Timeline index
Key Facts and Glossary

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A5. Former Roman road from London to Holyhead improved by Thomas Telford in the 1830s.
Abbot, Robert (1757 - 1829) Responsible for first UK census in 1801
Adam, Robert (1728 -1792) Country house architect.
Albert Memorial. Monument to Prince Albert erected after his death by Queen Victoria.
Anderton Boat Lift. Opened 1875 to carry boats between the Trent and Mersey Canal and the River Weaver, 50 feet lower. Originally hydraulically powered with the counter balances working by transfer of water. Now powered by electricity.
Arch, Joseph. (1826- 1922) Farm labourer and campaigner for agricultural workers' rights. Founded the National Agricultural Labourers' Union 1872 with him as first president. Was MP for North West Norfolk 1885-1900.
Arkwright, Richard (1732-92) Pioneering millwright.
Arts and Crafts Late 19th century art style
Audubon, John James (1785 - 1851) Painter.
Austen, Jane (1775-1817) Author
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Babbage, Charles (1791 - 1871) Inventor.
Bassett's Liquorice Allsorts Confectionery assortment invented 1899 when a salesman dropped his tray of samples and they became jumbled up together.
Bazalgette, Joseph (1819-1891) Chief engineer in London. (See Great Stink.)
Beardsley, Aubrey (1872-1898) Controversial artist
Beau Brummel (1778 -1849) George Bryan. Regency dandy, trend-setter, friend of George, Prince of Wales, later George IV.
Beeton, Mrs Isabella (1837-65) Author of "Everyday Cookery", considered a masterwork in the basics of cookery and home management.
Bingley Five Rise Staircase lock built into Leeds and Liverpool Canal to carry it through a height difference of 60 feet. Opened 1774.
Birch, Eugenius (1818-1884) Engineer.
Blake, William (1757-1827) Artist and Poet
Bligh, Capt William. (1754-1817) See Bounty, HMS
Boston Tea Party (1773) Event in which colonial Americans demonstrated their disdain for their British rulers by throwing a cargo of tea overboard in Boston harbour. A group of men calling themselves the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Mohawks boarded three British ships, the Beaver, the Eleanor and the Dartmouth, and dumped forty-five tons of tea into the water. The incident was a protest against British taxation following the introduction of the Tea Act that allowed the British -owned East India Company to sell directly to the colonies, thus undercutting the price of tea being sold by local traders who were dealing with the Dutch.
Boulsover, Thomas. (1705-1788)  Inventor of the Sheffield plate process
Boulton, Matthew. Birmingham businessman and metal item manufacturer who 'adopted' James Watt and built the Soho Manufactury so that Watt could produce his steam engines in a purpose-built centre.
Bounty, HMS. Ship commanded by Capt William Bligh (see above) that sailed to the Pacific in 1787. Two years later, on the home voyage, Bligh's regime proved so cruel that the crew mutinied. They put Bligh to sea in a small boat but he managed to return to the UK and brought the remaining crew to justice. Appointed governor of New South Wales where his treatment of staff provoked another mutiny, the Rum Rebellion, in 1808. Made admiral in 1811.
Bournville. "Ideal" village built for workers at Cadbury's factory in Birmingham.
Bridgewater Canal. First purpose-built canal constructed to carry the Duke of Bridgewater's coal to Manchester from his mines near Wordsley. Opened 1761.
Brighton Pavilion. Exuberant "Indian Gothic" palace near Brighton sea front designed by John Nash for the Prince Regent and completed in 1823.
Brindley, James (1716 - 1772) Canal engineer.
Britannia Bridge
. Opened 1850. Robert Stephenson's "tube" bridge across the Menai Straits, Anglesey, part of the Chester & Holyhead Railway.
Bronte Family. Family of Yorkshire writers.
Brooke, Rupert
(1887 - 1915) Poet
Brown, Lancelot "Capability"
(1715 - 1783 ) Noted landscape gardener who trained on the grounds at Stowe in Buckinghamshire.
Brunel, Isambard Kingdom (1806-59) Civil Engineer.
