Black Country Muse


Time-Line Landmarks.


There have been, through out the time human kind have been on the planet, events that have changed the course of history, or forced our ancesters to take a different path in life. Most of it has been good, and we have learned and progressed, but sometimes, they have had catastrophic effects on family life. Who would have thought, that the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand on 28th June 1914, could pit entire Nations against each other in War, just a month later on 28th July. Or who could have predicted, that an outbreak of Cholera in India, in 1826, would devestate so many countries, just like a Flu epidemic did in 1919. All these events changed the way our forbears lived, or in some cases, didn't. This Time- Line begins in 1800, and should encompass most of the main events, although I may have missed out a few here and there.

1800-1815. Reigning Monarch, George III.

Napoleon Bonaparte was fast becoming a national threat, as witness a Naval task force, sent to capture the Island of Malta, On the home front, ( 1880 ) Richard Trevithick constucts, and runs, a light- pressure steam engine, this followed the first steam powered Cotton Mill, in Manchester, (1789) and the first steam powered Iron Rolling Mill. (1790) The American inventor, Eli Whitney, began to make Muskets that had interchangable parts, and seriously affected the Gun trade in the Black Country, who were very slow to adapt their methods, although in the Black Country, we had a near monopoly on the casting of Cannons. In 1801, the Act of Union with Ireland was passed, there was a riot, and Horatio Nelson sneaked up on the Danes in Copenhagen Harbour, and blasted their fleet into surrender. ( I've seen the cannonball marks ) As a pretext of things to come, yet another American, Robert Fulton, builds the worlds first submarine, " The Nautilus ", which was bit more advanced than ours, consisting as it did of a wooden barrel with rubber tubes, and the British get pipped at the post, this time by an Italian/Frenchmen, Alessandro Volta, who makes the worlds first Electric Battery. Good news for the Mining industry though, the first proper Iron Trolly tracks were laid and tested on a short stretch between Croydon and Wandsworth. They had all previously been made of wood, and tended to break up when heavy wieghts were put on them. As the population of Britain rose to 10.4 million, and the price of bread hit the roof, the exact opposite to the quality, our ancesters had, at last, a proper flag to wave, as the Union Flag was adopted. This gave those who travelled long distances to watch Public Hangings, something to do, while awaiting the days entertainment. In 1802, the gambling folk of the region, those that is who could read, could glance at the pamphlets announcing the horse races at the newly opened Goodwood. Most though, stuck to those good old local traditions, like Bull Baiting, Dog Fighting, and Cock Pits. The " Health and Morals of Apprentices " was under discussion by Parliament, as part of the protection of factory labourers, and a fat lot of notice the Employers took of it all. They continued to empty the Workhouses of young lads, and hid them down Coal Mines.The population was informed, that John Truter and William Somerville, were off to explore Bechuanaland in Africa. Most wouldn't have known where Africa was. Somerville got back safely, but Truter was apparently a bit unlucky, later reported to have been eaten by the natives. In which case, the African natives were being better fed than the native English. By 1803, we were back at War with France, the army, under Arthur Wellesley, ( later 1st Duke of Wellington ) were away giving an Indian potentate a lesson, the Navy were patrolling up, down, and everywhere else, while that pesky yank, Robert Fulton, built himself a steam powered boat. Just in case the French should get hold of this idea, and decide to invade in a fleet of puffing billies, our very own Henry Shrapnel, just in time, invented the exploding shell. Well at least it kept our Iron works busy. 1804 was a bad year, Not only did the East India Company start a war with the Holkar of Indore, ( won 4-1 on penalties ) but the double dealing Spaniards also declared war on us. Army and Navy recruiting parties, set off around the Country looking for suitable men, and scooped up, without properly checking, a few diguised women as well. With Napoleon now crowned King of Italy, as well as boss of France, the scene was set, in 1805 for a big showdown with the upstart and his friends, at Trafalgar. We lost Nelson, but we sank nearly all of their expensive toy ships, amidst claims of unfair play, and breaking the rules. It also cost a great deal of money that year to run the Country as well, the bill came to a staggering £62.8 million. In 1806, the Bonaparte family continued to expand, Nappy's brother Joseph, was named King of Naples, Louis was named King of Holland, and we blockaded the coast of France. All this was good for business around the Midlands, as Cannons, Muskets, Swords, and all manner of exploding Iron products were in great demand. The poor souls who were confined to the many Workhouses, were sent up north, to swell the Cotton industry, and weave the cloth required for uniforms. (90,000 employed, and in the Weaving Trade, 184,000 workers) To house the