The River Thames flowed through London before the city was even built, and its waters have swallowed up centuries’ worth of trash and treasure. The river is no longer the centre of London’s trade and transportation, but the objects excavated from the Thames foreshore provide a fascinating glimpse of the city’s past. Claire Madge talks about some of the relics rescued from the Thames, and her work to bring them to light while volunteering at the Museum of London Docklands.
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The story of London Tweed
So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
I Love You…I Love You Not: Victorian Valentine’s Day cards
When the Uniform penny post rocked up in 1840, it completely revolutionised the way in which people communicated. Sending letters and cards, such as those celebrating Valentine’s Day, became easier and cheaper and as a result a thriving business developed in central London.
A starring role for the Suffragette collection
As curator of the museum’s wonderful Suffragette collection I often welcome ‘important’ visitors to the archive, captivated by the story of the women who endured imprisonment, hunger-strike and even force-feeding in their battle to win the vote.