On this day: Bloody Sunday

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On the 30th of January, 1972, the largest single shooting incident of The Troubles in Northern Ireland occurred at a protest against internment.

Significant because of the high number of civilians who were shot or otherwise injured by British soldiers, thirteen people were killed at the scene, while another died of their injuries a few months later. A further twelve people were injured by gunshots, while others were hurt by vehicle impact, and from being shot at with rubber bullets.

The massacre occurred in the Bogside area of Derry, beginning shortly before 4pm. In the aftermath of the massacre, recruitment for the IRA significantly rose.

On this day: a funeral procession for an English entrepreneur

William Whiteley, Yorkshire-born entrepreneur and founder of Whiteleys department store in London, was murdered on the 24th of January, 1907.

His killer was a young man who claimed to be his illegitimate son. The man shot Whiteley dead in his shop.

Whiteley’s will left £1 000 000, which is the equivalent of about £90 000 000 today.

The funeral procession is seen here on the 30th of January, making its way through Ladbroke Grove.

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On this day: the first day of the blizzard of 1977

The 1977 blizzard that hit parts of New York, USA and Ontario, Canada, began on the 28th of January, 1977.

Wind gusts from 46 to 69 mph (74 to 111 km/h) hit daily, and more than 2.5 metres of snow were recorded in a storm that lasted into February and saw dozens of deaths registered.

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On this day…

This image is of a reenactment of the First Fleet of British ships arriving in Sydney Harbour in 1788.

Taken on Australia Day (26th January), this was Australia’s bicentenary in 1988.

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100 Objects – Victorian Tea Set

The British Museum’s A History of the World in 100 Objects has been on loan to the National Museum here in Canberra for a while, and we finally got to it on the weekend.

I was pretty unimpressed with the idea “the world” apparently doesn’t include huge sections of it (they couldn’t manage anything from the huge Slavic societies of the east of Europe, nor huge sections of other continents, but a handful of countries are seriously overrepresented?).

However, being as crazy about the Victorian era as I am, here is a stoneware and silver English tea set from the early 1840s that is part of the exhibition. Oddly – and for the BRITISH Museum – it is about the only thing representing the British Empire, and the only thing from 19th century Britain.

However – look at it! I love it.

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Victoria the Great – for fans of anything Victorian

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I commented on the new television series, Victoria, and how horrified I was by the deliberate changes to history (such as making a teenage girl’s ageing mentor her love interest!).

Recently a different version of Queen Victoria’s life was on television: Victoria the Great, released in 1937 on the centenary of the real queen’s ascension to the throne.

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Victoria being woken early to be informed she is now queen.

The movie version and a 19th century depiction of the moment.

Now, I don’t usually expect much of films from the 1930s (though Gone with the Wind has some spectacular crowd scenes that hold up today).

So how surprised I was to realise this old movie was the best interpretation of Queen Victoria’s life I’ve seen!

Actual, recorded historical moments are recreated beautifully, and accurately. I even learnt a few things – yes, I checked that they were true.

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The queen’s (played by Anna Neagle), and Prince Albert’s (played by Anton Walbrook, all the way down to his dorky hair) costumes and hairstyles are spot-on. In an era where historical licence was practically expected, the people working on this film have all but recreated the costumes from official portraits.

The sets and filming locations are spectacular, even in black and white. Unlike so many “historical” movies today, the dances are accurate for the period (Anna Karenina, I’m looking at you!), and the women have their hair pinned up! The forms of transport they use (such as the early train they depart London on) look accurate to me.

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I usually sit and nit-pick when watching historical dramas, but I couldn’t find much to complain about here.

I never liked The Young Victoria. For all the praise heaped on it, neither Emily Blunt or Rupert Friend suited their roles, and the less said about the horrific rewriting of history in the more recent Victoria, the better.

So far, this eighty-year-old film is my favourite version of the life of Britain’s most famous queen. I’m not sure how easy it is to track down these days, but it’s worth a watch.

In its time, Victoria the Great was so successful a second film was immediately made.