Tag Archives: London

There was an old woman named Vance, Who went on her way to Penzance…


On Monday week an old woman, named Vance, of Penzance, applied to the Mayor at the Guildhall, Exeter, for assistance. Mr. Superintendent Steel stated that she was eighty years old, and had lived for some time with her daughter, who had a large family in London, but as her daughter could not maintain her, the old lady resolved to revisit the home of her youth—Penzance, and set off on this long journey, on foot, in the second week of October. After fourteen days’ walk she arrived at Exeter, and now made her application to the Mayor for a trifle to help her on the road to Plymouth. She is short and stout, and bears her head bravely. In answer to the Mayor she said hat she was eighty on the 18th of last month. The Mayor exclaimed “Well done! you bear it nobly.” In reply to further questions she said that she had been a widow fifteen years. The Mayor directed that a half-crown should be given to this Cornish prodigy, and the old lady curtsied, saying that she had received “great friendship” in Exeter.

The Penny Illustrated Paper, Saturday 9 November 1861

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Filed under Worthy of an huzzah

Ballooning can never be of practical utility



An exciting narrative of ballooning exploit is communicated by Mr. Pendarves Vivian, member for West Cornwall, to the Western Morning News. With two skilled aeronauts he ascended from South-west London, the start being delayed by unfavourable weather until 10 p.m. They found themselves in a strong current, which in ten minutes had placed them over North London, the lights below presenting a fairy scene of indescribable beauty. Though over 1,000 feet high street cries were distinctly audible. Ascending rapidly to 8,000 feet in an hour they found themselves passing at a tremendous rate over a flat country suitable for descending, and they resolved to come down. Gas was let out and grappling irons dropped, when there was a sharp check and violent jerks, and suddenly they commenced soaring upwards at a frightful pace. The rope of the grappling irons had broken. The danger of so helpless a position, especially at night, was instantly apparent, and shortly afterwards a renewed descent was made hoping to run the balloon against some branches of trees.

When this was done one got out, and the two relieved of his weight were carried upwards with extreme velocity to a height of three miles. Half stunned by the shock, and deaf from the rarification of the air, some time elapsed before renewed descent was attempted, when, to their horror, they heard the roaring of the sea immediately below them. Fortunately they found themselves approaching the shore from the sea, over which they had unconsciously been sailing, but had in descending come into a landward current.

Arrived near the ground they struck not twenty yards from from the sea shore, and after dragging several hundred yards, receiving severe concussions from hedges, they simultaneously let go, and the balloon soared aloft leaving them in darkness in an unknown country, subsequently discovered to be ten miles from Lowestoft, having reached there in three hours from London. No permanent injuries were received by the party, but Mr. Vivian’s experience convinced him that ballooning can never be of practical utility as a means of travelling, and that to render ascents approximately safe duplicate grappling irons, with spring buffers and other appliances must be carried.

The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday 31 December 1881

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Filed under Aeronautical Adventures, Narrow Escapes

The cat ladies will always be with us


A SUMMONS of rather an exceptional character—for keeping a large number of cats in a small room at No. 21, Tufton-street, Westminster, used as a living and sleeping apartment by the occupier and the defendant, an elderly female named Louisa Bragg—came before the magistrate, at the Westminster Police-court, on Friday.

The defendant, it was stated, was summoned about three years ago for a similar offence in Marsham-street, Westminster. The defendant then produced a birthday book of her pets, and pleaded very hard to be allowed to retain them, but after a good deal of trouble they were reduced in number by summary measures.

Lightfoot, the sanitary inspector, said that the nuisance was now as bad as ever. When he visited the defendant’s room on the 11th ult. the door was cautiously opened a little way, and an endeavour made to close it when his identity was discovered. He had time to count eight cats—never allowed out—of different sizes and colours. The effluvia was sickening, and there had been many complaints. At subsequent visits he could not gain admission to the room. Personal service of the summons was proved, and in the defendant’s absence the magistrate made an order on her to abate the nuisance forthwith and pay 23s. cost.

The Illustrated Police News, Saturday 16 April 1892


Notes from the Editor:

  1. It is only too evident that some things never change, but Ms Lucy Inglis of Georgian London has further proof, viz: An eccentrical lady
  2. I have not forgotten Mr Amateur Casual’s meme, and shall ‘get onto it’ forthwith.

