Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 7)

The White Heat of Technology (1947 – 1963 AD)

For Christmas 1948 the city of Bergen gifts to Blackborough a large Christmas tree. As part of a year of events celebrating the official reopening of the Northumbria Museum, including a special exhibition of the Northumbria Hoard, there is a grand tree lighting ceremony of the tree, positioned in front of the museum, and the tree-lighting becomes an annual event.

A young man called David Newman, demobbed from the Dorwinby Hussars and deeply affected by the experience in Belsen, begins an organisation in Blackborough called Care with Compassion.

Based initially out of his living room in the Ropewalks, before long this charity is coordinating emergency relief in disaster areas across the country during the terrible winter flooding experienced in this time. In time this organisation begins to look abroad as well.

The Victory Day regatta goes from strength to strength, with The University of Blackborough winning in 1947 and 48. Northumbria poly win in 1949, and in this year the growing popularity of the event sees a mens race introduced as well.

With the passage of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, planning permission is established as a legal requirement for any land development.

To control this, the Act reorganised the planning system from the 1,400 existing planning authorities to 145 (formed from county and borough councils)

These local authorities were given wide-ranging powers in addition to approval of planning proposals; they could carry out redevelopment of land themselves, or use compulsory purchase orders to buy land and lease it to private developers.

They were also given powers to control outdoor advertising, and to preserve woodland or buildings of architectural or historic interest – the latter the beginning of the modern listed building system.

One of the first acts of the Blackborough authorities under this new power is to declare as listed buildings various historic buildings such as Blackborough Castle, the Guildhall, the Walls of the Old Town and the entire Melbourne Quarter

The local authorities also start to express concern at traffic gridlock in the frequently narrow medieval streets of Blackborough. Plans are set in motion in various locations, for a major review of local traffic with a view to roadwidening in particular.

The report is set to be issued in 1951

Workers at Wolfes down tools in protest at lack of progress at housing reconstruction and a perceived lack of priority for the homes of workers. Strikes spread across much of Blackborough, causing almost 10 days of economic paralysis in March 48, until the council agrees to a public meeting to assuage peoples concerns.

More towerblocks commence construction in Sheepsgrave. Many people move in, delighted at the modern, airy living conditions.

Many architects however are appalled at the ugly utilitarian nature of the buildings, and concerned at the social effect of isolating communities in such buildings, especially as it becomes rapidly clear that housing is not being accompanied by adequate shops and schooling in the same complexes.

Few people pay these concerns much need in the optimism of post war reconstruction.

Many are also worried at the speed these buildings are going up. Such fast construction hardly gives confidence in high quality construction methods…….

During the 1947 Olympics in London, many of the football games are hosted in regional cities, with Blackboroughs football stadia hosting many of the games.

Northwood House continues to gather dust, with even the historic grounds and gardens standing neglected. The local authorities, endowed though they may be with new planning powers, stand by impotent as this privately owned property stands vacant

Hollowstone Electronics secure a coup when a noted pioneer in computing, becomes disillusioned with his current career as a manager of early computing company Lyons Electronic Office, a Mr David Caminier. Taking up a senior management position in HE, Caminier soon comes into contact with Tommy Flowers and his associates at the university.

In general, housing reconstruction and the building of new estates continues apace

The new spire of Redhall Cathedral rises, a glittering tower of shimmering glass, complete with viewing platforms. As an act of reconciliation, it is to be surmounted with a cross constructed of metal from the ruins of Cologne. Completion is estimated for next year.

The tramline commencing near the Cathedral before crossing the bridge into Blackborough proper is in urgent need of renovation. When in 1949 the road has to be dug up to relay the entire track, the disruption causes widespread discontent, feeding into the general mood that transport across the region needs a major upgrade.

With the independence of the countries of the Indian Subcontinent, the newly independent countries find themselves needing diplomatic representation around the world. With their High Commissions in London, regional consulates are also required. India, Pakistan and Ceylon find themselves setting up shop, appropriately enough, on a series of townhouses on India Road.

When a series of neighbouring plots fall vacant, that local stalwart of Blackborough retail, Armstrongs, acquires them and begins its first major expansion in nearly 50 years.

Many of the surplus Nissen Huts which have been lying around in storage, are purchased by an enterprising local entertainer called Micheal Mutlin. He proceeds to ship them all to a vacant plot of land he has purchased in Abbeywood.

Rebuilding continues at the George Street Library. Local business owner Arthur Armstrong, of the Armstrongs Department Store fortune, provides funds to finish the building in newly cut Portland Stone befitting its historic grandeur. It is estimated it will take another 5 years to complete.

Construction is completed for a war memorial to the Children of the Blitz, on the spot of the school demolished during the blitz of 1940. constructed of the metal of the crashed German bomber that demolished the school, is is a simple statue of a child, looking into the sky, shielding its eyes from the sun, atop a marble plinth.

Blackborough Polytechnic, in its search for a new campus, secures permission to use the site of the former POW camp. Beginning construction in the Summer of 1949, the plan is to have accommodation for 800 students.

In reference to the former occupation of the site, it is christened the `Germantown campus`.

A hitherto unknown local man with a slightly mysterious accent begins work at a small neighbourhood bakery. He will work at the ovens for the next 20 years…..

When property developers attempt to purchase a substantial portion of Henderson Wood for the construction of houses, the local……..`alternative` community launch an unprecedented public campaign, lobbying the council and generally making themselves a nuisance to all and sundry until the wood is declared protected wild land and thus preserved for future generations

Ethel May Parker qualifies as a psychiatric nurse, at just the right moment-just as the NHS comes into effect.

With the increased awareness of wartime inflicted psychological disorders, the many Hospitals on the South bank of the Dubnus, recently amalgamated into the Redhall and District NHS trust, begin recruiting practitioners of this new and developing medical field.

Local Orientam staff, prospecting for new ideas, find the recently serialised diaries of Clive Burrows.

On the lookout for a gripping crime drama in a wartime setting, the diary accounts of the Blackout Butcher are prime material

At Jody Animations, production of King Arthur is progressing well, with initial private screenings gaining rave reviews for the use of colour and the storyline.

One local reviewer who had spent the 1930s in America, compares it favourably to the cinematic masterpiece, Snow White. Contacts at Warner Brothers and Disney also respond favourably, with US distributors bidding for US broadcasting rights. Release is scheduled for Christmas 1950.

The first peacetime flights begin from the Wildfield Aerodrome. BOAC set up a route to Marseille and Frankfurt

Randall Precision Instruments receives a boost as free Optical care becomes an important part of the new NHS. RPI becomes the key local supplier for Optical supplies to all local opticians and hospitals

The Stick-It company receives a boost as it is granted the contract to supply stationary to all local authority run offices in the area.

Soon this is joined by the administration sections of the various Moran businesses (recently amalgamated as Moran Industries) and Wolfes Shipyards

As construction of the Germantown campus starts, reconstruction of the Northumbria Polytechnics Edmondsley Campus is completed in 1949. Housing 3 large multipurpose workshops, the familiar crash and bang of apprentices and metal work fills the area.

With the nationalisation of the mines by the labour government, the last mine in the area, loss making and utterly in need of modernisation though it may be, remains open. If one mine represents the failures of the post war British mining industry, it will be the Edmondsley Pit.

With wartime press restrictions lifted, and the public demand for scandal and entertainment undiminished, Clive Burrows submits an extract of hsi wartime diaries to the local newspapers. To his surprise, he is offered the princely sum of £3 a chapter to serialise the diary.

The wartime defences are all but gone from the beaches now, except for the many pillboxes along the beach. Initial plans to remove them are shelved when it is realised that they are quite a popular visitor attraction on the Abbeywood beach.

By 1949, the pier is gradually returning to life, with many of the amusement plots gradually filling.

With the closure of the Abbeywood mine, British Steel, the new nationalised owner of the site, has a glut of spare land in the area. a large portion of barren land north of the mine is deemed unsuitable for housing.

This is purchased for a nominal fee of £200 by a local businessman with an eye for a bargain.

Before long some 70 Nissen Huts start appearing on the site….

The developing cold war in Europe,exacerbated by the recent test of the first Sovier nuclear weapon and the emergency of the new NATO pact, sees plans for a north sea monitoring station prepared.

Construction begins on the Rothray memorial.

Much like nearby RPI, NorthMed prospers as the NHS creates a steady demand for various items of medical equipment.

1a 1

In 1953 David Newman unveils the national headquarters for Care with Compassion in central Blackborough.

Now that Northwood House has become a listed property, the Local Authority and prominent local residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the building’s increasingly dilapidated state. The Earl of Blackborough, no longer resident at Northwood House, is uninterested in the upkeep of the mansion and insists that he will only carry out renovations if the local authority agrees to fund them.

In 1955 the local authority puts a proposal to the Earl, they fund renovations if the Earl agrees to open Northwood House to the public.

The local authority conducts its review of traffic in Blackborough and a dual carriageway ringroad is proposed to bypass the narrow medieval streets.

In the mean time road widening measures continue with dilipadated and bombed out houses torn down throughout the early 1950s.

Bridges in Sheepsgrave are replaced to allow for wider roads.

In the process of widening the roads one of the aging tramway lines is torn up.

The new head offices of the Blackborough Brewery Company are completed

Major new towerblocks arise in Sheepsgrave and North Blackborough including the huge Greenheath Towers close to the prison.

Homes in the Melbourne Quarter and the Old Town are turned into shops and restaurants.

Bomb sites and war time defences continue to be cleared.

A major new rail station, North Blackborough Station, opens.

Work resumes on expanding the underground metro and a new metro station opens in Greenheath.

Major housing expansion takes place in North Blackborough and a new high street, “Scotland Street”, is built.

In 1954 Hollowstone Electronics begins mass-production of the HE Ajax 331, a high-speed electronic data processing machine.

1a 2

The HE Ajax narrowly missed out on being the first computer with floating-point arithmetic hardware as IBM released the IBM 704 a few months earlier, although the HE Ajax outperformed IBM’s machine at 14,000 additions per second.

Blackborough United celebrate a record 5th FA Cup win. Planning begins for expansion of their home ground, New Roarkes Stadium.

The Cathedral Spire is completed and a memorial ceremony and consecration is officiated by the Bishop of Redhall.

The damaged area of Redhall’s redlight district is rebuilt and big businesses moves in, including clubs and sex-shops that open to much local protest.

Sub-standard housing is demolished and the permanent population of Redhall continues to shrink as homes give way to shops and restaurants.

Rebuilding of the George Street Library is completed.

Expansion of the flag-ship Armstrongs Department Store is completed.

Rebuilding of the church is completed.

In 1955 the annual Frog Swim is cancelled due to safety concerns.

Most of the remaining war-time defences are cleared from the beaches of Eastmoreland.

The Memorial to The Children of the Blitz, constructed of the metal of a crashed German bomber, is officially opened.

The roads of Frogmore are expanded.

Old Moran House is turned into the corporate offices.

The Moran Company constructs a new plastics production facility in south Eastmoreland and a new modern corporate headquarters over-looking the park

The American corporation Du Pont approaches the Moran Company regarding a merger. If Moran accepts the resulting international conglomerate would be the world’s second largest chemicals company.

New pre-fab houses, apartments, and tower blocks arise.

The Frogmore Pasty Company is established, and begins operating stands selling Frog Pasties across the north of England.

In the 1951 election Labour held the constituency of Eastmoreland with Britain’s first ethnic Chinese MP, Arthur Won, taking over from the retiring incumbent.

The remaining dyeworks in Westbrook close.

Major new housing developments take place.

Work completes on Blackborough Polytechnic ‘s new Germantown campus.

Several new tower blocks arise.

Ethel May Parker becomes the first nurse-manager of Crane Memorial Hospital and begins implementing a more compassionate approach based on therapeutic activities.

1a 3

Ethel May Parker, who will become Britain’s oldest woman, in 1955. Parker’s pioneering work prioritised meaningful occupation and opportunities for patients to develop their own recovery strategies.

The small cluttered homes around Merdinbrook begin to be torn down.

Gerald Gardner uses donations from followers of his new “Wicca” religion to create a purpose-built witchcraft museum at the entrance to Henderson Wood and to restore the historic Henderson shack to how it would have looked in the middle ages. More of his followers move in to the area and set up market stalls selling home-made goods, and a few begin living in and trading out of the abandoned train carriages. This is the beginning of the world-famous Henderson Market.

As part of the Festival of Britain a huge exhibition centre, Festival Hall, and the Blackborough Science Museum open in Wildfield.

1a 4

Wildfield Festival Hall was home to a major exhibition of British innovation during the Festival of Britain.

Orientem studio releases “The Blackout Butcher”, based on the serialised diaries of Clive Burrows however the film is dismissed as cheap and in poor taste and fails to do well. Orientem subsequently makes an attempt at kitchen-sink realism with the release of a film adaptation of the Terrence Rattigan Play The Deep Blue Sea. The film has some critical success but performs only modestly and Orientem’s fortunes seem to be on the downturn and both Hammer and Pinewood Studios begin making enquiries about acquiring the studio.

Meanwhile, the now independent Jody Animations enjoys continuing success with animated version of Animal Farm and The Man Who Would Be King following King Arthur. These films are noted for their artistry and for a distinctly more adult feeling than Disney.

Wilfield Aerodrome is expanded, developing into a civilian airport.

The Nissen Huts are transported to Abbeywood and become accommodation for Joysea budget holiday camp.

1a5
Joysea holiday camp offered cheap seaside holidays for all the family.

The Pier is active once again with new electronic entertainments introduced.

Closure of Abbeywood air base is considered.

The Rothray memorial is completed.

1a6

In 1954 Sugar Park Towers housing estate is completed, at the time considered the height of modern design.

1a7

Land is cleared for a large new hospital planned for the edge of town.

In 1956 one of the Mansions is bequeathed to the University in a will. The University of Blackbourgh builds two buildings in the garden, and relocates the Humanities and Religious departments.

The rocket club, after the launch of Sputnik gathers enough funds to launch their 19th rocket. The G-1 successfully launches at the clubs launch site eight miles north of Blackborough, and as a result, the club receives a small grant by the Government, and technical help from the Polytechnic and the University. They build a new assembly plant, and begin work on a rocket that can reach the Mesosphere. The G-2 is launched in 1958.

Northwood house is opened to the public after a council funded repair campaign.

Seven tower blocks are built in Frogmore on the site of some slums. Designed by the architect William Brockwood, Meadow Hills, with modern insulation, indoor toilets and other modern features, soon becomes a popular place to live despite its brutalist looks. The ten storey blocks soon become a major feature of the skyline. However, some protest is encountered as a small group of Christians argue that it overlooks the church

A twenty storey tower block is built not too far away on the old Moran and Co armoury

Frog pasties continue to become popular, and a new production site is set up.

The Du pont -Moran merger is turned down, but both companies sign an agreement to set up a joint marketing company to market products to Asian countries. Moran also sells its small North American operation to Du-Pont.

A man drowns in the St Dubnus estuary when his boat capsizes due to strong currents near the new department store. Questions are asked about the placement of the department store.

A fire breaks out at a brothel in Redhall, killing several people including a local councillor, which causes a major local scandal.

Crane Memorial hospital provides the core of the staff for the next hospital and is therefore shut. Discussions begin on what to do with the buildings. Ethel May Parker becomes the first Nurse Manager of Blackborough District Hospital

A few new films are made by Orientem Studios. None are particularly bad, but none are extremely good. The studio is earning just enough money to keep going, but in 1958 merges with Pinewood studios.

Jody Animation produces three films in the period – One original one called Sierra Bandits, an adaption of Lord of the flies, and an award winning adaption of War and Peace.

A unusual baby boom puzzled some scientists, who conducted a large campaign to find out the cause, resulting in seven wildly different academic papers.

The Polytechnic works with the University to offer a joint degree in Mechanical engineering

The hospital in Sugar Park is completed.

blackborough 1960s

In the 1960s the population of Blackborough remains more or less static as the post war boom drops off.

Major new road bypasses are built connecting the city to the A1 motor-way to the south-west.

Most of the remaining World War II defences are cleared and Anderson shelters in people’s back gardens are torn down.

Following the opening of Northwood House to the public the commoners who have been kept out for 350 years finally get the chance to wander around the mansion and the Earl’s manor home becomes a major tourist attraction

Under-sized homes in the Sheepsgrave area are torn down and new homes built.

Some riverside factories are bought up to be turned into residential properties.

A new tower block, Trafalgar Heights, is erected close to the headquarters of the Blackborough brewery company.

A new Magistrate’s Court is built close to Blackborough Prison.

Road-widening continues and more of the tramway is closed.

New homes are built in the Greenheath area.

A JCB factory is built to the north-west of the city.

Hollowstone Electronics produces the Ajax Business Machine, a computer specifically designed for the banking industry.

More homes are built in Frogmore-Eastmoreland.

Families from across the city move into Meadow Hills.

The Frogmore Pasty Company begins selling pasties as food-on-the-go at major rail stations across the country.

The permanent population of Redhall shrinks further as rents rise and homes are turned into upmarket shops and restaurants.

The old redlight district comes under threat due to the rising rents and backlash following the scandal of the brothel fire.

In order to enforce the new Obscene Publications Act the Blackborough Vice Squad is formed, a small group of highly experienced officers given carte blanche to prevent a future scandal like the brothel fire.

1a8

Jack Starr, head of the Blackborough Vice Squad.

Some of the area’s light industry and dockside workshops relocate.

Construction begins on a car park and shopping centre aiming to compete with Armstrong’s Department store.

1a9

Redhall Rotunda under construction.

Redhall Athletic Football Stadium is expanded and an apartment block is built next door, giving some lucky fans on the top floor the opportunity to watch games from the comfort of their balconies.

The Crane Memorial Hospital continues to sit abandoned as some people want the 250 year old hospital to be made a listed building. The local authority considers a number of applications for the old hospital to be turned into a museum or hotel whilst stories abound about the ghosts of former mental patients wandering the abandoned hospital.

In 1961 a new branch of the Imperial War Museum opens in the former hospital.

The Wiccan community at Henderson Wood continues to grow and develops into the centre of the emerging hippie movement in Blackborough. Several of the abandoned train carriages are moved to the edge of the woods and more stalls are set up, selling handcrafted goods, occult objects, revolutionary books and (secretly) cannabis.

New homes are built along Merdinbrook.

At the Germantown campus of the Polytechnic a major new arts centre is built in concrete brutalist style. The Germantown Arts Centre quickly finds itself at the centre of controversy as a student adaptation of the novel Things Falls Apart causes a stir due to its negative portrayal of the British empire in Africa.

1a10

Germantown Arts Centre, with its infamously pointless decorative concrete cone visible in the centre.

Jody animations begins work on a major new film, an animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings.

Production begins on a new film at Pinewood’s newly acquired studio in Wildfield. Based on a popular series of novels the film, due for release in 1962, will introduce a character called “James Bond”.

1a11

Part of the Pinewood studio was used for the production of Dubnus Television, the ITV franchise for north-east England which goes on air in 1961.

New offices are erected close to the studio.

The aircraft manufacturing plant closes several of it’s facilities, unable to compete with larger out-of-town plants.

Hundreds of new homes are constructed.

A large car park is built close to Wildfield Festival Hall.

The area around the ox bow lake is turned into a park, rather unimaginatively named Ox Park.

The old Edmondsley mine, the last mine within the city limits, is finally closed down. Having been all but exhausted for years the mine had long ceased to be profitable, but this doesn’t prevent widespread protests and sympathy strikes.

1a12

Striking miners protesting the closure of the last city mine.

Close to the site of the closed mine Hollowstone Electronics opens a new computer lab.

A writer in Edmondsley publishes “Black City: A Bloody History of Blackborough”. The pop-history account details the darker side of Blackborough’s history, from the singing decapitated head of Saint Dubnus to the Redhall mass-suicide following the Norman conquest, the Black Death and massacre of the Rothray pagans, the Jewish persecutions, the Stonewall-McIntyre feud, the Great Fire, the Beast of Blackborough, the Henderson Witch, the grisly pie-maker Mr Dott, the murderous 17th century Earl, the Blackout Butcher and the criminal matriarch known as the Russian Widow. The morbid account of the city’s history proves massively popular and cements the city’s gothic reputation.

An unexploded bomb goes off close to the dog track. Fortunately no one is hurt.

The tourist trade continues to go strong, however more people are beginning to go abroad for their holidays.

The old gasworks is closed down.

A new branch of the Imperial War Museum opens in Merdin and in 1960 what remains of the WWI era U-boat is moved there.

1a13

The remain of the u-boat on display at the new Imperial War Museum.

Hundreds of new homes are built.

Construction begins on the Blackborough Aquarium.

In 1960 a protester is killed during a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamant demonstration at the entrance to Rothray naval base.

1a14

Rothray Naval Base became the focus for local peace protesters.

The number of sailors stationed at the naval base drops to less than a thousand.

In the small village of Marsden, to the north of Sunderland and to the south of Blackborough, life continues much as it has for centuries. And Blackborough continues to expand and threaten to absorb Marsden as it has for centuries.

Erosion causes a piece to break off Marsden Rock and fall into the sea.

1a15

The rocky arch off the coast of Marsden would become a popular postcard scene.

To the north of Blackborough tourists increasingly visit the village of Whitley Bay.

St Cuthbert’s Lighthouse switches over from an oil lamp to an electric light.

1a16

St Cuthbert’s Lighthouse, only accessible by a narrow stone causeway during high tides.

Mines, Missiles & Motown (1963 – 1980 AD)

The downturn of industry in the area leads to resentment of the most recent arrivals to the city. Blackborough has a long history of immigration and the largest UK-Chinese population outside of London but there is increasing hostility towards immigrant from the West indies, India and Pakistan.

Wolfe’s Shipyard has not had a new commission in over two years and unless some sort of rescue buy-out can be arranged it will soon fold.

1a17

Laid off workers outside Wolfe’s Shipyard.

In 1963, following their 6th F.A Cup win, Blackborough United move from New Roarkes Stadium to a large modern stadium named Scotland Road on the northern outskirts of town.

The Trafalgar Heights housing block officially opens.

The JCB factory in the north-west of the city goes into full production.

The new bypasses connecting the city to the A1 motor-way prove a boon for businesses in the city. New regional offices are established for major corporations such as John Lewis, Bowmer & Kirkland, and United Biscuits.

A strip of land to the west of the Northumbrian Museum is bought up by developers and turned into a major shopping area.

A new cutting edge modernist theatre and concert hall, Northumberland Hall, is built close to the museum.

The Ajax Business Machine continues to be sold to banks and financial institutions, Hollowstone Electronics begins turning a profit and in 1964 and Tony Hoare joins the team where he develops the sorting algorithm Quicksort and CSP language.

Arnold Moran dies. The family no longer have much of a role in running Moran Industries but his son Edward takes up his father’s position as head of the Moran Peace Award Foundation (and various other charitable foundations).

The Frogmore Pasty Company goes from strength to strength.

The fish-market is purchased by property-developers too much protest from local traders.

The Blackborough Gazette moves out of the manor house on George Sreet it has been run from for centuries, relocating to a new office building nearby.

The Northumbrian Steel Company goes into administration and their plant at Baltic Dock closes.

1a18

Steel workers protesting the closure of the Baltic Dock plant.

The Stick It-Company uses some of the vacated industrial facilities for glue production as they begin selling Stick It Notes abroad in increasing quantities.

The residential population of Redhall continues to shrink.

The Tories lose their only Blackborough City MP in the 1964 General Election. After the election the constituency boundaries are redrawn with depopulated Redhall folded into the surrounding constitutencies.

Jack Starr, head of the Blackborough Police’s vice squad, begins extorting businesses in the red-light district.

The Redhall Rotunda Shopping Centre is completed and a grand opening ceremony held.

The Merdin Imperial War Museum, located at the former psychiatric hospital, develops into a major tourist attraction.

The community at Henderson Wood has grown beyond just Wiccans. The thriving weekend market now caters to Wiccans, beatniks, hippies, teenage delinquents and weirdos of various varieties, selling music, hand-made goods, books, clothes, drugs, etc.

A housing terrace close to Miner’s Field collapses in a sink-hole when one of the old mines caves in. Thankfully no one is killed but hundreds of people are made homeless as the area is evacuated and the area enclosed by a fence.

Over a hundred substandard homes in Merdinbrook are declared unfit for human habitation. To resolve the housing crisis ambitious plans are drawn up for one of the largest tower blocks ever built in the UK: A 32 storey brutalist concrete tower designed by Hungarian architect Ernő Goldfinger.

1a19

Erno Goldfinger, standing in front of his much maligned creation, Trafalgar Heights.

Jody’s animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings is released in 1963 and soon becomes a cult success as many young people are drawn to the material and psychedelic visuals.

The first James Bond Film, Dr. No, is released in 1962, filmed by Pinewood partly at their new studio in Wildfield. The old Orientem studios are expanded by Pinewood.

The Blackborough Aquarium opens in 1963.

The Abbeywood air base closes down as the local RAF squadron is relocated out of the city.

More of the remaining WWII era defences are cleared from the beach.

New homes are built along the coast.

In 1963 farmland in Hillcrow is bought up for development.

Sub-standard housing stock is pulled down and modern new homes built.

Government funding is made available to expand the Hollowstone Electronics computer lab with space provided for use by the first University of Northumbria computer science students.

An employee at Moran Industries leaks plans to close down the Arsenal in South Edmondsley, leading to fears that hundreds of jobs will be lost.

In 1964 the Blackborough Gazette runs an exclusive story, publishing leaked information that shows a number of accusations of rape against sailors have been covered up by the navy going back at least a decade. The revelations lead to a massive outcry and further protests outside the base.

Sugar Park expands and a new high-street is established.

Tensions develop following an influx of Indian and Pakistani immigrants into the largely poor white area, leading to several incidents of violence.

1a20

Police clashing with anti-migration marchers.

In the summer of 1964 members of the rival “Mods” and “Rockers” youth subcultures meet for a mass brawl on Abbeywood Beach.

A new guesthouse opens close to St Cuthbert’s lighthouse.

The woods to the north of town are designated as Greenbelt land.

The general expansion of housing across the area, and the redevelopment of the airport, provide an immediate local demand for JCB products. As JCB achieve strong sales, they develop a national reputation and sales increase accordingly. In the space of 6 years the JCB workforce increases from 3000 to 6000 with plans for further expansion.

In 1965, having received only 3 entire new builds and a handful of refurbishment contracts in the last 5 years, Wolfes is in crisis.

A new buyer takes the yard and name with a plan to introduce a dramatic series of reforms and ‘efficiencies’. By late 1966 the shipyards workforce has been slashed from a high of 9500 down to 5500, with proposals for pay and benefits to be significantly reduced.

The shipbuilders union begins an immediate programme of industrial action.

Into this febrile environment, one August’s night, steps Marshall Wadsley, a recently arrived immigrant from Trinidad. After going for a walk in the sultry midsummer night with his white Norwegian wife Ulrikka, a group of white strikers returning home from the picket lines happen upon them.

At the time, common though unsubstantiated rumours are that the new shipyard owners plan to replace locals with cheap foreign labour.

Words are had and before long Wadsley is fleeing in fear for his life.

As so often happens, drama heaps upon drama and dispirite groups jump on the bandwagon. Over the course of 3 nights between the 17-20 August, 200 cars are burnt out, 20 properties burnt down and, significantly, severe damage done to overhead line in the area during what will be known locally as the Shipyard Riots.

Scotland Road Stadium hosts a number of Group 3 matches during the 1966 World Cup

With the damage to the tracks of the overhead line requiring expensive and fast repairs, the outdated nature of the city transport infrastructure is brought into sharp relief. In 1967 it is announced that all but the Redhall to Castle St line of the tram network will be closed by 1972, and even the overhead lines future is in serious doubt.

With the opening of the Trafalgar Heights, the city is in the full midst of the 1960s modernist boom, but with the opening of `Quebec Quarter Parade`, as the new shopping centre is called, the contrast with the cities stately neoclassical public buildings, and the 1960s architecture is clearer by the day.

1a21

The Quebec Quarter Parade.

This discontent is initially expressed only in architectural and artistic quarters, but in 1966, severe structural problems are discovered in the foundations of the beloved Dickens Oratory, which has housed public events and concerts for over a century.

The `considered opinion` of the appointed experts of the day is to demolish it and build a concert arena `Fit for the 20th century`.

Opposition is instant and fierce, led by the Blackborough Gazette. Despite this, a meeting of the Blackborough City Council planning committee votes (by a margin of a single vote) to accept the recommendations.

The reaction knocks the Council squarely on the back foot. It ranges from the predictable-protests, to the bizarre-city waste collectors, spurred on by local Union reps, refuse to empty the bins, indeed, dump the contents of others, outside the opulent council buildings and even the homes of those who voted in favour of the demolition.

1a22

Needless to say, by the end of 1967, the government, prompted by a unanimous front of local MPs, steps in and declares its plans to `review the decision`.

In 1967, a letter is printed in the Blackborough Gazette:

Sir,
It is my very great fortune to have been so recently moved into the new and if I may say palatial Trafalgar Heights Residence. Having lived for many years in the home of my birth in Sheepsgrave in which 6 of us shared an outside privy and gas lighting, no superlatives can adequately express the wonders of our home. Inside plumping! Electricity! The peace and a life not lived cheek by jowel! 

The only failing I can mention is the distance of the building from local amenities such as shops and libraries, but in this age of wonders, who can doubt they will be solved soon?

Yours,
A Happy Resident of Trafalgar Heights”

Amidst the almost ridiculous, happy naivety, lies a sinister truth which will soon become apparent of many post war apartment blocks-the isolation from traditionally close knit communities, and the absence of local services.

This optimistic letter is the first hint that all is not well in the social housing of the 60s.

Jonathan Moran, 27 years old, and heir to the Moran fortune has a successful career in the City of London, after the traditional childhood of the rich and influential at Eton and Oxford.

Part of his job involves extensive travel in the United States and Europe. Ever the venture capitalist, through his contacts in his ancestral city, he is aware of the success of the Ajax machine in financial institutions across Britain and sees a golden opportunity to export it across the Atlantic.

Hollowstone Electronics is not, however, a multinational conglomerate with an endless supply of funds with which to send representatives to trade fairs, produce advertisements and negotiate the labyrinthine maze of export rules and regulations.

What they need, is publicists and lawyers. For that they need money.

Before long, Morans people are on the train to his ancestral home with a proposal to purchase a share of the business to develop its export potential……..

With the old Tank Factory lying vacant, The Frogmore Pasty Company snaps it up at a bargain price. With a growth in home refrigeration, business is booming. Frogmore Pasty sets about expanding its production facilities in order to make itself a presence in more than just train and bus stations, aiming for the fridges of Britains homes and supermarkets.

The Stick-It company undergoes a major restructure. Now officially rebranded S-I Industries, it takes over more of the abandoned Baltic Dock, which is rapidly becoming an SI supported industrial estate. Indeed SI internal memos actively call it the Baltic Industrial park. This is a boon to struggling local employment stats.

With the release of a number of products stemming from its expertise with chemical adhesives, such as Sticky Tape, `Super Glues` and even Sandpaper, SI executives are determined to ride the boom in mid 60s home crafts and DIY.

In 1967, SI post profits of nearly £1 million-a massive amount in 1960s values.

A conference in Washington in 1965 calls for a global register of sites of historical importance following the saga of the Aswan Damn and the moving of Abu Simbel.

In reparation for a series of conferences that will eventually result, in 1972, in the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the government begins its own audit of historic sites of importance in the UK.

Hearing of this, the local Member of Parliament secures a ministerial visit. Letters will later reveal this is due to serious concerns about the placement, in close proximity to the historic Redhall centred around St Canutes cathedral of the `Carbuncle` that is the Redhall Rotunda shopping centre

When the UK eventually nominates its first UNESCO world heritage sites, Redhall intends to be on the list.

A local journalist hears rumours of corruption at the very top of the local police force

Ethel May Parker retires after a varied career. Ending her career as a respected psychiatric nurse-manager of an innovative team of female nurses, she does not intend a quiet retirement, and almost immediately begins producing articles for medical journals.

Before long she has established her own, self produced psychiatric magazine, entitled `Mindful`, which rapidly becomes a respected contributor to the field of psychiatric medicine and debate.

In 1967, a group of local `Hippies`, inspired by the exploits of the `Pirate` radio station, Radio Caroline, load up a small fishing boat with food for a month and radio transmitters.

They broadcast from outside territorial waters, occasionally relocating. Their purpose, to advertise a `Free Festival of Peace and Love` in Hendersons Wood for 3 days in August. Ranging up and down the cost as far as Southern Scotland and as far south as Hull, they have no idea who may have listened until the first day of the festival, August 15th.

Turnout to the first Hendersons Event, as it is termed, is somewhat larger than planned.

There is a minor moral panic at the sudden descent of some 2000 `Youths`. The event however passes off with no real trouble. Plans are already afoot to make it an annual event

In 1965, the City of Blackborough Corporation, the legal owner of the Wildfield Aerodrome, announces a name change. The Aerodrome becomes Blackborough International Airport.

Intent on making the Airport fit for the new era of mass air travel, contracts are signed with local developers to lay, parallel to the existing runway, a stronger and longer runway, as well as constructing a brand new terminal. Work commences in February 1966 with construction of the runway expected to finish in 1970, with the terminal opening in 1969

The band of the moment, The Beatles, have signed a 3 picture deal with production giant United Artists. Unhappy with the last helping, Help!, and with a new piece “Sj Pepper” out in 1967 to promote, the band is intrigued by the idea of an animated feature.

UA, having no great animation experience, scout around for animation houses to work with. Disney is in fluxes following the death of Walt Disney and in any case has an image not according with 1969s ‘Pop culture’, and Hanna Barbara and the other large American animators are equally non-committal or expensive.

Through a long and convoluted series of investigations, UA happens upon a small but well regarded team of animators in the North East of England with a niche reputation for quirky, cult works of animation.

In 1967, Jody Animation begins work on a n animated feature for release next year entitled “Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club“.

Following the example of the lab sharing arrangement with the University of Blackborough, Blackborough Polytechnic goes one further. Introducing its own computer studies course, an arrangement is made with HE to provide on the job training and preference for its graduates when it comes to employment opportunities at the company. In so doing, HE secures from both of the cities higher education institutions, a ready source of lab space and expertise and in so doing establishes itself as the primary, and infact only, face of British computing with no institutions outside Blackborough currently offering computing courses

Whilst this is happening, Hollowstone Electronics release their first commercial computer with integrated circuits. Sold mainly to banks and universities, sales are modest but a profit is turned. Amongst those who understand such things however, the computer is a revelation and the possibilities endless.

One person taking note, is a London based scion of the Moran dynasty

In 1967, for the first year since the war, visitor numbers fall, albeit slightly. Its surely a blip and nothing whatsoever to do with the rising availability of air traveL…

Local left wing organisations and anti-war organisations are a constant protesting presence at the military base on Rothray. The military authorities are shocked, and forced to advise sailors to exercise caution when about in the town, when some local pubs refuse to serve military personnel seemingly in reprisal for the revelations about the cover ups.

So far the government resists calls for an enquiry.

Under the terms of the new Race Relations Act, local police and council enforcement officers controversially proceed to take action against local businesses and boarding houses refusing to serve immigrants.

In 1968 Prime Minister,Harold Wilson, endorses the ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign, encouraging workers to work extra time without pay or take other actions to help competitiveness, which is spreading across Britain.

The Prime Minister announces that the Civil Defence Corps is being stood down

Asians continue to arrive in Britain from Kenya, where they were forced out by increasingly draconian immigration laws

Coal mining in the Black Country, which played a big part in the Industrial Revolution, ends after some 300 years with the closure of Baggeridge Colliery near Sedgley.

A demonstration in London’s Grosvenor Square against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War leads to violence – 91 police injured, 200 demonstrators arrested.

Enoch Powell makes his controversial Rivers of Blood Speech on immigration. Enoch Powell is dismissed from the Shadow Cabinet by Opposition leader Edward Heath due to the Rivers of Blood Speech, despite several opinion polls stating that the majority of the public shares Mr Powell’s fears.

Mr Frederick West becomes Britain’s first heart transplant patient.

Start of Ford sewing machinists strike at the Dagenham assembly plant: women workers strike for pay comparable to that of men.

British Rail’s last steam train service runs on the standard gauge: steam locomotives make the 314-mile return passenger journey from Liverpool to Carlisle before being dispatched to the scrapyard or preservation.

The Race Relations Act is passed, making it illegal to refuse housing, employment or public services to people in Britain because of their ethnic background

In 1970 the General Election results are announced and Edward Heath’s Conservative Party comes to power with a majority of 30 seats,a major surprise as most of the opinion polls had shown that Harold Wilson’s Labour were likely to stay in power.Among the new members of parliament are Neil Kinnock and John Smith for Labour, and Kenneth Clarke, Kenneth Baker, Norman Fowler and Geoffrey Howe for the Tories.

In Blackborough JCB production continues to grow, becoming one of Blackborough’s major industrial employers and providing much needed jobs in a period when Blackborough’s once great traditional industries of mining and ship-building had all but disappeared.

Most of the remaining tram line is closed.

Following the decision to demolish the Dickens Oratory Blackborough City Council close the building, however when the council tries to move in the bulldozers they are met by obstructive protestors and last-minute legal challenges, putting the project into limbo. By 1970 the council has been forced to back down but the building continues to sit empty.

The new owners of Wolfe’s Shipyard close part of the production facilities and lay-offs continue.

Marshall Wadsley gets a job on the Blackborough Metro and becomes increasingly interested in anti-racist and socialist politics.

1a23

In 1970 restoration work begins on Westburgh’s two-hundred and thirty-three year old Blackborough Fire Memorial.

New offices open in Old Town.

New Roarkes Stadium, the home of Blackborough United football club for many years, is demolished.

Work begins on a large new parking garage.

The Frogmore Pasty Company goes from strength to strength and is acquired by Unilever in 1970 for £60 million. For now Unilever agrees to keep production in Blackborough.

A number of Eastmoreland’s warehouses are closed and new waterfront homes built.

Arthur Won, MP for Eastmoreland and Britain’s first ethnic-chinese politician, retires after nineteen years in parliament. Labour wins the resulting by-election.

S-I Industries officially opens its own industrial park at Baltic Dock, producing and packaging stationary and adhesives.

Independent ship-outfitters and related industries around Baltic Dock close down.

Despite protests the Redhall Rotunda proves popular with weekend shoppers. The near-by outdoor market begins to suffer from the competition.

Jack Starr, head of the Blackborough Vice Squad, murders a journalist from the Blackborough Gazette when she threatens to reveal the corruption and blackmail being carried out by his officers.

The Hendersons Festival continues and the “alternative” market located at Henderson’s Wood expands, with a vegetarian cafe and all-round music venue built.

Locals complain about the noise, the drugs and the smell however the city council turns with the land owned by the cooperative and the alternative market brining in tourists the city council is not inclined to act.

New offices and shops open around Waterloo Square.

A fire tears through the Merdinbrook Paint Factory. The fire burns for hours as the city fire-brigade struggle to get it under control and a number of homes in Merdinbrook are destroyed.

Mary Bell, an 11-year-old girl from Merdin, is sentenced to life detention for the manslaughter of two small boys

The new terminal and runway are completed at Blackborough International Airport and an adjoining car park built. The new, bigger, better airport serves nearly half a million passenger in its first year since the expansion.

In 1968 Jody Animations releases “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club”. The last Beatle’s film released before the band’s break-up it is an ground-breaking musical that blends animation and live-action, showing the Fab Four interacting with their animated selves.

New hotels, offices, restaurants and bars spring up around the airport.

A state school opens between the Anglican Church and the electrical substation.

An old people’s home is built on the outskirts of Hillcrow opens.

A new park, Festival Park, opens.

A new mosque opens close to the roundabout near the airport.

Housing is expanded along Merdinbrook.

A new park is established along the river.

Moran Industries purchases a 40% stake in Hollowstone Electronics in exchange for a ten million pound investment.
1a25

HE uses the investment to move into the US market and to launch the first ever Automated Teller Machines, with Barclays Bank becoming the ATM’s first buyer in 1968.

Production costs have begun to run too high at the new arsenal and Moran Industries begins considering closure.

The amusements continue to struggle as more and more people are able to go abroad for their holidays. Mechanical and electronic amusements are increasingly common although true videogames are still a way off.

The old RAF base is due to be demolished next year.

Some new homes are built.

A new state school is opened.

The Northern Soul movement takes off in the dance clubs of Abbeywood, with local teenagers dancing to the latest American Motown hits.

 

1a26

Northern Soul led to an explosion of new dances, bands and fashions.

Following years of protests the Royal Navy announces that the naval base at Rothray is to be wound down, with only the naval college and offices to remain. By 1970 the number of personnel stationed at the base has been slashed and a number of buildings closed.

The navy says that the base can no longer meet the requirements of modern ships and claims that the decision has nothing to do with the allegations about a cover-up. The victims’ campaign is not placated and continues to call for a public inquiry into the handling of allegations against servicemen.

One of the Marsden quarries is exhausted, leaving a deep crater in the land.

In 1972 the number of unemployed people in the UK exceeds one million for the first time since the 1930s.

A State of emergency is declared as a result of the miners’ strike.

Idi Amin, dictator of Uganda, announces that 50,000 Asians with British passports are to be expelled from Uganda to Britain within the next three months as they are “sabotaging the Ugandan economy”.

The Dickens Oratory reopens as a library and museum in 1976.

Business continues to steadily decline at Wolfe’s Shipyard, the yard is reduced to doing light repairs and now only employs a few dozen men.

Unemployment continues to rise and the announcement of the closure of the Sheepsgrave cannery in 1979 leads to a night of rioting.

Marshall Wadsley becomes increasingly involved in the trade union movement and plans to run for city council.

The new parking garage is completed in 1972.

In 1979 a Blackborough teenager by the name of Chris Donald begins producing a magazine from his bedroom in his parents’ Sheepsgrave home.

The magazine, called “Viz”, features dark and vulgar humour and comic characters, and begins to gain popularity, with its teenage editor drafting in friends to produce several thousand copies a month.

Workshops in the Ropewalk area close.

As industry slumps a number of warehouses close down and several are demolished and replaced with new housing.

The bakery company Greggs opens a large new corporate headquarters in the Melbourne district.

The gunpowder mill in the north of town closes and new homes are built.

In 1979 the Provisional IRA begin plotting a major terrorist attack in Blackborough. The IRA hopes to achieve large-scale destruction to show the average Englishman that cities outside of London are not safe.

In 1979 the fish market in Frogmore closes down.

Dawley & Sons Engine factory closes.

As the Moran family no longer spend much time in the city New Moran House is turned into a hotel and conference centre.

The Titanic Quarter shipyard closes in 1977. The Blackborough Historical Society raises funds to build a museum nearby commemorating the building of the Titanic. The Titanic Museum opens in 1979 with a 1:5 scale model of the Titanic as its star attraction. Ironically the loss of the area’s ship-building industry necessitates the large model be made in Germany and imported.

1a27

In Redhall more dockside workshops close down. Some are replaced by houses or offices on the waterfront but many sit derelict and empty, attracting homeless people and drug users and harming Redhall’s tourist friendly prosperous reputation.

Redhall Outdoor Market shrinks due to competition from the shopping rotunda.

Jack Starr is investigated for corruption. As the net begins to close around the corrupt head of the vice squad he seals himself inside Redhall police station and resists arrest. Following a twelve hour siege Starr dies in a hail of bullets, ending his criminal empire.

Henderson Wood station is expanded and a second southern train branch is added.

The Hendersons Wood Market steadily expands, new pubs and clubs spring up in the local area and Hendersoons Wood becomes the centre of the punk movement.

A distinctive new Arts Centre is built on the site of the old paint factory.

 

z1

Riverside industry closes and new houses and shops are built.

Blackborough International Airport continues to expand during the seventies.

New homes, hotels and offices are built around the irport.

Orientem Studios begins to struggle, lacking a major hit during the seventies and beginning to make lower quality films. Some of these have become cult classics, such as Orientem’s 1978 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel Dune.

dune

The 1978 version of Dune was not a success.

In 1975 farmland in Hillcrow is sold off for development.

A new industrial park is planned on the edge of Hillcrow.

The weapons arsenal in Edmondsley closes in 1977 and the following year a large new bus garage is opened on the site.

The garage houses the distinctive new buses introduced in 1975 which will become an icon of the city.
bus

A new school opens in the Edmondsley area.

Hollowstone Electronics receives lucrative contracts to provide ATMs to countries around the world and grows throughout the seventies, establishing new research and production facilities close to the university.

The late seventies see the introduction of the pier’s first arcade games, including Beowulf’s Quest, one of the first English arcade games developed at Northumbria Polytechnic.
maze
In general the sea front is becoming more economically depressed as visitor numbers fall and traditional seafront amusements fall out of favour and fall into disrepair.

In 1975 the RAF base is demolished. In 1978 the railway is expanded with a new line running north-west.

New homes are built in the area of the former air base.

The Joysea Holiday Camp runs into trouble, unable to compete with the growing popularity of foreign holidays. By 1979 Joysea is on the verge of closing.

A large new super-market opens.

Marsden expands dramatically with planned new suburbs and a train station.

In Whitlet Bay new hotels and a growing tourist industry are established.

Bay Hospital, a large medium-security psychiatric hospital, is built on the outskirts of Whitley Bay.

road

In 1978 a new motorway service station is built off the A1 on the outskirts of Sugar Park, bringing much needed jobs to the area.

Most of the facilities at the naval base on Rothray are closed down, with only the naval college and a recruitment station remaining open.

In 1979 the island of Rothray is re-opened to the public after sixty-eight years. A small naval history museum opens and plans are made to re-open the ancient underground hermitage to the public.

1980

 

21st Century City (1980 – 2017 AD)

crest

The Coat of Arms of the City of Blackborough

Blackborough

The 1980s are a difficult period for Blackborough, the decline of industry continues as manufacturing relocates abroad and many of the city’s factories close to never re-open their doors again, with the city’s north-east and docklands particularly hard-hit.

The Wolfe Shipyard finally closes in 1983, to great protest and anger. The shipyards had been sustained long beyond their productivity and had been much reduced in output for many years. The decline and eventual closure of the dockyards comes to be seen as representative of the loss of industry in the North East of England under successive governments.

The industrial decline is accompanied by increased social tensions as unemployment sets Blackborough’s communities against each other and jobless young men find distraction in drugs and football hooliganism, with frequent clashes between opposing fans.

However the seeds of Blackborough’s recovery had already been sown. Diversification of the economy is fuelled by the growth of Blackborough-based companies such as Hollowstone Electronics and the expansion of long-standing corporations like Moran Industries into new fields. Population growth, stagnant for much of the seventies and eighties, begins to increase once again in the nineties and by 2017 the total population of the Blackborough Metropolitan Area has reached five-hundred and eighty-three thousand, making Blackborough the UK’s fifth-largest city.

Social change in Blackborough was led by the Trinidadian immigrant Marshall Waldsley, who had become politicised during the unrest of the sixties and seventies and subsequently became an important figure in city politics, elected as a city councillor in 1988 on a platform of rejuvenation based on new industries.

Waldsley would spend two decades as a city counsellor and after The Localism Act of 2011 introduced directly elected city mayors Marshall Waldsley became Blackborough’s first elected mayor in 2012.

The transport network is also expanded with new major roads leading north and a new rail line heading east. Most of the city’s remaining tram network closes in 1985.

Major rejuvenation projects would take place in the lead up to the turn of the millennium with much of the old dockyards given over to fashionable restaurants, shops, and riverside apartments. However artefacts of the area’s industrial heritage remain and the Millennium Commission funds the building of the Blackborough Heritage Centre, a striking domed building on the site of the former Wolfe’s shipyard than opens in the year 2000.

heritage

The Blackborough Heritage Centre hosts exhibitions, workshops and classes based on the region’s traditional crafts and industries.

In 2000 the University of Blackborough aquires Westburgh Guildhall, using the historic building as well as the newly constructed LibBrit to expand its teaching facilities. In the 2017 University League Table the University of Blackborough is ranked as the fourth best university in the UK.
uni

The University of Blackborough traces its origins to 1832 when the Earl of Blackborough gifted Hollowstone Castle to the University of Durham to establish a school of medicine and surgery. In 1857 George Moran endowed a new college at Hollowstone and in 1862 the colleges based at Hollowstone Castle received a Royal Charter incorporating Hollowstone School of Medicine, St Dubnus College of Physical Sciences, and Blackborough Engineering College as the University of Blackborough. The University of Blackborough emerged as an institution independent from the University of Durham, and only the second or third new university to be founded in England in five hundred years. The university would remain at the forefront of research and teaching over the next century and a half and as of 2017 the university remains a prestigious metropolitan university and continues to use Hollowstone castle for teaching and student accommodation in addition to its new buildings scattered around central Blackborough.

In 2003 a new bridge is constructed connecting the University of Blackborough’s Hollowstone campus to Westburgh. Hollowstone and Westburgh are directly connected again for the first time since the Great Fire four hundred years ago.

Economic growth is also fuelled by historical attractions as Blackborough’s Old Town becomes the centre of the city’s tourist and heritage industry and sites such as The Bishop’s Rest, Britain’s oldest public house, find upscale new clienteles.
inn
Originally built as an inn to house travelling merchants in 684 AD The Bishop’s Rest has operated almost continually for close to fourteen-hundred years under various names. Much of the original building has survived later renovations and it remains a working pub popular with tourists as of 2017. 

In the spirit of celebrating Blackborough’s history an open-air performance of Shakespeare’s The Battling Brides of Blackborough is staged on new year’s eve 1999. The daring performance uses the city as it’s stage, with the audience following the performers as the play moves through the streets of Blackborough’s Old Town.

shakespeare.png

Since 1999, street-performances of The Battling Brides of Blackborough have become a new year’s eve tradition in the city. Written in 1600, Shakespeare’s play is loosely based on Raphael Holinshed’s account of the 812 AD Viking raid on Blackborough. It tells the story of how a vengeful townsperson, bitter at having his advances rejected by a young nun at the local monastery, opens the town’s gates to a Viking raiding party who kidnap several nuns from the monastery to take as their wives.

The 10th century Church of St Dubnus receives renovation and cleaning in preparation for the millennium celebrations and in 2014 the skull of Saint Dubnus himself is removed from its golden reliquary for the first time in centuries. A team from Northumbria University gained permission to subject the skull to testing and analysis and a facial reconstruction of Saint Dubnus is created from the skull that forms the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Northumbrian History Museum the following year, alongside the legendary horn of Deorwine.

st dubnus

In 2014 a reconstruction allows the face of St Dubnus to be seen on the banks of the river that bears his name for the first time in 1500 years.

 

horn

The horn of Deorwine on display at the Northumbrian History Museum. The horn was supposedly used to rally Blackborough’s defenders during the raid of 848 AD.

A less salubrious piece of Blackborough’s history comes to the fore in 1988 when renovations to the basement of a house in Westburgh uncover a secret alcove. Hidden inside is the missing Rembrandt portrait A Polish Nobleman. Stolen from the nearby Blackborough Art Gallery in 1893 the portrait had lain undiscovered just across the street from the gallery for ninety-five years and had long been thought irrevocably lost. In 1989 the portrait is finally returned to the gallery after almost a century at a grand unveiling.

rem

The director of Blackborough Art Gallery posing with the recovered Rembrandt.

Circulation of the magazine “Viz” grows steadily, starting out from a teenager’s bedroom in Blackborough it would become the third most popular magazine in the country in the mid 90s and remains popular as of 2017.

The multi-million pound Northbridge Apartments are built on what was once Northbridge slum.

zig

Northbridge Apartments, better known as “The Ziggurat”, are completed in 2012 on the site of what was once slum-housing and craftman’s workshops. .

Blackborough’s cultural achievements lead to the city being designated the European Capital of Culture for the year 2008. Blackborough enjoys a number of regeneration products funded by the European Regional Development Fund and in the 2016 EU Referendum Blackborough bucks voting trends with most voters in the city wanting to Remain.

In 1991 a new shopping centre is built on the old allotments close to HMP Blackborough.

In 2006 a new industrial estate, Albion Park, is completed on the north-west outskirts of turn.

A new rail and metro station, Scotland Road Station, is opened close to the stadium and new homes, shops, a school, shopping centre and a police station are built in the area.

In 2010 the BBC expands its radio studio on Earl’s Row.

In the run up to the 2012 Olympics new sports fields are established around Green Heath Park and a world-class velo park is built, Blackborough hosts a number of early-stage cycling and sailing events for the 2012 games.

