20th January 1569.

The Elizabethan bearded wood-cut figures of the illustrated Geneva Bible have conditioned our view ever since of the prophets and patriarchs and even people’s notion of Jehovah himself. This bible was eventually banned in favour of the State Authorised Version by 1644, as its glosses (comments) were thought seditious.

Today Bible translator Myles Coverdale died in1569 in London. Bishop of Exeter until he was deposed in 1553 by Mary I (Bloody Mary’), Coverdale was an assistant of Tyndale, whose Bible made extensive use of the 1526 New Testament and original Greek sources. Written in English the translation helped to standardise the English tongue in the southern dialect.(1)

Geneva Bible.

The Coverdale Bible was commanded by Henry VIII in 1538 to be set up in every church for public reading, after Tyndale’s Bible had been suppressed as ‘pestilent glosses’. Coverdale was followed by Matthew’s 1537 and Taverner’s Bibles to culminate in the Great Bible of 1539, the result of Cranmer’s efforts to produce an authorised text with Coverdale as editor-in-chief.

In 1536 the Protestant Thomas Cromwell ordered the Paternoster and Commandments to be taught in English instead of Latin, resulting in the northern unrest of the Catholic Pilgrimage of Grace, as their traditional services were removed.

This exhortatory age now ordered in 1538 that every church was to have the Bishops’ Bible, but in 1543 Parliament panicked, and made it illegal to be read or expounded as likely to be too broadly interpreted among the lower orders and liable to make the apprentices unruly and so was to be now restricted to the less dangerous literate clergy and the upper orders.

However it was never fully enforced; only one third of the population could read and in a visual age most acquired any Biblical knowledge by rote, church windows, wall paintings and the itinerant Mystery Plays.

Matthew’s Great Bible 1539 was similarly suppressed by Mary I and so called owing to its large size. Other names ascribed to this Bible were Cromwell’s Bible as he had directed publication; Whitchurch’s as he printed it; the Chained Bible as it was chained in Churches for all to read and Cranmer’s as he wrote a preface in the 2nd edition.

England was one of the last in Europe to produce a vernacular Bible and Middle English translations include John Wycliffe’s first complete translation, the Wycliffe Bible of the persecuted Lollards from Richard II to the Reformation, and early modern versions regarded as heresies with marginal notes by Tyndall, and the Geneva Bibles.

It wasn’t until a thousand years after the Latin Vulgate, that there was felt a need to translate the Bible for the people, but even as late as Queen Elizabeth there was no universal accepted text. Puritans used the 1560 Geneva Bible, drawing on Protestant translations for which Tyndale had been executed.

King James Bible.

However this Calvinist Bible was thought too Republican; translating for instance Hebrew words for ‘king’ as ‘tyrant’ and had anti-royalist marginal notes. Archbishop Wareham noted: ‘in the Genevan translation some notes are partial, untrue, seditious and savouring of traitorous conceits’.

(1) Coverdale was buried at St Bartholemews by the Exchange which was demolished in 1840 to make way for the new Royal Exchange, and then moved to St Magnus.

Ref: bbc.co.uk/news/mag. King James’ Bible and how it changed the way we speak.

Ref: Wikipedia.org. King James’ Bible


18th January 1825. Remarkable Frankland.

Today Edward (Sir) Frankland was born in Lancashire in 1825 being notable among other things as the originator of Organometallic Chemistry and also for discovering the concept of the combining power of the Valence Bond.(1)

Diethylzinc with two Ethyls either side of the zinc.

The distinguishing feature of organometallic compounds is the inclusion of at least one non-organic, metal chemical bond between organic compound/s and includes Alkalines, Alkaline Earths, Transitional Metals and sometimes Metalloids such as Boron, Silicon and Tin.

Flammable in air Diethylzinc. youtube.

It was in 1848 that Frankland discovered Diethylzinc (C2 H5)2 Zn. known as DEZ. It is highly pyrophoric (flammable) and a very reactive organozinc compound, having a zinc centre bound to two Ethyls. It is a colourless liquid and an important reagent in organic chemistry.

In 1868 Frankland (1825-1899) and the British astronomer Norman Lockyer (1836-1920) made an observation of the sun through the smoky skies of London and in the process confirmed an observation of August 18th, made in India, of a line in the corona spectrum, at a certain wavelength, and thereby assumed that a new element was present: Helium.

