Wells Fargo: licensed under Creative Commons – First Aeroplane: Sir George Cayley in his 1849 “Boy Carrier” – The Aviation History Online Museum ( Soubirous: date and photographer unknown. Considered to be in the public domain – Map (Queensland): created by Tim Starling. Licensed under Creative Commons – Bicycle: original patent (detail) for pedal-driven bicycle, 1866. Consdered to be in the public domain –


The American Erastus Bigelow begins work on the development of a power loom for the manufacture of carpets.

1838 Grace Darling, aged 23, daughter of a lighthouse keeper on the Farne islands, off

the north-east coast of England, rows with her father through a storm and saves the lives

of nine shipwrecked seamen. But her fame was short-lived. She died of pneumonia four

yeas later. Hundreds attended her funeral and the Queen sent a message of sympathy.

In 1840 the Irish artist William Mulready produces the decorated pre-paid envelope bearing the , the world’s first postage stamp.






1841 The dwarf Tom Thumb starts work in

Phineas Taylor Barnum’s exhibition of freaks and curios. He was just 25 inches in height and weighed 15 lbs. He later appeared before Queen Victoria.


1837. The Englishman Isaac Pitman (1813-1897) invents his system of shorthand.


The first Grand National steeplechase is run at Aintree, Liverpool, England.


The first Royal Regatta is held on the Thames at Henley, Oxfordshire.


The distinguished Union general Abner Doubleday is credited with inventing the game of baseball, first played on Elihu Phinney’s cow pasture in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. However, he himself never claimed to be the inventor!

1840 Work begins on the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, London, designed by Charles Barry, assisted by the English architect Augustus Welby Pugin.

The Belgian Antoine-Joseph Sax invents the saxophone.

in Trafalgar Square, London, is completed in 1843.

The Corinthian granite column is some 170 ft high, and before the 18 ft figure of Nelson was put in place, 14 stonemasons sat down to dinner on the platform at the top! The statue was by the English sculptor Edward Hodges Bailey  (1788-1867),  and  the  four  lions,  the  work of  the  sculptor  Sir Edwin Landseer, were placed at the base of the column in 1867, one at each corner of the pedestal.


The Portland Vase, a Roman vase from the 1st century, is smashed to pieces by a vandal. It was painstakingly restored but 37 fragments were missing. These came to light in 1948 and  after several  attempts the vase was successfully restored in 1987. At one time owned by the Duke of Portland, it can be seen in the British Museum, London.

The American Elias Howe (1819-1867) produces the first practical sewing machine and makes a huge fortune from his invention. Two years later his fellow countryman Isaac Merritt Singer (1811-1875) produces his first sewing machine. He boosts his sales by the introduction of a hire purchase scheme.

Duringxan evening in 1847 the Reverend Henry Francis Lyte, sitting in his garden overlooking Torbay in Devon, England, composes the words of the world-famous hymn Abide with Me. Incurably ill, he died of tuberculosis two weeks later. He also wrote the words for Praise my soul the King of Heaven. The music for Abide with Me was composed by the English music teacher William Monk in 1861.

A French gardener, Joseph Monier, invents reinforced concrete for garden tubs and, later, beams and posts.


1850 ---------------a cable is laid between Dover and Calais---------------- 1850

The American Schooner America wins the first yacht race

around the Isle of Wight in 1851 and gives its name to the

annual yacht race, won continuously by America until 1983!

In that year Australia II won the America’s Cup and broke the

winning streak, the longest run of wins achieved in any sport.

In America Wells Fargo and Company is founded in 1852 to provide banking facilities and a stagecoach service. Initially formed in response to the Californian Gold Rush, it soon starts operating across the nation.

 In 1853 the French town-planner Georges-Eugène Haussmann begins his reconstruction of Paris, laying out the boulevards and providing open spaces, such as the Bois de Boulogne.

The major part of the plan is completed by 1870, but work goes on to the end of the century.

The German Henry Steinway (Heinrich E. Steinweg) and his sons begin

manufacturing in New York in 1853 and soon gain a reputation for the quality of their work. Three years later his fellow countryman, Karl

Bechstein founds his piano factory in Berlin and builds some of the finest

instruments of his day. Over the next fifty years his factory produced more

than 62,000 pianos and grand pianos.

In 1854 the first Meteorological Office is founded in London, UK.

(It was later moved to a purpose-built building near Exeter, Devon.)

ThexGerman chemist Robert Bunsen (1811-1899) introduces the bunsen burner and the device is named after him. However, he did not invent it. It was probably designed by his lab assistant Peter Desaga, or based on an earlier version by the English scientist Michael Faraday.


The longest fight in bare knuckle boxing (fisticuffs)

takes place in Melbourne, Australia, in 1856. Fought between James Kelly and Jack Smith, it lasts for 186 rounds, a total of 6hrs and 15 minutes!

The ship’s bell, salvaged from the wreck of HMS Lutine in 1858 - fifty nine years after the ship had sunk off the Dutch coast - is presented to Lloyds of London, the insurance market. For well over a hundred years the “Lutine Bell was struck once for the loss of a ship, and twice for the safe return of an overdue vessel so that brokers and underwriters were able to receive the news at the same time. Unfortunately the bell developed a crack and is no longer in general use.

1858  The dance known as “The Can Can”, originating in the Paris stage production of the opera Orpheus in the Underworld, becomes all the rage.


is made

the capital of


In the French town of Lourdes, a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous claims to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary over a five month period in 1858. Later declared authentic by the Pope, the grotto where the appearances occurred becomes a place of pilgrimage, visited by thousands of Christians every year.

In 1859 the 13-ton bell, nicknamed after Sir Benjamin Hall  (the commissioner of works at this time) is installed in the clock tower at the east end of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. Later, the clock itself becomes known as Big Ben.

In 1859 the French acrobat  Charles

Blondin crosses the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

His feat is watched by some 25,000 people. He made later crossings in style – blindfolded, pushing a wheelbarrow, on stilts, in a sack, and stopping to sit down half way to make himself an omelette!

In 1859, after a great deal of difficulty, the American Edwin Drake drills the first oil well at Titusville, Pennsylvania, and collects oil in a bath tub. But the man who founded the oil industry failed to patent his drilling invention and so made very little money out of his find!

The world’s first Dog Show is held in Newcastle, Northumberland, England, in 1859.


Queensland breaks away from New South Wales and makes Brisbane its capital city.


Start of the British open golf championship.

Return of the Welsh eisteddfod.


First appear in London.


Mrs Isabella Beeton (1836-1865)

writes her famous Book of Household


In 1861  a telephone wire is strung across


the United States from New York to San Francisco, heralding the beginning of the

end for the pony express.

The Frenchman Pierre Lallement (1843-1891) invents the first practical bicycle in 1861, complete with a rotary crank mechanism, pedals and a sprung seat!

A glider, designed by the English inventor Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) and driven by his coachman (or butler), is pulled down a slope at Brompton Dale, North Yorkshire, and becomes the first manned flight by a heavier-than-air machine. Recognized as the first aeroplane, it travels 200 yards before crash landing!