Brunel, Marc Father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and principal engineer of the Thames Tunnel
Burke and Hare. Edinburgh murderers of the 1820s.
Burne-Jones, Edward (1833-1898) Pre-Raphaelite artist.
Byron, George Gordon 6th Lord Byron (1788 - 1824) Poet
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Campaign for pure beer. Launched by Kent and Sussex hop growers in 1900 after four people died and another 2,000 in Manchester and Liverpool were made ill as a result of drinking ale with chemical additives. Sulphuric acid used to treat the brewing sugar was found to be contaminated with arsenic. Twelve Manchester retailers were prosecuted over the error.
Cartwright, Edmund (1743 - 1823) Inventor and engineer.
Caudwell's Mill. Built 1874 by John Caudwell in Rowsley, Derbyshire. Water-turbine powered roller mill still producing flour in the early 21st century.
Cavendish Banana. Species of banana grown by Joseph Paxton during his time as gardener at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.
Chance's Glassworks. Established at Smethwick, West Midlands in 1834. Made the glass for the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834) Romantic poet.

Constable, John. (1776 - 1837) Painter.
Conway Bridge. Opened 1848 by Robert Stephenson. "Tube" bridge, part of the Chester & Holyhead Railway. Was the template for the larger Britannia Bridge opened two years later.
Cook, Capt James.
Cotman, John Sell. (1782 - 1842) English Romantic painter
Coventry Watchmakers. One of the key industries of the Midlands city from the mid 18th century.
Crippen, Hawley Harvey. (1861 - 1910) Notorious wife murderer. Killed variety artiste Belle Elmore and buried her remains in his cellar in London then tried to escape by boat with his lover Ethel Le Neve to the US. He was arrested on board after the captain received a radio message saying that he was on the ship. Hanged 1910.
Crompton, Samuel (1753 - 1827) Inventor and engineer.
Custer's Last Stand (1876) General Custer led the US army against the Sioux at Little Bighorn
Cutty Sark. Cargo ship launched in 1869 when iron was starting to replace timber in ship construction. The Cutty Sark is one of only three remaining composite ships in the world, with an iron frame and plank skin, representing the intermediate stage of construction. She was, at the time, the fastest ship in the world and held the record for the journey between Sydney and London. The ship is now moored at Greenwich.
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Dalton, John (1766 - 1844) Chemist.
Darling, Grace and William. Father and daughter lighthouse keepers who, in 1838, set out in a coble to rescue survivors from merchant ship Forfarshire, that had foundered on Big Hawker in storms. They managed to save nine people in two trips. (See Longstone)
Darwin, Charles (1809-1882) Evolution scientist
Darwin, Erasmus (1731 - 1802) Physician, poet, botanist and naturalist. Grandfather of Charles.
Davison, Emily. Suffragette who threw herself under the King's horse Anmer at the Derby in 1913 to protest for women's votes.
Davy, Sir Humphry (1778 - 1829) Chemist and inventor.
Dee Bridge Disaster. Collapse in 1847 of Robert Stephenson's cast iron bridge over the river Dee at Chester while a train was passing over it. Seven people were killed when the train fell into the tidal river below. The disaster led to a change in use of materials for bridges with more use of wrought iron.
Delph "Nine" Locks. Flight of 8 locks on the Dudley Canal called Nine Locks because alterations in 1858 reduced the number bychanging the route.
Dickens, Charles (1812-1870) Writer and social commentator.
Dunlop, John Boyd (1840-1921) Inventor.
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Earthquake. In 1884 a massive earthquake hit Essex. It was felt as far away as Devon, North Yorkshire and Belgium and caused extensive damage throughout the county.
Eiffel Tower. Monument in central Paris built by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the Paris exhibition of 1889. The construction was an illustration of the use of steel.
Einstein, Albert (1879 - 1955) Relativity scientist.
Eliot, George. (1819-80) Pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans, writer.
Etty, William. (1787 - 1849) English oil painter and watercolourist.
Evans, Arthur. Archaeologist who worked on the remains of King Minos's palace at Knossos from 1900
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Faraday, Michael. (1791 - 1867) Experimenter in electricity.
