The 2nd of October 1901 was a pivotal moment in the history of the Royal Navy. Following several months of trials, the RN’s first operational submarine, Holland I, was launched at the Vickers shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, marking the birth of the Royal Navy Submarine Service (RNSS).
Josh Michael Widdicombe was born on 8 April 1983 in London. The English comedian and presenter is best known for his appearances on The Last Leg, Fighting Talk, Insert Name Here, Mock the Week and his BBC Three sitcom Josh. He also won the first series of Taskmaster in 2015 and the show’s first Champion of Champions special in 2017.
When I was a little lad in industrial Leeds, back in the 1950s, my grandparents had a novel way of inducing me to go to bed and calm down after a day’s play. They invented someone they called ‘The Any Kid Up Man’. This was a chap who walked the streets at dusk, tapping on windows with his long stick and calling out, ‘Are there any kids still not in bed?’ This wouldn’t be done today of course, but the fact is that they invented a job.
Just outside Belfast city centre lie two fascinating buildings that shed a light on the criminal history of the city over the past couple of centuries. On one side of the Crumlin Road is an imposing structure now sadly dilapidated – it is graffiti strewn and has weeds encroaching into walls, floors and ceilings. This is the former courthouse, now awaiting redevelopment into a luxury hotel, the victim of several arson attacks while it waits a new life. From the courthouse, there is a view directly opposite of where those unfortunate enough to be found guilty of an offence might have found themselves being sent: the Crumlin Road Gaol (they would not have had to cross the road to travel between the two buildings, for a tunnel underneath would have transported those awaiting trial or those who had been convicted, without them having to see the outside world).
On the evening of 28 April 1870, Miss Fanny Park and her best friend Miss Stella Boulton, accompanied by friends Hugh Mundell and Cecil Thomas, left the Strand Theatre. As the four friends stepped inside a waiting cab, events took an unexpected turn. A policeman appeared from the shadows and placed Fanny and Stella under arrest. Cecil Thomas ran away, but Mundell, being a gentleman of honour, elected to escort the two young ladies to Bow Street Station to clear up the confusion.
In Britain, Europe and elsewhere the cultivation of flax and making of linen fabric were major domestic occupations, each household producing enough for its own needs. So useful and valued was linen that tithes and rents might also be paid with bolts of linen cloth. Processing and spinning were female tasks, the drawing, twisting and winding of fibres carried out by hand until the flyer spinning wheel was introduced in the late 1400s. A 17th century innovation was a treadle function, leaving the operator both hands free to guide the fibres. However, equipment varied with the time and place: for example, two-handed flax spinning wheels, devised in the late 1600s chiefly to help the poor to earn a living and worked by girls as young as six or seven years old, were popular in Scotland. Women sometimes undertook weaving too, but traditionally this was a male job and often a journeyman weaver would visit a family annually to make up linen cloth from their homespun yarn.
The Channel Islands have a long and colourful history. Neolithic farmers settled c5000BC and created the many dolmens and menhirs found in the islands. Christianity arrived in the 6th century. In 933 the islands came under the control of the Duchy of Normandy, and today the Channel Islands represent the medieval duchy’s last remnants remaining to the Crown.
The history of Ireland is one that was long dominated by the question of land ownership, with complex and often distressing tales over the centuries of dispossession and colonisation, religious tensions, absentee landlordism, subsistence farming, and considerably more to sadden the heart. Yet with the destruction of much of Ireland's historic record during the Irish Civil War, and with the discriminatory Penal Laws in place in earlier times, it is often within land records that we can find evidence of our ancestors' existence, in some cases the only evidence, where the relevant vital records for an area may never have been kept or may not have survived.
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