(1) Organometallic bonds are usually Covalent where sharing of electronic pairs take place between atoms.


Ref: wikipedia.org/Pic.

Ref: youtube/Pic.

14th January 1935. Strand Magazine.

‘Cost 6d, but worth a shilling’: slogan of Strand Magazine which ran from January 1891 to March 1950. The Magazine was the nursery for such writers as Churchill, Agatha Christie, Kipling and Chesterton.

Today in 1935 Herbert Greenhough Smith died at the age of 80 after being the first editor of Strand Magazine from 1891 to 1930, and the first to publish the Sherlock Holmes stories. It could be said without his personal support and promotion the Holmes genre might have stalled.

Featuring Holmes, Conan Doyle’s first long story of the four he wrote, was a ‘Study in Scarlet’, but which attracted little interest from publishers and first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887.

Published by Ward Lock, and notable for featuring the first appearance of Dr. Watson, with Holmes appearing on the front page with two ‘Original Drawing Room Plays’. (1)

When the Sign of Four apeared in book form in 1890 The Athenaeum commented: ‘Dr. Doyle’s admirers will read the little volume through eagerly enough, but they will hardly care to take it up again’. However within two years Doyle was one of the most popular authors and to continue until 1927.

Conan-Doyle in his autobiography ‘Memories and Adventures (1924) revealed he had written the Holmes’ stories with a view to establishing himself in the Strand Magazine and that a ‘single character would bind the reader to that particular magazine’.

The first story featuring Holmes in the Strand Magazine was a short story ‘Scandal in Bohemia’ with illustrations by Sidney Paget appearing in July 1891 and Doyle was now set to become one of the most popular and prolific contributors. The serialisation of the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ (1901-2) was estimated to have increased the Magazine’s circulation by 30,000.

Bound Volumes 1894.

The Strand Magazine had a blue/green cover illustrated by George Charles Haite designer, painter and illustrator who had been asked by George Newnes to produce a pen-ink illustration for his new magazine. The result was a picture looking east up the Strand in London with its title hanging from telegraph wires.(2)

The last Editor of Strand Magazine until it folded in 1950 was Macdonald Hastings, father of Max Hasting the writer and journalist.

(1) D.H. Friston was the first illustrator in this issue and was engraved by WMR Quick and issued in November at 1 shilling, being sold out before Christmas.

Samuel Beeton the publisher, husband of Isabel the famed writer of Household Management, had sold out to Ward Lock after financial difficulties. A copy of Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887 signed and inscribed as, ‘The first book of mine to be published’, by Doyle was withdraw from sale after failing its reserve of £240,000 in 2010.

(2) Haite (8.6.1855-31.3.1924).

Ref: wikipedia.org Sherlock Holmes/Pic.

Ref: strandmagazine.com/history

12th January 1887. Red Tape.

The Civil Service in the 19thc century was already associated with bureaucracy being satirised in Dickens’ Circumlocation Office: ‘While of tape-red tape it had used enough to stretch, in graceful festoons, from Hyde Park Corner to the General Post Office’(1)

Today in 1887 Stafford Northcote later 1st Earl Iddesleigh died notable for being the last non-Prime Minister to be designated First Lord of the Treasury and one of the founders of Britain’s professional civil service.

As a result of the collapse of the royal bureaucracy in the Tudor and Stuart times and the defeat of monarchy in the Civil-War, by the reign of Charles II the foundations of governance were laid down under clerks like William Blathwayt who had organised William III’s campaigns.

He harnessed the best talent: the diarists Pepys (Secretary to John Downing of the eponymous street), and John Evelyn and John Locke the philosopher, for colonial matters; Temple and Godolphin in diplomacy and William Petty the economist who founded public statistics and promoted the Royal Society.

The modern Civil Service dates from the 1780s with later principles laid down by Lord Macauley in 1833 and Sir Charles Trevelyan and Sir Stafford Northcote in 1853. They were inspired by Bentham’s Utilititarianism where was, ‘Official Aptitude Maximized, Expense Minimized’: honesty and efficiency were the key ideas.

