Filed under urbanisation

Did A Mini Ice Age Cause European Slave Trading?

Did A Mini Ice Age Cause European Slave Trading?

I’ve always been aware that the Middle Ages in Europe and the Tudor age were colder than the present – with famous ice fairs on the Thames in Tudor times. But it was also a time of gruesome punishments, tortures and plagues and churches seemed to be full of images of skeletons, dances of death … Continue reading


Artist at Work

As part of the recent Made in Roath arts festival in Cardiff, the former YHA was open to the public to see the artists’ studios before the inevitable developers took over the site. I was intrigued by the room occupied by David Shepherd. His room seemed to be a strange sculpture space, but it was … Continue reading

Fresh Fish in Elizabeth’s London

This is an oddity on food from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. This suggests ways of supplying fresh fish when the fleet were unable to sail, especially in bad weather.  At the fishmarket, in a long street, I saw a quantity of pike up for sale; they are very fond of this, and call … Continue reading

Architectural Anorak Corner

Architectural Anorak Corner

Victorians loved adapting old styles of architecture and playing with them. It makes their buildings far more interesting though they were breaking all the classical rules. This is a house I spotted in Central Cardiff that makes use of what was called Gibbs details, after the early 18th century architect/artist patronised by Lord Burlington who … Continue reading

Tenby Market House

Tenby Market House

Tenby is a famous Victorian seaside resort in West Wales, with narrow streets, and great architecture, with a real sandy beach. This is its market house And this is the list of tolls they used to charge.

30 MPH Speed Limit Sign

This is by Rhodri Marsden in last week’s i paper. This week in 1935 saw the introduction of 30mph speed limit signs i the built-up areas across the UK. Motorists weren’t happy about this, or indeed about any of the measures introduced by Leslie Hoe-Belisha, the Liberal minister for transport in Ramsay MacDonald’s National government. … Continue reading

New York Oysters

Oysters are now a luxury food, but in the past they were easily collected from the shore and common food for the poor. When Bristolians rioted they often threw oyster shells which were strewn in the streets and the sharp edges could do serious harm to victims. This is from the i last week: “The … Continue reading

Silence and Pollution

Here’s s short paper on soundscapes in nature and how they seem to have declined as a result of human activity. It’s fascinating because sound is a sense we tend to neglect, but when I read accounts of the large number of birds that used to be in the Eglish countryside, then think that the … Continue reading

Manchester Cavemen

I’ve posted a few times about housing shortages, and this article from Saturday’s i newspaper is truly grim, from England’s second city. “Behind a dark doorway a the heart of one of Britain’s biggest conurbations lies a secret subterranean “Cave” where homeless men sleep in conditions that would have horrified Victorian social observers. The lair … Continue reading

Late Marriages

In places like Middlesborough, where most of the work was for men at the ironworks, women were in a minority and seldom single. There is also an assumption that people lived short lives, the ‘average age’ of 35 often being cited, but they often saw old bones. This is from Lady Bell’s At the Works: … Continue reading