Stories about the Nineteenth century

Friendless Boys
In 1852, on Spanish Road, the Friendless Boys' Home was established - a home for 200 boys aged 10 to 16 who "have lost their character or are in danger of losing it"./ The boys learnt carpentry...
Gatti's Ice
Just over a hundred and fifty years ago, summer afternoons would pass by with no chance for an ice-cream: they simply weren't for sale to ordinary members of the public. One of the first people to...
Lascars in Wandsworth
In the early nineteenth century, thousands of Lascars settled in Britain. The word Lascars was a European term for the many non-European seamen who were recruited to work on merchant ships as they...
The Duel
Back in 1829, the Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister; there were asparagus fields where Battersea Park now stands; and when people disagreed, they sometimes had a duel. Wellington was working for...
The Female Blondin
On an August afternoon in 1861, a young woman set out to cross the Thames on a tightrope - and to be the first person ever to do so. She was billed as Madame Genevieve, or the Female Blondin...
The First Railway
Wandsworth is the home of the world's very first railway - or at least, the very first thing that had the word "railway" in its name: the Surrey Iron Railway. The Surrey Iron Railway was one of two...
The Gas Lamp
In the years before electricity was widespread, Wandsworth was filled with gas lamps - and not just on the streets and in the home; Falk's Veritas gas mantle works, for example, was situated on...
The Horse-Slaughtering Yard
In the 1800s, the largest horse-slaughtering yard in London could be found in Garratt Lane. Horse-slaughtering was a licensed trade with many rules, so the yard - nestled next to a fireworks factory...
The Semaphore Line
Putney Heath! Vital communication link between London and Portsmouth! Or at least, it was in the early nineteenth century. It wasn't easy to send a fast message in the early 1800s; no telephones, no...
The Telescope
In 1852, Wandsworth Common was home to "a singular-looking structure, consisting of a plain tower with a long tube slung by its side, surrounded by a wooden-hoarding to keep off intruders"...
The Wandsworth Walloper
Wandsworth Prison was built in 1851, and in 1878 it began to serve as London's hanging prison, where condemned prisoners were held and executed. It was also frequently the site of corporal punishment...
The Waterworks
The Southwark and Vauxhall Waterworks Company was formed in 1845 by the amalgamation of two earlier water companies; after competing against each other for years, they eventually decided that laying...
The Bandstand
Where do you go to get a bandstand? The Clapham Common bandstand looks an awful lot like a pair of bandstands that once stood in South Kensington Gardens... and there's a good reason for that...