In 2013 Blackborough United Football Club is purchased by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Mohammed bin Thani Al Thani. Following Al Thani’s purchase of the team the Scotland Road Stadium is expanded to a capacity of 75,000.

stad

In 2016 Blackborough beat Manchester United 3-2 to win their seventh FA Cup after decades without a win. The whole city celebrates following the win and in some cases the hangovers last several days.

During a slow news week in 2014 the Blackborough Gazette revives the old legend of the Beast of Blackborough. The newspaper prints an “exclusive eyewitness account” of a great black-furred animal seen roaming Northwood Common with accompanying pictures of some blurry camera phone footage.

00

The legend of the “Beast of Blackborough” began between 1691 and 1693 when half a dozen young women disappeared in the vicinity of Northwood Common. Concern about these disappearances turned into hysteria when an excitable witness reported seeing one of the women carried off into the woods by a creature “with the shape of a man yet as tall as a lychgate, covered in thick dark fur and terrifying in brutish animal aspect”. 

Some claimed the creature was the spirit of the murderous pie-maker Mr Dott who was hung for his crimes a century earlier whilst others suggested the beast was an african ape escaped from a menagerie. Periodic sightings would continue to be reported over the next century and whilst the bones of the missing women were discovered in the 19th century in a cellar of Northwood House this did not end the legend as some of the city’s lazier journalists and more credulous citizens continue to insist a monstrous creature roams Northwood Common to this day.

In 2015 the Conservative government announce plans to close the Victorian Blackborough prison and replace it with a large new prison outside the city

In 2016 Google opens a new UK Office in Brewery Court.

In December 2016 Ethel May Parker, Britain’s oldest person, passes away at the age of 115. A lifelong resident of Blackborough, Ethel May Parker was born in a small house in Angevin Square at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. She would serve in the Women’s Land Army during the First World War and as a WREN during WWII. Ethel May Parker initially trained as a nurse but suffered a mental breakdown following the loss of her son during the war and subsequently retrained as psychiatrist. Parker retired in 1967 but continued to contribute to nursing & psychiatry journals for several decades. In 2002 Parker moved into a care home in Sheepsgrave where she passed away peacefully in her sleep fourteen years later surrounded by four generations of her family.

Frogmore-Eastmoreland

In 1988 a large new nightclub and music venue opens just south of George Street, on the site of what was once Dawley & Sons Engine Factory. The Factory soon becomes controversial for its tolerance of drug use and is a frequent source of upset to the residents of upmarket George Street.

A new cul-de-sac is built north of The Factory.

Armstrong’s Department Store receives a major expansion in 2002.

The Frog Pasty Company expands its corporate headquarters and production facilities in Frogmore and in 1998 “Frog Pasties” gain Protected Designation of Origin Status under European law. This means that to be called a “Frog Pasty” a product must be produced within the city of Blackborough to a traditional recipe.

Chinatown expands with major new riverside developments, however as rents rise small restaurant proprietors begin to be forced out. In 2016 a petition by residents of Eastmoreland to “Save Chinatown!” gets sixty-thousand signatures online.

A new academy school is established on the sea front.

Large new corporate offices open to the north of East Moor and Moran Industries

office

East Moore Place, constructed in 2014, provides a modern coporate headquarters for Moran industries in its historical home of Eastmoreland.

New apartments are built off India Road. India Road Police Station is closed and turned into luxury apartments.

New Shops are built close to Nightingale Bridge and an organic farmer’s market established on the site of the old Frogmore fish market.

Eastmoreland expands to the south, joining the suburb of Marsden to the rest of the city.

A large plaque is erected close to the preserved ruins of the houses destroyed by the French during the 1797 Battle of Frogmore.

In 2013 Moran Industries builds a major new industrial park around East Moor and constructs a museum on the site of the former gunpowder mill built by George Moran in 1699. By 2017 Moran Industries has become the world’s ninth largest chemical company, valued at over £40 billion and employing nearly fifty thousand people, around half of them in Blackborough.

Moran Innovation Centre replaces the company’s old production facilities and laboratories and the land is redeveloped as a new public square, surrounded by shops, homes and offices. Olympic Square, built on the site of the former Moran factories, is notable for its large outdoor television screen, used to show coverage of major news and sports events as well as classic films.

Beginning in the 1700s with a gunpowder mill built in Frogmore by George Moran, Moran’s company would expand over the following century with the construction of armaments workshops, factories and worker’s housing. Moran subsequently expanded in the 1760s with the construction of a dyeworks marking the beginning of its shift towards chemical production.

The company would continue to expand in the 19th century with the construction of the planned community of Moranville and the endowment of a college at the University of Blackborough. Moran Industries made vast profits from a series of major innovations in chemical engineering, beginning with the development of the smokeless powder Moranite in 1890, the synthetic fibre Nevron in the 1930s, and the non-stick coating Tetron in the 1940s. Although these materials were initially developed for military purposes most of the profits would come from civilian applications and after the Second World War Moran Industries would move away from military development, with the pacifist Arnold Moran establishing the Moran Peace Award in 1946.

The Moran family would continue to play an active role in the company and in the 1960s the venture capitalist Jonathan Moran would lead the company to expand into computing by acquiring a large stake in Hollowstone Electronics. Moran Industries continues to maintain offices and production plants in the city of Blackborrough, a city the company has helped to shape for over three hundred years. 

Redhall

The decline of industry in the seventies and eighties leads to many of the dockside factories closing however Baltic Dock remains an active port and SI Industries maintain its production facilities at Baltic Dock whilst expanding elsewhere.

Following the years of decline Redhall re-emerges as a centre of culture and the arts and in 2004 a major new development, Bishop’s Dock, is built on the peninsula. Bishop’s Dock is promoted as offering exclusive waterside living, shopping and dining in the centre of historic Redhall but is criticised by some for being a gated community open only to the wealthy.

The quay itself becomes a popular spot for yachts and sailing, and a ship is permanently moored at the quay as a floating restaurant.

Crescent Hill’s Neolithic circle of standing stones gains a visitor’s centre.

In 2016 Canute’s Cathedral’s holds an exhibition of artwork featuring the cathedral.
red

In 1377, the Bishop of Blackborough, recently moved from Durham, decided that none of the churches in the area were up to the standards of a Bishop and that a great work should be erected to celebrate the city’s survival of the recent Pestilence. Redhall Monastery and the surrounding houses and ruins were torn down to make way for St. Canute’s Cathedral, named for the Anglo-Norse Christian born in Redhall who was instrumental in the conversion of Scandinavia to Catholicism. The church was designed after an earlier church in Merdin as well as the great Cathedrals of Paris and Santiago. The great spire of the church was destroyed in the Blackborough Blitz of 1941 and after the war the architect Basil Spence designed a modernist glass spire that rises through the irregular aperture created by the bomb blast.

Merdin

In 1981 an explosive device placed in a bin at Henderson Wood Rail Station detonates, killing sixteen people and badly damaging the historic station. The IRA claim that the bomb accidentally exploded prematurely before a warning could be issued.

The rebuilt Henderson Wood Station is expanded and a memorial erected.

In the late 90s the Millennium Commission funds a transformation of Merdin city dump. The dump, on the site of a former mine, is cleared and redeveloped as the Merdin Historical Park.

The historical park’s star attraction is a life-size, living recreation of the historic centre of Blackborough as it was in the 4th century. The recreation of the old Roman fortified town is derided by some as little more than a historical theme park, a kind of Roman Disneyland. However the attraction proves popular with tourists and locals, teaching visitors about life in what was then known as “Muro Orientem”.

Image result for roman reenactment town

Merdin Historical Park takes visitors back in time to the earliest years of Blackborough. Founded in 226 AD as the castra of Muro Orientem by the VI “Victorious” Legion, the settlement was founded as a fortress town to provide a secondary line of defence against raids by Caledonian tribes to the north. The Historical Park allows visitors to take in the sights, sounds of smells of the city as it was those days, buy souvenirs, and even participate in recreations of ancient battles.

The Henderson Wood Market continues to expand, becoming the centre of the city’s punk and goth subcultures in the 70s and 80s. During the 90s and the 2000s the open market that started as a Wiccan Coven becomes increasingly commercialised, with large businesses moving in to sell over-priced crap to tourists. However a handful of the original stallholders, who first came to the area as young acolytes of the occultist Gerald Gardner in the 1940s, continue to trade and Gardner’s Museum of Magic and Witchcraft, located in the haunted 17th century Henderson House, remains a popular attraction as of 2017.

cam

Henderson Wood, now the city’s largest open-air market, began in 1946. Following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act the occultist Gerald Gardner purchased the Old Henderson House and surrounding worthless land from the rail company, converting the tiny 17th century cottage into a Museum of Magic and Witchcraft. Several members of Gardner’s Wiccan coven wished to live close to the museum and set up a make-shift camp and accommodation huts in the surrounding Henderson Wood. The Wiccan community located in the woods grew during the fifties and sixties, becoming the centre of the emerging hippie movement in Blackborough. Several abandoned train carriages that sat on the land were used as makeshift shops selling handcrafted goods, occult objects and revolutionary books, and in the decades since the market has continued to expand, becoming a major tourist attraction and developing a reputation as the heart of Blackborough’s “alternative” scene.

New shops open around Waterloo Square and along Coalition Street, including a large super-market which opens in 2010.

Keeltown, or “Killtown” as it is disparagingly known, becomes increasingly deprived following the decline of industry and in 2011 rioting devastates the area.
killtown

The area of Keeltown developed in the 1760s as housing for the “keelmen” who brought coal in shallow-draught boats from the mines to the big collier ships in Blackborough harbour. With the closure of the mines the area would become an infamous slum that appalled Dickens and would fare little better into the 20th century.

The shooting of Mark Dugan in London by police in 2011 would lead to riots breaking out in cities across the UK. Blackborough did not see the same level of violence as London but Keeltown was one of two areas hit by several days of rioting, with rioters focusing their anger on Waterloo Square. Shops were looted, residents mugged, and fire destroyed a number of homes and a historic water-mill.

In the wake of the riots Keeltown is rebuilt, but with the rebuilding comes increasing gentrification. The area around the St Dubnus bridge is bought up for development into fashionable shops and restaurants and exclusive apartments…protected behind a high wall.

ap

Beginning in 2014, the developers of “St Dubnus Village” promised that at least 50% of the new homes built would be affordable housing but subsequently reneged on this promise citing budgetary constraints. The fenced off exclusive development adjacent to the deprived area of Keeltown is taken by many as symbolic of inequality in south Blackborough.

Merdinbrook Island, long abandoned due to mine collapses, is stabilised and turned into a public park.

The Germantown Campus of Northumbria Polytechnic gains new student accommodation and new engineering and computer science buildings.

u

The new Northumbria Compsci building is heralded as a marvel of sustainable architecture and wins the 2012 Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize.

The Germantown Campus and the offices of Hollowstone Electronics form the centre of what becomes known as “Silicone Forest”, a cluster of research labs and tech companies based in Merdin and Edmondsley.

The old forestry camp is turned into an information centre for visitors to Merdin Forest.

In 2015 restoration is carried out on a 17th century cottage in Merdinbrook. The new owner has the victorian ceiling pulled out to reveal the original beams and hidden behind one of them a package is found wrapped in oilskins. It is a great staff of pure silver, originally part of the medieval regalia of English Kings the staff was hidden by a local Royalist during the English Civil War to prevent it being melted down by Cromwell. The staff goes on temporary display at the Northumbrian History Museum before finally being returned to the Tower of London to take its rightful place amongst the Crown Jewels of the UK.

Wildfield

Blackborough International Airport capitalises on the introduction of cheap flights, expanding its capacity, and by 2017 serves 2.5 million passengers annually.

Blackborough International Airport began as a small gilder hangar and storage shed built in Wildfield in 1903. This would develop into Wildfield Aerodrome and in the 1950s began operating as a civilian airport. The airport underwent major expansion in the 1970s, subsequently reopening as an international airport for the north-east of England.

spit

Spitfire Square, a new public square and fountain.

New offices and hotels are built in close proximity to the airport.

In 2009 the abandoned machine tool factory is demolished and a new park, NetGreen, is created.
net

NetGreen advertises itself as the world’s first Digital Art Park, a large open public space dotted with a dozen interactive artworks that form a part of multi-media augmented reality stories. Designed for a variety of audiences, the range of works ensures that there is something to enchant all ages and allows for a shared experience or individual contemplation. All the works are GPS located and experienced through a smart device, either iPad, iPhone or Android.

Orientem Film Studios continues to struggle in the 80s and 90s but continues to provide sound stages for the Bond Films. In 1992 Pinewood sells their stake in Orientem to the BBC.

The BBC concludes that the studio complex is not fit for purpose and close down the film studios that have stood on the site since 1913. The buildings remain closed for five years before the BBC comes to an arrangement to revive the studio. Part of the site is turned into a cinema museum called the Blackborough Film Institute whilst most of the site is sold off for development.

Orientem is revived by the BBC in 1997. The BBC takes Orientem’s extensive back-catalogue going back a century and begins making it publicly available. The BBC also relaunches Orientem as an in-house production company with two new purpose-built studios opening in Sugar Park in 2004.

bfi

The Blackborough Film Institute, located on the site of Orientem’s historic Wildfield studios. The BFI houses films and memorabilia dating back over a century.

Founded in 1901 by a couple of technicians from the Moran Chemical Works the Orientem Film Company took its name from the ancient Roman name of the city and began making short documentaries recording life at the docks and factories and capturing Blackborough on film for the first time.

Orientem established its original studio in central Blackborough to produce the company’s first non-documentary films, beginning with the short crime-drama Keeltown Robbers (1903). Keeltown Robbers would be followed by The Good Prince (1904), The Gangs of Blackborough (1909) and a 30 minute abridged film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Battling Brides of Blackborough (1910).

In 1913 Orientem relocated to larger studios in Wildfield and during the First World War produced propaganda films such as Britain Stands Firm (1915). Orientem’s golden age began in the interwar years when the writer/producer pair Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell began their creative partnership at Orientem. From the thirties onward Orientem achieved huge critical and commercial success with films such as Robin Hood (1938), A Spy in Belgravia (1939), Niagara Falls (1940), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1944) and A Matter of Life and Death (1945). During this period Orientem also established a small animation team producing the animated propaganda shorts Dad’s Duty (1939) and Danger from the Air! (1940).

Orientem’s animation department established themselves as the independent Jody Studios in the forties and following the departure of Powell and Pressburger in 1950 Orientem began to struggle. Releasing mainly mediocre-performing films such as The Blackout Butcher and The Deep Blue Sea. In 1958 Orientem was taken over by Pinewood Studios and Orientem’s facilities were used in many of the Bond films before the facility was closed in 1992.

Jody Animations remains in Wildfield and goes from strength to strength with a number of successful animated feature films in the 1980s. In 1989 Wildfield release it’s first feature-length stop-motion-animation film, an adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. The film achieves commercial and critical success and further stop-motion animation film’s follow over the next twenty years: The Wind in the Willows (1995)The Little Prince (1998)The Cave (2002)The BFG (2010) and Matilda (2014).

Hillcrow

In the mid 1990s a new trainline is built out of the west of the city and Hillcrow Train Station opens in 1993.

The new rail line leads to a major expansion of Hillcrow, transforming the sleepy suburb into a busy new district.

Hillcrow Business and Industrial Estate is established in 2001, offering a number of big name brands in one place.

Farmland in Hillcrow is bought up in the eighties and new homes and shops are built around Ox Lake, as well as a major new high street, Pasture Road.

Northumbria fire brigade training centre is established on former farmland in north Hillcrow.

fire

The Northumbrian Fire Training Centre houses near full-size replicas of a ship, jumbo-jet and apartment block, used for training by fire services from across England.

A nursing home opens on the outskirts of town in 2002 and a hydroponics manufacturer opens nearby in 2011.

Edmondsley

In 1980 Hollowstone Electronics release its first personal computer, the HE Ajax 2000. A complete computer with 22 KB of RAM and retailing at £999 Ajax 2000 is a major commercial success in the UK and abroad, selling nearly two million units.

comp

The Ajax 200 was followed by half a dozen more models during the eighties before.

HE continues to develop their ATMs during the 80s, creating a number of innovations in interbank networking and introducing point-of-sale electronic funds transfer in 1981. This technology enables payment with a debit or credit card through a payment terminal, and in 2006 HE is contracted by Visa to develop the first contactless payment machines.

In 2010 HE expands its development facilities with new labs and offices in south Edmondsley.

Today HE is the UK’s largest tech company with a net worth of £6 billion and employing 10,000 people worldwide. The company left the home computer market in 1990 to focus on banking technology, peripheral hardware and server technology, developing the first contactless payment system in 2006.

SI Industries establishes a new production facility and offices in Edmondsley.

In 1987 a student at Northumbria Polytechnic founds the videogames company Superstar North. Superstar North will go on to develop successful games series such as Naked Mole Rats and Taking Without Owner’s Consent (TWOC).

twoc

By 2017 Superstar North is valued at £2.2 billion, in large part due to the success of the long-running and controversial TWOC series.

Northumbria Polytechnic gains University status in 1997 and builds new student accommodation and administrative offices on campus.

In the 2009 Victory Regatta Northumbria University beats the more senior University of Blackborough for only the sixth time since the annual boat race began in 1945.

Abbeywood

The once vibrant area of Abbeywood falls upon hard times as nearby factories in North Blackborough close and cheaper flights lead to a decline in local tourism.

The Joysea Holiday Camp is the first casualty: after providing domestic package holidays to Blackborough’s families for thirty-nine years Joysea is finally forced to declare bankruptcy in 1989. The camp sits abandoned until 2000 when a huge new Tescos supermarket is built on the site, the largest in the north-east.

The New Albert Pier reaches its height in the eighties with kids flocking to the video arcades. As the home console market emerges the popularity of the arcades gradually diminishes and by the late 90s the pier is struggling to remain open. Most of the amusements on the pier close and in 1991 gale winds cause significant damage but local residents resist plans to demolish the historic pier. The same gale causes the crumbling and charred remains of the base of the old pier to finally collapse into the sea.

pier

The New Albert Pier gains a reprieve and in 1998 receives National Lottery Grant Funding for major refurbishment. The refurbished the New Albert Pier reopens in 2001 and wins top placing in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Heritage Awards the following year.

One of the largest of the millennium projects in the lead-up to the year 2000 is the Liberal Arts Centre of Great Britain, better known as the LibBrit.

librit

Run by the University of Blackborough, the LibBrit is a world-leading research and teaching institute.

In the mid-eighties many of the historic waterfront attractions close, including the lido. The seafront experiences something of a resurgence in the 2000s but many of the traditional attractions are no longer viable and shops and amusements give away to seafront housing. Abbeywood Pleasure Park closes its doors for the last time in 2007 and the land is initially planned for development as housing however the global financial crash that follows soon afterwards scuppers the planned redevelopment. The land is required for development in 2012 but objections from local residents lead to delays to the project and as of February 2017 the amusement park continues to sit empty and deserted, with only the 102m tall Sea Wheel remaining open.

wheel

 When the pleasure park first opened in 1921 it brought in huge crowds of holiday makers to marvel at the electric illuminations, gasp at the freak show, thrill at the roller-coasters, and gaze in wonder from the top of the Sea Wheel. The amusement park fell out of favour in recent decades closing in 2007. Most of the abandoned amusement park was fenced off but the Sea Wheel was purchased by the Merlin Operators Group and continues to operate and to serve as a symbol of the city.

In the late 1980s the HQ of the Hillcroft Foundation mental healthy charity is expanded.

In 2010 a new park is established and a large evangelical African church built nearby.

Rothray

After centuries of naval history the last vestige of Rothray’s naval base, the naval training college, closes in 1998 when all Royal Navy training is transferred to Dartmouth. For the first time in over six hundred years Rothray has no permanent population.

The navy does continue to maintain a recruitment centre on the island and Millennium Funding is made available to expand the existing Naval History Museum in 2000.

wheel

The ancient underground hermitage beneath the base is opened to public tours and visitors to the island can now view displays of hundreds of years of naval history, see the huge “Blackborough Brothers” war memorial up close and explore the dark warren of tunnels beneath the island.

The closing of the naval base allows tourism to flourish along the south coast of the tiny island, whilst on the island’s abandoned north coast puffins are reintroduced and establish a small protected colony.

hermit

The earliest known habitation of Rothray dates back to the 11th century AD when a small band of norse pagans expelled from Denmark arrived in the area and created a fishing settlement on the tiny island, which they named Rjöðray or “clearing island”.

The island community had little contact with the mainland becoming notoriously insular and incestuous, and pagan religion continued to be practised on the island at least as late as the 13th century. Everything changed in 1349 when the Black Plague hit the area. The island, now known as Rothray, was largely spared from the disease and the people of Blackborough attributed this to some unholy satanic pact. Men from the disease-ravaged city slaughtered the population of the island and burnt the buildings to the ground in the hope this would alleviate the plague, the island’s solitary surviving resident being an old Norse pagan who hid in a small cave.

The island would be resettled in the 14th century and when the new settlers discovered a skeleton in a cave with iron nails clutched in its hands a legend developed that this was an early Christian bearing nails from the cross of Christ. The caverns became a holy site and a hermitage and around the same time a number of Jewish families arrived on the island.

Rothray suffered badly during the reformation as Thomas Cromwell’s surveyors reported that the island hermitage was little more than a front for selling supposedly holy trinkets to the gullible. The monks of Rothray actively resisted seizures of their wealth and relics and half a dozen monks were killed in the ensuring chaos which came to be known as the Battle of Rothray.

The entire island subsequently became the property of the crown and whilst the underground hermitage was left largely preserved the surface of the island was used to establish first a royal retreat, and subsequently a house of correction for the poor. A small and predominately catholic civilian population would remain on the island, making their living from serving first the prison and later the naval base.

During the 17th century onwards the island developed a reputation for its culinary tradition and chefs from Rothray introduced local delicacies such as Citadel Cheddar and Frog Pasties to London for the first time.

At the outbreak of the American War of Independence the old ship of the line HMS Kraken was permanently moored at Rothray, serving as a floating military base, recruitment centre and training facility and the base was expanded with a naval college built on the island in the 1830s. The island’s prison closed in the 1870s and in 1911, with security fears increasing, the small civilian population that remained on Rothray was evicted, despite fierce protests and legal challenges. The island was turned over wholly to the use of the navy and after the First World War the King of Belgium gifted two huge statues popularly known as the “Blackborough Brothers” to the naval base.

The honour and prestige of the naval base would however be marred in 1964 when the Blackborough Gazette ran an exclusive story, claiming that a number of allegations of rape and sexual assault against sailors at the base had been covered up by the navy. The revelations led to a public outcry however the government resisted calls for an independent enquiry and victims and the families would spend the next fifty years campaigning for justice. Most of the base was closed down in the 1970s and in 1979 the island was reopened to the public for the first time in sixty-eight years.

In 2014, after fifty years of campaigning, it is announced that an independent inquiry will investigate historical allegations of a cover-up on Rothray.  As of 2017 the inquiry is ongoing.

Sugar Park

Sugar Park is hit hard by the decline in industry and NorthMed automates production in 1984 with a small group of educated engineers taking the jobs of hundreds of the area’s working poor. The brutalist Sugar Park Towers develop a notorious reputation as one of the city’s most deprived and crime-ridden areas and the area comes to be seen by many as a blight on the city.

In 1990 two new bridges are built connecting Sugar Park to South Hillcrow.

In 1997 Sugar Park Towers is demolished but this does little to solve the problem of endemic unemployment and increasing gang violence in Sugar Park.

Between 1994 and 1998 a huge steel sculpture of an angel designed by Anthony Gormley is erected on a hill on the outskirts of town. The “Angel of the North” is 20 metres tall with slightly angled wings measuring 54 metres across. According to Gormley, the significance of an angel was three-fold: first, to signify that beneath the site of its construction, coal miners worked for two centuries; second, to grasp the transition from an industrial to an information age, and third, to serve as a focus for our evolving hopes and fears

The expansion of the rail network with a new train station built in Sugar Park in 2002 makes the area more attractive to the middle classes who are increasingly priced out of central Blackborough however this results in gentrified enclaves emerging in Sugar Park to the frustration and disappointment of many who hoped for wider prosperity.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is a cluster of mansions built on the outskirts of Sugar Park to provide isolated riverfront homes for millionaires on their own private road. The multi-million pound homes of the Sweetbank Development are derided by many due to their location adjacent to the deprived area of Sugar Park.

Frustration boils over in to rage following the shooting of Mark Dugan in 2011. Rioters in Sugar Park burn down homes, attack the local police station and loot the retail park on the edge of town.

fire

A burning supermarket in Sugar Park. The riot caused millions of pounds of damage and several burnt out buildings remain in ruins as of 2017.

The riots do however force the city authority and central government to turn their attention to Sugar Park, and investment is made available for a number of local projects, including a new community centre (“The Sugar Cube”) and affordable housing.

Following its  temporary closure Orientem resumes operations from its new studios on the outskirts of Sugar Town, producing content for the BBC, including films such as Nativity! (2009) and Jane Eyre (2011) as well as popular tv shows such as Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing along with local news and weather.

pop

In order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, in 2014 a giant poppy is put in place close to the Angel of the North. The poppy is set up by members of the Fifth Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, an active battalion based at Blackborough Barracks.

Marsden

Marsden expands throughout the 80s and 90s as more people move out to the suburbs. Marsden becomes an increasingly popular neighbourhood and and a new fire station, GP practice, school and bank are built as well as homes and shops.

In 1986 Marsden gets its own rail station.

The remaining quarry is exhausted and in 2001 is turned into a pond and nature reserve.

quarry

Whitley Bay

Whitey Bay remains a quiet tourist area on the edge of town. A popular destination for those who want to be close to both country and city Whitley Bay develops a reputation as Blackborough’s prosperous and sleepy periphery.

lighthouse

In 1995 St Cuthbert’s Lighthouse was turned into a seafront hotel.

New hotels and guest houses are established and in 2012 much of the coast is designated as a protected nature reserve.

Between 2015 and 2017 a huge open-air model city is created on land belonging to St Cuthbert’s church.

model.png

Measuring one hundred metres wide the detailed model of Blackborough is created over a period of two years by a group of patients from Bay Hospital working with local artists.

When it opens in 2017 the model city becomes a popular tourist attraction and stands as a testament to both the dedication and eccentricity of its builders.

Blackborough Final

The City of Blackborough in 2017.

Blackborough Anotated Final

Annotated map of the city.

Advertisements

Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 6)

Blackborough Between the Wars (1921 – 1938 AD)

The population of the city of Blackborough reaches 430,000 as the British Empire reaches its greatest extent.

UK unemployment rises dramatically at the beginning of the decade reaching more than two million in 1921 before beginning to fall.

The Irish War of Inependence sees a series of bloody ambushes between the IRA and British Troops and the Burning of the Customs House in Dublin. The war ends in a truce in late 1921

The Tories led by Bonar Law win the 1922 election but Labour overtakes the liberals as the second major party.

A coal miner’s strike leads to a state of emergency and coal rationing.

The province of Northern Ireland is officially created as part of the UK. Soon after the Irish Free State gains independence in the south. In 1922 the last British troops leave southern Ireland.

Severe drought hits England.

The BBC is formed, funded by an annual broadcasting licence fee of ten-shillings for everyone who owns a wireless radio. The Prince of Wales becomes the first royal to be heard on the radio.

The rise in unemployment is somewhat cushioned in Blackborough by the opening of a large new box factory in the north of town but nevertheless hundreds of once proud men are put out of work and coal shortages threaten both industry and ordinary families.

The old Arsenal is demolished and the workers move to the new Merdin arsenal. The city council has purchased the site of the old Arsenal with the intention of creating a new public space at the centre of the city: “Arsenal Park”. The land around the new park is rapidly snapped up by private developers to build shops and offices.

New high rises, apartment buildings and terraces are constructed. Architects are beginning to build up rather than out, with a twelve-storey “sky-scraper” planned on the island of Westburgh that will feature shops and offices on the ground floor and flats above.

In 1922 the struggling Blackborough Motor Company is bought out by the Austin Motor Company. Austin continues to produce the Blackborough Motor Company’s most successful models such as the Blackborough Coupe but halts production of the company’s less successful models. The injection of cash from the take-over leads to expansion of the manufacturing plant in the north of the city with the expanded plant equipped to produce the Austin 7, one of the first British cars to be aimed at a mass market.

Renovation work is carried out at the ancient Church of St Dubnus, and a glass case installed to allow visitors to view the head of St Dubnus in its golden reliquary. The renovations ae unveiled on the 20th of September 1922, St Dubnu’s feast day, and local businesses (seeing an opportunity to boost consumer spending) fund the first annual Blackborough Make-Merry to celebrate the day, a festival held on Northwood Common, with food stalls, music and dancing. Several bandstands are erected for the occasion and thousands of people flock to the common to forget their troubles with a big-ass party.

The new British Broadcasting Corporation or “BBC” establishes a broadcasting station close to Northwood House.

At the Hayston Academy of Arts, a small group of art students have begun experimenting with a ground-breaking new style of art. The circle of artists, known as the Blackborough Set, are concerned with creating art that reflects the transitions occurring in society and the urban landscape. Rather than looking to the past the Blackborough Set are interested in the future, however unlike the utopian futurists their work is not hopeful, but rather reflects the noise and smoke and toil of the industrial city around them. As such the artistic movement they create, dubbed “Black Futurism”, features abstract, nightmarish visions of machines, impossible endless cityscapes, and broken fragmented depictions of human bodies.

In order to raise funds for his long-delayed golf-course the Earl of Blackborough sells the botanical gardens at Northwood House to the University of Blackborough. The University begins expanding the gardens and plans to build a Botanical College nearby.

The House of Commons approves plans for the construction of an underground railway network to serve the people of Blackborough. The metro system is planned to consist of two lines, each with around twenty stations connected by tunnels large enough and with high enough loading gauges to run bi-level train cars. The double-decker trains will have the potential to carry hundreds of thousands of people beneath the city to their destinations every day. The underground network will pass under the St Dubnus river at two points, and a tunnel-bridge emerging from the cliffside will connect the network to Rothray to serve the naval base.

The designs for the underground stations are done in a modern Art Deco style and each surface level station will be decorated with a statue representing the local area.

Work on the ambitious plan begins in 1922 with the first tunnels excavated and land cleared for the surface level entrances. By the end of the year a dozen stations have been started. The network is expected to be completed by the end of the decade.

1 train

Bi-level rail cars designed to run on the Blackborough Underground

 

Katarina Vana, known by many as “The Russian Widow”, expands her criminal empire, with the opening of a third nightclub, the Emerald Room, and begins using call girls and rentboys to Blackmail senior members of government.

The city buys back the Crescent Hill Standing Stones from their private owner and pulls down the wall enclosing them. In the process part of the 5th century church which once stood next to the stones is uncovered, and archaeologists are brought in to excavate the rest of the church.

The population of Redhall falls slightly as increasingly the area becomes somewhere where people work, shop, worship and sight-see but where few people can afford to actually live. The one exception is the red light district just north of the park. Despite some attempts at gentrification the area remains a haven for struggling artists, down-and-outs, and of course organised crime.

Continuing the fine tradition of corruption, fornication and buggery set by his forebears, the new Bishop of Canute’s Cathedral spends a wild weekend with a couple of Katarina Vana’s girls. The Russian Matiarch adds him to the list of notable figures she has dirt on. Don’t expect the Bishop to be calling for strong action against organised crime or prostitution anytime soon.

The new arsenal opens and some workers relocate to Merdin to be closer to the complex of munitions factories, laboratories and texting grounds.

The miner’s strike leads to violent reprisals against those who cross the picket line in Merdin.

One of the remaining mines in Merdin closes. As a sop to the disgruntled miners the Merdin Mining Company opens an “Old Miner’s Home”, essentially a retirement facility for elderly retired miners.

Work continues on the imposing catholic cathedral, which should be completed by 1923.

Henderson Wood Train Station is expanded and construction begins on an adjoining underground station.

Merdin Royal Infirmary and Merdin Royal Hospital (the asylum) is expanded. Dr Crane is made a peer in the House of Lords for his work in mental illness however some of the contractors working on the asylum report disturbing sights such as frequent beatings and dozens of patients crammed into one room. For now no one mentions it, and the scandal is kept quiet.

New homes and factories are built on the north bank of the brook.

Ethel May Parker becomes a nurse and relocates to Merdin.

Abbeywood Pleasure Park opens, bringing in huge crowds of holiday makers who marvel at the electric illuminations, gasp at the freak show, thrill at the roller-coasters, and gaze in wonder from the top of the Sea Wheel.

North Abbeywood Station opens,

New hotels and shops spring up catering to the tourists.

New factories are built along the waterfront.

The Vulcain beach Chinatown expands rapidly.

A multi-purpose sports field and clubhouse is constructed close to Moran House.

The elderly Moran passes away. In his will he excludes his pacifist son and instead leaves his shares in the huge Moran Company to his daughter, Alice Moran.

Construction begins on the Edmondsley dog racing track.

“Northumbrian Polytechnic” is founded just to the south of Edmondsley. The large new educational institution offers training in engineering, manufacturing, accountancy and design.

The new Wildfield Aerodrome is completed and begins receiving several commercial flights a week.

Construction begins on a huge hangar for building airships to the north, due to be completed next year.

Property developers begin work on a whole new sector of the city, planned to include houses, offices, factories, churches and schools.

Work begins on a bridge tunnel that will one day connect Rothray to the underground network via a special branch line controlled by the navy, in order to bring in men and materials from the mainland more quickly.

The families evicted from the island before the Great War lose their latest legal challenge to be allowed to return.

The Earl of Blackborough finally succeeds in securing investment for his golf course, to be built on an area of land in the south-west corner of the map.

The Saul Sugar Company plans to open a new chocolate factory in the same area and a model village to be built nearby to house the worker.

The as-yet unnamed village is expected to be completed in the next four years and house 2500 workers.

1 1920s

The Flying Scotsman train, newly started on it’s route from London to Edinburgh, stops at Blackborough Central Station on the way to Edinburgh, Scotland. The line is still run today.

A new furniture factory is completed and opens the same year, but fails to alleviate the unemployed miners and other unemployed workers as the jobs are filled up quickly.

More 4 story apartments are built in the north of the city.

Rupert Walker, a local athletic runner, wins second at the 1924 Paris Olympics, behind fellow Briton Harold Abrahams. Also, another local runner, Ben Forrest, comes third in the 400m race, also won by a fellow Briton, Eric Liddell. This boosts public perceptions of sports, particularly athletics.

Katarina Vana expands her criminal empire, attracting the attention of the City of Blackborough Police, particular newly appointed Commissioner Robert Leigh-Hogan, who was recently sent to Chicago as a British Representative for how to fight crime. Their forces will eventually butt heads around the Ruby Room, near Arsenal Park on July 28, 1924.

1 vana

Katarina Vana (1891-1978), better known as the Russian Widow, fled to Britain escaping revolution but would go on to establish an extensive criminal empire run from the city of Blackborough.

A band of 275 policemen, armed with Webley Mark IV revolvers and the new Sheepsgrave Model 23 shotguns, tried to raid the Ruby Room in suspicion of holding a criminal business there. However, armed guardsmen hired by the Russian Widow guarding the Ruby Room started shooting at the policemen, starting a vicious street battle that lasts almost 3 days, killing 98 police men and 45 armed thugs.

Witnesses described the battle as vicious as the urban battles of the Irish Civil War, with makeshift barricades dotting the street, as armed policemen fired down the street at equally armed paid thugs of the Russian Widow. The CBP are also nastily introduced to the Thompson M1921 SMG, smuggled from the U.S by smuggling outfits in the City of Blackborough Docks. Eventually troops from the Stendham Barracks, equipped with Lee-Enfield rifles forced the paid thugs back, but failing to capture the Ruby Room.

Commissioner Leigh-Hogan declared his goal of eradicating the Russian Widow’s criminal empire, saying it would not stand for policemen being killed doing their jobs, or lives ruined by the Russian Widow’s henchmen.

The Catholic Cathedral is completed in Early 1924.

As more of the mines go out of buisness, and more of the younger miners lose their jobs, along with the massive death toll during the First World War, the general mood of Merdin is one of despair and misery. As a major consequence, Merdin is a huge recruitment pool for the new gang called the Rathsbury Linkers, which at the end of 1924 expanded
it’s influence over the neighbourhood.

Police in the area are greatly outnumbered in the area, but due to the rise of the Russian Widow, the police forces in the area are already streched thin as it is.

New Sheepsgraves Arsenal starts producing military standard Browning BAR rifles for the British Army, for a suppressing fire role, standardised as the Browning BAR M1923.

Also, it licenses the Winchester Model 12 as the Sheepsgrave Model 23 shogun, and sales it to the City of Blackborough Police and the RN garrison stationed on Rothray and the British Military.

Northumbrian Polytechnic University introduces its first class of junior engineers, designers and manufacturaing freshmen to the college. In response to the influx of students, Edmondsley buys out the old farmland and builds college dormitories in the town.

On March 23, 1924 at Wildfield Aerodome, a Imperial Airways Handley Page Type W crashed in an spectacular accident, that kills all 12 people on board. It is also caught by on film by a movie camera from Orientem Film, which was put into a newsreel that was shown across the UK.

Also, Wildfield Aerodome expands, with a few new hangars opened and a proper tarmac paved to allow planes to park on it, so it could hold more planes a hour, which allows passengers to board planes via primitive ground stairs. A fence is built around the entrance to the airport.

The Rothray Naval Officers College of 1924 will produce a class of 238, including captains and naval officers that will shape the naval doctrine for the early 1930’s and 1940’s. These innovators in naval doctrine include Jason Dunham and William Carlisle.

Blackborough rocketry society is founded and a club house built outside town. Every other month or so, a rocket whizzes off the launch pad. The rocket club soon becomes one of the foremost society’s for rocketry in the country.

A new housing development is built on the outskirts of town. It is marketed as the ideal place for the upper middle class.

The Russian Widow’s empire takes a huge hit when her right hand man, George Maskine is caught in a sting raid. Her attempts to entrap the new mayor fail as well.

The old clinic is converted into a kind of visitor centre by the newly formed friends of St Canute’s cathedral, who take advantage of the people visiting the cathedral, with the full support of the bishop.

The imbecile colony is discovered to overcrowded and in need of major work. The overcrowding is put partly down to the sheer volume of people put there. Four new accommodation blocks are put up. They have running water and indoor toilets. A new school is built as well.

In Abbeywood a new Lido is opened. Swimmers have the choice of a freshwater pool, or a salt water pool.

During the general strike of 1926, many factories and the transport infrastructure shut down. A fight between some thugs (Reportedly provided by the Russian widow,) and some strikers in order to force them back to work fails, but a block of houses catches fire in the struggle killing 8 people, all but one of them women and children. The housing was terribly overcrowded and leads to the council ordering a slum inspection committee to inspect housing

In 1927 the total population of the city reaches more than half a million.

Blackborough becomes the centre of the futurism artistic movement, which spreads from painting into British architecture, sculpture and film.

Blackborough continues to avoid the relative stagnation that characterizes much of the rest of the UK during the 1920s and goes from strength to strength. That is until the crash hits in ’29 and Blackborough’s fortunes
tumble.

In 1928 the first line of the Blackborugh Metro is completed, with fifteen stations allow people to travel quickly and efficiently beneath the city aboard the art deco style double-decker subway carriages. Work begins on a second line running north to south with a handful of stations built but the funding quickly dries up following the Wall Street Crash in 1929.

The Old Town continues to become increasingly commercial with few homes left.

Major new offices and banks open on Westburgh Island.

New homes and shops are built along the new northwest road (“Greenheath Road”), with poorer people living close to the prison and the middle class living further out in the new suburbs.

New factories open, including an oil cake mill in the north-east.

The Northwood allotments are expanded.

In 1935 the Silver Jubilee streamliner A4 locomotive is introduced, hauling an express passenger service between Blackborough and London King’s Cross.

Following the Wall Street Crash the Saul Syrup Company goes into receivership and the refinery in Blackborough closes and is torn down.

A number of factories close in Northbridge leading to a rise in unemployment in the area. The city seeks to replace the remaining slums in Northbridge with new council estate housing.

During the twenties and thirties Blackborough became an important centre for the futurist movement

The residential population of Redhall falls over this decade as Redhall continues to develop into a shopping and entertainment district.

The Russian Widow’s criminal empire slowly unravels as those politicians she had dirt on gradually retire or lose office, and the new generation of leaders are too canny to be entrapped by her. Yet arresting the criminal matriarch remains unthinkable as her trial would embarrass too many in the old boys’ club. Instead, in 1935, Ms. Vana is given a one way ticket to the USA and informed by the British secret service that she should keep her head down, her mouth shut and never set foot in the UK again or else she’ll wake up with a bullet in her brain.

Vana’s remaining interests and assets in the city are seized, either by the police or by local rivals, and the Ruby Room, once her criminal HQ and jewel in her empire of night clubs, sits empty. The fall of the Russian Widow does not bring about an end to sleaze in Redhall as local criminals move in to take over the clubs.

As fear of war grows new coastal defences are built.

Most of the remaining mines in Merdin are closed, along with several factories.

This is the final straw for a part of the city that has gotten economically deprived for centuries and now finds the industries it relies on leaving the city.

In 1936 almost a thousand men walk for 26 days from Merdin to London in order to deliver a petition to the government requesting the mines be re-opened, stopping at towns, villages, and the Labour Party Conference along the way.

Upon arrival in London the Merdin Marchers address crowds in Hyde Park and a cross-party committee of MPs to call for economic revival in Merdin. The marchers are given a heroes’ welcome when they return to Merdin, but ultimately the government does little to help the people of Merdin.

Soon after the march war industries begin starting up in Merdin as Britain arms for the coming conflict with Germany.

The Keeltown slum is torn down and replaced with the Keeltown Council Estate.

New bridges are built across Merdin Brook and some gentrification begins to take place on the riverside with a better class of shops moving in and some of the slums to the south cleared.

Dr Crane dies and the Merdin Royal Hospital is renamed the Crane Memorial Hospital. Both the Crane Memorial Hospital and the Merdin Royal Infirmary are expanded.

New middle-class homes and shops are built close to the university.

1 marchers.png

The Merdin Marchers, who walked to London to deliver their petition.

A large RAF base opens just north of Abbeywood.

 

A carelessly discarded cigarette sets the Royal Albert Pier alight, fortunately no one is killed but nothing is left of the pier but a blackened skeleton.

1 pier

A new pier is built even longer than the first, the New Pier is a commercial success whilst the charred and boarded up Royal Albert Pier becomes a landmark and a future hangout for trespassing teenagers.

New arms factories spring up in Eastmoreland. The Moran Company, with its armaments and chemical subsidiaries, has become one of the world’s largest corporations, and eagerly anticipates new military contracts.

With space in short supply property developers are increasingly building upwards, constructing large new apartment buildings in Frogmore and Eastmoreland.

The Vulcain Beach Chinatown continues to expand and in 1936 a group of Chinese businessmen in Eastmoreland have an ornate paifang arch brought over to the city from the old country to stand at the entrance to Chinatown.

Tenements are erected in the Titanic Quarter.

The train line is extended with new stations in Eastmoreland and Vulcain Beach.

The population of Edmondsley grows significantly, but the closure of the nearby Merdin Mines puts many men in Edmondsley out of work.

A large new school and church are built.

Northumbria Polytechnic purchases land to expand their campus.

The aircraft manufacturing plant is expanded and retrofitted to begin producing Spitfires.

The population density of Wildfield increases as farms are replaced with homes and shops and the tram-line is extended.

The Orientem Film company have a series of highly successful movies after hiring the writer-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

The Elizabeth-class warship HMS Warspite is moored at Rothray for training and coastal defence.

Work begins on hardening defences at the naval base.

The chocolate factory closes after the Saul Sugar Company goes bust following the Wall Street Crash.

The closure of the sugar factory leaves hundreds of people unemployed, and with construction abandoned on the model town for the workers, private landlords move in to build sub-standard homes.

1 slum

Crime and poverty soars as Sugar Park develops into a slum. For now the city council refuse to take responsibility for what was meant to be a private self-contained village for the chocolate factory workers.

Whilst the dark clouds gather overhead and war begins to look inevitable the ordinary people of Blackborough largely continue their lives as normal.

There are some changes of course, the population of the city has been issued with gas masks, new coastal defences and bomb shelters are built, and Jewish refugees and the children of the Kindertransport arrive in the city, including a seven-year old Frank Auerbach who will go on to become one of the area’s most famous artists.

Speaking of art, the English Futurism movement centred in Blackborough has begun to fall out of favour as some see Futurism as tainted by fascism and militarism.

The London and North Eastern Railway’s streamlined Class A4 4468 Mallard becomes the world’s fastest steam locomotive reaching speeds of 126 mph on the track between Blackborough and York.

Construction begins on a new hospital on the north-eastern road (“Greenheath Hospital”) running out of Blackborough and new houses and apartments are built in the area.

The over-crowded North Blackborough Prison is expanded and a new exercise yard built.

New roads are built running north and east out of the city. New factories spring up along the eastern road.

The drydock at Wolfe’s Shipyard is overhauled and modernised to accommodate larger ships.

 

Blackborough United football club have the worst season in their history, losing to both their rivals: Redhall Athletic in the League and Sunderland in the derby.

In 1938, Blackborough Brown Ale (affectionately known as “Blackie Brown” in the north-east of England) becomes the best-selling ale in the world.

1 footie

The men of the Blackborough Brewery on their way to an inter-brewery tournament.

This year’s Make-Merry Festival goes ahead as usual but the celebration takes on a melancholy air as people wonder whether war will come before the next Make-Merry.

Redhall Athletic defeat Blackborough United 3-1 for the first time in their history.

New navel defences and a recruitment office are built at Baltic dock.

A new art-deco style cinema opens in the red light district.

New luxury apartments are built along the canal close to Crescent Hill Park.

Substandard homes on the eastern waterfront are demolished with plans to replace them with apartments.

In the summer, during the historic annual Frog Swim, a boy drowns. The future of the yearly swim along Frog’s Pond Canal is cast in to doubt.

Struggling Merdin receives an economic boost as local industry ramps up in preparation for war.

Armed robbers make off with almost £100,000 from a bank in central Merdin, in one of the largest robberies in history.

Ethel May Parker (Britain’s oldest woman as of 2015) becomes ward matron at the Merdin Royal Infirmary at the age of 37.

An overpass is built over the railway and a road tunnel beneath it.

New canning, machine tool and textile factories open.

Plans are drawn up for a second runway at RAF Abbeywood.

1 squadron

46 Squadron at RAF Abbeywood.

A military recruitment office opens on the New Pier.

New hotels and homes spring up in East Abbeywood along the beach front, whilst further in-land in less salubrious parts of Abbeywood new factories are built.

The population of Abbeywood has grown larger than the population of Redhall for the first time in the city’s history.

Moran Company arms factories ramp up production as Britain arms itself in preparation for war, however it is not just weapons that are boosting the company’s profits.

1 science

James Hall demonstrating the synthetic polymer he developed at Moran Chemical Research Labs.

A synthetic polymer first produced at the Moran Chemical Division’s laboratories proves to have a number of interesting properties. The thermoplastic, named “Nevron” (OTL Nylon) goes into wider production at the Moran Company’s Eastmoreland facility and is first used in toothbrush bristles, with future possible applications under consideration.

More apartment buildings and offices are constructed along the waterfront.

Vulcain Beach Chinatown has grown into the UK’s third largest Chinese community.

To great fanfare the Titanic Quarter shipyard launches RMS Queen Elizabeth; the largest ship in the world.

A new road is built running south to Sunderland.

Land between Northumbria Polytechnic and the Arsenal is set aside for public sports fields.

The city is shocked by the discovery of a mutilated corpse in the woods near Edmondsley.

The Orientem Film company has their last major hit film before the war with Robin Hood (1938) written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film is now widely considered a masterpiece of English cinema for its beautiful painted backdrops and brooding atmosphere.

A transporter bridge is built to carry workers across the river between South Wildfied and the factories in Merdin. The unusual structure becomes something of a local attraction.

1 bridge

The Wildfield-Merdin Transporter Bridge carrying workes across the St Dubnus river.

The new defences at the Rothray Naval Base are completed.

Newly signed up sailors train on HMS Warspite, moored at Rothray.

Sugar Park remains economically depressed following the closure of the chocolate factory.

The slums expand as the city authorities continue to refuse to take responsibility for a community that started as a private model village funded by the defunct Saul Sugar Company.

With the status of the area in contention and creditors looking to collect on the land only the most desperate people choose to move into the area.

1 war

The Blackborough Blitz (1939-1946 AD)

“The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of a perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour” – Winston Churchill

Between January and September 1939, the city of Blackborough makes preparations for a war that increasingly appears as inevitable as it does terrible.

In March construction begins on a line of concrete pillboxes forming a defensive chain close to the beach. The defences incorporate existing pillboxes that have sat empty and derelict since the First World War as well as the elevated embankment built on top of the city’s main surface level sewer pipe.

However if Blackborough’s physical defences are archaic, it’s air-defence is scheduled to become state-of-the-art in 1939 with plans to expand the “Chain Home” radar system to cover the north-east.

1 pill

A surviving pillbox in the mouth of the St Dubnus.

As the summer draws on and the country edges closer to war with Germany, new housing developments come to a halt, with the last pre-war housing project being a terrace of houses between Wildfield and Blackborough prison.

 

In the months leading up to the war fear of air raids leads several thousand people to choose to leave Blackborough and soon after official evacuation begins with around 10,000 of the city’s children re-located to areas deemed lower risk, along with thousands of disabled people and pregnant mothers.

1 balloon.png

From 1939 barrage balloons were used in the skies above Blackborough to defend against enemy aircraft.

In anticipation of an air war some industry is also relocated and “shadow factories” set-up, the largest of which is an aircraft factory attached to the Austin Motor manufacturing plant in North Blackborough, in the hopes of disguising the factory from the Germans. By 1940 the North Blackborough Aircraft Assembly is complete and begins producing Supermarine Spitfires at a rate of 40 a week.

1 air

Spitfires being built at the North Blackborough Aircraft Assembly.

At the end of August 1939 work begins on a new gunpowder mill in the woods on the northern outskirts of Blackborough, expected to be completed in early 1941.

On the eve of war Anderson Shelters were built in gardens throughout the city.

And then, on the sunny morning of the 3rd of September 1939, people across Blackborough stand silent as the BBC instructs listerners to standby for an announcement of national importance. After an agonising wait the Prime minister’s announcement finally comes at 11.15 AM:

“I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we heard from them by eleven o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany. Now may God bless you all. May He defend the right. It is the evil things that we shall be fighting against, brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution and against them I am certain that the right will prevail”.

Following the announcement of war there are some minor panics and some false alarms as the city waits to see what happens next.

Gas masks are issued to every man, woman and child in Blackborough.

At the beginning of 1940 rationing and military service impacts many of the city’s service based businesses whilst war industries expand.

Coastal defences are strengthened with great reams of barbed wire strung along the beaches and and Emergency Coastal Batteries built.

1scaffold

Admiralty scaffolding placed along the coast to impede tanks and boats in case of invasion.

AA guns are also put in place around the city in anticipation of attack from the air.

 

In February a German U-boat sinks a coal ship just off the coast of Blackborough, with the loss of all hands.

Following the passage of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1940 concerns about air attacks on industry lead the government to force the Moran Company to relocate some of its war-essential factories out of Eastmoreland to Blackborough and Abbeywood.

In March the tunnels of the uncompleted second line of the Blackborough Metro are opened as a communal air raid shelter.

A German mine washes up in the mouth of the St Dubnus, destroying a house and part of Northbridge Dock.

In May a German Heinkel He 111H on a reconnaissance flight is shot down by AA gun fire over Northwood Common. The Pilot survives with minor injuries and is imprisoned at Merdin internment camp.

On July 10 1940 Blackborough suffers its first air raid. The Luftwaffe carries out a night-time attack targeting the Blackborough docks and the Abbeywood air-field.

Several houses close to Wolfe’s shipyard are destroyed and a warehouse damaged. Wolfe’s dry-dock is damaged by bombing but remains operational.

Ropewalk Arcade takes a direct hit causing the southern end of the raised shopping arcade to collapse.

1arcade

The Ropewalk shopping arcade after an air-raid, August 1940.

A bomb detonates in the heart of the old town destroying several shops, a pub and a house.

 

In total 14 civilains were killed and twenty-two injured in the July 10 raid.
Over the rest of the summer three more small air raids damage house on the Northern edge of Northwood Common and part of the tram network, destroy a factory in the Ropewalk area, demolish a factory east of Northwood Common, and destroy the historic King’s Park Cinema, bringing the death total up to 47.

However from November 1940 onwards the Luftwaffe shifts its strategy, increasing focus on industrial cities in the Midlands and North-East.

