Archive for April, 2018

Monday 30th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 30, 2018 by bishshat


Old Laughing Lady

Neil Young

Don’t call pretty Peggy,
she can’t hear you no more
Don’t leave no message
’round her back door.
They say the old laughing lady
been here before
She don’t keep time,
she don’t count score.

You can’t have a cupboard
if there ain’t no wall.
You got to move there’s
no time left to stall.
They say the old laughing lady
dropped by to call
And when she leaves,
she leaves nothing at all.

See the drunkard of the village
falling on the street.
Can’t tell his ankles
from the rest of his feet.
He loves his old laughing lady
’cause her taste is so sweet.
But his laughing lady’s loving
ain’t the kind he can keep.

There’s a fever on the freeway,
blacks out the night.
There’s a slipping on the stairway,
just don’t feel right
And there’s a rumbling
in the bedroom
and a flashing of light
There’s the old laughing lady,
everything is all right.


The last waltz with optimism
Just danced through the door
So light was its step that it’s passing
Hardly made a positive head turn

John Bish 2018

Walk Like A Giant

Neil Young 

Tried to have for long and strain
We were riding on a desert wind
We were pulling in the spiritual
Riding on the desert wind
We could see it in the distance
Getting closer every minute
We saw the lights and spiritual shining
Getting closer every minute
Then we skipped the rails, and we started to fail
And we folded you, and it’s not enough
Think about how close we came

I wanna walk like a giant on the land
I wanna walk like a giant on the land

Whenever I see the big fire coming,
Coming to burn down all my ideas
I try to hold down to my thinking, and remember how it feels
When I’m looking right in your eyes
And hearing your happy laugh
When I’m seeing your blue eyes shining
And hear your happy laugh
So the moment came, and the big sky rained and
And a pool of fire served in my desire

When I think about how good it feels
I wanna walk like a giant on the land
I wanna walk like a giant on the land


Spurs 2 Watford 0

A goal in each half from Dele Alli and Harry Kane ensured maximum points in a hard-fought encounter with Watford at Wembley Stadium on Monday evening.

It was a victory which sees us climb to within one point of third-placed Liverpool in the Premier League with a game in hand on the Reds and moves us five clear of Chelsea in fifth place with both teams having three matches left to play.

Just over a quarter-of-an-hour had gone when we opened the scoring, helped by a goalkeeping error from the Hornets’ Orestis Karnezis. The Greek international spilled Kieran Trippier’s cross and Christian Eriksen flicked the ball to Dele, who drilled through a flurry of legs and into an unguarded net.

Screenshot 2018-05-01 07.48.23wat_mc3wat730i

But the visitors responded well and three fine saves from Hugo Lloris ensured we went in ahead at half-time. First he saved a one-on-one from Andre Gray, did likewise from Richarlison just before the interval before racing off his line to slide tackle the onrushing Abdoulaye Doucoure, who would have been in on goal had the skipper mistimed his challenge.

They proved to be vital saves as just three minutes into the second half, we went further ahead. Trippier was again involved, picking up the ball wide on the right and sending over a low cross which Kane tucked home for his 38th goal of the season, 27 of them coming in the league.

wat730bwatmc7Screenshot 2018-05-01 07.48.16

We almost added a third on 68 minutes when Jan Vertonghen headed a Trippier free-kick against the post with Kane unable to tap home the rebound, but Watford continued to threaten and could have scored moments later, only for Richarlison to fire Troy Deeney’s knock down way over the bar from 10 yards.

Substitute Moussa Sissoko could have wrapped it up late on but fired over the bar after an excellent through-ball from Kane.

Sunday 29th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 29, 2018 by bishshat


Saturday 28th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 28, 2018 by bishshat

The Terror


The Terror Follows a non-linear narrative structure, beginning at a point approximately midway through the overall plot. The narrative switches among multiple viewpoint characters and uses both third- and first-person narrative (the latter in the form of Dr. Goodsir’s diary entries).

Inspired by a true story, The Terror centers on the British Royal Navy’s perilous voyage into unchartered territory as the crew attempts to discover the Northwest Passage. Faced with treacherous conditions, limited resources, dwindling hope and fear of the unknown, the crew is pushed to the brink of extinction. Frozen, isolated and stuck at the end of the earth, The Terror highlights all that can go wrong when a group of men, desperate to survive, struggle not only with the elements, but with each other.


The story begins in the winter of 1847. For more than a year, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus have been trapped in ice, 28 miles north-northwest of King William Island. The weather has been much colder than normal, the ships’ tinned provisions are dwindling and often putrid, and the sea ice and landmasses are mysteriously devoid of any wildlife that can be hunted. In addition to the natural dangers, the crews are being stalked and attacked by a monster resembling an immense polar bear.

In flashbacks, the novel relates some of the backstory behind the expedition’s current predicament. The Franklin expedition is the latest in a series of attempts to forge the Northwest Passage, all of which have ended in failure. Sir John Franklin, having been recalled in disgrace from a government posting in Van Diemen’s Land, views the expedition as his last chance for glory and recognition. Captain Francis Crozier, embittered by romantic rejection at the hands of Franklin’s niece, seeks to distract himself by again venturing into the Arctic. The rest of the crew have signed on for adventure. Although the expedition begins auspiciously enough, three men die of disease during their first winter in the ice, and soon afterward, Franklin makes the fateful decision to travel around the northeast coast of King William Island, which results in the ships’ becoming trapped.

BHC3325; H.M.S. Erebus in the ice, 1846terror-1

In the summer of 1847, Franklin sends out parties in various directions across the ice, in hopes of finding open water. None of the parties succeeds in this goal. However, one of the parties encounters a pair of “Esquimaux” on the ice, a young woman and an old man. They accidentally shoot the man, whereupon they are set upon by the monster, who kills Lt. Graham Gore, the leader of the party. When the party returns to the ships, the girl follows them. Crozier names her “Lady Silence”, as her tongue appears to have been bitten off in the past, rendering her mute. After the Esquimaux man dies aboard Erebus, the monster begins stalking and attacking the crews. Although the beast shows signs of intelligence, the men believe it is nothing more than an unusually aggressive bear. This assumption leads them to underestimate the creature. Franklin is killed in a botched attempt to bait the creature out in the open, and a number of other officers and men are killed as the months progress.


Following Franklin’s death, Crozier becomes the expedition commander, with Captain James Fitzjames assuming the role of executive officer. Despite some initial tension between them, the two men gradually become friends as they attempt to deal with the threats of the monster, disease, and impending starvation. By 1848, the crews become further debilitated by the extreme cold and lack of fresh food, and the monster continues to prey on them. An ill-fated ‘morale boosting’ New Year’s Eve carnivale masque ends with a large number of the expedition, including three of the four surgeons, being killed by the monster and friendly fire from the expedition’s Royal Marines detachment. Crozier subsequently orders punished Caulker’s Mate Cornelius Hickey (for wearing a white polar bear costume) and two other men (for unbecoming behavior) with 50 lashes of the cat o’ nine tails. Hickey begins to plot against the officers, especially Crozier and Lt. John Irving, who had earlier discovered Hickey copulating in a compromising position with another member of the crew in Terror’s hold.


As spring approaches, Erebus is eventually crushed and sunk by the relentless ice. Its remaining crew decamps to Terror for a short time, until Crozier finally orders the ship abandoned. The expedition’s 105 survivors relocate to ‘Terror Camp’, a tented refuge on King William Island. After ruling out an attempt to reach the far side of the Boothia Peninsula, Crozier and Fitzjames conclude that their best hope is to man-haul the lifeboats of both ships south to the Canadian mainland and then down Back’s River to an outpost on Great Slave Lake, an arduous journey of several hundred miles. However, before they can set out, Irving is set upon and murdered by Hickey. Hickey lays the blame for Irving’s death on a band of Esquimaux hunters whom Irving had in fact befriended, and the Esquimaux are attacked and massacred in revenge. From this point on, the crews fear and avoid the native population.


With all hope of outside rescue eliminated, the crews begin hauling the boats across King William Island. The trek is brutal, and many of the men die from exhaustion, exposure, and disease, including Fitzjames. There are rumblings of mutiny from Hickey and his growing entourage, and the monster continues to appear with deadly frequency, at one point slaughtering an entire boat crew as they explore an open lead in the ice. With no other options, and despite mounting casualties, the crew continues to press south and eventually reach a position on the southern shore of the island that they name ‘Rescue Camp’.


From there, the survivors splinter into several groups. Hickey and his faction declare their intent to return to Terror Camp, while another group opts to return to Terror herself, despite the possibility that she has been crushed by the ice. Crozier agrees to let them go, but later he and Goodsir are lured away from the camp and ambushed by Hickey’s men. Crozier shoots and fatally wounds Magnus Manson, Hickey’s lover and chief crony, and is then shot and apparently killed by Hickey, while Goodsir is taken hostage.


