Tickets are available on the door for just £3 per person, which we guarantee is an absolute bargain. Under 3's go free!
We have another show for your diary! On October 26th our man Simon Pickard will be holding an event at Moose Hall in Taunton. The show will feature Simon's work, including his amazing models for Brick to the Past!
Tickets are available on the door for just £3 per person, which we guarantee is an absolute bargain. Under 3's go free!
We know we’ve already given this away with our many social media posts, not to mention our blog about Peterloo, but we want to make sure you have this firmly in your diary.
The Great Western Brick Show is back on October 5th and 6th at STEAM Museum in Swindon. We'll be there with our epic new model to commemorate the Peterloo Massacre, which had its 200th anniversary this year. Once again it promises to be a great event and we hope to see lots of you there!
Book your tickets at the museum’s website:
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On this day in 1819, 60,000 to 80,000 people gathered on St. Peter's Field in Manchester to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Constituency boundaries had failed to keep pace with the profound effects of industrialisation, with the burgeoning cities bereft of representation, while so-called rotten boroughs, which returned MP’s form just a handful of voters, held a disproportionate sway over government. In the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, high unemployment, depressed wages and famine, exacerbated by the punishing effects of the Corn Laws, had resulted in a strong desire among the working classes for change.
Previously planned meetings had been banned by local magistrate, who feared rioting or even a full insurrection; the events of the French Revolution and its aftermath were still fresh in the memory of the ruling classes. The meeting on the 16th of August was therefore held with the declared aim “to consider the propriety of adopting the most LEGAL and EFFECTUAL means of obtaining a reform in the Common House of Parliament“.
Among others, the crowd was there to hear the radical speaker Henry Hunt. However, no sooner had Hunt arrived at the hustings, constables assisted by the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry pushed through the crowd to arrest him; the charge would be sedition. The day had already seen its first casualty when 2-year old William Fildes was knocked from his mother’s arms by a galloping rider as he raced to catch his fellow Yeomanry on their way to the field. Now, having carried out the arrest, the inexperienced and possibly drunk riders of the Yeomanry began destroying the banners and flags of the hustings before turning on those in the crowd. In the ensuing melee, the Yeomanry began striking indiscriminately at the crowd with their sabres and trampling them with their horses. Hemmed into the field by its narrow exists as well as the bayonets of 88th Regiment of Foot, who blocked the main thoroughfares, the crowd was unable to disperse effectively.
The Corn Laws were tariffs and other trade restrictions on imported food and grain enforced in the United Kingdom between 1815 and 1846. They were designed to keep grain prices high to favour domestic producers. While they enhanced the profits and political power associated with land ownership, they also raised food prices and the costs of living for the British public.
As a result 18 people would lose their lives and a further 400-700 injured. The massacre was given the name Peterloo in an ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier. Historian Robert Poole has called the Massacre one of the defining moments of its age. In its own time, the London and national papers shared the horror felt in the Manchester region, but Peterloo's immediate effect was to cause the government to crack down on reform, not embrace it. It would not be until the Great Reform Act of 1832 that Manchester would be able to elect MPs of its own.
Peterloo 200 years on
Furthermore, in a partnership with the Age of Revolution and The University of Kent, the authors and publishers have created a free twenty-page schools’ version of the graphic novel specially adapted for teachers wishing to explore the events in the classroom. Its aim is to help students to understand the event, and to identify links and symbols that bridge periods and topics. It will provoke insights into the nature of political protest in British history, its representation in art, and its relevance to the world today. Find out more and download the schools' version at:
Our model, which will depict the massacre and the local landmarks that existed in 1819, will go on display at the Great Western Brick Show in Swindon on the 5th and 6th October. Find out more and buy tickets at:
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Today, Brick to the Past builder James Pegrum explores his family’s involvement in the Second World War and the loss of his uncle, Barry Pegrum, who died on the Trasimene Line 75 years ago today. James and his family are also in Italy today, commemorating the event.
With Rome taken from the Germans at the beginning of June 1944, the German army has set up a number of defensive lines that stretch across Italy to halt, or if that failed, slow down the advancing Allied forces.
On the 20th June 1944, two British Infantry Divisions, the 78th and 4th, advanced on the 1 Fallschirmjager-Division and 334 Infanterie-Division of the German 10th Army in the territory which lies between Lake Trasimeno to the east and the two lakes of Chiusi and Montepulciano to the West. This defensive formation was known as ‘The Trasimene Line’ and was primarily set up to enable the Germans to delay the Allied forces so they could fortify and strengthen the Gothic Line further North.