many French Prisoners who were expected to surrender, (sorry, " be captured ") a new Prison was constructed, and so began the legend of Dartmoor. Napoleon continued to cause trouble in 1807, coming to blows with the Russian and Prussian Armies, and then invading little Portugal. Another family member, Jerome Bonaparte, is made King of Westphalia, ( the Prussians didn't take kindly to this.) and we begin recruiting again. The British Navy meanwhile, upset the Americans, when the Frigate, HMS Leopold, fires on, and stops the US Chesapeake, and recaptures several deserters. We later appologise and pay for the damage, but will later get our own back in 1812. Fulton, yet again, demonstrates his annoying expertise with steam, by sailing up and down the Hudson River in his paddle boat. England votes to end Slavery in the Empire, and to appease those who didn't agree, the first Ascot Gold Cup was announced. In 1808, that upstart Napoleon is really getting up the English nose's as he invades Rome and Spain, and promotes his brother Joseph, to King of Spain. This goes down like a lead balloon, and the natives revolt, Joseph, seeing which way the tide is going, runs for his life. More work for the Black Country though, as Captain Samuel Brown, of the Royal Navy, patents Iron Anchors and  Chains. Noah Hingley, from Netherton near Dudley, takes an interest, and rushes off to Liverpool to see if there's money in the idea, as he hasn't a clue how to make them. There was, and he recruits a load of scousers to show his own workers how to make them. On the fashion front, Pigtails, a male hairstyle, finally goes out of favour, except in the Navy. At last, in 1809, the future Duke of Wellington, gives old Nappy a black eye at Oporto in Portugal, and another one at Talavera. Believing she may have bought him a bit of bad luck, the very unhappy Nappy divorces Josephine. The British celebrate by creating yet another Horse Race, this time, The Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket. For those who could read, " Rip Van Winkle " was published, and John Constable set off to paint the Malvern Hills, Flatford Mill, and a few others which apparently become very popular. The Miners in County Durham, long suffering from overwork, poor pay, and dangerous conditions, picked 1810 to go on strike, and the unrest was reported to have spread to the Midlands as well. The French nationalised the sale of Tobacco, believing it was the cause of some national unrest, in which many aristocrats lost their heads. Nappy continued to eluded the future Duke, but continued to upset the Austrians, decimating their Army, the Dutch, and then the Americans, by seizing their ships. George III was taken ill on his Farm, and declared insane in 1811. Farmer George, under some pressure, handed over to the fun loving Prince Regent, and Wellington caught up with Nappy again, at Fuenttes-de-Onoro and Albuera. (we won on points) Jane Austin published " Sense and Sensibilty ", and then the Luddites, fearing they would all suffer with all the new machines being invented, went around the Country, smashing up the said machinery. (Typical British reaction to a loss of Jobs) As expected, the over confident Napoleon, overstepped himself in 1812, he invaded Russia, but forgot to tell his 550,000 troops to pack their thermal underwear. In brass monkey weather, only 20,000 returned intact. For his pains, he was forced to give it all up, and was exiled to Elbe, a small Island just off the French coast. On the home front, the Prime Minister, Spencer Precival, got himself shot, the Americans declared War on us, and the only decent read to be had, were the Fairy Tales, from the Brothers Grim. Things did brighten up though, Wellington captured Madrid, The Elgin Marbles, bought for a song from some bankrupt Greek arrived in London, and the Countries first successful Steam Ship, " The Comet ", managed to stay afloat on the River Clyde without blowing up. As if to mock old Nappy, Jane Austen publishes " Pride and Predudice, he promptly returns from exile, and raises another Army. The Prussians declare war on him, and Wellington marches into France. A bright spot in the war with the US, HMS Shannon, a 38 gun Frigate, takes on the much bigger US Chesapeake, ( I did say we got our back ) and wins hands down. George Stephenson runs the first practical Steam Locomotive at Killingworth, Newcastle, and London gets gas street lighting, courtesy of William Murdoch. In 1815, we lose the American War after defeat at the Battle of New Orleans, but old Nappy finally gets his come-upance at Waterloo, and is sent on a long extended holiday to Saint Helena. He died there in 1821. The price of bread goes through the roof, as the Corn Law is passed, Humphry Davy invents the Safety Lamp, which failed to have the impact it should have had, and good news for Rowley Regis, John Macadam uses crushed stone to construct roads. Finally, someone had found a use for " Rowley Rag ", and worked moved on a pace to dismantle the Rowley Hills. Now heres a thought to finish this first section, The Apothecaries Act, ( 1815 ) bans anyone, who is not qualified, from practicing as a Doctor. No wonder some of our ancesters died young. The whole country goes into a depression, mass unemployment and starvation loom everywhere, and did I hear someone say this week, they are finding conditions a bit tough.