The remainder of the crew decides to keep marching south. All three groups eventually meet with disaster. Hickey’s group, despite resorting to cannibalism, is stopped short of its goal by a blizzard, and most of the men either starve or freeze to death, while the remainder are murdered by Hickey, who has begun to suffer delusions of godhood. Goodsir commits suicide by poisoning himself, ensuring that any of Hickey’s crew who eats his body will die. The monster leaves Hickey alone to freeze to death, seemingly because Hickey’s soul is so foul that the monster considers him inedible. The other groups’ fates are not revealed, but it is implied that they all die as well, rendering Crozier the expedition’s sole survivor. Crozier is rescued by Lady Silence, who treats his wounds with native medicine and brings him with her on her travels.


As he recovers from his injuries, Crozier experiences a series of dreams or visions which finally reveal the true nature of the creature. It is called the Tuunbaq, a demon created millennia ago by the Esquimaux goddess Sedna to kill her fellow spirits, with whom she had become angry. After a war lasting 10,000 years, the other spirits defeated the Tuunbaq, and it turned back on Sedna, who banished it to the Arctic wastes. There, the Tuunbaq began preying on the Esquimaux, massacring them by the thousands, until their most powerful shamans discovered a way to communicate with the demon. By sacrificing their tongues to the beast and promising to stay out of its domain, these shamans, the sixam ieua, were able to stop the Tuunbaq’s rampage. Lady Silence is revealed to be one of these shamans, and she and Crozier eventually become lovers. He chooses to abandon his old life and join her as a sixam ieua.

Single_Jared_Harris_Captain-Francis-Cozier-800x600Francis Crozier (age 49) Captain - Terror

Captain Francis Crozier

The expedition’s second in command (he becomes commander of the expedition following the death of Sir John Franklin) and primary narrator of the novel. He is portrayed as a competent leader and skillful captain, though he suffers from alcoholism and a deep sense of insecurity stemming from his Irish ancestry and humble birth. He also is implied to possess latent psychic abilities. Towards the end of the novel he is shot several times during the betrayal and ambush by Cornelius Hickey, near Rescue Camp. Crozier is saved (in unexplained circumstances) by Lady Silence, who uses native medicine to heal his gunshot wounds. She teaches him how to survive in the adverse Arctic conditions and the ways of the sixam ieua spirit-governors, and the two become lovers. Crozier eventually joins Silence as a sixam ieua, and they have two children together. He adopts the Inuit name Taliriktug, meaning ‘Strong Arm’.

Single_Tobias_Menzies_Captain-James-Fitzjames-800x600James Fitzjames (age 33) Commander - Erebus

Commander James Fitzjames

The expedition’s third in command and the de facto captain of Erebus prior to Franklin’s death. He is an upper-class officer, described as handsome and charming. At the start of the novel, Crozier is wary of Fitzjames and jealous of the apparent favouritism that is shown towards him within the Royal Navy. However, they become firm friends as the novel progresses. Following Franklin’s death, Fitzjames proves to be a very competent captain of Erebus and an invaluable assistant to Crozier. Throughout the novel, Fitzjames’ physical condition steadily deteriorates, and he eventually dies of an illness (implied to be botulism) during the trek south across King William Island.

theterrortrailerfbDr. Harry Goodsir, Assistant Surgeon, Erebus

Dr Harry D.S. Goodsir

Trained as an anatomist and signed on by Franklin as an assistant surgeon, he is considered the lowest of the four doctors who set out on the expedition, since he is technically a civilian and not a naval officer. Following the violent death of the other medical officers at the Venetian Carnivale, Goodsir becomes the only physician aboard either ship. Though he initially appears to be weak and effeminate, he is portrayed as a compassionate, strong-willed, and indefatigable man, who earns the respect of the entire crew. He is also one of the few men Crozier trusts implicitly. During Hickey’s final and successful attempt to mutiny and leave the expedition, Goodsir exposes Hickey’s real motives to take two sick and catatonic crew members with him. Despite Hickey’s insisting the men are his friends, and he and his crew wish to care for them, Goodsir states the real reason Hickey wants the two crewmen is so Hickey’s crew can eat them. Goodsir then proceeds to humiliate the flustered Hickey by instructing him in front of the entire expedition on how to butcher his able and healthy friend, Magnus Manson, should he need to later. Goodsir is later kidnapped by Hickey’s mutineers, who repeatedly mutilate him when he refuses to assist them in butchering their dead crewmates for sustenance, and Goodsir eventually commits suicide by taking a lethal cocktail of drugs. He does this as a parting shot to Hickey and his men, as the poison he ingests will kill anyone who attempts to eat his corpse.

Lieutenant John Irving
A young officer who is assigned the duty of protecting/investigating the mysterious Inuit girl, “Lady Silence”, with whom he has become infatuated. Irving is portrayed as a roguish and carefree womanizer, who has signed onto the expedition for glory and fame. Despite this, he becomes a favourite of Captain Crozier’s and is shown to be one of the most reliable officers on the expedition. Late in the novel, whilst on a solo exploration of King William Island, Irving befriends an Esquimaux hunting party. However, before he can return to camp and report his finding of the expedition’s potential saviours, he is waylaid and brutally murdered by Cornelius Hickey.

Caulker’s Mate Cornelius Hickey
Described as diminutive, devious, and a sea lawyer, Hickey is, after the Tuunbaq, the main antagonist in the novel. Hickey takes a strong dislike to Lt Irving when Irving accidentally discovers Hickey and Seaman Manson having sex in the bowels of HMS Terror and becomes enraged at all the officers when he is flogged in the aftermath of the Venetian Carnivale. His animosity towards Irving culminates with Hickey’s horrific murder of the lieutenant on King William Island. Hickey’s various attempts at fomenting mutiny are finally successful at Rescue Camp, when he convinces a number of the crewmen to attempt to return to the abandoned Terror Camp. After Crozier grudgingly allows Hickey and his followers to depart from the main expedition, Hickey attempts to return to Terror Camp, although he briefly returns to kill Crozier and kidnap Dr Goodsir. Hickey’s crew is eventually killed by the Tuunbaq, which rejects Hickey’s soul and leaves him to freeze to death alone.

Seaman Magnus Manson
A giant, physically powerful man with mild developmental disabilities, Manson is Cornelius Hickey’s lover and chief crony. Hickey uses Manson as a sort of living weapon, setting him on people who get in his way. Despite this, Manson is well-regarded by the crew, as his immense strength proves useful for many tasks aboard the ship. Captain Crozier shoots Manson in the stomach during the mutineers’ attempt to kill the expedition’s commander. Manson survives for several weeks, despite his injuries. Dr Goodsir lies to Manson and Hickey about the severity of the injuries, and ignoring his Hippocratic Oath, allows Manson to die without providing effective treatment.
Ice Master Thomas Blanky
A forthright, jovial and likable man, Blanky is the only character who evades the Tuunbaq, which Blanky accomplishes not once, but twice. In spite of his escape, he loses a leg and suffers other injuries, including frostbite, after which he receives a peg-leg. Despite this, Blanky continues to maintain hope of survival and rescue, until he develops gangrene in the stump of his severed leg during the trek across King William Island. Realizing he is now nothing more than a burden to the crew, he opts to remain behind on the ice whilst the rest of the survivors struggle on, and he is eventually attacked and killed by the Tuunbaq, although it is implied that he dies fighting.

Captain of the Foretop Harry Peglar
A respected member of the crew, Peglar is one of the senior petty officers aboard HMS Terror and is the ex-lover of Subordinate Officers’ Steward John Bridgens. Peglar is dyslexic and has a heart complaint that becomes evident later in the novel. He is killed by the Tuunbaq, along with several other members of the crew, while attempting to explore a possible lead to open water.
Subordinate Officers’ Steward John Bridgens
The oldest surviving member of the expedition, Bridgens is the ex-lover of Harry Peglar’s. A learned man, he becomes assistant to Dr Goodsir for a while at ‘Rescue Camp’. With starvation and disease the only prospect, Bridgens decides to simply leave the camp and walk into the low hills of King William Island. He is last mentioned in the novel falling peacefully asleep after watching a beautiful Arctic sunset.

Ship’s Boy Robert Golding
23 years old at the close of the novel, Golding is no longer a boy, but he is described as possessing a boy’s gullibility. Despite appearing to be loyal to Captain Crozier, he has secretly fallen in with Hickey’s band. He conducts an elaborate, and rather humorous, subterfuge to lure Crozier and Dr Goodsir to the Hickey ambush site (his attempts to pronounce the word polynya: polyp and polyanna, exasperate Captain Crozier). Golding eventually dies along with the rest of Hickey’s compatriots.


Lady Silence (Silna)
A young Inuit woman who has a mysterious link to the Tuunbaq. After her companion is shot by a party from the expedition, she accompanies the expedition back to the ships. When her companion dies, she remains aboard Terror, settling into a chain locker in the ship’s hold, and comes and goes as she pleases. The crews are afraid of her, believing her to be a witch, and on at least one occasion her life is threatened by Hickey’s faction, though Captain Crozier is able to defuse the situation. She apparently follows the men when they leave the ships behind and saves Crozier’s life after Hickey shoots him. She teaches Crozier how to survive in the Arctic, and they eventually become lovers. Silence’s aptitude for survival is frequently compared to the expedition members’ failure to keep warm and find sustenance in the harsh Arctic conditions.

