Timeline 1800-1849

Timeline index

stone wall with arches
Moira limekilns


William Cowper (poet and hymn writer) dies
Alessandro Volta invents the first chemical battery

Fox Talbot born

William Herschel discovers infrared radiation

Union with Ireland – Union Flag adopted

First official British Census (population of England 8.3 million)

Peace with France

Peel introduces first Factory Legislation

Sir Edwin Landseer born

Thomas Girtin (English painter) dies

Madame Tussaud  arrives in UK

West  India Docks completed in London

Erasmus Darwin dies


John Dalton produces atomic theory and tables of atomic weights

Telford builds the road through the Highlands

Napoleonic War

Titus Salt born

Enclosure Act

Joseph Paxton born

Caledonian Canal opens

Robert Stephenson born

George Romney (English painter) dies

Napoleon declared
Emperor of France

Royal Horticultural Society founded

1804 Joseph Priestley dies

The Great Comet

Closure of Moira Furnace

Battle of Trafalgar –
Death of NelsonMary Seacole bornHans Christian Andersen born
Grand Junction Canal completed
George Stubbs (painter – well known for animal pictures) dies
East India Docks completed in London

Trevithick’s railway completed at Coalbrookdale

I K Brunel born

Francis Beaufort devises the wind force scale

Lamb’s “Tales from Shakespeare”
Royal Military Canal opens
Thomas Cook (Travel agent) born
Captain Manby experiments with maritime rescue lines
Edward Fitzgerald born

Preventative Water Guard formed (Early coastguard)

Haydn dies

Matthew Boulton dies

Charles Darwin born

George III becomes
George (PoW) made Prince Regent

Throckmorton Coat made

George Gilbert Scott born

Luddite disturbances in Notts and Yorks
Charles Dickens born

Edward Lear born 

Parthenon Marbles shipped to London

Napoleon marches on Moscow

Brighton Pavilion begun

Augustus Pugin born




Foxton Locks open
Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”

Nash begins work on Regent Street

Wooten Wawen aqueduct opens

Gun Barrel Proof House opens in Birmingham

Street lighting installed in St Margaret’s Parish, Westminster
Battle of Waterloo
Tardebigge Locks open

Blisworth to Northampton branch canal opens

Waterloo Bridge, Betws-y-Coed built

Humphrey Davy invents the miners’ safety lamp

Jane Austen’s “Emma” 1816
“The Scotsman” newspaper founded

William Bligh dies

Henry David Thoreau born


Mary Shelley’s  “Frankenstein”

US-Canada border established at 49th parallel

Institution of Civil Engineers founded with Telford as president

Eugenius Birch born

Vulcan ship built

Cantlop Bridge plans drawn

Queen Victoria born

Albert (later Prince Albert) born

George Eliot born

John Ruskin born

Walt Whitman born

Peterloo Massacre

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds opens

Picadilly Circus built in London

James Watt dies

Canal system reaches Sheffield

George III dies

Accession George IV

Sir John Tenniel (Alice illustrator) born

Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound”

John Keats dies

Ford Madox Brown born

Percy Bysshe Shelley dies

Antonio Canova (sculptor) dies

Royal Academy of Music founded

Gregor Mendel born
Oxford Union Society founded

Rugby first played at the public school

Work begins on British Museum extension buildings (current structure)  >> 1847

Pimm’s invented

Brighton Pavilion completed


Edmund Cartwright dies

Edward Jenner dies

Charles Babbage starts work on the first “computer”

Charles Macintosh invents
waterproof fabric

Byron dies

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals founded in UK

First RNLI gold medal
for gallantry issued

Samuel Plimsoll born
Trade Unions
Stockton & Darlington railway completed

Thomas Henry (T.H.) Huxley born

Telford completes Menai Bridge

Joseph Arch born (d.1922)

