On this day in 1944, the improved Colossus Mark 2 started working just in time for the Normandy Landings on D-Day.
The Colossus was the world's first electronic digital computer that was at all programmable. It was designed by Tommy Flowers at Bletchley Park, England to solve a problem posed by a mathematician, Max Newman. In December 1943 the prototype, Colossus Mark 1, was shown to work. The computers were used by British code breakers, giving the Allies valuable intelligence obtained from reading many encrypted high-level telegraphic messages between the German High Command and their army commands.
By the end of the Second World War, there were ten Colossus computers in use.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Bede, also known as Saint Bede, Venerable Bede, or Bede the Venerable, was an English monk at the monastery of St. Peter and its companion monastery of St. Paul in the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles. He is well known as an author, teacher, and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, or Ecclesiastical History of the English People, gained him the title "The Father of English History".
He was born in around 673, probably on lands belonging to the Monkwearmouth monastery and joined Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery at the age of 7. While he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede travelled to several abbeys and monasteries across the British Isles, even visiting the archbishop of York and King Ceolwulf of Northumbria.
He completed An Ecclesiastical History of the English People in about 731 and was aided in writing in the task by Albinus, abbot of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury. The book begins with some geographical background, and then sketches the history of England, beginning with Caesar's invasion in 55 BC and ends in he 730s, and includes an account of missionary work in Frisia, and of the conflict with the British church over the correct dating of Easter. Bede wrote a preface for the work, in which he dedicates it to Ceolwulf, king of Northumbria.
His ecumenical writings were extensive and included a number of Biblical commentaries and other theological works of exegetical erudition. Another important area of study for Bede was the academic discipline of computus, otherwise known to his contemporaries as the science of calculating calendar dates. One of the more important dates Bede tried to compute was Easter, an effort that was mired with controversy. He also helped establish the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ, a practice which eventually became commonplace in medieval Europe.
Bede was also one of the greatest teachers and writers of the early Middle Ages and is considered by many historians to be the single most important scholar of antiquity for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I in 604 and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800.
He died on the 26th May 735 at Jarrow Monastery and became known as Venerable Bede by the 9th century. According to a legend the epithet was miraculously supplied by angels. By the 11th and 12th century, it had become commonplace. However, there are no descriptions of Bede by that term right after his death.
His body was 'translated' (the ecclesiastical term for relocation of relics) from Jarrow to Durham Cathedral around 1020, where it was placed in the same tomb with Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Later Bede's remains were moved to a shrine in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral in 1370. The shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation, but the bones were reburied in the chapel. In 1831 the bones were dug up and then reburied in a new tomb, which is still there.
His feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar in 1899, for celebration on 27 May rather than on his date of death, 26 May, which was then the feast day of Pope Saint Gregory VII. He is venerated in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Church, with a feast day of 25 May, and in the Eastern Orthodox Church, with a feast day on 27 May.
This model was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on interesting events and people in British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
On this day in 1536, Anne Boleyn was executed in the Tower Precinct of the Tower of London.
Anne was Henry VIII's second wife and was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. On September 7th 1533 she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I. Henry was disappointed to have a daughter rather than a son but hoped a son would follow and professed to love Elizabeth. However, Anne subsequently had three miscarriages, and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour. In order to marry Jane Seymour, Henry had to find reasons for his marriage with Anne to end.
Henry had Anne investigated for High Treason and on May 2nd 1536 she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers. She was found guilty on May 15th 1536 and was sentenced to be burnt at the stake. However, Henry VIII had her punishment reduced to beheading. He also paid for an expert swordsman from Saint-Omer in France to carry out the execution instead of having the queen beheaded with the common axe.
The execution was carried out in a single stroke and was witnessed by Thomas Cromwell, Charles Brandon, Henry Fitzroy 1st Duke of Suffolk (the King's illegitimate son, the Lord Mayor of London, aldermen, sheriffs, and representatives of the various craft guilds.
Modern historians view the charges against her, which included adultery, incest, witchcraft and plotting to kill the king, as unconvincing.
After the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth in 1558, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on important events in British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
On this day in 1820 Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, here parents naming her after the city. As a skilled statistician and the founder of modern nursing, she would become one of the 19th century’s most famous social reformers.
Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during the Crimean War, where she organised the care of wounded soldiers. She gave nursing a highly favourable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of "The Lady with the Lamp" which came from her making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.
In 1860, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King's College London. In recognition of her pioneering work in nursing, the Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses, and the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, were named in her honour, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.
Her social reforms include improving healthcare for all sections of British society, advocating better hunger relief in India, helping to abolish prostitution laws that were over-harsh to women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.
Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. In her lifetime, much of her published work was concerned with spreading medical knowledge. Some of her tracts were written in simple English so that they could easily be understood by those with poor literary skills. She was also a pioneer in the use of infographics, effectively using graphical presentations of statistical data.
She died on August 13th 1910, in Mayfair London, aged 90.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on interesting events and people in British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Last month we sent Dan Harris on our first ever foray outside of the British Isles. Luckily for Dan, we sent him to På Kloss Hold in Norway’s beautiful city of Trondheim. The show gathered 87 exhibitors from across the world, including builders from Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, USA and the UK (...and of course Norway!). There were many, many highlights, but perhaps what wowed the 4,700 visitors most was the World’s largest LEGO Ferris wheel by Tomáš Kašpařík; it's absolutely amazing!
Due to the restrictive nature of our baggage allowance, we were there with a slightly more modest collection of models than usual, which were chosen to give a taste of Scotland's rich history. On our table were LEGO Corgarff Castle, the Caithness Micro-broch and, linking Norse and Gaelic cultures, our intricately built Ard Ri set. Lessons were learnt in packing when we discovered that LEGO Corgarff had taken a bit of a knock during our flight and had arrived in a somewhat less than complete state. However, four hours of slightly panicky repair work saw it back in action and the model was able to take its place as the centrepiece of our collection. You'll be pleased to know that LEGO Corgarff has made in back to Scotland in more or less one piece and is ready for its next outing; stay tuned for an announcement!
The show offered a wealth of superb models. One of our favourites, partly because it is unlike anything we do, was the international collaboration that gave us Norway's largest ever Great Ball Contraption, usually just referred to as a GBC. You can see it in action in our slightly shaky, totally unedited video below. Other favourites more in our area of building was the superb recreation of Dresden Frauenkirche by Holger Matthes, the mad historical and landscaping skills displayed on norlego and northern_lego's Bree and Buckleberry Ferry collaboration and Rocco Buttliere's world famous micro-builds. We would love to call out-everyone but the quality on offer makes it impossible.
We were blown away by the hospitality of our Norwegian hosts, the enthusiasm of the crowds and the general laidback atmosphere of the show and hope to return next year with a different collection of models. A huge thanks to the event organisers Are and Harald and the folks at Brikkelauget for all their hard work!
The Great Ball Contraption
We have another show for your diary! On June 16th and 17th we will be on display at Awesome Bricks at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune Air Field in East Lothian. Last year's inaugural show was great fun and the venue itself is one of the best we've displayed in - plenty of reasons to come along this year!
Reduced price early bird tickets are available until 3rd June, but full price tickets cost between £9 and £14, while under 5s and National Museums Scotland Members go free!
We'll announce the model we're taking closer to the time.
Find out more and book your tickets at:
BLOG TO THE PAST
On LEGO, History and other things by Brick to the Past