Franklin-HERO,0Sir John Franklin, (age 59) Captain - Erebus

Sir John Franklin

Commander of the expedition and the nominal captain of HMS Erebus, he is portrayed in the novel as a pompous snob and buffoon, seeking one last chance at fame and glory after several failed Arctic expeditions and his dismissal from the governorship of Van Diemen’s Land. Franklin is killed by the Tuunbaq early in the novel, whilst inspecting the site of an attempt to ambush and kill the monster.

The Tuunbaq
A creature from Inuit mythology, the Tuunbaq is an indestructible killing machine that has taken the form of a massive polar bear with an elongated neck. The product of a war between the Inuit gods, it has been banished to the frozen northern wastes. The Tuunbaq preys on all creatures within its icy domain but particularly likes to eat the souls of humans. Only the sixam ieua’ – spirit governors of the sky – a select group of Inuit shaman specially bred for their psychic abilities, hold any sway over the beast. The sixam ieua allow the Tuunbaq to eat their tongues as a sign of their dedication, but they can summon the creature and pay homage to it with their throat singing and gifts of animal flesh. They communicate with it (and other sixam ieua) using a form of telepathy.

stephen_rough_3Dr. Stephan Stanley, Surgeon, Erebus

Dr. Stephen Stanley Ships Surgeon 

Erebus and Terror – John Franklin

In Search of the North-West Passage

A prestigious expedition to find the fabled northern route from Europe to South East Asia, “The Orient” to enable trade. Franklin died after 2 years and the ships were sunk after 3, all the crew were lost, but it would be 9 years before the story first came out and 33 years before rescue and recovery attempts ended.

1845 – The ships and the start of the journey
At the center of this story are two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. These were bomb ships designed to carry heavy mortar and cannon to bombard shore targets from sea. They were reinforced to take the considerable weight and recoil of the guns and so were stronger than other similar sized ships, this strengthening meant they were selected for polar work where they might encounter ice.

Screenshot 2018-04-29 16.33.07

They had already been on a four year voyage to the Antarctic from 1839-1843 led by James Clark Ross, a famous historic voyage of discovery. Mount Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica and Mount Terror a nearby inactive volcano are named after the ships.
Erebus was 19 years old and Terror 32 years old by the start of the expedition already having had eventful lives. They were fitted with 20hp steam engines taken from the railways with screw propellers that allowed the ships to progress at 4 knots, the steam produced also provided heating and generated freshwater.


The Northwest Passage is a sea route from the Western Atlantic to Eastern Pacific Ocean so allowing European merchants quicker and easier access to the markets of the orient, specifically China and Japan without having to sail around South Africa or the Americas. It was initially imagined as something that might be there, the search began in the late 1400’s. In 1745 the British Admiralty promised a £20,000 prize for whoever discovered this passage. By the early 1800’s exploration became more scientific concerned with mapping the arctic coastline rather than the former “lets go and have a try” approaches.

John Barrow, Second Secretary of the British Admiralty from 1804 to 1845 had coordinated and initiated much of the scientific mapping operations. He organized a major expedition that he thought would finally determine whether or not a Northwest Passage existed at all. On the 19th of May 1845 the Erebus and Terror with a combined crew of 133 set out from England under the command of Sir John Franklin, an explorer who had already led two land expeditions to find the enigmatic sea route. 129 of these men were to enter the Arctic after the supply ship had left for home. None would return.

At 59 Franklin was widely considered too old and unfit for such an undertaking. The first choice, James Ross couldn’t be persuaded to take the position (at 44 he thought himself too old) and political rather than practical reasons had a large part to play in Franklin’s appointment. There were many detractors, John Ross, the uncle of James offered to lead a rescue expedition if nothing had been heard by February 1847, this even before Franklin set off.


1845 – Early days, no news is good news
Barrow thought the expedition might make it through the northwest passage within a single season, so avoiding overwintering, though this was unlikely and there were provisions for three years along with hunting equipment that could be used to supplement preserved rations.

Erebus and Terror were accompanied to Greenland by a supply ship which returned to England bearing letters from the crews of the two ships.

On the 26th of July 1845, two whaling ships saw Franklin’s expedition in northern Baffin Bay which they reported on arrival back home in England in August. It appeared that all was well and on schedule. It was to be the last contact the expedition had with the outside world.

The crew were inexperienced in the polar regions with only very few having been to the Arctic previously, though Franklin had and Crozier the captain of the Terror had returned two years previously from the Antarctic where he had also been captain of the same ship in James Clark Ross’s four year long expedition.

The diaries from the Erebus (where Franklin was stationed) that were eventually found report that these early days had a positive, benign and happy atmosphere where success was assured and failure not contemplated.


Sgt. Solomon Tozer

Crozier was less convinced however and presided over a ship less convivial. Both captains had a feeling they would not return home alive, shared only in their written thoughts.

In a time before telecommunications and with the ships heading to a region where they would likely be iced in for the winter with plenty of provisions to get them through and no likely contact for several months each year, no-one worried about what might be happening, no news was what was expected. However no news arrived during during the whole of 1846 either and concerns began to form.

The expedition was expected to take around three years.

Lieutenant H.T.D. Les Vesconte, Erebus

Lieutenant H.T.D. Les Vesconte, Erebus

1847 – rescue rejected then accepted
On the 9th of February 1847 John Ross true to his word to Franklin before he set sail approached the Admiralty Board in London with a rescue plan. He was initially rejected, as he was again later with a more detailed plan and as was another plan from a Dr. King. The expedition had been away for two winters at this point, it was known that they had provisions for at least another one.

Eventually by November 1847 in the continued absence of sightings or further news, a rescue mission was prepared by James Ross and accepted by the Admiralty Board. By the spring of the following year 1848, two sea-borne rescue missions set off along with a land attempt. Another (now the third) winter had passed since the expedition set off. None of these early missions found anything at all.

John Barrow died in November 1848 and with him any interest in the Franklin expedition from the Admiralty, or so they would have preferred. Franklin’s disappearance was a major news story of the day, he was a hugely popular public figure and his disappearance only served to make him more so. Eventually the response of the Admiralty was to offer £20,000 for the rescue of Franklin, £10,000 for finding his ships and another £10,000 for finding the northwest passage. The issue was handed over to the Arctic Council.

Portrait of Charles Hamilton Osmer


1850 – rescue missions in force find something…… and then nothing
Franklin’s widow, Lady Jane Franklin became obsessed with finding her husband or at least his remains. She spent her time and money financing expeditions and when the money ran low, she lobbied others for funds. In 1850 fifteen ships entered the Arctic on search missions including two American ships, one expedition was financed directly by Lady Franklin and another small two-vessel expedition was financed and led by the now 73 year old John Ross. They had no real idea where to look. The main difficulty was an unawareness (despite much advice from people who were aware) of the capricious nature of ice in the search area, what can be clear one year can be blocked for the next several, such was the case with the Peel Channel, clear when encountered by Franklin in the summer of 1846, but blocked by ice during subsequent searches.

HMS Assistance, one of four ships that winter in the ice near Beechey Island in 1850, it returned to England in 1851 before the winter, having found no trace of the lost expedition.


Thomas Blanky Ice Master

In late August 1850 the first signs of the expedition were found on Beechey Island, or specifically the remains of the first winter quarters from 1845 by an Admiralty fleet under Horatio Austin on the Resolute and and William Penny with the ships HMS Lady Franklin and HMS Sophia. John Ross and his two small ships were there too. Marks on the ground from fires and sledges were to be seen along with a pyramid of some 600 large empty food cans. More ominously there were also three graves with headstones marked with the date of deaths as January and April 1846, though rather than being seen as a bad sign, these were seen at least being better than an awful lot more deaths. There was however no sign of the customary stone cairn with an expected message from Franklin stating his current state and intentions of what to do next.


Sledge tracks were found extending at least forty miles up a nearby channel and it was assumed that these represented scouting parties Franklin sent out for the next summer (which would have been 1846 – 4 years previously by now). The search parties settled into a protected bay for the winter.

The ships crews endured the endured the winter at a place they called Union Harbour more or less cheerfully. They also went out on numerous sledging expeditions, manhauling. No further signs were found of Franklin or the two ships or the 129 men that winter or by the ships that fanned out in the summer when the winter ice had cleared, and so they returned to England in 1851 carrying with them a rumour via some convoluted connected whispers that Franklin and his men had been killed by the Inuit.

After this enormous costly search that essentially found nothing, the Admiralty had even less desire to continue. Franklin by now had attained an almost legendary status and while the public had lost interest in the North West Passage, it was becoming a matter of national pride to find out what had happened to England’s hero.

Every one had an opinion about what had happened, so it seemed of where Franklin had gone and what should be done to find him. Arctic foxes were captured and had notes attached around their neck with details of where to find food in the hope that the men of the expedition might capture them and read the notes, a similar idea was also tried with balloons. Medals were struck and handed out to the Inuit so if they found any trace of the expedition, they would know where to find the searchers and inform them.