On 17 November 1940 two German Bomber Groups, Kampfgeschwader 54 and Kampfgeschwader 55, hit Blackborough in a massive raid. Forty thousand incendiary bombs are dropped in one night, and when dawn breaks the full scale of the devastation is revealed.

Houses and shops in Northbridge are obliterated, parts of the Blackborough Elevated Railway are damaged by fire, banks, shops and grand houses close to the Quebec Quarter are destroyed and part of the Brewery Court housing estate and Blackborough Brewery burns to the ground.Northwood house, ancestral home of the Earl of Blackborough, is requisitioned by the military. The site is used for experiments in radar development and electronic navigation countermeasures under the direction of the Air Minstry.

In 1939 the docks at Redhall go into over-drive, handling thousands of tons of materials in preparation for war.

In January 1939 a barrage balloon comes loose, damaging several roof tops.
Following the outbreak of war Redhall is a district without its heart as the theatres close.

In the July 1940 raid several warehouses in Redhall and a housing terrace are destroyed.

The November raid takes an even more devastating toll, destroying river front shops, part of the redlight district, the metro station and damaging part of the Nightingale memorial bridge.

In September 1939, as part of Evacuation the entire population of the “Merdin Imbecile Colony” on the outskirts of the city is relocated to rural institutions and the facility is closed.

Following the outbreak of war a full-scale replica of the Moran Arsenal is built out of wood and canvas to the north-west of the real Arsenal in an attempt to confuse German bombers.

The Imbecile Colony sits empty until May 1940 when large-scale alien internment begins. The facility is repurposed as an internment camp and houses several thousand German and Austrian enemy aliens from across the country.

In the November raid Merdin Grammar School and nearby terraces are partially destroyed, a number of houses burn to the ground and the Merdin Dyeworks is destroyed.

Large parts of the Merdinbrook area are destroyed by incendiary devices.

Ethel May Parker (Britain’s oldest woman as of 2015) becomes a WREN at the age of 38. In 1940 Ethel’s eldest son is killed at Dunkirk.

At the outbreak of the war the pleasure beach and the new pier are closed.

The derelict old Royal Albert Pier is destroyed by Royal Navy Engineers out of fear that it could be used as a landing ground by a German invasion force.

RAF Abbeywood takes superficial damage during the July air raid.

The Abbeywood aeroplane factory is damaged by bombing.

Arms Production ramps up in Frogmore-Eastmoreland and a huge complex of secret factories and developments labs are built underground beneath East Moor.

1factory

Women workers at the underground factory beneath East Moor.

Part of the sewer outlet is damaged when a German sea mine washes up ashore.

In the November 1940 air raid Frogmore-Eastmoreland is hit hard.

In Frogmore hundreds of homes burn to the ground, a church and a school are destroyed, Frogmore Rail Station is badly damaged and the grand George Street Library is gutted by an incendiary bomb.

In Eastmoreland, part of the Moran Chemical Works is damaged, dozens of homes and shops in Chinatown and the Titanic Quarter are destroyed and the fishpaste factory is obliterated.

The Arsenal (and it’s replica) takes some damage and Northumbria Polytechnic is largely destroyed by a stray bomber.

Edmondsley is largely spared from the bombs, but several more mutilated corpses are found in Edmondsley, suggesting that a serial killer is taking advantage of the confusion of war.

Wildfield Airport is requisitioned by the RAF. The airport is bombed during the November raid and requires extensive repairs.

A nearby farmhouse is destroyed.

Orientem Studios creates a series of short propaganda and public information films and establishes a small animation team which produces two films by the end of 1940.

1film.png

Dad’s Duty (1939), a 12 minute animated film at explaining the rise of the Nazis and the reasons for the war to children.

1plan

Danger From the Air! (1940), an animated short warning people to observe air raid precautions.

Two of the animators hired for this project become friends and begin discussing plans to start their own animation company after the war.

 

Orientem also produce several live-action feature films, and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger continue their creative partnership by writing and directing two more films, A Spy in Belgravia (1939) and Niagara Falls (1940), the latter of which is picked up by Columbia Pictures for a US release, scheduled for 1941.

1filmy.png

Set on the US-Canadian border and starring Lawrence Olivier as an American who begins to suspect his ton has been infiltrated by Nazi agents, Niagara Falls was produced at the urging of the War Office with the intention of convincing the American public to support the war.

In the lead-up to war Rothray naval base is heavily fortified with AA guns and coastal defences.

The ancient underground hermitage deep beneath the base is packed with explosives and plans are drawn up to blow the entire island sky-high if the base is taken by a German invasion.

A medical supplies company, NorthMed, begins construction on a new factory in Sugar Park.

As the prospect of war becomes increasingly likely, the government wishes  to increase the amount of food grown within Britain. In order to grow more food help is needed on the farms and so the government starts the Women’s Land Army in June 1939.

Farmland on the outskirts of town is expanded.

An accidental fire destroys part of the derelict sugar refinery.

anotated war

The effects of the anglo-american Lend-lease agreement, and post Pearl Harbour, more direct American assistance, seas Wolfs shipyard booming. At some points, the shipyard is pumping out a completed hull every 4 days

On May 10, 1941, at around 1:36 pm, air raid sirens rang out across Blackborough and the surrounding areas, making people doing their business run to the public shelters in the parks and streets and the homemade Anderson Shelters in the back yards of their houses.

The people do not realise but this will be the last bombing raid to hit the city.

It will also be by far the worst.

AA guns across the city began to aim towards the sky as the bombers began to appear near the city. These were the famed Heinkel He-111

Over 1000 people were killed in the raid, which hit areas across the city. Attacks were concentrated but not restricted to Wolfes shipyard, the Blackborough Industrial Park and Wildfield

flame.png

Frogmore in flames, 1940.

RAF Abbeywood had two barracks struck by bombs, killing 23. A few bombs managed to hit the runway, but were quickly repaired by year end.

The North Blackborough Aircraft Assembly Factory is hit multiple times by SC-50 and SC250 high explosive fragmentation bombs.

Houses at the Charles Spencer Terrace housing district were hit by incendiaries and multiple high explosive bombs, killing 194. Fires raged

By far most of the casualties are to be found in the tightly packed terraced rows of the Ropewalks, as a result of heavy concentration on the nearby shipyards. At least 600 local residents are known to have died as a result of the bombing on the night and some 400 made homeless.

As so often with wartime bombing, the impact is limited and bares little relation to the physical damage wrought. Wolfs is out of action for little more than 2 days. Those who suffer most are those with the least defence-the poor, the ill and the young.

The district escapes remarkably unscathed on the night of the bombing.

Indeed, the local press, desperate for uplifting news, heavily reports the fact that a performance of Henry V in the Stagecoach Theatre resolutely carried on as the building shook with the impact of bombs falling on the nearby docks and the shipyards over the river.

The only disruption is when German aircraft returning to base pass over the district and drop the unused explosives. Most fall in the river and wash up over the course of the week for the army to defuse.

With the mass homelessness caused in Ropewalks, the Bishop of Redhall wins plaudits when he holds a service for the survivors and opens the precincts of the Cathedral itself to the homeless. Camp beds are laid out for some 350 in the aisles and cloisters of the Cathedral itself.

But Redhall has not in fact escaped. It is devastation deferred, not avoided.

10 days after the bombing, at 3 in the morning, with the all clear sounding after a false alarm of another raid, the temporary residents of the Cathedral are settling back to sleep in their camp beds.

At 3.45 their sleep is interrupted by an almighty explosion and a lethal shower of shrapnel, burning timbers and shattered stone.

In the chaos of the explosion, those who can are escorted or pulled from the cathedral and the Cathedral watch and local fire services flock to the scene. By a stroke of luck the fires are contained-not least because the timbers are sodden after a night of rain.

With the light of day, 182 people are dead under the rubble, and the sight is noticeable across the city and from the other side of the river. It stands a a bleeding scar in the local landscape.

The spire of the ancient Cathedral has entirely collapsed. Only by sheer luck has the fire been contained and the majority of the structure salvaged.

It eventually transpires that a high explosive bomb dropped by returning German bombers lodges unseen at the base of the spire. For 10 days it had sat undetected…….

1cath

The Moran Chemical Works is utterly annihilated. Every structure is flattened; the flames are visible for miles around.

One thing though, tt’s the wrong one. The deception works perfectly. The lessons learned will be rolled out across the nation as the war progresses

The tourist trade has slim pickings in this time of war. Some small hotels eek out a living providing food (but rarely lodging) as local residents escape from the misery of wartime life for the occasional day at the beach, (or rather, a day at the promenade, as access to the beach itself is restricted, as the army had littered the sands with landmines in case of German landings) but much of the city is given over to war.

The Grand Imperial Hotel and many of the more venerable old buildings of the district are requisitioned by the government. The Grand Imperial becomes a convalescent home for injured airmen.

Abbeywood tower finds itself used as a radio tower and a coastal lookout point, with its panoramic views for many miles around, both inland and out to sea.

However as a rule, Abbeywood is quiet with the wartime restrictions and many of its men called up, biding its time for peace to be restored and leisure to be an option again.

Much of the vacant land including empty plots of agricultural land, are taken over by the Womens Land Army as part of their `Dig for Victory` campaign

The district largely escapes the May 10th Blitz, and its arms production facilities are rapidly expanded. However on May 8th a German surveillance plane, intercepted by an RAF flight from Abbeywood, crashes and flattens a school. It is 11 in the morning and the school is full, almost 40 children perish.

Amidst this tragedy, there is a potential glimmer of hope-documents are found on the body of the pilot indicating the layout of the Arms factory. It is highly likely that had this aircraft succeeded in its surveillance mission, Frogmore would have have been added to the list of targets to be struck 2 days later.

The wreckage of the aircraft is put in storage by the authorities after the local residents insist it will form part of a memorial to the children.

One spot of light in this dark time is the revelation that, in an abandoned mine shaft in Wales wherein the contents of most of the nations museums are safely stored, a number of priceless Medieval volumes which had formed part of the collection of the bombed out library have been discovered. In the chaos to store the nations treasures away in the early days of war, this small number of manuscripts, on loan to the British Museums Reading Room, had been misfiled and presumed lost.

They will form the core of the post war collection.

The students and staff of Northumbria Polytechnic, deprived of their building, occupy the small and shabby buildings of the nearby Dog Track. As all events have been suspended on the track, they might as well use the empty building

Although nowhere near as badly hit by the May bombing as many other areas, an incendiary bomb does strike one of the storage units on the outer perimeter of the New Sheepsgrave Arsenal. Whilst the main production facility is largely unaffected, the unit by unhappy coincidence had been filled that very day in preparation for collection of a substantial amount of bullets.

The sound of tens of thousands of igniting rounds is said to have been audible over a mile away in the shelters of India Road.

Though largely kept out of the press due to the concerns for the impact on morale, the local community is well aware of the `Blackout Butcher`, as the mysterious assailant is known as.

As his name implies, he generally strikes in the dead of night where, due to wartime light control, the streets are as dark as pitch.

Panic strikes when two Blackout Wardens are found gruesomely murdered in a single night, both with their eyes gouged out. Is this the work of of a lunatic or worse, German Sympathisers?

Watching and writing a private diary of the Blackout and the associated crimes, is an Edmondsley shopkeeper Clive Burrows. His diary will eventually become the post war best seller, which even makes it onto the national curriculum for its vivid portrayal of wartime civilian life (as well as for its juicy portrayal of crime in the period), Blacked-Out-Borough: A diary of war in a northern city.

The War Office approves the two budding animators, William Jones and Alexander Dysart, to produce motivational cartoons in the heavily censored wartime press.

With the entry of the United States to the war, a sudden increase in Anglo-American military and intellectual collaboration results in a number of former and current employees of the Walt Disney Studios being sent to the UK on cultural exchanges. This includes collaboration between Disney and the Orientam Studios, and Jones and Dysart, who take many practical and business tips from their American colleagues.

By the end of the year, the duos cartoons are being promoted by a newly established animation company, Jo-Dy Studios (soon simplified to Jody Studios)

With fears of u-boat attacks upon shipping, and the risk of naval attacks upon the Wolfe shipyards, significant assets of the Home Fleet are relocated from Scapa Flow. The influx of naval personal causes the population of the island to temporarily mushroom
In Sugar Park the NorthMed factory is completed, just weeks after the bombing raid.

Army supply officers and engineers visit Sugar Park to check if the derelict Sugar Factory could be converted. The engineers said it could be converted, and the Army plans to convert it to a Tank factory in the new year.

blackborough45

The local bomb sites are left alone; clearing the area is considered a problem to deal with after the war.

The two cranes used for the moving of the St Dubnus Bridge are cut up as part of a wartime scrap drive.

Four AA Guns are set up at the cricket ground.

A large Raffle is set up to fund a Spitfire. The top prize is £5, but many of the other prizes are attractive in wartime Britain, such as oranges, cakes, clothing, bananas and even a wedding dress. The raffle proves so popular that more prizes are added, including a flight in a training Spitfire.

Eventually, £12000 is raised though this and a second raffle, as well a donation by the Morans of £200, along with many others from wealthier people

Eventually, £14531 4s 2p is given to the RAF, almost enough for three spitfires. The RAF takes pittance on the efforts of Blackborough and the surrounding area, and three planes are brought by the city, two Spitfires and a Wellington bomber. The two spitfires, City of Blackborough, and Dubnus are assigned to 41st squadron in August 1942. Dubnus is heavily damaged three months later and dismantled for parts, but City of Blackborough is sent to a training squadron in early 1943, and by late 1944, is very worn out.

Two Invasion defence plans, codenamed Dublin and Belfast, are written. Belfast deals with an attack from the north, and Dublin deals with an attack from the south. Both have much in common; fall back to the Dubnus River, blow up the bridges, and ports, and stop the Germans crossing further upstream. As such, holes are drilled in bridges to allow for their easy destruction.

St Canute’s receives some emergency repair work. As a listed building, more care is taken, and four iron beams help support the roof. An Architect begins working on plans to rebuild the spire, but with modern techniques, allowing it to be made stronger and a third taller. However, these plans must wait until after the war. Not everyone agrees with these plans; the Bishop argues it should be rebuilt in the orginal way.

A naval mine is washed to shore and detonates near Redhall Bridge, killing three people.

Some of the local brothels are closed down, after a rise in the number of venereal diseases in local airman. This spells the beginning of the end for the red light distinct.

Several nissen huts are assembled at the docks.

The traction engine factory sees a boost in the number of repairs it is carrying out, as many elderly steam tractor engines see more use. The company also begins producing a diesel tractor, using diesel engines imported from the US. Most the farmers “lucky” enough to receive it consider it completely awful. The Managing director isn’t concerned; the government wil buy the tractors provided they work.
A forestry camp is set up near the Oil refinery. Many ancient trees are cut down to be used as wood to reduce the amount brought across the Atlantic.

The polytechnic sets up some Nissen huts at the dog racing track. One clever academic produces some small squares of note paper which can be stuck to paper, for adding comments to work.

Meanwhile, the murders continue, with the Blackout butcher murdering a drunk airman, a young housewife, and another Warden.

However, in November, an ARP warden is attacked with a knife. The man escapes, and using a vague description and fingerprints from the knife which was dropped at the scene, the murderer turns out to be James Morlock, a young man who was not conscripted due to mental health problems. Morlock is sent to Blackborough prison, until his trial can be held at the old bailey.

Abbeywood tower is formally requisitioned as a look out post. Local Hotels are also requisitioned, to station American troops.

Most of the University of Blackborough, working out of Hollowstone Castle, is ordered by the government to move out to New Moran House, volunteered by the Moran family, where they will stay for the rest of the war. They are only told that the castle is being used “for the war”. Certain talented individuals from the maths and electronics engineering departments stay, the rest of the accommodations held by newcomers from electronics development teams in Northwood House, top students from similar departments from other universities like Manchester Municipal College, Royal Navy representatives from Rothray, and a few figures from Bletchley Park and the Post Office Research Station. The castle was to hold research and development programs for general purpose computers, both to aid the codebreakers and decrypting German messages and to improve ballistics calculations for Royal Navy ships. Its function as a castle was to minimise potential for security leaks. Notable among the new staff was Tommy Flowers, leading the team that completed the first computer in Hollowstone, and the first, arguably, on Earth. Though known by the team itself as ‘Colossus’, official documents referred to the machine as ‘Hollowstone Mk. 1’.

he

The Hollowstone Mk 1 in operation.

The owner of the bombed-out King’s Park Cinema is able to convince the city council that the moral boosting service of the cinema is worth the funds to get it back into business in some form. Acquiring large sheets of cloth to use as canopies, partly thanks to the owners connections to the black market that has sprung up in wartime, an outdoor cinema is improvised in the original King’s Park to the west. For obvious reasons, the project finds the most success in the summer, but overall the revenue is enough to keep the business afloat for the war, and he has an idea to make a summer running of an outdoor venue an annual event after the war.

The Blackborough Rocketry Club used to form part of a design team to work on improving the munitions made at the converted stove factory.

As work on repairing bomb damage to factories is completed, and no German raids have come to produce further damage, it’s decided to clear some of the rubble in residential areas. Those areas will be rebuilt properly after the war, but for now serve as areas for Nissen huts.

Arsenal Park is converted into allotments. Much to the relief of the Earl, the grounds of Northwood House is untouched because of its military function demanding tight security.

Black marketers in Brewery Court pick through the wreckage of Blackborough Brewery, aware that the site is to be clear for eventual rebuilding post-war. They discover an undisturbed stock of Blackborough Brown Ale. The jubilant scavengers attempt to wheel the kegs out of town for selling at night, but not before a few long pined-for drinks. In their inebriation, control of the wagon is lost and crashes into an army jeep in front of the local police station, spilling the ale across the road, where the stench hangs for days.

In Redhall some of the abandoned theatres are reopened after the worst of the German bomber threat is judged gone.

Cases of soldiers catching sexual diseases go down, which most of authorities pin down as a result of closing the brothels. However, a keen eye might see certain changes to business practices clamping down on customer-employee contact and ‘information posters’ dispensing a certain kind of information urging servicemen to ‘stay safe’. Church groups plead with the council to look further into the district, but the Bishop takes moves to mute these voices.

As the war drags on longer than the war that came before it, a vein of Paganism, fuelled by eccentricity, desperation, and a half-hearted allocation of resources to local police services, returns to Redhall, in the form of a Neodruidic cult hosting weekly ‘ceremonies’ at Crescent Hill, attempting to resurrect the mythological King Arthur to once again defend Britain. Although overstretched police are focused on more lethal crime and the enforcement of wartime law, the Bishop insists the issue is dealt with, and the cult members are sent to join the as-of-now relocated population of the Imbecile Colony.
Most sports teams have suffered from players getting the draft, and the Blackborough Dreadnoughts Rugby Club are no exception. Previously only recruiting white players, it’s decided that the club will start recruiting from the city’s Chinatown district. This inclusion is shown in the propaganda film Us and Them, produced by Orientem to face Britain’s history of intolerance and to contrast modern Britain with the Nazis.

For 50 years, a statue has stood at the centre of the fish market, depicting Britannia surrounded by racial caricatures of her overseas subjects. While there had always been controversy around “Britannia Above All”, even in the era of Victorian arrogance, opposition has spiked since the start of the war and the condemning of the Nazis for racial bigotry. After receiving information that some African-American units of the US Army will be temporarily posted in Blackborough, and the launching into the public eye of Blackborough’s Chinatown with the Rugby team, it’s decided to move the statue into storage at the museum.

Alice and Arnold Moran, nearly 30 years after the death of their father and her inheritance of the company, meet again. Shunned from Britain for his pacifism during the Great War, Arnold had went to France with his (reduced) share of the inheritance and set up an automotive plant in Lyon, eventually making his way to becoming something of a socialite, becoming friends with many figures in French heavy industry. Though his ideals and age made him unable to fight, these connections through France helped make him an asset to SOE, aiding in sabotage of French industry being used to service Germany. A daring operation, involving Arnold, to escape France with the gold bullion of a French bank (earning him the nickname ‘Black Prince Arnie’ to the few aware of the mission) gives him the chance to return to England for at least a while. Though Alice is unaware of the specifics of his time in France, they are both relived to see each other in good health. Though Moran Co. has done well under Alice’s leadership, she admits that rough times may be ahead once the war is over, and talk between the two drifts towards how they may help put the world back together once the dust had settled…

The citizens of Blackborough are at first relieved that the Blackout Butcher has been put away, but a few months into the new year, a string of disappearances of ARP Wardens around Merdin arise suspicion that the Butcher is running amuck, or at least someone is playing copycat to Morlock. 7 ARP members, 3 male and 4 female, disappear over the next four months. Ethel May Parker, Britain’s oldest woman as of 2015, takes leave from the WRNS to walk through Henderson Wood. Smelling a foul stench towards Old Henderson House, she walked in to discover the stench was coming from the basement. From her extensive time as a nurse, she was familiar with the smell, and turned to exit the house. A man lunged out to attack her with a knife, but Parker was able to dodge the swipe and ran back out of the wood, but not before getting a good look at the man. She reported to the police, who quickly dispatched to investigate. Although the man was not to be found, police did discover in the basement what Parker suspected. 7 bodies at various stages of decomposition, all with their eyes gouged out and limbs and genitals brutalised. Parker did recognise the man, and confirmed his identity after a look through Royal Merdin Infirmary Records. Davis McKenny, a patient Parker tended to in the early ’30s, who suffered mental illness and was sent to RMI after an attempt at self-harm. She remembered him disturbing the other patients with his enthusiastic reactions to the then-recent election of Hitler. Police finally tracked him down to his home in Edmondsley, where they found him lying in his bed with a half-empty bottle of whiskey, with a knife stuck into his chest.

Jody Animations hire their first new artist since their official founding, a local elderly painter specialising in woodland areas outside the city, to paint backgrounds for cells. He is immediately put at work on their first major project as a proper subsidiary of Orientem, short-film adaptations of stories from the children’s literature series Winnie the Pooh. Although author A.A. Milne, now serving in the Home Guard, is antagonistic of his books being commercialised, he relents when convinced of its purpose to reassure the British public young and old and to provide escapism from the trauma of wartime life. Although having neither the music of Disney or the physical comedy of Warner Bros., critical reception to the shorts gentle themes, likable characters and nearly unparalleled background art is universal.

A member of the local Home Guard suffers a nervous breakdown while on patrol, proceeding to shoot at a local butchers owned by a family of immigrants with the unfortunate surname of ‘Bosch’. Luckily, the owner is able to trap the man in the meat locker before calling the authorities, and is (quietly) ‘honoured’ as the only man of German birth to capture Allied personnel on the soil of Great Britain.

The academic in the re-established polytechnic at the dog track, that had produced the small paper notes for adding to his work, had been taking note the utility of his own invention and was beginning to make plans for producing them commercially. His current method of attaching the notes to paper, simple paperclips, was proving bothersome, and he felt a better way to attach the notes would make it a truly viable and useful product. The break came in the form of a letter from his cousin working at Moran Adhesives, who had recently been admonished for wasting precious chemicals on accidentally creating a very weak glue that would lose adhesion with ease. Telling his cousin of his idea, the two meet up and spend a week working out how the glue may be refined for better reusability and how to apply it to the note. Due to war shortages, the only colour of paper available is yellow. Filing a patent on the product, named the ‘Stick-It Note’ (or ‘Doggy Note’ in reference to the dog track the polytechnic was now based at), the pair demonstrate their product to the management at Moran and to civil servants from the government, explaining how its inclusion in offices around Britain may lead to improvements in organisation.

The last foreign army to occupy Blackborough arrived in this year, as GIs from the United States arrived as part of the mass preparations for the invasion of Europe. With large salaries and swish uniforms, American troops provided much-welcome relief to the starved tourism industry of Abbeywood. Somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 local women would end up marrying a GI, enamoured by the Yank’s ability to treat a girl. But the presence of a culture most Britons only knew from Hollywood films would lead to tension and fistfights just as often as it would lead to fun and partying, in a boiling pot that both British and American Military Police would fight to keep a lid on. The most explosive subject was the presence of black GIs, their encounters with their white ‘brothers in arms’ leading to extremely sensitive standoffs. The people of Blackborough, however, were much more receptive and friendly towards black troops. Despite few inhabitants ever having seen a black man even in movies, most residents were only a hostile and disturbed by black soldiers as they were to their white counterparts, and businesses were open to blacks and whites equally. Unfortunately, some white Americans who were used to Jim Crow in the States didn’t wish to tolerate this, and the situation came to its apex in September as a group of white GIs attempted to lynch Private Henry Washington, whom they suspected had raped a local woman named Grace Mulberry. A section of British troops nearby, who had befriended Washington over his harmonica playing, intervened as they were dragging him through the back alleys of the pub they found him in. In the tight confines of the alley, a mass fight broke out between the American and British troops, lasting for ten straight minutes while MPs backed by local police broke up the fight, which resulted in two soldiers dead, and three soldiers and one MP injured. The incident received national attention in both America and Britain, with the policy of stationing black troops in Britain called into question. Washington was saved from a prison sentence by Grace Mulberry stepping forward and clarifying she had invited the soldier to her home for the night. Her testimony helped to sooth the debate at least temporarily and allowed both allies to continue the preparations for Overlord in relative peace. They were going to give their story during production of Us and Them, but pressure from the British government, eager to leave the issue alone, urged Orientem to cut the interview. Nonetheless, Henry, along with at least 200 other black troops who visited Blackborough, would stay in the city after the war with their new wives.

Unemployment in Sugar Park almost vanishes with almost all of the available workforce being sucked up by the Chocolate-converted-to-tank factory and the NorthMed Plant. The stagnant slum, a island of poverty since the Great Depression, begins to enjoy workforce training and the flowing of wages into households for the first time in its history, even if the chafe of the wartime economy is still there.

At the castle, the Hollowstone Electronics Research Team (“HERT”) refine and improve the original Colossus design to create the Hollowstone Mk. 2. Five times faster than the Mk. 1, the Hollowstone Mk. 2 is capable of more general-purpose operations and benefits from the input of Alan Turing. Twelve Hollowstones are produced, most of which are shipped to Bletchley Park and used to decrypt radiotelegraphy messages by German High Command in the lead-up to D-Day, obtaining precious intelligence for the invasion.

Tommy Flowers imagines the non-military uses the Hollowstone Mk. 2 might be put to and fears that the wonder he has created will end up locked away in some government warehouse after the war. In violation of the project’s strict code of secrecy, he makes copies of the Hollowstone’s blueprints and hides them under a loose floorboard at his home.

Cinema-owner George Kibel’s outdoor film screenings receive a boost when Orientem Studios agree to hold the premier of their latest film, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, at the King’s Park Festival in the summer of 1944 with all proceeds from the event going to The Seaman’s Fund.

In early October 1944 twenty V-1 rockets are air-launched at Blackborough. Most of the “Doodlebugs” fall short of their targets but several hit housing terraces in Merdin and a half a dozen land in Blackborough proper killing eighteen people and destroying the swimming baths.

One of the Doodlebugs fails to detonate and is given over to the Rocketry Club team for study.

More allotments are created close to Blackborough Prison.

By the end of the year most of the river defences have been abandoned and the barrage balloons removed. The threat of invasion has passed, and the threat of air-raids is receding.

Ruined buildings in the Old Town are cleared.

An Albino baby rhino is born at Blackborough Zoo and named “Winny” in an affectionate nod to the primeminister.

A new electrical substation is constructed to serve the war industries of Blackborough Industrial Park.

Harry Kemp, Redhall F.C’s star player, is cut down on the beaches of Normandy, along with hundreds of other young men from Blackborough.

The witchcraft charges against the members of the Neodruidic cult are dropped and most of the cultists are released a few months later following psychiatric evaluations.

Basil Spence, the architect commissioned to repair St Canute’s Cathederal, releases the final draft of his plan. The ambitious modernist project includes a glass spire, 30% taller the original, which will appear to emerge out of the ancient stones, as well as a new statue of St Canute to be erected outside the cathedral.

The modernist plan for a glass spire offends some traditionalists, however amongst the Labour dominated local city council there is an appetite for fresh modernist styles, and when the Church of England dismisses the Bishop’s concerns and approves the design the deal is sealed. Now they just have to wait for the war to be over and work can begin.

Alice and Arnold Moran remain in close contact despite their differences and in late 1944 Arnold puts a proposal to his sister. “Black Prince Arnie” suggests to Alice that she put up funding for an international prize in the family’s name, to be awarded annually to the person or organisation that has done the most to bring about world peace.

In August 1944, an explosion at one of the underground armaments stores beneath East Moor causes a huge collapse.

Moran Chemical Laboratories patents a new fluorinated plastic, polytetrafluoroethylene. The non-reactive, heat-resistant lubricant soon proves to have many applications, including coating valves and seals in pipes holding uranium hexafluoride as part of a mysterious US military uranium enrichment programme called the “Manhattan Project”.

“Tetron”, as it would come to be called, is now best known as a non-stick coating for frying pans, but it also played an invaluable role in the uranium-enriching process at Oak Ridge Tennessee that helped to create the atom bomb.

In Merdin one of the released cultists, a middle-aged former civil servant named Gerald Gardner, remains in Redhall and begins secretly gathering new followers.

a gardner.png

Adopting the craft name “Scrire”, Gardner founded the Crescent Hill Coven in 1944 and began work on what would become the foundational texts of Wicca.

Gardner believes that he is reviving an ancient British tradition of witch-craft and claims to have witnessed surviving pre-Christian covens in the forests using magic to ward off Nazi invasion. To help revive this “ancient” magic Gardner plans to purchase the Old Henderson House and turn it into a Museum of Magic and Witchcraft, although for now fear of being arrested again under the Witchcraft Act presents him from doing so.

Ethel May Parker suffers a mental breakdown following her encounter with the Blackout Butcher and the loss of her eldest son fighting in France. Parker becomes an in-patient at the Crane Memorial Hospital for twelve weeks before being released home.

Her experiences both as a nurse and as a patient lead Parker to reflect on current approaches to mental health treatment and at the age of 44 she begins thinking about retraining as a psychiatrist.

Written and directed by Powell and Pressburger and based on the cartoon strip by David Low, Orientem’s latest feature film, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp causes something of a stir when shown at King’s Park. Despite being solidly pro-british he film’s positive portrayal of a First World War German Army Officer causes some controversy, however the incredible vivid use of technicolour makes it a hit with the public.

clive.png

“Dear old Clive, this is not a gentleman’s war. This time you’re fighting for your very existence against the most devilish idea ever created by a human brain… Nazism. And if you lose, there won’t be a return match next year, perhaps not even for a hundred years.” 

Colonel Blimp was a controversial film at the time for a number of reasons. Some believed the blustering British title character was a satire of Churchill, whilst others objected to the depiction of Blimp’s life-long friend, a noble and honourable German army officer.

Following the release of Colonel Blimp, Powell and Pressburger begin work on what will be their final film with Orientem: A Matter of Life and Death, scheduled for release in 1946.

Meanwhile, the US Army releases its own movie filmed in Blackborough. A Welcome to Britain is a forty-minute information film for GIs shot in and around the city and provides an introduction to life in Britain.

A Welcome to Britain features Burgess Meredith and Bob Hope explaining British customs such as warm beer, thrupenny bits, driving on the wrong side of the road, kilts, pub games, racial intermixing and English train timetables for the benefit of US soldiers stationed in Britain in the lead-up to D-Day.

The Hawker aircraft manufacturing plant is expanded.

Royal Steel begin production on a second mill in Hillcrow.

In Edmondsley a trial of several thousand Doggy Notes are produced and gifted to the Naval Office at Rothray.

The Navy report that the little adhesive yellow notes prove useful, and a large order is placed with the Stick-It Company, utilising the facilities at Moran Adhesives.

Temporary structures are erected at the polytechnic and the academics leave the dog-track and relocate back the grounds of Northumbria Polytechnic.

Most of the decoy-arsenal is demolished.

The Moran Company agrees to fund the permanent rebuilding of the Polytechnic after the war, in exchange for certain proprietary rights.

In Abbeywood an American-style jazz club opens on the sea-front near the old pier. The Blue Kiss mainly caters to Gis but soon begins to develop a local audience.

 

Many of the coastal defences are abandoned as the possibility of invasion diminishes.

Local business owners begin petitioning the government to be allowed to re-open the New Albert Pier

Rothray Naval Base buzzes with activity as planning is carried out for Operation Overlord.

A specialist unit of Frogmen trained at Rothray carry out reconnaissance of the beaches of Normandy.

Economically depressed almost since its founding, Sugar Park is riding high for the first time in its history.

NorthMed begins mass-production of orthopaedic, prosthetic and medocal equipment for the wounded.

The movement of workers to the area leads to expansion of housing, despite the war-time limits on construction.
The new year begins with the removal of most of the city’s remaining defences, as resources are redirected to the final push against Germany.

Naval patrols are stepped down, pillboxes destroyed or abandoned and the remaining barrage balloons pulled to earth.

Soon after the Blackborough Hoard is returned to the Northumbrian Museum.

In April the city’s Dorwinby Hussars Regiment liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The suffering witnessed at the camp shocks the men of Blackborough to their core.

Two weeks after the liberation of Belsen, Blackborough is gripped by relief at the news that Hitler is dead, and eight days after that the city rejoices as Germany surrenders and victory in Europe is declared.

party.png

A VE Day street party in Innschep.

Street parties and bonfires break out across the city as people are overjoyed after six years of grief, bombs and shortages. Thousands of Blackborians are dead and the city has been forever marked by the bitter war, but people are determined to have one hell of a party before they begin the task of rebuilding their city. Workers are given the day off and the entire city is decked out in red, white and blue.

The women’s rowing teams from the University of Blackborough and Northumbria Polytechnic celebrate by staging an impromptu regatta on the St Dubnus river. In the spirit of camaraderie the team from the University of Blackborough lend their rivals a spare boat as much of the Northumbrian team’s equipment was destroyed when their university was bombed.

valkyrie.png

The underdogs from the polytechnic achieved a surprise win in the first annual Victory Regatta.

In the months that follow the men of Blackborough return from fighting overseas and the city is the scene of many happy reunions leading to a boom in the birth rate, but of course thousands of men do not return home and many families are left irrevocably broken.

As the men return to Blackborough, the first General Election in a decade is held, giving the Labour party an almost clean sweep of the city:

Blackborough Central: MP George Kibel (Labour hold)
Blackborough North: MP Samuel Spencer (Labour hold)
Redhall: MP Sir Arthur Lewell-Glindon (Conservative hold)
Abbeywood: MP Gerard Kingston (Labour gain from Conservatives)
Wildfield & Hillcrow: MP Andrew Turner (Labour hold)
West Merdin: MP Brendan McCoy (Labour hold)
East Merdin & Edmondsley: MP Stephen Hendry (Labour hold)
Frogmore: MP Donald Tudor (Labour gain from Liberals)
Eastmoreland: MP Mary Cambell (Labour hold)

Following the landslide Labour victory 1945 election the city is left with only one remaining Conservative MP.

With the celebration of VJ day, a new government, and the return of thousands of soldiers, sailors and seamen to the city, the work of rebuilding Blackborough begins.

The remaining defences are abandoned, and most of them torn down whilst a few continue to sit empty.

By the end of 1945 most of the entertainment venues in the city are back up and running.

In the Ropewalk/Northbridge area construction begins on a major new housing estate to provide council houses for those left homeless by air raid, completing in late 1946.

Nearby warehouses are expanded.

The Ropewalk Arcade is also rebuilt, with shops and boutiques moving back into the suspended arcade.

However, many of the poorer homes around Ropewalk remains in ruins, as the withdrawal of Lend Lease hurts the British economy and stymies post-war reconstruction. This leads to an increasing tendency towards gentrification in the Ropewalk area as the wealthier parts are rebuilt more quickly.

In the Old Town efforts are made at street-widening and some of the tiny old homes have their dividing walls knocked through to create larger premises for the shops and restaurants which increasingly dominate the city’s ancient heart.

Following sale of the land construction begins on a new hotel and apartment complex on the site of the former King’s Park Cinema.

Meanwhile the King’s Park Festival enters its third year with the première of A Matter of Life and Death, and the festival organiser George Kibel is made rich by the sale of the land his cinema formerly stood on. Kibel uses his increasing fortune and reputation to go into politics.

Construction begins on a new tower block in the Sheepsgrave area.

The ruins of the Blackborough municipal baths are cleared, and in 1946 buyer’s begin bidding for the prime real estate the baths sat on to develop the site.

At the end of the war the military clear out of Northwood House, however the Earl of Blackborough has become quite comfortable at his penthouse in New York, and his Blackborough estate sits largely empty.

As Hollowstone Electronics Research Team leader Tommy Flowers feared, the government fails to see the huge value of the Colossus Computer Machine now that the war is over. However Tommy Flowers has kept many of the plans and the blue prints for the Colossus and assembles a small team at the University of Blackborough to investigate the possibility of developing a computing machine for civilian use.

The remains of the bombed out Blackborough Brewery are torn down as production relocates to a larger, more modern newly-constructed brewery up-river in Hillcrow. On the site of the old bombed out brewery the Blackborough Brown Ale Company begin construction of a new corporate headquarters.

In 1946 new semi-detached council houses are built just east of Blackborough Prison.

By the end of 1946 Blackborough is a city still bearing the scars of war, but the process of rebuilding is gathering pace.

In Redhallhe military defences around Bishop’s dock are dismantled or repurposed as storage sheds.

Redhall’s theatrical heart begins to beat once more as the Stagecoach Theatre and Blackborough National Theatre re-open.

Work begins on repairing the cathederal, with most of the damage fixed by the end of 1946 and work started on Basil Spence’s ambitious designs for the new cathederal spire.

The final design for the renovated cathederal includes an unusual irregular central courtyard marking where the roof was destroyed surrounding a freestanding spire of glass and steel.

The ruined warehouse next to Nightingale Bridge is used as a playground by boys from the local school as it awaits demolition.

In 1946 the first annual Moran Peace Award is given in a ceremony at New Moran House. The award goes to the Norwegian Trygve Lie for his work as the first General-Secretary of the new “United Nations”.

UN.png

U.N General Secretary Trygve Lie receiving the Moran Peace Award from Arnold Moran.

Nearby houses damaged by the the East Moor underground explosion are repaired. The underground facility itself is sealed up, and the crater from the explosion begins to fill with water creating a lake that serves as the memorial to those who lost their lives.

Rebuilding begins at the grand old George Street Library. For now it’s rare medieval volumes remain on loan to the British Museum.

By the end of 1946 the bombed Frogmore Rail Station has almost been repaired with housing developments built in the surrounding area.

The Nissen Huts are dismantled and modern prefabricated houses erected in their place.

The ruins of the nearby church remain as a monument amongst the new developments.

The Moran Company opens a mass-production plant for their new “Tetron” non-stick plastic on the outskirts of town west of East Moor Park.

Northumbrian Steel is purchased by the U.S Commercial Metals Company.

In 1945 German POWs stage a mass break-out from the Merdin internment camp. In one of the largest escapes of the war sixty-five German soldiers break out under the fence and flee into the woods. Almost all of the escapees are quickly recaptured and repatriated at the end of the war but by the end of 1946 one German POW remains unaccounted for.

The camp itself sits empty, the pre-war “imbecile” residents having moved on to other facilities during the war.

Bomb-damaged and sub-standard homes are pulled down to make way for new developments.

A river-side apartment block is built on the site of the damaged brewery.
Following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act Gerald Gardner purchases the Old Henderson House and surrounding worthless land from the rail company, converting the tiny 17th century cottage into a Museum of Magic and Witchcraft. Several members of Gardner’s Wiccan coven wish to live close to the museum and set up a make-shift camp and accommodation huts in the surrounding Henderson Wood..

Powell and Pressburger make their last film with Orientem, A Matter of Life and Death starring David Niven.

Jody animation studios rent out the neighbouring property and begin work on a feature-length animated version of King Arthur.

The farms of Wildfield are cleared for housing developments.

Prefabricated houses are erected along the river and around the aerodrome.

Randall Precision Instruments is purchased by Northmed after the war and converts from making bomb and gunsights to making spectacle lenses.

Royal Steel’s second mill in Hillcrow is completed.

New homes are built along the road leading into the city centre and roads widened.

Housing is expanded in the area around the transporter bridge to accommodate those made homeless during the war.

The Stick-It company begin developing their own production facility in Edmondsley

Several damaged buildings on the campus of Northumbria Polytechnic are demolished to make way for new buildings funded by the Moran Company.

Following the closure of the Abbeywood pit the Edmondsley mine becomes the last remaining mine within the city limits. Although the city of Blackborough remains home to many miners who commute out to sites outside the city.

Prefabricated homes and an apartment building are built in the area of the dog track and a new bridge erected.

As the war ends, the lights of the sea front come on for the first time in six years.

The hotels, lido and Abbeywood Tower re-open and by the end of 1946 most of the coastal defences have been stripped away.

1111.png

The New Albert Pier re-open and businesses slowly begin to return.

The mine near Abbeywood closes.

The Blue Kiss soon develops a reputation as the focus for jazz in the north of England.

New low cost home are built in North Abbeywood.

The garrison at Rothray is reduced following the end of hostilities.

Fundraising begins for a memorial to fallen seamen at Rothray.

At the end of the war NorthMed transitions from manufacturing emergency medical kits to producing mobility aids, prosthesis, and orthopaedic equipment.

With a city-wide shortage in housing new developments are built in the area dramatically increasing the population of Sugar Park.

1945.png

With the city recovering from the destruction and loss of the Second World War the residents of Blackborough begin to look towards the future.

 

Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 5)

Bigger ships, faster trains, deeper mines, poorer slums (1880 – 1913 AD) 

blackborough 1880The Earl decides to get his revenge and buys out the Blackborough Gazette. It changes little, but it publishes many good and positive things about the earl and how the murderer was actually his deranged cousin. The earl expands his manor house to show he intends to stay in Blackborough. A Boy caught spying on the hollowstones is given a caning by the lord himself and is sent to jail for stealing, and the next morning his father is sacked and the family is kicked out of their house for “rent arrears.” They soon catch a train to Manchester to find work.

The work on the old St Dubnus Bridge is finished, and a church and several houses have to be knocked down to make the road connect to it.
A fire station is built on the site of part of the bridge

A large graveyard is built on the outskirts of town. It has a three churches for non-conformists, Catholics and Anglian funerals. The Anglian church is the largest, while the catholic cemetery is separated from the others by a wall.

The Prison governor begins considering the possibility of using the prisoners as cheap labour. A stone crushing shed is set up on the prison yard

The City of Blackborough Police gets new revolvers from Sheepsgrave Arsenal, the Sheepsgrave Enfield Mk.1 revolver, one of the first copies of the revolver to be given to police departments. Eventually, it will be exported to departments in Manchester, Liverpool, Sunderland and even a small amount are used in the Metropolitan Police in London.

The local Methodists, lacking a proper church in the area build a central church for area in Northbridge. Some slums near Hannover square are demolished at the same time and pretty red brick houses are built for the middle classes

The university builds a new lecture hall in the castle grounds.

The eruption of kraktoa causes a panic when news reaches Blackborough that it will cause a bad harvest. This isn’t true, but beautiful red sunsets can be seen sometimes, and a young art student paints a excellent landscape of one, which is placed in the art museum.

Standpipes are placed in every street in Blackborough. Plans are made for a proper sewage system

A local Redhall gentlemen purchases a light bulb from the USA and places it on public display, for a penny a peep in 1881. He makes a good sum of money off the venture, until the lightbulb breaks.

The old merdin bridge is demolished

The two cranes are placed by the riverside, awaiting a new job.

The rebuilding rules are slacked to the annoyance of the Blackborough and district public health society, under the pressure of many landlords

The Chinese community let off fireworks which causes an invasion panic. A ban against letting off fireworks is instituted

A small agricultural steam engine makers is founded, Dawley and son, with a railway connection.

A coal barge sinks, discharging its wares onto a beach. The poor raid the beach for coal, until the boat’s owner has the police arrest some of them for theft. A piece of coal is thrown at a policeman, and a riot starts. These riots later become known as the coal riots. A man dies in the riot.

In response, the frogmore- eastmoreland Communist party is founded, and publishes the Red Dubnus, a Communist paper. Lord Hollowstone is raging when it begins to take away readers from the Blackborough Gazette

The old prison on Rothray is refurbished to accommodate the soldiers that are stationed there.

A new barracks is built and a house is built for the captain of HMS Rothay, the island classified as a “stone frigate” under navy custom.

Some grazing land is purchases and a 6 inch gun placed on it. The rest of the field is used as a parade ground.

Many houses are being brought up on the island by the navy, which leads to concerns that the Navy are planning to totally militarise the island.

The rotten wooden bridge to the mainland is replaced by a neat iron construction made in Merdin

The pier in Abbeywood is fixed, even though the current situation is popular because some consider it unsafe, even by Victorian standards and the rope bridges are removed, though one is kept as curiosity.

More houses, especially middle class ones are built to the north of the city.

Sheepsgrave Arsenal is booming, with several contracts accepted from the British Army. The Sheepsgrave-Enfield revolvers are proving popular with middle class residents of Blackborough, which the revolver can provide ample stopping power. It has recently accepted a contract to produce a rifle for naval units.

In Blackborough, and the surrounding districts, several criminal gangs had set themselves up over the past decade, dealing in weapons smuggling, burglary, stolen items and in this case, what police describe as “abhorrent and inhuman”, one of the first major sex trafficking syndicates in the UK, the Benker crime family.

The Benker crime family, headed by one Karl Benker, has been operating since at least the late 1860’s, selling stolen items and weapons on the black market. By the early 1870’s, they started buying young prostitutes on the streets, eventually selling them to customers in other cities. They also bought young girls from other countries too, landing them in places that police wound’t look. They were untouchable….. until the Criminal Law Amendment Act passed the British Parliament.

City of Blackborough Police, armed with Sheepsgrave Enfield Mk.4 revolvers and some older Sheepsgrave-Henry rifles, supported by local units of the British Army, especially the Royal Blackborough Fusiliers from the Stendham Barracks, launched a massive operation across the city to eradicate the crime problem. On March 28, 1888, the signal is given.

All across the city, police raided locations thought to contain sex slaves and prostitutes, whether it was in a rich district, and poor district, it didn’t matter. In all, over 250 locations were raided by the police, some of them fought back, killing 5 police officers and and 32 Benker crime family members.

Reaction to the raids is one of horror, and disgust. Many people started protesting at the brothels that is receiving these exploited workers, which the police promply shut down the brothels under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which pleased the protesters. These former brothels were turned into legitimate pubs and music halls.

In the City Port, 2 ships, carrying young girls from Sweden, Germany and Ireland, is raided and seized by Police and Army units. Most of the girls were aged between 12 and 15, which horrified the Army Commander so much that he said the famous quote; “How can anyone be so damned evil, and damned selfish to leave them in this state?”.

The raids also shocked the religious community too, with the Bishop of Redhall condemning the people who exploited them as “mortal sinners, who will never enter the Kingdom of God, and will be condemned to hell for eternity.”

More slums are built near the train line, as many poor workers continue to settle here, many working in the factories, the mines and the rail line. However, these slums are better in quality, having a public bath and proper bathrooms. However, rooms are still packed with 30 or more people and the materials building the things are still rickety as all hell.

More Chinese are immigrating to Frogmore-Eastmoreland, and are setting up houses near Vulcain Beach. The Chinese are viewed with suspicion by the mostly British residents of the town, since they have (to the British) weird and often confusing customs, such as launching fireworks and dressing as dragons in February of each year. Some even eat something called “rice”.

A football match between Redhall Athletic and Merdin Town devolves into a mass riot after the match, forcing the CBP to break it up. A few shops were ransacked in the riot, and 2 people were killed in the scuffle.

Rothray the new Lee-Metford bolt-action rifles in 1888, and is equipping the Navy and Army forces on the base with it.

The road leading to the west of town is finally paved, due to the massive number of traffic leading to the west of town.

Blackborough prison starts the Hard Labour program, where prisoners have to smash rocks in the yards, sometimes up to 2 hours in the cold weather. Prisoners report symptoms of exhaustion and fatigue, sometimes prisoners just collapse in the yard due to overexertion.

A small business section is built in the north of Edmondsley, with 5 businesses, a small restaurant and a police constabulary office is built on the road leading to Merdin. Edmondsley is becoming a popular stopover for people travelling to Blackborough from Sunderland.

With the urban population continuing to increase and a desperate need for public sanitation, the Blackborough Municipal Authority revives Jacob Cartwright’s plans for a sewer system.

In 1890 work begins on four main interceptor sewers which divert waste water south of Vulcain Beach and North of Abbeywood, aided by a series of pumping stations. The two largest interceptor sewers run at street level, covered over with tons of earth to create two leafy ten foot high embankments accessible via stone steps on either side, fed by hundreds of miles of sewers that wind their way beneath Blackborough and strengthened with Portland Cement.

By 1894 the sewer system is well under way and is expected to be completed within the next four years.

Substantial gambling debts leave the Earl of Blackborough strapped for cash and he is forced to sell off both his stake in the Blackborough Gazette and part of his estate. A school, church, graveyard and houses are built on the Earl’s former lands.

Following the recent trafficking scandal and persistent violence between the Belfast Hounds and Cork Rats, the current Police Chief Constable David Stevens introduces novel new tactics. Chief Constable Stevens begins using under-cover detectives and police agents to infiltrate the criminal gangs of Blackborough, bringing about a number of successes such as the conviction of Cork Rats matriach Sinead McCulloch who is imprisoned at the women’s block of Blackborough Prison.

As a result of the attempted attack on the Royal Observatory in London by the anarchist Bourdin, the police infiltration strategy is expanded from criminal gangs to include labour unions and radical leftists in Blackborough. This is either a pioneering early example of a counter-terrorism operation or an oppressive example of secret policing, depending upon which historian you talk to.

In an embarrassing moment for the Blackborough Bobbies, Rembrandt’s portrait A Polish Nobleman is stolen in an audacious heist from Blackborough Art Gallery close to Westburgh, despite the presence of a police station just across the street. The culprits and the painting have not been located as of 1894.

Substantial rail expansion takes place with double track laid on parts of the Blackborough Overheard Railway and the York, Blackborough & Berwick line.

In 1891 the Royal Bank of Blackborough merges with Sharpe Goldsmith Bank to form Royal Goldsmith Bank of Blackborough (RGBB).

A new bridge is built connecting Blackborough University to the west bank, and new student accommodation and a lecture hall is built.

A factory in central Blackborough is turned into housing.

The area west of Melbourne Street is developed with wide streets and a Philharmonic Opera House constructed.

A public baths and lido are built close to the Roarkes Parade football pitch.

Henry Saul’s sugar refinery south of Roarkes Parade is expanded, and Saul’s Syrup begins to be exported all over the British empire. Taking a cue from the Moran Arms Company Saul constructs a planned community for his workers south of the refinery, known commonly as “Syrup Street”.

A block of new houses are built north of the cricket ground.

The Blackborough Municipal Authority plans to clear the remaining buildings from Redhall Bridge, however the last man to live on the bridge, 72 year old Reginald Gilbert, refuses to move.

More shops open on Castle Street.

Blackborough’s oldest pub, the Bishop’s Rest, goes out of business in 1894. It is likely a new proprietor will take over the pub soon but for the moment it sits empty.

Towards the end of 1894 work begins on an extraordinary structure on the former site of Astley’s Ampitheatre: a cinema which will show moving pictures such as those currently being made by the Lumiere brothers. Due to be completed in the next couple of years, King’s Park Cinema will be one of the first purpose-built cinemas in the world.

New warehouses are built in the Northbridge Area and the docks expanded.

Docks are also expanded in the Sheepsgrave area.

The road that passes along the north bank of the St Dubnus is expanded to the west.

In 1892 Blackborough United win the F.A Cup for the first time, beating Aston Villa 3–0 in the final.

The gypsies west of Edmondsley move into south Blackborough setting up a ramshackle camp near Henderson Wood station. Art students from Hayston Academy and artists from the Westburgh studios begin associating with the gypsies, mimicking their customs and dress. This group of young bohemian artists are influenced by the pre-raphaelite brotherhood and by the gypsies and begin calling themselves “the Black Gypsies”. The movement’s most notable member is the flamboyant and eccentric local artist James Arthur, whose classically-composed and yet modern paintings of contemporary city life take the country by storm.

The Blackborough Natural History Museum and Blackborough University, with funding from Armstrong’s department store, begin construction on a public and scientific zoo in Northwood Park. By the end of 1894 the zoo is home to camels, orangutans, kudus, thylacine, a pair of elephants, a reptile house, insect house and aquarium. The zoo is almost ready for its grand opening next year.