By 24th June, the forward Allied forces had pushed the German troops less than a mile North and were lined up across Pucciarelli having captured Sanfatucchio after intense fighting. The 105 Anti-Tank Regiment, supporting the Infantry Divisions moved up to Sanfatucchio with the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry in the morning. By the evening the Royal Irish Fusiliers along with others were lined up along the Pescia stream which was not possible to ford, while the 78th Division, which they were a part, was across the River Pescia on both sides of what is now Highway 71. Armoured support however, was restricted to the south bank due to the partial demolition of the road bridge. The Pescia was found to be impassable for wheels and tracks without bridging but the 5th Buffs moved over unsupported and established a bridgehead. Engineers from 214 Field Company worked all night of the 24th into the 25th with a heavy thunderstorm taking place. By 0500 hours on the 25th it was possible for the tanks to cross over but they were bogged down in the mud. It took up to 0930 for the vehicles that had been bogged to become free and eventually pass over the bridge.
One of the casualties of the fighting was a British manned American M10 Tank destroyer which was struck, possibly by either a German Panzershreck or Panzerfaust bazooka. All five British personnel either died immediately or from their wounds within 24 hours. Among the casualties was my Uncle, Barry Pegrum, aged 19.
Whilst I never knew him, his and so many others sacrifice has shaped the world we live in today. Most of the above information has been learnt by my brother - and along with our sister we will be visiting the scene of the battle and his final place of rest, 75 years on. The cost of war on our family, like so many, has left its mark and its sad effects are being remembered throughout this year with many 75th anniversaries taking place. As we look back thankful for the peace gained there is a lesson from such violence and cost of lives within our families that we should strive as individuals, communities, nations and as a planet to find less dreadful ways to secure peace in our relationships with each other.
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We have our first save the date of 2019 for you. We will be at the Discovery Brick Show at Newcastle upon Tyne’s Discovery Museum on the 11th and 12th of May!
The show boasts some of the newest LEGO models alongside displays from a hand-picked selection of the best LEGO builders in the UK. That’s right, we’re hand picked!
You can also explore a range of specially selected LEGO traders and sellers and take part in a range of LEGO activities. In the unlikely event you don’t like LEGO, you can always just visit the museum itself.
At £2.50 per person plus booking fee, the tickets are an absolute bargain, but advance booking is essential to see the exhibits. Find out more and buy your tickets here:
Áed mac Cináeda, was a king of the Picts who reigned for around one year between 877 and 878. He was nicknamed Áed of the White Flowers, the wing-footed or the white-foot. Áed was the son of Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín), and succeeded his brother Constantine I (Causantín mac Cináeda). According to the national myth, his father was the first King of Scotland, and so Áed is Scotland’s fourth king according to most modern regal lists.
Little is known about Áed’s short reign, with the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba simply saying “The shortness of his reign has bequeathed nothing memorable to history. He was slain in the civitas of Nrurim.” The whereabouts of Nrurim is unknown, however Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland claims he was killed by one of his successors, Giric, in Strathallan, Perthshire. However, the 19th Century antiquarian George Chalmers believed that that the early-historic mound of the Cunninghillock by Inverurie, Aberdeenshire is the burial place of Áed. This is based on reading Nrurim as Inruriu. Other sources have Áed buried on Iona.
Áed was married, although his wife's name is unknown. They had two sons, Constantine, who would later be King of Scotland between 900 and 943 and Donald, who would become king of Strathclyde.
Áed was succeeded by two rulers, his nephew Eochaid and the mysterious Giric, who may have been his murderer. The relationship between these two kings is uncertain and probably complex and will be discussed in a later blogs.
This scene was built by Dan Harris as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of Scotland. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Constantine I, or rather Causantín or Constantín mac Cináeda (in Modern Gaelic: Còiseam mac Choinnich), was a king of the Picts who reigned between 862 and 877. He was the son of Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín), and succeeded his uncle Donald I (Domnall mac Ailpín) following the latter's death on 13th April 862. According to the national myth, his father was the first King of Scotland, and so Contantine is Scotland’s third king according to most modern regal lists.