1st Edition Burke’s Peerage published

Longstone Lighthouse built


Holman Hun(painter) born

William Blake dies

Beethoven dies

Burke and Hare murders begin >> 1829

Scarborough Spa Bridge opens

Joseph Lister (antiseptic pioneer) born

Ohm’s Law established

Dante Gabriel Rossetti born

Jules Verne born

Leo Tolstoy born

Henrik Ibsen born

Zoological Society of London opens zoo in Regent’s Park
Catholic emancipation

Millais born

Metropolitan Police formed

Rotunda Museum opens in Scarborough

Barclay imports first Cavendish banana plant

William Burke hanged

Robert Abbot dies


Galton Bridge opens over Telford’s canal at Smethwick

Humphry Davy dies


George IV dies

Accession William IV

Camille Pissarro (painter) born

1st cholera epidemic » 1832

Faraday begins work on electricity

Darwin’s 1st voyage on Beagle

Isle of Lewis chess set found
London Bridge opens

Sir James Clark Ross discovers position of magnetic North Pole

Henry Maudslay dies

Faraday demonstrates
electromagnetic induction

Edouard Manet (painter) born

End of 1st cholera
epidemic » 1848

G F Muntz patents Muntz’s Metal
Factory Act limits
child labour

Slavery abolished in British Empire

Edward Burne-Jones born

William Wilberforce dies

Birmingham Town Hall completed

Mold cape discovered

Richard Trevithick dies
Coleridge dies

Dickens’s “Sketches by Boz”

Poor Law amendment introduces Union Workhouses

Tolpuddle Martyrs transported

William Morris born

Edgar Degas (painter) born

James McNeill Whistler (painter) born

Telford dies

Chance’s Glassworks  established

Charles Babbage develops the analytic engine

Mark Twain born (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Hans Christian Andersen publishes his first children’s story

John Nash dies

First civil marriages allowed in Britain

Sheffield’s botanical gardens open

William IV dies

Accession of Queen Victoria

John Constable dies

Isabella Beeton born


Brunel’s Great Western launched
Public Record Office
establishedGrace and William Darling rescue survivors from the Forfarshire

National Gallery opens in London

Robert Stephenson’s London & Birmingham Railway opens

First public demonstration of the electric telegraph by Samuel Morse

1st Opium War

Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin begin work on the new Houses of
Parliament in London

Pugin’s St Mary’s Church completed in Derby

NSPCC founder Rev Benjamin Waugh born

Paul Cezanne born

Fox Talbot‘s first photographs

Derby gets a railway line

Sheffield gets a railway line

Penny post introduced by Sir Rowland Hill

Charles Dickens publishes The Old Curiosity Shop

New Zealand proclaimed a British colony

Beau Brummel dies penniless in France

Victoria marries Albert

Saxophone invented

Kew Gardens opens

The Rebecca Riots

Derby gets a new town hall

John Sell Cotman dies

George Bassett sets up his confectionery business in Sheffield >> 1899

Wordsworth becomes Poet Laureate

Edvard Grieg (composer) born

United Free Church of Scotland formed

Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
first published in December

Nelson’s Column erected in Trafalgar Square

Brunel’s SS Great Britain launched

“The Great Comet”

Chatsworth’s Emperor Fountain


YMCA founded

8th Marquess Queensbury (boxing rules) born

Work begins on Kew Palm House>> 1848

Morse sends first telegraphJohn Dalton dies 
Irish Famine »
Dr Thomas John Barnardo born

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”

First submarine cable under the English Channel

Northampton gets its first railway line

Irish Famine »
Neptune discovered
Dickens’s “Dombey & Son”

Charlotte Bronte‘s “Jane Eyre”

Wm Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair”

Marx & Engels’s “Communist Manifesto”

British Museum completed

Joseph Pulitzer (journalist and publisher) born

Institution of Mechanical
Engineers founded with George Stephenson as presidentDee Bridge disasterThomas Edison bornAlexander Graham Bell born

Chloroform first used as an

Pre-Raphaelites formed

Paul Gaugin born

2nd cholera epidemic

Irish Famine

Hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” written in Dunster, Somerset

Kew’s Palm House completed

Matthew Webb born


Robert Stephenson’s Conway Bridge opens
of the Corn Laws

Beau Brummel dies

William Etty dies

Joseph Fry makes the first chocolate bar

Dickens’s “David Copperfield”


Rotunda Museum

The William Smith Museum of Geology

The Rotunda is a unique museum in the town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, which houses a collection of fossils and rock samples gathered by William Smith – “the father of English geology”.

