Monday, 19 November 2018

History of Toilets

19 November is World Toilet Day so hooray for the men who invented the modern toilet. In 1596 Sir John Harrington invented a flushing lavatory with a cistern but the idea failed to catch on. However in 1775 Alexander Cumming was granted a patent for a flushing lavatory. Joseph Bramah made a better design in 1778. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Friday, 12 October 2018

Edith Cavell

On 12 October 1915 a British nurse named Edith Cavell was shot for helping British soldiers to escape from German occupied Belgium.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Myths about old laws

I still sometimes hear that old chestnut that under an old law if a Welshman is within the walls of Chester after sunset its legal to kill him. Any such law was long ago superseded by laws about murder and manslaughter. Here are a few other myths about old laws. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Women's jobs in the Middle Ages

Its quite untrue that women in the past did not work. Women in the Middle Ages participated in many trades and businesses. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Wednesday, 19 September 2018


Today (19 September) is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Altogether now: Ah! Jim Lad! Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Monday, 27 August 2018

Sunday, 26 August 2018

The Romans arrive in Britain

On 26 August 55 BC Julius Caesar arrived in Britain but he did not stay. He returned briefly in 54 BC. The Romans returned in 43 AD. This time they stayed.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Battle of Bosworth

On 22 August 1485 a decisive battle in English history was fought. Henry Tudor won and subsequently he became King Henry VII.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Leon Trotsky died on this day

Leon Trotsky died on 21 August 1940 one day after being hit in the head with an ice pick. In the words of the Stranglers he got an ice pick that made his ears burn. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Washing in the Middle Ages

Its a persistent myth that people in the Middle Ages were very dirty. All the evidence suggests they tried to keep themselves clean.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Boys cleaning chimneys

On 7 August 1840 the British parliament voted to ban boys from cleaning chimneys by climbing up them. But the act was often ignored. In 1875 a new law said chimney sweeps had to register with the authorities and be given a certificate, which they would lose if they were found to be breaking the law.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Louis Bleriot

On 25 July 1909 Louis Bleriot became the first man to fly across the English Channel. Well done Louis. 

Monday, 16 July 2018

Anne Askew

On 16 July 1546 a Protestant named Anne Askew was burned to death in London. She is the only woman on record as being tortured in the Tower of London

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


Happy birthday Quebec. The great city was founded on 3 July 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. 

Monday, 2 July 2018

Marston Moor

On 2 July 1644 during the English Civil War parliament won a decisive victory at Marston Moor. Is believed it was the largest battle ever fought on English soil. 

ELO Battle of Marston Moor 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Pillory

On 30 June 1837 the pillory (a wooden frame your head and arms were locked into) was abolished in Britain. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018


On 24 June 1314 the Scots won a decisive victory at Bannockburn. It ensured Scottish independence. 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The first English police

On 19 June 1829 Robert Peel founded the first modern English police force in London. They were named bobbies or peelers after him.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Saturday, 9 June 2018

St Lawrence River

On 9 June 1534 Jacques Cartier became the first European to discover the St Lawrence River.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

The Great Reform Act

On 7 June 1832 in Britain the Great Reform Act received the royal assent. Until then only about 10% of men could vote. The new act increased that to about 14%. But at least it made the distribution of constituencies fairer. It was not until 1918 that all men in Britain could vote. (The same year, 1918 most women in Britain were given the right to vote).

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Monday, 28 May 2018

Joseph Guillotin

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was born on 28 May 1738. He persuaded the French assembly to adopt a more humane way of executing people. Mechanical devices for beheading people existed long before (the first one was recorded in Dublin 1307). However the guillotine is named after him.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

King John is crowned

King John was crowned on 27 May 1199. He is famous for sealing Magna Carta but he also founded Liverpool. 