Constantine’s reign fell during a period of increased Viking activity across the British Isles. In 865 the Great Heathen Army was moving across England, pillaging, looting and obtaining tribute. Viking armies were also active in Scotland and one of these was led by two brothers named Amlaíb and Auisle. In 866 Amlaíb brought an army to Fortriu, the Pictish Kingdom around present day Morayshire, which is often referred to synonymously with Pictland in general, and obtained tribute and hostages. While Amlaíb and Auisle were in north Britain, the Annals of Ulster record that Áed Findliath, High King of Ireland, and husband of Constantine’s sister, Máel Muire, took advantage of their absence to destroy the longphorts along the northern coasts of Ireland.
Amlaíb disappears from Irish annals after his return to Ireland in 871. According to the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba he was killed by Constantine either in 871 or 872, when he returned to Pictland in an attempt to collect further tribute. Late sources of uncertain reliability state that Auisle was killed by Amlaíb in 867 in a dispute over Amlaíb's wife, the daughter of a Cináed (Kenneth). It is unclear whether, if accurate, this woman should be identified as a daughter of Kenneth MacAlpin, and thus Constantine’s sister, or as a daughter of Cináed mac Conaing, king of Brega, a petty Kingdom north of Dublin in Ireland.
In 875 a Viking army was once again present in Pictland and a battle, fought near Dollar in Clackmannanshire, resulted in a heavy defeat for the Picts. In 877, shortly after building a new church for Culdees monks at St Andrews, Constantine was captured and executed (or perhaps killed in battle) after defending against Viking raiders. According to some sources, his execution took place on a beach, though the exact loation is not known. He was buried on Iona and was succeeded by his brother Áed.
These scenes were built by Dan Harris as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of Scotland. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
On this day in 1547 one of England's most intriguing monarchs, Henry VIII, died. At the time of Henry birth on June 28th 1491, he was second in line to the throne. This changed in 1502 with the death of his older brother, Arthur aged 15. Within seven years of his brother's death, his father Henry VII died and so the younger Henry became king, being crowned on 24th June 1509.
His reign has gone down in history for many reasons. One of the foremost was his six wives and the resulting split from the Roman Catholic church, which was a consequence of his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The cause for so many wives was his drive to secure the Tudor line, which at this time required a son. His first two marriages did not provide him with a male heir. At the time of his death, he had three successors, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, all of who would successively take the throne. His successors were to have varying relationships with the Roman Catholic church, which was to have a significant consequence in national and international politics for years to come. During his reign, his split from Rome and lead nationally to the dissolution of the monasteries and played its part in his international wars.
As a King, he was known for military achievements (and causalities, such as the loss of the Mary Rose) and his athleticism. It was during one of his sporting activities that his physical decline began following an accident in a jousting tournament in 1536, where he reopened a wound in his leg.
It took some ten years for this wound to cause his health to deteriorate to the point where it was life threatening and in August 1546 his youthful vigour was noticeable deserting him. As his health became a concern, his stools and sputum were regularly examined. Furthermore, the doctors at that time believed that the letting of his blood, in accordance with the waxing and waning of the moon could save him. Between August and December, the privy chamber spent increased amounts on his medical treatment to no avail.
It was treason to predict the king’s death, though it was obviously imminent by January 1547, and so Henry’s doctors did not summon the courage to break the news to the King. This was not surprising as Henry had ordered numerous executions during his reign (some estimates give as a high an estimate as 72,000), including two of his wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. As the month wore on and his health declined, he took Holy Communion and gave his confessions on the 27th. It is also likely that during the evening of the same day he finalised his will, which was witnessed by eleven people (possibly including the ever-present lutenist, Patrec) and in doing so laid the way for Edward his son to become the next monarch, securing the future of the Church of England, for the time being at least.
In his room, Henry lay dying, the aroma of the air was heavy, oppressive, with grey amber and musk, smothering the stench of physical decay along with the shadowy gloom created by the window tapestries. With it being the depth of winter, they would have been drawn tightly, keeping the damp out. A great wood fire, continually fed, would have provided him with warmth whilst eliminating all ‘evil vapours’, whilst giving off a stifling fug. It is also possible that the king would have continued to have been attended with potions and plasters by his doctors, in vain, whilst they knew death was inevitable before the rising of another sun. Lying, dying he was not alone, as the death of a monarch during this period was a public affair.