By the early 19thc the politicians were becoming more professional as politicians devolved more administration onto Civil Servants under Permanent Secretaries as the great Departments of State were founded with openings more open to a wider group through rigorous competitive exams.

Somerset House, London was built for the use of a growing Civil Service, built by Sir William Chambers the King’s architectural adviser and with Civil-Service Commissioners being created in 1855 to conduct exams. However not until the Order in Council of 1870 were open exams prescribed with a clear distinction between ‘Intellectuals’ and ‘Mechanicals’.(2)

A rigid division now came with Administrative, Executive and Clerical grades and many other sections such as ‘industrials’ and postman. In effect it reinforced Oxbridge with exams geared to a Public School bias of ’Arts’ and reflecting the ‘gentleman amateur’, but at least one of merit rather than patronage.(3)

Reforms were expedited by the Crimean War which had exposed the cult of noble un-meritocratic and incompetent leadership as reflected in the Battle of the Light Brigade on October 25th 1854, and also notable by a lack of proper clothing, food and shelter resulting in thousands dying from cold, exhaustion and disease.

It was mismanagement which saw demands from the new meritocratic middle-class demanding access to the professions with both the Liberals and Tories seeing the need for reform. The growing public schools were now being groomed not only to man the growing Empire and the Indian Army, but also the Colonial and Home Civil Service.

(1)  Sir Tithe Barnacle defending the Office in Parliament) in Little Dorrit (Book 2. Ch 8.) Thomas Carlyle also refers to parliament as: ‘Little other than a red-tape talking machine’ and [an]‘Unhappy Bag of Parliamentary Eloquence’.

Red Tape‘: a term synonymous with bureaucracy from the tape used for securing files and made in Cheadle, Staffordshire. The coloured-cotton tape was dyed with the Safflower carthamus tinctoria.

(2) There used to be a palace there, but the land was swapped for the Buckingham Palace site.

(3) Now divided into numerical grades.


11th January 1810. Boulton and Watt.

Boulton and Watt produced many metal products at their Soho Works, Birmingham and were famous for their stationary engines much in demand in the Cornish tin mines.

Boulton and Watt Steam Engineering Factory, Soho, Birmingham.

Today in 1810 Engine No 42B was entered into the Boulton and Watt, Birmingham Order Book so called as it was the second engine of the Company having a 42 inches cylinder. It was installed two years later at Crofton Pumping Station, where it has continued to run, except for a few years in the 1960s.

Crofton Pumping Station.

Pumping Station Boiler.







Before the modern production lines of the 20th century the Company at its Soho factory in the 18th century, was making products using replaceable uniform parts and pioneering mass production division of labour in an interlocking system of workshops each serially engaged in its own particular segment of metal processes. These included casting, assembly, stamping and burnishing etc.

Boulton spatially located each operation in a flow line, before production lines were even thought of with the aim to minimise movement, time wastage, transportation and maximising division of labour, one of the key tenets of economics and in the process endorsing Adam Smith’s dictum: ]That] ’the greatest improvement in production powers of labour …seem to have been the effect of division of labour’.

In the early days of the Industrial Revolution it was relatively easy for an ambitious man to start in business, with the potential to rapidly expand and thus to form the basis of Britain’s wealth.

Little capital was required then to set up in business and this along with nous and a deal of brashness and an ability to see where money or ‘brass’ could be made was to ensure the success of the industrious men of the hard north.

Many took over from a dad who had started in a workshed in the process creating factories which relied on simple robust machines in serried ranks, steam-driven by a system of belts and wheels.

Some as with Boulton were highly organised chains of distinct workshops engaged in multifarious processes. The fact that entry to manufacturing was relatively easy meant that competition was stiff so the more one could drive down wages by employing cheap labour such women and children the more profitability was attained.

Ref: Soho Foundry.wikipedia.org/wiki/soho.

Ref: The Penguin Social History of Britain: English Social History in the 18thc Roy Porter 2001.

Ref: googleimages.

9th January 2004. TPO.s

The ‘mail-net collection apparatus’ made famous in the Ealing Film comedy, ‘Two Way Stretch’ introduced in 1852, was abandoned in 1971. (1)

The Illustrated London News called the Great train Robbery of 1963, the ‘most daring and fruitful mail robbery in English history’. Forty one years later the last Travelling Post Office (TPO) from Stonebridge Park in north London left Today for Newcastle at 11.18 pm in January 2004.