Edward Couch, Mate, Erebus)

Edward Couch, Mate, Erebus

1852 – 5 ships look in the wrong place and find nothing,

Incidental rescue, 4 ships lost
The main problem was that the search efforts were being made in the wrong place. The Wellington Channel was considered to be the most likely place to look, it is 500 miles almost due north from where the wreck of one of Franklin’s ships would eventually be found. This expedition led by the unsuitable Sir Edward Belcher consisted of the ships: Assistance, Resolute, Intrepid, Pioneer and a supply ship, the North Star.

The ships froze in for the winter and Belcher’s pettiness and harsh application of the rules soon earned him many detractors and downright enemies, especially in the long, cold, dark winter night. Life on the frozen-in ships with Belcher was so unpleasant that almost all the men who could were volunteering for sledging expeditions, the level of discomfort of this being preferable to being on the ship. Belcher himself thought he was deliberately being told to look in the wrong place in order that he may be able to make an attempt on the North Pole if the opportunity presented itself, a situation that he resented and couldn’t have helped his attitude to the men in his command. This is considered to be the first expedition that was ostensibly “Looking for Franklin” where in reality it was a euphemism for making a attempt on the north pole. In subsequent years many similar expeditions had the same public and hidden agendas.

Belcher was ready to abandon his quest and go home when he received new orders, to search for the ships Investigator and Enterprise which had gone to search for Franklin in 1850 and had become not quite lost as such, but their whereabouts were unknown. In April 1853 sledging parties left the Resolute for what was to become a 105 day 1,400 mile journey, though they made only geographical discoveries. Another party went west and found the Investigator frozen into the ice at Mercy Bay, the now near starved crew had entered the Arctic in the west by the Bering Strait, the captain McClure thought he would be able to reach the Atlantic and become the first to traverse the North West Passage, spurred on in no small part by the £10,000 prize.

Charles Des Voeux,Portrait of Charles des Voeux

Charles Des Voeux

HMS Investigator was to make two journeys to the Arctic in search of the Franklin expedition, in the second, leaving in 1850 it became trapped in the ice and was abandoned three years later (the crew was rescued by the Resolute after a long overland walk). The wreck of the Investigator was discovered in 11m of water by marine archeologists in 2010.

More sledging trips were made along the routes that Franklin might have taken, still to no avail. By February 1854 Belcher had become sufficiently worried about the safety of his frozen in ships and men that he ordered them to be abandoned and all crews to board the North Star and return to England, fortunately the crews were able to be divided amongst a further two other supply ships that arrived.

Belcher was subject to the automatic court martial for any captain who lost a ship, he had lost for out of five. While he was exonerated, the verdict was interpreted more as “not proven” than of actual innocence. He was never again given an active command. Later on, the abandoned Resolute broke out of the ice and drifted to Davis Strait where it was salvaged by an American whaler 19 months later who couldn’t believe his luck.

Graham Gore, Commander - Erebus

Lieutenant Fairholme, Erebus

1853 – the story of Franklin’s fate is revealed
It was a man called John Rae a doctor and an overland man for the Hudson Bay Company who found what had happened to Franklin. While exploring the one empty space left by previous expeditions in 1853 he encountered a group of Inuit who told him of an encounter they had four years previously in 1849-50.

The Inuit told of a group of forty men dragging a boat south, they were all very thin and using sign language made it known that their ship had been crushed in the ice, they purchased a seal from the Inuit. Later the same season, the the same party were encountered, or at least what remained of them about a days walk from the Great Fish River. The men Rae spoke to had not seen the group first hand but were recounting a story told to them by others.

The scene described was apocalyptic, there were scattered dead bodies, in tents, under the upturned boat or out in the open. Many of the bodies has been hacked with knives and human remains were reported in cooking pots, they said there were thirty dead in that place, another five dead were found on a nearby island. The Inuit also reported hearing gunshots later in the year after the game had returned (so probably after May) indicating that not all of the men had died by that time. To confirm the story they told Rae, they sold him a number of artifacts, a silver spoon, silver forks and similar with initials and names that confirmed their provenance as belonging to the officers of the Erebus and Terror.

Single_Trystan_Gravelle_NK_021617_0042Portrait of Henry Foster Collins

Henry Collins

Rae stated “From the mutilated state of many of the corpses, and the contents of the kettles, it is evident that our wretched countrymen had been driven to the last resource – cannibalism – as a means of prolonging existence”.

Rae’s report caused great consternation when it reached England. The Admiralty were relieved as they could now stop searching. Lady Franklin and the Arctic Council were shocked, not only was the news of death but death by starvation and with cannibalism thrown in to boot. They did the only reasonable thing they felt they could, they doubted the story and shunned Rae.

Rae had not seen the scenes described or even the region and why were the men in such an unlikely place? The Hudson’s Bay Company sent out a team to where they thought the Inuit had seen the scenes they described. Wood and some relics were found connected to the Erebus, but no signs of dead bodies.

Lieutenant Fairholme, Erebus

Graham Gore, Commander – Erebus

1857 – Lady Franklin raises funds for yet another rescue mission
John Franklin-Expedition- 1845 Another ship, the Fox in the command of Leopold McClintock was dispatched to the Arctic to search for what it could. Even Lady Franklin accepted that her husband was almost certainly dead now, 12 years after departure, he would have been 72 years old. It was hoped that some of the younger, fitter members of the crew would have survived or that at least journals and diaries might be discovered to cast a light on what had happened.

After two years, in 1859 following a difficult and at times harrowing journey, the Fox was able to start investigating the lost expedition of Franklin. Inuit told of seeing men travelling to the south some dropping dead as they walked, a ship that had many books that became wrecked and the body of a big man with long teeth.

Eventually the first body was found, apparently having fallen down as the man walked, then the remains of a cairn though without a message and then finally a cairn with a message still intact.

H. M. ships ‘Erebus’ and ‘Terror’ wintered in the ice in
28 of May, 1847 lat. 70° 05′ N. long. 98° 23′ W.

Having wintered in 1846 at Beechey Island in lat. 74° 43′ 28″ N.; long. 91° 39′ 15″ W., after having ascended Wellington Channel to lat. 77° and returned by the west side of Cornwallis Island.

Sir John Franklin commanding the expedition.

All well.

Party consisting of 2 officers and 6 men left the ships on Monday, 24 May 1847.

Gm. Gore, Lieut. Chas. F. Des Voeus, Mate.
The date of wintering 1846-7 at Beechey Island is a mistake, the Beechey Island winter was the previous one in 1845-6, with 1846-7 having been spent in the James Ross Strait to the north of King William Island.

Handwritten around the margin of this was the following:

April 25, 1848 H. M. ships ‘Terror’ and ‘Erebus’ were deserted on the 22d April, 5 leagues N. N. W. of this, having been beset since 12th September 1846. The officers and crews, consisting of 105 souls, under the command of Captain F. R. M. Crozier, landed here in lat. 69° 37′ 42″ N., long 98° 41′ W. Sir John Franklin died on the 11th June, 1847; and the total loss by deaths in the expedition has been to this date 9 officers and 15 men.

Signed by Captains Crozier and Fitzjames of the Erebus, it also states “and start (on) to-morrow, 26th, for Back’s Fish River,”.

This is the only written record of the expedition.


On the 28th of May 1847, all was as expected. Two weeks later Franklin was dead and soon another twenty four men had also died an unprecedented rate of casualties, some illness or disease seemed to have affected the crews.

1859 – The fate of the Franklin crews is revealed… partially
Leopold McClintock in 1859There were clues found by McClintock that hinted at a harrowing ordeal. After sledging seventy miles down the coast of King William Island an abandoned boat was found attached to a large cumbersome makeshift sledge. In the boat were two human skeletons, one much ravaged by wild animals, the other less so, next to which were watches and two guns loaded and propped upright. Also in the boat were large amounts of equipment including surprising items such as silk handkerchiefs, towels and sponges, hardly important things to take. There was some food, including an empty tin that had held twenty two pounds of meat. Books in the vicinity were marked “G.G” or “Graham Gore”. The boat was not pointing south as might be expected if the men dragging it were trying to escape, but instead it pointed north back to where the Erebus and Terror had spent the second winter and where they had been abandoned.


At another place, Victory Point a huge amount of discarded equipment was found, winter clothing, four heavy stoves with other metal items such as barrel hoops, a wooden block from the ships rigging, navigational gear, a medicine cabinet, and an enormous amount of winter clothing, though the notable absence of any food or even empty food tins.


There were more questions than answers, why had the sledge contained so many frivolous items while the equipment at Victory Point was far more useful but left behind? Why was there so little food, the expedition had been equipped with easily enough tinned food to last to 1848 and beyond even if it hadn’t been eked out with game caught during the summer months. The fact that so much useful equipment had been left undisturbed implied that any food had not been taken Inuit.

North of Victory Point three cairns were found, the first, after three miles had an empty canister, the second had nothing at all, the next one was surrounded by the remnants of three small tents and some other scraps. A piece of folded paper was found tucked into the rocks of the cairn but was blank, two broken corked bottles were found, if they had contained messages they had long since blown away.

James Reid, Ice Master, Erebus

James Reid Ice Master

Exhausted, McClintock and the crew of the Fox returned to their ship and sailed for Britain on the 6th of August arriving back in London on the 21st of September 1859, three crew members had been lost. The search for Franklin was over as far as Britain was concerned, 14 years after the Erebus and Terror had first sailed.