Flatland. Book by Edwin A Abbott, published 1884. The story of A Square, a two-dimentional being who refuses to accept the existence of a third dimension until he encounters a sphere.
Flinders, Matthew. (1774-1814) Hydrographer.
Fox Talbot, William Henry (1800-1877) Inventor of the positive-negative photographic process
Foxton Locks. Leicestershire. Flight of 10 locks on the Grand Union Canal opened 1812 to carry water through a 75 feet level difference. In 1898 a steam-powered inclined plane was constructed alongside the locks, which took just five minutes to carry boats between the levels, compared with more than an hour to navigate the locks.
Franklin, Benjamin (1706-1790) Philadelphia printer and experimenter.
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Gainsborough, Thomas (1727 - 88) English artist
Galvani, Luigi. Electricty experimenter.
Gatling, Richard. (1818 - 1903) Inventor of the Gatling Gun, a repeating "machine" gun capable of firing 250 shots a minute. Later improvements increased the rate to 3,000. Gatling also designed farm equipment including a machine for thinning cotton and one for sowing rice.
Gilbert Scott, Sir George. (1811-1878) Architect.
Gilbert Scott, Sir Giles. (1880 - 1960) Architect.
Glasse, Hannah. Cookbook author.
Gothic Revival. Style of architecture from the 1780s (an earlier "Gothick" had happened about 40 years before) based on 12th century ideals featured in many of England's fine cathedrals. Continued for some time. The new Houses of Parliament built in 1839 were Gothic Revival in style.
Granny Smith. Was a real person, Maria Ann Smith, who ran orchards outside Sydney, Australia. She left some rotting apples at the bottom of her garden and noticed a new variety growing a few years later. The crisp, green fruit was first imported into the UK in the 1830s.
Gray, Thomas. (1716-1771) Poet. Author of Elegy in a Country Churchyard.
Great Britain, SS. All iron, propeller driven steam ship built by IK Brunel and launched at Bristol in 1843. Now at Bristol Docks.
Great Exhibition (1851) Held at Crystal Palace. Exhibition of all that was new in Great Britain and the Empire at the time.
Great Stink, The. (1858) London became completely overwhelmed by its sewage when the streams through the city and feeding the Thames could no longer cope with the volume of effluent being produced. Coupled with an unusually warm summer the problem produced such a foul smell throughout the city that chemical soaked sacks had to be hung at the windows of the House of Commons. The Stink eventually led to adoption of Bazalgette's plans for a new sewage system.
Great Western Royal Hotel. First purpose built railway hotel in Britain designed by Philip Hardwick and opened in 1852 to front Brunel's Paddington Station.
Great Western, SS. Iron and timber, paddle-driven steam ship built by IK Brunel and launched at Bristol in 1837.
Gun Barrel Proof House. Testing station established in Birmingham in 1831 for proofing gun barrels. The construction of the city's own proof house removed the need for guns manufactured in Birmingham to travel to London for testing before being sold.
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Halley, Edmond (1656-1742) Astronomer.
Hargreaves, James. (1720 - 1778) Inventor and engineer.
Herschel, William. (1738 - 1822) Astronomer.
Hill, Sir Rowland. Introduced in 1840 the penny post, paid for by the Penny Black stamp.
Hogarth, William (1697-1764) Artist and writer.
Hooke's Law. Hooke's Law states that, in an elastic material, strain is proportional to stress. That's how spring scales work.
Horseley Ironworks. Established Tipton, West Midlands in 1781. Responsible for many of the classic "black and white" cast iron bridges found on the Birmingham Canal Navigations.
Huxley, T H (1825 - 1895) "Darwin's bulldog"
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Ickworth House. House built in 1795, with a large rotunda and long, curved corridors, by the 4th Earl of Bristol to display his art collection.
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Jacobethan. Style of architecture that underwent a number of revivals. Based on the Jacobean and Eliabethan styles from the 16th century. CharlecoteHouse near Stratford Upon Avon in Warwickshire was rebuilt in Jacobethan style between 1828 -45.
