Old News

Television Starts – Where Will It End? 1936

the-era-wednesday-04-november-1936-header-pdf2nd November 1936 – regular television broadcasting commenced from make-do BBC studios at Alexander Palace in North London.  The corporation had already tackled the question of whether to employ the mechanical system invented by John Logie Baird or the fast progressing EMI electronic system.

By 1936 it became clear that Baird’s system was greatly inferior to that of EMI.  However the BBC did test both systems with a trial.

So on the 2nd of November 1936 regular broadcasting of the BBC television service (the first in the world) started with an audience of about 300.

Media reception to this new-fangled form of entertainment was, to say the least, mixed and predictions of it’s future, cautious.

This report from The Era – Wednesday 4th November 1936 is typical.

Television Starts
Where will it end?
“Era” special

Television for domestic purposes is like a home movie with sound.  In a typical Baird receiver the images are thrown on to a mirror about the size of a woman’s handkerchief.

They are brilliant miniatures, especially when a film is being used, and there is a slight suggestion of eye strain at this stage.  The images behave unexpectedly, as did the early films, but are surprisingly free from atmospheric interference, though the coil ignition systems of the passing cars are liable to throw a few flashes on the mirror.

Lord Selsdon, who, in presence and manner, to say nothing of experience, seems to cut out to be a television star, made the important announcement at the opening ceremony last Monday, that people who bought receiving sets now could be assured that there would be no radical change in receiving sets for at least two years, and after the affective range of the Alexandra Palace station was 20 miles, with local variations that might reach much further.

The price of the Baird television set, manufactured by Bush radio, on which we saw the demonstration, was 85 guineas.

There is a population of 10,000,000 within the area covered by the Alexandra Palace station, equal to, say, 2,500,000 families.  If only one family in one hundred purchases a set of some kind, there is obviously a considerable immediate market for the new attraction.

It will be a tremendous boon to such aspects of broadcast entertainment as “Music Hall”, travel interludes, the news bulletins and “In Town To-night” – simple, direct things –but it is unlikely, at first to affect the course of radio drama.

Its power, as a rival attraction to other entertainments, depends largely on the amount of money spent on it, and it would appear that the BBC has already pawned it’s shirt to provide the not very elaborate entertainment now been broadcast from the Alexandra Palace.

We are unable to see that television increases the menace of radio as a rival to existing forms of entertainment, though it may do something to arrest the decline in the entertainment appeal of radio.

Television calls for much fixation of attention that an hour at a time is likely to be the limit of the average man’s endurance.

On the whole, it seems to us that the entertainment professions should congratulate themselves on the birth of an entertainment from which they will be able to extract substantial fees, leaving posterity to decide whether television is to be a comprehensive umbrella for all forms of entertainment.

Ian Waugh
Old British News

Diseased Meat – Birmingham 1882

Food safety, the manner it was manufactured, stored, prepared and sold was never out of the news. Despite crude guidelines and basic regulations enforced in law, purveyors of every range of food were endlessly reported with crimes and methods to turn the strongest stomachs.

The law finally caught up with a person called White, potted meat manufacturer, in the early 1880’s:

St James's Gazette - Thursday 28 December 1882

St James’s Gazette – Thursday 28 December 1882

“A potted-meat manufacturer, name White, was charged before the Magistrates at Aston, Birmingham, yesterday, with being in possession of meat unfit for food. On the 13th October an inspector seized upon the defendant’s premises a large quantity of pork-rind, which was bad. The defendant removed to another street, and the summons could not be served on him until lately, when there was discovered at his new premises a quantity of bad meat. The was sentenced to 6 months’ hard labour, without the option of a fine.”

Ian Waugh
Old British News

Dubious John Shepherd, died aged 100 in 1830

Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties - Friday 04 June 1830The Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties – Friday 04 June 1830 reports the extraordinary story of a recently deceased 100 year old man with a long and dubious past.

“The veteran rogue.

