This website uses cookies to provide a rich user experience. Please consult our Cookie Policy to learn about what cookies this website uses, or to control the cookies you receive. You need do nothing if you are happy to receive cookies.
Look and Learn History Picture Library License images from £2.99 Pay by PayPal for images for immediate download Member of British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA)

Subject: ‘Historical articles’

All of these articles and images are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.

Stockbroker who won fame as the fastest man on land

Posted in Cars, Historical articles, History, Sport, Sporting Heroes on Sunday, 31 January 2016

This edited article about Sir Malcom Campbell originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 759 published on 31st July 1976.

Sir Malcom Campbell, picture, image, illustration

Sir Malcom Campbell in his second Bluebird, 1933 by Graham Coton

The wind was screaming around Sir Malcolm Campbell’s ears like a demon as he shot over the Salt Lake Flats at Utah, U.S.A. on 4th September, 1935, in his record-breaking car, Bluebird.

Blessedly, the car was steady and there seemed to be no drag on the flats. Would Sir Malcolm break yet another land speed record?

This attempt was the culminating point of a career that had started when, as a 21-year-old stockbroker, Campbell had become a keen motor-cyclist and had won his first race in the same year. That had been 1906.

From then on, with the exception of service in the First World War in the Royal Flying Corps, Campbell had devoted himself to racing with such spectacular results that he had gained a knighthood in 1931 for raising the speed record to 245.7 mph. Later he had clocked 276 mph.

Now he had come to Utah to risk his life again for a new record.

Read the rest of this article »

London’s underground

Posted in Engineering, Historical articles, History, London, Railways, Transport, Travel on Sunday, 31 January 2016

This edited article about the London Underground Railway originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 944 published on 23 February 1980.

underground, picture, image, illustration

Whole streets were closed and excavated during the building of the London underground railway. Picture by Harry Green

“I do not understand why men should wish to build a road down into Hell to meet the Devil,” roared the vicar to his congregation. “My friends, mark my words well. The advent of this railway will hasten the end of the world.”

The vicar, Dr. Cummings, was not alone in his distaste for the form of transport that was being advocated. Many churchmen feared God would wreak his vengeance on the human moles involved in this work of the Devil. Property-owners thought their buildings would fall as a result of all the excavations taking place. In fact, some of these fears may not have been groundless, for many buildings had to be shored up with timber while the work was in progress.

Anyone visiting London during 1861 could well see the reason for people’s concern. In the vicinity of King’s Cross, gangs of workmen were furiously digging up the streets. Great yawning holes marked where the road had once been, leaving only a small area over which carriages and pedestrians had to make their way as best they could.

Some parts of the road were closed completely to allow the men to dig their holes. Once the holes were completed, with the mud piles high on either side, much to the annoyance of pedestrians, the men started shoring the sides of the hole. Then the upper part of the holes was enclosed in a brick arch. Once this was completed, the earth was replaced over the work, the surplus earth carted away, and the road relaid so that everything looked as it had before. But there was one main difference. Eighteen metres below the new road surface lay a long tunnel that stretched between Paddington and Farringdon Street, a distance of about six kilometres.

The person chiefly responsible for this undertaking was Charles Pearson, a city solicitor. Since 1843, he had been suggesting that London should have an underground railway system. He suggested that a trial section should be constructed along the valley of the River Fleet, which had been arched over and converted into a sewer. It would use trains powered by atmospheric pressure. In spite of Pearson’s pleas the plan was never followed up, but he continued to campaign for this new form of transport.

The idea was not, however, entirely new; for what can possibly be regarded as the first underground railway was started in 1770 at East Kenton Colliery near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The railway, used to carry coal trucks on simple wooden tracks, consisted of a single tunnel, which can lay claim to being the first railway tunnel.

Eventually people began to listen to Pearson’s ideas and in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition in London, when British pride in its engineering feats was at its height, a committee was set up to examine Pearson’s suggestion.

It was decided that the project was feasible, Parliament approved the idea, and work began on raising the money required to put the project in hand. In March, 1860, Pearson saw the results of his incessant campaigning as work began on the new underground railway.