Vincent Price

Vincent Price was born on 27 May 1911. He is my favourite actor. He was Prince Prospero in my favourite film The Masque of the Red Death.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


An interesting article about the invention of pantyhose 

Pierre Curie

The great scientist Pierre Curie was born on 15 May 1859.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Smallpox vaccine

On 14 May 1796 Edward Jenner vaccinated a boy against smallpox. He wasn't the first man to vaccinate but he popularised the smallpox vaccine.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Rose de Burford

Woman of the day: Rose de Burford ?-1329 was married to a wool and spice merchant. She helped her husband with the business and took it over when he died. (It was common in the Middle Ages for a merchant's wife to help her husband run the business and it was common for him to leave it to her in his will as she would know how to run it). Rose died a very wealthy woman.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Florence Nightingale

The great nurse Florence Nightingale was born on 12 May 1820. She helped to reform nursing in the 19th century. 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Barbara Washburn

I found this interesting article. A team of 4 men climbed Denali, the highest mountain in North America in 1913. The first woman to climb it was Barbara Washburn in 1947 (She was part of a team).

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Alan Shepard

On 5 May 1961 Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Well done Alan.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Anzac Day

Today is ANZAC Day. (It stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Its held on 25 April because on that day in 1915 Australian and New Zealander troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula to fight the Turks. (Turkey was Germany's ally during the First World War). About 60,000 Australian men died in the First World War. About 17,000 men from New Zealand were killed.

Sunday, 22 April 2018


On 22 April 1500 a Portuguese named Pedro Cabral discovered Brazil. He claimed Brazil for Portugal.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Typhoid vaccine

On 14 April 1903 Dr Harry Plotz discovered a vaccine against typhoid. Well done Harry.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Katyn Massacre

On 13 April the Russians finally admitted responsibility for the Katyn Massacre. In 1940 Polish officers were murdered on Stalin's orders. (Russia invaded Poland from the east in September 1939. Germany and Russia shared Poland between them). The Germans discovered the massacre in 1943 but for decades the Russians claimed the Germans did it.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Friday, 30 March 2018


On 30 March 1867 the USA signed a treaty with Russia. The Russians agreed to sell Alaska for $7.2 million.  

Friday, 23 March 2018

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The Guillotine

On 20 March 1792 the French Assembly agreed to use the guillotine as a humane method of execution. Dr Guillotin proposed using a mechanical beheading device and it was named after him. However the idea was not new. A device for beheading people was mentioned in Dublin, Ireland in 1307.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Self Raising Flour

On 11 March 1845 Henry Jones patented self raising flour. It was a small invention but it made cooking easier. Well done Henry. 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Inventor of Elastic

Another little known inventor: Thomas Hancock invented elastic in 1820. Well done Mr Hancock. Elastic is one of those inventions most of us take for granted but is very useful.  

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Happy Birthday RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution was formed on 4 March 1824. Its debatable who invented the lifeboat. Lionel Lukin patented an unsinkable boat in 1785 but the first purpose built lifeboat was built by Henry Greathead in 1790. Well done gentlemen.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


On 27 February 1879 Constantin Fahlberg announced his discovery of saccharine. Sugar was once a luxury and in the late 19th century it was still expensive. My video about 19th century food is 1 year old.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Nicolaus Copernicus

Happy birthday Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473), the man who realised the Earth orbits the Sun

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Friday, 9 February 2018

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The right to vote in 1918

On 6 February 1918 The Representation of the People Act received royal assent. For the first time all men in Britain were allowed to vote. Women over 30 were also allowed to vote.

Monday, 5 February 2018


My video about Portsmouth has reached 9,000 hits

Robert Peel

Happy birthday Robert Peel (5 February 1788) the man who formed the first real police force in Britain in 1829. They were called bobbies of peelers after him. 

Friday, 2 February 2018

Public Lavatories

In the Middle Ages there was a public lavatory over the River Fleet in London. (Now an underground river). However the first modern public lavatory opened in Fleet Street, London on 1 February 1852. (But only the men's section, the ladies section opened on 11 February).

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Great Eastern

On 31 January a ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, The Great Eastern, was launched. 

Friday, 26 January 2018

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Gold Rush

On 24 January 1848 James Marshall struck gold at Sutters Mill in California beginning the California gold rush.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Elizabeth Blackwell

On 23 January 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to qualify as a doctor in the USA. (The first woman in England to qualify as a doctor was Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in 1865). 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Salem Witch Trials

On 20 January 1692 2 girls in Salem, Massachusetts started having fits. The result was the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Joan of Arc

According to a tradition Joan of Arc was born on 6 January 1412. Not sure if it actually was that day but happy birthday anyway.