The Local Government Act leads to the creation of fully elected urban district councils for Central Blackborough, Redhall, Merdin, Abbeywood, Edmondsley, Wildfield, Frogmore and Eastmoreland. As part of the reorganisation Frogmore-Eastmoreland is finally incorporated into the City of Blackborough. Rothray is unaffected by the reforms as it remains under naval jurisdiction.

The current Bishop of Redhall, the Right Reverend Charles Tristan Mainwaring rejects the long history of scandal and sleaze associated with Bishops of Redhall and seeks to redeem the office by throwing himself into a moral crusade following the trafficking scandal. The Bishop becomes highly popular preaching strong Christian values, although many gentlemen of Redhall will happily nod along during his sermons only to stroll down the street afterwards to visit the delights of the red light district.

Nevertheless, the Bishop’s words do have some affect and political pressure forces the police to close down the historic and infamous Red Mill brothel, at least for now.

More work-shops and trade yards spring up on the wharf.

The Cathederal Market expands.

Parts of the west side of Redhall are redeveloped to fit in more cheap homes and rookeries.

In 1891 work begins on a proposal from the bright young things at the Engineering College. In order to allow larger ships to pass through the mouth of the river and tackle the overcrowding problem in Redhall the river will be narrowed and deepened.

River dredging starts that year and at the same time construction begins on an embankment around Redhall that will reclaim around thirteen-thousand square metres of land, due to be completed in the next couple of years.

Unfortunately no one thinks to move the huge twin cranes out near Wildfield during the river dredging and as a consequence of the narrowing of the Dubnus the cranes become stuck, their bases half-buried in mud and silt and sand. The cranes are effectively abandoned and left to rust.

A “swing bridge” is constructed to the west of Merdin. Using hydraulic power the bridge can be rotated 180 degrees when needed, allowing even the largest of ships to pass unrestricted up river.

The dredging of the river and the new bridges put the last of the Keelmen out of work as there is no longer any need for small boats to transport the coal. Unemployed men fill the alleys and doorways of Keeltown.

A new complex of coal pits are dug to the south-west, during the construction of these new mines a collapse kills forty-two men.

The dozen members of the national Social Democratic Federation of Henry Hyndman are arrested in Merdin, after one of their number is heard grumbling about how the mine’s overseers “should be the one’s buried under rubble”. For most of the accused the conspiracy charges don’t stick but three of the men are found guilty.

In 1890, Charles Parsons founds a steam turbine manufacturing company, C.A Parsons and Company, and in 1893 C.A Parsons and Company construct the first ever coal-fired power station using turbo alternators. Merdin power station is linked directly to the mines of Merdin by railway.

Westbrook expands rapidly, with planned streets and modest but comfortable new homes built for Merdin’s fast-growing population.

A small park, “Empire Green”, opens in Westbrook.

A street south-west of Empire Green becomes known for its numerous brothels, as pressure to clean up Redhall’s redlight district leans some prostitutes to move to Merdin.

A new church, St. Barnado’s, opens in west Merdin.

An open-air market is established north of Empire Green.

A watermill on the south bank is converted into a restaurant.

A new textile factory opens.

The public gallows in east Merdin, possibly the last standing public gallows in Britain, is pulled down, a redundant reminder of a more brutal time.

The population of Merdin overtakes Redhall.

The ruins around Frog’s Pond and the old alms house are pulled down and the area redeveloped.

A new public market and St Dubnus hospital is built.

A statue is erected in the centre of the market depicting Britannia surrounded by representatives of various “inferior” races, their heads bowed in grateful submission. In the future this politically incorrect statue may become an embarrassment to the area, but for now it stands unquestioned, a testament to Victorian arrogance.

In 1890 a new variety of smokeless powder named “Moranite” (OTL Cordite) is developed at the Moran Arms Company labs in Eastmoreland.

In keeping with his position as the head of a vast corporate empire, Samuel Moran has a new estate built in the southern outskirts of Eastmoreland. New Moran House is used as a show-of-technology, equipped with the latest modern conveniences such as electric lights, a telephone (somewhat pointless as no one else in the city has one) and an elevator.

Undercover police infiltrate the office of the Red Dubnus newspaper, fishing for anything they can charge the writers of the Communist paper with.

A crane factory is established just south of Frog’s Pond Canal

A ferry port is established in North Abbeywood.

blackborough 1900

In 1900 the sewer system is complete. The grand stone embankments, lined with trees and carved decorative balustrades become of the of the more unusual public amenities. Soon the two covered walkways become known as the Cartwright Steps

In what will become one of the defining political scandals of the late 19th century, Reginald Gilbert is found dead. Unbeknownst to the primitive forensics of the age, he has been killed with a fatal and deliberate overdose of injected Opium.

To all the world, these are natural causes, and the way is now open to commence construction of the replacement Redhall Bridge. In a massive engineering work involving a consortium of engineering companies led by the recently founded Merdin Iron Works, all of whom are based in an increasing number of foundries along the Merdin side bank of the river, a graceful bridge in the style of London’s Tower Bridge, complete with steam powered draw bridges rises in place of the former bridge.

Shortly after the grand opening, The Blackborough Gazette, in a piece that will establish it with a national readership and reputation for investigative journalism, reveals a complex conspiracy of political corruption and outright murder that will shock the city and the nation.

Over a series of exposes, it is revealed that a local councillor and property developer, one Mr Daniel Miller, had acquired legal ownership of an extensive number of properties on the north bank of the river, directly alongside the site of the planned bridge.

Acquired for a pittance before the bridge plan was approved, financial and land registry records indicate a Councillor Miller selling his property shortly after the death of Mr Gilbert, for a massive profit.

Savvy business dealings? Perhaps, but not according to the suspicious journalists of the Gazette. 

Before long, Millers links to the Belfast Hounds, and a Tammany Hall esq powerbase depending on votes extorted through mob violence and intimidation, is exposed for all to see. Worse still, the implication is clear that his allies in the Belfast Hounds are responsible for the death of the last obstacle to the bridge project.

In a series of stunning raids, Miller is arrested by the Blackborough police in an ill-fated attempt to flee the city, and Martin McGarry, leader of the Hounds, and 5 gang members are rounded up.

Miller is tried and convicted of the offences of corruption in a public office, and extortion, and is sentenced to life imprisonment. McGarry and his gang underlings are less fortunate. Of the 6, 5 are found guilty of murder, and are hung at Blackborough Prison.

The Blackborough Police go some way to redeeming their reputation with their arrest of Miller and the Hounds, and at the same time, the paining `A Polish Nobleman` is found in the private lodgings of a student of the University of Blackborough

The RGBB expands its headquarters

During this time, the growing popularity of football, and the success of local teams, sees increased investment in local stadia-capacity in all the areas stadia is expanded.

With a growing population, demand for water is ever increasing. In 1896, parliament approves of Blackborough damning one of the tributary streams of the Dubnus, the River North Dubnus, at a point in the Kielder Forest, near the Scottish border. A series of canals and pumping stations are constructed, bringing the waters of this artificial reservoir into the city water supply.

The streets of central Blackborough and Redhall soon find themselves embedded with……railway tracks? Before long, all becomes clear as the Blackborough Omnibus Company rebrands itself the Blackborough Electric Company and begins running new-fangled electric trams. Before long a regular tram route starting in Redhalls Market Square and ending on Castle St is in operation

The Bishops rest is acquired by a local brewery and again reopens

In 1898, Kings Park Cinema is finally opened. Plush and baroque, it is hampered only by the fact that the cinema technology is….rudimentary, at best. Still, moving pictures of whatever quality are fascinating to the people. It is a resounding success.

Wolfe’s shipyards undergo a major expansion, widening and deepening its dry docks to match the changing nature of ships at the dawn of the 20th century. The shipyard expansion is rewarded with the contract to build the Royal Navy’s first all metal destroyers. The first to be launched, which gives its name to the class, is HMS Destroyer. The second, launched later that year, is HMS Dubnus

The grand opening of Northwood Zoo is a joyous day for all concerned. Through a generous endowment from the `Dickens Homes`, which have been quietly beavering away for nigh on 60 years, all the local school children of the district are given a ticket to visit in its opening year. Not for nothing does Northwood Zoo acquire the affectionate nickname `The Youngsters Paradise`

The newly established national trust, concerned at the recent sale of much of the lands of the Northwood Estate, proceeds to heavily pressure the Lords of Hollowstone to enter into an arrangement with them to preserve what remains of the historic estate, house and gardens.

Political and moral outrage, fed by Bishop Mainwaring, The Gazette and the growing Labour movement sees the first Labour councillor to Blackborough Council elected in this year, for a ward in Redhall

The opening of the New Dubnus Bridge causes an explosion in cross river trade and transit. Industry proliferates on the riverbanks west of the bridge

Due to increased connections with the economic heart of the area, custom at the Cathedral Market booms

The docks of Redhall expand in connection to the ease of connection with Central Blackborough. Particularly, many landing bays are extended as the embankment pushes the riverbank further out

With completion of the embankment, the cost of land on the newly vacant waterfront plots skyrockets.

Reports of police maltreatment of the SDF, the revelations about official malfeasance in Blackborough, and the economic troubles of the Keelmen, make Merdin ideal ground for the nascent Independent Labour Party. Before long, the party is regularly attracting mass crowds to public meetings.

In 1897, Keir Hardy himself addresses a meeting of some 15000 in General Wolfe Square.

Merdin is considered fertile ground for the Labour Party to acquire some of its first Members of Parliament at the next election

Coal exports from Merdin boom

With the growth of the mines; a practice traditional across the mining areas of Britain takes root. That of the colliery brass band.

A Parsons and Company produce the steam turbines for the New Dubnus Bridge

In newly middle class Westbrook, a small art gallery opens offering painting classes to locals. Named after its founded, the Alanson Gallery presents a novel opportunity for locals to both learn to paint, and be exhibited. Particularly popular are the landscapes of the still leafy and bucolic upper reaches of the Dubnus

The expansion of the docks of Redhall and the shipyards at Wolfes see demand for the cranes built in Frogmore increase drastically.

At the same time, as the naval forces of Rothray are expanded and modernized, Moranite is in high demand. The Moran Chemical Works and the Frogmore Crane yard prosper greatly during this period.

The increasing political agitation of the working classes of the area is not helped by the unsubtle interference of the Blackborough Police. When someone posing as a political activist is exposed as a police informant at the Communist newspaper, he is found dangling upside down from his ankles, very very dead, with a placard accusing him of `class treason`. Before long civil disobedience is running rife in Frogmore, with obstacles left on railway lines and constant wildcat strikes. Police crackdowns fail to calm the situation, indeed, they worsen it.

Before long, questions are being raised in parliament, and in a detour from his tour of Merdin, Keir Hardie gives a speech that will go down in local political legend, condemning attempts to circumvent the law, instead calling on the Frogmore Communists to join the Independent Labour Party in the interest of socialist unity and progressing the interests of the workers.

With the launch of the new Destroyer class, the older wooden frigates are retired. Their replacement, the considerably larger and infinitely more powerful HMS Imperious. One ship where the others were 4, it houses as many men as the 4 combined. The population of Rothray is swelled by the crew at this posting.

The new glass factory owners find a large proportion of their most profitable custom coming not from the provision of windows (important though that is), but for the medical equipment required by the established Merdin Royal Infirmary, the Medical School and the newly established hospital of Frogmore.

The Ferry Port serves a multitude of purposes. As a scenic pleasure cruise connecting with the ferry terminals of Redhall, and for the coastal ferries which still ply the east coast of Britain.

A covered shopping arcade in ornate Victorian style is built in the heart of the resort. Across the road rises the grandest hotel, the High Imperial.

However the greatest innovation of the age is what covers the covered arcade. On the upper floor of this covered arcade, a ballroom-but a ballroom is perfectly commonplace in late Victorian Britain.

No, what truly draws the eye is its observation tower. Taking its inspiration from its distant neighbour Blackpool, which in turn took its inspiration from Paris, a tower befitting the grandeur of the city whose mines feed a might empire is constructed.

As might be expected, much of the construction is overseen by engineers trained at the School of Engineering. Much of the Iron and Steel is provided by the foundry of Edmondsley.

The death of Queen Victoria leads to a boom in sales of minatures and memorial nick-knacks commemorating the departed Queen. Plans are discussed for the commissioning of a statue in Blackborough.

Following their success in bringing Daniel Miller and the Belfast Hounds to justice, the Blackborough Police have won political capital and several new police stations are constructed, including a stable for its mounted division.

Unfortunately, when a visiting art expert stops by Blackborough Art Gallery and examines the recently recovered Rembrandt he determines that it is in fact an ingenious forgery. It is suspected that the art student in whose possession the painting was found was in fact a patsy, however this line of evidence cannot be investigated as in 1900 the art student is murdered in an apparent prison fight. With no other lines of inquiry it seems there is little hope of recovering the real painting and capturing the mastermind of its theft.

The RGBB open several new branches.

The electric tram is extended to Hanover Square and Melbourne Street.

Kings Park Cinema attracts growing audiences as people flock to see this marvel of moving pictures. Most of the short films are the work of the French Luminere brothers but there is an appetite for films featuring the local area.

A couple of technicians from the Moran Chemical Works meet this need by establishing a film company. Taking its name from the old roman name for the town, the Orientem Film Company makes several short documentaries, recording life at the docks and factories and capturing Blackborough on film for the first time.

At the end of 1901 Orientem establishes a film studio close to Roarke’s football ground with a view to creating their first non-factual films.

Several metal-hulled and steam turbine driven ships are produced at Wolfe’s Shipyard, with the assistance of this new breed of “electrical engineers” from Parsons & Company in Merdin.

Northwood Zoo gains several new animals, including capybara and koalas from the new Commonwealth of Australia.

Several industrial buildings in the old town, including the old glass works, close down. Outproduced by larger competitors outside of town the properties and are turned into homes or shops.

Redevelopment takes place round the back of Castle Street.

Ethel May Parker, the oldest living person in the UK as of June 2015, is born in 1901 in a small house on Angevin Square.

Construction begins on a thousand new homes north of Northwood house, with another thousand planned. A school and a church are built in the area.
New factories are built on the outskirts of Blackborough.

Blackborough’s first council housing estate is also completed, “Brewery Court”, close to the abandoned cranes.

Fearing that the Earl of Blackborough’s profligacy might endanger the historic estate of Northwood House, an agreement is arrived at with the National Trust. The National Trust will pay towards the upkeep of the estate, in return for the Earl opening part of the grounds (including the botanical gardens) to the public.

What remains of the “Black Gypsy” art group have switched their allegiance from the pre-raphaelites to the modernist movement. In 1901 their self-proclaimed leader James Arthur is arrested after breaking into Blackborough Zoo and attempting to paint an elephant blue, in an early example of performance art.

The Redhall docks are expanded, and new warehoused established on the embankment.

With space at such a premium, some older houses are knocked down to make way for high-density residences.

The northern shore of Frog’s Pond is developed.

Red Mill goes back into business as a legitimate music hall.

With the folding of a number of local socialist groups into the Labour Party, Labour comes very close to winning Merdin in the general election. They narrowly miss winning the seat, but the momentum in the area is clearly in favour of this new “Labour Party”.

Modern, comfortable homes are built throughout the area, but tenements also expand and they are a breeding ground for crime and social unrest.

Several working men’s clubs are established.

Exhausted pits are filled in and new pits dug.

A bicycle factory is established on the riverbank.

Arrests of provocateurs continue throughout 1901. Labour Party membership in the area swells.

New housing terraces spring up.

A ball-bearing factory is built.

George Moran is made a peer.

A church and school are established

Chinatownand the accompanying opium dens expand.

Following a partial collapse of the wreck of the Vulcain due to weather damage, the Blackborough Historical Society begins lobbying the local council to have the wreck moved in-land and placed under coverings. There is some support for moving the Vulcain but an old historical wreck isn’t at the top of anyone’s agenda, and for now no action is taken.

An area of land south of Eastmoreland known as East Moor is turned into common land, protecting it from development.

The Naval College at Rothray has begun to develop a reputation for excellence in its officer training program.

The remaining farms on the island fall into disuse.

More houses, shops and taverns spring up on the western approach to Blackborough.

Housing is expanded as more men move into the area to work the new mine.

A public allotment is founded between Edmondsley and Eastmoreland, with small plots of land for city folk to grow crops.

Armstrongs department store open an outlet in Abbeywood.

In 1901 a man jumps to his death from the top of Abbeywood Tower. He is the first person to do so but is unlikely to be the last.

A public baths opens between the football ground and the abbey ruins.

In 1902, the City of Blackborough Fire Service (CBFS) is established. It at first consisted of 300 volunteers, and 20 horse fire engines. 3 stations are opened in Blackborough and Redhall.

Sheepsgrave Arsenal introduces the Sheepsgrave M1903 shotgun, a local copy of the Remington Model 1897, standardised for British military use. It also introduces the Sheepsgrave M1902 semi-automatic handgun, a licensed copy of the FN Browning M1900 pistol. It is popular with police departments in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Sunderland and in Blackborough itself.

Orientem Film Company produces the 1903 local short film “Keeltown Robbers”, where a group of thieves from Keeltown rob several shops around Blackborough. They eventually get killed by the CBP in a 3 minute long shootout. The film is a hit with local audiences, and establishes Orientem Film as a successful local film studio.

As part of the thousand houses program, more houses are built in the north of the city, with the same dimensions as the previous ones.

The electric tram line extends into the inner city.

Wolfe’s Shipyards produce 2 new all metal destroyers and 3 protected cruisers for the Royal Navy, named the HMS Hollowstone and the HMS Keeltown for the Destroyers, and the HMS Westburgh, HMS Frogmore and the HMS Rathsbury for the protected cruisers.

The first cars in Blackborough are spotted on Castle and Melbourne Street, and causes quite a ruckus since they are very noisy, and attract quite a crowd when driven.

There are plans for 2 private schools to be built in Blackborough, one for boys and one for girls, the plans are approved and construction is due to start in 1904.

Local folk singer-songwriter Thompson McMurphy gets his start at multiple bars and clubs in the Redhall area, playing for audiences starting in 1902. His rough vocals and stringy guitar melodies make him a local hit with music critics, and is one of the first British Folk singers.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Redhall, Thomas Mainwaring, warns the people of Redhall of the dangers of ‘sinful’ behaviour, as explained in the bible. Soon, he becomes one of the faces of the ‘traditional protestant right’, who speak out against new issues such as sexual health, drugs, and behaviours that are not fitting to the protestant doctrine.

The open air market, named the Merdin Markets, is booming, with many people in the area owning a stall that they can sell their produce, which included utensils, food, meats and items such as bicycles and wheels.

A radical anarchist leftist group, the Merdin Raiders, starts attacking buisnesses deemed to be not formed to their ideology of communistic anarchism. Soon, the City of Blackborough Police start to try to crack down on them, only fueling their numbers and anger.

Chinatown, and the Chinese population is viewed with suspicion by most of the white population, not helped by the remnants of Victorian Arrogance and racism. Eventually, tensions reach an turning point.

A mob of 50 men start ransacking shops owned by Chinese in what was considered a hate crime, however, the crowd started to pull chinese out of their houses and beating them up. Eventually, the Chinese Riot of 1903 kill around 31 chinese, and 213 are injured in the chaos. The 50 men are arrested and charged with mulitple crimes and are sent to Blackborough Prison.

The Royal Navy officially establishes the Rothray Naval Officers College (RNOC), at HMS Rothray in 1902.

The Garrison gets the new Lee-Enfield Rifles from RSAF Enfield, and also gets the new Sheepsgrave M1903 shotguns for close range work, like boarding parties.

After hearing the news of the first successful flight of an aircraft, a few glider hobbyists decide to open a small glider storage facility near Wildfield. The local glider club builds two hangers and a small dirt clearing near one of the fields. They set up a small camp and a general store, too, which irks the nearby farmers.

A local farmer, who was heavily in debt, sells part of his land to the Town Council, in order to alleviate some of the debt. This allows the Town Council to construct a town hall in the increasingly populated town centre.

Shops and and houses are built, and a small engine factory is built by C.A Parsons.

RGBB opens a small branch in Edmondsley.

Abbeywood Beach has a explosion of tourists, since Victorian bathing suits has gotten better since the 1890’s, men usually swim in the sea, while women try to swim by ropes from the shore, which caused a few accidents.

A local man, Charles Hillcroft, attempts to jump from Abbeywood Tower in response to losing a bet over a football match. However, he is talked out of it by CBP officers at the scene. This causes attention to be raised on mental health in men and women.

1904 victoria statue

In 1904 The electric tram line is expanded northwards. After much discussion a plan is executed that makes use of the sewer system. The elevated drainage that seperates the east and west of Blackborough is used as the base of the expanded tramway. The northeast corner of the city park, that has since the erection of sewer system become mostly a collection of scups and scrap, is tranformed a little hill with the drainage in the middle. On top of the hill a tramstation is build, named Victoria Terrace. There the tramway seperates into two lines:
Abbeywood Line is build upon the sewer system and ends (for now) near the mainroad.
Northern Line follows along the northern border of the parks and ends (for now) near the police station.

The tram line that leads to teh townhall gets another branch that leads southwards and ends (for now) near the bridge towards Merdin.

Orientem’s latest film is called “The Good Prince” and becomes popular because of its use of historical costumes and sides, the story was ehm … lacking … but it became a hit nevertheless. The historical sides of Blackborough see more vistors in the following years thanks to the film.

More houses are build as part of the thousand houses program. Especially near Northwood Prison and near the old abbey. The part of Blackborough near the St. Dubnus has not much going on in the meantime. Many people fear that there houses will soon be torn down to build new homes.

A private boys’ school is build north of the cricket stadium. The school has a statua of Isaac Newton in front of it. A private girls’ school is build as well north of the castle. For both schools homes had to be demolished, something that is seen as pretty scandalous in a time of a growing population.

Thomas Mainwaring, the bishop of Redhall and protestant hard-liner, publically critizes the UK’s alliance with France. His anti-french and pro-German stance is something that he would bitterly regret later on.

Some of the old building near the entrance of the cathedral are torn down. Especially the old ferry house has long lost its purpose. The folk-singer McMurphy complains about the lose of this old building in his song “Old Red Piers”. Instead space is made for marketstands and a large stairway.

The area between the cathedral and the river is reconstructed. The wooden halls that dominated the area and wee mostly used for selling fish are torn down. Instead the India Hall is erracted. India Hall is a three story department store. Instead of local products India Hall sells products from the british colonies, everything from cinnemon or chocolate to tobacco and cigars.

A new tram line is build southwards over the canal following the course of the river. The new bridge over the canal is called Victoria’s Bridge and next to it a statue of Queen Victoria is erected.

statue

This running from India Hall and passing over the bridge is called King Edward’s Embankment and is becoming one of the city’s most popular shopping streets.

New homes for the rich are build in the west of Merdin. Angering the communist/anarchist Merdin Raiders who see that many have to live in terrible conditions while others live like princes. After a bomb goes of near Blackborough’s townhall in 1905 the police tries to once and for all crack down on them. Police raids against the Merdin Raiders occure around christmas time of this year. The tension in the city is growing and many believe that this winter will not end with out bloodsheet on both sides.

The old post office is torn now that all mail comes to Blackborough by train.

Bishop Thomas Mainwaring still continues on with his anti-French and pro-German retoric, not during religious sermons, but during speeches that draw crowds in the hundreds. This worries some people, who are concered that he is stirring up hysteria.

Thompson McMurphy writes a song about the Bishop, named “Redhall Religion”. It angers most of the clergy in Redhall, but Thompson is undeterred.

The police raids on the Merdin Raiders manage to shut down the presence of the group in Redhall, Blackboroguh and Frogmore, but not Merdin itself, since the raid there kills almost 24 police officers in the ensuing street battle and escape in the confusion.

The Merdin raiders attempt to blow up the Merdin Markets with dynamite as a message to the CBP about the “failure and arrogance of the capitalistic pigs to bow down to the glorious nature of communism”, however, the plot is foiled by a defector from the group, disillusioned with the groups excessive force.

In the east of Merdin, a new school is built on the river, called Merdin Grammar School. This all boys private school specialises in Rowing, and builds a rowing shed and a small pier. It will soon have competition from the other schools in what has become the unofficial start of the Blackborough Regatta.

Vulcain Beach is much less regulated than Abbeywood Beach, as most of the lower class goes here.

The Chinese finally get a break, as the City of Blackborough Police construct a police station in Chinatown. However, there is still that opium den problem….

More gliders are flown from the small airfield, which are drawing huge crowds. In fact, one glider, called Brondsley-Wilkens, flies around 200 meters in a fantastic show. However, one badly made one flies into a field of a farmer nearby and another one nearly lands near Roarkes Stadium, wrecking both of them

Another boarding private school, St Bridget’s College for Girls, is built near the town center of Edmondsley. As per tradition, it is paired up with Merdin Grammar School.

Swimming at Abbeywood Beach is becoming more popular with men, as female swimsuits are still impractical.

The Abbeywood area is becoming livelier with increasing numbers of restaurants and cafes on the promenade.

The two elections in 1910 lead to Labour taking seats throughout the city, holding five of the area’s seven constituencies, with only the constituencies of North Blackborough and Abbeywood electing Liberal MPs.

The fortunes of Orientem Studios gain a boost as they recover some of their losses from the previous year with the production of a 30 minute abridged film version of Shakespeare’s “Battling Brides of Blackborough”.

Directed by Arthur Hooper the film is one of the first three-reelers made in Britain and proves a major hit, making £50,000 on a budget of £9,000

A group of eccentrics calling themselves “The Compatriots of Billy” raise funds to build a statue celebrating Billy the Giraffe. The life-size bronze statue is erected in Northwood Park in 1911.

Blackborough United win their second F.A Cup in a replay final against Barnsley F.C. The club celebrate the second win in their history by moving to a new stadium called “New Roarkes” out in Wildfield. The old and increasingly unsafe stadium is torn down.

Clashes between the police and striking rail workers lead to twelve deaths. The increasingly prominent Labour MP William Henderson leads calls in parliament for the police’s actions to be investigated.

A compromise is reached regarding the tenth century Blackborough Hoard. The huge hoard of 8 lbs of gold artefacts will be put on display in the British Museum for two years whilst a new historical museum is constructed on the former site of the old stadium to house the hoard. By the end of 1911 the hoard is returned to Blackborough and the grand new Northumbrian Museum is almost ready to open.

The decaying wreck of the Vulcain is transported piece by piece from Vulcain beach to the grounds of the new Northumbrian Museum. Work is undertaken to restore and preserve the wreck for future generations, although by modern standards the restoration job isn’t exactly perfect.

Despite delays due to strikes, renovation and expansion of the Blackborough Overhead Railway begins with new stations under construction in North Blackborough and Wildfield.

The new bridge is completed and opens in 1911 as the Nightingale Memorial Bridge. The surrounding streets are remodelled to create a throughfare on either side of the river.

The Blackborough School of Tropical Medicine is completed.

Major expansion of the tram network is begun.

A new power station is constructed in the north of Blackborough and the power-grid expanded.

A car factory is built on the northern outskirts of the city. The new Blackborough Motor Company aims to become of Britain’s largest car manufacturers with its first vehicle, the Blackborough Coupe.

Several new primary schools are built

At nine-years of age, little Ethel May Parker (who will become the oldest person in Britain as of 2015) moves with her family from Angevin Square to a small riverside home in Northbridge.

Bishop Mainwaring is forced to drop his pro-German stance as the increasing likelihood of war makes it politically embarrassing.

The embankment is expanded and new homes and docks built.

The hospital in Frogmore is expanded and the old gypsy hut used as a caretakers storehouse.

Merdin public swimming pool is completed.

Some of the old exhausted mines are filled in.

The Blackborough Overhead Railway is extended to connect up to Merdin rail station.

Both the Blackborough infirmary and Blackborough Royal Hospital (the insane asylum) are expanded.

The chief doctor at the asylum, and (senior lecturer at Hollowstone Medical School) Sir Johnathan Crane proposes that people with intellectual disabilities (called mental defectives in the parlance of the time) should be separated out from the mentally ill and the prison population, where they are currently often kept alongside common criminals despite having committed no offense.

Crane suggests the founding of a largely self-sufficient colony for mental defectives out in the woods. There they will be provided with food, shelter and whatever menial work they are capable of under the full-time care of nurses and orderlies. In 1911 an area of land outside of town is set aside, although construction has yet to begin on this new facility.

New council housing is built close to the asylum.

Permission is gained for the construction of a catholic cathederal in Merdin, although land has yet to be acquired for the project.

In rather more diabolical religious news, the occultist Aleister Crowley takes a holiday in Blackborough in 1910. Crowley spends three weeks squatting illegally in the old Henderson House in Merdin, using hashish and claiming to receive revelations about the mystical Godhead through the spirit of the witch who once lived in the house. The local papers are incensed and call for Crowley to be evicted/arrested but by the time the railway company who own the waste ground the house is located on take action Crowley has already moved on.

Tourists continue to flood to Abbeywood.

The Hillcroft Foundation expands due to a partnership between the Foundation, Merdin Royal Hospital, and the University of Blackborough. The Foundation begins to pioneer ideas of practical support for people experiencing crisis.

A group of suffragettes stage a protest in which they attempt to blockade the Prince Albert pier, leading to several arrests.

Work begins on a seven hundred ft tall radio mast to be built south of Hillcrow as part of the new wireless network.

The Frogmore Preservation Society protests against the relocation of the wreck of the Vulcain. Local feeling is mixed; people are glad to see the rotting ship saved and preserved but angry that it has been moved away from Frogmore. The Preservation Society occupy themselves by taking action to protect the ruined buildings that have remained untouched since the French invasion attempt of 1797. The ruins are enclosed with a wall and cleared of rubbish that has accrued in the century since the failed French attack.

The sheer size of the new Olympic-class ocean liners requires Wolfe to rapidly construct a new shipyard in Eastmoreland in order to complete them. This leads to a boom in Chinatown as hundreds more shipworkers move into the area, and some begin to refer to this part of town as the “Titanic Quarter”.

By the end of 1911, the Titanic herself is almost ready to set sail.

A new Anglican church in consecrated in Eastmoreland.

The Moran Company begins ramping up armaments production to support the arms race, and a new laboratory is opened. However some of the most promising and potentially profitable research is carried out by their scientists in the field of civilian chemical industries, with the production of several new kinds of artificial lacquer.

Eastmoreland Mosque is built close to the waterfront, possibly the first purpose-built mosque in the country.

In 1911 a firedamp explosion in Edmondsley kills sixteen people.

A new station on the Blackborough Overhead Railway is completed in Wildfield.

In 1911, the Earl of Blackborough decides to make it his pet project to get a horse racing course built in the area, however the Earl struggles to find investors, partly because the Blackborough Gazette continues to publish articles questioning the Earl’s financial responsibility as part of the long-running feud between the Earls of Blackborough and the city’s oldest newspaper.

Naval patrols are increased as fears of a German invasion grow.

In 1911, with security fears increasing, the entire remaining civilian population of Rothray (with the exception of officers’ families) are evicted. Protests are fierce, and several families who have lived on Rothay for generations pursue a legal challenge against the navy.

A raised, covered shopping arcade opens on ropewalk street, between the rows of shipworkers homes below. Ropewalk Arcade houses a range of fashionable shops and boutiques on a raised platform to allow traffic to pass below (and to keep middle-class shoppers away from the working class).

Heavy rains in 1912 leads to flooding of a number of riverfront properties.

The Northumbrian Museum holds a grand opening, attending by city’s best and brightest. The Blackborough Hoard draws huge crowds as people queue up to see the fantastic collection of treasure.

The remaining agricultural lands owned by the Blackborough Brewery (the area along the river between Wildfield and Blackborough proper) are sold to developers. New homes and warehouses on the river-front are built whilst part of the land remains empty for now.

Housing around New Roarkes Stadium is expanded.

Construction begins on a new hospital for Blackborough with an area of forest west of Northwood House cleared.

Northwood Station is completed.

The telephone network in Blackborough is expanded after the Post Office takes over the National Telephone Company.

The tramline is expanded to the west and north.

Director Arthur Hooper releases a two and a half hour documentary called “With our King and Queen Through India”, made for Orientem Studios. The film is revolutionary for its length, and for the fact that it is in colour, using the recently developed Kinemacolor additive process.

Following the success of the film Orientem begins building a new, larger studio, to the west in Wildfield. By the end of 1913 the new studio is completed and Orientem relocates to their new premises. In the move a number of Orientem’s early films, including the oldest known footage of Blackborough, are misplaced. The film reels lie forgotten, sealed in a basement beneath the old studio building, waiting to be discovered at some point in the future.

Saul’s sugar refinery is expanded and the company begins producing “Earl’s Chocolates”, a chocolate confectionary containing toffee and runny caramel.

Blackborough United adopt Billy the Giraffe as their mascot.

The Blackborough Motor Company begins to find a market for the Blackborough Coupe after a shaky start.

A new post office, a fire station and a church open west of the Northumbrian Museum.

An embankment is created in the old town and new riverfront properties built.

A proposal is submitted for a pedestrian foot-tunnel under the St Dubnus river.

William Henderson becomes increasingly prominent as he makes impassioned speeches in favour of strike action. When Labour gets into power Henderson may well receive a cabinet position.

The market in Redhall grows.

The embankment in Redhall is further expanded and new riverside properties built.

The Stagecoach Theatre is expanded, a local medium calling herself “Madame Lilith” becomes on of the biggest acts in the city, playing to packed houses.

James Arthur, the former leader of the Black Gypsy artists’ group, passes away. In accordance with the eccentric artist’s wishes his gravestone on the grounds of Canute’s Cathedral bears only the words “Painter of elephants”.

In 1911 the miners of Merdin successfully strike for increased sick pay.

Local residents living around Henderson Wood begin complaining that the area is being used as a tip, and they find an unlikely ally in “the wickedest man in England”. Alistair Crowley, who stayed at the Henderson House in 1910 and considers it to be a sacred spiritual site, joins local residents in protesting that the rail company who owns the land have allowed it to be used as a general dumping crowd. In 1913 the local government agrees to turn an exhausted mine close to the asylum into a municipal tip to avoid waste being dumped in Henderson Wood.

Paving is expanded throughout Merdin.

Merdin continues to expand rapidly and a new fire station, church and primary school are built.

Bridges are built connecting the east and west halves of Merdin.

Sir Johnathan Crane’s proposal for an “imbecile colony” (essentially a self-contained settlement for people with learning disabilities) is completed. People with conditions such as downs syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism from across the north of England begin to be moved into the communal lodge dwellings of the Merdin Colony. Whilst treatment is hardly ideal by modern standards (physical punishments, abuse and restraint are not uncommon) in some ways the Merdin Colony represents a step forward. Lodgings are comfortable, independence is encouraged, and Dr Crane promotes a new idea he calls “occupational therapy” whereby residents of the colony take part in arts and crafts, learn trades, and make items and trinkets which they go into the city to sell.

Land near the lake is purchased for the construction of the Catholic Cathederal, although work has yet to begin.

New homes, shops and amusements spring up.

Land along the waterfont is purchased for construction of a “mechanical amusement park” the star attraction of which will be the world’s tallest ferris wheel.

An open air antiques market is established where pieces of genuine value are sold alongside tacky souvenirs for the tourists.

The Earl of Blackborough manages to secure investors for his latest bright idea: a fifty hectare golf course between Hillcrow and Wildfield. Land is purchased and by the end of 1913 the acquired land has begun to be cleared.

The population of Blackborough, and particularly of the area nicknamed the Titanic Quarter, are shocked and horrified when the Titanic sinks on its maiden voyage. Most of the criticism falls on the White Star Line but Wolfe’s shipyard does take a hit during the inquiry into the disaster.

In 1912 engineers at the Northumbrian Steel Company develop a form of stainless steel and the martensitic corrosion-resistant alloy is patented the next year under the name “Northumbrium”.

The Moran Company continues to increase armaments production as Europe moves closer to war.

Construction begins on a Rugby League ground just south of New Moran House.

The new Orientem studio complex is completed in Wildfield.

The civilians evicted from the island lose their legal challenge against the Navy, however as a gestures of goodwill engineers and sailors from the base personally construct new homes for those displaced, located just across from the island on the mainland.

With the possibility of war looming defences at the base are beefed up through the construction of a defensive wall, pillboxes and artillery platforms. Some are even suggesting the bridge to the mainland should be destroyed to prevent it being used for a rear-assault on the base in the event of the city falling to invasion.

Men join the army in droves. The Small military base is overwhelmed by recruits.

The new hospital is complete.

The tram system is expanded. A Headquarters and central station is built in Hannover square, while a depot is built near the old abbey.

1914.png

The Blackborough Brothers (1914-1920)

The great war breaks out, due to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The men of Blackborough join the army in droves. The Small military base is overwhelmed by recruits.

The new hospital is complete.

The tram system is expanded. A Headquarters and central station is built in Hannover square, while a depot is built near the old abbey.

Some land around the prison is marked for future expansion of the prison. A two foot fence is put up to guard the land. The Prison loses half its inmates, after the local judge offers to parole any prisoners who have committed non-violent crimes, or have served most of their sentences, if they join the army straight away.

All three of the local football clubs continue playing, despite criticism by some that instead of kicking a pigskin around, they should go and fight at the front.

Five pals Battalions are formed in Blackborough.

The National Trust sell some land surrounding the abbey to fund the contruction of a small museum devoted to blackborough.

Two new gasometers are built

Orientem make a pro war propaganda film

Bishop Mainwaring gives long sermons on the war, and encourages young men to join up. The local police keep a special eye on him to make sure he isn’t a German spy.

During the raid, a shell hits a warehouse and another goes into the river.

William Henderson comes out in support of the war, upsetting some people. He encourages men only to join up if they want to, and not to feel like they are letting their country down if they are not.

Construction of the Cathedral is delayed for the duration

A small school is built at the imbecile colony

The beaches are empty at the height of summer.

During the raid, the pier and the promenade are damaged.

In Frogmore-Eastmoreland the old canal, which has long been filled with slit is dredged so that the smaller coal barges can get though in case the river is blocked by the Germans.

Many of the locals join the army, the chance to see the world and do their bit for king and country.

The factory’s begin working overtime to support the war effort.

Construction of the golf club is delayed due to the outbreak of war. Strutting about in a uniform is a far more popular pastime right now.

Rothray goes on full alert at the outbreak of war. A new barracks is quickly built, and the modern destroyers go to join the grand fleet. They are replaced by HMS Dove, a small and elderly destroyer, mainly used as a training ship.

A Parade square is placed at the centre of the town, which requires the demolition of the old church. It is replaced by a small chapel.

A new Six inch gun arrives for the base.

Rothsey goes on full alert at the outbreak of war. A new barracks is quickly built, and the modern destroyers go to join the grand fleet. They are replaced by HMS Dove, a small and elderly destroyer, mainly used as a training ship.

A Parade square is placed at the centre of the town, which requires the demolition of the old church. It is replaced by a small chapel.

A new Six inch gun arrives for the base.

The SMS Seyditz scores several hits on the base. One destroys the thankfully unused commanders house and two hit the old prison, killing several saliors. Three more sailors are killed by falling shells. The Guns put up a good defense, and even score a hit on the Seyditz. The HMS dove scrambles out to sea, but the Seyditz is leaving by the time it leaves port.

1915

In 1915 a huge recruiting rally is held on Northwood Common, where men are encouraged to sign up with their mates as Pal’s Battalions.

More men from Blackborough go to the front and with ever greater numbers of men away fighting population growth has slowed dramatically.

The new hospital in Northwood, named St. Abel’s, opens and is connected to the local road network. A bridge is built over the stream, and houses constructed nearby for doctors and nurses.

A farm is established on the estate of the Earl of Blackborough to help make up for the shortage in food imports.

Much of the damage inflicted by SMS Seyditz is repaired, although some ruined houses remain.

At the Second Battle of Ypres, the Blackborough Brigade of the Northumberland Division becomes famed for their courage in the face of a poison gas attack. In order to buy time for the rest of the Northumberland Division and the Belgian refugees to evacuate the Blackborough boys hold their position even as the deadly chlorine gas slowly creeps over them.

Almost eight-hundred men are killed in the attack, but thanks to their sacrifice the rest of the division and hundreds of Belgian civilians are able to escape encirclement and make it to safety.

Orientem Studios produces a new propaganda film called “Britain Stands Firm” to be shown in the USA in order to try and get the Americans into the war.

Sheepsgrave Arsenal is rapidly expanded to increase armaments production, with some nearby housing and the old studio buildings demolished and built over.

Small concrete pill-boxes are built along the river and particularly around Wolfe’s Shipyard, in case of further raids or sneak attacks.

William Henderson and other socialist MPs, councillors and labour leaders come under pressure to be more full-throated in their support of the war.

Ironically, the formerly pro-German Bishop Mainwaring is one of the most vehement critics of pacifists and socialists who speak out against the war, telling the faithful of Blackborough that “No man who cowers at home whilst his brothers fight in Europe can expect the welcome of St. Peter”.

Some narrow old death-trap houses are torn down and replaced with more modern homes.

To raise money for the city the Crescent Hill stone circle is auctioned off. The winning bidder is an American businessman living it the city named Jim McEnroe who, much to the annoyance of the locals, walls off the site and starts charging people for admission.

New homes are built around Henderson Wood.

A new rolling stock factory is built just south of Henderson Wood Station.
In order to move more men and munitions work begins on an expansion of the railway, with double-track laid to the south.

The pier goes unrepaired, as the raid and the war have all but destroyed the tourist trade in Abbeywood.

Construction of the amusement park is put on hold.

Concrete pill-boxes are built along the beach

A German U-boat is wrecked on the coast north of Abbeywood.

A number of men from Hillcrow are killed fighting in Belgium, devastating the little village.

The government takes control of Moran’s munitions factories.

More factories are rapidly built to try and meet the need for shells and bullets.

Eastmoreland is one of the few areas where new houses are still being built, in order to provide munitions workers with homes.

A fire guts several houses in Edmondsley.

The allotments are expanded to make up for food-shortages resulting from the U-boat campaign.

New farms are established in Widlfield, many of them worked by women.

In 1916 more six-inch guns are put in place and defences hardened at Rothray.

In the same year the Sheepsgrave Arsenal goes into overdrive, supplying the British Army with rifles, artillery and ammunition for the guns. It is currently one of the biggest arsenals in Great Britain, behind Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield.

More men sign up for Army service, which is leaving many distressed, since the Battle of the Somme massacred the 2nd Blackborough Regiment. Some even tried to stop their sons from leaving.

Wolfe shipyards load up ammunition for ships of the Grand Fleet, but some workers were unhappy with the war, with the amount of death it had suffered.

With union support, the dock workers refused to load up ships for the war effort, sending the docks to a standstill for a week.

British troops forcibly break up the strike, sending the leaders to jail for the rest of the war, and the docks were now overseen by the military.

Bishop Thomas Mainwaring keeps on strong with his Pro-war rhetoric, calling all who didn’t sign up for King and Country “poor cowards” which angers some people since the news of the Battle of the Somme reached Britain. Some people even though bricks through his house windows in anger.

William Henderson, MP for Redhall, steadfastly denies any allegations that he is not supporting the war to his full potential, saying that recent tragedies at the Somme and at Jutland is proof that war is not ‘glorious’ as it was first been presented, but as hell on earth. This naturally made some people angry.

The Graduates of the Class of 1913, 1914, 1915 and 1916 at Merdin Grammar School sign up for the British Army, in future, around 47% of 884 graduates will never return back home. Either killed on the Western Front or via injuries. This was called the “The Missing Men” in popular culture.

As the hysteria dies down, some people manage to return to the pier, but mostly it is still empty, along with the Beach.

After reports of a wrecked U-boat surfaced near Abbeywood, a few military patrols discover the submarine on the shore near the

More men from the village are killed when the 2nd Blackborough Regiment is decimated at the Battle of the Somme. These men are considered the “Lost Boys of Hillcrow”.

More men sign up for the Navy at the nearby recruitment centre on the docks, destined to serve on ships of the Grand Fleet.
A new armaments factory is built, south of the town, with it’s own housing and train station. The factory is part of the Sheepsgrave Arsenal.

A open field in the town is transformed into a military recruitment center.

Farming in Wildfield increases tenfold, as most of the grain is moved south to be shipped off to the Ports in the south of England for the war effort.

Two destroyers, the HMS Abbeywood and the HMS Coalition are stationed in the Port of Blackborough, in reserve for the British Grand Fleet, stationed currently in Scapa Flow, Scotland.

More British troops are stationed in HMNB Rothray, with the Rothray Naval Officers College having more recruits in return.

Following the introduction of conscription there are few fighting age men left in Blackborough. A small number of conscientious objectors are sent to HMP Blackborough.

One of the conscientious objectors who is locked up is Arnold Moran, heir to the Moran Arms Company fortune, who has scandalously fallen in with the pacifists and the radicals.

The Blackborough Motor Company is turned over to making military vehicles, and their factories in North Blackborough are expanded.

A cannery and new warehouses are built on the border between Blackborough and Wildfield to house goods and equipment before they’re shipped south.

New public allotments are established close to St. Abel’s Hospital to help feed the city.

Jonathan Russel, editor of the Blackborough Gazette, is investigated by police for an editorial critical of the war.

Ethel May Parker, the oldest living person in Britain as of 2015, joins the Women’s Land Army at the age of 16.

Bishop Thomas Mainwaring urges his flock to boycott the Blackborough Gazette because of the editorial criticising the war.

A number of suffragettes protest against the war in Cathedral Market Square.

William Henderson, MP for Redhall, gives a speech condemning the arrest of conscientious objectors and the boycott of the Blackborough Gazette.

In his speech Henderson describes Mainwaring as a “hypocritical little Germanic imperialist” leading to bad blood and threats of libel action between the MP for Redhall and the city’s most senior clergyman.

A new warehouse is built close to Bishop’s Dock.

A group of Marxists organise an anti-war protest in Waterloo Square. Thousands gather and a dozen activists attempt to storm Merdin Courthouse. The Blackborough Police go in hard and four protestors are killed.

One of the exhausted mines is filled in.

The rail network is expanded and more double track laid.

The ailing tourist industry gets a bit of a boost from the wrecked U-boat as people in the city come to see the remains of the ruined German machine.

One enterprising chap begins selling postcards featuring the U-boat.

More warehouses and factories are built in Abbeywood.

New homes and farms are built.

More factories are built in Eastmore and work begins on a new dock to the south.

With most of the men away, women are allowed into the mine in order to keep it producing.

Construction begins on a new steel mill.

1918.png

Naval patrols are increased as unrestricted submarine warfare resumes.

Rubble is dumped on the little island north of Rothray in an attempt to build up a usable space for a gun platform.

On November 11 1918 Blackborough celebrates the end of the First World War, with huge parades and celebrations in the streets. The cost of victory has been inconceivable.

In the 4 years of war, 10,482 men of both the 1st and 2nd Blackborough Regiments were killed in action in the First World War. This includes 415 graduates of Merdin Grammar School, and 124 men of the small village of Hillcrow.

Most of the City of Blackborough Police (5,200 members out of 9,200) goes on strike with the NUPPO, causing mass disruptions in the police force.

Bishop Thomas Mainwaring continues his sermons and speeches, rallying the religious and mainly conservative wing of the city. But his actions over the past 4 years have antagonised many people, both in the working class and in the former military veterans. This chain of events had lead to one of the most infamous incidents in the city’s history.

On November 29, 1918, while Bishop Mainwaring was giving a passionate speech to a huge crowd outside Redhall Cathedral, Kane Harding, a former British Army corporal who was injured in the Battle of Amiens, angry with the Bishop for sending his friends to be killed, shot and killed the Bishop with a surplus Webley Mark VI revolver, causing a mass panic in the square. Witnesses reportedly saw him charge the stage and unloaded the revolver at the bishop, screaming “WHY YOU DONT CARE ABOUT US!? YOU SICK MAN! YOU SICK, SICK MAN!” and ran from the scene.

When he was captured by police later in the day, he said; “He was sending men to the grinder, from the comfort of his cathedral. He said we were cowards if we didn’t want to be killed. I’m not a coward. He is the real coward, not us.” His fate is due to be presented to court next year.

The district of Merdin reels from the mass casualty figures. Modern Historians said that 4,245 men (including the ones from MGS) killed in the war came from Merdin itself.

Merdin Grammar School builds a memorial in the centre of the school to remember the 415 of its graduates killed in the Great War.

The bunkers on the beach and ferry port are dug up and removed, since there were no threat of invasion from the Germans any more.

The wooden piers are expanded a bit.

Tourists are beginning to return to the pier since the war ended, with many people now starting to open up the shops closed at the start of the war.

The Hillcroft Foundation gets a major boost of funding from the city government, to deal with the masses of WW1 veterans suffering from so-called “shell-shock” (later this will be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD).

Almost 130 men from the village of Hillcrow never returned from the war, which hurt many people, mostly the wives. As with Merdin, a memorial to the “Lost Boys of Hillcrow” is built in a empty field.

Many tried to get on with their lives, but many couldn’t. Life in the little village changed forever after the war.

Frogmore-Eastmoreland also reels from the losses during the war, with 1,304 men from the area dead in foreign fields. Following Merdin, many hold a remembrance march to down the main street of town.

The factory south of the town is still owned by Sheepsgrave Arsenal, which is a great source of jobs for the town.

Military officials negotiate with the Wildfield Glider Club to take over the glider field permanently and turn it into a airstrip for commercial use. Negotiations are due to end in 1919.

The military fort on Rothray calms down after the First World War ended, with many troops leaving the fort for peacetime deployment.

The war may be won but it will take time for international trade to recover and food shortages continue into 1919.

The Spanish Flu Epidemic also continues into 1919 killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Canadian troops stationed in Britain awaiting repatriation become frustrated with delays, leading to riots.

Conscientious objectors are released from prison.

The Treaty of Versailles is signed.

Afghanistan gains independence from Britain.

As life begins to return to normal rationing ends and the Football League resumes.

As men return from abroad there are many happy reunions in Blackborough, but also many grieving widows and hungry children.

Plaques commemorating the fallen are displayed in the grammar schools, in factories, libraries and hospitals. There are few workplaces in Blackborough that have not lost at least one man.

A seven metre tall Cross of Sacrifice is erected in Northwood Park and another at Sheepsgrave Cemetery.

The Great War has demonstrated that conflict can no longer be confined to the battlefield and the government has become concerned that with the city’s centre having shifted away from the old town to the Melbourne Quarter/Sheepsgrave it is no longer a safe place for the weapons arsenal.

Worried that an accident or attack at the Arsenal could take out the town hall it is agreed that a new arsenal will be constructed south of Merdin and the old one decommissioned upon its completion.

By the end of 1920 the new arsenal is completed and the old one is soon to be demolished. Demolition of the old arsenal will create a large area of prime real estate at the centre of the city and discussion is already fierce about what to do with it; some people would like to see a grand central public square built there, some would like a park, and others want to see houses and shops built.

Arnold Moran, conscientious objector and heir to the Moran Company fortune, is released from prison. Unrepentant, the radical young Moran begins lobbying the Company’s board of directors to dispose of the Moran Company’s lucrative weapons-manufacturing division, to the embarrassment of his ailing father.

The government has committed to building homes fit for heroes and large scale house-building projects are undertaken, although most of them are by private companies rather than the state.

A new cinema, shops, houses and several factories are built in the north of the city.

Although Blackborough United lost a number of their players in the Great War, they manage to win a 3-1 victory against neighboring Sunderland in the first annual Blackborough-Sunderland Derby.

A Russian émigré named Katarina Vana who fled the revolution opens two nightclubs in Blackborough; the Ruby Room just west of Sheepsgrave Arsenal and the Crystal Room in the old town. The new nightclubs serve as bases for the Russian matriarch’s growing criminal empire.

Kane Harding, killer of Bishop Mainwairing, is executed at Blackborough Prison.

Port patrols are reduced.

Most of the river defences are abandoned.

New fashionable shops begin to spring up close to the cathedral.

The Bermange & Sons Tailors expands into a department store, beginning fierce competition with Armstrongs.

Work is almost completed on the new arsenal: a huge complex of factories, stores, a testing ground and labs, it even has its own train station.

With the city experiencing a housing shortage rent riots take place in the Merdin area, leading to the deaths of three people. The police blame “communist insurrectionists”

Huge scale house-building takes place in Merdin, new mansions are built around Brewery House, whilst more modest homes are built around Henderson Wood and along the banks of the brook.

New furniture and machine tool factories are built in the south of Merdin

Work begins on the catholic cathedral.

The railway to the west of the city is expanded with double track laid.

The tourists return to Abbeywood in greater numbers.

The Royal Albert Pier is repaired.

Work resumes on Abbeywood Pleasure Park, an amusement park planned to feature roller coasters, a freak show, and the world’s largest ferries wheel.