It underwent modernisation in 2008 to enable it to display the collection to its best advantage.

The original round tower was constructed in 1828 and opened a year later as the town’s museum, at the behest of the newly-formed Scarborough Philosophical Society.

Stone for the building was provided by Sir John Johnstone of Hackness Hall, who employed Smith as his land agent.

William Smith was born in 1769. As a young man he was appointed surveyor’s assistant and helped to map out the route of the Bridgewater coal canal. As part of his work he was involved in creating deep cuttings for the canal to flow through.

He took great notice of the exposed rock sections that were created during the works and began to notice regular sequences in the layers. He noticed that each layer had its own distinct fossils and began to theorise that his observations could be used to predict the presence of coal or ironstone.

In 1799 Smith produced the first ever geological map, showing distribution of rocks in the area of Bath (Avon) that was based on his discoveries while working as a canal surveyor. It was called “the map that changed the world” but in spite of his success Smith was not a wealthy man and he was bankrupted. He sold his collection of fossils to the government to clear his debts and moved to Scarborough in 1824 where he began work for Lord Derwent at Hackness Hall.

As Smith’s success grew in the North and the Scarborough Philosophical Society’s collection increased the Rotunda was also extended to accommodate new finds. Wings were added to the original building in 1860 and it became the home of examples of local geology, archaeology and history as well as significant items from overseas.

Over the years the geological samples were scattered to other museums but they have been brought back together following the museum’s refit.

Moira Furnace

In 1792 a plan was launched to build a canal near Ashby de La Zouch, although the cut never actually reached the town. In 1800 the local land was enclosed and the mineral rights granted to Francis Rawdon Hastings, 2nd Earl Moira. Four years later he sank the first coal mine on his land and built a lime kiln. Work began on constructing a blast furnace. The combination was the ideal way of using all the local minerals, ironstone, limestone and coal.

However, the furnace was never a success and worked for only a total of a few months before being finally closed in 1811 after a disastrous fire that reached temperatures high enough to melt the brickwork. The associated iron foundry was a huge success on the other hand and remained in operation producing smallware until the 1850s.

The lime kilns were also a commercial success, producing quicklime for the building industry and agriculture until the 1850s. Coal mining continued in the area until the 1980s.

Moira had a brief spell as a spa in 1812 when it was decided to exploit the salt water from down the mines but the site proved unpopular so the water was later shipped to the Ivanhoe Baths in Ashby by canal and tramway.
Moira Furnace is now a listed building and preserved as a museum at the centre of a heritage park in the National Forest.

Gladstone Pottery Museum

Gladstone Pottery Museum is in Stoke on Trent, housed in a former pottery works and featuring some of the town’s few remaining bottle ovens.
The factory was originally built in the late 18th century after the sale of the old Longton Manor Estate allowed potters to expand out of neighbouring Burslem – the centre of the pottery industry at the time.

Brick bottle ovensLocal family the Shelleys took over a site adjoining the new turnpike road to Uttoxeter and the present day museum is on part of that site. As well as producing their own earthenware the Shelleys carried out contract work for Josiah Wedgwood’s Etruria factory. By 1789, however, their business was in trouble and the site was bought out by William Ward.

He split the area into small plots where a number of potters could work alongside each other. The whole was sold in 1818 to John Hendley Sheridan who let out the site to tenant potters. He also erected new kilns.

One of the tenants was Thomas Cooper who in turn employed other potters and by 1851 he had 41 adults and 26 children working for him. In 1853 he bought the master’s house and began developing the rest of the site.
In 1876 the site was sold on to Hobson and Co who renamed it after the Victorian politician who had visited the Potteries in 1863 to lay the foundation stone of the Wedgwood Memorial Institute.

The site later passed into the hands of Procter, Mayer and Wooley and eventually, in 1939 became Gladstone China (Longton) Ltd.
Mixed fortunes saw the site closed during world war two and in various hands until 1960 when the kilns were closed down. Decorating and packing continued on the site until 1970 when the site was again put on the market.
By that time it was already realised that much of the Potteries heritage had been lost and that an intact factory needed to be preserved. It was one of a number of sites considered for development as a museum.

