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Timeline of the Victorian Period
Victoria is born at Kensington Palace, London.
First photograph taken by French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
After death of George III, Victoria becomes heir presumptive, but as she was still a minor (child) a Regent was appointed until she became 18.
Great Reform Act brings changes to voting system.
The Slavery Abolition Bill 1833 was passed by Parliament, but came into force in 1834 banning slavery in British colonies.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel appointed as Chief Engineer of the Great Western Railway
Factories Act 1833 restricted children to working no more than 12 hours a day with an hour lunch break. Children from 9-13 were not allowed to work more than 8 hours a day, and have two hours education daily.
Following a fire, construction begins on the Houses of Parliament with architect Sir Charles Barry. It was mainly completed by 1870.
Charles Dickens published The Pickwick Papers and gained instant fame.
Queen Victoria ascends to the throne on 20 June 1837 at age 18
SS Great Western, a paddle steamer designed by Brunel, and the longest ship in the world made maiden voyage from Avonmouth, Bristol to New York. in under 15 days.
First commercial telegraph patented in the UK and installed on the Great Western Railway connecting Paddington with West Drayton.
Victoria marries first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace, London. 10 months after her marriage, their first child Victoria was born. They go on to have nine children in all.
Penny postage began.The Penny Black stamp was the world's first adhesive postage stamp. With an image of Princess Victoria at age 15 in profile against a black background it only lasted about a year as the colour meant that cancellation marks were not easy to see.
Fox Talbot patents a photographic process using a negative, the basis of modern photography.
Punch magazine began publication. It ran weekly until 2002.
Thomas Cook organised the first excursion taking 570 temperance campaigners from Leicester to Loughborough, a journey of 11 miles. Within a few years he was taking people to to Switzerland, Italy, Egypt and United States.
Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol at his own expense. It was so popular that the 6000 copies sold out completely in 6 days, with susbsequent editions also being snapped.
Brunel designed, SS Great Britain, the first propeller-driven steamship, was launched.
The Great Famine began in Ireland caused by a disease of their main crop, potatoes. Over a million people died of starvation. It lasted five years.
Repeal of Corn Laws, beginning era of free trade. The laws had restricted imports.
Ten Hours bill, part of the Factories Act 1847 restricted working hours of women and children in textile factories to 63 hours a week, and in 1848 to 58 hours a week.
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights published under the pseudonym of Ellis Bell.
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre published under the pseudonym of Currer Bell.
Thackeray publishes Vanity Fair in 20 monthly parts.
Founding of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of painters and poets.
Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto published.
First British Public Library Act, permitting the establishment of public libraries. Salford Museum and Art Gallery is said to have been the first unconditionally free public library in England.
Alfred Tennyson appointed Poet Laureate. He was a very popular poet, probably the most popular of the Victorian era.
First telegraph cable laid across the English Channel.
William Fox Talbot invents glass plate negatives which permit sharp images to be recorded for the first time.
Great Exhibition took place in Hyde Park in an 1848 ft glasshouse, a so-called crystal palace.Containing 13000 exhibits from Britain and the Colonies, it ran for about 6 months and was visited by 6 million people, one third of the population of the UK. The building was then moved to Sydenham, south London, rebuilt in an area that became known as Crystal Palace. It was destroyed by fire in 1936.
London population grows from 1.1 million in 1801 to 2.7 million; reaches 6.6 million in 1901. Half the population of Great Britain lives in cities.
Opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum which grew out of the Great Exhibition. It has grown to cover 12.5 acres and has 145 galleries.
Last duel fought in England at Priest Hill, Surrey (duels had been outlawed in 1840s). It was between two Frenchmen and one was shot and killed.
Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone set off to explore Africa
Livingstone discovers Mosi-oa-Tunya which he renames Victoria Falls.
Crimean war breaks out between Russia and Britain, France, the Ottomans, and Sardinians.
Florence Nightingale, with 38 nurses, went to Turkey, to the main British camp of soldiers involved in the Crimean War.
Dr John Snow discovered that Cholera was transmitted by drinking water contaminated by sewage after an epidemic centred in Soho. This idea was not widely accepted at first.
Newspaper stamp tax abolished. The tax of 4d a copy meant that newspapers were too expensive for all but the wealthy to buy.
Henry Bessemer invents Bessemer converter, permitting mass production of steel.
Crimean war ends with Russia defeated
First cigarette factory opened in England. It was in Walworth.
Establishment of the Victoria Cross in 1856 (backdated to 1854), the British Army's first universal award for valour
The new Balmoral Castle was completed based near to a 15th century castle.
Founding of National Portrait Gallery the first portrait gallery in the world.
First telegraph cable laid across the Atlantic.
Matrimonial Causes Act passed to permit divorce to be tried in Civil rather than Ecclesiastical Courts making it more accessible. It was still primarily much easier for the husband to apply for divorce.
