Headlines from History – Page 2 – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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The Opening of the Metropolitan Railway – 10 January 1863

On 10 January 1863 the Metropolitan Railway was opened in London. An unprecedented feat of engineering, the Metropolitan Railway was the first underground railway in the world, forming the basis of the London underground and other global underground systems. In this special blog, we take a look at the historic first three days of the Metropolitan Railway’s existence, from its grand opening on Friday 10 January 1863, to the teething problems it encountered when it opened to the public on

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Ninette de Valois – Godmother of English and Irish Ballet

Prima ballerina, choreographer, teacher and business woman, Irish born Dame Ninette de Valois was instrumental in raising the global profile of British ballet, founding the company that would become the Royal Ballet, and nurturing the talent of some of the country’s most famous dancers, including Alicia Markova and Margot Fonteyn. In this special blog, we take a look at de Valois’ early years, her rise to prima ballerina, and her shift into production and choreography, using pages from the British

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A Look at the History of Dance Halls – Wedding Bells and Questionable Morals

By 1953 the dance hall was the second biggest entertainment industry after cinema, with an estimated 200 million visitors per year. It was thought that up to 70% of couples met on the dance floor. Today, the dance hall is consigned to history, but for many from the 1920s through to the 1970s it was a weekly fixture, representing an escape from the monotony of daily life. In this special blog we take a look at the colourful story of

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The Tango Craze of 1913 – ‘London Has Already Been Bitten Severely’

‘They name their dresses Tango, their hats Tango, their dogs Tango,’ so reports the Pall Mall Gazette in 1913 at the height of tango fever in London and in Paris. In this special blog, using articles and illustrations from The Archive, we explore the history of the tango, and how its popularity surged after its spread from along the Rio de la Plata in South America to the music halls, the stately homes and the dance floors of Europe. Origins

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Dance in the Second World War – An Extravagance of Determination and Hope

‘It is not proposed to make total war total misery,’ said the Home Secretary Herbert Morrison in 1942, as he announced in the House of Commons that dancing was not to be included in the ‘recreations that are to be restricted to prevent interference with the war effort.’ Indeed, for many, dance was synonymous with their experiences of life in the Second World War. American GIs brought over with them new and exciting dance styles, and dancing itself was a

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A Look at the Fascinating History of Highclere Castle – Setting of Downton Abbey

The main filming location for hit series and brand new film Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle in Hampshire, holds a fascinating history, as well as its more contemporary cinematic claim to fame. The Sphere | 14 April 1923 Using articles found in the British Newspaper Archive, in this blog we explore Highclere Castle – from its building to its famous inhabitants – and discover a history with as much drama as an episode of Downton Abbey. Architectural Origins Downton Abbey’s iconic exterior,

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Requisitioning of Country Houses in the Second World War – Hospitals, War Supply Depots and More

During the Second World War the government requisitioned country houses across the United Kingdom for the war effort. No house was exempt, with the grandest stately homes re-purposed to house everything from schools to maternity homes, from military hospitals to war supply depots. Using photographs and contemporary articles found in the British Newspaper Archive, we will look at the myriad of purposes for which stately homes were used during the six year conflict. Many houses were taken over to be

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Requisitioning of Country Houses in the Second World War – Evacuated Schools in Wartime

Eighty years since the first children were evacuated from cities across Britain, in this first of two special blogs, we look at how country houses were requisitioned by schools and their evacuated children. The grandest of stately homes were not exempt from requisition, with some of the country’s largest and most famous houses, including Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth and Castle Howard, taken over for the purpose of housing evacuated schools. Using contemporary accounts in the British Newspaper Archive, we will delve

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‘Death in a Bathing Machine’ & Other Bathing Machine Headlines

The bathing machine, once a familiar sight at British seaside resorts, has all but become extinct, its legacy only really reflected in the beach huts which still line coasts up and down the United Kingdom. In this special blog we take a look at some of the wonderful photographs and illustrations of bathing machines that can be found using the British Newspaper Archive. The Bystander | 7 August 1912 There is some conjecture as to where the bathing machine originated –

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‘The Most Remarkable, Invigorating, and Enjoyable Holiday You Will Ever Have’ – The Holiday Camp Phenomenon

By 1939 there were an estimated three to four hundred holiday camps established across the United Kingdom, with the smallest housing fifty beds, and the largest with six thousand or more. What was behind the surge in popularity? We explore the holiday camp phenomenon by delving into the pages of the British Newspaper Archive, using the myriad of advertisements, photographs and articles located there to discover more about this mainstay of the British seaside resort. In 1936 William ‘Billy’ Butlin

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