The Staffordshire Pottery Industry Preservation trust was formed in September 1971 and later the Gladstone Pottery Development Trust was set up to raise funds for the scheme. Phase 1 was officially opened in April 1975.

Crich Tramway Museum

Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire is a working museum where it is possible to ride round on trams all day and see a slice of life in “the olden days”. Although there is no specific date given at the museum some visitors can remember catching trams to go to work when they were young. That probably puts it around 45 to 50 years ago. The village is quite small by comparison with others of its type (Black Country Living Museum, Blists Hill, for example) but it has a few fascinating details to discover as well as having an authentic “bygone” atmosphere with its tiled Red Lion pub, cobbled streets and enamel advertising signs. One nice touch is that visitors are given an old penny with which to buy an all-day ticket to ride on the trams.

The Tramway Museum Society has also rescued a few buildings, notably the old Derby Assembly Rooms, which once stood on a city square but now grace the Town End tram terminus that marks the start of many of the rides. Other structures rescued from around the country include a number of old Birmingham tram shelters, a horse trough and a drinking fountain. There are workshops where the tram enthusiasts repair and restore the old machines or just haul them in for a wash when they start to look grubby from their trips up and down the hill.

Even if antique transport is not for you there is still plenty to see with an old mine at the other end of the tramlines as well as a woodland walk and sculpture trail. The museum has an exhibition “Tracks in Time” with a reconstructed street scene that has plenty of historic information hidden among the replica shop fronts. Near the centre of the site is a reconstructed 1844 cast iron bridge that used to stand on the Bowes-Lyon estate at Stagenhoe Park at Ware in Hertfordshire.

Black Country Living Museum

The Black Country Living Museum is a 26 acre site on the edge of Dudley, West Midlands that houses a collection of buildings and structures from around the Black Country.

Where is the Black Country? Well, experts have failed to agree on exactly what its boundaries are in spite of generations of arguments. Some say it is the area that used to be coloured black on geological maps of the Midlands, indicating the presence of coal. Others say it was the traditional iron working area to the north west of Birmingham. Perhaps the best definition is that it is certainly NOT Birmingham but is wherever a Black Country person says it is. For the purposes of this site it is the four boroughs of Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley.

The museum has a fascinating collection of items that were manufactured in the Black Country, now housed in a building that used to be a swimming baths. Each small town and village in the area was famous for its own trade. There were leatherworkers in Walsall, brickmakers in Aldridge, enamellers in Bilston, glassmakers in Stourbridge, chain makers in Netherton, the list is huge. The museum also has an open-air section that takes the form of an early 20th century industrial village, with a picture house, a chip shop, a pub, chapel, cake shop, sweet shop, lots of workshops and all the other necessaries of living.

During a visit to the museum the Anorak decided to take a different view of the site and explore it with one material in mind – iron. It was mostly cast iron, though forges of various kinds can be found there. And it is amazing how much of life involved cast iron in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That picture above left, for example is the inside of the exhibition hall, the former Rolfe Street Baths building. The roof trusses, or supports,  are made of cast iron. But a look around the site showed that humankind has never really left the Iron Age.

On the Streets, for example, cast iron could be found everywhere. Lamp posts were made from it, as were the traditional red pillar boxes. Roadsigns were also made from cast iron. Even the window frames were iron.

Bridge parapets and boundary fences were also made from the ubiquitous material. It was simple to create elaborate designs by making a mould in sand with a former or pattern. Molten iron was then poured into the mould and left to cool. Repeating patterns could be made in modular form then fixed together.

Everyday items were all made from iron. The bootjack by the door that helped a miner take off his dirty footwear before he went into the house was made of cast iron. The one on the left is shown still in its sand former after manufacture. Chimney pots on top of houses, guttering and down-pipes were made of iron. Even the straps around the barrel that helped to make it waterproof were iron bands.

Hinges to work the gate, latches to open the door, almost everything was made of iron. And even after it had served its original purpose, some iron found a new lease of life. A discarded horse shoe was nailed over a cottage door to bring luck. Sometimes even the houses themselves were made from iron.

