February 2017

“Puffing Billy”

Wonder what Stephenson would have made of todays railways? His might have only travelled at a slow speed…but at least it ran! Which is a lot more than can be said of todays British trains.

Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young’ 1890.


‘On the 27th of September, 1825, George Stephenson drove his engine “Locomotion”-a name that was afterwards changed to “Puffing Billy”- from Brusselton to Stockton on the Stockton and Darlington railway, a distance of twenty miles, in what was then thought the quick time of five hours. She ran for thirty years and was afterwards used as a pumping engine. In 1857 she was restored to her original state and placed on a pedestal in the North Road railway station at Darlington. This engine is often confounded with another of George Stephenson’s engines which now stands in a conspicuous position on the High Level Bridge at Newcastle. North Country folk seem at first to have called all engines by the famous name of “Billy.” The New Heading contains a picture of the Darlington Billy.’

Curious people in Central Africa

You certainly can never accuse the Victorian writers of being overly politically correct in their scribings!

I wonder if they did have their own taboo words? One suspects not…from their lofty position of superior beings, they seem to regard any other races and nationalities as second best.

Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young;’ 1890.


‘The Akkas are a  race of pigmies dwelling in Central Africa. They are dwarfs only in the sense of being short, for they are not otherwise more deformed or uglier than many savage tribes of full-sized folk. It is said that they waddle so much when they walk that they cannot carry a full dish without spilling some of its contents. They are cunning and of low intelligence, but are excellent hunters, for which reason they are protected by the people among whom they have settled, who employ them for the purpose of procuring food supplies. The New Heading to the Pocket-book contains a picture of an Akka and a native hut.’

“Learned Queen Bess”

Well, makes a change, this is a fairly innocuous tales for the littl’uns.

Taken from Little Folks a Magazine for the Young; 1890.


‘”Good Queen Bess” might also be called “Learned Queen Bess,” for she was one of the most accomplished women of her time. We are told that she translated several works from Greek and Latin, that she wrote in Latin, that she spoke French, Italian, German, Spanish and Latin, and that she wrote English verse as easily as prose. When she visited Cambridge in 1564-the year, by the way, of Shakespeare’s birth-an address was delivered to her in Greek verse and she returned thanks for it in the same language. But besides being no mean scholar, Elizabeth was a true lover of literature, which reached the height of its glory in her long and brilliant reign.’ 

The Romance of the Chicken

I do so love the Victorian stories for children…so heartwarming and always with a happy ending!!!

Taken from Little Folks a Magazine for the Young; 1890



‘A young Frenchman once made a pet of a Houdan chicken. By throwing it some grain or bread crumbs every morning the chicken at last got into the way of following him about the house. The lad used to go to a seat in the garden and the fowl would jump up beside him, pick food from his hand, and allow its head and back to be stroked. But the boy’s holiday came to an end and he went back to school. At first the chicken did not seem to miss him, and took its food with the other fowls. When, however, after a few days had passed, the chicken began to realise that its young master was gone for good, it became sad and cast down. Morning after morning it hung about the house, as if waiting for its friend. at length it went to the bench in the summer-house and stopped there day and night with its head beneath its wings, refusing all even the most tempting kinds of food. Its intention to starve itself to death soon grew so clear that it was thought most merciful to kill it and put it out of its agony.’


Marsden Rock

Not so sure I’d want to make my way up those ladders! Think I’ll stick to a picnic on the beach thank you very much…

Taken from Little Folks a Magazine for the Young; 1890.


‘Near South Shields there is a vast picturesque mass of rock that once upon a time formed part of the mainland, from which it has been sliced off by the sea. At high water, Marsden Rock, as it is called, is sixty yards from land, but at low water it is possible to walk out to it across the sands. A large refreshment room has been made in the rock, and it is thus a popular resort of picnic and pleasure parties. There is a picture of Marsden Rock in the New Heading.’

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