“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.’

Beheading Alligators

Good old Victorians; heavily into conservation!

Besides that, seemingly, no tale is too gory for 19th century parents to tell their ‘Little Folks.’


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

‘On the river Guayaquil, in South America, sportsmen find a “happy hunting-ground” in the mud banks there, where alligators most do congregate. These ugly and treacherous creatures are detested wherever they exist, and any, even the cruellest method is employed for killing them. One plan is adopted on this river which seems to be brutal, but in this case the end no doubt justifies the means. As the tide goes out the alligators bury themselves in the soft mud and lie there in a sleepy state until the returning water brings with it fishes and reptiles upon which they prey. Armed with a sharp edged axe the hunter wades in top-boots across the mud, and jumping on the drowsy beasts shoulders, hacks at the neck until he severs the head from the trunk. In vain does the aroused alligator strike out with its tail, or turn itself round and round in the hope of “throwing” its executioner, who is placed beyond reach of claw, teeth or tail. all the same the hunter must have great presence of mind, strong nerve, and a sure foot.’

Dressing the Wells

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


‘In the third week of every June, the town of Buxton, in Derbyshire, holds high holiday. The springs and fountains are decorated with boards of quant and tasteful designs, in which flowers are lavishly used. Banners, flags and triumphal arches adorn the streets, while bands of music enliven the town, and many old English sports are revived for the time. This period of mirthfulness is a survival of the ancient custom of dressing once a year the mineral and other wells for which Buxton is famous.’

About Ascension Islands

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


‘In the South Atlantic Ocean here lies a little island that bears the name of Ascension, because, so it is said, a Spanish sailor discovered it, in 1501 on Ascension Day-the last Thursday but one before Whit-Sunday. The isle is only eight miles long by six broad, is 960 miles from the shores of Africa, and its population numbers 140 souls. It was not inhabited till 1815, when the British occupied it in connection with Napoleon’s imprisonment in St. Helena. Nowadays its chief use is as a hospital and station for victualling the navy. Being of volcanic origin and having a very dry climate, there is little verdure about it, although the tomato, pepper, and castor-oil plants and various European vegetables are grown with success. The gardens suffer a great deal from land-crabs and rats. To get rid of the latter pest, cats were imported. But the cure was worse than the disease, for the cats showing a taste for birds’ eggs, became themselves a real nuisance. Huge turtles, of four or five hundredweight, are caught at and near he island, the name of whose port is Georgetown.’

Faithful unto Death

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


‘It is hard for those who live in these days to understand the devotion with which the Highland clansmen attended on their chief. At the battle of Killiecrankie (1689), Lochiel was followed by the son of his foster-brother, who watched over him with the most unselfish zeal lest harm should befall him. The chief, missing his friend soon after the fight had begun, found him at last mortally wounded by an arrow. He had just strength enough to tell Lochiel that seeing a soldier in General Mackay’s army aiming at him from the rear, he sprang behind the chief and so saved him from certain death, receiving in his own person the arrow that was intended for Lochiel. Nor was this simple act of heroism rare in those times. Such deeds almost always inspired by a high sense of duty, and occasionally were prompted by true affection.’

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