By the end of 1920 the park is almost finished, and the 102m tall “Sea Wheel” is completed. Once opened the Sea Wheel will offer astonishing views of the city and of the north-east coast.

The young Arnold Moran begins lobbying the Moran Company board to sell off their arms manufacturing branch.

Some bright sparks at the Moran labs have begun very early research into the development of synthetic polymers.

New homes are built, particularly around the Titanic Quarter.

Exhausted old mines are closed down.

The rugby ground is completed.

New machine tool, cement and canning factories are opened.

New warehouses are built around Eastmore Dock.

The new steel mill in Wildfield is completed, creating many jobs and increasing the population of the area by more than 50% in two years.

New homes and warehouses are built along the river bank.

An agreement is reached to turn the gilder field into a commercial airstrip and work on upgrading it begins in 1920.

The Earl of Blackborough’s stalled project to build a golf course in Wildfield falls through as the demographics of the area have changed, with industry pushing out agriculture. The land is sold to housing developers for a tidy profit. The London-based property developers have ambitious plans to create a whole new district of Blackborough in order to alleviate the housing shortage.

The Earl begins looking for an alternate site for his golf course.

Some of the families evicted from the island of Rothray before the war begin campaigning to be allowed to move back.

As a mark of their gratitude for the heroic sacrifice of the Blackborough Brigade, saving Belgian refugees from a gas attack at the Second Battle of Ypres, the King of the Belgians gifts the city with two identical 55 metre tall statues depicting soldiers with arm outstretched.

As one of the few military bases in England to be attacked during the war it is decided the huge statues should be placed at Rothray Naval Base to commemorate both the men who gave their lives on the continent and the sailors and civilians killed by air and naval raids at home. One of the huge statues is placed on Rothray itself whilst the other is placed on the tiny island just north of Rothray so that the two figures appear to be reaching towards each other across the water.

Officially called “The Monument to Anglo-Belgian Friendship” the two statues soon become popularly known as the “Blackborough Brothers”.

blackbro

 

Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 4)

Taking Coals to Blackborough (1680 – 1880 AD)

breakers

The breaker boys of Merdin, late 19th century.

In 1682, a fire destroys the Angevin Palace and the grammar school up north. Thanks to the fire wells in the area, only the palace and school were destroyed, with some minor damages to the surrounding buildings, which are repaired. Rather than rebuild, King Charles II grants the land to the city, which turns the area into Angevin Square. The center of this plaza is adorned with a clock tower. The area, including the old grammar school site, is filled with houses and shops, save for the Blackborough Theater, which becomes a quite popular spot to visit during the summer, and the new fire fighting house. In Westburgh, reconstruction goes well. A few more houses are built, the road network expands, and the grammar school merges with the old trade school and establishes the Westburgh Academy. On the shores of both Westburgh and Blackborough proper, coastline houses are built in a similar fashion to Dutch houses in Amsterdam. The houses, at first limited, become popular, and talks of building more “shorerow” houses, as they are called, are widespread. In 1687, King Charles II talks of possibly creating a debtors penal colony in the new world, which if gone through with, would make the Debtors prison North of Blackborough obsolete.

After the prison break out attempt it is decided that a new prison shall be built on the Eastern end of Rothray island by the cliffs. To prevent escaping, the old caves leading to the outside are sealed off and a wall with guard towers stands in front of the main entrance to the prison. Named the Rothray Citadel (also the Octagon), the prison is a replacement for the Summer Palace Prison, with a new type of cell – solitary confinement. Prisoners in solitary confinement are kept in some of the old caves where the last Norseman hid centuries prior. Often times, prisoners would doodle markings on the old cave walls, which would later become sites of pilgrimage for all non Anglican Christians. The old Summer Palace is converted into the town hall, around which a square forms. New houses are built around the square, including a new house for the mayor. A glass maker also moves to Rothray in 1683. By 1689, his glass making skills attract people to the island to buy his stained glass for homes.

In 1681, the Frogmore-Eastmoreland canal is complete, creating enticement for economic growth. The enticement leads to a new forge for weapons and lead bullets to be built in 1684, attracting some people to the area and possibly more in the future.

Between 1691 and 1693 half a dozen young women disappear in the vicinity of Northwood Common. Concern about these disappearances turns into hysteria when an excitable witness reports seeing one of the women carried off into the woods by a creature “with the shape of a man yet as tall as a lychgate, covered in thick dark fur and terrifying in brutish animal aspect”.

Some claim the creature is the spirit of the murderous pie-maker Mr Dott who was hung for his crimes over 150 years ago; now returned from hell to take his revenge. Others say it is an african ape escaped from a menagerie.

Theories abound but almost everyone agrees that the “Beast of Blackborough” is responsible for the recent disappearances and whilst the hysteria eventually burns itself out the Beast passes into legend, with occasional sightings continuing to be reported for many years to come.

Meanwhile, the young new Earl of Blackborough (who has remained rather quiet on the subject of the Beast) has one of the cellars at Northwood House permanently sealed up. Who knows how many centuries it will be before the cellar is opened, and the world learns the true fate of those poor unfortunate girls…

With fears of a Jacobite invasion growing a second shipyard is built at Northbridge in 1691. Breakwaters are built from rubble on both sides of the river mouth to create a safe harbour.

In 1693, the pasture land opposite Angevin Square is turned into a cemetery and St.Peter’s Chapel. A purpose-built almshouse, also called St. Peters, is built adjoining the chapel.

In 1694 the artist Francis Place relocates from York to Blackborough, setting up a studio and printing press in Westburgh next door to the already existing artist’s studio.

Between 1695 and 1698 a commodities exchange and several grand merchant homes are built in Westburgh.

The rebuilt Westburgh is fast developing a reputation as a centre of art and money; wealthy businessmen can hammer out a deal in the morning, take a spot of lunch, and then be immortalised with a flattering portrait in the afternoon.

As they are now serve little function but to slow down traffic, in 1695 the armed guards are withdrawn from all but three of the gate-houses in the old Roman inner wall. Several of the gates are removed entirely and an inn (unimaginatively named “The Old Gatehouse”) opens in one of the gatehouses.

Following the introduction of the Window Tax many of Blackborough’s grander homes block up their excess windows.

A small part of the north-eastern corner of the old Roman wall is cannibalised as the Jewry Street proto-slum grows. Jewry Street remains a largely Jewish area but is increasingly becoming a place where poor and wretched Christians are forced to live.

Also in 1695 Sharpe’s Goldsmith Bank is expanded after the purchase of an adjoining property.

Several new watermills are built along the river between 1691 and 1696.

More “shorerow” houses are built and several waterfront cafes and chop houses open.

In 1697 a coffee-shop opens in the theatre district, in time it will become infamous as a centre of radical thought.

Cottage industry in Northbridge expands.

More of the remaining farmland within the city is turned over for new houses.

Nicholas Hayston (descendant of William Hayston and current occupant of Hayston House) purchases much of the land to the north of town and expands the pastures.

A large farm is established to the north of town by a wealthy landowner named George Beckerton.

Due to the smell produced by their creameries, some of Blackborough’s cheesemakers are forced to relocate to Rothray

The Redhall docklands expand and between 1695 and 1698 several warehouses are constructed.

New houses and roads spring up around the expanded docklands.

In 1699 a large carpenter’s workshop and a trade school open in south Redhall.

Between 1690 and 1698 several new mines are opened in Merdin and the canals are expanded both overground and underground.

One of the old exhausted mines is filled in, rather poorly. Anyone building on the area in the future may risk the ground under their home collapsing.

An area of woodland is cleared to make way for homes and farms along the river. Due to concern from local woodsmen who rely on the woods part of the remaining area is protected by being granted to the people as “Merdinwood Common”.

In 1696 Merdin is granted a charter for a new market.

In 1698, Sally Henderson, a “cunning woman” who lives in the south-eastern forest becomes one of the last people in England to be executed for witch-craft. A local resident accused Sally of selling them a cure that made their illness worse and several witnesses who never liked the old woman are found to testify they saw her consorting with a black cat. Some even suggest it was Sally who summoned forth the Beast of Blackborough. She is removed to Rothray Citadel before returning to Merdin to stand trial, and is subsequently hung from a gallows in the new market. Henderson’s house in the woods sits empty, a reminder of the darkness that persists even in these increasingly enlightened times.

The cheesemakers forced out of Blackborough set up production on Rothray, the cheese they produce is called “Citadel Cheddar” after the prison.

Rothray chefs introduce “Citadel Cheddar” and “Frog Pasties” to London.

Due to an influx of prisoners from inland and villagers leaving for jobs in Blackborough the prisoner and non-prisoner populations are now roughly equal in size.

George Moran, the owner of the armaments workshop in Frogmore builds a gunpowder mill and grand house in the area.

More land is enclosed for pasture.

New homes spring up due to the increase in industry.

Eastmoreland is starting to be absorbed into Frogmore

The area between the northern wall and the castle is transformed into a small baroque garden. It is separated by a wall from the western area between castle and wall, in which bears are hold – mostly for amusement purposes.
1703 the year the bears arrived is also known as “the year a goddamn bear got out”. Two dead people and a crazy night later he was killed near the Westburgh guildhall. Some claim that the bear like the mysterious beast of the decade earlier were possessed by Satan himself.

To support a the shipbuilding industry and the harbour with ropes several ropemakers open north of the city in Northbridge.

Westburgh has now nearly no place to expand left and even the main part of the city is getting more and more crowded.

The area of the market of Blackborough is expanded to the south of St. Dubnus Church. Some houses were torn down for that – thanks god mostly poor people lived in them.

In 1701 the townhall begins a process of renovation. A field is converted into a public square – also called Upper Square to distinguish it from the market a bit down the river.

In 1708 Merdin has to pay the prize for its sophisticated mining system. The ground over one of Merdin’s oldest mines collapses, water is entering the shafts and one mine that fell into disuse the decade earlier is affected by the collapse. Earth and water from the river bank slide into the mines, buildings are destroyed and 32 workers die in this catastrophe.

Rumours go around that Sally Henderson cursed the mines of Merdin before her death. The swamp like area that once has been the mines becomes now known as Henderson’s Ground and the forest to the east of it as Henderson’s Woods. People avoid that area.

New houses are build in Merdin, even with the death of 32 people Merdin expands slightly in numbers of inhabitants.

The Earl isn’t getting any younger. He is going to hold on for dear life though and takes a variety of remedies to try extending his life.

Indians are in vogue. Mostly for taking their possessions and filling in their cabinets of curiosity that the nobility and bourgeois enjoyed having. Included in some are artifacts gained over the previous centuries by English and Scottish pirates and privateers, who would occasionally bring hoe their small bits of the treasure they earned. Most of the stuff had been sawed up to split amongst sailors or had already been melted down into coins and ingots by the Spanish. A few small pieces of indigenous artwork survived and managed to end up in private collections.

The MacIntryes and other from around the Dubnus area have made their way to the colonies, several of which go to New Jersey. Charles II remembered his friends from old Jersey and a bit of land had once been set aside McIntrye of the Wig Room. The Proprietorship became less useful when Anne was around and consolidated the Scottish East Jersey and English West Jersey. A few also make it to Carolina where their only real contribution to Blackborough is the slaughtering and enslavement of some natives. Some artifacts are exported back.

Due to Corn Laws, prices for products using wheat rises drastically. No longer can wheat be bought from Poland and Baltic states at comparatively cheap prices. Plans are made up for the Earl’s son to seize land through various legal means by old feudalistic laws. Grain will make them rich and fat, while having a potentially higher profit margin than tobacco.

Fountain showing representations of the Indies, Africa, Europe, and the Orient show up here and there around Blackborough

Apparently some drainage pumps are being built in Southern England but they are not known of up here. Might not matter, as many saw the flooded mines as a lost cause.

Merdin’s mad house needs some serious changes. Mostly because it is in a nice building that is too close to the town’s fashionable church. A new, plain, area is set up for the mad south of the mines, where they will not bother anyone during sermons with their pleas for help or shrieks. It is adviced that you never go into the woods. Who knows who might have gotten out…

An enormous chunk of land is turned to the plow. The soil isn’t the best, but bread prices are rising and there is a hope to make a good profit selling to the brewery, which many farmers end up doing with their surpluses.

A bridge is built to once more connect the island in the south to the north bank. People don’t using boats around there due to the currents and how many people got sucked down into mines when walls deep down collapsed.

More mines are created on the western river bank.

A factory for paint opens near the wall by the southern church in Merdin. Hopefully the products will help liven up the place and clean the outside of dirty houses.

The Ostmoors get some fishing ships of their own up. They don’t really compete with the ferrying service Rothray had set up, but they do start sending out stripping the seas and shores of whatever they can find. Oysters will fill many a diet. Something will need to be done about the mounds of shells, though.

Frogmore’s bakery takes a hit from the skyrocketing of grain prices. They still can smuggle in some grain as was common (smuggling in general for Frogmore), but they need to try gaining a near monopoly on all the grain in Frogmere to keep in business, and that would mean somehow forcing the farmers to sell for less than they could usually get. Until they manage to rob them of their daily bread they move into making hardtack, for which sawdust is a helpful supplement to fiber.

More of the old mines collapse, but most of this is underground and due to safety precautions, only 4 die.

The mines run into a problem: the “easy” pickings start to run out, and they have to gradually dig deeper and deeper for materials. This poses a problem: what happens if it all runs out, and it gets too deep for safety reasons?

More houses are built, but the town starts to worry about future expansion, however far away that is. With the huge swaths of farm, the river and the mines boxing them in, it seems right to do something. But which way to expand?
blackboroughdIn order to deal with over-crowding major expansion takes place on the south bank of the St Dubnus and on the land just north of the outer wall. By 1735 most of the residents have been cleared from the bridge

In 1732 a cricket ground is established on the eastern edge of Northwood common where local men can play (and gamble away their earnings betting on the matches)

Road repairs continue and large parts of the east side of the city are paved for the first time.

In 1733 City Alderman Richard Stevenson proposes a permanent monument to those who lost their lives in the fire at the site of the collapsed Hollowstone bridge, and funding is soon secured from the merchants of Westburgh and the Earl of Blackborough.

Between 1734 and 1736 the current owner of the Blackborough brewery, Patrick Gorman, expands production. In addition to buying up land for an apple orchard to the north, Gorman begins producing a brown ale and in a clever piece of early marketing sells his new brown ale in brown glass bottles which not only help to avoid light-strike but also give the new ale a distinctive look. By the end of the decade drinkers from Edinburgh to London can be heard ordering “Blackborough Brown”.

In 1735 a large warehouse is built at Northbridge.

In 1736 one of the remaining manned gates in the old city wall becomes a customs house

In 1737 the Monument to the Fire of Blackborough is completed: a huge fluted Corinthian column, exactly as tall as the bridge had been long, showing scenes of the fire in stone relief around its base. With the permanent monument completed the Earl can finally have the debris from the collapsed bridge cleared away.

Around the same time the southern gatehouse and one of the towers of Hollowstone fall out of use, with other parts of the castle given over for storage space and living quarters as the castle moves away from its original defensive function.

The Earl, now hardly ever present at Hollowstone Castle, spends a considerable amount of money on Northwood House, even employing an eccentric old man as an ornamental hermit to live in a newly built grotto on his grounds.

In 1738 an astronomical observatory is commissioned and built on land granted by the Earl from his estate.

The warehouses in Redhall expand between 1734 and 1738.

In 1735 the Southern Theatre in Redhall is gutted by fire after an unfortunate accident with a stage lamp. The theatres generally are struggling following increased censorship.

Over the course of the decade stone-paving is expanded throughout Redhall and a new coach-house is built.

New homes are increasingly having to built outside the walls due to lack of space.

From 1736 onwards an Irish highwayman carries off a series of bold stagecoach robberies on the road south of Redhall, even robbing the bishop himself as he crossed Crescent Hill Common. The daring robber, popularly known as “Redjack”, remains at large as of the end of the decade, much to the frustration of the authorities.

Some residents of the town begin calling for the roads to be lit by oil lamps to reduce the risk of ambush by highwaymen.

Farms outside of Redhall expand as food shortages lead to many common folk going hungry.

In order to relocate some of the people who have made their homes on the bridge the forest next to Merdinwood Common is cleared to make way for housing terraces, which are completed in 1739.

A public house and shop open to serve the Merdinwood terraces.

Attempts are made to clear the flooded ground around the mines using steam pumps, with some success.

Merdin Royal Hospital and the asylum are expanded.

In 1736 a storm batters the island of Rothray, causing damage to homes and the loss of some livestock.

Enclosed land is expanded.

Over-crowding in Redhall causes an influx of people to Frogmore-Eastmoreland, giving a boost to the town.

In 1732 the Moran & Company gunpowder mill and arms workshop is expanded.

Frogmore’s main road is improved and several more roads paved.

More land is turned into farms.

In 1735 the first annual “Frog Swim” is held, in which rival gangs of foolhardy young men from Frogmore and Eastmoreland compete to see who can swim from one end of the canal to the other fastest.

George the second leads his troops into battle, the last British king to do so.

Bonnie prince Charlie leads the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, and marches to derby, but is defeated at the battle of Culloden, the last pitched battle on British soil.

In Blackborough a hall is built for the freemasons, below the roman walls near the market. The Masons also knock down several houses, and several masons build new houses in the vacated area. The area is called masons road for the amount of Masons who live there.

A section of the castle walls, are damaged when a small keg of gunpowder is detonated by a group of people with Jacobite sympathies. The town is largely untouched by the revolt, as the rebels marched down the west coast.

North of the masons lodge, a section of the town is knocked down and redeveloped.

The gatehouse on the bridge between Blackborough and Redhall is knocked down. Several businesses spring up in the area left behind, including a brothel and a group of fisherman build a wharf off the bridge, to provide more wharf space.

A new foot bridge is built in the north of the town, to provide easier access to the cricket ground via a new path

The Bishops palace is connected to the rest of the church, and a new one is built. At the same time, several wooden houses surrounding the Catheral are pulled down. As most of the houses are owned by the church, this causes few problems.

A new House for the Bishop is built on the outskirts of town, along with a chorister for the choir boys. Several of the more religious townsfolk sent their children there.

A small building is built on the Breakwater to help guide ships in and out of the habour after a boat crashes into the breakwater. Some of the locals call it a lighthouse

A new mine is opened and a few new houses are built. Apart from that, Merdin is rather quiet.

After the Jacobite rebellion, the Armaments factory is expanded, and a short spur off the canal added to help move things in and out. Several people move to live nearer the factory, and some new workers are recruited.

Thomas Pelham-Holes, 1st Duke of Blackborough (not to be confused with the Earl of Blackborough) becomes prime minister.

Pastures to the north of Blackborough are expanded by Sir James Hayston; descendant of Nicholas and William, current occupant of Hayston House and owner of much of the land in Northbridge.

A number of cottage industry producers are put out of business when Hayston opens a large textile factory in Northbridge. Part of Northwood forest is cleared to make way for the factory and new roads and homes are built in the area.

New houses are built for workers south of the ropewalk and the docklands north of Blackborough are expanded.

Parts of West Blackborough are torn down and rebuilt to make way for ceramic and textile factories. Paving is expanded throughout the area.

The eastern docks of Blackborough are expanded and new warehouses built.

One of the eastern city gates and a small part of the wall is demolished as part of the dockland expansion.

The local mint is turned into a records office.

A wealthy industrialist, James Arkwright, constructs a large waterfront mansion in the old town.

In 1753 The Blackborough Market expands.

A cask factory is constructed on the former farmlands in the south of the city.

Some grand houses and gardens are built just to the east of the castle.

One of the city watch towers ceases to be manned and is currently being squatted in by a number of impoverished residents.

New houses and an inn are built close to Blackborough Library and King Charles Park.

The Beast of Blackborough is allegedly spotted again on Northwood Common, sparking a minor hysteria.

Public oil lamps are introduced to Blackborough in an attempt to make the streets safer.

A large new theatre and drinking house is built on the site of the ruined old theatre.

Stone paving is expanded throughout Redhall’s theatre district.

Public oil lamps are introduced to Redhall, making the streets safer.

Several gin dens are opened just outside the southern wall of Redhall as the Bishop turns a blind eye. Spaces between houses are turned into small shops and drinking spots.

The notorious highwayman known as Redjack is caught in 1754, after nearly twenty years evading the law. Redjack, real name Montgomery Connor, is currently awaiting trial in Rothray Prison.

Merdin market expands and a corn exchange is built.

New mines are dug and a horse-drawn railway is built to transport coal from the mines. The canals are also expanded.

In 1751 a storm destroys several bridges and floods a quarry in Frogmore.

The Moran Company build new terraces of houses for workers at the armaments factory.

Pastures in Eastmoreland are expanded and a new slaughter house built
.
A small canal is dug to service the pastures and slaughterhouse.

The highwayman Redjack is transported to Rothray Prison.

blackboroughf

War! The Seven Year’s War, also known as the French and Indian War, the War of the Conquest, the Pomeranian War, the Third Carnatic War, and the Third Silesian War, rages throughout Europe, regional powers, the European colonies, and all around the world. The Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Prussia, the Electorate of Hanover, the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, the Iroquois Confederacy, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, and the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe as well as their colonies faces the equivalent powers of the Kingdom of France, the Archduchy of Austria, the Russian Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Electorate of Saxony, and the Mughal Empire as well as their colonies. Colonial, imperial, territorial and expansionist ideals and plans clash in this truly world war…

Blackborough and surrounding areas are not that much affected by the war (in terms of scripting, population, military presence and battles).

The current shipyards are struggling to keep up with demand as the British Navy asks for a navy capable of defending every port in every colony. Expansions are needed, and plans for a larger neighboring shipyard are made, which would require the demolition of several houses.

The cricket grounds become a smashing success as money exchanges hands aplenty. The local men, at their time off, would almost daily go there and waste their money there if not at the pub.

The Seven Year’s War ends and King George II is succeded by George III. The French were defeated in North America and India and teh British colonial empire expands.

A new shipyard is build close to Rothray. The beach between the northern and southern shipyards is to sandy and soft to construct larger buildings on it – but the townsfolk like to bath there.
Plans of expanding the shipyards are still considered, but with the end of the war and the growing popultion it seems like a bad idea to demolish to many buildings.

Between the cricket grounds and the city a new octagonal square is constructed. It is named after the House of Hanover. In the middle of Hanover Square a large statue of Britannia is erected; four smaller statues suround it: America, Africa, Asia and Europa.

Near the River were the Roman walls once stood several buildings are demolished – they were old and only some poor people lived there anyway – and St. James at the Walls is enlarged. A small part of the city wall is torn down as well, giving the people of Blackborough a great view over the river towards the grand cathedral of Redhall.

Redhalls palisade is torn down – the town had outgrown it a long time ago. Between the inner town and the eastern neighbourhoods Woodstreet comes into existence, it is one of the widest and most busy streets of Redhall – leading from the piers towars the southern quarters of Redhall.

The forest between frog canal and Redhall (including everyone’s favorite stone circle) is made into a landscape park – with real fake ruins and small statues and benches.

To the south east of the park a new street – Quebec Street – determines the border between Frogmore and Redhall.

In Merdin the Square dispute is solved by naming it after General James Wolfe of the Seven-Years-War. Confusing future visitors if the statue is about Wolfe or not – it isn’t.

Rumours go that Redjack is living in the old witch house in the woods.
Frogmore is growing in the north near to Redhall. The settlement is increasingly becoming an outskirt of Redhall, especially the part north of Frog Pond.

The old docks are left alone. For now the bishop and the earl want to develop their own ports more, but Eastmoreland seems like an interessting possebility for later expansion.

A few more people are moving to the hamlet of Abbeywood. The mines are working fine and many believe that Abbeywood will have a bright industrial future.

The new road between the hamlet and Merdin is constructed.

lions-gate

To celebrate the end of the Seven Years War a large triumphal arch is constructed on Castle Street. Completed in 1769, the triple arch stands at 14 metres high and 16 metres wide, it’s four decorative pillars are topped by statues of soldiers from across the empire and the main central arch is topped by a statue of Victory riding in a chariot drawn by four lions.

Officially called “The Blackborough Victory Arch” the monument soon comes to be known as “Lions’ Gate”.

Between 1765 and 1769 the docklands of Blackborough are expanded and sections of Blackborough’s outer wall are torn down to make way for new docks and warehouse on the waterfront.

Competition between the docklands under the control of the City of Blackborough and the docklands under the control of the Bishop of Redhall is fierce. The mayor of Blackborough would dearly like to see the whole of Redhall and its docklands placed under the authority of the City of Blackborough, but he does not yet have sufficient political support to challenge the ancient rights of the Bishop.

Most of Blackborough’s remaining manned gates and watchtowers are torn down or handed over to the city’s civilian authorities.

Most of Hollowstone Castle’s remaining administrative functions are handed over to Blackborough town hall. The castle is now largely empty most of the time apart from the soldiers quartered there.

Food shortages lead to growing unrest throughout Blackborough and in 1766 a literal spark ignites riots. In 1766 a fire breaks out at the ropewalk in Northbridge, killing nine workers and destroying several nearby homes. The damaged part of the ropewalk is simply rebuilt with the managers ignoring the obvious safety problems, and to add insult to injury the workers whose homes were destroyed are not compensated.

The workers at the ropewalk are outraged and block access to the site. When the ropewalks’ overseer attempts to force his way in he is strung up by his feet with the rope made in his own factory. A riot ensues and spreads from the ropewalk workers to the shipbuilders and the poor of Jewry Street who were displaced when St James at the Walls was enlarged.

In the riot the gates of the debtors prison are forced open and the prison subsequently burnt to the ground, shops in Northbridge and North Blackborough are looted (with several still remaining empty in 1769) and the windows of the town hall are smashed.

The riot is eventually put down in brutal fashion. A dozen ringleaders and most of those who escaped from the debtor’s prison are caught and either hanged or sent to Rothray prison. Whilst the workers at the ropewalk and the shipyards eventually return to work the riot of ’66 remains a bitter memory.

Following the riot some measly provision is made for the poor who were displaced when the Jewry Street slum was demolished: a number of cramped proto-tenements are built, ironically on the site of the destroyed debtors’ prison.

A new textile works is established north of town.

A Blackborough man by the name of Philip Astley, recently returned from the Seven Years’ War, has the idea to make money by putting on shows of horsemanship in a field near Westrbridge. Astley’s feats of trick-riding prove popular however he soon finds that he needs some way to keep the crowds entertained between rides. Astley decides to hire several travelling jugglers and clowns to become a permanent part of his show, and in doing so invents the modern circus. A permanent structure for the show, “Astley’s Amphitheatre”, opens next to King Charles Park in 1768.

The Blackborough Brewery expands and buys up land to the west close to the river for growing hops. The Brewery also funds paving of roads in the area.

The Earl of Blackborough wants to expand and renovate Northwood House however one of his flunkeys delicately explains that given the recent riots over bread shortages this might not be the best time for a conspicuous display of wealth. The Earl is adamant, and begins drawing up plans, but mercifully agrees to wait a couple of years to begin construction.

Expansion occurs around Hanover Square and the north bank of the moat canal.

Redjack has not been seen in several years and by now would be middle-aged. Rumours circulate, some say that he lives in the haunted Henderson House, others say that he has left England for the New World. It would seem that Redjack has passed into legend, perhaps one day the truth will be known.

Not to be outdone by Blackborough the Redhall docklands are expanded.

In excellent news for Redhall the Bishop obtains parliamentary approval for the building of a large wet dock on the site of the enclosed pasture. If successful the dock will be able receive imports of timber from the Baltics and whale blubber from Greenland, with dedicated blubber boiling houses and timber yards planned to be constructed surrounding the dock.

Construction of the dock is due to start in 1770 but is vociferously opposed by some of the merchants of Frogmore-Eastmoreland.

The Bishop makes a token effort to have some of Redhall’s dens of inequity shut down, but his efforts are deliberately ineffective and he turns a blind eye to the conversion of a windmill in south Redhall into an elaborate brothel known locally as “Red Mill”.

A seminary school is built on the north bank of Frogs Pond Canal, enclosed by a high wall to “protect” the students from the temptations of south Redhall.

In Merdin increasing demand for coal requires more men to transport the coal in shallow-draught boats out to the big collier ships which sit in the harbour.

Land is set aside on the south bank of the St Dubnus between the two bridges to house the increasing numbers of so-called keelmen and whilst the housing conditions are poor the people of “Keeltown” form a close-knit community.

Paved roads are expanded in Merdin and several small new bridges built.

Public oil lamps introduced.

The Moran Company expands their interests building a dye-works on the south bank of the St Dubnus, opposite Blackborough Brewery.

An exhausted mine is filled in (poorly) and a large new mine begun.

In Frogmore the bakery is expanded.

An area of forest to the south is cleared to establish Eastmoreland Cemtery.

Roads are expanded to better connect the region to the main road and paving is expanded.

New homes are built.

On Rothray the prison population swells following the riots in Blackborough. Increasing numbers of prisoners are kept in the dungeon-like catacombs of the old hermitage beneath the ground. Some bleeding hearts have suggested expanding the prison but for now the guards just keep piling more men in.

blackboroughg

By 1774 Blackborough has over 10,000 inhabitants. It is getting pretty crowded in some areas. The growing textile and coal industry and the trade are getting people to move into the city.

Most of the new houses are build along the river and north of the city. A new block of houses is errected near the old graveyard at the river – the sheperds that owned the land made a nice profit of selling it. The proximity of the graveyard and the former use of the ground the houses are build upon earns the area the nickname Sheepsgrave.

Following the example of Redhall Blackborough is aswell setting up a larger park for the general public. Especially the wealthy inhabitants of the growing area around Hanover Square enjoy the park right net to their homes, but even the poorer folk of the city come sometimes for a walk.

To the west of the park surrounded by forest a new large graveyard is build and a chapel aswell. It is seperated into three parts:
-the smallest part west of the church, here (will) lay the richest of them all
-the northern part, mostly reserved for the upper middleclass
-the southern part, for everyone else – has the option to continue growing southwards

The merchant James McAlroy invests into the brewery at the river. An admirer of good beer his passion, dedication and know-how will make “McAlroy’s” one of the leading beer manufacturers of England.

He sets up a new mill at the creek, which is flowing through a few meters deep valley. On both sides of it are rock formations – creating a little canyon. Especially kids love this place – they climb the rocks, try to catch fish or butterflies.

McAlroy’s mill is so that it blocks the water, creating a small lake behind it and using all the avaible water energy.

After years of planning and building the docks are finshed in the summer of 1774. Not without protests from Frogmore-Eastmoreland, which fears to be marginalized by Redhall.

The residence of the bishop is reused and slighty expanded to house the dockmaster and his staff. Blubber boiling houses are build on the other side of the dock, their disgusting smell leads to wealthier folk avoidning the area near the eastern beach.

The Bishop in the meantime moves into his new mansion near Crescent Hill. A chapel is built aswell near the mansion. Whereas the bishops old chapel near the docks is now mostly visited by sailors and travelers.

Most of the shore between the centre of Merdin and bridge towards Blackborough is occupied by building by now.

Between the building at the Roman road and Merdin itself lay the fields on Merdin. A new street is build trough them to ensure that the different parts of the town will grow together.

A new graveyard opens near the Roman road.

blackboroughh

With Britain fighting in the colonies, the French and the Spanish there is a high demand for ships, arms and men, many of which come from Blackborough.

Between 1777 and 1779 both shipyards are expanded and more shipworkers move in to homes close by. An ale house and a brothel open to cater to the workers at the northern shipyard.

With soldiers needed in the colonies the armed guards at many of the remaining gates and watchtowers are removed.

Whilst loss of trade hits Blackborough hard the demand for uniforms is a boom to Blackborough’s fast growing industry. The glassworks just south of the Church of St Dubnus is expanded, and new textile factories established close to the Northbridge slaughterhouse.

New merchants move into the formally derelict premises on Angevin square, however at the same time some of the small cottage industries in the city are being put out of business by larger competitors opening up.

The Earl of Blackborough’s plans to expand and renovate Northwood House are again postponed as the government, seeking revenue to finance the war effort, hits the Earl with a hefty tax bill.

In 1780 street paving is expanded in northern Blackborough and around Hanover Square. The growing upper-middle class population are increasingly settling west of Hanover Square, on the pleasant and fashionable “Parkside” and away from the slums east of the square.

The remaining administrative functions of Hollowstone Castle are handed over to the town hall in 1782. Whilst the Earl of Blackborough still occasionally stays at the castle its only real purpose is quartering soldiers.

Between 1779 and 1783 James McAlroy expands Blacborough Brewery’s interests further by building a new cask factory. New homes are built for the brewery’s workers.

Blackborough’s oldest pub, currently called “The Bishop’s Rest”, expands its premises buying up a neighbouring courtyard.

The medical college in the old town is expanded and a collection of medical “curiosities” is established. Supposedly for the education of students, in reality any morbid gentleman looking for entertainment can hand over his coin to see pickled limbs and tumours.

In more wholesome educational news, Robert Raikes’ Sunday School movement uses funds gained through subscriptions to pay for the construction of a large school for the poor just west of Northbridge slum. In addition to the instruction of the young the school hosts free public lectures.

New town houses are built in the vicinity of St James-at-the-walls and several new homes are built in the Sheepsgrave area.

In 1784 an old widow leaves a hearth fire burning. The fire catches and burns down several homes and shops just north of the St Dubnus Bridge before being brought under control.

South of the river, the road leading between south Blackborough is straightened and new homes built around a paved square. To commemorate the construction of the new dock in Redhall it is decided to name the area “Neptune Square” and a statue of the sea god is commissioned. A market is established selling goods to those approaching Blackborough from the south.

In 1775 the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Blackborough officially petition the government for Redhall to be incorporated into Blackborough proper but due to the Bishop’s influence in high circles the petition is declined. The Mayor is gaining support locally however, as many influential people in Redhall have grown tired of the Bishop’s self-serving and autocratic rule.

Case in point: the new dock is named “Bishop’s Dock”, an unfortunate reminder of the man’s vanity to those who wish to see accountable local government in Redhall. The new dock does however prove useful as although imports have slowed ships use the docks for refitting. New warehouses and carpenter’s yards open around the dock and cheap homes are erected for the dockworkers.

The farms south of Quebec street are bought up for new homes and factories. Work begins on a canal running parallel to Quebec Street, connecting Bishop’s Dock to Frog’s Pond, however due to the recession funding is interrupted and the work put on hold.

New homes are built south of Frog’s Pond Canal.

Sheridan’s play “The Rivals” is performed at the Stagecoach Theatre in Redhall.

A dispensary is opened where the poor can obtain free medicines.

In Merdin Demand for coal is steadily increasing and new mines are begun to the south.

Keeltown expands and a public house (“The Colliers Arms”) is opened.

On the west bank in Merdin Brook, farms are bought up to make way for a pottery works and for new houses. The wealthy are tending to move to the west bank whilst poorer residents live on the east bank.

The war is something of a gift for Frogmore, and particularly for the Moran Company, as the armaments factory and powder mill expand to meet the surge in demand.

The Bishop is increasingly seeking to exert influence in Frogmore as the two conurbations begin merging into one.

Paths are laid in Eastmoreland Cemetery.

A glue factory is built close to Eastmoreland slaughterhouse.

With the outbreak of war HMS Kraken, an old ship of the line, is permanently moored at Rothray. The outdated ship serves as a floating military base, recruitment/impressment centre and training facility.

Rothray prison is formally brought under central government control as HMP Rothray and the prison is expanded with new buildings to accommodate extra prisoners.

In support of the Priestly Riots against Dissenters there are riots in Blackborough. Presbyterians are harassed, as well as the few descents of Huguenots in the area. They probably were French agents anyways, who were happy for the suppression of the Catholics in France. Houses are smashed, businesses ransacked, and the Unitarians, Deists, Republicans, and others of their like are driven off as their homes and places of business and worship inside and outside of Westburgh are wrecked. The library is partially wrecked as portions of the works are burned or trashed. Apparently there had been quite a bit of controversy around the country about what kind of books the public libraries bought. Fortunately, the librarian got them to attack the university instead, as they had the newer stuff.

The very few who were actively in support of abolition are locked up or driven away. Just as well, as the ports had taken to building specialized slave vessels when not taking care of warships and merchant ships for the Baltic trade. There are also some privateers, but bringing goods from the Americas using British manufactures and African slaves is far steadier work. Some artefacts of ivory, gold, and beads made their way into private collections around Blackborough.

Laudanum is popular, and found in so many flavours! A store that has it as a specialty opens up near the southern entrance to Blackborough, near the other luxury good stores.

A legal challenge is upheld in a case of property owners series land developers in the southwest of Blackborough, on further review, compensation and permission was not given for land use, and the line of new homes was found to be a greater fire starter than the previous spacious triangle which had saved the fire from expanding to the more densely packed shore homes, this is proved partially through arson, though home owners from former Westburgh (those who had made the owners of most of the homes in Blackborough’s southwest. It seems that Baronet Stone’s rent farming was not appreciated, especially in light of how he had become a slumlord for the island of Westburgh, where houses were built upon uneven ground and where only kept from toppling over because they had each other to lean on. The arson is seen as a bit harsh, though, and the greater difficulty in burning the homes points to how the construction of the buildings put up to house some of the homeless might have been even a tad shoddy. There is a likelihood that people will be arrested as Jacobins, if they can find them. Might be hard to give them a trial by jury when they were simply trying to protect the country from mob rule and atheism.

After the fire it is decided that things are getting ridiculous and the opinion of the people of the northeast of Blackborough is that those in the far south and west are, frankly, pyromaniacs. The fountain representing Africa or the Americas had earlier been removed from its place when new homes where being built up along the side of the city’s main road, and is brought to place in the slightly burnt area, to add yet more water.

A de-facto firebreak is set up along a near unbroken stretch of street from the docks of the Dubnus up to the southeast corner of the Castle’s outer walls, and separating the butcher area from those of the glass makers, who had once more harvested the ashes of the burned down buildings. (The firebreak involves knocking down signs and fining people building diagonally above the street. some move to look for a better neighbourhood) Perhaps a bit counter-productive to keep the ones relying upon constant fires on the side of the firebreak with the majority of the town, but the confederation of bottle blowers, sheet glass makers, and others generally keeps things under control, with sand and water sometimes stored in the ceilings or the roofs. Further changes to the buildings leaves any wood in it outside of kindling and furniture.

After the acquiring of an inn to expand the premises of the glassmakers, who had apparently been bad for business with the heat coming from their premises and the loud noises going on at all hours having apparently being bad for business. The owners of nearby buildings are not entirely thrilled to not only lose one of their preferred roadside inns, but at the chance that a fire occurs or their own property values lower. Until it can be decided by the glassmakers how to best expand, they use they the building for showing off their wares, and consider it being the headquarters for the glassmakers guild, though a better location might be better suited to show off some of the stain glass they are making. Light is key, after all. The top of the building and the basements are used for, respectively, temporary housing and storage.

Extra precautions are still taken, of course. The thin building previously abandoned is reused, though as a communal dining area. Water that is boiled from the furnaces is let to cool in the area and is used in tea and food in the area, helping the need of locals who do not have ovens or their own. In addition, water during storms is collected upon the roughs. Incase of major fires they can release a deluge upon the workshops. The coal is also stored in some of the larger houses and in available space on the docks.

St. James-on-the-River has been holding onto those bodies from the graveyard they built over a tad bit too long. Most of the corpses are still beneath expanded building, but now they have nowhere to put more. Time for more graveyards! It is a sound investment in land, so they grab some to the north, near the forest. The church by Bywater does the same, for the sailors and their poor flock.

The Blackborough Corresponding Committing gets off to a rocky start with one of the more known members being tossed into pigfat at the meat packing house and set alight.

Many ships are taken by French privateers, and their crews rot away.

Ditto for those getting too close to the Barbary Coast. Someday those corsairs will get what is coming to them.

The second son of the tobacconist Barron and the eldest of the chocolatier Japp spend a quite night together in a room at the oldest inn in town during the riots. They had grown close aster the Japps stayed with longtime family friends and though it would not be discovered for years, it did bring a starting point as what would become the continent’s oldest gay bar.

In Redhall there is the realization that they should try getting a borough of their own. That, or they just go along with organized elections to get their own Member of Parliament who usually focused far to the south to pay more attention to themselves. A candidate is decided upon who is unlike the previous one, in that he has actually spent more than one consecutive month in the North of England. They got in because property owners (those not controlled by the Bishop, who has taken on a view of expanding his influence and might consider greater closeness with the Lord of Hollowstone. Shame the Lord and Mayor are often at odds) managed to fix up their homes well enough to become part of the franchise. Enough of Frogmore has enough money or chunks of land to also to get to vote.

The Better Sort in Frogmore are now getting carriage rides up to Redhall on Sundays for church services. Same in Blackborough, though not as to great an extent. They have more than one church after all, and they usually manage to keep the scum to the back row, with half the seats either.

While people abandon French claret for Portuguese port, the Bishop’s men and vitners try to get their own wine used for fine dining and in communion. They would need a lot of it in the years to come, when the British people wish to partake in Communion themselves, instead of just the priest doing it. Which means giant silver chalices will be needed…

Fortunately they bought some such goods that were ransacked from French and Flemish churches.

More graveyards! Which really made sense, given how even a century back they had to put slabs of stone over most graves by the Cathedral to keep the bodies from popping out.

Wig duties are coming into effect. An old business making powder and collecting hair for wigs dating back to the times of Charles II takes a hit, as does changing fashions.

It is discovered once more that there are bodies in the woods. A hell of a lot more than expected, though. People trying to cut down trees and yank out the roots would often find small skeletons and the land is deemed…. Unsuitable for farming. Cutting down trees is banned. A small plot that will someday be famous for its baby carrots, tomatoes, corn, and other tasteless foods is begun on the edge.

The Penny Post is created. It would be wonderful if only they had built that mail office during the reign of the Charles. As of now, their mail service is not the best, but Frogmore decides they should get around to it. They had plenty of business with transportation for business purposes, but there is hope that this will really… They aren’t sure, they are just interested in it. Many collect stamps that come into the region from all over as work is begun on a central depot to forward male through the North of England. They just need to decide where to put it… Someplace south of the fork-in-the-road should do, once they make an impressive design for it.

Glue production is started in private homes. If it works, they should be able to provide most of the glue for the area’s stamp needs. Though to get that far, they will need to make a place of their own.

The old Gypsie tent sees constant business. The current matron of it (Most of her family and friends staying in houses, traveling, or keeping out of the tent so it looks mystical) is owner of the houses between her side of paved road, as well as the clearer land to the sides, forming a large triangle. One of the homes is knocked down, so as to not hide her from traveling customers. The increase in business wasn’t as great as hoped, and more homes are built, many with are multiple stories and could have several families within. She sets her sights upon buying up all the adjacent land, building it up, and moving to buy virgin land to the south.

New Quarries open to the south. Time will tell if they find more good building materials or any other sorts of minerals.

On Rothray prisoners in some cells are basically let to starve. Others just have to make do with double the people and a lot more crampedness. Those showing support of the Revolutionaries and some of the victims of the riot have several ships being prepared just for them, some being re-outfitted slaving vessels. The plan is to transport nearly the entire population of the prison to Botany Bay, where they will almost certainly die without having children. Thieves, rapists, debtors, Quakers all get the boot. Just in time too, another few years and they would just brick everyone up. The cholera and dysentary meant no one wanted to even open cell doors.

The damaged parts of Blackborough library and Westburgh are rebuilt as the area heals, however the city has barely recovered from the Priestly upset when fresh riots break out, this time over the price of bread.

The riots begin in 1795 as a bad harvest and the disruption of war lead to the price of wheat sky-rocketing across England. A group of around two hundred people, comprised mainly of women, gather at the docks just south of Redhall bridge following a rumour that a shipment of flour is being taken out of Blackborough to London.

The “Blackborough Wives” force their way aboard several ships, ransacking them, and raid nearby warehouses, before the Riot Act is read and troops force the crowd to disperse, with the ringleaders arrested. Damage is relatively light with only a couple of homes and a warehouse damaged however sporadic outbreaks of unrest continue throughout the year. These are fractious times for Blackborough and the surrounding area.

The docklands are expanded, the squatters are evicted from the old guard tower and the building is used for storage.

At the beginning of 1797 Blackborough is invaded for the last time in its history.

The French General Lazare Hoche had planned a three-pronged attack, with the main force landing in Ireland to support the Republicans whilst two diversionary forces would land in Wales and in Blackborough.

The main force is unable to land in Ireland due to poor weather conditions however the two diversionary attacks go ahead. On February 23rd 1797 a force of two French Frigates and around 1200 men lands just south of Eastmoreland whilst a third ship is wrecked in the stormy weather.

The French force contains a number of irregulars and convicts pressed into service, some of whom desert as soon as they make landfall, but those who remain make their way north to the outskirts of town. A small French contingent successfully seizes Edmondsley, to the astonishment and bemusement of the sleepy hamlet’s residents, whilst the main body of men advances on Frogmore/Eastmoreland. The French secure the miner’s houses south of Frogmore however by this point the alarm has been raised and a ragtag defence force of reservists, armaments workers, and miners meets the French at the crossroads just east of Eastmoreland cemetery.

After several hours of fighting the English reservists are forced to withdraw into Frogmore proper however by this point the troops from the barracks in Blackborough have arrived and in the face of an organised defence the French force breaks, with most of the men either surrendering, fleeing into the country-side, or retreating to Edmondsley.

By the morning of the 24th the French soldiers in Edmondsley are surrounded and cut off. Sporadic exchanges of fire take place throughout that day however it becomes increasingly clear that the farcical invasion has been a failure and on the evening of the 24th of February the French Commander surrenders.

Damage from the “Battle of Frogmore” is relatively light; a few houses looted and burned and around twenty people killed. Most of the French soldiers who fled into the countryside are rounded up but a few manage to disappear and start new lives in the area.

More luxury stores open in south Blackborough.

Barron and Japp go into business together to open their own public house in the old watch tower in a corner of Blackborough just north of the St Dubnus Bridge. “The White Tower” caters to like-minded chaps and is the closest thing that exists to a “safe” place for gay men at this time.

A number of grand new homes are built away from the hustle and bustle of Blackborough, on what is named “Northwood Road”.

A brothel is established near the barracks.

An small art school opens in Westburgh.

The dip in trade and losses to privateers hits Redhall fairly hard, however the docks are kept busy fitting out ships and Redhall gets a shot in the arm from the opening of an ironworks to the south-east.

New terraces of homes are built south or the ironworks, with strict rules for the tenant/workers.

A break-out of smallpox spreads through Redhall.

With Redhall now under control of the city of Blackborough, real efforts are actually made to close the gin shops and brothels in Redhall for the first time.

In Merdin, Keeltown and the cheap homes on the south bank of the river continue to expand.

St John’s Church and Poor School opens next to the river.

The Benedictine Monks expelled from Douai following the French Revolution are granted asylum and permitted to settle in Merdin at a former farmhouse where they provide education to the children of the remaining catholics in town.

A milliners opens on Merdin Creek.

Cornish engineer and inventor Richard Trevithick is invited to Merdin in 1804 to demonstrate his steam engine. Trevithick oversees the building of a new locomotive, “The Smoking Imp” which successfully operates hauling coal on the wagonway at the Merdin mines.

The residents of Frogmore and Eastmoreland take pride in being able to say that they defeated a French invasion. The damage to the south of town is repaired and the defenders hailed as heroes.

The shipwrecked French Frigate becomes something of a tourist attraction.

A post depot is established in south Eastmoreland.

The glue factory next to the slaughterhouse expands.

Despite the transportation the number of prisoners at Rothray remains high due to people arrested in successive riots and the French prisoners of war.

To deal with the overcrowding a separate building is constructed for POWS.
Most of the civilian population of Rothray now make a living providing goods/services to the sailors and jailers rather than farming.

In Abbeywood a large area of woodland around the old abbey ruins is granted to the people of the region as common land for grazing.

The damage to Edmondsley from the “invasion” is light and the village largely returns to its sleepy way of life.

A small monument is erected to mark the spot of the French surrender.

A new pub opens in the centre of the village called “The Antigallican”.

The barracks are greatly expanded. A new parade ground is build near the amphitheater. The square between the two is named in honour of Horatio Nelson. The street beginning at the library, crossing Nelson Square and extendeing as far north as the graveyard is named Trafalgar Street.

Both Sheepsgrave and the housing area near the brewery grow. The richer houses half-way between Sheepsgrave and Westburgh get their own pier.

A part of the city wall is torn down, to better connect the old town to Hanover Square and the surrounding neighbourhoods. The old park between the castle wall and the town wall becomes public and a small bridge is build. The material of the walls is used to improve the streets along the canal.

The renovation of the park is payed by the industrial Benjamin Nortorp and his philandropic society.

Nortorp owns the large factory to the south-east of the cricket field. He payed even for the small park next to his factory.

The graveyards are expanded.

The large parks, the mansions and the proximity to Northwood make north-west Blackborough to one of the finest locations for the homes of upperclass

Not many new houses are build in Redhall, mostly because most of the growth happens in Frogmore-Eastmoreland.

The most important development in Redhall is the establishment of “Three Mills Co.”. Originally founded in 1793 by the three millers between Redhall and Eastmoreland the company was named “W. Ablewine, R. Hoof and J. Thomson: United Mills Company”. The company was effectivly taken over by Hoof’s son-in-law John Balthazar 12 years later and changed name to “Three Mills Co.”.

In 1805 the construction of new modern mill begun. One of the original mills was torn down in the process. The mill is connected to the sea by a new canal and a small basin.

As the woods shrink and prices rise, people who use the forests try to grab what they still can. The Earl is laying his claim to almost all the forested land, though people keep chopping it at night without permission. Two diamonds of land are rented in perpetuity to the descendants of old pig herders. One is mainly used for herding and feeding the pigs, the other for keeping the truffles, roots, mushrooms, berries, and nuts alive that they have been making a steady profit on over the years. As part of the lease-rent-sale, they herders get new weapons and permission to aim shoot to kill for poachers and trespassers anywhere with trees.

It seems that King George is insane. Or something like that. He will spend much of the rest of his days being mocked and tortured by his doctors. Same with those of the Royal Merdin Hospital, whose doctors tend to be the sort of people who torture animals. It isn’t helped by they getting syphilus in Redhall and trying to cure it with mercury.

Speaking of mercury, a few ships managed to get some loads of cinnabar from the former Grand Duchy of Tuscany/Estruscan Republic/Kingdom of Etruria, which is now set of French provinces during a lull in the constant wars. Well, that and smuggling, which was why the French annexed it. You may remember this area as being what the French gave the the Spanish Bourobons by tossing the Grand Duke to Salzburg then Wurzburg… But that is not important. What is important is that this land that was once two separate republics and had glory under the Medici was compensation for the Spanish and their family giving the regicidal French six massive ships, Parma, Louisiana, and Elba. And then they took it back. As the French unite the Italians against them, ships from Blackborough who are going for out of their usual travel routes purchase cinnabar to be made into mercury to sell to the (soon to be) independence-driven Spanish Americans, which began breaking free after the past French invasion. It turns out that they have plenty of mercury of their own back there, and it is mostly used as ballast on the way home, as well as with other minerals found in the Spanish Main.

Some of the minerals brought back to Blackborough are taken for study, while most are just sold to the ever growing chemical industry in Merdin. Samples of each were stored in the tower at Hollowstone for which the castle was named. The caretaker liked minerals.

There are raids of Molly houses in other places, but not in Blackborough. Japp and Barron were asphyxiated under unknown circumstances, and The White Tower passed onto another member of their close families Mr. Sanders, a nephew of the current Confectioner. He now has the tower open on certain days for women, and one Tuesday’s for men and women. This is under the understanding that they are chaperoned, engaged, or wed. Fortunately there are not many letters between the two deceased lovers as they lived so close to each other, but the members of the extended family who had been marrying the other shop keeps and artisans who had their suspicions manage to hush it up, with one of the two being moved to a separate bed before the constables arrived. The tower now serves coffees of different such as mocha and java. Some Persian and Muscati art of Muhammed is purchased from sailors and coffee merchants to decorate the area.

A son who was not expected to inherit the tobacconist shop had become a bit of an artisan in his spare time. He makes some of the finest snuffboxes in northern Britain and takes on apprentices amongst his cousins for some of the simpler stuff. Inlay, mother-of-pearl, gilt, cameos, he had a variety of options. His home and workshop in Ashtown were notable for having the highest gun-to-occupant ration outside of the armory, gunsmiths, and barracks.