Jenner, Edward. (1749 - 1823) Medical pioneer.
Jerome, Jerome K. Writer.  "Three Men in a Boat. To Say Nothing of the Dog"(1889).
Jessop, William. (1745-1814) Civil engineer
Johnson, Samuel. (1709 - 1784 ) English dictionary compiler.
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Landseer, Sir Edwin. (1802 - 1873) Artist.
Lear, Edward. (1812-1888) Artist and writer.
Lewis Chess Set. 12th century chess pieces found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831. Made of walrus ivory and whale teeth. Scandinavian in origin.
Livingstone, David. Doctor and explorer who was found by Henry Morton Stanley in Africa in 1871 after the journalist organised an expedition to track him down.
The Lizard Peninsula
. The most southerly point of mainland Britain with a lighthouse built 1752.
Longstone Lighthouse. Built 1826 on Longstone, one of the Farne Islands. Home of Grace Darling and her father William.
Lunar Society. Group of learned gents who met in Birmingham between 1765 and 1813 and held their meetings on the night of the full moon in order to find their way home after dark. (Hence the name, which was officially adopted in 1775) Members included Matthew Boulton, Joseph Priestley, James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, Samuel Galton, James Keir, Josiah Wedgwood.
Lune Aqueduct. Completed 1796 and engineered by John Rennie, the Lune Aqueduct carries the Lancaster Canal over the River Lune.
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Marconi, Guglielmo Wireless engineer.
Masefield, John ( 1878 - 1967). Poet.
Maudslay, Henry (1771 - 1831) Precision engineer.
Megarak. A combination of the words megalith and anorak. One who is very interested in megaliths, standing stones, prehistoric stone circles etc.
Mendel, Gregor. (1822 - 84) Genetics pioneer
Merrick, John (1862-90) "The Elephant Man"
Millais, Sir John Everett (1829-96) English Pre-Raphaelite painter.
Mold Cape Gold ceremonial "cape" found in 1833. Unique Bronze Age artefact found in a burial mound known as Bryn yr Ellyllon or the Mound of the Goblins near Mold in north Wales. The cape would have been useless for everyday wear because it severely restricted arm movement so it was probably a ceremonial piece or even made to be worn by the grave's occupant. Also in the mound were fragments of a skeleton, some bronze strips and a number of amber beads. Now in the British Museum.
Muntz's Metal. Patented by George Frederick Muntz (1794-1857) in 1832.
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Nash, John. (1752 - 1835) Regency architect.
National Trust, The. Charity founded in 1895 by Octavia Hill and others to provide "sitting rooms in the country for the poor". Now owns more than 200 historic houses, 49 industrial monuments and more than 600 miles of coastline. Also owns at least one complete village. National Trust land is inalienable. The only landowner that is exempt from compulsory purchase without special parliamentary intervention.
Neoclassicism. Late 18th century reaction to the excesses of the earlier rococo and baroque styles.
Netherton Tunnel. Almost two-mile long canal tunnel linking the Dudley and Birmingham canals at Netherton, West Midlands. Built in 1858 as part of a general improvement to waterways in the area, it is one of only three tunnels in the UK to have two towpaths.
Newcomen, Thomas (1663-1729) Engineer.
Nightingale, Florence. ( d. 1910) Crimean War nurse who, in 1854, was sent to the front to serve with 38 nurses at the Scutari Military Hospital.
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Ohm's Law Established 1827. States that voltage equals current times resistance. (V = I x R)
Osterley Park. Robert Adam designed house built 1761- 1780. Now maintained by the National Trust.
Owen, Wilfred (1893 - 1918) Poet
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Parthenon Marbles. Also known as the Elgin Marbles. Removed from the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin, the British Ambassador to Turkey in 1812. Now in the British Museum and centre of a campaign to have them returned to Greece.
Pasteur, Louis. (1822 - 85) Medical pioneer.
Pavlov, Ivan
(1849 - 1936) Russian physiologist.
Pavlov's Dogs. See Pavlov, Ivan
Paxton, Joseph (1803 - 1865) Gardener, architect and designer. Builder of the Crystal Palace.