Read the rest of this article »

A great Elizabethan

Posted in Historical articles, History, Royalty, Sea, Ships on Sunday, 31 January 2016

This edited article about Sir Walter Raleigh first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 551 published on 5 August 1972.

Execution of Raleigh, picture, image, illustration

After risking his life countless times in the service of his country, Sir Walter Raleigh was executed on a charge of treason, by Oliver Frey

He was a gallant, witty, brave and light-hearted adventurer, a typical example of those members of the Devon gentry who had been engaged in maritime adventure, often of a piratical nature, ever since the reign of Henry VIII. He was tall and handsome and his name was surrounded by legends.

He had thrown his mantle on the ground to help Elizabeth I to walk dry-shod over a puddle, they said, and he had scribbled verses with a diamond on a window pane to attract her attention. There was the tale that once, while he was lying in prison under sentence of death, he had asked for one night of freedom to rescue a lady, promising to return afterwards, and actually doing so when his wish had been granted. Whether or not these stories were true, there was one thing that could not be denied.

The name of Sir Walter Raleigh was one that was known throughout the whole of the land.

Although the pampered favourite of Elizabeth, he had done much for England. He had been tireless in his efforts to create a colony in America, he had helped to prepare the English fleet which had eventually defeated the Spanish Armada, and he had fought with distinction in Ireland. He had taken part in various expeditions against the Spanish, notably at Cadiz where he had been wounded, and he had sailed at the head of an expedition to Guinea, vainly seeking the fabled El Dorado, which was supposed to be a treasure house of gold.

But all that was in the past.

Now he was considered to be nothing more than a discredited adventurer who was guilty of treason. Locked up in the Tower for this crime, he had languished there for almost thirteen years, which had given him plenty of time indeed to reflect on how he had contributed to his own downfall.

His star had begun to wane in the reign of Elizabeth, when he had married one of her maids of honour, a presumption for which he had been punished by being put in the Tower for a while before being banished to the country. His fall from grace had been greeted with delight by the whole population, for his greed, arrogance and the fact that he was a suspected atheist, had made him the most unpopular man in England.

When he had been allowed to return to court, he had immediately quarrelled with the Queen’s new favourite, the Earl of Essex. The fact that he had helped to put down the revolt that Essex had eventually led against the Queen made no difference to the feeling of the people. Essex had been their favourite, and his death under the headsman’s axe, thanks partially to Raleigh, was merely another black mark against him.

The death of Elizabeth and the accession of James I had marked the final phase of Raleigh’s downfall. He was the last of that great band of soldier-sailors who had added lustre to Elizabeth’s reign, and for that very reason James disliked him. Men like those, men who thrived on warring with Spain were not to his taste. He wanted only peace and Raleigh had been quick to show that he was utterly against this policy.

Read the rest of this article »

The Princes in the Tower

Posted in Historical articles, History, Mystery, Royalty on Sunday, 31 January 2016

This edited article about the Princes in the Tower originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 997 published on 18 April 1981.

Prince Richard leaves his mother, picture, image, illustration

Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV’s widow, was finally persuaded to give up her younger son, Richard, to her brother-in-law, Richard of Gloucester. Picture by Clive Uptton

Few kings of England have been born in such impoverished and perilous circumstances as Edward V. His birthplace was a gloomy building called the Sanctuary, at Westminster, where his mother had sought refuge after her husband, Edward IV, had been forced to flee temporarily to Holland.

A midwife named Mother Cobb was called into the Sanctuary to attend to the birth and a doctor named Serigo helped her. The danger of the whole Sanctuary party being starved into surrender by their enemies the Lancastrians was averted only by a well-disposed London butcher named John Gould, who supplied them with “half a beef and two muttons every week”.

A few months later a victorious King Edward IV was back in London. Warwick the Kingmaker was dead and the fortunes of the House of York were restored. So the baby prince, born within a building that had hitherto provided shelter for murderers, robbers and other fugitives from justice, was now heir to the throne of England.