The monetary cost of the search expeditions had been enormous:
British Admiralty – £675,000 (2014 equivalent – £20.5M)
Lady Jane Franklin and subscriptions – £35,000 (2014 equivalent – just over £1M)
US government – $150,000 (2014 equivalent – just over $4.5M)
American Henry Grinnell – $100,000 (2014 equivalent – just over $3M)

There had also been a great cost of ships and lives of the would-be rescuers lost. On the positive side, the arctic had been mapped and explored like never before and in great detail.


Still, the mystery was unsolved, no survivors had been found, much of the evidence was contradictory or just unfathomable. The north west passage had still not been discovered or even fully proven to exist, Franklin and the rescue missions found where the passage wasn’t. Expeditions continued sporadically for 19 more years including another one part funded by Lady Franklin in 1874. The last expedition took place in 1878, it found many relics, several graves were identified along with exposed corpses that were given proper burial. The main conclusion was that no further records from Franklin’s Expedition had survived. This signaled the end of Franklin related search or rescue missions, 31 years after the first and 33 years since the expedition left England.


It would be another nearly fifty years before Roald Amundsen made the passage with a small crew in a small boat with a very shallow draught. The journey took them five years as they were frozen in each winter and even then they only just scraped through. Had Franklin’s expedition found the route, the Erebus and Terror would probably not have been able to sail through. The perils of unpredictable sea-ice, the difficulty and treachery of shallow channels and shoals meant that it was useless for the hoped for purpose of a quicker sea-route from Europe to the Far East.

Lieutenant R. O. Sargent, Mate

Lieutenant R. O. Sargent, Mate

Modern investigations from 1980
The corpse of John Torrington exhumed on Beechey Island in 1981, after 135 years in the permafrost it was remarkably well preservedIn 1981 a team from the University of Alberta, Canada travelled to King William Island where they intended to collect bones and subject them to modern forensic techniques to attempt to determine the causes of death or gain any other information. Fewer remains were found than had been hoped for, though it was possible to see pitting of the bones, a characteristic of scurvy, there were marks on the bones consistent with cannibalism. Most surprising of all were the results of trace element analysis that showed levels of lead present in the bones around ten times higher than those of similar age Inuit skeletons from the same area.


The findings were inconclusive however as the lead levels could have accumulated over many years, the only way to find out was to compare to soft tissue lead levels. It was decided to exhume the bodies on Beechey Island and perform autopsies. Two of the (remarkably well preserved) bodies were raised in August 1984 and bone and tissue samples taken before they were reinterred. Pneumonia was found to be the ultimate cause of death, though there were soft tissue lead levels that indicated the men “would have suffered severe mental and physical problems caused by lead poisoning”.

Initially the lead solder in the food tins were blamed for the lead poisoning, it is now thought that while this may have been contributory, the most likely explanation is that the lead came from a new system used for the first time on this expedition where fresh water from the steam engines was collected in tanks using lead pipes and lead soldered joints.


Another forensic expedition in 1992 identified high lead levels in bones and marks consistent with de-fleshing on nearly 400 bones and fragments from another site on King William Island.

The view today is that a number of factors were to blame for the loss of the crews of the Erebus and Terror. Lead poisoning would have had a significant effect with disease such as scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis affecting the weakened men, added to this are the effects of bitter cold and starvation.

With a lack of any real kind of written record and the fact that the artifacts are wide-spread and have been disturbed and/or lost before proper forensic archeological studies can be carried out, it is unlikely that the full story that slowly unfolded over four or five years will ever be properly known.

A number of searches for the wrecks of the Erebus and Terror found nothing for a long time. In 2010 however, the remains of H.M.S. Investigator, one of the would be rescue ships that became icebound before being abandoned and subsequently sinking were found upright and reasonably intact in 11m of water at Mercy Bay, Banks Island.

erebus bell

2014 – Erebus Found, 2016 – Terror Found
On the 9th of September 2014 a search called the “Victoria Strait Expedition” found one of Franklin’s ships in east Queen Maud Gulf to the west of O’Reilly Island. Initially it was not clear which ship had been found, later being identified as the Erebus, it is well preserved and largely intact. More here from Parks Canada.

Almost exactly two years later on the 11th of September 2016 a ship wreck found about 24m (80ft) down in a bay to the south of King William Island was surveyed by a small remotely operated submersible vehicle. It was found to be the Terror in a remarkably intact state of preservation. There are plates and a can on a shelf and glass panes still intact in 3 of the 4 tall windows in the stern cabin. The findings imply that the ship sank slowly after being shut up and prepared for the winter.

The Terror was found about 60 miles (96 km) further south of where it was thought to have been crushed by the sea ice. Its location and very well preserved state indicate that some of the crew may have closed the ship down and then attempted to sail south on the Erebus to escape their predicament rather than attempting to walk out of the Arctic as has been the accepted view so far.

Erebus found! – September 2014


Friday 27th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 27, 2018 by bishshat

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Hard Times

I will be delivering hard times next week to a class of home education children.

Exploring the lives of children in Victorian times through characters found in the British Folk Art Collection. Dress up in Victorian-style costumes and. Students will work in teams to design and create their own 3D replica Victorian shop signs, using a variety of mixed media. This programme can be used to explore a theme in British History beyond 1066, changes in aspects of social history, lives of children through history or The Victorians.


Boy Chimney Sweep

In England in the late 16th century, the problems caused by great numbers of unemployed and under-paid workers in the cities became severe. Justices were given authority over the children of poor families, and began to assign them to apprenticeships to provide them with work, food and shelter.

Abuses became much more common as the children of the poor became available through justices placing them in apprenticeships. For master chimney sweeps, these small, underfed children of powerless or absent parents were perfect for sending up chimneys. Thus, they were the apprentices chosen most often in this trade.

While other apprenticeships lasted a standard seven years, master chimney sweeps could sometimes obligate the children to an apprenticeship for several years more. As these apprenticeships were generally unsupervised once the papers were signed, the children were completely dependent on the good heart and generosity of their masters. This meant that many were basically sold into seven years or more of cruel slavery.

Smaller chimneys and more complicated flues were potential death traps for the children
After the Great Fire of London in 1666, when buildings were replaced, fire codes were also put in place. While they did help fire safety, they also complicated the configurations of chimney flues.

The buildings were sometimes four stories high, with much smaller chimney flues than were previously used. (Smaller chimneys became normal when coal came into use, because they created better draft for fires.)

This arrangement could easily mean that a chimney of 9″ by 14″ could extend 60 feet or more, with many corners, turns and twists to accommodate living space. The chimneys then clustered on the roof, and extended up to expel the smoke high away from the building. While London was by far the largest city in Britain, other good-sized cities throughout Britain quickly followed suit with their new construction.

Chimney flues had several twists and turns, both because they were being built around living space, and because they were often attached to other flues within the building to share a chimney opening. Combining flues into one chimney top was more frequently done after the 1664 change in the hearth tax, as it helped to reduce the number of chimney tops – if a roof had over 2 chimney tops, each top was taxed.


As the chimneys became smaller to burn coal and number of turns and corners in the flues increased, the flues gathered ash, soot and creosote much more quickly than the larger, straighter chimneys had. They also needed cleaning more often (usually 3 or 4 times per year). This was not only because chimney fires were a danger, but because the coal fumes could kill if they were allowed to build up in the houses.

Even if a chimney didn’t prove too hot when an apprentice entered it to clean, the chimney flues were pitch black, claustrophobic, potentially full of suffocating soot and confusing to navigate in the dark. It was dangerous enough work, even when the master chimney sweep tried to do well by the apprentices. The children not only had to go up these tight, dark chimneys, they had to come back down them after the work was done.

Unfortunately, the turns, twists, and merges of the chimney flues behind the walls of tall buildings created a confusing, pitch black and soot-filled maze that could sometimes be deadly to a young apprentice chimney sweep trying to make it to the roof.

If the apprentice climbed the whole chimney, cleaning it from hearth to rooftop, and exited a row of chimneys, he could forget which chimney he came out of. When that happened, he could go back down the wrong one, or go down the right chimney, but make a wrong turn at some merging of the flues. Children could suffocate or burn to death by getting lost on the way down, and accidentally entering the wrong chimney flue.

An increase in child apprentice chimney sweeps came from an attempt to be more humanitarian
Children were apprentice chimney sweeps throughout Europe for several hundred years, and were as common in England as any place else.

However, while abuses also occurred in other countries, the abuses related to sending children up small, long chimneys occurred mainly in London and other large cities in England and Ireland.

In other countries in Europe, and in Scotland, while some master sweeps used small apprentices for chimney cleaning, the smallest chimneys were more commonly cleaned with a lead ball and brush attached to a rope. This was not true in England and Ireland; it was unusual for a small child not to be sent up a small chimney.

In England, another great increase in the use of small children as chimney sweeps occurred after 1773. Oddly enough, the increase in this abusive trade was caused by an attempt to be more humanitarian.