In his last hours it was also crucial that Henry had time to prepare his soul and he we was aided by Sir Anthony Denny who warned his master that ‘in man’s judgement, he was not likely to live’ and that he should remember his sins, ‘as becometh every good Christian man to do’. In response, Henry said that he believed that Christ in all His mercy would ‘pardon me all my sins, yea, though they were greater than can be’. He later that evening of the 27th asked for Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, who rode at breakneck speed from Croydon, to be with the king. With Cranmer by his side, the archbishop begged the king to give a sign that he trusted Christ for salvation. In response, Cranmer felt the grip on his hand tighten slightly. And so at around 2 a.m., King Henry VIII left this world.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British history. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see them first.This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British history. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see them first.
Happy Christmas! While today is best remembered for the birth of Jesus Christ, and my is this a good celebration, today we would also like to commemorate a lesser known contributor to the festivities! No Christmas dinner is complete without the pulling of crackers (or bon-bon as it's known in Australia - you weirdos!), invented 1847AD.
For this we can thank their inventor - Thomas Smith - who had developed the bon-bon sweet, sold in a twist of paper. In the 1840s the sweets went through slumping sales, so Smith explored a few new promotional ideas. His first was similar to fortune cookies, where he inserted a 'love message' into the wrapper. Later he added the 'crackle' feature after hearing his log fire crackle. To include the banger mechanism he had to enlarge the sweet wrapper. The sweet was later dropped and swapped by a trinket; for example fans, jewelry, and other substantial items. In 1906 Thomas Smith's Crackers were granted their first Royal Warrant in 1906 and the rest, as they say, is history!
These scenes were built by James Pegrum becasue its Christmas. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see all of our models first
Octavia Hill was an English social reformer whose main concern was the welfare of the inhabitants of Britain's cities, especially London. Born on December 3rd 1838 she would become one of the 19th centuries most active philanthropists, perhaps most importantly establishing a more enlightened approach to the provision and management of housing for working people, an approach on which most modern housing associations find their model.
Octavia was the daughter of James Hill, corn merchant, banker and follower of Owenism. The family's comfortably prosperous life was disrupted by James' financial problems and his subsequent mental collapse. In 1840 he was declared bankrupt.
The family settled in a small cottage in Finchley, now a north London suburb, but then a village. Octavia Hill was impressed and moved by Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, a book that portrayed the daily lives of slum dwellers. She was also strongly influenced by the theologian, Anglican priest and social reformer F. D. Maurice, who was a family friend.
A co-operative guild providing employment for 'distressed gentlewomen' accepted Hill for training in glass-painting when she was 13. When the work of the guild was expanded to provide work in toy-making for 'ragged school children', she was invited, at the age of 14, to take charge of the workroom. She was deeply aware of the dreadful living conditions of the children in her charge at the guild.
Since the early 1830s some members of Parliament and other social reformers had been attempting to improve the condition of housing for the working poor. From Hill's point of view most attempts had failed the poorest members of the working class, the unskilled labourers. She found that their landlords routinely ignored their obligations towards their tenants, and that the tenants were too ignorant and oppressed to better themselves. She tried to find new homes for her charges, but there was a severe shortage of available property, and Hill decided that her only solution was to become a landlord herself.
In 1853 Hill began working for John Ruskin as a copyist and being impressed with her work and drive, in 1865 he acquired for £750 the leases of three cottages of six rooms each in Paradise Place, Marylebone. Ruskin placed these houses, which were "in a dreadful state of dirt and neglect", under Hill's management. He told her that investors might be attracted to such schemes if a 5% annual return could be secured. In 1866 Ruskin acquired the freehold of five more houses for Hill to manage in Freshwater Place, Marylebone. Once the houses were repaired and improved they were let to those on intermittent and low incomes. The 5% annual was achieved and any excess was invested back into the properties. In consequence of her prudent management, Hill was able to attract new backers, and by 1874 she had 15 housing schemes with around 3,000 tenants.
In 1886 Hill founded the Horace Street Trust, which became the model for many subsequent housing associations, and has since developed into the present-day Octavia Housing association.
in 1889 Hill formed the first independent Cadet Battalion in London, a concept which rapidly spread, becoming the modern Army Cadets, with around 40,000 members today. She felt strongly that the military context would socialise urban youths struggling for direction.
Another of Hill's concerns was the availability of open spaces for poor people. She campaigned against development on existing suburban woodlands and helped to save London's Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from being built on. In 1896 she was one of the three founders of the National Trust, set up to preserve places of historic interest or natural beauty for the enjoyment of the British public.
She died on August 13th 1912 in Marylebone.
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of our model London 1875: Capital of an Empire. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see all of our models first.
Blog to the past
On LEGO, History and other things by Brick to the Past