Another unnamed relative starts branching out from the usually smoking tobacco and produces fine snuff, using watermint, peppermint, spearmint, and a variety of ingredients to try adding flavour and uniqueness during those times period times when tobacco of the smoothest quality wasn’t available from those United States due to blockages, embargoes, and whatnot. Make do with what you have on hand. He has had many failures, but has high hopes for his trade. Another shop might even someday be opened in Ashtown for it, or even in the more upperclass Blackborough proper. Alas, rents are higher up there.

Gearing up for another riot as men as Francis Burdett is arrested in 1810 for libel for talking about reforming the electorate as a Member of Parliament. The problems do not arise in Westburgh or Ashtown, though. The problems are mostly in Northbridge. With the Enclosure Acts and the Highland Clearances, there are a lot more people needing work and homes. While the constables, military, thugs, and the goons of factory owners and slumlords keep them in place so they don’t get to out of hand (with only a couple dozen deaths), things take a more serious turn during the rising of Luddites. Looms and machines of any sort are smashed in Northbridge and, upon the destruction of the bridge by the Docklands, Royal naval vessels are brought in to bombard the area.

Further problems arise when several cancelled orders for ships means the sails, ropes, provisions, and other industries lay off workers or just give them less pay for more work in the case of the few industries to do well.

After some problems with fountains from which the common people and the servants of the fish and bourgeois fetched their water from, the pipes were replaced with lead ones.
The Highland Clearances continue, as crofters are deported either directly from Great Britain to Canada and Australia, or simply to the tops of cliffs to farm rocks. There is a swarm of Scots who make their way to Dubnus, more than doubling the population of some areas. Good thing too. You needed a lot of fresh bodies to make up for dieing workers.

Business is rotten. For exports and legal trade, at least. There are constant wars as the British have been funding almost every country on mainland Europe, who then usually would strike a deal to annex church lands or some neutral territories. Currently there is the on-and-off wars with Russia and Sweden which are fairly bloodless expect for Russians confiscating property and imprisoning merchants, though they come around. Most all of them turn things around by the War of the Sixth Coalition, with both the Swedes and Russians ending their kinda-sorta war with the British after Napoleon invaded Russia. The exception to the turning of coats(even if the French started it) are the Danes. Their choice after the British destroyed their fleet and defenses had been to go with Napoleon or be steamrolled. This will have some unpleasant effects on the trade Blackborough has in the Straights and from an old Hanseatic outpost in Norway. Fortunately some ships had been able to be lent out to the help in the Danish and Swedish Indies.

Blackborough raise taxes on the poor.

Bishop is growing even richer. He now owns the majority of the docks on his side of the river, and is moving on to buy up land in Blackborough and unclaimed areas.

It is wondered if there is room to make soap using animal fat form one of the butcher areas.

Statues of lead are made for King George and the Prince Regent, as well as various patriotic figures like generals and admirals, to be sold throughout Great Britain. Lots of gold and silver leaf. Don’t want to end up with a misshapen work of stone like the statue of St. Dubnus, after all. Much better the misshapen piece of art that was King Tudor.

Paint factory expands production, plans on getting more spacious quarters to the south of where the mad house gets its drinking water from.

A dentist specializing in making dentures and cleaning teeth looks for a good place to set up shop.

Smuggling continues in Eastmoreland as it is felt that Blackborough is keeping too much of the profits of any goods.

There are considerations to make a rail heading to the south, so they could ignore Blackborough entirely. The abuses their sailors and people would get over the in Blackborough years due to the stereotype of them being gypsy infested boondocks. With increased work from the quarries and various factories, there is no longer seen as being much of a reason to go work in Blackborough. Or to pay taxes too them. No, they are quite independent and with the influx of Scotsmen they have more than enough people to expand labor intensive work.

Over two thousand new residents to the area. Lots of new housing needed. For now they are all cramped together

Gypsie woman from the southern triangle buys up much of the land between the coast and south south of the quarries, as well as the land around the lakes. Her increased social status can be seen in the bangles of ducats and guineas (the very last, which were struck for the Pyrenees campaign), as well as her enormous pieces of amber from the Baltic trade and her opals.

The old Abbey buys up the free land in their own triangle, plan to expand business to supply horses and lodgings to travelers like they usually did. Some of the Roths who had delivered food to the area for over a century wonder about setting up some food shops there.

Some guys see the Bell Ray lighthouse. One makes some sketches as sailors are oft to do, though there isn’t even a thought that they would need one themselves. The island they are on is far higher than the sandbanks nearby, there are bounty of lines on the docks and platforms going out to sea, and they could probably just put one on the prison if they ever needed it, that, or light up the cathedral upon the clifftops

Rothray continues to have its cooking lessons in the old prison/summer palace. Over the years some of the better off prisoners have taken part in them and the better ones have been integrated into the population, much like those who had centuries before, at a time when there was no bridge (double check). This was useful during those times when they got regimental cooks from the Jacobites, Yankee merchants during the Revolution, and the occasional American privateers more recently during the War of 1812. Oddly enough, there are still actual Yankees in Blackborough from New England. They weren’t much in favor of the Embargo Act or invading Canada, so they have been seen in a much better light these days. When some men from New Hampshire are placed into less confining quarters using refurbished cells in the old prison, friends are made. In the years to come they will find that trade between the area and New Hampshire are much improved (possibly leading to a future sister city thing). Maple syrup and Appalachian ginseng would become popular imports.

There is the air of treasons from the Roths, though… Some had been working under Napoleon Bonaparte and Talleyrand. Well, not directly under them. They were apprentices and assistants to the famous up-and-coming celebrity chef and creator of grande cuisine, who would later work for the Prince-Regent for an exorbitant salary. Through the years this would introduce them to the growing restaurant trade in France. Whether they follow with him to someday work for Mayer Rothschild remains to be seen, or if they will strike out on their own.

Charcoal is a popular fuel for cooking over

The populace of the island are considering pooling their funds to make a high class restaurant. They just wonder if there are enough possible customers with money here to make it pay off.

A couple Roths work for Sake Dean Mahomed, acquiring ingredients for him for the first Indian restaurant in Britain. It is noted by some how well the Rothray diaspora in London is with creating proper food portions and thinking on their feed for substituting spices and herbs for adequate or better alternatives when they run low on one or another.

building

An Act of Parliament in 1830 establishes “The City of Blackborough Police”, giving the city a truly professional police force for the first time. The “Blackborough Bobbies” (as they are commonly known) are headquartered in a new building just west of Lions’ Gate.

In 1832 the Earl of Blackborough visits Dorset where he is very taken by the Cerne Abbas Giant. Returning to Northwood House the Earl has another round of renovations carried out, amongst them a recreation of the giant, phallus and all, created by bringing in many tons of chalk. After all, what is the point of having money if not to fritter it away on absurd follies? The locals despair; if only the Earl had visited the Uffington White Horse instead.

If the Earl is eccentric, he is at least all generous. As his family has not used Hollowstone Castle in several generations the Earl gifts the castle to the newly founded University of Durham to establish a school of medicine and surgery. The castle’s great halls are turned into lecture halls, it’s chambers into anatomical libraries, and it’s turrets and gatehouses become accommodation for professors and students. In time Hollowstone School of Medicine may develop to be an entirely separate university.

A wide, winding, tree-lined road is built connecting South Blackborough to Frogmore. Named “George Street” in honour of the recently departed King it is an oasis of affluence in what is otherwise a largely deprived area.

Following completion of the road land north of George Street is bought up for future development and the fields currently lie empty, whilst land to the south of George Street is turned into George IV Park.

In 1832 an epidemic of cholera sweeps through Northbridge and Innschep, killing almost a thousand people.

A new block of terraces is built in the very north of Blackborough, opposite the cricket ground. The new homes, called St. Gabriel’s terraces, are not huge but they are respectable and preferable to the cholera ridden slums of Northbridge.

The military guardhouse north of the city is closed, although part of the building is preserved as an inn called “The Roadhouse”.

Paving is expanded throughout Blackborough.

In 1833 an elderly parson claims to have seen the Beast of Blackborough roaming Northwood Common, setting off a minor hysteria.

In 1834 a factory manufacturing agricultural tools opens near the ropewalk.

A new dock is built in south Blackborough.

The circus at Astley’s Ampitheatre closes down. The name is retained but the building becomes an auditorium and proto music hall.

Farmland in the Sheepsgrave area is turned into housing.

Whilst football has been played for centuries in Blackborough, in various different forms and in any space available, in 1833 a group of former public school boys form an organised club and buy a piece of land close to the brewery orchard to turn into a permanent football pitch. The codification of football and formation of the FA is still several decades off but when it comes Blackborough will be ready.

A grand natural history museum opens north of Hollowstone Castle.

An accountancy firm, a scriveners’ and a solicitors all open in Westburgh, as does the “Brotherhood of Strange”, a kind of gentleman’s club that quickly becomes notorious for the eccentricity and vast wagers of its members.

New homes are constructed west of the city.

In 1834 a group of burgeoning rail tycoons submit a plan for a metropolitan rail-line serving the people of Blackborough. Built atop a brick aqueduct, the elevated railway, only the second to ever be built, would run straight through the middle of the city, parallel to the main road, with the aqueducts arches rented out to shops and businesses. A decision on the proposal is expected next year.

The Redhall docks continue to expand and more warehouses are built. An organised criminal gang, mainly made up of Irish immigrants and calling themselves “The Cork Rats”, begin operating out of the docks.

New homes and a large covered fish market are built just south of Frog’s Pond canal.

Street paving is expanded.

After generations plying their trade, the gypsy family give up their cabin in the woods, moving to a larger operation and smarter housing at Vulcain Beach.

The railway between Merdin and Redhall is completed.

A tailor’s school opens just east of the Bishop’s residence.

Some old terraced housing near the cathederal is demolished to make way for upmarket residences and the offices of a new newspaper, the Redhall Herald.

The Blackborough Temperance Society is founded, establishing its headquarters just east of Redhall Bridge.

The Merdin-Redhall railway is expanded to join the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

In 1834 the men of Keeltown, fearing their trade threatened by the railways, begin rioting. The Keelmen burn a number of homes and dump rubble on the railway tracks. The army are sent in and things get ugly with dozens killed in the ensuing battle.

A large new mine opens to the west of Merdin and work begins on an expansion to the colliery railways and new miners’ homes to serve it.

Existing mines are expanded and some old mines filled in.

Pasture and farm land surrounding the square in Merdin is developed. New homes are built, as well as an engineering schools and an alms house.

A parish school is established east of south Blackborough road.

The Moran Company constructs a large chemical works in Eastmoreland and a self-contained planned community is built to house the workers. Nicknamed “Moranville” it has it’ own school, medical clinic and church, the idea being that by ensuring workers never have to leave they can be shielded from influences that might lead them to drunkenness, idleness or other forms of moral corruption.

The beginnings of a modest tourist trade build up around Vulcain Beach, with several homes, shops and entertainment venues in the area, including the relocated fortune-teller.

A large masonic hall is founded at the east end of George street.

A new mine and houses are planned just south of Vulcain Beach.

The naval base is expanded and Rothray Naval College is established to train officers.

With the concentration of sensitive sites on the island the civilian population has fallen somewhat, although those who remain make a good living from the sailors, cadets and prison wardens.

The population of Abbeywood expands and a number of fishing families move in.

A group of Blackborough businessmen establish a joint enterprise to build a pleasure pier at Abbeywood, extending almost five hundred metres out to sea. It is hoped that this engineering wonder will draw visitors from miles around and host a range of seaside attractions and leisure venues. By the end of 1834 construction is well under way.

People in Yldefield are increasingly drawn away from farming and towards making a living from travelers entering Blackborough from the west; whether that means serving them drinks, tending their horses, shagging them or robbing them.

In the 1830s The decision is made. The city of Blackborough will have an overhead line. Now, about who is paying for it………. As the news of the contract is revealed, the local authorities launch a competition to construct a grand , central, station.

This station will be the main entry point of the overhead line, and will contain capacity for the inevitable extension of the railways into the centre of the city.

In 1839, the Blackborough Bobbies are given a baptism by fire. As Merdin erupts into riot and massacre, Blackborough is far from quiet. On the same day that Merdin burns, the shipyards and roperies, the docks and manufactories of Blackborough proper fall silent. The narrow warrens and streets of the old walled town throng with protestors, demanding the same as Chartists everywhere.

The Army is unable to deploy their cavalry in these narrow streets.

The new police force form a solid barrier between the old townhall and the thronging masses. The burghers of the city and the mayor are entrapped in the old city headquarters.

As news of the crackdown in Merdin filter through (not least, the sound of the distant cannons and guns), the crowd panics. In the narrow streets, the crowds have limited space to go. In the panic, the police charge the lines, making the matters worse. 300 die that day and the City of Blackborough Police become hated across the city.

The growth of the city forces the city authorities, partly out of necessity, partly out of vanity for their perceived importance as one of the Great Cities of the North, to investigate the construction of a new complex of courts to house the annual Assize courts, and a new town hall.

Their entrapment during the recent `troubles`, makes the need even more pressing.

The city council takes a vast plot of undeveloped land to the west of the new Natural History museum, setting it aside for this major public works. They also enforce the purchase of farmland which stands in their way. This is the Victorian age, farmers cant stand in the way of progress;if they cant adapt, there always the workhouse.

The grand paved road is expanded towards the gates of Northwood House in anticipation of the development. The extended road is renamed Melbourne St in honour of the new Prime Minster

The council calls for architects of note to construct a new City Chambers, to house the city government and the city courts, `of suitable grandure`. Taking their inspiration from the newly commissioned St Georges Hall in Liverpool, the marble magnificence of Ancient Rome is taken as inspiration. Prospective applicants are left in no doubt what designs will be acceptable. Nothing gothic. Clean, neo classical lines or nothing. By years end, submissions are narrowed down to 4 applicants. All of whom plan an `Oratory` for public readings, a vast public chambers and a separate court house.

Returned from his visit to the Pacific, Mr Charles Darwin, Esq, visits the Hollowstone Medical School to view its useful and respectable collection of animal skeletons. He is known to be putting the finishing touches to quite an interesting theory……

George Street is the must have address amongst the new and rising middle classes. At the north end fo the street, near the river, one Marcus Armstrong, a recently arrived merchant from the American city of Kingswood, establishes an emporium that will gradually expand into the Blackborough institution, Armstrongs Department Store.

The St Gabriels estate sees rapid expansion as the workforce fo the surrounding heavy industry explodes.

A cricket club, going by the name of St Gabriels County Cricket Club, begins to meet regularly on the cricket field. It attracts support from across the surrounding towns, and indeed from across the County of Blackburghshire. Little do people realize that the precursor to Blackburghshire County Cricket club has just been born amidst the slums of the industrial city.

With the launch of Brunels Great Western, the shipbuilders of Blackborough see great opportunity. The shipyards are rapidly joined by the ancillary businesses of any heavy industry such as shipbuilding. Iron mongers, Riveters yards, and expanded rope works. In 1840, a name which will come to dominate the shipbuilding industry is born with the creation of one of the great Blackborough Shipyards. James Woolfe Shipbuilding, soon known as Woolfes

Following the death of the eccentric Lord Hollowstone, the rest of the Hollowstone family, following on in the greatest philanthropic tradition, bequeath the antiquarian collection built up by past Lords Hollowstone, and even the small building on their estate in which it has been kept, to the Blackborough Natural History Museum. None of the Hollowstone family have been interested in these dusty artifacts for many many years. The upkeep of these artifacts is not worth the money to these uncultured louts.

The curators of the museum soon find these artifacts to be more than dusty curiosities. They date back centuries to the colonial Americas. Obtained by the tobacco merchants in the Hollowstone family history, or sent by colonists in colonial America to their distant relatives in the old country, the collection represents one of the most extensive collections of Native American artifacts known outside the Americas. Totem poles? We have 4. Strange feathered head dresses and woodcarving? Plenty. Wigwams and tepees? Ten a penny.

Scholars of pre Columbian American societies flock to the museum. Expansion beakons

Westburgh, with its continually changing combination of notaries, barristers, scriveners and all manner of matters legal, rapidly finds itself consolidated as the legal quarter of the city

The traders of Redhall are concerned. Space is at a premium and the docks are filling. Many begin to debate the construction of another breakwater with which to expand the docks down the coast to the south.

The Cork Rats are menacing the district. As the destitute of Ireland begin to flood the ports of Britain, many are drawn to the perceived security and familiarity of the `Gangs of Blackborough`, as they become known.

Before long, a second gang arises, the Belfast Hounds.In comparison to the Cork Rats, the Belfast Hounds are firmly protestant. In general, the Belfast Hounds congregate around the shipyards on the northern bank of the Dubnus, in Blackborough proper

This rivalry is often expressed in bar room brawls and the usual gangland fights for territory. Increasingly however, the unregulated football fields are the greatest expression of this rivalry. Two nascent clubs are emerging. One based in whatever open space can be found near the docks, favoured by the Cork Rats, who go by the names of the Northern Irish. One, drawing its support from the Belfast Hounds and the Irish (and local) protestant population finds itself playing in the shipyards, go by the name of the Northbridge Rangers

Alas, the curse of Irish sectarianism has arrived

The first new threatre in Redhall for many decades is built on the site of some derelict riverfront homes. The Victoria Palace is built in the neo classical style and its interior is decorated in sumptuous baroque style

The opening of new mines sees the population boom. Hundreds arrive monthly at some points. The mine owners pay lip service to building new homes, but the only homes worth owning, go to the overseers. The number of slums in the area expands exponentially.

In 1837, an outbreak of cholera sweeps through, killing some 300.

One of the seminal events of the 1830s erupts in Keeltown. As news of the Newport Rising filter through, and copies of the Charter demanding widespread political reform, reach the town, the workers of Keeltown, already resentful at the pace of change and the army response to the protests of yesteryear, erupt in protest.

The area is ripe for protest, with the growth in slums matching the growth in the mines.

Although the causes are not identical, as with many of the Chartist risings, the basic demands of the city were for political reform, and basic living conditions. Another demand was soon echoed across the region and indeed across the north. The right to representation. Even as the north boomed and the mines of the north fed the growth of the British empire, many northern towns still possessed no rights to elect a Member of Parliament, leaving millions unrepresented.

On December 1st 1839, 3 weeks after the Newport risings, a crowd of some 12 000, nearly a 5th of the total population of the district, march en masse from Keeltown to General Wolfe Square.

Initially, the protests remain calm, with many a worthy speech given at the foot of the monuments to the great hero of the Plains of Abraham.

And then the cavalry arrive. Fearful of a repeat of Newport, the Lord Lieutenant of the County had called the army to respond. In the space of an hour, 300 are killed in the suppression of the last known rising against government authority on the British mainland. The Wolfe Square Massacre.

As with many of the other risings, the ring leaders are rounded up. Many find themselves convicted and hung for treason, and many are transported to the colonies for life.

Expansion of the mining sector, sees predictable expansion of the density of housing in the area.

Work begins on an expansion to the Moran Chemical works. Seeing the events in Merdin, devout Presbyterian and all round good natured God botherer Mr Moran plans an expansion of Moranville as well, laying roads and plans for more houses and shops to the south. A band stand is even built on the shore of the small plot of water immodestly called Moran Water.

The notion of the planned community soon begins to attract interest across the land. Industrialists in Merseyside and the Midlands take particular note.

The beginnings of a modest tourist trade build up around Vulcain Beach, with several homes, shops and entertainment venues in the area, including the relocated fortune-teller.

Much less genteel than the new Royal Albert Pier, Vulcain beech rapidly finds itself popular with the less salubriuous holiday maker. As far eastern wares begin to flood the market following the fall of Hong Kong, and a small number of `Chinamen` disembark in the Port of Blackborough, select establishments serving Chinese `wares` (opium), emerge. The small Chinese community begin to centre around the beach area.

Events on the mainland spooks the Admiralty. In 1840, Parliament designates the military establishments on the island HMS Rothray. The island is now incontrovertibly under Naval control. Some civilians however, see an opportunity. With the Top Brass, comes the brass in their pockets.

All is jolity, as the pier is finished. Named after the new Prince Consort, it is known as the Royal Albert Pier, and is rapidly christened as the social focus of the area. Upon the pier are to be found dance halls and all the fun of the fair.

The population of Abbeywood expands as a combination of fishermen, and enterprising men of business who see the rising tourist potential of the pier. Soon, the roads begin to be paved and sumtuous hotels and tea rooms laid out in finest sea side fashion. The area around the Pier finds wide cobbled esplanades looking on the beach. The tracks connecting the village to the city are also expanded to allow the burgeoning Victorian merchant class ease of access to the rapidly emerging gentility of the seaside resort

The influx of property developers immediately causes friction with fishermen, with whom the 19th century tourist does not wish to mingle, and who own property in exactly the plot the hotel developers wish to own.

The village of Edmondsley continues to expand as miners settle in the area.

A number of coaching taverns and inns are established for travel to and from the Western Road

blackboroughj

In 1840 The York, Blackborough & Berwick Rail Line begins running, and connects up with the Manchester & Leeds Line, allowing easy travel between the great northern cities.

At the same time construction begins on the Blackborough Overhead Railway: only the second elevated railway ever to be built. Starting at Henderson Wood the railway rises as it heads north, carried above the houses, shops and flowing waters of Blackborough by a brick viaduct, before returning to ground level to terminate close to Royal Albert Pier.

The competition to design Blackborough’s main station (“Henderson Wood”) is won by Joseph Paxton, a gardener and architect previously known for designing greenhouses. Paxton’s proposal is an ambitious and startlingly modern one: a great cathedral of of cast iron and plate glass. The glass panels fill the station with light and a glass walkway connects the York, Blackborough & Berwick Line to the Blackborough Overhead Railway (B.O.R) allowing passengers to transfer easily between the two. By 1844 Henderson Wood Station is almost complete, with four other B.O.R stations under construction: Ashtown, Castle Street, Ropewalk, and Royal Albert.

In the wake of the riots several new police stations are built as the Blackborough Bobbies are expanded.

Charles Robert Cockerell is selected as chief architect of the new city courts and oratory. Melbourne Street is transformed into a fittingly grand home for the heart of government in the region. By 1844 the complex of courts is completed, the huge neo-classical town hall is almost finished, and the great oratory well under way. Large ornamental fountains are constructed, dozens of magnolia trees are planted and a number of large pedestals are built for statues, with nominations solicited as to who should be immortalised atop these pedestals.

With the huge expansion of their pre-columbian collection the Blackborough Museum of Natural History is in need of more space. In 1842 subscriptions are sold to fund the construction of a dedicated anthropology wing and in 1844 work finally begins. A statue of the late Earl of Blackborough is erected in front of the new wing to commemorate the museum’s great benefactor.

In 1842 Charles Dickens visits the region as research for his new work: a novel intended as a scathing attack on the poor conditions of industrial workers. Dickens is appalled by the poverty he sees in areas such as Keeltown and Northbridge and, along with the new Earl of Blackborough, George Moran, and Marcus Armstrong, becomes a founding member of the Blackborough Philanthropic Society. The philanthropic society sets up a free clinic in Northbridge and plans are discussed for the establishment of a home for “fallen women”.

The medical teaching establishment in the Old Town merges with Hollowstone Medical School, relocating its collection of medical curiosities to the castle. The premises in the Old Town are converted into houses and surgeries for several eminent doctors.

With some of the greatest engineers in the British Empire concentrated in Blackborough and the ever-increasing pace of industrial development the city is a natural home for an engineering school. Several railway tycoons and the Merdin Mining Company agree to fund the establishment of an engineering school and they reach an accommodation with the University of Durham for Hollowstone Castle to host the school.

George Moran is granted the contract for the building of a vast new Arsenal between Melbourne Street and Sheepsgrave, next to the barracks. The secure site will house munitions factories and workshops able to produce the most modern weaponry, a testing ground, munitions depot, and laboratories for research and development. Hundreds of new homes are planned in the area to house workers for the Sheepsgrave Arsenal.

The merchants and lawyers of Westburgh, in keeping with their long tradition of arts patronage, fund the establishment of an art gallery just to the west of Westburgh, close to the Blackborough Public Library. Meanwhile Sir Arthur Hayston, last of his ancient line, makes provision in his will for Hayston House to become an art school after his death.

A new coal mine is opened to the north-west, close to the football pitch, and housing expanded for the workers.

An outbreak of cholera in Ashtown kills almost four hundred people and the Mayor and Alderman respond by establishing the Blackborough Waterworks Company. Two pumping stations and waterworks are built, one on Northwood River near the new mine, another south of Merdin.

The housing terraces around the ropewalk are expanded.

Several fashionable shops open up on Castle Street.

The manned gate on the St Dubnus Bridge is abandoned, and the gatehouse taken over by a volunteer rescue service for those who fall into the river, a precursor to modern lifeguard services.

A Catholic Church is established in the St Gabriels area.

Construction begins on the new breakwater at Redhall and the docks are expanded, with new shipyards and warehouse erected.

A cramped rookery is built close to the new “Baltic Dock” in the space between the tracks.

Two Irish Protestant players for the Northbridge Rangers are found floating in Bishop’s Dock; their corpses sealed in barrels of horse piss. Sectarian and gang violence is escalating, and whilst a new police station opens in Redhall they are woefully undermanned for the scale of the problem.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the social spectrum, the Victoria Palace Theatre has come to be the new centre of the society scene in Redhall for ladies and gentlemen of fashion, and is said to even compete with the London theatres in prestige.

The Red Mill brothel expands.

A fashionable Jewish tailors, Bermange & Sons, opens close to Bishop’s House.

More mines are built in the area, which means more cheap, rotten, over-crowded housing.

In 1842 the tensions resulting from suppression of the Chartists and poor living conditions boil over: the miners and Keelmen of Merdin join in the Plug Plot Riots. The strikers seek to march upon Waterloo Square but are halted by police outside of the square. In the ensuing clash dozens are killed, with a number of miners pushed off bridges in the crush to drown.

A decade of civil strife, the rapid expansion of the mines and the ever-growing slums have turned Merdin into a grim, blackened scar on England’s conscience. And now there are rumours that Mr Dickens plans to write a novel based on the area that could cause a national scandal. It cannot stand. With the local authorities in Merdin failing to keep their house in order the Prime minister himself intervenes to have Merdin placed under the authority of the City of Blackborough. It is made clear to the city authorities that if they do not turn things around in Merdin the prime minister will not be pleased.

A waterworks is built at the confluence of waters to the south.

A large flour mill and bakery is built to the west. The new bakery produces Frog Pasties on an industrial scale for the miners, much to the annoyance of bakers in Frogmore.

The expansion of the Moran Chemical works and Moranville is completed, with a large area se aside for a fine public park (unsurprisingly called “Moran Park”). There is of course a large statue of George Moran himself in the centre, the man has many virtues but modesty isn’t one of them.

More homes, pubs and shops spring up around Vulcain Beach. A small promenade is built.

The new Chinatown expands.

The Blackborough Gazette moves its offices to George Street.

The Royal Naval College begins teaching advanced officer training, chemistry and mathematics.

The population explodes, with the wealthy moving in east of the road and the poor to the west.

Rows of amusements, food stalls and souvenir shops are established along the Royal Albert Pier.

Fishermen in the more fashionable areas of Abbeywood are gradually being bought out.

Construction begins on a grand hotel and park close to the new station (both called “The Royal Waterside”).

A new mine is dug and new housing terraces built for the miners.

Labourers move into the area to work on Henderson Wood station.

A number of new homes and businesses spring up on the Western road.

In 1844 a meteorite measuring almost a metre across lands in a field in Yldefield. The fall of the meteorite is observed by several farmers and a crowd of onlookers soon gathers around the small crater. The Yldefield meteorite is subsequently transported to Blackborough Natural History Museum for study, and a small monument with a plaque erected to mark the place where it fell.

In the 1850s Hendersons Wood Terminus is completed. At the time of completion, it is the largest glass structure in England, and stands as the tallest in Blackborough for many years. It is said the shimmer of the glass panels can be seen from 10 miles away

Construction is started and finished on the other 4 stations of the overhead line. In contrast to Hendersons Wood, the other stations are built in the Red Brick style so popular in Victorian Britain.

As the Belfast Hounds find themselves pushed out of Redhall, they find something most unwelcome has creeped up in their backyard. A Catholic Church!! The Church of St Gabriels is fire bombed in an event which kicks of a week of violent sectarian violence between the gangs specifically, and the Catholics and protestants of the area in general.

Wolfes shipyard expands dramatically following the invention of the Screw Propeller by Mr Brunel.

In the plaza surrounding the Melbourne Street developments, plinths gradually begin to fill. Unsurprisingly, kings and politicians are well represented, with Prince Albert, Lord Melbourne and George III granted rather fine statues. The rest remain to be filled.

Cockerells masterpiece, The Oratory, is nearing completion. A large domed amphitheatre of lustrous Portland stone, its exterior structure is completed in 1845. However it remains to fitted out inside. When complete, it will be capable of holding some 4000 people.

Opening day is scheduled for the 1st June 1851, with a very special guest performing a special reading of a very popular book…..

In a typical example of Victorian bravado, the dome is topped with shiny polished copper. Which promptly turns a lovely shade of Green

With the planned expansion of the city water supply, and outbreaks of Typhus and Cholera, a renewal of the city fountain system is carried out. Many new ornate fountains are constructed awaiting the flow of the new waters, and many older neglected fountains are restored.

As ever, there is an opportunity to profit from planned social reforms. Four public bathrooms are set up by private investors, one in Merdin, one near Baltic Dock in Redhall and two near the Blackborough Shipyards.

For a penny, the poor of the city can get 4 minutes of hot water in the form of a shower and a 15 minute swim in the cold water pool.

Hardly luxury, but in a world of shocking public hygiene, and little indoor plumbing, it is a luxury bound to catch on

The Blackborough Philanthropic Society opens the first of its homes for `Fallen Women`. Known by the location of its first home, these `Northbridge homes` soon open across the region. Whilst seeming paternalistic and patronizing, they serve a valuable purpose of housing the vulnerable. Before long they branch out beyond prostitutes, to the orphaned children of the mines.

The Blackborough Medical School received yet another visit from Mr Darwin. His long prepared for theorem is about to be published.

With the Sheepsgrave arsenal under construction, the resultant wealth of the Moran family goes through the roof. The Moran Chemical works is busier than ever. As the Arsenal slowly comes together, the army with its pressing need for gunpowder, pressures Moran to open the completed sections whilst the rest of the building is yet a building site.

Eventually, under such pressured conditions, the inevitable happens. A great explosion demolishes the western wing of the armory, and takes a swath of workers houses with it.

Construction is severely set back.

In this decade, Blackborough enters the literary mind in a very real way. The works of Dickens, and a mention in Friedrich Engels ` Condition of the Working Class in England`, coupled with the growth in the various educational establishments, places large demands on the small public library. More books and more space are needed.

Castle Street continues to develop as a bustling shopping thoroughfare. Following the 1844 Banking Act, a number of high street banks begin to emerge. British law at the time allows all banks to issue their own bank notes. The Royal Bank of Blackborough is founded in this year following the merger of a number of smaller banks. The notes of RBB become the most commonly used forms of cash in the area The Royal, as it is known, establishes its headquarters at the end of Castle Street.
cathedral

castle

As with Merdin and Blackborough, the expanded remit of the Blackborough police sees more police stations opening. Which is just as well, as the fights between the rival gangs of Blackborough are reaching epidemic levels of violence.

As the gang warfare continues, the Belfast Hounds find themselves pushed out of Redhall completely. Now, the Dubnus is the dividing lines between the territory of these gangs.

With the Irish famine ongoing, and the control of the Cork Rats, Redhall becomes the primary destination for the many thousands of Irish Catholics spilling into the city. As such, a number of large Catholic churches are established in the area around the dockside tenements.

Amongst the many services offered by Churches in a poor area, one is recreation. Try as they might, the Churches cannot keep the gangs from influencing the congregation, and soon the congregations of the churches are using the community centres that they afford to develop their football club, the Northern Irish.

They still play on any bare scrap of land, but this surely cannot last?

Competition grows as more tailors move into the plaza surrounding the cathedral. The area is becoming the upmarket, go too place for fabrics and tailoring

Charles Dickens makes many more visits to the area, this time to Merdin.

In 1846, parliament passes the City of Blackborough Act, officially merging the districts of Merdin into the city of Blackborough.

There are those who object, vociferously. Protesters block the St Dubnus and Merdin bridge. However such things are to be expected in this increasingly unruly part of the town. The protests peter out, but then another provocation.

As per the terms of the act, the City of Blackborough Police have their area of operation expanded to cover all of the surrounding districts. Hardly beloved in Blackborough,they are viewed as little more than an occupying army in Merdin. Nevertheless, numerous police stations begin to open across the district

However simply changing a line on a map will not cut it, whatever the movers and shakers in London think. It certainly won’t cut it for Mr Dickens. The slums keep growing, the disease keeps spreading and the mines keep poisoning its workers. Beginning publication in serialized form in 1847, Hard Times is a savage indictment of the brutality of life in the Industrial north. Set in Blackborough, the book scandalizes the nation.

Dickens vividly describes Merdin in a passage of his eye opening work.

“It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage.”

Whilst the nation is horrified, the men and women of Merdin are delighted, and Dickens a hero. It is said that one could tell when the latest edition of his masterpiece are in town, as the taverns are full of the illiterate listening hushed to the story being read aloud.

With the passing of the 1848 Public Health Act, and the growing power of the Hollowstone Medical School, public health becomes a pressing priority. As the problems of slums and tenements is most pressing in Merdin, and Dickens works have put Merdin in the public eye, it is in Merdin that the attention is focused.

The newly established Blackborough Public Health board makes a series of recommendations.

1. Demolition of the substandard housing stock.
2. Renewal of the Royal Merdin Infirmary, and
3. An increased supply of fresh water.

The last two especially are readily seized upon my local businesses and philanthropists. Messrs Armstrong and Moran immediately lead the campaign to expand and renew the hospital, with sizable donations of rtheir own. This is enthusiastically supported by the Hollowstone Medical School, seeing in it the opportunity for training and the advancement of the school.

On the issue of water, this is a proposal which attracts attention from across the area. As the population has ballooned, it has become clear that the established network of fountains and wells, some built over 300 years ago, and few with a reliable supply, is totally inadequate. Hundreds a year die from drinking of the sewage and industrial waste filled streams of the area.

Fortunately, the Victorians are nothing if not enterprising. 10 miles west of the city, lies a large lake with a good supply of water.

None other than the most famed engineer and bridge builder of the age, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is employed by the Blackborough Waterworks Company to design a vast aqueduct, built in grand Victorian style. Construction of the network of water treatment plants is scheduled to commence in 1851, with a network of smaller connecting aqueducts connecting with the main aqueduct as it passes through Yldefield, before depositing its clean water in a series of new or expanded waterworks across the region

With the expansion of Moranville and the nearby docks, the success of George St as a place to have a conveniently placed townhouse, encourages many a shipping magnate, running operations on the north sea trade from the nearby docks, and many a shipyard owner, to look for homes in an area which is both comparatively leafy, yet conveniently placed near their place of work

A consortium of property developers acquire land and lay the roads. Before long a wide paved street christened India Road, is constructed through the clean airs and passing the genteel charm of Moranville. The road is interspersed with many bucolic squares, all built around small central gardens. The `India Gardens`, become quite a feature of the local area.

6 Squares are laid out. Punjab Place, Delhi Place, Calcutta Place, Lahore Place, Assam Place and Bengal Place.

Local magnates begin snapping up plots before even a brick is laid.

All is order and calm in the mainly military district. The military influx is good news for the local businesses, and civilian population increases gradually. The predominantly catholic civilian population look at the riots in Blackborough and thank their lucky starts that the navy is unlikely to allow such disorder to go unanswered in their own back yard.

The Royal Waterside Hotel, and the Royal Waterside Park, are opened to much celebration amongst the burgeoning middle class population of the district.

Rows upon rows of charming houses, large and small with gardens and easy access to all parts following the opening of the nearby overhead station, are built.

As Hendersons Wood terminus comes into full operation with the completion of the OHL and the expansion of nationwide rail links, the near area is filled with housing estates to house the workers who are increasingly needed in the nearby engineering works surrounding the station, aimed at keeping the trains and tracks running. This is alongside the growth in nearby mines

Immediately outside the new station, a large number of shops and guest houses and hotels spring up to accommodate the travelers passing through the station
blackboroughk

Welcome back Macintryes… MicIntreys… Wrights? Well, members of the family had changed names to different spellings back after they lost the case to keep their homes, though it is now a gone deal anyways. Quite a few had went to the Southern States, where the Scottish and Scotch-Irish were able to hobnob with the English there and pretend to be aristocrats, Knights, and gentlemen. A few who made it well put up legal challenges anyways, which helps to drain the library funds a bit. More importantly, it reveals some correspondence with the person who had not only taken their hunting lodge and land, but who let hundreds die. The airing of dirty laundry of the past nobility is good for the gossip rags.

Bananas and pineapples had been popular as status symbols for generations in Britain, partially due to their looks. Just as well, as the Pineapples brought fruit flies when brought over already rotting, while the bananas were filled with seeds. Tinted glass for greenhouses therefore gave the sheet glass makers some good business, as people grew them to make them fresh, year-round. Also lots of glass decorations made to look like fruit and tropical trees.

The public baths turn out to be much like the Roman ones. Namely, filthy. Besides all those who get pneumonia from the cold of the water of coming out of it and leaving the building somewhat damp, those with open wounds of scratches get a lot of gangrenous limb.

Blackborough begins with demolishing substandard housing stock. As it turns out though, people still need somewhere to live and the landlords are simply cramping people into the same buildings at increased profit. No discounts.

You know how bones were not being used in that one mausoleum to make bookshelves? Turns out they were only being used to support boards holding the books. While this book collection had long been kept from the library (not that they would want them, given how some of the books that had been left open retained imprints from the moisture formed airing femurs and fingers). Some of the stuff isn’t exactly the stuff of the academics anyways, as much of it had been purchased by the Curate long ago after the Westburgh Fire of 1626 and some might have been a bit too common or trashy, even if he was willing to give it up. Makes one wonder how a 1733 second edition of Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts came to be in it. That did not matter as much as some of the recipes held in both that and the large collect of cookbooks, such as recipes for ice cream. Some of the cellars needed for freezing the fruit to be added in Eale’s recipe were not quite cold enough though. While perfectionists tried to freeze things in ark rooms below ground in the north of England where no sunlight ever touched, some people who got a copy of some of the recipes (reprinted by a local press in a bit of piracy and changing of words) decided to just try something else. Frozen custard is therefore “in” and the sale of eggs will rise, though preferences seem to be to use mottled/speckled eggs.

These are of course just luxury good at this point, for those with the money and time for it. Or who can afford to get others to do it for them. And heeeeere comes the finger pointing. Where was there ice? Why had ice houses not been made? Had you seen the prices they are charging for this stuff? And so on and so forth. Upriver a bit of flatlands is scoped out and the ground leveled a bit with trees removed. An icehouse may be needed. Would be good for most of the food industries in the area, even though it was seldom especially hot in the area. Still, best to keep food at a steady temperature rather than having it thawing and refreezing all the time. The forests and searched to find exactly what kind of trees they have and many felled, then let to dry as is standard. They will see which can make the best iceboxes

Giant guy made a circumcised eunuch.

The Blackborough Oratory is finished in June 1850. Fitted out in a sumptuous baroque fashion, its towering stalls and acoustically perfect dome make it a public arena par excellence. To celebrate its opening, none other than Charles Dickens, a hero of the poor and dispossed of the area gives a reading of Hard Times to a capacity crowd of some 5000, plus another 5 waiting outside to greet the triumphant hero.

Not long after, a public petition id launched to change the name to the Dickens Oratory, and erect a statue to him on one of the empty plinths.

Over the course of the next 4 years, as he travels the north giving readings, Dickens makes many more return visits to the city.

Many local shipping and shipbuilding magnates purchase lands on either side of India road and proceed to build spacious mansions complete with luxurious gardens

Construction of the `Brunel Viaduct`, as the main spur of the aquaduct is known, begins to near the town. Soon, the water supply of the city will be connected to the clean flowing waters of the distant reservoir.

With the Bull Universalis Ecclesiae, His Holiness recreates Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales. This does not help matters scuffles in Redhall. Many heads are bashed in by players and supporters of the sports teams.

People have been avoiding the home of the murderous cook long enough that it is practically autonomous form any streetplans. It is made official, and the building and adjacent ones have the potential of being at the center of a future roundabout.

The window tax has been abolished. Yay. It was getting rather stuffy in most homes, as they could not afford to have windows, which tended to put a damper on business for the glassmakers of Blackborough. Well, th elate glass makers at least, though they managed to expand into mirrors with the use of mercury stockpiled in Merdin. Due to space constraints and the trouble with transporting mercury, they eventually move the mirror making back to Merdin where it had once started.

Someone is strangling people on their thresholds. Door-to-door salesmen are not going to really kick off for a while. Peepholes though? Now there is some potential…

The New Model Union, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Smiths, Millwrights and Patternmakers, set up shop in the area.

Some plump contracts for helping with the Crystal Palace come through. Good day for making girders and frames

Geodes and some chemicals are shown off in the Great exhibition. Due to the danger of the chemicals, they had a wall put up between Merdin, Blackborough, and Redhall’s contributions versus those of Frogmore. Some blue raspberries that had been produced by an old women in the old home used to entertain monks in made a good impression. Some Rothray natives had stayed in the kitchens of Buckingham after the downsizing due to them being thriftier than the others and they will make lovely tarts with them. Oh, and Albert and Victory send some letters referring to them as the City/Borough of Frogmore. Now begins the jealousy and bickering, as Frogmore-Eastmoreland connects further with communities to the south, while making sure their tax money stays in their community.

In Abbeywood sulphuric acid is dripped onto chalk from the northern mines in order to produce carbonated water. The process is probably a bit more complicated than that, but the people in charge don’t bother to explain. While it is being kept to buildings around the chalkmines for now, they wish to get some nice brickwork buildings up so they can sell it as tonic water to tourists.

The Local Government Act of 1858 clarifies the responsibilities of local government, establishing local boards of the City of Blackborough. Boards are established in Blackborough proper, Redhall, Merdin, Abbeywood and Edmondsley for areas such as fire prevention, removal of ruinous or dangerous buildings, street lighting, provision of public bathing houses and the provision of public clocks. Rothray is exempt as it is under naval authority and Frogmore-Eastmoreland resists incorporation by creating its own independent local board responsible for these areas.

With the demolishing of sub-standard housing stock the top priority for the City of Blackborough is providing sufficient housing for its fast-growing population. For the common man this means:

New terraces, such as those built between the cricket ground and the waterfront, which provide homes for dockworkers in Northbridge as well as those employed in hospitality trades in Abbeywood.

New tenements, such as those of “Brewery Court”; crowded dwellings built on former farmland close to Blackborough Brewery.

More salubrious new houses, such as the mix of houses built directly north of Northwood Common. Forest is cleared away and a new road (“Nightingale Street”) is built which provides a second route between Blackborough and Abbeywood. Some of the hundreds of new homes built/planned in the area are modest enough for the poor to afford to rent whilst grander homes are provided overlooking the common for the growing middle-classes.

Of course for the very wealthy there are the staggeringly expensive new mansions of Earl’s Row, located between Northwood House and the recently completed civic buildings on Melbourne Road. As well as the still pricey but slightly more reasonable townhouses that provide homes for civil servants, lawyers and businessmen around Melbourne Street.

The Earl of Blackborough has numerous renovations carried out to Northwood House and the surrounding grounds, including the construction of a large domed icehouse, a botanical gardens, and twin reflective pools. As part of these renovations a long-forgotten cellar of Northwood House is unsealed leading to a grisly discovery: the bones of a dozen young women.

The remains of the murdered girls have lain hidden under Northwood House for over a century and a half. It would seem the superstitious townfolk were wrong to blame the legendary “Beast of Blackborough” for those disappearances on Northwood Common back in the late 17th century.

In days gone by the Earl might have reasonably expected this macabre discovery to be suppressed in order to protect the reputation of his family, but with the explosion of mass media following the lifting of stamp duty on newspapers scandal is now a profitable and competitive business, and newsmen aren’t quite as deferential as they once were. The Blackborough Gazette runs the story of the discovery accompanied with plenty of insinuations about the current Earl’s great-great-grandfather. The Earl is furious, how dare these grubby newspaper men call his ancestor murderer! The long-running feud between the Earls of Blackborough and the city’s oldest newspaper has begun.

Work is completed on the Sheepsgrave Arsenal, creating thousands of jobs.

The first postal pillar boxes are introduced to Blackborough.

By popular demand the Oratory is renamed the Dickens Oratory and a statue of the man himself is erected.

A new clock tower is erected just north of the civic buildings on Melbourne Street.

The Northbridge slaughterhouse is converted into warehouses.

Sir Arthur Hayston dies in 1859 at the age of 84. In accordance with his will Hayston House, home to his family for over four hundred years, becomes the Hayston Academy for Fine Arts, with the land in Northbridge owned by Hayston sold off to developers to create an endowment for the new art school.

The Brunel Aqueduct is completed, connecting the city to a steady supply of clean water.

The York, Blackborough & Berwick railway is expanded with new lines running north and west.

In 1857 George Moran endows a new college at Hollowstone: St Dubnus College of Physical Sciences. Five years later the colleges based at Hollowstone Castle receive a Royal Charter incorporating Hollowstone School of Medicine, St Dubnus College of Physical Sciences, and Blackborough Engineering College as the University of Blackborough. The University of Blackborough is now an institution independent from the University of Durham, and only the second or third new university to be founded in England in five hundred years.

Students are drawn from all over the country to study medicine, chemistry, physics, or engineering at the University of Blackborough, with the wealthier students staying in Hollowstone Castle itself whilst poorer students rent rooms nearby. In 1864 the Blackborough Student Union Society is formed at the university, serving as both student union and debating society. Unlike the venerable debating societies of Oxford or Cambridge the BSUS is uninterested in dry questions of theology with debates instead focusing on cutting-edge scientific questions such as those recently raised by Mr Darwin and his theory of evolution.

At the other end of the educational spectrum a number of new Sunday schools and parish schools are established throughout Blackborough.

With the loss of so many ships in the storm of 1859, the tensions of the American Civil War, and the continuing drive for colonialization, Blackborough’s shipyards have never been so busy. Wolfe Shipyard in particular reaches a staggering rate of production.

However Wolfe’s find themselves at the centre of controversy when the Blackborough Gazette uncovers that a warship currently under construction at Wolfe’s shipyard is destined for the Confederate Navy. The working class in Blackborough are strongly opposed to the C.S.A and when the revelation of the ship’s intended buyer hits the headlines hundreds of shipworkers down tools in protest. Wary of harming relations with the USA and faced with the prospect of mass industrial action the Prime minister intervenes to have the contract for the ship terminated. The shipworkers celebrate a rare victory over their employers and Abraham Lincoln pens an open letter thanking the shipworkers of Blackborough for their “sentiments” (whilst carefully stopping short of actually endorsing the industrial action).

More homes, tavens and stables appear along the south road into Blackborough.

Several new post offices are built throughout Blackborough.

In 1861 an industrialist named Henry Saul starts up a sugar refinery near the football pitch and orchard.

A number of local steel companies amalgamate to form Northumbian Steel, based in Blackborough.

The City of Blackborough takes over the provision of natural gas in the area, beginning construction of a gas-works and gas-holder to the north of town.

Two teams from Blackborough join the Football Association at its founding: Northbridge Rangers F.C and Blackborough United F.C.

The Football ground near the orchard becomes the permanent home of Blackborough United and the stands are expanded.

A memorial commemorating the end of the Crimean War is erected on the parade ground at the barracks.

A pencil factory is constructed in Northbridge.

The Blackborough Omnibus Company is formed.

A fire breaks out at the warehouses on Bishop’s dock, killing twelve people.

A new music hall opens in the theatre district. One of the first acts to perform at Westside Music Hall is “The Great Robbie”, a popular stage magician.

The docklands expand with new warehouses, shops, stores and workshops.

A new Catholic church and a parish school are established, both called St Patrick’s.

With the lack of room for expansion, the population density of Redhall is rocketing and many move south into Frogmore-Eastmoreland.

The Northern Irish join the Football Association as “Redhall Athletic F.C”.

A new permanent football ground is established just south of the docks.

An engineer named Jacob Cartwright from Redhall has submitted a proposal for a new sewer system to the Blackborough City Authorities. Under Cartwright’s plans the main sewer line would run at street level, covered over with tons of earth to create a leafy 15 foot tall embankment accessible via stone steps on either side. A path would run along the top which could be made open to the public to essentially create a very thin, very long public park winding its way through the city. A decision on the proposal is expected next year.

The scaffold outside the old guardhouse is pulled down. Sensibilities are changing and many people no longer feel it is appropriate to have a gallows in front of the cathedral. Besides, no one has been publicly executed there in some years now.

In Merdin the colliery railway is connected with the wider network and begins running a passenger service.

Construction begins on a modern stone arched bridge to replace the historic King Henry Bridge, running parallel with the aqueduct. The new bridge is designed with higher and fewer arches to allow ships to pass beneath it more easily.

The smaller bridges of Merdin are gradually replaced with moveable bridges to allower larger coal barges to pass along the many canals of Merdin.

More Keelmen are put out of work by the colliery railways and by the new bridges which allow larger barges to pass along the canals.

With more men out of work Keeltown is beginning to degrade from a once proud community of people linked by a common profession to a general slum.

A firedamp explosion at Merdin’s largest mine kills 160 people.

In Westbrook, decrepit old homes are demolished to make wasy for new houses. A new school and church are established, and close to the dyeworks a large workshop for needles and small metal components is built.

A paper factory is constructed on the western outskirts of Merdin.

The doorstep strangler proves to be something of a boon for lockmakers and a new manufacturing workshop for chains and locks is established.

A new park is opened next to Waterloo Square.

One of the mills goes out of business.

The expansion to the Merdin Infirmary is completed, with the expanded hospital including a new Nursing College linked to the University of Blackborough. Working with the Blackborough Philanthropic Society nurses from the hospital begin going out into the city to nurse to the poor of Merdin in their own homes, an innovative practice known as “district nursing”.

Merdin continues to expand west, with new pits dug and old ones filled in.

The area of woodland around the old Henderson House is bought up by the railway company and enclosed with a wall. Finding the ground unsuitable for building they use it as a dumping ground for old stock. Now, in addition to the supposedly haunted old shack and unmarked children’s graves, Henderson Wood is home to several abandoned train carriages.

Eastmoreland Rail Station opens on the Eastern branch line, allowing passengers to get off between Henderson Wood and Baltic Dock in Redhall.

Fashionable new homes are built along India road with more to be erected.

A Historical Museum and Grand Library opens just north of George Street.

The population of Eastmoreland increases dramatically due to overcrowding in Redhall and Frogmore.

David “Davy” Ridley performs the song “Frog Swim” for the first time at Astley’s Ampitheatre in Blackborough. The music hall-style song about travelling to see the annual swimming contest in Frogmore will come to be something of an unofficial anthem for the region and is often heard at football matches:

“Aw went to Frogmore Swim, ‘twas on the ninth of Joon,
Eiteen hundred an sixty-two, on a summer’s efternoon;
Aw tyuk the ‘bus frae Blackborough, an’ she held least a score,
Away we went ‘long Castle Street, on the way to Frogmore.”

(chorus)

“Ah me lads, ye shud only seen us gannin’,
We pass’d the foaks upon the road just as they wor stannin’;
Thor wes lots o’ lads an’ lasses there, both rich and poor,
Gawn along George Street on the way to Frogmore.”

Some historians believe the popularity of Davy Ridley in the region is the reason for the emergence of “Davies” as a nickname for inhabitants of the north-east of England, although others suggest the nickname is older and originates from the use of “Davy Lamps” in the nearby mines. Whatever the case, “Davie” begins to gain ground as a nickname for people from the Blackborough and the surrounding area.

The old bakery in Frogmore goes out of business

The Vulcain beach area and Chinatown expands.

The Moran Company builds a complex of chemical laboratories to conduct research and development.

The prison population continues to swell as the city of Blackborough grows ever larger. It has become clear that HMP Rothray is no longer sufficient for the job of housing all these criminals, particularly as it is constantly butting up against HMS Rothray.

It is decided that a new larger prison will be built on the mainland, far away from the centre of Blackborough at a site north of Yldefield. HMP Rothray will continue to run as normal until the new prison is completed at which point the prisoners will be transferred. Many of the current prison buildings on the island will however be retained to serve as a small military prison and as armament stores for the Navy.

A new breakwater is built to allow for expansion of the docks at the naval base.

The York, Blackborough & Berwick railway is expanded with a new line running north and connecting to the Blackborough Overhead Railway at Royal Albert Station.

A steam-powered carousel opens on the Royal Albert Pier, instantly becoming a massive hit with the tourists.

Amusements of various kinds, shops and tearooms open on the seafront.

