The main historical events that affected our families - the Boer War Boer War, the Great War, and the Second World War are too well documented for me to need to say anything extra, but the links will take you to interesting sites. The Second World War site is aimed at children but is none the worse for that.

First World War World War Two Royal Field Artillery stamp
This site about the Royal Field Artillery may also be of interest.


"In the 19th Century, the process of making shoes had differed little from earlier centuries. Charles Mahor described how a hand shoe worker worked in the 19th Century:
"All the raw parts – soles, insoles, uppers, welts – come in skips, and my cousin and me, we used to fetch it… The women closed the uppers on a closing machine donstairs and then took them upstairs to the shoemaker.” Shoemakers worked individually, collecting raw material from a manufacturer and then returning the finished product in return for payment. The work was carried out by hand, usually in a workshop in the shoemakers’ own home. Other family members, including wives and children, were often engaged in assisting the shoemaker.


Therefore, shoemakers enjoyed a largely autonomous, independent position. They decided themselves what days and hours they worked, often deciding to work on Sunday in order to have more cash to spend in the pub on Sunday night. The habit of taking off Monday, St Monday, is testimony to the freedom enjoyed.

As shoemakers effectively ran their own business, they had to keep business records and conform to measurements to ensure shoes fitted correctly. This high level of literacy combined with the fact that many had been granted freeman status meant that any perceived infringement on their autonomy and flexibility would be vigorously opposed.

In 1857, when the first machines for shoe production appeared in Northampton, the town’s shoemakers feared that there would be massive unemployment and that those who managed to keep their job would be forced to work in a factory. The idea of having their working lives controlled by someone else and having set working hours was totally alien to their way of thinking. A battle was inevitable between Northampton’s shoemakers and shoe manufacturers".

A bootbinder operated machines in shoemaking, binding uppers to soles
The clicker cut out the leather for making the uppers and also punched eyelet holes for the laces.
Boot closers - usually women - fitted the pieces of the shoe uppers over the last and stitched them together.

The Prison Service

"Until the late eighteenth century in England hanging and transportation were the main punishments for serious offences. Prisons served as lock-ups for debtors and places where the accused were kept before their trial. However, by the Victorian era, prison had become an acceptable punishment for serious offenders and it was also seen as a means to prevent crime.

As towns grew and crime levels increased, people became more and more worried about how criminals could be kept under control. However, there was also public unease at the number of people being hanged. By the 1830s, many areas in Australia were refusing to be the 'dumping-ground' for Britain's criminals. There were more criminals than could be transported".
(See Victorian Crime and Punishment).

For more detail about Parkhurst have a look at Parkhurst Museum website.

Several years' hiatus here.... I'll do some more when mood and opportunity coincide.