Suppression of Indian mutiny against British rule in India. The war had widespread repercussions in Victorian society and ended in shocking British reprisals.
Science Museum established as part of the South Kensington Museum. It began with exhibits from the Royal Society of Arts and with items from the Great Exhibition.
The rule of the British East India Company in governing India was transferred to the Crown
Launching of Brunel ’ s SS Great Eastern, largest ship yet built. She could carry 4000 passengers.
The Great Stink overpowers London. Following a hot summer the Thames and its tributaries became filled with sewage causing bacteria to thrive. The smell was so bad that in the House of Commons measures were introduced including curtains soaked in chloride of lime, and it was even considered that Parliament should relocate outside of London. This eventually led to the establishment of the London sewage system.
Big Ben, the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the Palace of Westminster cast first chimed.
John Speke who, with Richard Burton, had been exploring East Africa, discovered Lake Victoria.
Darwin’s Origin of the Species published.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel died
Florence Nightingale published Notes on Nursing, the first definitive textbook on nursing.
First woman admitted to Royal Academy schools for training as an artist.
The first street trams were built in Birkenhead and were later introduced in London.
Florence Nightingale established the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas' Hospital.
Death of Prince Albert of typhoid fever at age 42. His death was because of the primitive sanitary arrangements in Windsor Castle. Queen Victoria goes into heavy mourning.
Charles Dickens published Great Expectations, considered to be his best novel
John Speke's claims to have discovered the source of the River Nile, disputed by fellow explorer Richard Burton.
World's first underground railway, Metropolitan Railway opened in London running between Paddington Station and Farringdon Street. It was operated by steam trains until electrification in 1890.
Marriage of Prince of Wales (Bertie, later King Edward VII) and Alexandra. Bertie tended to live a playboy lifestyle entertaining a number of mistresses.
Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum opened. It was designed by Sir Joshua Jebb and covered 53 acres.
Clifton Suspension Bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel was completed 5 years after his death. The bridge spans the Avon Gorge. It is 1352ft long.
Founding of Salvation Army by William Booth. It was originally called the East London Christian Mission. It has spread to 118 countries and is one of the world's largest providers of social aid.
The London drainage system designed by Joseph Bazalgette was opened. The 83 mile system was completed in 1875.
Locomotive Act reduced the speed limit to 4 mph in the country and 2 mph in towns. The Act required a man with a red flag or lantern to walk 60 yards ahead of each vehicle, enforce a walking pace, and warn horse riders and horse drawn traffic of the approach of a self-propelled machine such as a traction engine.
Railway accident at Staplehurst in Kent injuring 40 people and 2 people killed. Charles Dickens was amongst those on the train, and suffered psychologically from the effects, which probably shortened his life.
Charles Dodgson as Lewis Carroll publishes Alice in Wonderland.
First Atlantic telegraph cable successfully laid by the SS Great Eastern after 4 failed attempts.
Second Reform Act, extending voting rights to tax-paying males of the urban working class and created a redistribution of parliamentary seats.
Opening of St. Pancras railway station. Planned by William Henry Barlow, the railway engineer, the Gothic revival design of George Gilbert Scott was chosen because of the grand frontage designed to outclass all other stations in London. At the time of opening, the arched Barlow train shed was the largest single-span roof in the world. Recently renovated the station now serves as a terminus for the Eurostar service.
Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister; defeated a few months later in election.
Last public execution. Judicial hanging continued until 1964.
Transportation of convicts from England to Australia officially ended, although it had become uncommon some years earlier.
Ferdinand de Lesseps builds Suez Canal which connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, dramatically cutting journey to and from Australia and the Far East. It is 119 miles long. It was constructed using slave labour.
Elementary Education Act 1870, also known as the "Forster Act", made compulsory, access to primary education for children aged between 5 and 12, but it was not until 1880 that all children had to attend school. Parents still had to pay fees for their children to attend schools although Boards would pay for poorer children, even if they attended Church schools. The weekly fee could not be more than 9 pence (9d).
Charles Dickens died of a stroke at Gad's Hill Place in Kent.
The practice of beheading and quartering executed traitors discontinued.
(circa) James Starley, regarded as the father of the British cycling industry introduces the high wheel bicycle, also called the Penny-farthing.
(circa) Start of practice of photographing prisoners. Pictures were grouped according to type of crime in "rogues galleries".
Death of Charles Babbage the father of the modern computer. After inventing the difference engine, a mechanical device used to compute values of polynomial functions, he started work on creating Analytical Engine which could be programmed using punch cards. Had the Analytical Engine ever actually been completed, her program would have been able to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers.
Royal Albert Hall opened by Queen Victoria. It was designed by Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry Y.D. Scott of the Royal Engineers. It was lit by gas, until 1897 when electricity was installed.
Secret Ballot Act made it mandatory to vote in secret.