Abbeywood tonic water goes on sale and a manufacturing plant in built to cope with demand for it.

Forest is cleared to the north of Yldefield for the new prison although the actual construction has yet to begin.

More houses and taverns spring up on the western road into town.

In 1869 the news of the mass Cholera outbreak in London reaches Blackborough, and the revelation that contamination of drinking water may induce Cholera, many people fear that due to massive overcrowding in the surrounding districts, such as Northbridge, Keeltown and Merdin, would bring Cholera to them too.

Meanwhile, the Blackborough City Authorities rejects Jacob Cartwright’s sewer plans due to the realisation that exposed sewers could opens the whole city to contaminated ground waste and potential diseases, such as the aforementioned Cholera and Tuberculosis.

The City of Blackborough also starts to crack down on illegal factory practices, which includes underage children working the textile mills. This has been reported to the City of Blackborough Police, which was required to inspect the mills via the Factories Act Extension Act of 1867.

After the Football Association was formed, the football rivalry between the 3 official football clubs, today now-called the “Blackborough Derby”, intensifies, with the matches between Northbridge Rangers F.C and a new team named “Merdin Town F.C” and also between Redhall Athletic F.C v Blackborough United F.C., the most watched football matches in Blackborough.

More housing is built in the north of the city, near the cricket pitch and Abbeywood, and near the overhead railway line.

The Blackborough Gazette and the Earl of Blackborough keep fighting it out over the issue of the dozen young women killed by the current Earl’s great-great grandfather in the 1690’s. The Earl announced that the family did nothing wrong and tries to slam the newspaper for libel, while the ancestors of the murdered women said that they would ask the Blackborough Police to investigate the Earl’s family for the political motives over the libel claims. Meanwhile, the Blackborough Gazette is ready for a potential forcible shut-down, organising its lawyers and documents for the court case.

Meanwhile, 35 boxes of Snider-Enfield & Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifles, specially produced by the Arsenal along with their ammo and supplies, goes missing from the storeroom at Sheepsgrave Arsenal. At the same time, a cellar in a house in Northbridge is sealed away from the outside world. It would take decades for the rifles to be found, but it would be a gun enthusiasts dream by then……..

Two screw frigates from the shipyards at Blackborough Shipyards Company are built for the Royal Navy. As a recognition for the shipyards service, the RN names the frigates HMS Blackborough and HMS Redhall, and are temporarily stationed at the City docks while Sheepsgrave Arsenal gets the necessary cannons for the ships and HMS Rothray the sailors to man the ships.

In the south west district of Redhall, a batch of forest is cleared for a park, making it a open space in the expanding city, since many people said it was very cramp and needed some space.

More middle class housing is built in the city, since most of the middle class is moving into the more classier sections of town, leaving most of the houses that they used to inhabit being bought by factory workers and their families, working at the expanding textile and armament factories.

The Bishop still holds mass and continues the religious traditions of the Church of England, but is quite sad at the loss of Redhall to the City of Blackborough.

As the overpopulation continues to spiral out of control, more slums and tenements are built to the west of town. Disease is breaking out more often, with a small outbreak of severe flu killing 198 people in the slums. The Slums are often dirty, cramp and are literal firetraps.

This is causing a nightmare for Blackborough Public Health inspectors, since the Royal Merdin Infirmary is overflowed with cases of all sorts of diseases, from Cholera, to Tuberculosis, to gangrene to lost limbs and fingers from mine accidents. Eventually, the Health Board stamps down the law.

They will give workers compensation for the severity of the accident, which is the start of the unofficial work compensation program.

Meanwhile, numerous prostitutes in Keeltown and Rathsbury, mostly between the ages of 15 and 19, start to go missing from 1866 onwards. No-one is sure what is going on, since the police don’t know anything, but by the time 1869 comes around, the CBP believes that a violent serial killer is on the loose, hunting young girls and teens. They nickname him the “Keeltown & Rathsbury Hunter”, or “KRH”.

More people move from rural towns to Frogmore to work in the factories. Most work at the textile mills that are nearby, but the educated work in Sheepsgrave Arsenal, making weapons destined for the British Army.

Vulcain Beach is also attracting a few visitors from the much more populous Blackborough and Redhall, who wanted to get away from the bustling town for a short break, either by buying a few things or renting holiday homes near the beach.

The base begins to wind down operations for HMP Rothray, while more members of the Royal Navy are stationed there. HMS Rothray becomes a stop-over base for RN ships going up and down the British coast, including several screw frigates and a screw ship of the line.

Nothing much happens, but sailors sometimes get into trouble in the pub on Rothray, and usually get flogged, since the reforms haven’t reached the navy yet.

The beach near Royal Albert Pier, is named by locals as just “Abbeywood Beach”, is a good spot for lieing in the sun and chatting with locals in the shops nearby. In the future, this would become one of a number of beaches in the Blackborough Area that is best for tourism.

To better connect the different railway lines and make it possibel to travel from the south through Blackborough northswards (or the other way around), some changes are made to the infrastructure of the city.

Ropewalk Station and the Ropewalks are demolished. A new larger station is build and opened in 1874. It is named “Northbridge Station”

Some of the housings are destroyed in the process but the Cricket Ground escapes unharmed – its a wonder. The so-called “Cricket Curve” becomes a symbol for the influence of few rich Cricket-loving people.

The two northern-most unconnected stations are pulled down to build a new one: Abbeywood Station.

The Court has to deal with the issue of the Blackborough Gazette, the Earl and the dead women. The case takes several years and will be probably closed in 1875.

The rest of Northwood Common is transformed into a park. It has been 100 years since the original park has been created. Now a century later the extension to the north is acompanied by a small festival.

Blackborough Prison is opened in February of 1874 but Rothray has to stay open for atleast two more years to secure a smooth transmission from one prison to the other.

Henderson Wood Station gets an overhaul. Now trains can now travel without problem from south to north.

A new quarter is planned near the station with large squares and wide streets. A new church is build as well.

Some industries settle near the tracks but a lot of smaller stores were removed to make space for more railway tracks.

The workers compensation program is helping some but not all of the lower class but the quality of living becomes a bit better, even if Merdin is still a hotbed for disease.

The “Keeltown & Rathsbury Hunter” is killed in 1873 by a prostitute he attempted to murder. It turns out that his name was Henry Ferning – an ordinary worker from Keeltown.

The KRH and the 17-century massmurdering Earl inspire the book “Lord of the River”. The book later becomes a bestseller before being banned soon thereafter.

Some of the old farmhouses and wooden huts in the centre of Frogmore are removed to make space for a large square. A new church is erected as well close to the old one.

The old bakery, which has been empty for over ten years by now, burned down in September of 1873. It is rumoured that the McHillan boys played around with some gunpoweder they stole from in one of the factories. They escaped with their lives and only a few burn marks but the old bakery was soon becoming a flamming inferno. The scrap (wood, textiles, glass, metals) that the locals had just dumped next to the bakery made it possible for the fire to spread to neighbouring houses. The westward blowing wind was another factor that contributed to one of the biggest catastrophes in the history of Frogmore.

After the fire had destroyed large parts of the enter of frogmore the firebrigade was accused of mostly helping the rich, whereas the poor had to watch the little they had burning down. The following uprising led to angry protestors marching towards India Street. Their march was stopped before reaching the fire brigade at India Street. They were met police and military forces near the railway tracks. 11 protestors were shot down.

To the police’s defence has to be said that quite a many of the protestors were armed. This event became known as the September Massacre.

The gaps between India street and the other quarters are closed by building more houses.

Vulcain Beach is becoming popular with the lower and middle class of Merdin, Frogmore and Redhall. Whereas the upper class and the tourists prefer Abbeywood Beach.

A second hotel opens in Abbeywood. The “The Grand Imperial Hotel” is build near the mainroad. The private garden makes it a popular destination for wealthy people which value their privacy. The hotel is designed to look like a French chateau and has a tower that is visible from the pier.

With the increased gentrification of the area around Melbourne St, increasingly referred to as the Melbourne Quarter, demand for increased cultural offerings is growing. Plans are announced for a dedicated musical space to house the newly established Royal Blackborough Philharmonic Opera

The now vacant townhall, deep in the old quarter, is falling to rack and ruin now that the city council has relocated. A group of local art enthusiasts from the nearby Hayston Academy, acquire the premises for the use of the Academy with the backing of local philanthropists, following rumours (later found to be totally without foundation), that the council planned to demolish the building rather than pay the upkeep.

It is converted to an exhibition space and with private painting studios.

In a stunning case, the Courts find in favour of the Blackborough Gazette. The resulting media furore is the scandal of the age. The Hollowstone family react with fury as their reputation is dragged through the mud for a crime over a century old.

Some rumours circulate that following the lost court case, the Hollowstones are planning to sell up completely and relocate to their properties down in the south.

As traffic on the roads increases along side the population, roads are increasingly resurfaced either with paving flags, or the road surfacing `Macadam`, which consists of single-sized aggregate layers of small stones, with a coating of binder as a cementing agent

With the increased supply of clean water, the rudimentary network of public baths in Blackborough and beyond is renewed and extended. The provision of hot water presents a massive public hygiene boost

The University of Blackborough commences a major expansion in the Melbourne St area.

It constructs a series of examination theatres and lecture halls in the popular Victorian Redbrick style, with a beautiful clock tower, and acquires the funds to commence the construction of a new Blackborough Central Library, for the use of both its students and the general public. This is constructed on the site of former housing behind the court complex and is done in a classical style complementing the style of the surrounding government buildings.

With the final closure of Rothray Prison, Blackborough Prison comes into full operation. An interesting side effect is the growth of population in the surrounding vacinity, mainly housing for prison staff, and shops and services for their families

Blackborough Utd officially move into the football ground bordering Yldefield. In the patriotic Spirit of the age, they rename it Roarkes Parade. They extend the pre existing terraces to increase capacity.

With an increasing waste disposal problem, the board of health increasingly pressures the council to review its decision to reject the idea of a sewer. with general improvements in other areas of public health, including water provision, the lack of sewage treatment is increasingly indefensible

Northwood Common Park is graced with one of the obsessions of the age, which are cropping up across the land- a `Glasshouse`, which is exactly what it sounds. A graceful building of glass and steel in which to grow exotic plants for the public amusement.

Armstrongs emporium, passing from father to son, undergoes a massive expansion. Still providing the upper classes with curios from the far flung corners of the world, its new owner places increasing importance on providing the basic necessities of life to the newly powerful middle and lower middle class consumers of the area. The shop expands and rebuilds, purchasing several adjacent properties and building up the floors until it houses 18 separate departments on 6 floors.

Armstrongs Department store is truly born at this time

As the increased urbanization of Redhall threatens the historic heart of the city, the Bishop of Redhall acts. A little known fact, that the Bishops of Redhall hold the deed and title to large quantities of the land and property of historic Redhall. And with the installation of a Redhall local (unusual in the Church of England hierarchy), Adam Rumbles, with a suitable sense of local pride, they mean to enforce it.

A series of court cases and law suits against property developers result in the effective creation of a protected zone in the precincts of the Cathedral and is the surrounding streets.

The old and venerable St Dubnus bridge is creaking with age. Gone are the days when a busy day on the bridge was considered a few hundred people and a couple of horses passing back and forth. With the explosion in population, thousands cross every hour, with their horses and carts, and the increasing weight of machinery

And there is the issue of Merdin and its coal. Not for nothing is the phrase `Taking coals to Blackborough` used in every day conversation. Blackborough is synonymous with the fruits of its mines, and its coals feed the British empire.

However, getting them from Merdin, is proving difficult. One route is overland from the mines to the docks, but with the growth of the cities, this is not as easy as once it might have been. And beside, the roads are small and the sheer quantity of coal produced daily would fill the roads and block it to all other traffic.

The only solution is the river. Massive coal barges, able to transport vast tonnages of coal are to be found at the docks of Merdin. But they could be bigger, and they would carry more, if not for the ageing bridge blocking the mouth of the river. Low above the water, the height of the barges is severely restricted. The coal magnates and shipping princes of the area would dearly love to pull the bridge down and replace it with a steam driven draw bridge.

Alas, the population of Blackborough s nothing if not proud of its historic relics. In an age where progress trumps all, and the past is often viewed as an impediment, the public outcry at the threat to their bridge is both loud and surprising. Even more so, is the support it received from the local press.

However, a solution both ingenious and unusual presents itself, and it comes in the form of a plan from the University of Blackboroughs School of Engineering, in a project that will cement its reputation as one of the preeminent centres of engineering in the land.

The plan is to build a bridge of stone and iron with three vast graceful arches, more than high enough for the Coal barges and any other ships that might pass through, and to reinforce the old bridge, disconnect it from its moorings and supports and lift it in its entirety atop the new series of arches.

Put simply, the plan is to move St Dubnus Bridge out of the way of the boats.

The audacious plan is authorized, and construction of the arches and the vast panoply of engineering equipment required to move the bridge, much of it newly invented begins on either side of the river….

The re-engineering of the St Dubnus Bridge is driven primarily by the mine owners of Merdin, who see vast profits in such a venture. Even before work begins, business in Merdin booms as confidence in the future export potential soars.

Under the auspices of the College of Engineering and the private backers of the project, a foundry is opened in the area, close to the work site, to construct the quantity of equipment, much of it new and untested, required for the project.

Taking its name from its riverside location, the Bankside Testing Yard becomes a vital part of both the industrial capacity of the city, and the infrastructure of the University for years to come, presenting a place to practice the practical applications of Engineering first hand.

Key amongst the equipment produced for the Bridge project are the two massive cranes, built in the foundry before being erected on both sides of the river in Blackborough and Redhall. They are key to the whole operation, intended as they are to perform the crucial act of lifting the old bridge from its foundations and placing them atop the new sequence of raised arches.

The board of public health becomes considerably more proactive in calling for slum clearences. Many slum landlords are prosecuted and their properties seized by the increasingly confident organization. The people of Merdin soon find themselves with a new champion in the form of Andrew Matthers, a newly appointed member of the board of health. In the space of 4 years, Matthers takes 56 land lords to court on charges on violations of public health.

Consequently, there is a marked improvement (compared to what went before at least), in the basic quality of slum housing. Many of the more substandard hovels are demolished either voluntarily or forcibly

The new square, named in honor of Crimean War as Balaclava Place, is laid down. Little more than a paved square and a series of roads, it is bound to attract interest soon enough

Plans for the rebuilding of Frogmore are given high priority due to their proximity to the docks. The authorities mandate that all houses must be fire resistant, and close to a ready supply of water to avoid a repeat of the fire. Many of the street layouts of the model communities to the south are used, albeit lacking the facilities and luxuries of those communities.

In Vulcain Beach, the nearby Chinese population cause quite the scene when they host a traditional new year celebration, dragon dancing and all. In this year, the first known Chinese restaurant in Britain opens, but it is almost universally frequented by the Chinese population only.

Plans are announced and land surveyed for a station. Primarily intended as a depot for mail deliveries, limited passenger facilities are also planned. Tracks are laid to form a spur to the main Berwick line

During a particularly fierce November storm blowing in from the North Sea on the night of November 17th 1878, a part of the pier collapses. Empty at that time of night, there are no casualties. Investigations later find the structure to be broadly sound, but human error is found to be responsible for the weakness in construction on the collapsed section.

The pier is left in a rather strange position, with the majority of the structure intact, but with a small gap of some 20 feet between the main bulk of the structure, and the end point, which remains stable and strong.

Plans are initially to rebuild the damaged section, meanwhile connecting the parts by 3 rope bridges. Unexpectedly, the rope bridges become an attraction in their own right, with crossing them a right of passage for the daring. Soon, interest in the repair dwindles as visitor numbers actually increase with people travelling to visit `Pier End Island`.

Amongst the middle classes of Abbeywoods, snorts of outrage are, well, snorted, when the plot of underused agricultural land is sold to a property developer who in turn gets into quite some financial difficulties which he solved by selling his plot to the director of one of the nascent football clubs, Northbridge Rangers.

Before long, a rudimentary set of football terraces and a pitch are laid out. In the spirit of utter unoriginality, the football ground is named Largefield…

The snooty residents of the area are most unimpressed. Alas, space is at a premium, and the land was too good and offer to turn down

With the opening of the prison, business in Yldefield receives a boost as the prison uses Yldefield to place its orders for food and supplies.

About this time, there is a noticeable shift in pronunciation of the areas name. Some trace it to outsiders who assumed a spelling mistake. The name `Wildfield` starts to creep into common speech

With the unification of Germany presenting a newly empowered rival across the North Sea, the Admiralty and the War department is determined to increase investment in North Sea defenses and to that end commences construction of a fortification on the island of Rothray, and stations an artillery brigade of Royal Marines to man the under construction Artillery Battery, and 4 frigates of the Home Fleet to patrol the Mouth of the Dubnus.

blackboroughz

Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 3)

Dissolution, Civil War and a City in Flames (1470 – 1675  AD)

The War of the Roses is felt in the town as the Earl is a prominent Lancastrian, and Blackborough is a major Lancastrian hub in Northern England. The Earl is often away fighting battles during the 1460s, until he is killed at a nearby battle. Blackborough, undefended at this time and under control of the Earl’s son, defects to the Yorkists and is allowed to keep his title.

The Anglo-Hanseatic War begins, and the recently-built Hanseatic trading post and warehouse are destroyed.

As the manorial system declines, many farmers inside the outer palisade of Blackborough begin to leave, many farmers abandon their small fields and utilise the newfound social mobility caused by the decline of manorialism to join the middle/merchant class. The remaining farmers sell their land and relocate outside the city, many carving up parcels of the poorly-maintained selions for themselves.

Centuries of erosion lead to the land between the wooden palisade and the Dubnus River becoming either eroded or built into dockland.

Many fields become pastures as the quality of life for peasants increases and they are able to consume more meat. The Earl’s frequent warring allows many peasants to secretly sneak into the earl’s forest north of town and get away with poaching. In 1465, one hermit who is grazing his hogs in the woods discovers truffles and by the end of the decade, a small black market for truffles and other products from the forest is established in Northbridge.

As the old Roman roads continue to deteriorate, shipping becomes more important than ever, and the docklands are expanded northward.

In 1478, an episode of violence in the Docklands leads to a Jewish house being destroyed. Many Jews flee to Rothray, and one family flees to the decaying ruins of the Anglo-Saxon watchtower to establish a farm.

A small Scottish raid in 1479 destroys two sheepfolds and many sheep are stolen. A watchtower and barracks to the north of the shepherding district is established to protect from the omnipresent threat of Scottish raids and attacks.

The local aldermen and town officials finally pressure the King in 1469 to make Blackborough and its environs into a county corporate.

Mining operations intensify in this region, with the strip mine shifting its major focus from coal to lead due to coal’s low prices at the time. Another bell-pit is established.

A new dock is built east of the new bridge, and a small market district grows up around it.

An old man claims that drinking only water from the creek has allowed him to live so long. He dies in 1476 and his daughter establishes a small brewery to brew ales from the creek. Although home brewing was extremely common in Blackborough in the fifteenth century, the old man’s daughter’s brewery is unique in the fact that it is a separate building from his house. The daughter’s husband establishes a tavern nearby.

In 1491, a wealthy merchant by the name of Montgomery Higgins moves to town and builds a mansion for himself. The remaining pasture in the back is used for his horses to run around in. He quickly becomes good friends with the Mayor, gaining a fast track to power.. By 1494, the mayor, Higgins is appointed his successor. When the old mayor dies on October 2nd, Higgins becomes the Mayor of Blackborough. That same year, a Merchant’s College is opened in Westburgh, bringing in merchants who want their sons to be better educated in the trade.

In 1498, the construction of a bridge between Blackborough and Redhall ends, connecting the two towns as one.

As the Treaty of Everlasting Peace is signed between the Kings of England and Scotland, plans for a regular training a militia are shelved. Henry VII’s very negative outlook on lords having armies of their own leads to a decrease in the garrison. The money which would have been used to pay the soldiers instead goes into silver plate for the lord’s private treasury.

The Master of Stonewall Manor, Sir Edmund Stonewall, constructs a hunting lodge in the far north east. Or so he says. He just made sure the road leading to it wound quite a bit. He is on the lookout for wolves. Only having a young daughter, he brings around the occasional young man as he searches for someone worthy of adding a hyphen to the Stonewall name in case his wife bears him no sons. So far they have just gotten pigs and boars. Very tasty, very dangerous. Wolves are all but extinct in England, but Scotland… Well, maybe someone will go there to bring back glory.

After it was discovered that silver and gold coins used to pay royal taxes, few in number though there were, had a quantity of counterfeits within it, using thin layers of gold of silver over lead. What was worse was that they showed the former King Richard III. The eye is laid upon the Earl and suggestions are voiced that he might have retained some of his Lancastrian father’s sympathies. When a man from of some learning starting quoting the “Give unto Caesar”, He swiftly agreed and declared that he would make a statue of His Highness with gilt to show his loyalty. The statue of the city’s patron saint seems to be in a perfect spot to put it…

A large building is built near the hunting lodge for forest wardens so that the Earl can keep track of how much the Master catches. As it is not the woods directly behind his estate as his father had once asked for and received rights to, he would need to pay for whatever he catches in the way of deer.

Odd signs of sickness appear. While it is not realized, the strip mining of lead has rather negative side effects. The burning of coal in the pits to save time in removing lead have left many of the workers with harsh coughs. In time it is decided that it must be due to the body rejecting the fire and brimstone that was created in the mine. The miners deemed too ill to keep working as set up in the increasingly over crowded hospital. There was still lead to mine, though. Workers would not even have enough time to brush the lead dust from their hands before eating their meals and getting back to their duties.

There would be minor problems in years to come over where to put the statue of Henry VII, to Arthur Tudor, to Henry VIII. It was constantly remade, too thin, and all around an embarrassment to Merdin’s neighboring communities and Earl as neither the cathedral nor St. Dumnas church will accept it. After thoughts of placing it in an empty part of the old town, the Earl bitterly places it in Merdlin. “At least it’s not lead.” He is reported to have said, apparently blaming the whole embarrassing incident upon them.

New homes are built. Some belong to a family versed in witchcraft. Pay your fees and get protection from poisons, miscarriages, and hexes. Or get poisons and abortions. It’s all real magic though, so pay up.

On an unrelated note, there are noticeably less unmarried women having children. Same with the married ones who already had many. The population is fairly stable, but the health of miners, those downsteam from where slag is dumped into the river, and women visiting new neighbours takes a blow. It is expected that there will be many widows, orphans, and those who cannot work if something is not done about the miasma. On the plus side, the ale is still safe to drink and they are almost certain that nobody is sweetening the wine shipped in for medicinal and religious purposes with lead.

A convent, to be funded with the tithes, donations, and services of the locals, is to be built on the far side of the woods from their lake. It is not yet deemed fit for occupation, but it does provide Frogmere with some migrant workers with wares to sell and strong hands to help in trying to push back the shores of the lake before it floods homes. Some clay is extracted and stacked up in the sun in blocks.

After the cutting down of the woods around the borders between Frogmore and Redhall, the peasants are informed that the forests north and east of the lake and canal are being granted to the office of the Bishop for use by the Priory, Cathedral, etc.

Miners from Merdin come to the Cathedral wishing for a cure to their illness. They are bathed in the presences of burning incense, woods, and a variety of tried plants. They feel better afterwards and go home with explanations that they needed to burn plant life so the vapours could expel those that came from the rocks that were burned in the mines.

Pilgrimages to the island spiked after a check-up was done on the island to see if truly possessed Nails of the Cross. It is not taken especially seriously by anyone of rank outside of the area, though it is suggested that the nails may be for the Penitent Thief, St. Dismiss. Perhaps appropriate to what was to come, where several deserters from a private merchant vessel left with their kit in a boat, landing on the eastern shore. They do their best to lay low, and marry some of the less attractive women on the island after the locals decide they have down enough unpaid labour. Several children are born and as far as anyone is concerned, the men were born there.

The Stonewall family of Westbugh has no sons, his heir being is his daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth is married to one John McIntyre, a young business man of Scottish descent, originally from York. Elizabeth dies in childbirth in 1515, though her son, Edward McIntyre, survives. Seeing the Stonewall Manor in Westburgh fall to to another family, especially a Scottish one, greatly upsets the Stonewall of the Holly Estate in Merdin. So, the head of the Merdin Stonewalls, Henry Stonewall, gathers a small group of friends and guardsmen, a little army, to demand that the manor is handed over to him from the McIntyre’s. John refuses, and the men try to burn down the building, only for Henry Stonewall to be taken out by a hunting dog and the men to flee to Merdin. This begins the family feud between the Stonewalls of Merdin and the McIntyre’s of Westburgh, a feud that would continue for centuries.

In 1534 the Act of Supremacy established Henry VIII as the supreme head of the Church of England and later that year the King empowers Thomas Cromwell to carry out an inventory of the ecclesiastical estates in England.

In 1535 Cromwell’s men arrive in the region of Blackborough.

In 1531, under the newly passed Vagabond’s Act, many of Blackborough’s beggars are rounded up. With the general increase in crime it is necessary to build a hasty extension of the Debtor’s Prison out of stone from the old Roman Wall.

The statue of St. Dubnus (originally a Roman statue of Theodosius I) is saved from Cromwell’s commissioners by the fact that a millennia of exposure to the british elements has rendered it unrecognisable and it now appears to be no more than a lump of vaguely person-shaped stone in the centre of the square.

The skull of St Dubnus, in its golden reliquary, is hidden away in a cellar under the church that bears his name.

A number of new homes are built on the approach to south Blackborough.

In 1534 a slaughterhouse is built in Northbridge.

Several city farms are built over with new houses and large areas outside of the town are turned over to farms and enclosures as Blackborough becomes increasingly urban.

In 1535, with enclosures expanding the townspeople complain of a lack of places to graze cattle and the McIntyrs’ respond by granting common rights to the forest clearing north of town.

With fears of invasion growing, the shipyard is extended between 1535 and 1538 and new homes constructed nearby for the shipworkers. Work begins on a large carrack named “The Monarch” which is almost complete by the end of the decade.

In 1538 Merdin Monastery is dissolved, with the east wing granted to the pre-existing hospital whilst the rest of the monastery is given over as a parish church.

The cloisters of Merdin Monastery are converted into Royal Merdin Hospital; a centre specialising in the “treatment” of what we would call mental illness under the patronage of the crown.

More mines are dug contributing to the pollution of Merdin Creek.

With the monks gone the private brewery expands to fill the gap in supply. From the profits a grand house is built by the brewing family on the southern side of the Merdin.

With the passing of the Egyptians Act of 1530 the Romani travellers are expelled from Frogmore, moving on in the hopes of finding somewhere new. However a small number integrate into the town, having intermarried with the settled population, and an even smaller number refuse to leave their encampment, despite harassment and intimidation from the locals.

In 1539 The Frogmore friaries and the priory are seized by the crown, although they have yet to be disposed off and currently sit empty.

Mr S Dott continues trading until 1534 when one of his patrons find a fingernail in his pie…with a finger still attached to it. Mr Dott is suspected not only of taking the recently deceased for meat but killing several beggars when his usual supply ran dry. His shop is pulled down and Mr Dott himself is the first man to be hung from the gallows in front of Redhall’s newly built guardhouse. The people of the town give what remains of the Demon Dott’s house a wide berth.

In 1538 St Canute’s Cathedral loses some land and wealth to the crown but otherwise remains largely unscathed by the reformation. For now at least.

Rothray suffers worst during the reformation as Cromwell’s men report that the island hermitage is little more than a front for selling supposedly holy trinkets to the gullible.

The monks of Rothray actively resist seizures of their wealth and relics and half a dozen monks are killed in the ensuring chaos which comes to be known as the Battle of Rothray.

The entire island subsequently becomes the property of the crown and whilst the underground hermitage is left largely preserved Henry is considering having a royal residence built on the island.

blackborough17

A whole branch of mines are built. The pollution in the south is getting to be too much for the people of Merdin, and a wall is built to separate the Mining District from the Residential District.

Parts of the castle fall out of use, as businesses in the region prefer selling in the more popular Westburgh. The stores away from the gate and far out of eyesight see business decrease and start looking for new areas to lease. The castle is still a major place for political meetings to take place, however.

More roads are built in Westburgh. It Is getting extremely unfashionable to be seen walking around in the mud and dirt. There is talk about either paving the streets or getting some vehicles around. Those boxes that Henry VIII had people carry him around in might work…

The houses in Blackborough condense further, as more are built even closer together. There is a sense that too much of the areas within the Old City is being built over. The houses are getting very cramped together.

The Monarch is finished. More warships are not asked for, and construction begins instead on fishing boats and on merchant vessels. These would mainly focus upon the lucrative and vital Baltic trade. They do decent enough business, though their old ties to the Hansa do little good for helping against superior competitors with more to offer. Outside of Bergen that is, where an important Hanseatic Kontor was set up. There is the understanding, of course, that all ships are like English militiamen. To be called up in times of war as the King sees fit. Having lost Calais has put a big dent in the Royal Treasury anyways (despite holding the port being quite costly for the country), so having the possibility of new ports for more income (and healthy gifts of satin, furs, honey, and amber for His Majesty’s household) do not meet with any enmity.

Docks become more crowded as they try redirecting trade from Scotland to Europe by see so it went south and into Blackborough. Results varied, but the higher Germanic presence brought meant that the island of Rothay was given to Anne of Cleves as a gift, as she didn’t stop the annulment which would have screwed over chances of closer relations with the Germans. A residence was started on the island, once the farms were taken care of.

The Earl is torn on the matter of how to deal with religion, but not so others. McIntyre of Stonewall becomes semi-Presbyterian in mindset, and has many of the furnishings from his family’s private chapel taken to the hunting lodge where they would remain. Many of the paintings of Catholic icons and saints are painted over with guache scenes and places upon the walls there, in areas little light would get to them. The Earl instead buys up vestments, chalices, and such with some of the money gained from the much needed wool, flax, tar, and wheat trade, placing the items into his own treasury. A few are used as gifts while he buys members of parliament with his increased income.

Estates are planned for the Earl’s sons. One or two may need a house of their own in the countryside, unlike son number five, who has gotten himself a decent hunk of land in the Irish Pale, or for one of the Earl’s own younger brothers who managed to become head of the King’s College Chapel in Cambridge and have a few kids of his own. Redhall might not be a bad area, come to think of it. After all, the Bishop won’t live forever and if the dioceses are reorganized even further in their favor… Yes. Hopefully the Bishop would be too holy get married like the new King Edward VI is demanding.

A whole branch of mines are built. The pollution in the south is getting to be too much for the people of Merdin, and a wall is built to separate the Mining District from the Residential District. Farmers are somewhat upset that the walls are only keeping large areas of land away from them, and not the stuff leaking or dumped into the river. Rubble begins to pool under the bridges downstream.

Monks and friars are expected with the closure of their orders to become productive, tax paying members of the public. A monk in Merdin helps around the mines until a deposit of white lead is found. The population jumps by more than ninety people as those farmers and miners who died from the polluted air and water are replaced by dirt-farmers, who can expect better pay from mining than their previous professions. The future moves into cosmetics and paints will be taken as an example of the good that the closing of the monasteries died. Mainly because of how many times the King and his lackeys got to put fees on them.

New homes and a few small farms are built. Some Cornishmen form a disassembled residence come to the area and settle down as they try to decide if they should go back to Cornwall or try to make more money before that. Military life was hardly the most rewarding, though they did snag some booty from the last raid into Scotland. Various Scottish and French-Norman items enter the market as they sell a few of the trophies too heavy to lug around any further. They show a market dislike for the ale which has become polluted by some slag slightly further upriver from it.

A long road is built from the main road to the ocean, as plans for a large port begin to form. It is planned to be the biggest port in the region, and it expected to get new tenants in Frogmore. Not much is expected from it, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Sand is shoveled away, trees felled for construction, and prayers are made that they can attract the increasing trade coming to and from the Baltic. After all, they don’t have Blackborough or Redhall’s high taxes and duties. Infact, they don’t even look too hard at your cargo if you offload it at night…

A few homes and a farm are built but Frogmore otherwise stagnates. The farm furthest from the village center is let to go fallow from lack of workers. One of the sons who left plans to try getting together with a nearby family with many migrant sons, so that they can all chip in and buy the former Priory. Throw in two pairs of weddings between the families, and perhaps they would have enough to go back afterwards to fix up the farms and start a string of homes along the road. Not that they would realize what prime real estate it would be many generations down the line…

A stables is set up in the never used convent across the woods from Frogmore. It is as good a place as any for those wanting to avoid the peasant rabble or to not have your pockets picked by the Gypsies. Hard to tell which is worse though, since so many of the area’s children are almost like Gypsies themselves. While the population grows somewhat, more than a fourth of the sons have taken to traveling as traders of small items or to become sailors. Rothay gets some of them to their ships, but other Frogcs prefer heading north to the shipyards. Plenty of work there, though most headed out on ships after their presence in Blackborough nearly got them arrested as vagrants. This would not be forgotten.

Three more men are hung by the gallows, in suspicion of conspiring to kill the leader of Redhall. They notice a small group of conspirators who continuously plan to kill the major leaders of the region (like a gang would). There is some suspicion as to whether or not they were responsible for the mysterious appearance of bodies on the menu. Certainly was a spike of corpses washed up on shore after the shop was closed…

The sale of meat products drops in Redhall. Now they want to make sure they know what is in their food. This means fresh fish, freshly killed game, shellfish, oysters, etc. After it was discovered that some people were making their chickens and geese look plumber by jamming shit into it to make them plumper, poultry was looked down upon. Pork form the northern forests was also a no-go when people from the former pie shop discovered how similar in tasted to… Well, they didn’t want to talk about it. Venison was too expensive or had a similar taste so a Jewish butcher in Blackborough and a converted Jew who lives on the bridge to the north (Or one of the farmers) gets most of that city’s business, due to their hygienic practices. As well as how they can be sure they never use pork.

The town has a hard time recovering from the Battle of Rothray, with most of the monks fleeing to the church in Redhall or Westburgh. They can hide there easily enough as there were barely eight ten monks on the island to begin with, though the actual parish priest sticks around harvesting oysters, farming the land, delivering births, presiding over marriages, etc. He is considered to be fairly godly, but no one ever really brings up his former position in those years. Hardly as if he was spending all his time sitting in dank caves looking at a mummy or sitting in warm rooms wondering where he can find a few dozen skeletons to break up and sell.

The rather oversized farms are chosen as a good site for building, as the land was already cleared. The island’s occupants are given some promises for land further north or on the mainland, as well as a chance to remain on portions of the islands. In the first case they would be expected to be able to form a larder worthy of such a residence or to take to working on the estate. As it is unlikely that the estate would be used year-round, if at all, there is some interest in sticking around. The population of Jewish descent that have married non-Jews (They were all basically related at that point) are iffy. Whether or not the promises are kept to the island’s inhabitants remains to be seen.

The island was decided to be filled with swans. They dump about two dozen swans on the island and four dozen geese. The islanders are dumfounded by this and how seed grain is taken to feed them. They leave them well enough alone after someone gets maimed by one of the birds. They wouldn’t tell which type since they had other things to worry about.

Edward VI dies in 1553, Mary takes over for five years, only for Queen Elizabeth I to come to the throne in 1558

After being Mayor for 56 years, Montgomery Higgins dies on 3 October, 1550. His only surviving son, Samuel, takes over as Mayor. Quickly, he does something that the citizens inside the wall have wanted – close off the old fort area. Using the old bricks near the prison/poor house, the fort area is again protected from “scum”. This increased his popularity as now people from outside the Roman walls had to pay to get in, also increasing revenue for the city. However, things took a turn for the worst for Mayor Higgins. During the time, he was secretly taking money from the town treasury to build up his own funds. He was discovered in 1559 and hung in Redhall on Christmas Eve that year and his funds seized. However, not all of his money was there. The mansion he lived in was burned to the ground, and his family allegedly died in the fire. However, legend goes that his second son, Paul, took the treasure and hid it before fleeing town or possibly took it with him to who knows where. The world may never know. On the site of the old Higgins mansion, talks of building a school or possibly a bigger guard center are discussed. In Hollowstone Castle, a small new pond is built inside the walls.

Elizabeth I continues to reign while Catholic powers across Europe plot to overthrow her and put Mary of Scots on the English throne. Pope Pius V excommunicates the queen in 1570, fueling Catholic rebellion against her. However, many plots are crushed and Elizabeth remains in solid control of her lands.

In 1570, after her success in crushing the Rising of the North, Queen Elizabeth gets the idea to construct a royal palace in Blackborough itself to keep control of the area. The destruction of the mayor’s residence in the north of town provides an excellent opportunity for the Queen to construct a building. She begins construction that year, however construction is very slow, and anti-Elizabeth sentiment spreads among the city’s Catholic working class.

In 1572, the Duke of Norfolk is found guilty of treason for trying to place Mary of Scots on the English throne, in what unsuccessfully amounted to the Ridolfi plot. While not a northerner, the Duke of Norfolk, himself a cousin to the Queen, becomes popular among Blackborough Catholics as a martyr and patriot. Several acts of mob violence against Protestants occur throughout 1572 and 1573.

In 1576, Another ship begins construction in the nearby port (hint, hint, perhaps a ship to the new world? full of Catholics???)

In 1578, a mob of Catholic men, feeling oppressed by royal governance, raid and set fire to a section of the town hall. The men are subsequently caught and hanged for treason, while the burnt areas in the hall are cleared away.

In 1579, the Queen entertains marriage with Henry, Duke of Anjou. She treats him to a visit to her nearly finished estate in the north of Blackborough. It is at this time that the estate becomes known as the ‘Angevin Palace’ due to the Duke’s visit. Unfortunately, marriage plans don’t pan out and the Duke leaves England a bachelor.

In 1574, Sir John Stonewall of Holly begins a massive renovation project on the Holly Estate. By the time the renovations are finished in 1578, the estate is transformed to look like a giant ‘E’ in order to impress Queen Elizabeth and get her to visit.

In 1576, an addition to the rebuilt St. Dubnus monastery is donated by the Pope.

Elizabeth I visits the Holly Estate in 1579 on her way to court the Duke of Anjou, and as customary, the local nobles carry the financial burden of her visit. Sadly, the Queen sees the newly renovated estate as tacky and decrepit, while none-of-the-less remaining flattered that the renovation was done in her regards. John Stonewall falls into debt because of her expensive visit, however many local nobles blame him for vying for such attention.

In 1573, under advice from Francis Walsingham and the Lord Burghley, Elizabeth establishes small royal retreat on the island. She doesn’t have much money to spend, due to the soon-to-be Angevin Palace being a more important venture, so she declares that the retreat will be small in scope and absolutely no burden to the residents of Rothray.

The ship built for the Catholics is finished in 1581, and dubbed “The Mary” by them, after the catholic pretender to the throne. They leave in 1582, taking a large portion of the Catholic population with them, primarily lower class citizens, farmers, workers and the like, though wealthier Catholics were among them, including Paul Higgins, who fled the town roughly twenty years before. He was using the fake name Judah Lincoln to avoid being persecuted by the townsfolk. Several members of the Stonewall family leave, including a couple running from their families’ wrath, by the names of Edward McIntyre and Amelia Stonewall. They leave on the ship, posing as a married couple under the name of George and Beth Stonetyre, taking a fair portion of Mr. Stonewall’s remaining fortune with them.

The shipyard produces no more large ships in this decade, but the dock in Northbridge gains a new amount of houses as traders and fishermen and merchants construct houses and shops along the dock.

Several poor fishermen build houses inbetween the walls of the town and the moat.

The Queen’s palace is finished in ’84.

The leaving of the Catholics crumples the remainders spirits, sparking conversion en masse, to the Church of England. St Canute’s Cathedral and other churches are converted to Church of England churches.

The Renaissance continues to flourish in Redhall, more so than anywhere else in the region. The town also converts to Protestantism more quickly than the rest, possibly due to the Church converting quickly. It losses less people to the New World, and actually has a some amount of net growth.

Merdin, on the other hand, is hit hard by the leaving of the Catholics, as the monk’s legacy could still be felt and more of the town was practicing Catholics than elsewhere. Houses are built, but several remain empty or abandoned.

Frogmore stays much the same, though just to the south of the town, along the road, debtors released from prison set up houses for a new start, leading to the road gaining the name ‘Debtor’s Row’.

After the attempted, and failed, invasion by the Spanish Armada, the ships fled north to circle around Scotland then go south by Ireland. Some of the ships stop in Rothray, finding more sympathy there than in Redhall or Blackborough. Some of the crew decide to stay in Rothray permanently, marrying into the native population.

Several families of Jews, feeling unwelcomed elsewhere, set up houses and a shop along the dock to the east of Frogmore. They argue over whether to be recognized as part of Frogmore or their own settlement.

In 1600 a new comedy by William Shakespeare debuts at the Globe theatre in London: “The Battleing Brides of Blackborough”. The play is based (loosely) on Raphael Holinshed’s account of the 812 AD Viking raid on Blackborough. It tells the story of how a vengeful townsperson, bitter at having his advances rejected by a young nun at the local monastery, opens the town’s gates to a Viking raiding party, who then kidnap several nuns from the monastery to take as their wives but are ultimately thwarted when the remaining nuns band together and mount a rescue. Over the following centuries the play will often be performed in Blackborough, but outside of the north of England it remains one of Shakespeare’s lesser known comedies until the 20th century, when there is a surge of interest in the play’s supposedly feminist and pro-catholic themes.

In 1601 a rebellion against Elizabeth I by the Earl of Essex is defeated.

In the same year a new Poor Act codifies the responsibilities of parishes and local governments in relation to the poor.

In 1603 Elizabeth dies and is succeded by James I, uniting the crowns of England and Scotland.

Due to the visible contamination of the waters of Merdin Brook, the brewery is relocated north of the river, expanded and re-established as the “Blackborough Brewery”.

Blackborough is becoming increasingly urbanised and farms within the city are subdivided or built over for new houses.

In 1604 a large glass blowing workshop is established to the south-west of Blackborough market, and a small clock makers workshop open close by, serving the city’s wealthy merchants.

In 1608 the Jews of Eastmoreland are forced out by residents of Frogmore, and relocate back to Old Jewry Street and the docks of Blackborough. With their old homes in Blackborough gone the Jews rent small rooms and build shacks, creating a warren of narrow alleys.

Also in 1608 Blackborough is hit by an unusually severe winter and areas of forest north of town are illegally harvested for fuel.

In 1609 the merchant Samuel Sharpe establishes a goldsmith bank in the south-west corner of the old town, partially built into the old Roman wall for security.

Later that year the merchants of Blackborough begin discussing a proposal to have a clock tower built as a gift to the city.

In 1605 a belltower is added to St Canute’s Cathedral

In 1606 a brothel and inn is established just outside the town’s east gate.

Some of the old gypsy camp to the south is cleared away, by this point only one Romani family remains.

In 1608 several gristmills are built just outside the southern wall.

In 1609 there is an outbreak of plague that kills almost two hundred people before the year’s end.

Between 1601 and 1609 the mines are expanded and work begun on a canal to ease the transport of coal, lead and quarried stone. During this period several windpumps are built to help drain the mines of water.

The old brewery is moved north of the river, however the economic impact is lessened by the expansion of the mines.

In 1606 more land is enclosed for pasture near to the road. Wool-based cottage industries expand.

By 1609 Royal Merdin Hospital exclusively treats what we would now call mental illness, and a hedge is built around the grounds to muffle the screams that had been disturbing local townsfolk.

Following the Poor Act of 1601 an Almshouse is established in Frogmore, on the north side of the lake.

The frost of 1608 causes the lake to freeze, and a frost fair is held upon it which gives a temporary ecnomic boost to Frogmore.

In 1609 the recurrence of plague that started in Redhall spreads to Frogmore, and kills 120 people by the end of the year.

Unlike his predecessor Elizabeth, James I has no interest in actually visiting Blackborough and sees no purpose in having two royal homes in the area. Therefore in 1607 James decides to retain the grander Angevin Palace and divest himself of the unimpressive Summer Palace.

Whilst the crown retains possession of the island the King generously gifts the royal house on Rothray to the county…as a house of correction. For the moment Rothray Prison is mostly used to house the “idle poor” who are forced to work on the island’s farms, however a small number of more dangerous prisoners are also held there.

Apart from some houses being cleared from the bridge to make way for a guard post (and some free labour from the prisoners) daily life goes on unchanged for the islanders.

Immense discontent and in many places outright resistance, erupts, partly inspired by resistance in the West Country, to the Enclosure of Common Land. One of the most visible examples of such enclosure is the installation of vast hedgerows and fences around vast swathes of the woodlands to the North, with the approval of the authorities, to protect what the lord of Hollowstone views as his own private hunting estate. He deforests much of what he claims as per his plans for rolling lawns and hills in his garden estate. Thick wild hedges are only the prelude to gates and walls

As Blackburgh enters the new decade, it is a time of prosperity, calm and growth. It wont last

The increasing urbanisation and consolidation of the housing stock in the town, and the greater control of farming exerted by parliament and the local council in the firm of increasing enclosure, sees some of the urban farms within the city limits built over

With the Union of Crowns, trade between Northern England and Scotland picks up markedly. just behind the Angevin palace, ideally situated at the northern gate, a paved market for trade to and from the North develops. Unimaginatively, called the Scottish Exchange.

Beginning construction in 1620, and launched in 1622, the shipyards of Blackburgh produce the good ship `St George`, a 42 gun great ship, upon the orders of King James

As plague ravages London and the south of England, Blackburgh and its environs does not escape a brief but unwelcome visitation by the Great Plague.

As if the plague and its nigh on 300 victims in the year 1626 is not unwelcome enough, on November 5th, a further blow is struck.

As has already become customary, a procession commemorating the narrow escape of King James and his family during the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot some 20 something years before, is held.

A torchlight procession advances through the city, to culminate in a great bonfire in the public square outside the Guildhall in Westburgh.

It never makes it that far.

Beginning in the Stonewall estate, the procession passes over the bridge and into the narrow warren of houses and shops that make up the commercial heart of the city. Then disaster strikes. One of the hundreds of torchbearers drops his torch.

From this minor mishap, a grim chain of events proceed. The torch, it is later suggested, lands on the back of the legs of the torchbearer ahead. In the panic, the crowd is jostled and more torches fall, until one inevitably lands in the piles of flammable filth which litter the streets of any medieval town.

Within an hour, the Church of St James is ablaze. Within 2 hours, all of Westburgh is aflame.

For 10 hours, the fire blazes.

It is reported that Sir Nicholas Donne, Mayor of Blackburgh, directs the battle from the ground, leading teams of fire-breakers who clear houses and debris.

This work and the sudden arrival in the early hours of the morning of a fierce thunderstorm, save the medieval old-town and the majority of the homes to the north, but Westburgh is all but obliterated. Nothing save the Guildhall, built uniquely on the island predominantly of stone, survives.

By sheer good luck, the vast majority of the 900 or so residents of Westburgh survive.

The death toll is still severe however. some 200 are estimated to have died. Most in an event that will sour the city for a generation, when the Lord of Hollowstone fails to open his southern gate to the fleeing hoard. The weight of 100 people on an old, ill maintained wooden bridge causes the inevitable collapse. Most of the death toll that night is not from flame but from water, as the majority drown

Crowds surge from the affected areas. Many encamp in the Stonewall Estate. If the Lord of the Manor objects, his objections come to naught with half a town setting up camp in his garden.

Many of the richest residents of this commercial hub find lodgings easily enough with patrons and friends within the Old Town or in Redhall.

A great many of the poorer refugees, at least those who do not encamp in Stonewall, now live in fear of the densely packed towns altogether. First the plague, then fire.

Many find themselves preferring to set up camp on the strongest, most fire resistant structure they know of-St Dubnus bridge itself. Impervious to flame, and surrounded by water, what better idea for the local peasants?

Within days, the Aldermen of the city realise this cannot last.

The West of their city is in chaos. 800 homes reduced to Ashes, the Guildhall blackened and sitting amidst a field of ash, the market square inaccessible, the bridge to the castle gone, the Stonewall Grammar School and the vital St James Meat Market, the primary slaughterhouse of the city, gone-and a village of tents and shanties blocking the main southern route across the river? Something must be done.

blackborough-b

Even as the Churches and Cathedrals are providing their alms and the ruins are being cleared, the Council resolves it cannot afford to let the town fail. A competition is announced within weeks for submissions to rebuild the district anew. `in the modern fashion`.

Rewards are put up by a combination of the Aldermen, the Guilds and the families Stonewall and McIntyre. At £1000, the prize is a lifetimes earning for any one

Almost 2 years pass and the authorities are still looking. Many plans are presented, and many are rejected. For one reason above all. Money. This fire has burnt to ashes the main trade route of the city.

With trade slumping, the city is in deep financial straights. Wool supplies have dwindled to a trickle, and the Wool merchants of Incheap are on the verge of collapse.

Any rebuilding must begin quickly and must be cheap.

The natural spread of people returning to the area sees a familiar jumble of makeshift and highly flammable buildings risk returning. When in 1629 another, very much smaller fire, breaks out over the river in Blackburgh proper. The damage is slight, as the area is relatively empty, yet the authorities are convinced of the urgency.

They make what will turn out to be the wisest decision in the history of Blackburgh, but initially for all the wrong reasons. Unable to find a homegrown architect who can promise plans of suitable grandeur and affordability, they look abroad. To Antwerp.

The burgesses of the town find an architect who is, because he is unknown and a poor negotiator,above all, cheap.

Of secondary consideration is his brilliant and beautiful plan for buildings both aesthetically pleasing and fireproof.

His name is Abraham Micheal Crayer. Beyond building a barn for his uncle in his native Antwerp, Blackburgh is his first, and it later turns out, his only, commission.

He arrives in town in November 1629. He has a lot of work to do. His plans are to;

Replace the bridges of the island with pleasing stone bridges.

To build a number of wide, straight and ordered streets, with tall, narrow but deep houses in the Dutch Renaissance style so popular with the merchants of Antwerp and Amsterdam.

To build a meat market of commodious size

To rebuild the Grammar School in a manner befitting a true renaissance city,

To rebuild the gutted Church of St James in the manner of his beloved church of the same name in Antwerp,

And to create such a network of broad esplanades, fountains and running water, as to make the risk of fire a thing of the past.

Before the year is out, the work of clearing the debris is begun. As a mark of the importance of this rebuild to the city economy, the first thing constructed is a paved road. The plan for the rebuilt and enlarged Church of St James, and the Westburgh Grammar School are also laid down before years end. It soon becomes clear that the greatest opportunity lies in over the river in Blackburgh proper, where there is more free land and space in which to construct the myriad of modernising projects. For Westburgh, our architect has different plans. No more, the dense warren of streets. Westburgh will soon become the lungs of the city

The much loathed Lord of Hollowstone, he who refused to open his gates, acquires a profitable share of fertile land in the newly established Virginia Colony.

His dealings in the tobacco trade make him increasingly wealthy. In his country hunting lodge he assembles an increasingly varied selection of Native American artifacts. Many centuries hence, this collection will form the nucleus of a world famous museum.

As his wealth increases, and his newly enclosed and bitterly resented enclosed lands become a popular visitor destination amongst the local aristocracy, Lord Hollowstone desires a country pad more fitting to his inflated sense of wealth and importance. He takes on the services of no less than renowned English country garden designer Inigo Jones to desire a suitably imposing garden to go along side his plans for a suitably enlarged house

The plague, the fire and the resultant disruption of the demolitions and rebuildings that follow, is not so disastrous as might first appear. Population growth remains strong.

But for the various cataclysms of the decade, the population would be strongly up. For these ten years at least, the population remains at the end, much what it was at the beginning

Events in the surrounding area, see a surge in the population of Redhall. Some of this surge is temporary, but some isn’t.

Around this time, a travelling toupe of Troubadours come into possession of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

In the bustling hub of the area, just athwart the bridge and in the shadow of the great Cathedral of St Canute itself, the areas first theatre, albeit an unofficial one for now, is opened.

The Bishop of Redhall makes a token attempt to close it down, but soon, the knowledge that this new form of entertainment is so wildly popular that the crowds it brings cause the profits of the taverns and brothels paying their tithes to the Cathdral to skyrocket, inexplicably causes the Bishop to forget about this distinctly immoral activity.

With the exception of 1625-26, when the risk of plague makes such public gatherings both unwise and unpopular, the popularity of the threatres of Redhall skyrocket

The number of shops, taverns and whorehouses sees quite a rise, as does the general population of the town following the fire

The afore mentioned Bishop of Redhall is something of a bon-viveur, and very fond of a tipple. He also has a pressing need for funds to support the upkeep of St Canutes.

