Here at The Arcade of Arts & Arcana we are not ashamed to trawl kids’ books for fascinating factoids. Here are few of our findings…
*Edward Jenner helped to wipe out smallpox in just 40 years when free vaccinations became available in 1840.
*The bell residing in the Houses of Parliament clock tower was cast in 1858 and named for building supervisor Sir Benjamin Hall. Big Ben of course.
*Building ships from steel instead of heavy iron was a very good idea.
*Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1863) influenced Parliament to pass the Chimney Sweeps Act. The use of children as sweeps was finally stamped out in 1875.
*Today southeast Asia produces 90% of the world’s rubber. Rubber seeds were originally sourced in South America, shipped to the UK for cultivation at Kew Gardens and re-distributed to Malaysia and Indonesia.
*The first bicycle, the Penny Farthing, was made in 1883 with solid tyres and no brakes.
*The first electric underground railway opened in London in 1890. The system soon became known as “The Tube”.
*Many UK newspapers were founded in the Victorian era. The Times rose to prominence by reporting on the blunders of The Crimean War.
*Many Scots families emigrated to Canada (settling Nova Scotia or New Scotland) due to their own, less well-known potato famine.
All these facts are borrowed from The Victorian Age 1837-1914 by James Harrison.