On Friday the 21st ult., John Shepherd was interred in Ripponden churchyard.  The deceased was 100 years old; he was father to 15 children, grandfather to 55, great grandfather to 89, great great grandfather to four; she was a native of Rochdale, and obtained a settlement in the township of Spotland, from which in the course of his life he has received of relief, him money, to the amount of £250.

He has received from the Benevolent Society, held at the Angel Inn, Blackwater street, Rochdale, £135. 5s 3d in the weekly pay.  He residing at a distance from the society, the stewards could not easily prevent he is imposition, and it is known whether one time he was receiving six shillings per week from the society, two shillings per week from the overseers of Spotland, and was earning at the same time 15 shillings per week, with working; he has had three wives, and his younger son was born the very day he was 80 years of age.

His widow mortgaged a part of his funeral money, 10 years since, with Mrs. Sally Mills, of the Angel Inn, but in consequence of the old man living so much longer than she expected, the whole of the funeral money was claimed, and Mrs. Mills debt was disowned; however, the old woman at last acknowledged it, and in cant terms thanked Mrs. Mills for her former kindness, and even extorted a promise of future favours, for having been for once to acknowledge the truth.”

Ian Waugh
Old British News

Lamplighter assaulted in Whitechapel – 1869

Clerkenwell News - Wednesday 14 July 1869A lamplighter in Whitechapel, going about his business in the early hours of Wednesday the 14th of July 1869, was set upon and assaulted.  Various excuses were made when the case went to court as was reported in the Clerkenwell News:

“At Worship-street, yesterday, James Hart, 23, described as a gas fitter, residing in Goulston street, Whitechapel, was charged before Mr. Newton with assaulting James Lomell, a breaking his lighting stick.

Mr BG Abbott, solicitor, of Worship-street, defended the prisoner.

The prosecutor stated that he resided in Edward street, Bethnal-green road, and was a lamplighter in the employment of the Independent Gas Company.

About 3.15 on the previous morning he was in Goulston street, engaged in turning out of the gas lights, when the prisoner, who was standing talking to a young woman there, began making some remarks to which the witness replied that he had better mind his own business.  The prisoner walked up to him, and seizing hold of the stick with the light at the end, with which the witness turned out the gas, struck him with it on the forehead, then a below between the eyes with his fist, which knocked him against the wall and blackened his eyes.  He then broke the stick across his knees, and from the pieces into the road.  Police constable 166 H came up at the moment, and witness gave prisoner into custody.  The Constable gave evidence, stating that saw the blow given.

Mr. Abbott cross examined the constable very severely, and taxed him with having been drinking with the prosecutor that morning before the case was called on.  The constable deny this, but admitted being in a public house with the prosecutor was.  The defence was that the prosecutor was drunk and could not see to turn out the gas; that when the prisoner went to help him he abused him, and, saying that he would make the – “Jew swallow the stick” struck him with it.

They then enclosed, and the prosecutor, who fell against the wall, broke the stick in the struggle, and received the injury to the eye.  Witnesses were called in support of this, but Mr. Newton, characterising the defence has an aggravation of the offence, find the prisoner 60 shillings, for six weeks hard labour.

The money was paid”.

Ian Waugh
Old British News

Princetown Prison – 1845

Western Times - Saturday 30 August 1845

Western Times – Saturday 30 August 1845

The horrors and cruelty that prisoners of war endured at the original Princetown Prison on Dartmoor are recalled in this brief item in the Western Times – Saturday 30 August 1845.

“Dartmoor – It is reported that the Prince-town Prison – those fearful dungeons which proved the grave of so many of our gallant enemies during the war, are to be sold. The building is of vast extent, and accommodated at once ten thousand prisoners of war, and the soldiers who guarded them.

Its strength is incalculable, and language cannot describe the gloomy desolation of the spot, where the poor captives, far from their own sunny land of wine and olives, were immured to die amid the horrors of a Dartmoor winter.

The place is worth seeing before it is closed to the public”.

Later items of value were auctioned in Plymouth – Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 30 May 1846:Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 30 May 1846