HISTORY AT BOTH ENDS OF THE DAY

26 November, 2020

Taking a leisurely shower this morning I was surprised to hear Melvyn Bragg discussing a ship called the ZONG which achieved notoriety for throwing many of its cargo of slaves overboard whilst still alive.  The connection to Fulham and Hammersmith is that Granville Sharp became heavily involved in trying to get the Master and Crew tried for murder rather than insurance fraud. An horrific story but well worth listening to, from BBC Radio 4.

At the opposite end of the day I am reading Peter Ackroyd’s Dominion his fifth volume of The History of England.  It covers the end of Regency until Victoria’s death. He races through this period but nevertheless it is a very dense read.  There are lots of quotes from the period and he exercises his wit on the main characters.  He also seems to have a desire to revive historic and archaic words that tease the mind. He exposes the dreadful state of government and politics and the grudging moves towards democracy whilst in the midst of famine, wars and engineering transformation.  I am finding this really helpful as this period was not covered at school (science ‘O’ levels) and of course this is just the period when our borough was itself in transition from the semi-rural and estates to the rapid development of railways and terraced housing.  It forms a very useful backdrop to our local history. (Dominion by Peter Ackroyd  ISBN 9781509881321)

As a footnote news is breaking of Foster & Partners proposal to put a double decker temporary roadway onto Hammersmith Bridge.  Bazelgette, one hopes, would have been delighted!  Do note that an exciting revamped reprint of our Hammersmith_Bridge_ publication will be available before Christmas.