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Filed under Birds and Beasts, Peculiar Behaviour

A half-wild, strange animal


JAMES PAGET was summoned at Worship-street Police-court on Wednesday for detaining an opossum belonging to James Williams. The defendant admitted that he had kept the animal, and produced a large rat-trap, in which he had caught it. He said he had caught it in his house after it had been running about at night, frightening his wife and damaging his property, and he thought he had a right to be paid for the damage it had done. Mr. Cooke said he could sue for the damage, but must give up the animal. The defendant then offered the complainant the animal, but insisted that it should be taken out of the trap, which he refused to lend to carry it home in. The complainant objected to take the animal out with his hands, as there was danger that it would escape into the Court. Mr. Cooke then said that the defendant would have been justified in destroying the animal when he caught it, and the complainant could not have complained. If he would keep half-wild, strange animals, he must take better care of them. He made an order for its return to the complainant, and said the defendant must take it home and safely deliver it.

The Illustrated Police News, Saturday 16 September 1876

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You’ll never guess what happened on the train home, dear


An incident of an amusing, though rather singular nature, occurred some few days back on the London and South-Western Railway. A gentleman, whose place of residence is near Basingstoke, got into a first-class carriage at the Waterloo terminus with the intention of proceeding home by one of the main line down trains. His only fellow-passengers in the compartment were a lady and infant and another gentleman, and thus things remained till the arrival of the train at Walton, where the other gentleman left the carriage, leaving the first gentleman with the lady and child. Shortly after this the train reached the Weybridge Station, and, on its stopping, the lady, under the pretext of looking for her servant, or carriage, requested her male fellow-passenger to hold the infant for a few moments while she went to search for what she wanted. The bell rang for the starting of the train, and the gentleman thus strangely left with the baby began to get rather fidgety and anxious to return his charge to the mother. The lady, however, did not again put in any appearance, and the train went on without her, the child remaining with the gentleman, who on arriving at his destination took the child home to his wife, and explained the circumstances under which it came into his possession. No application has at present, it is understood, been made for the lost “child,” which has for the nonce been adopted by the gentleman and his wife, who, it is said, are without any family of their own.

The Manchester Weekly Times, Saturday 28 January 1865

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An Officer of the Guards Nearly Killed at the Royal Wedding

Just before the Royal couple on their journey Citywards were passing Marlborough House the Guards formed into troops across the road. The last troop to wheel into line was headed by the Marquis of Tullibardine, the heir to the Dukedom of Athole. Suddenly the young lieutenant’s horse reared with its forefeet striking the air. A moment more and it had fallen backwards, with its rider beneath. Those near seemed to be paralysed for a moment, and then they rushed forward, but before anybody could reach the unfortunate officer, who, after he fell, had managed to extricate himself from the stirrups, the horse had galloped wildly away, kicking his hind legs in the air. There was nothing, so far as one could tell, between it and the Royal carriage, just then entering the yard, except a stray policeman or two. A moment of breathless suspense, and a policeman rushed out into the roadway, and caught the horse by the bridle just in the nick of time, and Lord Tullibardine was carried across the road and laid on an ambulance couch as the Royal carriage came by. If, as is possible, the Duke and his Duchess thought their reception somewhat cold at this point, this is the explanation. The hinder squadron of Guards having passed, the attention of all present, momentarily abstracted, was turned to the gallant young Guardsman stretched under the arches of St James’s Palace, where the ambulance corps were doing their best to revive him. They were successful after a time, and the poor fellow with a faint smile was able to tell the surgeon when he arrived that he was “all right,” though his spine hurt him. Then he was tenderly lifted onto an ambulance and carried to Mr. Kingcote’s apartments in the palace, where the surgeon attended him. The man who stopped the horse in so gallant a manner was Walter Peacock, 39 B R.

The Illustrated Police News Saturday 15 July 1893

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Filed under Birds and Beasts, Narrow Escapes, Royal Goings-on

An Escaped Baboon

The unique collection of monkeys recently exhibited at the Alexandra Palace was transferred to the People’s Palace, Mile-end, where a singular scene has just been witnessed. Not liking the continued confinement, three baboons broke out of their cage. After a chase of a considerable distance, two of the monkeys were captured; the third, a female baboon, of ferocious appearance, escaped into the grounds of the Jewish cemetery that lies immediately adjacent to the workhouse. Over the wall the pursuers clambered too in hot haste, and ran after the fleeing baboon as she sped, terrified, across the flat tombstones. At the other end of the cemetery she cleared another wall, and running along the backs of the houses, got on to the tow-path leading along the canal. After great difficulty she, too, was captured and taken back to the palace.

The Illustrated Police News, Saturday 24 August 1889

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Filed under Birds and Beasts