In the 1920s, when bricks were in short supply, Dudley Council tried an experimental form of construction as a way to clear old slum housing quickly. The walls consisted of 600 plates that were bolted together to make pairs of semi-detached houses. Only a very few were built because the cost proved prohibitive, but two are preserved at the museum.

Avoncroft Museum

Avoncroft is a collection of old buildings that have been rescued from demolition and decay then transported to a site near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. It contains structures from all over the West Midlands and from seven centuries.

There’s housing, agricultural and industrial buildings, a toll office, chapel, windmill, 1940s prefab and even a fibreglass church spire.

Working life is represented with workshops from Black Country chain making and nail making. These are not the huge manufacturing units of the late Industrial Revolution but the small, household workshops where every member of the family was expected to contribute to the work – including women and children.

The Museum was founded in 1964 following an unsuccessful attempt to preserve a listed Tudor house in Bromsgrove from demolition. Campaigners managed to save only the timbers but the Merchant’s House became the first exhibit to be restored and reconstructed on site.

As well as buildings it is possible to see old skills and industries recreated at the museum. There are also regular costumed re-enactment days. And for the communications enthusiast the museum houses the national collection of telephone boxes – including a Tardis!


Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet

single storeyindustrial building with chimneysAbbeydale is an 18th century industrial works – one of the first working museums in the UK. It is the site of a former steel blade factory; its main product being agricultural scythes, although other bladed implements were made there.

It is on the outskirts of Sheffield, on the banks of the River Sheaf, which was the water source that drove the mill wheels that powered the machinery.
The site houses the only intact crucible steel furnace remaining in the world. It was built in around 1830 and was the source of Abbeydale’s steel for manufacturing the various tools and implements. During a visit to the site it is possible to see the associated pot shop where the clay crucibles that held the raw ingredients for steel were made.

The crucible furnace reached temperatures in excess of 1600 degrees Celsius. Making steel was hot, hard work.

The crucibles full of molten metal were lifted from the furnace by a “puller out” and then poured from the crucibles by a “teemer” to form ingots.
In turn, the ingots were forged under the site’s tilt hammers to create blank blades before they were sent on to the grinders to be given a sharp edge.

The grinding workshop, or hull, contained six sandstone grind stones and two polishing wheels, all powered by a waterwheel. The stones were huge – taller than many of the workers – and suspended with their lower edges in a trough of water to keep the surface wet while the grinders worked. The grinder sat astride the trough and held the blade against the rotating stone to give it an edge.

The work was hot, hard and dangerous with many hazards. The fine dust thrown off the stone during the process got into workers’ lungs, causing silicosis, a debilitating and usually fatal disease. But there was also risk of parts of the grindstone breaking away and causing injury or blindness. On some occasions the whole stone shattered, killing anyone close to it.

Burke and Hare 

Edinburgh’s notorious serial killers

The Players

William Burke
Burke was born in County Cork in 1792. His parents, though poor, struggled to give their children a good education. After schooling he joined the local militia but his regiment was disbanded after seven years and so he returned home to work as a servant for a local landowner in his home town. It is not known why he decided to leave home to work on the Union Canal construction in Edinburgh.

William Hare
Very little is known about Hare’s life before he moved to Edinburgh. It is known that he was born in Ireland, although the exact location is uncertain. He was poorly educated and reputedly a vicious man. One theory says that he was a farm labourer and another than he was a soldier. It is known that he worked as a navvy on the canal but did not know Burke at the time.

Dr Robert Knox
Born in Edinburgh in 1791 Robert Knox was destined to become an important man from his early years. He studied at a local high school before enrolling in medical classes at the University in 1810, aged just 19. On his graduation four years later he became an assistant surgeon in a military hospital in Brussels and worked on casualties from the Battle of Waterloo. By the time he returned to Scotland he was a renowned surgeon and soon had many students of his work.