At that time, an Englishman named Jonah Hanway returned from a trip to China, where he had learned that no questions were asked when new-born Chinese babies were killed by their parents. He decided to confirm for himself that the English were more compassionate. He began by investigating the workhouses.

To his horror, he found that 68 out of 76 children had died within a year in one workhouse, and 16 out of 18 children had died within a year in another. The worst, though, was that, for 14 years in a row, no children at all had survived for a year in a third workhouse.

He reported this to Parliament. As they were responsible for the safety of children in workhouses and orphanages, they ordered an investigation. The investigation found that death rates were also high in many other workhouses; in addition, the investigation found that only about 7 out of every hundred children survived for a year after being placed in an orphanage.


To mend this terrible situation, in 1773 Parliament passed an act that children couldn’t be kept in a workhouse for longer than 3 weeks. Then they had to be boarded out. The effect of this act was that small children became much more available not only to chimney sweeps, but to a lot of other business owners who were looking for cheap, expendable labor.

The jaunty look of this boy indicates that he was probably one of the luckier apprentices. However, he’s still barefoot and in rags.
The jaunty look of this boy indicates that he was probably one of the luckier apprentices. However, he’s still barefoot and in rags.
Powerless children were made apprentice chimney sweeps
From 1773, master chimney sweeps regularly kept anywhere from 2 to 20 children, depending on how many they could use for their business. For each child, the master sweep was paid 3-4 pounds by the government when the apprenticeship agreement was signed.

Often poor parents were faced with a choice of either finding someplace to send their small children or watching them starve. In those cases, the master sweep took the child directly from the parents and paid them a few shillings. While this was also called an apprenticeship, the parents many times never saw the child again or knew if it had survived.

Homeless children were also snatched off the street by master sweepers, and pressed into apprenticeship. This practice was sanctioned by the government, based on the theory that the children were better working than being little criminals.

Most people assume that both the master and the child apprentices were always male. This wasn’t the case. Many girls also climbed chimneys, and if they survived to adulthood, just as the boys did, some of them became journeymen in their teens, and eventually master sweepers, too.

The legal arrangement for apprenticeship was indentured servitude. The agreement defined the master’s duties as providing the child with food, clothes, shelter and at least one bath a week, with access to church, while the master was training the child in the chimney sweep trade.


On the child’s side, the agreement stated that the child gladly did what the master said to do, didn’t harm the master, tell his secrets, lend his gear or waste his resources, and worked the entire time with no pay. The agreement did not include a limit on the number of hours a child worked each day.

The apprenticeship agreement also stated that the child wouldn’t frequent gaming or drinking establishments. The child would receive money either by being paid a few coppers after the master determined that the child was worth it – if a master was honorable – or by begging from families who had their chimneys cleaned.

Some children were treated well by the agreement’s standards, with decent food, weekly baths, an extra set of clothes and shoes, and they were taken to church regularly. Even some poor master chimney sweeps tried to treat their apprentices decently for the standards of the time. In the country and in smaller cities, they were, on the whole, treated better.


Children were not only expected to put up with little care, but they were expected to find customers
In London and other larger cities apprentice chimney sweeps usually fared the worst, not only because the competition was keener, but because the chimneys were smaller and taller.

Unfortunately, especially in London and other larger cities, master chimney sweeps kept as many children as they could keep alive; many sweeps didn’t want to spend more than would keep each child moving and earning money. Too many of the children were in rags, and seldom had shoes. To save money and to keep them small so they could climb small chimneys, they were often fed as little as possible.

The children were worked long hours, even the youngest of them, at 5 or 6 years old. (The youngest known apprentice was taken at 3 1/2 years.) Most sweepers didn’t like them below the age of 6, because they were considered too weak to climb tall chimneys or work long hours, and they would “go off”, or die, too easily. But taken at 6 they were small (and could be kept that way with poor feeding), strong enough to work and not nearly as likely to die.

Each child was given a blanket. The blanket was used during the day to haul soot after cleaning a chimney. The soot was valuable. It was dumped at the master chimney sweep’s courtyard, sifted of lumps and sold as “dust” fertilizer to farmers.

After the blanket was filled and emptied of soot on a regular basis during the day, the child slept under it at night. Sometimes a child and his companion apprentices slept on either straw or on top of another blanket full of soot, and they normally huddled together for warmth. This was so common that it had a term, “sleeping in the black”, because the child, clothes, skin and the blanket were all covered with soot.

Some children actually received the weekly bath outlined in the apprenticeship agreement. However, some were never bathed, and many followed a more common custom of 3 baths per year, at Whitsuntide (shortly after Easter), Goose Fair (early October) and Christmas.

In London, many sweeper apprentices had washed on their own in a local river, the Serpentine, until one of them drowned. Then the children were discouraged from bathing in it.


The master chimney sweep might have plenty of regular customers, or might have gone through the streets calling, “soot-o” and “sweep-o”, reminding people that it was time to clean the chimney to prevent the too-common chimney fires.

If a master sweep had several apprentices, the older ones would also walk the streets calling for clients. They would do this on their own, but their call was “weep, weep”. If someone hailed them for a job, they would either fetch the master’s journeyman to handle the transaction, or they would do it themselves and bring the money back to the master.

Depending on their circumstances, people tended to wait as long as they could before having the chimneys cleaned, to save on the expense. For the child, this meant that when the child went up the chimney, there was too often a great deal of soot. As he scraped it above him and it came down on his head, in that small space, it could surround his head and shoulders and suffocate him.

The apprentice chimney sweeps did work that was too dangerous for anyone to do
When a master sweep was hired to do the job, the hearth fire would be put out. Then he would place a blanket across the front of the hearth. The child would take off any jacket or shoes. If the chimney was tight, the child would “buff it”, or climb the chimney in the nude.

The child pulled his apprentice sweep cap over his face and hooked it under his chin. This was the only protection the child had against the great volumes of soot and any burning creosote that would fall on his face and body as he brushed and scraped the chimney above him.

The larger chimneys were about 14″ square, and the smaller ones about 9″ by 14″. If there were bends or corners, which was normal, the child had to find a way to make it past the changes in direction within that small space. Some chimneys could even be as small as 7″, and only the very smallest children were used to clean those chimney flues. The chimneys were square or rectangular, and the child could maneuver his shoulders into the corners, which allowed for crawling up some surprisingly small chimneys.

The child worked his way up the chimney, holding his soot brush in his right hand above his head, and using mainly his elbows, knees, ankles and back, like a caterpillar. He often had a metal scraper in the other hand to scrape away the hard creosote deposits that stuck to the chimney walls.


When a child first began to climb chimneys, his elbows and knees would be badly scraped with every climb and would bleed profusely(children climbed anywhere from 4 to 20 chimneys a day). While a few of the more humane master sweepers provided the children with knee and elbow pads, most solved this problem by “hardening” the child’s elbows and knees. This involved standing the child next to a hot fire and scraping his scraped knees and elbows with a rough brush dipped in brine. Needless to say, it was extremely painful, and many children were either beaten or bribed when they cried and tried to get away from the brush. Some children’s elbows and knees didn’t harden for weeks, months or even years. Nevertheless, they received these brush and brine treatments regularly until the scraped and burned skin hardened.

Being burned by chimneys that were still hot, or by smoldering soot and creosote when a chimney fire had begun were also very common for apprentice sweeps in London. If a household waited too long to have the chimneys cleaned, then a chimney fire began, the master sweep was called to take care of it. The master sweep would then send the child up the hot chimney to clean it out, burning embers and all. Because many children burned to death this way, the master sweep would often stand on the roof with a bucket of water to dump on the child if he cried out or if flames started above him.
There were many ways for the children to die on the job
The children also became stuck in the chimneys, and many died of suffocation from slipping and being jammed too tight to breath, or from huge deposits of soot and ash dumping on them. Whether or not the child was alive, a mason was called to open the chimney and remove him.

From their own experiences and from hearing about the deaths of other apprentices, the children were well aware of these hazards, and, especially the younger ones, were often frightened of going up into the heat and the claustrophobic dark. They would go into the chimney because they were stuffed up into it by a demanding master or journeyman. However, they would freeze once inside the chimney and wouldn’t go any further. They also wouldn’t come out, because they knew they would be beaten.

The master sweepers solved this problem by either lighting straw below the children who had been stuffed up the chimney, or sending another child up to prick the first child’s feet with pins. The term “lighting a fire under him” is said to have come from the master sweepers lighting straw under boys in chimneys to make them start moving and cleaning upward away from the fire.

The children not only died from burns and suffocation, they died from long falls, either back down the chimney itself, or after reaching the very top. They cleaned and climbed the chimney to the very top, including the part that was sticking high up out of the roof. Once in a while, the clay chimney tops – called “pots” – were cracked or poorly fitted. The boys would climb up into them, and a bad pot would either break or fall off the roof, plunging both boy and down two, three or even four stories onto the cobblestone street or courtyard below.

The danger of the chimney flues being too much of a maze, or the child going back down the wrong flue to a fire or dead-end that they couldn’t back up from have been mentioned. Usually, this happened to new children and, if they survived, they didn’t need to be frightened like that many times to build a mental map of their climbs in the claustrophobic darkness.

