Filed under health and safety

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

This is one of the most important, but least known historical and archaeological sites in Britain. Gunpowder has played a huge role in modernisation; without it we would not have city states, mining, wars, hunting, and spectacular fireworks. This is from historian Brenda Buchannan: Gunpowder and the explosives and propellants which followed it provided a … Continue reading

Breathing Can Cause Weight Gain

This is one of the most bonkers stories I’ve come across, but it is rather worrying. This is from the i paper: A new study finds that people are putting on weight simply by inhaling house dust because much of it contains chemicals that interfere with the body’s hormones. The culprits are “obesogens” known as … Continue reading

The Heroism of A Stranger

The Heroism of A Stranger

In the park adjoining the Museum of Childhood is a drinking fountain with an unusual and tragic history. Most marble fountains were erected by local worthies to provide refreshment for visitors, a few are memorials, but I doubt if any has such sadness associated with it. Water is essential to life. It is central to … Continue reading

Brexit – The Devil and the Details

I’ve heard a lot about how hard Brexit will be, and the governments rush into it is worrying. Here’s an article from the i’s Jim Armitage which provides an example of the complexities ahead, and should terrify anyone in these islands. The complexity of untangling 44 years of seamless trade and regulation with Europe is … Continue reading

Newton’s Great Promoter

Newton’s Great Promoter

Most people have heard of Sir Isaac Newton, though most are vague on the details of his theories on gravity etc. But his work was written in Latin and they were incredibly complex and hard to comprehend, even by his fellow scientists. But they were understood by French born vicar John Theophilus Desaguliers who devised … Continue reading

In Praise of Dr Katterfelto

Dr Katterfelto is one of the most fascinating characters from late 18th/early 19th century England. He was called the King of Puff, and his claims to have cured Londoners of the flu epidemic helped sell his remedies. He demonstrated solar microscopes, and danced either side of the divide between science and magic with a big … Continue reading

Wavy Walls

Wavy Walls

Walls are generally straight, they follow boundaries, and are made with a minimum of materials to save money and time. But sometimes they are bendy. I recall a few in isolated places that had trees planted in the bends. The walls were in an area where fields had lots of stones, so were a nuisance … Continue reading

Death at the Works

Lady Bell, in her book Life at the Works claimed there were few accidents at the blast furnaces of Middlesborough, which seems surprising when you look at how little the men ate, and they did constantly changing shifts. But she does record one incident, in which some men were loading the raw materials into the … Continue reading

Birmingham Improvements

The Victorians often produced uncontrolled, unplanned towns in their rush towards industrialisation, which it took some time to remedy. In Georgian towns, they often just cleared a way through the slums and built fine new houses, or an indoor market. Where did the poor go? No idea, nor did they care. This is some more … Continue reading

Canal On Fire & Beautiful Smoke

The rapid and largely unregulated expansion of English towns in the 18th and 19th centuries led to some pretty horrific environmental conditions, most famously the ‘Great Stink’ of London’s Thames that led to the closure of parliament in  1858. But the great northern cities were pretty bad too. This is about the Bradford Canal, in … Continue reading