Opening of the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London. The statue of Albert was finished three years later. The memorial was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic revival style and incorporates contributions by many sculptors.
National Society for Women’s Suffrage formed to campaign for voting rights for women which were not granted until 1918.
Benjamin Disraeli becomes Prime Minister for second time, governs until 1880.
Disraeli purchases Suez Canal shares with a loan from Rothschild gaining a 44% share for Britain
First intelligible telephone communication made by Alexander Graham Bell. A faint voice is heard transmitted from a site four miles away.
Following overthrow of the Mughal Emperor Queen Victoria was named Empress of India.
Bell Telephone Company formed to sell telephones invented by Scottish scientist Alexander Graham Bell.
American Thomas Edison invents the phonograph, recording "Mary had a little lamb." This first phonograph recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder and had poor sound quality.
First electric street lighting in London. These were carbon arc lamps and gave very high intensity harsh light, but required a lot of maintenance. Holborn Viaduct was the first site, but electric street lighting quickly spread to many other parts of London.
Law restrict children under 10 from any employment. 10-14 year olds restricted to half day employment. All children up to 10 years old must be educated.
The electric light bulb was invented by American Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan (UK)
The first electric passenger train introduced by Werner von Siemens in Berlin. The locomotive was driven by a 2.2 kW motor and reached a maximum operational speed of 8mph.
The first British telephone directory published
Godalming became the world's first electrically lit town in the world powered by a water wheel on the River Wey. Some shops and other premises were lit.
Disraeli, now known as Earl of Beaconsfield and Viscount Hughenden, died. He is buried in the grounds of Hughendon Manor, Buckinghamshire.
The Savoy Theatre became the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electric lights
Edison opened the world’s first steam-powered electricity generating station at Holborn Viaduct in London
Expansion of Married Women’s Property Act altered to allow them to own and control their own property.
Volk's Electric Railway began operating on the seafront in Brighton. It is the world's oldest operating electric tramway.
Robert Louis Stevenson published Treasure Island.
Third Reform Act, extending voting rights to agricultural workers.
Term “Industrial Revolution,” for the period of 1760 to 1840, coined by Arnold Toynbee and popularised in his lectures.
Publication of Revised Version of the Bible.
Thomas Twyford designed and sold a one-piece, all china toilet. This became the basis of the modern toilet.
Automobile powered by his own four-stroke cycle gasoline engine was built in Mannheim, Germany by Karl Benz, the man credited with invention of the motor car.
The bicycle as we know it today was developed as the "safety bicycle." It was produced in Coventry, England, by the John Kemp Starley and improved in 1888 by the Scotsman John Dunlop who invented the pneumatic tyre.
The first electric street tramway in Britain, the Blackpool Tramway opened. It operated along Blackpool Promenade using conduit collection which was later changed to overhead power supply.
Victoria's Golden Jubilee, celebration of 50 year reign. fifty European kings and princes were invited to a banquet. At the same time a plan by Irish Republicans to blow up Westminster Abbey while the Queen attended a service of thanksgiving was thwarted. This became known as The Jubilee Plot.
The first Sherlock Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle’s, A Study in Scarlet, was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual.
First of a series of up to 11 murders committed by Jack the Ripper in the East End of London. Crimes continued until 1891 and a number of suggestions have been put forward as to the identity of the Ripper.
The Local Government Act 1888 created County Councils created in Britain.
Emmeline Pankhurst founded Women’s Franchise League which later led to the creation of the Women's Social and Political Union in 1903. Members, known as Suffragettes campaigned to secure the vote for women in local elections
The City & South London Railway (C&SLR, now part of the Northern Line) opened between Stockwell and the now closed original terminus at King William Street. It was the first "deep-level" electrically operated railway in the world.
The first comic book, Comic Cuts, was published.
New Scotland Yard moves to new headquarters on the Victoria Embankment. During construction, workers discovered the dismembered torso of a female, which was thought to have been one of the victims of the Whitechapel murders. By this time the Metropolitan Police numbered about 13,000
The Free Education Act 1891 provided for the state to pay school fees up to ten shillings per week.
New Zealand becomes first country to give women voting rights.
The Promenade Concerts started in London by Sir Henry Wood and Robert Newman.
Oscar Wilde convicted for gross indecency and gaoled for two years.
Oscar Wilde publishes The Importance of Being Earnest
First man convicted of speeding. He was doing a frighteningly fast 8mph, for times over the limit of 2mph. 1896 The Locomotive Act of 1896 increased the speed limit to 14 mph and has been commemorated each year since 1927 by the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
Official opening of the Tate Gallery, founded by Sir Henry Tate
Bram Stoker’s horror story Dracula was published.
Marconi's pioneering work on wireless telegraphy introduced to the public.
Death of Queen Victoria at age 82 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. She would be succeeded by Edward VII.