square
● Lloyd Park
● Phoenix Gardens
● Pub on The Park
● Regent's Park and Primrose Hill
● Richmond Park
● Roots and Shoots
● Royal Botanical Gardens Kew
● Russell Square
● Victoria Embankment Gardens
● Victoria Park
● Saint James Park
● Streatham Common
● Syon Park
● Tavistock Square
● Temple Gardens
● Tibetan Peace Garden
● Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
● Trent Park
● Waterloo Place
● Waterworks Nature Reserve and Golf Centre
● Wimbledon Common
Invasion of Lovebirds and Parrots in London
While growing up in the 1970's I remember watching on TV that famous film by Alfred Hitchcock called 'The Birds' where Birds swarmed in large flocks and attacked people.
It now seems London is being invaded by large flocks of tame Lovebirds and Parrots!!!
London green spaces are famed for their unusual wildlife and I recently heard of flocks of Lovebirds over London. Lovebirds have been pets for over 100 years and have been seen in London, in flocks of upto 3,000. Parks and gardens in the leafy London suburbs have been adopted as a preferred habitat by birds that are native to southern Asia.
Escaped parakeets have been spotted nesting in this country since the 19th Century.
Even though there was a wild population in the 1960s, the numbers remained very low through to the mid-1990s, when the population appeared to start increasing more rapidly.
In the Surrey stockbroker belt, a single sports ground is believed to be home to about 3,000 parrots. They are mainly found just west of London, Surrey and parts of Kent.
In particular, they have been observed in growing numbers in the outer suburbs and the Home Counties, with trees in parkland and sports grounds becoming their homes.
Parrots have been reported in inner-London, including parks in Peckham, Brixton, Greenwich and Kensington and have also been spotted in East Anglia, the North West and even in Scotland.
Alexandrine parakeets have been spotted by Lewisham crematorium and orange-winged parakeets, native to the Amazon, have now set up home in Weybridge.
South American monk parakeets have formed a colony in Borehamwood and blue-crowned parakeets were observed in Bromley.
At Esher Rugby Club's ground was observed to have had a parrot population that grew from 800 to 2,500 in the space of three years - and researchers estimate there might be 3,000 living there.
There have been reports that there could now be 20,000 wild parrots, including parakeets, living in England, with the largest concentration around London and the South East.
The population boom has been put down to a series of mild winters, a lack of natural predators, food being available from humans and that there are now enough parrots for a wider range of breeding partners.
Please click here to visit my Parrots, Lovebirds, Budgies Art Prints Collection
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 theTower 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.
The Great Plague of London -1665
I have created this article about London's Bubonic Plague of 1665 which killed over 15% of the population of London.
This was the worst outbreak of plague in England since the black death of 1348 and London lost roughly 15% of its population. While 68,596 deaths were recorded in the city, the true number was probably over 100,000. Other parts of the country also suffered.
The earliest cases of disease occurred in the spring of 1665 in a parish outside the city walls called St Giles-in-the-Fields. The death rate began to rise during the hot summer months and peaked in September when 7,165 Londoners died in one week.
Rats carried the fleas that caused the plague. They were attracted by city streets filled with rubbish and waste, especially in the poorest areas.
Those who could, including most doctors, lawyers and merchants, fled the city. Charles II and his courtiers left in July for Hampton Court and then Oxford. Parliament was postponed and had to sit in October at Oxford, the increase of the plague being so dreadful. Court cases were also moved from Westminster to Oxford.
The Lord Mayor and aldermen (town councillors) remained to enforce the King's orders to try and stop the spread of the disease. The poorest people remained in London with the rats and those people who had got the plague. Watchmen locked and kept guard over infected houses. Parish officials provided food. Searchers looked for dead bodies and took them at night to plague pits for burial.
All trade with London and other plague towns was stopped. The Council of Scotland declared that the border with England would be closed. There were to be no fairs or trade with other countries. This meant many people lost their jobs - from servants to shoemakers to those who worked on the River Thames. How did Londoners react to this plague that devastated their lives?
The plague that hit London and England in 1665 was the bubonic plague and the classic symptoms associated with the Bubonic Plague were as follows:
"The first sign of the plague was that swellings appeared in the groin or the armpits. Some of the swellings became as large as an apple, sometimes they were the size of an egg. The deadly swellings then began to spread in all directions over the body. Then the disease changed. Black or red spots broke out, sometimes on the thigh or arm. These spots were large in some cases; in other they were almost like a rash."
A few days after being infected, a victim developed a rash and there was pain all over the body. The victim began to feel tired and lethargic but the pain made it difficult to sleep. The temperature of the body increased and this affected the brain and the nerves. Speech was affected and the victims became less and less intelligible. As the disease took more of a hold, the victim took on the physical appearance of a drunk with stumbling movement and gait. The victim then became delirious.
After about six days, the lymphatic glands became swollen and inflamed. In the groin, neck and armpit areas of the body this led to buboes – large and highly painful swellings. These buboes caused bleeding underneath the skin, which turned the buboes and surrounding areas blue/purple. In some cases, red spots appeared on the buboes as death approached.
The average time of death from the first symptom was between four to seven days. It is thought that between 50% and 75% of those who caught the disease died.
The Great Fire of London began on the night of September 2, 1666, as a small fire on Pudding Lane, in the bakeshop of Thomas Farynor, baker to King Charles II. At one o'clock in the morning, a servant woke to find the house aflame, and the baker and his family escaped, but a fear-struck maid perished in the blaze. This fire destroyed 80% of the Property was lost in the fire and this helped in the ending of the Plague.
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.
Smithfield Market – London IconI 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.
Please visit my Funny Animal Art Prints Collection @ http://www.fabprints.com
My other website is called Directory of British Icons: http://fabprints.webs.com
The Chinese call Britain 'The Island of Hero's' which I think sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always looking over the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.
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