The apprentice chimney sweeps not only had to contend with the chimneys, they had to contend with the weather
The hazards outside of the chimneys were also constant. For the most part, the ailments the children suffered as a result of their work went untreated.

They had chronic sore eyes, including some blindness, from the constant soot particles in their eyes. They had chronic respiratory illnesses, and died of those, especially when they were out in the winter months for long hours.


Their spines, arms and legs would become deformed from poor nutrition, and from spending many long hours in unnatural positions while their soft bones were still growing. Their knee joints became deformed from the long hours they spent each day with their body weight pressing their knees against the chimney walls. Their ankles were chronically swollen from the pressure they had to maintain on them while their feet were vertical against the opposite chimney walls.

Their backs not only became twisted from the scraping and unnatural positions inside the tight chimneys, but from carrying soot bags from every job back to the master’s courtyard. These bags were much too heavy for small children.

The children not only used their blankets to carry soot, but they also used them as their only winter clothing. Once they were proven reliable, they were often expected to go by themselves to sweep chimneys at 5 or 6 in the morning, before households heated the chimneys for the day. With the pain they already had in their arms, legs, feet and backs, the cold was especially bad for them. “Chillblains”, which is pain, blistering and itching from the cold due to reduced circulation, was a common complaint.

Around Christmastime, pain from the cold was especially troubling, because that was a very busy time of year, no matter how cold it was. Households waited longer than usual to have their chimneys cleaned, so they could do it immediately before the heavy cooking at Christmas. As a result, the children were up earlier and worked later than usual, and the chimneys were much more loaded with soot and creosote. They went from the cold outside to the tight, suffocating chimneys inside many times a day. Some of the weaker, worse-dressed children died of exposure in the coldest months.

Sir Percival Pott, commenting on apprentice chimney sweeps, 1776
” The fate of these people seems peculiarly hard…they are treated with great brutality.. they are thrust up narrow and sometimes hot chimnies, [sic] where they are bruised burned and almost suffocated; and when they get to puberty they become … liable to a most noisome, painful and fatal disease.”

If boys reached puberty, it could hold one more tragedy for them
For the boys, their treatment led to another tragedy. Coal soot found its way into the folds of skin on a boy’s scrotal sac due to loose clothing and climbing in the nude. Because the soot was not washed off for months at a time over the years, many of the boys developed scrotal cancer, called “chimney sweep’s cancer” about the time they entered puberty.

This was the first occupation-caused disease reported during the Industrial Revolution. Sir Percival Pott studied and reported it in 1775.

The cancer started as a small sore spot on the surface of the scrotum. If it was seen by the boy while it was small – before it became and open sore – it was the custom in London for the boy to trap it between a split stick and cut the sore spot off with a razor. If he did this early enough, it could save his life.

The sore was never seen by a doctor before it had been an open sore and was growing larger for some time. Then, before Sir Percival’s discovery, the doctor thought it was venereal disease, and the boy was given mercury to treat it. (As we know today, the mercury would inhibit the boy’s immune system, and the cancer would spread more quickly.)

While the open sore was sometimes removed by the doctor, by that time, it was usually too late to save the boy. It ate away the scrotal sac and thigh skin and anal area, and progressed to the abdominal cavity. The unfortunate boy who had managed to survive climbing the hot, soot-filled and tight chimneys would then die a very painful death.

The circumstances of these children were publicized, but still the abuses continued
If the children survived long enough to no longer fit into chimneys, and didn’t die from the chimney sweep’s cancer, they would become journeymen, and begin supervising the apprentices for the master sweeper.

Or they would be kicked out of the master chimney sweep’s home with no money, deformed and covered in soot. If they were dumped into the streets, nobody was interested in hiring them, even for heavy labor, because their deformed legs, arms and backs made them look weak. So the children who weren’t allowed to become journeymen or master sweepers often became petty criminals.

The circumstances of children sweep apprentices were well known and their various unhappy fates also known by the authorities. Their deaths and the court testimonies of the cruelties of the few master chimney sweeps that made it to court were publicized in the papers. However, it was still very difficult to find the support to end using children to sweep chimneys.

Gradually, court cases made it all too obvious that the master sweepers, for the most part, were not people to entrust with raising and training children. These cases included many child fatalities after they were forced up clogged or burning chimneys to clean them, or beaten to death for being too afraid to go up them.

A mechanical chimney sweeper was invented in 1802, but many people would not allow it to be used in their homes. If they had chimneys that had many corners in them, they didn’t want the expense of making the corners into bends that the brush could navigate. They were also very certain that the mechanical sweeper could not do the good job that a human could.

The fact that the human who went up the chimney was a small and abused child was both known and ignored by the people who hired chimney sweeps. The only difference knowing the brutality of these children’s lives seemed to make was that the children could sometimes beg a small coin, some clothes or an old pair of shoes from the mistress of the house. The begging was encourage by the masters, because it saved on clothing expenses.

Everything was, more often than not, then taken from the children. Clothing that couldn’t be used was sold. (Having improper clothing castoffs given to them was where some chimney sweeps found the top hats that became a mark of their trade.)

After the invention of the mechanical sweeper, the master sweeps who stopped using children and began to use the mechanical sweepers had a difficult time staying in business. This was even though they reported that the brushes did as good a job as the children.

Even the sympathetic were not willing to let the boys stop climbing chimneys
The Irish Farmers’ Journal, ever watchful for reports about climbing boys, referred to a leaflet by S. Porter of Wallbrook, entitled: An Appeal to the Humanity of the British Public. This quoted statements about deaths, burns and suffocation of six boys in 1816 and eight in 1818. One report was about a child of five years old, another about a boy who was “dug out – quite dead” from an Edinburgh flue: “the most barbarous means were used to drag him down:. This journal reported in March 1819 that the Bill to do away with the employment of climbing boys had been lost; the editor in spite of his humanity would not have recommended total abolition of climbing because he was of the opinion that some chimneys were impossible to clean by machines.

The treatment of these children was gradually improved over many years through a string of Acts passed by Parliament. First, a minimum legal age for a sweep’s apprentice was created, then increased. Then the number of children a master sweeper could apprentice was limited to six. Other limits were put in place as the 73 years after the invention of the mechanical sweep passed.

However, for many of the Acts, the enforcement also had to be pushed, because people, including the authorities, held on to their belief that chimneys were cleaner when they were cleaned by people.

Many advocates, such as the Earl of Shaftesbury and Dr. George Phillips, worked diligently for decades on the children’s behalf. These advocates lobbied for the children, made pamphlets and also made sure that some of the many court cases for abuse and manslaughter that were brought against master sweeps who forced frightened children up hazardous chimneys were also printed in the papers. The pamphlets and publicized court cases slowly began to reduce the resistance of the public to using mechanical sweepers.


Then, in the early 1870’s, several boys died in chimneys; the youngest boy was 7 years old. Finally, 12 year old George Brewster was made to climb a chimney at Fulbourn Hospital. He became stuck, and suffocated. This was the tipping point,

Lord Shaftsbury had reported the other boys’ deaths to Parliament. Finally, he used George Brewster’s death (and his master light sentence of six months’ hard labor) to push the Chimney Sweepers Act of 1875 – and to push its proper enforcement. This act set the lower age limit for chimney sweeps at 21, and demanded the registration of all chimney sweeps with the local police. Unlike the Acts before it, this Act was properly supervised. This meant that George Brewster was the last child apprentice chimney sweep to die on the job.

While the use of small children in England was eventually stopped in 1875, it continued in other countries for many more years. The only two advantages that those children had were that they didn’t clean very small chimneys, and they did not get chimney sweeper’s cancer. In most other ways, they had the same problems and the same fates as the English children had endured.

Very little is known about the children who were chimney sweeps in the U.S., because black children were used in this trade. White children usually worked in the textile mills, coal mines, and other locations. Where white children were used, black children would not normally be given jobs. And because black children were chimney sweeps in the United States, very little is known about their profession and what they endured before child labor laws were enacted.


Child Rat Catchers 

By the Victorian Era it was common knowledge that rats carried diseases and thousands of the nefarious vermin infested London sewers, factories, and homes. In seasons when rats overran London, rat catchers were in high demand. Moreover, rats could be a big problem as reported by one Victorian rat catcher:

Many children preferred catching rats to cleaning chimneys, working in coal mines, or hawking wares. One reason rat catching was popular with the youth was because it was lucrative. De-ratting English manors and businesses earned rat catchers wages that ranged from two shillings to one pound. However, because rat catchers had to make an investment and at least own a terrier or a ferret, many rat catchers were older youths.

Rat catchers were also rat killers. To kill a rat was a straight forward task. Rat catchers often claimed to have alluring secret poisons, but in reality their prime rat-killing poison was plain old arsenic. The arsenic was mixed with “toasted cheese, or bacon, or fried liver, or tallow, or oatmeal.”


A second way to kill rats involved ferrets and terriers. Ferrets would flush the rats out and trained terriers would seize them. According to Henry Mayhew in his book London Labour and the London Poor, the terriers would “throttle them silently, excepting the short squeak, or half-squeak, of the rat, who, by a ‘good dog’, is seized unerringly by the part of the back where the terrier’s gripe and shake is speedy death.”