Pimm, James. London bar owner. Inventor in 1823 of the famous Pimm's cocktail.
Plimsoll, Samuel (1824-98) Inventor.
Poet Laureate. Royal Appointment with no obligations, although poets are expected to produce works commemorating national events. Among those who held the title were William (1843-1850) and Alfred, Lord WordsworthTennyson (1850 - 1892)
Port Sunlight. "Ideal" village built for workers at Lever's soap factory on Wirral
Potter, Beatrix (1866-1943) Author, artist and Lake District landowner.
Preventative Water Guard Early name for HM Coastguard.
Priestley, Joseph (1733 - 1804) Chemist.
Pugin, Augustus Welby Northmore (1812-1852) Architect
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Quebec, Battle of. (1759) Britain Conquers Canada
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Rebecca Riots (1842) Protests in South West Wales. Mainly about toll charges on public roads but symptomatic of general unrest over the conditions of the poor at the time. The rioters dressed a women to get close to toll houses so that they could damage or destroy them. Hence the name.
. The time during the periodic bouts of madness suffered by George III when his son (also George) the Prince of Wales was in charge of the country. The Regency gave its name to a particularly elegant style in clothing, art and architecture.
Rennie, Sir John (1761-1821) Scottish civil engineer.
Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723 - 92) English oil painter.
Robinson, Wm Heath. (1872-1944) Eccentric artist.
Rocket. Locomotive built by George and Robert Stephenson which, in 1829, won time trials to find the fastest loco for the Liverpool -Manchester Railway (58 Km/h)
Rococo. 18th century design element from France that was highly ornate and included lots of rocks and shells, believed to be derived from the French word "roquaille" meaning rock-work. Continued to around 1750s, when it was replaced by neo-classicism. Inspired the Art Nouveau movement in the 1890s.
Rosetta Stone. Key tool in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Rosetta Stone was found in 1799 in the village of Raschid and had the same inscription in Greek and Egyptian, enabling French scholar Jean Francois Champollion (1790 - 1832) to translate the language.
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel (1828 - 1896) One of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood
Ruskin, John
(1819 - 1900) Artist, poet and philosopher, supporter of the Pre-Raphaelites.
Rutherford, Ernest
(1871 - 1937) Physicist.
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Sandwich, John Montagu, 4th Earl of. Gave his name to the snack in 1762 after refusing to leave the gambling table during an all night session. He told his servants to bring sliced meat and bread to the table then made his own dinner.
Saltaire. "Ideal" village built by mill owner Titus Salt for his workers in West Yorkshire.
Scarborough Spa Bridge, North Yorkshire. Opened 1827 as a toll bridge to reach the spa where visitors to Scarborough would take the "healing" waters of a cliffside spring. The bridge spans a glacial valley and is 414 feet long. The Valley Bridge, close by but wide enough to take a road, opened in 1865.
Scurvy. Disease caused by lack of vitamin C. Causes swollen and bleeding gums and general decline frequently resulting in death. Common among sailors before the citrus ration was introduced in 1795 in the RN and 1867 in the merchant marine.
Seacole, Mary (1805-1881) Pioneering nurse in the Crimean War.
Seven Years War. (1756-63) Fought worldwide between the British and the French for colonial possessions in America and India; and between Prussia, Hanover and Britain against an alliance of Austria, France, Russia and Sweden in Europe.
Smeaton, John.   (1724-1792) Civil engineer
Soho Manufactory. Purpose built factory in Smethwick, West Midlands, constructed in 1796 by Matthew Boulton for James Watt where many of Watt's steam engines were constructed.
Souter Lighthouse. Coast Road, Whitburn, Tyne and Wear. Opened 1871. First to use alternating current to power its light.
Speeding Fine, UK's first. Imposed in 1898 on motoring pioneer John Grose of Northampton who was travelling at an amazing 16 miles an hour!
Stanley, Henry Morton. (d.1904) Journalist who in 1871, found the explorer David Livingstone on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and greeted him with the famous words "Dr Livingstone, I presume".
Sterne, Laurence. (1713 -1768 ) Author.