Two years later little Prince Edward had a brother. The new baby was called Richard and soon afterwards created Duke of York.

When Richard was still only four he was married with proper ceremony to three-year-old Anne Mowbray, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. Richard’s brother Edward, then six, went to the wedding and afterwards all the guests sat down to a fine wedding feast.

Very little else is known about the short lives of Edward and Richard. The Prince of Wales, says one report, was forever talking about all the wars he would fight and win when he became king, but for a small boy in the 15th century that was normal behaviour.

It is in death, rather than in life, that Edward and Richard are most famed. For their deaths – alleged to have occurred only eleven weeks after their father died – have remained one of the great unsolved mysteries of our islands’ story – a mystery that has occupied the attention of scholars almost ceaselessly since the day it was discovered.

Read the rest of this article »

Condemned pig

Posted in Absurd, Animals, Historical articles, History, Law, Oddities, Religion on Sunday, 31 January 2016

This edited article about legal systems first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 527 published on 19 February 1972.

Animal justice, picture, image, illustration

Top: A sow and her piglets are summoned to appear before the court; Bottom: A court official reads out the charges to a cow accused of trampling a boy to death

Imagine your surprise if you saw a pig, a cow or even a wild animal such as a fox or a badger, being led into court to be tried by a judge and jury! If you had lived on the Continent in medieval times, such a spectacle would not have surprised you in the least, for in those days it was quite common for both domestic and wild animals to be brought to court, there to be tried, sentenced or acquitted, according to the jury’s verdict.

These animal courts were not staged for fun. They were conducted in all seriousness, with eminent lawyers acting for plaintiff and accused, exactly as they do when people are tried in our courts today.

Not long ago a bird was blamed for causing a thatched cottage to be burnt to the ground. It was suggested that the bird had taken a still smouldering cigarette end into the thatch for use as nest-building material. If the same thing had happened in medieval times it would have been the solemn duty of the ecclesiastical court to publicly declare the bird to be under notice to quit the district forthwith.

Fantastic, admittedly – but none the less true. The position was that civil courts had jurisdiction over all domestic creatures, including farm animals, whilst the church, or ecclesiastical courts, could call to trial and pronounce sentence on all forms of wild life, from wolves and rats down to insect pests such as ants and house flies.

One of France’s most eminent jurists, M. Chassensee, made his name for his masterly defence of the rats in the Diocese of Autun, in the 15th century. The rats were accused of appearing in great numbers and annoying the townspeople and were therefore summoned to appear before the local ecclesiastical court.

The defendants were described as “dirty animals of grey colour living in holes.” As the rats failed to appear in answer to the summons, the prosecution demanded sentence right away. But Chassensee argued that All the rats in the diocese were interested parties and they, too, should be called to give evidence. The curate of every parish was therefore commanded to issue a general summons. Still no rats turned up.

Contempt of court? Certainly not, argued Chassensee. Some were too old and some too young to make the journey. The rest of his clients, he explained, were quite willing to attend, but were afraid to come out of their holes because of “evilly disposed cats belonging to the plaintiffs.” This resulted in a stalemate and the case was therefore adjourned, sine die, or indefinitely!

Read the rest of this article »

In 1821 Brighton Pavilion was completed at a cost of £502,797 6s. 10d.

Posted in Architecture, Arts and Crafts, British Towns, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History, Royalty on Saturday, 30 January 2016

This edited article about architecture originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 439 published on 13 June 1970.

Brighton Pavilion, picture, image, illustration

General view of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, East Sussex.

If a certain Doctor Richard Russell had not very fervently advised sea-water as a cure for many ills, George Prince of Wales, later King George the Fourth, would never have come to Brighton to try the cure for himself. Nor would he have ever dreamt of building for himself a small palace, or pavilion, of Eastern design down by the sea.

Brighton – or Brighthelmstone as it was then called – was a simple fishing town when the Prince of Wales arrived there on Sunday, September 7th, 1783. He was twenty-one years of age. He liked the place, and came to it again the following year when he rented a house.

