The history of penmaking around Britain

Colin Waters explores Britain’s penmaking industry, particularly associate with Birmingham. Vast fortunes were once made from manufacturing the humble pen nib. For example, Josiah Mason and Joseph Gilliot, from Sheffield, came from poor uneducated backgrounds but went on to make their fortunes in the trade. Mason used his fortune for philanthropic purposes, including founding Birmingham … Read more

Dark tourism, darker history: exploring museums of crime

If you want to know more about your criminal ancestors, there are an increasing number of museums catering to your needs, as Nell Darby explores. Dark tourism is the act of travelling to sites that are associated with death, tragedy or crime. As such, dark tourism has been increasingly analysed by academics, drawing parallels between … Read more

The Liverpool to Manchester Railway

By Nell Darby. It was on 15 September 1830 that the first locomotive-hauled railway to connect two cities opened. The Prime Minister, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, rode on the first of eight inaugural trains from Liverpool, travelling 35 miles to Manchester. The Duke’s train ran on one track, while the seven others made the … Read more

A visit to Liverpool’s past

Liverpool’s fortunes have been shaped by its port and associated industries – and, as Nicola Lisle explores, your ancestors could have been involved. Originally known as Liuerpul, meaning ‘muddy creek’ or ‘pool’, Liverpool was once little more than a small agricultural settlement within the historic county of Lancashire, clustered on the banks of the River … Read more