Using these methods, one newspaper reported on a rat catcher of the early 1860s named Mr. Matthew French of Hexham. He was better known as “Matt the Rover,” and, supposedly, in a single day Matt “with the aid of his four astute ferrets, and his ‘two game little terriers,’ took, killed, and slayed … the enormous number of three hundred rats.”

If the pervasive disease-ridden varmints needed to be captured alive, there were several ways to accomplish the job. One way was to have the ferret flush out the rat and drive it into some contrivance. This was the best way to catch rats used for blood sports because it left no visible injuries, a requirement for the sport. (One popular blood sport was rat-baiting. It involved filling a pit with rats and placing bets on how long it would take a dog, usually a terrier, to kill them.)

The second reason rats were captured alive was to breed and sell as house pets. One famous rat catcher was named Jack Black. Black worked as Queen Victoria’s personal rat catcher and caught all sorts of rats, including unusual colored ones. He bred them and sold them to well-bred women who kept them in squirrel cages as pets.


Hatters Assistant 

In the Victorian era the hatters’ condition had become proverbial, as reflected in popular expressions like “mad as a hatter” and “hatters’ shakes”. Similar phenomena had been described in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1829. In France, the National Academy of Medicine described the health hazards in 1869, and in 1898 a law was passed to protect hatmakers from the risks of mercury exposure. In Britain, mercury poisoning among hatters had become a rarity by the turn of the 20th century.

Mercury was used in the manufacturing of felt hats during the 19th century, causing a high rate of mercury poisoning among those working in the hat industry.


Especially in the 19th century, inorganic mercury in the form of mercuric nitrate was commonly used in the production of felt for hats

Use of inorganic mercury in the form of mercuric nitrate to treat the fur of small animals for the manufacture of felt hats seems to have begun in 17th-century France and from there spread to England by the end of the century with the Huguenots.

During a process called carroting, in which furs from small animals such as rabbits, hares or beavers were separated from their skins and matted together, an orange-colored solution containing mercuric nitrate was used as a smoothing agent. The resulting felt was then repeatedly shaped into large cones, shrunk in boiling water and dried. In treated felts, a slow reaction released volatile free mercury.
Hatters (or milliners) who came into contact with vapours from the impregnated felt often worked in confined areas.

At a time when the dangers of mercury exposure were already known. This process was initially kept a trade secret in France, where hatmaking rapidly became a hazardous occupation. At the end of the 17th century the Huguenots carried the secret to England, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. During the Victorian era the hatters’ malaise became proverbial, as reflected in popular expressions like “mad as a hatter” and “the hatters’ shakes”.


The first description of symptoms of mercury poisoning among hatters appears to have been made in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1829.

In the United States, a thorough occupational description of mercury poisoning among New Jersey hatters was published locally by Addison Freeman in 1860. Adolph Kussmaul’s definitive clinical description of mercury poisoning published in 1861 contained only passing references to hatmakers, including a case originally reported in 1845 of a 15-year-old Parisian girl, the severity of whose tremors following two years of carroting prompted opium treatment.

In Britain, the toxicologist Alfred Swaine Taylor reported the disease in a hatmaker in 1864.


Mercury poisoning causes neurological damage, including slurred speech, memory loss, and tremors, which led to the phrase “mad as a hatter”. In the Victorian age, many workers in the textile industry, including hatters, often suffered from starvation and overwork, and were particularly prone to develop illnesses affecting the nervous system, such as central nervous system (CNS) tuberculosis.


Many such workers were sent to Pauper Lunatic Asylums, which were supervised by Lunacy Commissioners such as Samuel Gaskell and Robert Wilfred Skeffington Lutwidge, Carroll’s uncle. Carroll was familiar with the conditions at asylums and visited at least one, the Surrey County Asylum, himself, which treated patients with so-called non-restraint methods and occupied them, amongst others, in gardening, farming and hat-making.

Besides staging theatre plays, dances and other amusements, such asylums also held tea-parties.


Theophilus Carter  was an eccentric British furniture dealer thought by some to be an inspiration for the illustration by Sir John Tenniel of Lewis Carroll’s characters the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Hatta in Through the Looking-Glass.

It is often claimed that Carter is Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for the character of the Hatter, due to his habit of standing in the door of his shop in Oxford wearing a top hat on the back of his head.


Thursday 26th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 26, 2018 by bishshat

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No More Lonely Nights
Paul McCartney
I can wait another day until I call you
You’ve only got my heart on a string and everything a-flutter
But another lonely night might take forever
We’ve only got each other to blame
It’s all the same to me love
‘Cause I know what I feel to be right
No more lonely nights
No more lonely nights
You’re my guiding light
Day or night I’m always there
May I never miss the thrill of being near you
And if takes a couple of years
To turn your tears to laughter
I will do what I feel to be right
No more lonely nights (Never be another)
No more lonely nights
You’re my guiding light
Day or night I’m always there
And I won’t go away until you tell me so
No, I’ll never go away
Yes, I know (I know) what I feel (I feel) to be right
No more lonely nights (Never be another)
No more lonely nights
You’re my guiding light
Day or night I’m always there
And I won’t go away until you tell me so
No, I’ll never go away
And I won’t go away until you tell me so
No, I’ll never go away

26 april 18 (4)26 april 18 (5)26 april 18 (6)26 april 18 (7)26 april 18 (8)26 april 18 (9)

Whenever this is on I have to listen to it. Is it the saddest song ever written?

Without You

Harry Nilsson

No, I can’t forget this evening
Or your face as you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes, it shows

No, I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
When I had you there, but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know

I can’t live if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore
I can’t live if living is without you
I can’t give, I can’t give anymore

Well, I can’t forget this evening
Or your face as you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes, it shows

I can’t live if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore
I can’t live if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore
If living is without you

26 april 18 (10)26 april 18 (11)26 april 18 (12)26 april 18 (13)26 april 18 (15)

Wednesday 25th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 25, 2018 by bishshat


Tuesday 24th April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 24, 2018 by bishshat


Two Quails seen feeding in the garden first thing this morning I thought for sure they were Bobwhite Quails.


The Veg Shed was kind of left standing without the telegraph pole and its old lamp.
Plus a lot of other sheds taken apart.


Monday 23rd April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 23, 2018 by bishshat

IMG_0293IMG_0286IMG_0283IMG_0285IMG_0287IMG_029123 april 18 (13)

Saint George’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint George, is the feast day of Saint George as celebrated by various Christian Churches and by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint.

Saint George’s Day is celebrated on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of the saint’s death in the Diocletianic Persecution of AD 303.

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Sunday 22nd April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 22, 2018 by bishshat


Saturday 21st April 2018

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on April 21, 2018 by bishshat

IMG_0255IMG_0259IMG_025721 (1)21 4 18 (1)21 4 18 (14)21 4 18 (13)21 4 18 (12)21 4 18 (11)21 4 18 (10)21 4 18 (9)21 4 18 (8)21 4 18 (7)21 4 18 (6)21 4 18 (5)21 4 18 (3)21 4 18 (2)

Spurs 1 Man Utd 2

Spurs’ last eight FA Cup semi-finals
21 April 2018 – L 1-2 v Man Utd
22 April 2017- L 2-4 v Chelsea
15 April 2012 – L 1-5 v Chelsea
11 April 2010 – L 0-2 v Portsmouth (AET)
8 April 2001 – L 1-2 v Arsenal
11 April 1999 – L 0-2 v Newcastle (AET)
9 April 1995 – L 1-4 v Everton
4 April 1993 – L 0-1 v Arsenal

Spurs suffered more FA Cup semi-final heartache at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon after Manchester United came from a goal down to inflict a 2-1 defeat.

Despite making the perfect start through Dele Alli, Jose Mourinho’s side hit back through Alexis Sanchez before Ander Herrera fired home what proved to be the winner in the second half. It was our eighth successive defeat in the last four of the famous old competition.

Screenshot 2018-04-21 19.44.07fac_sf_mc2

We went ahead with just 10 minutes on the clock thanks to a wonderfully-worked goal. Davinson Sanchez’s long searching pass down the right found Christian Eriksen running in behind the United back line, the Dane sending over the perfect cross for Dele to touch home on the stretch at the back post.

But United were level 14 minutes later when Alexis headed Paul Pogba’s centre back across goal, beating Michel Vorm with his effort.

A lively and frenetic first half also saw Vorm deny Pogba with a flying save and Eric Dier’s long-ranger deflect off Chris Smalling before striking David De Gea’s post.

United took the lead in the 62nd minute when Herrera’s right-foot shot from 15 yards flew past Vorm and from then on it became a real war of attrition, with United content to stifle the life out of the game as we looked for an equaliser.

Screenshot 2018-04-21 19.43.50fac_sf_mc1

We saw plenty of the ball but just couldn’t find a way through the massed ranks of the Old Trafford side and at the final whistle, there was a familiar feeling of disappointment among the Spurs faithful.

I hate the way some players fall in front of and on top of the ball when they lose a tackle. Latin temperament. Holding legs and heads and slowing the game down. the more I watch football the less interesting it seems.