Before the ending of the service it was still possible to post a letter on a TPO as every carriage had its post-box, mainly used by philatelists for the postmark. At the final count it cost £16 million to run and there were eighteen trains with 420 staff running from Carlisle and Newcastle in the north to Penzance in the South West, handling 15,000 bags of mail ensuring that remote areas would get their post. (2)

Postal workers sorting mail, c 1929.

It was in 1838 that the first Travelling Railway Post Office, a converted horse-box left London for Birmingham. It had only one sorting clerk and a red-coated mail guard who had been recruited from the Royal Mail’s horse drawn carriages. Such was its success that within a couple of months a government bill was passed obliging the railway companies to provide a separate carriage for sorting letters en route.

The establishment of new rail routes and the heavy increase in mail confirmed the travelling post offices as an integral part of the Royal Mail system and by the beginning of the First World War there 139 TPOs that made up the web of interconnecting routes.

The service however has constantly been downgraded and after WWII only 43 were reinstated and with the introduction of two-tier postage in 1968 only the first class would be sorted on trains. 20 years later a revamp of Royal Mail saw a further reduction in TPOs.

The TPOs most dramatic day was in 1963 when the ‘up’ train to London was robbed in Bucks., ‘The only reason most of us knew something was wrong was we shouldn’t have stopped for that length of time’, recalled Dino Howell who joined TPO in 1962.

In March 1964 and with twenty members of the gang still at large, ten men were convicted of the robbery. The next month twelve members were sentenced to a total of 307 years in jail, though later the Appeal Court was to quash the 25-year jail sentences against two of those convicted.

The Night Mail poem of the 1930.s by W.H. Auden caught the rhythm and action of the mail train going north to Scotland. With music by Britten it celebrated the centenary of the TPO in a  GPO documentary and was shown on cinema screens.

(1) It involved a net at the side of the railway line which picked up bags of mail, without the train stopping.

(2) The last TPO left Bristol for Penzance at 6.30 on the following day.


6th January 1949. Punch.

The 19th century was the era of the great cartoon satirists such as George du Maurier famous for the ‘Curate’s Egg’: ‘True Humility: The egg is only bad in parts’. Then ‘the Bedside Manner’ (1884): ‘What sort of doctor is he?’ ‘Oh well I don’t know much about his ability, but he’s got a very good bedside manner’.

The use of paradox and irony has long been part of literature and none more so than in Punch Magazine which Today in 1949 saw the cover design of Richard Doyle celebrate 100 years.(1)

In the early days Punch’s cover changed half-yearly, with artists such as Hablot Knight Browne (‘Phiz’) illustrator of Dickens’, Pickwick Papers and illustrator John Leech who had originally made his name on Bentley’s Miscellany.

Punch’s ‘nagging and beating’ ethos was reflected in Mr Punch whose picture was the main feature of the front page, a pugnacity employed against injustice as embodied in Establishment and its institutions.

26th April 1916. Richard Doyle’s cover of 1849 in colour.

Malcolm Muggeridge, the Deputy Editor of the Daily Telegraph, later to make his name in television was made editor and between the years 1952 and 1956 attempted to bring in younger readers biting satire against Churchill, the BBC and Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.

In the early days Punch cartoons became widely popular as newspaper reading grew and a great source of social comment over the years.

It was founded in a tavern, which still exists in Fleet Street, London and was first issued on 17th July 1841 and included many of the leading writers of the day.

The magazine had many campaigns and was sceptical, along with the military, of the early plans, to build a Channel Tunnel in the 19th century, by Sir Edward Watkin.

Punch was to initiate an art form based on stock characters and stereotypes which had been the stock in trade of the 18thc cartoonists. However the magazine once the mainstay of gentlemen’s clubs and dentists’ waiting rooms, found its sales had dropped from 175,000 in the 1940s to its final figure of 33,000 in 1992.

(1) The magazine cover was not to change until 1956.

Ref: wikipedia.org/Pics.

Ref: Defunct Magazine Titles.

Ref: Punch.gutenburg.org/files.