Stephenson, George. (1781-1848) Engineer
Stephenson, Robert. (1803-1859) Engineer. Son of George
Stockton and Darlington Railway. The world's first passenger railway opened in 1825.
Strutt, Jedediah () Inventor
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Talking pictures. The first attempt to make moving images link to sound was made in 1904 at Fulham Theatre where cinematograph and phonograph were played concurrently.
Tarbotton, Marriott Ogle. (1835-1887) Engineer
Tardebigge Locks. Flight of 30 narrow locks near Bromsgrove, on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, that carry the waterway through 217 feet.Opened 1815.
Telford, Thomas. (1757-1834) Engineer.
Tennyson, Alfred, (Lord). (1809-1892)Poet
Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds. Largely unaltered Georgian playhouse built 1819. Still used all year round for plays and concerts as well as offering behind-the-scenes tours.
Thoreau, Henry David. (1817 - 1862) Author.
Throckmorton Coat. Made between sunrise and sunset, 25 June 1811, from the wool of two sheep belonging to Sir John Throckmorton, Bart. They were sheared, the wool spun, yarn spooled, warped, loomed and woven, and the cloth was burred, milled, rowed, dyed, dried, cut and pressed. Then the coat was made up. Total time 13 hours 20 minutes.
Titanic. Liner built at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Sank April 14, 1912 on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. The wreck is about 365 nautical miles off Newfoundland in 12,850 feet of water. More than 1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives in the disaster although around 700 survived.
Tolpuddle Martyrs. Six farm labourers from teh Dorset villageof Tolpuddle who were transported to Australia (1834) after forming a union and threatening to withdraw their labour unless they were guarranteed minimum pay levels.
Toys, Birmingham. The vast number of small metal items in gold, silver or steel that were manufactured in Birmingham to appeal to the mass market. Matthew Boulton was a well known Birmingham toy maker.
Trevithick, Richard. (1771 - 1833) Engineer
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Van Gogh, Vincent. (1853 - 1890) Self-taught painter.
Victoria Building. Liverpool University's central building completed in 1892 and designed by architect Sir Alfred Waterhouse. The gothic structure with its ornate clock tower is believed to be the origin of the phrase "red brick university".
Volta, Allesandro (1745 - 1827) Inventor.
Vulcan The first all-iron sailing ship. Built in 1818
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Wallis, Barnes (1887 - 1979) inventor of the WW2 "Bouncing Bomb"
Watt, James (1736 - 1819) Scientific instrument maker and engineer.
Webb, Matthew (1848-1883) First person to swim the English Channel
Wedgwood, Josiah. (1730 - 1795) Potter. Founder of the Etruria works at Stoke on Trent and famous for the blue and white ware manufactured there. There are fine examples of his work at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight as well as at the Wedgwood museum in Stoke.
West, William (1783-1854) Toy theatre maker.
River Wey. One of the first British rivers to be made navigable. Linked Guildford to Weybridge on the Thames. Opened 1653.
White, Gilbert. (1720 - 1793) Clergyman and amateur naturalist.
Wicken Fen. One of the UK's oldest nature reserves, part of the original fen land that once covered large areas of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and South Lincolnshire. Drainage engine built 1910 to claim land back for farming.
Wilberforce, William (1759 - 1833) Social reformer and anti-slavery campaigner. Politician in William Pitt's Tory government but supported Whig campaigns for abolition. Died a month before the Bill outlawing slavery was passed.
Wilde, Oscar (1854-1900) Artist and writer
Withering, William (1741 - 1799) Medical pioneer
Winchester Cathedral. Saved (1906-11) from flood that formed round its foundations. The flood formed because the Medieval structure had been constructed on a raft of birch wood floating on marshland and overlying peat. As water seeped through the peat it formed a lake around the wall foundations. Diver William Walker spent many months below the surface lifting out the peat and replacing it with concrete.
Wooten Wawen Aqueduct. Warwickshire. A cast iron trough aqueduct that carries the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Opened 1813.
Wordsworth, William. Poet
Wright, Joseph (of Derby) Artist. (1734 - 97)
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