The Law

In the 1820s, when Burke and Hare first made acquaintance, the laws concerning human dissection were extremely strict. Only executed murderers could be used for medical research because it was believed that a dissected person could not go to heaven. Hospitals and researchers were limited over how many bodies they could dissect each year so doctors were willing to pay for cadavers and not ask too many questions. While dissection was illegal, corpse stealing was not against the law because they were not deemed to be owned by anyone. As a result a new trade of graverobber grew up in many cities and it could be a lucrative business. The robbers – or resurrectionists as they were called because of their ability to “raise the dead” – were paid as much as £10 a corpse, at a time when most people were lucky to earn a few shillings.

The trade became so popular that the newly bereaved were forced to introduce new security measures in order to protect their relatives. Graveyards in cities raised their boundary walls, some built watch towers, others employed night watchmen. Some relatives paid guards to watch over their own dearly departed, put locks on coffins and even built cages over graves. Graverobbing became a less popular pastime as it became more difficult.

The Deadly Duo

It was in to this atmosphere that the deadly duo Burke and Hare introduced their own brand of resurrection. They decided that, rather than go to the trouble of digging up the deceased, they would kill victims themselves and save the hassle.

After moving to Scotland Burke had taken rooms with his mistress, Helen McDougal, at a lodging house once owned by a Mr and Mrs Log. When Mr Log died his grieving widow Margaret found she was turning to one of her tenants, William Hare, for comfort and soon they were married. It was shortly after, in1827, that Burke and his lady moved in.

Later that year another lodger, an old man known only as Donald, died owing £4 in back rent to the Hares. William Hare decided to make up the deficit by selling Donald’s body to the medics. He persuaded Burke to help and, on the day of the funeral, they replaced the body with a sack of wood and took the corpse to anatomist Robert Knox. Who paid them seven pounds ten shillings for it.

The apparent ease with which their plan worked made them greedy and soon after, when another lodger fell ill, they decided to hurry his demise. While one held him down the other put his hand over the victim’s nose and mouth, effectively smothering him and creating their own method of murder.

In all the pair put paid to 16 people in slightly less than a year, beginning with ill lodgers then turning to street beggars and prostitutes. Their greed, however got the better of them and they started taking more risks when choosing their victims. In April 1828 they made the mistake of murdering prostitute Mary Paterson who worked closely with another street girl Janet Brown. When Mary failed to come home after an evening visit to Burke and Hare’s lodging house Janet was suspicious and spoke to her landlady, who raised questions about the disappearance.

They chose other well-known street characters including “Daft” Jamie Wilson. The man had a deformed foot and earned his living as a street entertainer so he was easily recognised by some of the audience when he turned up on Dr Knox’s table. Questions were again asked but Knox denied that it was the same man.

Other easily recognised characters were also dissected and the police became suspicious about the number of mysterious disappearances around the West Port area of the city.

About the same time the pair began to disagree over their actions and Burke accused Hare of working on his own and pocketing all the money. So when both men and their partners were arrested Burke accused Hare of everything and claimed he was not involved. In retaliation Hare agreed to testify against Burke if he was granted immunity.

The trial opened on the morning of Christmas Eve 1828 and the following morning it took the jury just 50 minutes to find Burke guilty. He was sentenced to hang. Before the execution was carried out, on January 29 1829, he made a full confession of all the 16 crimes but denied that the pair ever robbed a grave.

Up the close and down the stair,
In the house with Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox, the man who buys the beef.
– Scottish children’s rhyme

Three years later the Anatomy Act legalised the use of human corpses for dissection if the body was unclaimed and the demand for illegally obtained bodies decreased. Graverobbing was no longer a lucrative business and it all but died out from Victorian society.

One of the last hanged murderers to be donated for dissection was Burke himself. His skeleton is still on display at Edinburgh University Medical School. A pocket book was made from his skin and that is on display at the city’s Police Museum.

William West – Theatre in miniature

William West (1783 – 1854) was a London haberdasher but is much better known for inventing the toy theatre. The idea grew from a sideline he began as an education for children. He had sheets printed up showing characters from plays that were running in London theatres at the time. He soon learned that children were colouring in the sheets and cutting out the characters to perform their own plays.

He adopted the idea and began producing miniature theatres in a variety of styles and the craze took off – becoming one of the most popular pastimes of the Regency period.