Prominent Theatre Fires in the 1800s in Europe

Theatre fires in the 1800s: Example of a Theatre Fire
Example of a Theatre Fire in 1881, Public Domain

Theatre fires were a big problem in the 1800s. Some fires happened after hours when theatres were closed, but fires also occurred when people were in the building, on stage, or seated in the auditorium. Fires with people present were the most worrisome as lives were endangered and people were often injured or killed.

Among some of the most prominent theatre fires in the 1800s were seven that occurred in Europe. Below are the statistics on each of these fires, including where, when, and how the fire started, as well as how many people were killed or injured and the contributing factors that resulted in the injuries or deaths. Continue reading

Death By Peas and Other Foods

Death by Peas: ice cream
Ice Cream, Courtesy of

Food was not always safe in the 1800s, and all sorts of foods could cause death. For example, a 22-year-old woman decided to eat raw rice mixed with milk, and afterwards drank her hot tea. A few hours later she fell ill and complained of severe stomach pain, which was caused from the rice swelling. “Emetics were given with great relief,  a large quantity of rice being expelled from the stomach.” Yet, the emetics did not completely solve the problem.

The following morning, the young lady’s pain increased. Then she suddenly showed other symptoms. She had “cold extremities, a small feeble pulse, and great abdominal tenderness.” She died about twenty-four later from having eaten the raw rice. Although eating raw rice may have not been the smartest thing to do, other foods in the 1800s sometimes caused death. Among the foods from which people died were ice cream, chocolate creams, orange peels, watermelon seeds, and peas. Continue reading

London Beer Flood of the 19th Century

London Beer Flood

The word “flood” comes from the Old English word “flod.” Hundreds of myths exist about floods with claims that either a deity or deities would destroy civilization with a flood. Yet, one of the most interesting floods proved not to be a myth and did not happen with water. Rather the flood consisted of beer and became known as the London Beer Flood.

The London Beer Flood occurred in the parish of St. Giles, London, England, at the Meux and Company Brewery. The brewery was located in central London on Tottenham Court Road. It sat in the middle of a squalid and tightly packed area of poor houses and tenements, known as the rookery. Established in the mid 1760s under the name of Horseshoe Brewery, the brewery passed through several owners. Eventually, however, in 1809, Henry Meux and his partners acquired it under the name of Henry Meux and Company. Continue reading

Five Unfortunate Accidents of 1843

Carriage Accident in the Victorian Era, Public Domain
Carriage Accident in the Victorian Era, Public Domain

Accidents were common events in 1843. Besides carriage accidents, drownings, and frequent fires, people experienced other types of Victorian accidents that ranged from property damage to death. Among the unfortunate accidents that occurred in 1843 are the following: First, a story about a snake; second, a thunder and lightning storm; third, the unfortunate collapse of an embankment; fourth, a railway accident; and, fifth, the sad tale of two inquisitive children and a distillery. Continue reading

Two Men Suffocated in One Grave

St. Botolph's Aldgate, Courtesy of Wikipedia
St. Botolph’s Aldgate, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1838, an inquest was held in the parish of St. Botolph’s, Aldgate. The inquest was held because of a horrible accident. The accident involved 53-year-old Thomas Oakes, a gravedigger, and a 20-year-old passerby, who was also a fish dealer and the father of two children, named Edward Luddett.

It began after Oakes arrived at work. He opened a trap door covering a grave and descended into the grave. Shortly after his descent, the sexton’s daughter went to look for him and found Oakes insensible at the bottom of the grave. She screamed for help and her screams drew numerous bystanders. In addition, Oakes’s condition was passed to police constables who hastened to the spot, removed the trap door, and discovered Oakes lying on his back apparently dead. They called for a ladder to remove Oakes from the grave. Continue reading

Accidents Involving Animals in 1843

Cattle from a Victorian Print and Animal Accidents
Cattle from a Victorian Print, Author’s Collection

Accidents were common events in the Victorian Era. Many accidents involved animals partly because animals were an integral part of Victorian people’s lives. Stories of these animal accidents were publicized in local newspapers. Among the stories told, are five interesting ones from 1843. The first story involves a horse in Northern Ireland, the second story talks about an infuriated cow, the third, an out-of-control bull, the fourth, a ghastly accident related to a horse, and lastly there is a story that involves man’s best friend, the dog. Continue reading

Fire at the Richmond House

Henrietta le Clerc, Richmond House
Henrietta le Clerc, Public Domain

On 21 December 1791, at half past eight in the morning, a fire broke out on the second floor at the Richmond House. It began in the bedroom of Henrietta le Clerc, who was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Richmond and also known as the “Poor Orphan.” Apparently, she awoke to find that an ember from the fireplace had landed on the bedroom curtains, which then sparked the fire. Clothed in nothing more than a dressing gown, she escaped the room and made it down stairs to the library where her father, Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, was writing a letter. She sounded the alarm, and she, the Duke, and the Duchess, carrying her favorite dog under her arm, escaped the house. Continue reading

Carriage Accidents and Remedies

The Runaway Coach by Rowlandson, Carriage Accidents
The Runaway Coach by Rowlandson, Public Domain

During the time of carriages, there were numerous reasons as to why accidents happened. The primary causes for accidents usually involved something related to drivers, roads, horses, harnesses, carriages, or riders and occurred for a variety of reasons that ranged from intoxicated drivers to wheels falling off to shying or bolting horses.

The following posts lists the causes of carriage accidents, some of which were deadly, and also offers some of the remedies people suggested or used to prevent future accidents. Continue reading

Roof Collapse on York Street in 1832

19th Century Newgate, roof collapse on York Street
19th Century Newgate, Courtesy Wikipedia

The creation of buildings resulted in some building controls being put in place throughout Britain by the 1700s, and, by the mid 1800s, builders had to submit plans for any new buildings or alterations. However, this did not mean that landlords or builders followed the law. It also did not mean that surveyors who checked such things had any authority to insist alterations be properly done. This became evident on 26 October 1832, when a roof collapsed on York Street at about half-past eight in the morning. Continue reading

Clay Cross Inundation of 1861

Clay Cross Inundation: Britishcoalmines-Wiki

On 11 June 1861, coal mining activities at the Clay Cross Colliery were proceeding as normal. About three in the afternoon a miner named Natty Dawes noticed water oozing from a seam in his stall. Dawes, rather than informing Alfred Smith, the deputy of the district, went against company policy and informed Alfred’s son, Timothy Smith. At the time, Timothy was engaged at the incline brake and could not leave his post. When Timothy saw his father at five o’clock, he told his father what Dawes had said.

Just as Timothy finished informing his father about the oozing, a noise was heard. Alfred initially thought it was regular trams approaching, but then both father and son realized it was the roar of water coming from the direction of Dawe’s stall. Alfred immediately ordered his son to tell everyone to get out of the pit and to warn all the deputies to inform their men and get them out immediately. Timothy informed the first deputy he saw and then hastened to tell other miners. In the meantime, Alfred got his own men out just as a torrent of old black shale water inundated the pit. Continue reading