The Prince was extravagant, and so vast had grown his debts that in 1786 he decided to close his London residence of Carlton House and go to Brighton to lead a simple, and healthy life.

This time he rented a house on that part of the town known as the Steyne, the rent being £150 a year. This house was to be changed and changed again until finally it became his dream home, the fantastic Royal Brighton Pavilion as we know it today.

When first he rented his “house” the Prince of Wales had secretly married a Mrs. Fitzherbert who lived in a house nearby. They were happy enough at first, but George Prince of Wales was a restless man, and forgetting his resolution of economy, he decided to rebuild the house as a “Marine Pavilion”. The actual owner of the house was one Thomas Kemp. Brighton’s Kemp Town of today is named after him.

The well-known architect, Henry Holland, was given the commission to design the new house on the old site. 150 workmen were employed, and in a remarkably short time a classically simple residence was built. The grounds were laid out by two pupils of that great landscape designer Lancelot – “Capability” – Brown. Everything was as it should be – no mad “new ideas” or revolutionary designs. Although one touch which forecast the growing romantic ideas of George, Prince of Wales, was that he had in his bedroom . . . a glass so situated as to afford the Prince an extensive view of the sea and the Steyne as he lay in bed.

Read the rest of this article »

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 117

Posted in Ancient History, Architecture, Arts and Crafts, Best pictures, Boats, Customs, Educational card, Historical articles, History, Legend, Leisure, Politics, Sea, Ships, Theatre on Thursday, 26 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows Croesus showing his treasures to Solon.

Croesus, picture, image, illustration

Croesus showing his treasures to Solon, 6th Century BC

The second picture shows the Marriage of the Doge and the Adriatic.

Doge, picture, image, illustration

Marriage of the Doge and the Adriatic in Venice

The third picture shows a Winter Carnival in St Petersburg in 1765.

carnival, picture, image, illustration

Winter Carnival in St Petersburg in 1765

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 116

Posted in Actors, Architecture, Best pictures, Educational card, Fairy Tale, Famous Composers, Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, Law, Magic, Music, Politics, Theatre on Thursday, 26 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows Cinderella by the kitchen fire.

Cinderella, picture, image, illustration

Cinderella by the Kitchen Fire

The second picture shows townsfolk reading a Notice giving their town the right to levy local taxation.

Tax, picture, image, illustration

Notice of the right of a town to levy Octroi tax in the Middle Ages

The third picture shows the dying Violetta in the closing scene of Verdi’s La Traviata.

Traviata, picture, image, illustration

Rodolphe Asks For Forgiveness From Violetta Who Is Dying

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 115

Posted in Actors, Africa, Ancient History, Best pictures, Boats, British Countryside, Christmas, Customs, Educational card, Fairy Tale, Famous Composers, Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, Magic, Music, Rivers, Theatre, Transport, Travel on Thursday, 26 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows a barge on the Nile.

Nile, picture, image, illustration

On a barge in the Nile

The second picture shows Christmas Eve in England in the 18th Century.

Christmas, picture, image, illustration

Christmas Eve in England, 18th Century

The third picture shows the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.

opera, picture, image, illustration

The Queen of Night Meets Tamino and Papageno

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from educational trade cards, 114

Posted in Best pictures, Educational card, Famous crimes, Historical articles, History, Invasions, Leisure, Religion, Sport, War, Weapons on Thursday, 26 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from our large collection of 19th and early 20th century educational trade cards.
The first picture shows Abd-ar-Rahman III proclaiming the Caliphate of Cordoba.

Cordoba, picture, image, illustration

Abd-ar-Rahman III Proclaims the Caliphate of Cordoba

The second picture shows a game of tennis.

 tennis, picture, image, illustration

A game of tennis

The third picture shows Turkish Bashi-bazouks mutilating Greek corpses.

war, picture, image, illustration

Turkish Bashi-bazouks mutilating Greek corpses, Akrotiri, Crete, Greco-Turkish War, 7 March 1897

High-resolution scans of all educational cards can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.