Saturday, 18 April 2015

An A - Z of Victorian Crime and Culture - I is for...


I is for - Irons or 'Barking Irons' - Victorian slang for firearms. In 1850s Leicester, they were still rather primitive, with flintlock type pistols and muskets the norm, with many 'left-overs' from the Napoleonic and Afghan wars. However, by 1854 a new breed of weapon, with rifled barrels and bullets, as opposed to musket balls will become available, and these new weapons will feature heavily in what will be Book 5.

I is for Industrialisation - 1850s Leicester was showing all the trappings of modern Industry, especially within the Hosiery trade, where large factories employing thousands were replacing the old frame knitters and 'Stockingers'. The view of many was that this was modern slave labour, with low wages for women and children, and death was the expectation of many, in thick choking dust and wriggling about under automated spinning and weaving looms. But it was to change, and employers such as the Corah family lead the way in employment rights and standards.

I is for invisible - Tanky Smith and Black Tommy Haynes were Leicester's first police detectives. Working undercover in a range of disguises, they infiltrated and brought about convictions for many of Leicester's crime gangs that were rife.  In a town of only about 60,000 or so, to be so successful, they were either as cunning and daring as history suggests, or the gangs were incredibly stupid - and thus, they achieved invisibility by their disguises...

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