29th April 2012
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Rarely seen documents chronicling the life and reign of Queen Victoria have been made public on a new website marking this year’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Royal Family released its archive of letters, journals, painting and photographs for the launch.
The website has nine sections tracing the life of Victoria as a princess to her own Jubilee celebrations in 1897.
It includes a letter to her uncle, King Leopold I, describing her future husband Albert as “sensible and kind”.
Penned in June 1836 shortly after meeting him, the soon-to-be Queen wrote of her future consort: “He is so sensible, so kind, and so good, and so amiable too.
"He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance, you can possibly see."
The site - Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Scrapbook - also gives details of the young Princess Victoria’s studies and timetable of lessons.
Life in mourning
One, dated July 1828 when she was aged nine, reveals she was studying a range of subjects including geography, arithmetic, drawing and natural history.
She was a bright student, whose progress was generally described as “good” or “very good”, although she was considered “indifferent” to her music and spelling lessons.
Britain’s longest reigning monarch had nine children with Prince Albert but never recovered from his death in 1861 from typhoid and wore black in mourning for the rest of her life.
Her withdrawal from public life made her unpopular, but during the late 1870s and 1880s she gradually returned to public view.
The website is divided into nine sections: The Young Princess; Becoming Queen; Love and Marriage; Family life; Home and Empire; Victorian Invention and Improvement; Queen Victoria’s Household; Diamond Jubilee Day, and Jubilee Celebrations.
2nd March 2012
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This is one of London’s most beloved landmarks as you’ve never seen her before.
Stripped down to her underwear, the never before seen pictures of Tower Bridge - one of the world’s most recognisable structures - have been unveiled after the stash of hundred-year-old prints were found in a skip.
Coinciding with the 125th anniversary of the bridge’s foundation, the 50 sepia photos reveal in incredible detail the ingenuity behind one of the capital’s most popular tourist destinations, which was the first bridge of its kind in the world.
For more, go here.
Source: Daily Mail
29th February 2012
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Every Monday, I volunteer at the Glasgow Women’s Library, helping out on reception and doing odd bits and pieces around the place. Yesterday, the archivist Laura asked me to help out with some research, and I spent the day reading suffragette newsletters from the beginning of the 20th century. Fascinating stuff!
The GWL is a wonderful place - if you ever get the chance, come to one of our events, or just pop by for a cup of tea.
28th February 2012
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The original architectural blueprints for GWR’s Paddington station, now on Network Rail’s archive. Photograph: Network Rail
Drawings by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, blueprints by Robert Stephenson and designs by Joseph Locke, William Henry Barlow and other engineering giants of the 19th-century railway boom will go on permanent display for the first time in a new online archive.
Giant projects covered in the archive include the Forth and Tay bridges, Brunel’s Box Tunnel, and major stations including Paddington with its beautiful swirling iron and glass end screen.
Network Rail inherited a giant archive of more than 5m records dating back more than three centuries – the oldest predate the railways, and go back to a document from 1680 signed by Sir Christopher Wren dealing with a plot of land which would later become Charing Cross station – from its predecessors.
The archivist, Vicky Stretch, said: “The drawings and documents are a window to understanding the incredibly detailed and beautiful; are an absorbing window to understanding the incredibly detailed and beautiful architectural work carried out by some of the world’s greatest engineers; and are still important for engineers working today.”
Some of the records are still in operational use, such as Brunel’s Box Tunnel drawings, as they show details crucial for maintenance such as foundations and construction details.
Only a fraction of the archive is going online in the first phase, but more images and documents will be added – and questions can be sent to the archivist through the site.
22nd January 2012
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Mary McDonald prisoner number 2424, convicted of theft in 1873
12th January 2012
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WHAT really happened aboard a ship bound for South Australia more than 175 years ago?
DEBAUCHERY, boozing and a mutiny - it wasn’t the ocean journey James Bell was expecting when he boarded The Planter at London’s St Katharine docks in 1838 for a new life in the fledgling colony of South Australia.
He was leaving behind family, friends and the mysterious “C. Perry”, a young woman with whom he hoped one day to be reunited. It should have been the adventure of a lifetime; instead, he was exposed to the seedy underbelly of life of the high seas - among the crew and paying passengers.
The depraved antics - led by the ship’s captain, Thomas Beazley - so shocked the staunchly Protestant 21-year-old Bell that he recorded the lurid events in his diary during the six-month voyage.
"They were all tipsy & quarrelling, singing, dancing, making love, all at once - and the Capt the worst," Bell wrote on December 26, 1838. "I admire innocent and rational amusement as much as any person. But I never saw people indulge in every criminal pleasure & sinful crime so unblushingly as the passengers on board this vessel."It was nothing for Beazley to share his bunk with two of the 11 daughters of a preacher who was moving his family to Adelaide. He openly caroused with the shameless girls in full view of everyone else.
It’s a miracle the ship made it to SA, with the crew often drunk and asleep on watch.
"I cannot look back upon the narrow escape we have had from shipwreck, perhaps from death, without gratitude to the Almighty preserver of all things for his preservation of men," Bell wrote on January 26, 1839.
"I must say that the conduct of the Capt for carelessness and ignorance cannot be too much censured and I apprehend yet further dangers as the consequences of it."
On one occasion, the first officer, G. Mustart, was so drunk he fell asleep on a table, rolled off and hit his head on the corner of an iron stove. He was badly injured and Bell went up to deck to call for help.
"But my having occasion to go on deck at that hour brought me to the knowledge of still more to give me uneasiness. I found the officer on watch asleep, and so drunk that I could not make him understand what had happened, and so left him to his sottishness," Bell wrote on March 13, 1839, after he himself took the helm.
The relentless parties, whoring and violence were too much for Bell, who quickly longed to arrive in his new home of Adelaide.
"I shall hail the moment with unspeakable joy that points to the time when I shall be freed from the intolerable annoyance to which I have been subjected on board," he added.
Bell’s diary has just been published by Allen and Unwin after it was bought for a few pounds at an English street market two years ago.
The State Library of SA recently purchased the journal at auction in London for $22,000. Bound by a green vellum wrap, it is now in a glass display case on public display.