Fortunately, the Bishop is more worldly than his calling finds seemly. He knows how to make money. The Cathedral has long had an interest in the local hostelries and taverns. Not least, it has spent centuries supplying them with cheap plonk. With the increase in the population of Redhall, the Bishop sees nothing but opportunity.

As luck would have it, the Cathedral has long tended a healthy supply of vines, of hardy German stock, in the common land beyond the town limits to the east. In former times, it was common land but they were commonly respected as the Churches vines. Nowadays, the new arrivals and the changes in attitudes to the church, make this a much less safe assumption.

Fortunately the rising tide of enclosure presents more opportunity. Buying the rights to the land, the Bishop encloses a good sized chunk of land with hedgerows.

Developing their vines more intensively than ever before, `Redhall White`, a form of Hippocras (that is, wine mulled and steeped in spices to mask the inferior quality of the grape) becomes a staple of the taverns and stews of the district.

And what cannot be drunk, for wine spoils easily in this day and age, in turned to vinegar, which the markets buy to pickle and the miners of Merdin buy to use in their dirty mines.

In 1628, a mass at the Cathedral of St Canute goes badly wrong. The Bishop attempts to enforce the changes of Archbishop Laud. No sooner has he started speaking before a local Puritan firebrand, Isaac Mudd, and a band of supporters, have physically dragged him from the Pulpit.

For an hour, the doors are barricaded, whilst those against and for the reforms, give battle in the vast confines of the Cathedral.

Eventually the city watch breakdown the door and restore order. Not before 25 people lose their lives, and the Bishop has his jaw broken by the blow of the Jewelled Crucifix adorning the Altar. A Jewelled Crucifix being clearly, a symbol of unforgivable Popery and idolatry.

Mr Mudd finds himself in the Stocks. The event is one of many such to occur across the country as the bitterly religiously divided country charges headlong into the gathering storm-clouds of civil war, merily fanned by the oblivious King and his hated Archbishop.

By the decades end, two enterprising local vaudevillian tavern owners, late of the Irish plantations, purchase some derelict homes upon the riverbank. Demolishing them, Messrs Donnelly and MacPartlin open the first purposes built theatre in the area. Named after the local enterprise adjacent to it, `The Stagecoach`, it is a modest affair for now, safely accommodating 200 people. Unsafely accommodating many more…

Without a doubt, the favourate performance is, you guessed it, `The battling brides of Blackburgh`

General population expansion causes a stable expansion of house and business construction.

As the fire takes hold in Blackburgh, such food and housing as can be offered, is indeed offered by the Monks of Merdin.

A small number of the local mine owners of Merdin are found to be in serious breach of the Assizes, for contamination of the water supply with the effluent of their mines. This coupled with a propensity to flooding, causes some of the less valuable, poorly maintained mines to fold in this decade. One even floods, forming something akin to a lake.

Though James the I & VI, and his successor Charles, live in London and are focused on their English throne, they cannot forget they sit upon the Throne of Scotland too.

Sitting upon the great northbound roads, Frogmore increasingly finds itself at the heart of a transport hub. Messengers travelling north and south between Whitehall and Holyrood invariably come via Frogmere. Many a farrier and stable exist to re-shoe horses and provide fresh ones. Many a blacksmith and tanner to repair wheels, axles or cut new saddles. Many a tavern and boarding house to provide food and lodging to weary travelers

As fortune would have it, a high quality seam of good marble is found in the area, not 2 months before the outbreak of the Market Street Fire. The local owner, and the owners of the various local brickworks, lick their lips in anticipation.

At this time, at least a generation after the Spanish Armada, and following many decades of integration with the local, strongly pro Catholic population of the island, Rothray has a distinctly…..odd, dialect. English to be sure, with a great many Spanish loanwords.

Being a fishing community, underpinned by the Catholic dietary laws which prohibit meat consumption for large portions of the year, coupled with the fact that its most significant (albeit covert) influx were people of nautical profession and from a culture which had made an art of preserving various forms of food, be it the hams of inland Spain or the seafood of the coastal regions, Rothray has developed a distinctive cuisine, based heavily around the preservation of all foods but especially fish.

Rothray Salt-Cod is renowned throughout the region. Even the kitchens of Angevin Palace serve this local delicacy. The royal kitchens turn a blind eye to the distinctly `un-protestant` origins of the food.

Population growth is steady as the demand for Rothray produce grows, and orders for the accoutrements of every day life in a Royal Palace buoy the local market.

The English Civil War comes to an end in 1651 with Charles II fleeing abroad to France. A grim decade follows for Catholics, Royalists and moderate Anglicans across England.

The idealism that had driven many Parlimentarians fades as Lord Protector Cromwell comes to rule as a military dictator enforcing a strict Puritan regime and when Cromwell finally dies and is succeeded by his son Richard in 1658 the army quickly turns against him. By the end of the decade negotiations are under way for Charles II to be restored to power.

In 1652 Sir Archibal McIntyre of Westburgh is arrested for alleged involvement in a Royalist conspiracy. Westburgh’s lands and property are forfeited, and whilst much of it goes to the Earl of Blackborough and other nobles who have remade themselves as Cromwell’s cronies, some of the seizure goes to the wider public good. The grounds of McIntyre’s manor become a beautiful public park named (rather unsubtly) “Cromwell Common” and the house itself becomes The Blackborough Library; the city’s first public library/museum.

The clearing of ruins and rubble from the fire is completed and the reconstruction of Westburgh continues: the high dutch-styled houses are continued and neat little backyards built, most of which are used for home gardens although some are used for storage or remain entirely ornamental. Some grander homes are also built to encourage wealthy merchants back to the island and new stone bridges built.

A wide public square is also built in Westburgh and the rebuilding of St Jame’s Church and the grammar school is completed.

In 1653 one of the houses close to Westburgh market becomes an artist’s studio, and a large restaurant (or “chop house”) opens next to the market to cater to traders and businessmen looking to make deals over lunch.

Work continues on expanding the Earl of Blackborough’s hunting lodge into an impressive country home, a project that brings in labourers and craftsmen from miles around.

Some road expansion takes place to serve the construction of the earl’s country home.

The south-west corner of Blackborough is rebuilt with more widely spaced homes to protect against fire.

Most of the people living on the bridge have now been cleared off.

In 1653 the Northbridge shipyard is expanded to support naval efforts in the Anglo-Dutch War. A barrier is built to protect ships under construction from tidal surges.

With negotiations over the return of the Jews to England taking place in the mid 1650s and Cromwell essentially turning a blind eye to Jews resettling new life is breathed into Blackborough’s Jewry street and a second synagogue opens close to the docks in 1657.

In 1658 the city’s first regular periodical, The Blackborough Gazette, is printed.

In 1659 a Law College opens next to the old city’s east gate.

The new regime takes a dim view of some of the goings-on in Redhall and several brothels and playhouses are forced to shut in the early 1650s by the nervous Bishop. Of course in reality many just temporarily shift underground.

The old gypsy encampment is cleared in 1655, all save one caravan close to the road where a fortune-teller continues to operate.

 

A new coalmine opens in 1658 and work begins on a series of navigable underground canals to allow coal to be transported more easily (and hopefully without contaminating the river).

In 1652 a large bakery opens east of the lake. One of its specialities, a kind of pasty made by sealing herring, onion and potato in crimped pastry, becomes popular with fishermen as the pastry prevents their food getting wet when they’re out on the water. “Frog Pasties” become increasingly popular throughout the area during this decade.

Houses begin to spring up around the quarry.

To make it easier to transport marble from the quarry work begins on a new canal in 1659. Meanwhile negotiations on clearing out the old canal seem to have finally gotten somewhere thanks to the Bishop negotiating a settlement.

Some people have begun to blame the witch in the woods for misfortunes in the town…

Rothray prison is expanded and security tightened to accommodate the influx of Royalist rebels. Despite the expansion conditions at the prison remain abysmally cramped.

Some Rothray chefs have made it as far as London, spreading the island’s distinctive flavours there and bringing back new ideas.

It is time to take out the rainy day fund prudence and self-restrain had helped swell. It’s time for the Restoration, with Ireland, Scotland, and England happily under Charles II. Throw in the restoration Royal control over New England, the gaining of Jamaica, and the expansion into Carolina, and you have a King returning to a large, prosperous empire. Given his time in Jersey and France, enjoying French products is no longer a vice.

The McIntyre family is furious at the betrayal by their supposed friends the Earl. While the family still has land outside Blackborough, they are basically sick of the whole place. Attempts will be made to regain their land, but they may have poisoned relations with their attempts at grandifying themselves and not throwing all support into rebuilding Westburgh as promised. The Family begins to split up, deciding it was getting tooo crowded in Blackborough anyways.

Fortunate that the McIntyre name was now seen as one of the more Royalist in the area. A McIntrye who changed his name to MacIntyre when in exile in Jersey got together well enough with Charles and his horde of friends. He is playing the long game now, having ingratiated himself early on with assisting in acquiring Cocker Spaniels for the king and is now responsible for acquiring wigs and make-up for the King.

His associate, the Right Honourable Hedson, is sent to Blackborough to make sure that the King’s property wasn’t too badly damaged and to acquire more things for him. He holds the possibility of patronage, as there are now vacancies for Member of Parliament, Tax Collector, and High Sheriff due to removal of Cromwell’s men and death causing the rest.

Most of the Bridge is evicted, except for some of the sturdier homes nearby stairs leading down to a dock.

One of the McIntyre’s has changed his name to Wright and made a member of the Pensioner’s Parliament, to sit for the next two decades. He marries into a Derbyshire family and pays more attention to that region than his own.

The path between the gates leading between the two bridges in the south of Blackborough is lined with gravel. Buildings in the area increasingly focus on trade, as the Westburgh focused mainly on residential and academic needs.

Large shipments of porcelain, bone china, and luxury ceramics from France and East Asia come to liven up the homes of the nobility. The bourgers need to make due with *sniff* Dutch imitations

The farms and pastures within the walls of southwest Blackborough are increasingly used for milkcows and chickens, so as to supply a reasonably sized middle class who want eggs and baked goods. Excess milk is used for a regional variety of cheese. Due to the smell, it is likely they will be forced to head further west.

With the end of the Protectorate, the Roundhead Stonewalls of Merdin try to regain Stonewall Manor, which had been turned into a library under the Protectorate.

The Earl’s Hunting Lodge proceeds with construction but might be a bit too grand. Or would have been, if not for the Puritans getting the boot. Now he no longer needs to pretend to care about the poor, what God would want, humility, or any else of that drivel. He needed to sell a little of his Stock from the extremely Cavalier Virginia Company, but it was worth it. He was determined to have a home fit for a King. Or Duke. Now if he could only decide how many floors he wanted it… Perhaps six?

blackborough-a

With the end of the Protectorate, the Roundhead Stonewalls of Merdin try to regain Stonewall Manor, which had been turned into a library under the Protectorate. That house was beautiful and well placed. Not to mention all the farmland and homes that were controlled by the McIntyre’s, at least until recently. Besides wanting the home there is of course the bad precedent it is setting, where the homes of the nobility are taken away, to instead be used for the public good.

There is some discussion as to whether or not the town should try getting up walls on the sides of the river banks or not incase of floods. Given the problems with Frogmore’s canal, there is some wariness about introducing lots of building materials that might fall in and clog the river. The slag is bad enough.

Large amounts of lead are plated with silver and gold leaf to be sold to new nobs,

The second-cousin of a Frogmorian who married well in decades past is made Norroy and Ulster King of Arms when the vacancy opens up. Doesn’t mean much at this point, but it has potential to help out the right social climbers.

On Rothray a mass breakout is staged. By this point every occupant of the island has the blood of funny foreigners in them so are somewhat suspected by the guards for their strange habits (present in most people born more than a day’s walk from their hometowns). It is likely that many of the escapees would have been drowned or the Roth’s homes burned is not for what would one day be called the Coldstream Regiment coming on down from the north, loyalty sworn to the Restoration of the Stuarts. The nobility move from their cells and the beaches to take the quarters of the Warden in the Summer Palace portion. Given how similar much of those quarters were to that of the newer portion of the prison, this will create jokes and editorial cartoons about the Gaolers and prisoners standing upon two sides of a wall, each trying to push the door shut, as each thought they were the jailer.

Sand keeps falling into the canal that they are attempting to build. Work continues building a canal through the earth further to the west, but with a gap keeping it from the seaside portion of the canal. They want to find a way to shore it up first before letting the sea in.

The occupants of the former Convent are annoyed to find the canal will go right through their land. They approach the courts about stopping it, or at least getting them a large amount of compensation. A key factor in the case, if it is accepted, is who exactly had the rights to a convent that was not used by nuns and which would have been confiscated four or five times over the last century.

Charles II gives a charter to the Hudson Bay Company

Isaac Newton reads his 1st Optics paper before The Royal Society in London

England and France, having concluded a secret alliance, declare war on the Netherlands

Charles II accepts `The Test Act`. Roman Catholics are excluded from public functions and positions in England

The Dutch experience a sequence of victories against the English and French, including the various changes of hand for the small colony of New Amsterdamn and the burning of Charles flagship, `The Royal James

The unproductive and unpopular Third Anglo Dutch war is ended with minimal changes beyond the English acquisition of New Amsterdam, renamed New York after The Duke of York.

By the 1670s the shipyards of Northbridge are booming, as war is a constant in this decade, first with the Dutch, then with the French.

There is however one interruption in 1672 when a Dutch Man o War enters the Dubnus and burns the newly constructed 52 gun warship, `North Country`. The attack is short and does little real damage. The ruined hull of the ship, sticking out of the river like the ribs of an unearthed fossil, will be an attraction for the next 30 years, until the final pieces of the old ship rot into the sea

Cromwell Common is, perhaps unsurprisingly, renamed as the new Royalist regime establishes itself. Its name? As equally unsubtle as its former, King Charles Park.

The Earls Hunting Lodge, located adjacent to the Northwood Common, becomes known by common consent as `Northwood House`. A grand house built in the Palladian style, its aristocratic owners, enriched by an explosion of the popularity of the tobacco with which they do much dabbling, becomes the finest of the newly rising stately homes of the north.

Its gardens are massively expanded and the original designs of Inigo Jones completed with gusto.

The walls of eastern Blackburgh seem to have a rather bad time of it in this decade, not that anyone really cares-the civil war is over, why does anyone need walls………..

Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 2)

Two Peoples, One City (877 – 1066 AD)

The first act of Gunnar was to move the royal quarters to the Norse-dominated Vedhalla and use the old quarters as a barracks to keep the peace between the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen. Many of Gunnar’s early policies were bitterly unpopular with the Anglo-Saxons who believed he was secretly sponsoring Norse immigration to eventually overthrow the entire community, but Gunnar knew better than to upset the Anglo-Saxon majority and was primarily concerned with providing a steady flow of cash to Jorvik and as such encouraged new arrivals and trade which in the next few years would cause the Anglo-Saxons to quiet down as the community grew richer.

The Norse mostly stuck to Vedhalla and the newly-rebuilt docklands of Blæcburh, as fishermen, traders, and blacksmiths, while the Anglo-Saxons made up the farmers throughout Blæcburh and the hamlets. This unlikely cooperation between two different cultures led to both benefiting and adopting elements from one another, the Norse taught the Anglo-Saxons the ways of seafaring, while the Anglo-Saxons converted many Norse to Christianity, swelling the ranks of the local monastery.

Many Norsemen settled in the abandoned northern district of Blæcburh to the point where a pagan temple was built at the site of the old monastery. The Cult of Dubnus grumbles, yet no attacks on it happen for the time being.

The hamlet of Merdin grew, mostly due to new monks, as did the lakeside hamletwhich acquired the name Frocmere (a corruption of the Old English words for “frog pond”).

Northumbria experiences several decades of instability, as the Northumbrian Danes struggle to see off attacks by the English king Edward the Elder.

Thankfully however Blaecburh and the surrounding area is largely spared from further conflict, as the Vikings remain on top but increasingly are integrating with the Anglo-Saxon population.

Gunnar Njordsson oversees the construction of a simple wooden bridge across the St. Dubnus river to replace the old Roman stone bridge and this facilitates greater movement of peoples, leading to Anglo-Saxons and Vikings often living side by side.

Dirt roads in Blaecburh are expanded and in 910 a small market is established in the south of the inner-town.

In 914 Gunnar Njordsson mediates an agreement between the various religious groups present in the area. Deorwine’s Horn is placed in the church of the cult of St. Dubnus, whilst the head of St. Dubnus is placed in Merdin Monastery. Gunnar Njordsson also guarantees the right of all townspeople to worship wherever they wish, be that at the pagan temples in Vedhalla and north Blaecburh, or at the church of St. Dubnus and Merdin Monastery.

Blaecburh begins to recover from decades of conflict and as farms are expanded barns are built to hold crops.

An open field system is instituted to the west of the town, with the development of selions, each accompanied by a barn and farmhouse.

The population of Blaecburh grows once more, although this is at the expense of the surrounding hamlets where population growth remains fairly flat.

In 924, the ageing Guunnar Njordsson considers converting to Christianity.

blackborough10

Expansion occurs peacefully for a few years, including the addition of a tavern and store at the northern docks. Gunarr Njordsson dies in 935 before being able to convert to Christianity. His successor, Haraldr Sigurdrson, refuses to convert to Christianity and begins to show an anti-Christian stance, jeopardizing the stability of the town. The Cult of Dubnus uses this to their advantage, forming an anti-Pagan resistance to the town that seeks to restore Anglo-Saxon dominance to the region. They strike in 940, dressing up as bandits and raiding the monastery in Merdin, burning it to the ground and hiding certain manuscripts and treasures in a vault near the church. They later return and “rediscover” the head of Dubnus, which had been incased in a gold statue, bringing it back to their church. With it, they begin to have secret sacrifices to Dubnus so that he may bring the Saxons victory. After each sacrifice, the Saxons soon advanced into Jorvik. However, in 949, a Norseman catches on and witnesses the sacrifice. Before he can tell anyone, however, he is killed and his body, along with all the other sacrifices of the night, were hung from a tree near the Norse temple in Blæcburh. When the townfolk see the results of a “secret Norse sacrifice” they raise the temple to the ground and kill the priest. Chieftain Haraldr threatens severe repercussions as a Northumbrian force approaches Blæcburh.

In 950 AD, with a mighty force led by King Eadred approaching the town, Haraldr wisely avoids taking hasty action against the Anglo-Saxon insurrection. Seeing the writing on the wall Haraldr agrees to convert to Christianity and to swear allegiance to King Eadred.

This is enough to save Haraldr’s life but not his rule and King Eadred grants Blaecburh to Godwin, one of his Thanes. Haraldr buries his hoard of treasure in the forest North-West of Blaecburh, in the hopes of returning to recover it, but never gets the opportunity as he is forced into exile.

The hoard of treasure remains buried, its location known to no-one.

The Kingdom is once again divided under Eadred’s successor in 957 but united again under Edgar the Peaceful who returns stability to England.

The Cult of St. Dubnus, initially empowered by the conflict with the pagans, is forced underground by Godwin who disapproves of the cult and believes in the need for religious uniformity across England. The church is taken away from the Cult’s control although the head of St. Dubnus remains at the church.

In 963 AD Merdin Monastery is refounded under a Benedictine Order.

With the newfound peace in the town, gradual growth continues and in 970 AD several sheepfolds are established north of the town, leading to a boom in the wool industry.

In 976, King Edgar the Peaceful donates a large amount of stone, brick, glass, and wood to Blaecburh in reward for their fealty and loyalty. These donations primarily go to the renovation of and additions to the Church of St. Dubnus, but some townsfolk are able to obtain some materials and construct new homes in the city, raising the population.

In 981, the townsfolk of Vedhalla work on clearing ruins and debris of old buildings in town, and the nearby forestry is trimmed over the course of the decade.

In 984, the new King, Edmund, brings back the spirit of his deceased father Edgar, and donates stone to Merdin, allowing the townsfolk to construct a statue of the Virgin Mary outside of the Benedictine church.

In 989, a small tavern is built in Merdin, entertaining the few hundred people living in the town.

 

In the year 1000, a man named Knútr Haraldrson was born to a Christian Norse family in Vedhalla. He would grow up a devout Christian and leave to go try and convert the homeland of his ancestors in 1018. He doesn’t return for many years.

In 1004 a small band of devout norse pagans arrive to the north of Blæcburh and set up a small fishing settlement. They were driven from their homeland of Danemark as the king had converted enforcing harsh law on non Christians. The town, and island it is founded on, is named Rjöðray (clearing island).

Vedhalla, now almost entirely Christian, becomes a sanctuary for Norse Christians from the lands of Svithjod and Norge. The population grows, the primary immigrants being Swedes and several Finns, adding a distinctly Norse flare to the architecture.

In 1018 a Norse Longboat bringing over Christians from Scandinavia sinks just off shore, most, if not all, of the passengers survive, but the boat breaks in half and partially sinks. No one touches it yet.

Merdin, showing no signs of stopping growing, decides to build a small town meeting hall, to decide upon local matters to try and take things into their own hands and out of Blæcburh.

 

Pestilence and Prestige (1067 – 1469 AD)

In 1066, Edward the Confessor dies, leading to the events that land William the Conqueror on the throne of England. As the Normans invade, some of the citizens of Vedhalla commit suicide in the church. spilling blood in the rooms. When the Normans arrive, they see the church full of red blood, naming the town itself “Redhall” (as a variation on Vedhalla). The fort is completely decimated during the conquest, though most of Blaecburh escaped unharmed. In 1070, the Count of Northumbria, Robert, plans to build a new castle west of Blaecburh, begining with a massive forest clearing campaign.

The castle begins work in 1080, but halts activity in 1086 when the builders run out of material. It continues work again in 1093, after more people begin to work again. The plans have slightly changed since it’s inception, but the main branch is basically done.

The ruins near the circle of stones are found, and another small place of worship is founded as a mourning spot for deceased loved ones.

Redhall continues as it always had, even though much of the town is dead. Many of the ruins are tossed into the river or used to build new buildings, and a large cemetery is built to commemorate the lost ones.

Between the cistern and the castle’s church a statue of the recently deceased Duke Edwin is build. Additionally a small monument is erected near the castle gate, showing the family arms.

The palisade and the walls are finished but the ditch around the moat – and maybe someday the city – is not finished yet.

A fire destroyes one of the towers of the nearly finished castle in 1148. The tower ruin – nicknamed “hollow stone” would dominate the riverside for the years to come, eventually lending its name to the whole castle

The farmland inside the city walls is increased and more people settle along the street between the old Roman fort and the new castle. Another interessting part of Blæcburh is the area near the river. The northern piers get fortification and houses are build between them, giving Blæcburh its first real harbor area.

Blæcburh’s city gates are renovated. Between the harbor and the Old Pier a few Jews settle, becoming Blæcburh’s first Jewish inhabitants. They live in a quite corner on the outside of the Roman wall.

The city-garrison moves near the walls, or more precisely into the walls between the river wall and the Roman wall. One of the buildings formerly used by them becomes a church, the first inside the Roman city.

Sadly a fire costs the life of a dozen people in the city. Their houses are burned to the ground and a part of the city wall is damaged – but nothing that can’t be fixed.

Merdin gets a road that connects it better with Vedhalla. On the crossing of this road and the old Roman road a few people settle.

Three dozen people arrive in the city after fleeing from the civil war that is going on in England. Farmers are forced to give them shelter, which leads satisfies none. The duke promises that they soon will get a piece of land. That should solve the problem.

Blackborough13.png

The town expands slightly and work continues on the castle until a Scottish raid hits in 1195. The outer palisade is burnt down, and so is part of the inner one. Part of the town is sacked, although the Scottish are concentrated on the castle and leave most of it alone. The Scottish cannot penetrate the walls of the castle and quickly rout or are captured. Instead of rebuilding the walls, the lord of the town concentrates on further construction of the castle and his sheriff inside the inner palisade rebuilds his house larger. Several new sheep enclosures pop up.

Scottish raiders attack Blæcburh again in 1204, doing some damage to the northern part of the town before being beaten back.

Duke John decides to strenghten Blæcburh’s defense. The palisade is rebuild and the castle’s ditch is enlarged to surround the town. The castle itself is slightly enlarged, gaining two new smaller towers near the gate in the process. The tallest tower of the castle – the Hollow Stone – is finished as well.

Before the ditch was done the Scottish attacked again in 1220. This time Blæcburh was better prepared and the raiders did not get passed the palisade. Sadly Redhall wasn’t prepared as well.

Blæcburh’s market is enlarged, as well as the townhall. Much of the land inside the palisades is converted into farmland or pastures for sheep, to feed the growing population and to guarantee safety for the farmers.

Many refugees arrive.

In 1220 raiders burn down most of Redhall. Many people were able to flee into the woods, but they had nothing left. Their houses burned, their boats destroyed and their belongings gone, they seek help in Blæcburh.

After the construction of the castle, the palisade and the ditch the duke finds himself short of funds and so sells Redhall to the church, giving them the right to build a monastery their: the Monastery of Redhall.

In 1227 Henry III grants a charter to the market in the old Roman town, aiding its expansion. The market is now a vibrant centre of trade, particularly of fish and wool.

Between 1225 and 1235 forest is cleared and the open field system to the west of town is expanded, with hedgerows planted to demarcate boundaries between fields.

In 1230 the defensive moat around Hollow Stone castle and Blaecburh is completed.

In 1237 the Treaty of York is signed between Scotland and England, agreeing the border between the two countries.

More sheepcotes are built, leading to the development of cottage industries north of the town, although most wool produced is exported to the continent which leads to a slight expansion of the docks.

In 1244, King Henry musters an army in Blaecburh after the scots once again threaten the border.

In 1249, the Duke petitions the King for a tournament be held in Blaecburh to thank the town for it’s role in the defence of England.

In 1230 construction of the Monastery begins in Redhall but stalls two years later due to lack of men and materials. The first part of the monastery is finally completed in in 1243. Repairs to the town have been slow but things are finally starting to look up for Redhall.

With increased safety, Merdin is again expanding. Ruins are cleared, new houses and farms constructed, and a large tannery established.

Frocmere expands, and is quickly developing a rivalry with Redhall after a series of land disputes.

On the island of Rjöðray an outbreak of disease devastates the tiny isolated community, leaving only a handful of families remaining who become ever more insular and suspicious of outsiders.

From 1251 – 1252, a large jousting area is constructed immediately south of the Hollowstone Castle.

In 1253, a jousting tournament occurs and attracts young men from all over Blæcburh, Redhall, Merdin, and Frocmere. They compete over valiantly, but sadly a few are killed. The winner of the tournament is declared to be Edmund Holly, the son of a town merchant and fisherman. The Duke of Blæcburh congratulates him and formally knights him, making him Sir Edmund Holly.

Also in 1253, Henry III responds well to the tournament and officially grants Blæcburh a town charter, legitimising the town in the eyes of the English crown.

From about 1255 all the way into the mid 1260s, the area around the jousting arena attracts settlers and merchants. A few houses and farms are constructed, as well as some shops and a small chapel. These buildings coalesce to form a small village on the outskirts of town.

In 1263, a chapel is constructed a distance westward of Blæcburh, near the large cemetery.

In the late 1260s, Henry III increases persecution against Jews, such as increasing taxes greatly upon them and essentially taxing them dry. He does not expel them however and continues to use a few talented Jewish financiers to his benefit. Despite being allowed to stay, a few families leave Blackburh for Holland or France. Their homes fall into disrepair, but a few remaining Jewish families, and the community leaders themselves, elect to repair any abandoned houses in an effort to uphold their small village. The aging Duke notices these efforts and decides to ease their tax burden in return for their service.

Also in the 1260s, French nobleman Simon de Montfort wages a baronial war on Henry III. The Duke elects to remain loyal to the King and orders his urban barons to steer away from joining the rebellion. The rebellion ends in 1267 with Henry III eventually emerging victorious.

Due to his loyalty, Henry III gifts the Duke with numerous amounts of gold coin and resources in 1271 in order to beautify and strengthen Blæcburh.

From 1272 – 1275, the Duke uses these resources to fortify the palisades surrounding Hollow Wood castle, but fortification is suspended in 1275 upon the Duke’s death.

In 1279, the new Duke, named Thomas, allocates these gifted resources to Merdin, Redhall, and Frocmere.

In 1290, after years of increased persecution, the new King, Edward I, issues an edict expelling all Jews. Due to their good relationship with the Duke, the few Jewish families in Blackburh remain. However, they are forced to isolate themselves and practice their religion privately or risk angering the townsfolk. The townsfolk themselves only barely tolerate Jewish presence and any increased visibility from the Jews could push them over the edge and force the Duke to expel them.

In 1293, the northeast corner of Blackburh (as it is commonly now spelt) expands and a few wooden houses, small farms, and large well are constructed.

In 1296, a circular convent, named the Holy Convent of Kind Lady Agatha, is constructed in southern Blackburh.

Also in 1296, several men are levied by Duke Thomas in order to fight against the Kingdom of Scotland.

In 1280, Sir Edmund Holly is able to construct a small, comfortable manor in northern Merdin. He constructs a small private chapel within the house, and allows the exterior to be charmed with small gardens and a statue of the late Duke. He also builds a well for himself and his family.

In 1300, during a temporary truce with Scotland, the opportunity is taken to finish reinforcing the defences of Hollow Stone castle in anticipation of possible future attack.

A new sheep enclosure is built and a well dug to supply the farmlands west of town.

The houses and farms around the jousting arena expand.

The area immediately north of the old Roman walls is becoming increasingly heavily built up and a number of structurally questionable lean-tos in the inner town.

In 1310 a number of Jewish homes are taken over by new occupants, mainly fisherman, although a small handful of Jews remain practicing their faith in secret.

Some of the isolated ruins north of Blackburh degrade further.

Between 1310 and 1314 several relatively large new homes are built by wealthy wool merchants north of town.

Under Robert the Bruce the Scots find success at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and Blackburh is subsequently raided in 1323.

The town walls hold but the English force mustered to defend the town is humiliatingly defeated, large numbers of sheep and other livestock are carried away, pastures destroyed, and homes outside of the town walls burnt to the ground.

In 1302 the Benedictine monastery in Merdin buys up several neighbouring buildings, some of which are used for brewing beer by the monks.

In 1324 the standing stone circle (or “Crescent Hill” as it has come to be known) is agreed to mark the border between the villages of Frocmere and Redhall.

On the mainland dark rumors abound about evil Satanic black magic and ritual sacrifice being carried out on the tiny island now commonly called Rothray.

blackborough14

As the High Middle Ages come to a close, the good times enjoyed by Blackburh over the past few centuries will abruptly come to an end.

Due to the rapidly-expanding city of Blackburh dominating much of Northeast England, an ex-Bishop of Durham moves to the Church of Saint Dubnus in 1327 and it is expanded, with the hopes of a cathedral eventually being built.

The docklands are expanded and many sheepcrofts are rebuilt, with the treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton ending Scottish raids in the area.

Several commercial buildings are built within Hollowstone Castle’s gatehouse, attracted by its safety.

In 1335, a minor fire in the southern part of the inner town of Blackburh destroys many older lean-tos. The lean-tos are rebuilt as more structurally sound houses.

The Lord holds another jousting tournament in 1340. Following this, yearly fairgrounds are built next to the tournament grounds.

Spurred on by increased trade of metals and wool, more merchant houses are built in the north end of town.

The Black Death hits in 1349, devastating most of Blackburh, especially the inner town with its poor sanitation. Many of the survivors flee to the countryside and the Norse in Rothray are scapegoated. The Jews manage to conceal their faith so well that none of them are killed. Many farms inside the town walls get overgrown after their farmers die.

In 1326, due to increased demand for metals for warfare and coal for burning, due to the progressive deforestation of much of England, two bell-pits for iron mining are constructed. To process this iron, a water-powered bloomery is constructed on the Merdin Creek.

Following 1326, a mining boom occurs near the town, with much of the surrounding woods cleared for room for mines. A surface mine for coal is created.

Merdin grows increasingly important during this time, and a dock is built near the conflux of the Dubnus River and Merdin Creek. The Hollys expand their manor and a couple of selions are built.

In 1349, the Black Death hits, killing much of the population of Merdin, especially the monks. Many houses go abandoned and fields go overgrown. Only one iron pit is operational at the end of the year out of all of the mines. Regardless, Merdin suffers less than Blackburh, due to the more rural nature of the town.

Frocmere, now known as Frogmore to most of the inhabitants of the town remains a quiet place, only changed occasionally by the increasingly wild summer festival.

The antics at the summer festival reach their zenith in 1333, when a proto-football game between members of Frogmore and Redhall turns deadly, and a riot breaks out around Crescent Hill, burning several houses including the small shrine near the stone circle and killing several more. Following these events, the festival is banned, and a watchtower is set up on the site of the church. Rumors of the haunted hill become commonplace again.

As with the rest of the area, Frogmore becomes afflicted with the Black Death in 1349. Many die, and the church is abandoned, alongside several houses and a selion. Some turn to witchcraft to try to end the disease, and the watchtower near the stones secretly becomes a meeting place for witches and a small satanic shrine where ritual sacrifice is performed is built deep in the nearby woods.

Redhall grows slightly, and several farms are built near Crescent Hill, alongside the old town gaining several new buildings.

The last of the ruins crumble away.

The aforementioned riot between Frogmore and Redhall destroys most of the new farms around Crescent Hill.

The Black Plague strikes in 1349 and hits the town especially hard, due to the communal living of the monks and the fact that many people afflicted with the disease went to the monastery for aid. Many survivors either turn to witchcraft or scapegoat the residents of Rothray as the cause of the disease. Alongside Blackburh Redhall sent men to burn down Rothray in late 1349.

Very few people move to the isolated island during this period, fearing rumors of black magic-practicing residents.

In reality, the Norse pagan beliefs had become so integrated with the Christianity of the mainland that the religion practiced by the residents was distinct from either one. Some heretics and witches who were wanted on the mainland also moved to Rothray and contributed their beliefs to the diverse religion practiced by the residents.

Everything changed in 1349 when the Black Plague hit the area. Rothray, due to its isolation was able to escape the lion’s share of the disease, yet many mainlanders became bitter and jealous of the island’s well-being during hardships, and some thought that the residents of the town had a pact with the devil to preserve the island while the mainland suffered. These tensions came to a boiling point when in 1349, both Blackburh and Redhall sent men to burn down the town and kill everyone in a desperate attempt to please God and spare themselves from the disease. The town was completely obliterated and there were no survivors, save an old Norse pagan who hid in a small cave.

The period after the pestilence is is marked by regrowth and re-population, however an economic recession and demographic crisis, caused by the great labour shortage and over-abundance of land, threaten to plunge the region back into misery and dereliction.

From 1367 to 1371, a few Jewish families move into the derelict buildings in the northeast of town. A few suspicious gentiles murmur about Jews poisoning the wells, leading to the pestilence. These town members are scolded, being told that it was the Norse pagans that brought plague to the region, and that the Jews were a part of the curse just as the Christians were.

In 1370, a settlement pops up across the moat in the northern section of town. The village is an offshoot of the pasture lands farther north. A chapel is established on the side of the major road and a few houses are set up. A small fishery and shop is established on the moat front.

In 1373, many of the large tracts of farmland in the western reaches of the region fall victim to disrepair as their owners are stricken down with plague. The large tracts are divided by plague survivors and divided up by hedgerow.

In 1359, the Benedictine Monastery is repaired and re-inhabited. An clinic is established within the Monastery, as well as a smaller healer across the street.

The Merdin coal mines fall into disrepair. They are not abandoned, but since fewer people are working on the mines, fewer areas actually see action. Thus, the parts of the mine not really worked on are allowed to crumble.

In 1374, Joan Holly, Lady suo jure of the Holly Estate, buys up several derelict properties surrounding her home. She is able to give several laborers jobs, but at a high cost due to the labour shortage.

Frogmere is especially affected by the plague, losing 75% of its population.

In 1369, the Monastery demolishes its western face in order to save money in terms of upkeep. Furthermore, the population of the monastery remains greatly reduced to a point that much of the building is useless.

From about 1372 to 1374, Redhall is truly devastated by the second plague devastation, more so than any other town. Only a few houses dodge the disease, but for the most part, Redhall is destroyed.

Duke Henry I remarks that Redhall should simply be abandoned and its remaining inhabitants move into Blackburh or Merdin.

Nature reclaims many abandoned homes and farms.

In 1358, The ruins of Old Rothray are cleared and a new English settlement is erected, with a few homes and farms being constructed.

Due to isolation, Rothray escapes the plague visitations of 1361 and 1373.

In 1377, the Bishop of Blackburh, recently moved from Durham, decides that none of the churches in the area are up to the standards of a Bishop, and that God should be praised for the town surviving the Pestilence (mainly the first one though). So, with the Duke’s permission, Redhall Monastery as well as the houses and ruins around there are torn down, to make way for the St. Canute Cathedral, named for the Anglo-Norse Christian born in Redhall, who was instrumental in the conversion of Scandinavia to Catholicism. The church is designed after the one in Merdin, as well as the great Cathedrals of Paris and Santiago. The graveyard is moved to the south-west side of the church. Many people from the area move to Redhall to aid in construction, further depleting their sources, and being the cause that their growth is so slow.

A full time hospital, the first in the area, is also built to aid the sick and survivors of the Pestilence. A wing of the hospital holds the displaced monks of the monastery, who will move into the Cathedral upon completion. Many houses are built, really little more than shacks, to house the workers, so naturally traders follow to profit off the population. Redhall finally seems to be over its streak of bad luck.

The construction of the so-called “Frog’s Pond Canal” is continued, with a small lake forming due to the lower elevation. After discovering a small Satanist hideout in the woods, the conspirators are kicked out, and the building is converted into a small Catholic church.

The old castle Hollow Stone looks now rather unfashionable. It is decided to renovate it and give it a nice and pretty Gothic design. The outer walls are rebuild as well and the castle is to be enlarged southwards.

The great hall and the ducal chambers are one of the first things to be rebuild. Were the earlier in the northern wing of the castle, are they now moved to the west wing. Besides the great hall not much is completed by the end of the decade.

Quite a lot of people move into Blackborough, as it has come to be spelt by the 15th century. Many are builders that came to the city to help with the construction of various projects in Blackborough and Redhall. Others are merchants and fishermen.

Some households begin to have little hadgerows around their piece of land, forming small gardens, mostly for vegetables.

It is getting pretty tight inside the old Roman walls. Some small old hoods are destroyed and larger and taller building are build instead. The Roman wall is not in good shape anymore and is used by some as a query whenever they need some bricks and stones for their own homes.

The townhall is enlarged on the cost of a few small houses. A part of the Roman wall is integrated into the townhall. Commonly the older and newer part of the building are called marketside and wallside. Wallside being the more representative, with a gothic portal in the and a newly constructed tower upon the Roman wall, whereas marketside has visible timber framing and an older more rustic look to it.

South of the townhall and the Roman wall a new market square begins to emerge – future foreigners will therefore be very confused about the terms “wallside” and “marketside”. The new market square encompasses even the area to the east of the Church of St. Dubnus, which got an overwhaul and now faces east. In front of the church a few marketstalls have already opened.

William Hayston, a wealthy man from a even wealthier family of salesmen, builds an impressive house near the wallside of the townhall; showing his wealth and power.

Before the last cross was hung on the wall in 1420 the bishop decided to enlarge the cathedral. Mostly financed by wealthy donars, who want to avoid the plague and hell by donating to the church, the building is mostly enlarged eastwards, whereas the westside gains mostly more decorative elements and a few more chambers for the clergy. The cathedral is a large construction site by the end of the decade.

The canal in west of the palisades is completed and connects Hollow Wood castle with the St. Dubnus river. Some flooding occurs in the low-altitude ditches and slopes surrounding the castle.

The newly created island that rests west of the palisades and south of the Castle and former jousting arena is named Westburgh in 1433.

John Stonewall, third son of Sir James Stonewall of Holly, constructs a quaint manor home in Westburgh, and marks the boundary of his home and farm with hedgerow.

A bridge between Merdin and Westburgh begins construction in 1437.

Merdin is given a town charter by King Henry VI in 1438.

blackborough-15

The Burgesses of the town, having the right to elect 7 Aldermen who also serve as justices of the Peace, of whom the leader shall be the Mayor, begin to keep records in this time of the regular borough courts held in the Town Hall.

A local merchant, returning from London, presents to the Aldermen of the city a proposal that the city should join the prosperous trading network of cities encircling the North Sea, The Hanseatic League. In 1447 the council dispatch an envoy to Lubec to discuss terms

The Burghers of Blackborough, meeting in the `Jolly Pony` tavern, near the St Dubnus bridge, announce the formation of a Guild. Combining the blacksmiths, tanners and merchants of the city, it represents the majority of the small but burgeoning merchant class in the city.

They immediately proceed to look for more commodious lodgings for their Guild.

The St Dubnus bridge is increasingly becoming a residential area in its own right, of less than salubrious character. Characterised by unsafe structures that are of extremely poor construction, that often overhang the edges of the bridge and seem to hover above the water itself.

bridge.jpg

In 1449, privateers under the pay of the French crown, briefly land a small force in Northbridge, making off with crops and burning some buildings. The king, petitioned by the Burgesses of the town, grants funds to construct a small boatyard. By years end an extremely modest yard with a single berth is underconstruction with plans for a royal barge, named the `Gracious Henry`, to protect the river.

The Lord of the castle petitions the King for sole hunting rights in the forest to the north. This is granted with very little reference to the acutal boundaries of the grant. The townsfolk are much discontented.

The Guild of Blackborough purchase a patch of bare land in the east of the village, including the hovels of a small number of the residents. Plans are drawn up for a Guildhall in the plot, with the best German architect brought in to plan a suitably grand building

The lord of the Manor of Stonewall dies, leaving a number of bequests in his will. One, is for the chantry of the newly constructed Cathedral of St Canute to say prayers for his immortal soul, another is a sum of money for a school to be built `for the betterment of the poor children of the district`

As the decade progresses, increading numbers of slaughterhouses spring up beneath the castle gates to deal with the growth in cattle driven in from the north. The Guild of Blackborough considers the construction of a dedicated meat market-cum-slaughterhouse.

A small wooden footbridge is built by cattle drivers for the ease of access to the markets

In 1469, after decades the castle of Blackborough finally is a mighty stronghold again. The southern and eastern walls are finally finished and the moat now tightly follows the shape of the castle, reducing the risk of an successful attack.

It really is a nice Gothic looking castle – very pointy and all that. The lords daughter-in-law speaks about some new fashions from Italy. To quote the lord: “Mathilda, I don’t believe that this architecture will ever go out of fashion. What do these snobby Italians call this new stuff again? It is unpronounceable.”

The old bridge that connects the castle with the town is replaced by a heavily fortified stone bridge with guard houses on the other side of the moat. Some areas that were formerly needed for defence purposes are now converted into gardens for the noble family and their guests.

A bridge connects Hollowstone with Westburgh and a palisade is build to defend the settlement, which becomes part of Blackborough. In close proximity to the castle the Great Guild Hall of the town is build.

These are two decades of great growth for Blackborough. The four main areas of growth are:

Westburgh: this island is now the home of the Great Guild hall and close to Hollowstone and all travelers from the west have to pass it when entering the town.

Castle Street: the area between Hollowstone and the Roman fort is one of the most important and most prestigious streets of the town.

The Docklands: a poorer area of the town it is nevertheless growing. Here live the Jews, the fishers and workers of Blackborough.

Market Square: some docks are build here and a ferry house. This area is the centre of commerce. Market stalls stand on this square in front of the townhall, St. Dubnus Church and the river.

A Grammar school is built. This is the first building solely dedicated to education. Previously pupils met in various locations, often in st. Dubnus Church or a wealthy merchant home.

The school’s location on the main street was choosen because it lays in the middle of the homes of the two families that financed it – the Stonewalls and the Haystons.

Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 1)

(The story of the entirely fictional town of Blackborough is the work of a number of talented contributors at alternatehistory.com. I have made only minor edits to the finished project for the sake of length and clarity. My thanks to everyone who helped to build this city.)

blackborough-anotated-final

Roman Frontier (208 – 524 AD)

In 208 AD the Roman Emperor Severus arrives in Britain to conquer Caledonia. The Emperor orders a bridge be built across a river on the north-east coast of Britannia in order to allow the Roman army to travel north to Caledonia more easily. Parts of the forest on the north bank of the river are cleared to make way for the road and bridge through the area.

In 211 AD Severus’s campaign is cut short when he falls ill, Severus withdraws south to Eboracum and dies there on the 4th of February.

The campaign in Caledonia ends shortly afterwards, with the Romans falling back to Hadrian’s wall. Plans begin to be discussed to build a fort in this area, as part of a second line of defense against raids by the Caledonian tribes.

In 226 the Roman fort of Muro Orientem is established on the north bank of the river by the VI “Victorious” Legion, who quickly set up two barracks by the main entrance of the fort.

By 249 AD, the population has risen to 103 citizens (78 of which are civilians) and a market is established for trading goods and food.

blackborough2

By 258 farms are established to supply the fort with food.

In 265, a Caledonian raid almost breached the walls, prompting the legions there to thicken the walls.

In 267, an aqueduct was built to supply the people with fresh water.

In 273, a small dock was built for transportation and fishing needs.

Soon after the Cyprian Plague arrived in the region, a deeply unpleasant disease that wipes out about a sixth of the town’s population.

The plague initially caused food shortages due to a lack of men working the land but these shortages are alleviated somewhat when a number of members of a local Brigante tribe move into the area, drawn by opportunities for trade and employment at the Roman castra. Concerned by reports of Saxon raids on the east coast the Brigantes seek to settle close to the protection of the Roman legion.

From 280 AD onwards, farms are established by the Brigantes close to the walls of the castra, and in 286 the Romans permit a corall to be built attached to the walls, keeping Celtic Shorthorn Cattle.

Within the castra, the population slowly begins to recover from the Plague.

Many Caledonian and Brigante women settle in the camp, either drawn by the prospect of an easy living or captured during raids, and the population of the town increasingly becomes mixed Romano-British in origin.

Areas of forest around the town were cleared to improve lines of sight in case of attack and in 286 AD river flooding causes a partial collapse of the bridge.

In 297 AD one of the soldiers based at Muro Orientem begins privately practicing Christianity. He will be the first of many .

blackborough3

In the next century bans on Christianity in the Roman Empire are lifted and the seat of the Empire shifts eastward to the old market city of Byzantium.

This lifting of the ban allows Christians to feel more at ease with practicing their faith openly, although the main faith is still that dedicated to Mithra, as the cult has remained strong in the fort town. The Brigantes mostly celebrate their personal ascended heroes and deities, although the tribe collectively all worship Victoria Brigantia, their own goddess of victory. Both deities get a small shrine in their respective area whilst the Christians typically pray in private homes

More of the Britons settle peacefully in the area as Goidellic and Saxon raids force them into the town’s protection. In response, some watch towers with vigils were constructed along the road to keep the road and area safe, especially near the bridge.

In the 4th century he Christian population of the town grows from paltry to modest, converting a retired soldier’s house into a permanent church and establishing a graveyard, rejecting traditional cremation, just outside the walls.

Meanwhile, Britgantes continue to cluster around the fortress town as Saxon raiding increases. The local economy begins to rely more on trade of pottery brought in from Eboracum (and originating from points south) and local metalwork, a small smith having been established for this purpose near the south gate, for British foodstuffs and meat rather than produce grown within the walls.

Increasingly alarmed at the growing British population in the region, the watchtower on the North end of the bridge was expanded and given a palisade near the end of the 340s, both in hopes of controlling tribal movement and collecting tolls.

In 356, Emporer Constantinus II issues a decree closing all pagan temples, and banning the veneration of non-Christian images. The Mithraic population of the town is angered, and whilst some decide to convert to Christianity the old temples continue to ring with pagan ceremony.

blackborough4

In 393, a dock is built on the east bank of the river mouth, allowing farms to be built closer to the beach.

In 395, the Roman Emperor orders a statue be built in his honour, placed in the central junction of the town. By this time the population of the town is nearly a thousand.

At the start of the fifth century the legion, like so many forces in Britannia, are withdrawn to the continent. This was largely due to two factors: the first is that the armies were coveted by an enterprising General seeking to become Emperor. The second is that the protection of Gaul and Italia was to be prioritised. This leaves the hybrid Romano-British as the plurality alongside the Brigante, with very few Romans still around.

Mithraism in the town is on the wane as Christians slowly convert the townsfolk. This is mostly due to the fact that the mainstay of the faith, the old roman families, have left. The Christians decide to rededicate the small shrine of Mithra to Christ. However, the small standing stone dedicated to Brigantia remains a spiritual centre for those pagans still in the city. At this point the tribesmen are seen as full citizens having lived there since their grandfathers settled the area.

Older legionnaires who refused the call and stayed behind began training the tribesmen into disciplined units based on what they knew and what they had available. These forces were supplemented by those Romano-British who wished to defend their homelands from raiders. It’s somewhat ad-hoc, but through these means, a small defence force is still available. In terms of size, it would be about two-thirds of a century fully mobilized, a far cry from the legion that stayed behind the wall, but better than nothing. At this point, one of the barracks is disassembled for building materials and walling, while the other barracks remains in the hands of the townsmen, who are increasingly operating on their own.

The town by this point begins to grow outside of the fort proper. This comes from people who fled from Damnonia or Rheged, two sections that experience bad raids by the Goidels and the Picts. This means that while overall the population dips noticeably, technically it’s more of a town as we know it now rather than a fort.The smithy grows slightly, as the smith becomes wealthier due to being the only person who can make metal implements readily available now.

In 456 heavy rains cause flooding, leading to the collapse of the dock on the southern bank, and part of the aqueduct.

With the departure of the Romans, no one in the town has the expertise to repair the aqueduct.

Following the flood, the standing stone to Brigantia in the centre of the town is destroyed by angry Christians. The remaining pagan population is now forced to use the standing stones outside of town for worship.

More areas of forest are cleared to make way for new farms.

As one of the few towns in the area that has not yet been raided by Saxons, Britons flock to the protection of Muro Orientem.

blackborough5

In 482 AD an Anglo-Saxon raiding party from the south sails into the mouth of the river and attacks the town.

In the ensuing battle for the town many farms and homes outside of the town walls are burned and looted, as well as the church and one of the old Roman guard posts.

One brave/stubborn townsperson by the name of Dubnus refuses to leave the church during the attack and blocks the door way, singing and praying to God.

The invaders cut off Dubnus’ head where he stands and toss his remains into the river, but (according to several townspeople) his head continues singing the praises of the Lord even as it bobs down the river and is subsequently recovered from the water. The head is placed in the shrine inside the town walls after the battle and St. Dubnus is venerated by Christians from miles around, becoming an early English Christian Martyr.

The Anglo-Saxons attempt to raze the Roman walls to the ground, but the walls hold against the onslaught, albeit blackened and scorched by flame, and after several days of fierce fighting, the Britons ultimately prevail and drive off the Anglo-Saxons. The would-be invaders begin calling the town Blæcburh (literally “blackened fortified town”) in reference to the scorched walls.

The townspeople, angry that they had to face off this threat alone, pull down the statue of the Emperor in the centre of town and dump it in a ditch in the forest, where it may remain lost for centuries.

Shortly after the Battle of Blæcburh the Anglo-Saxons lose another, more important battle, the Battle of Badon, bringing about a temporary reprieve for the Britons.

The first decade of the 6th Century is a time of peace for the town. The townsfolk are not idle. They reinforce the blackened walls with earthworks, on both sides. Wooden palisades are erected around the areas of the town outside the walls. It is during this period that rumours come from the south of a chieftain or King named Artorius organising the Britons to drive back the Saxon tide.

For the next ten years Saxon forces come up. The town continues to hold.

In 523 a permanent Saxon camp is established on the south side of the bridge.

In October 524 the Saxons launch their final attack the town. Like all previous attempts the Saxons are unable to pierce the walls. That is until the town is betrayed.

Some Pagan Britons turn on their Christian neighbours, causing dissension within the town. Other Pagans open the gates, allowing the Saxon chief to lead his force into the town.

The town is occupied.

Saxon Blæcburh (525 – 876 AD)

The Saxon village’s population begins to move into the town. As they do so, many Britons head North, leaving room for more Saxons to move in, who officially rename the town. The local Chieftan builds a giant house in the center of town that serves as his home and as a meeting place for court cases (in a sense, an early castle). Many people also begin to move within the city walls, filling out the empty space within. Talks of building a larger, outer wall are made, but do not see any action yet. However, the town is not completely converted over to Saxon culture, as the locals begin adopting the name of “Dubnus” as the river name after the legendary townsperson whose head continued to sing even as ut floated down the river.

In 550 AD Blæcburh is absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Bernicia, ruled by King Ida. King Ida permits the Saxon leader who conquered the town to remain as its local ruler in exchange for committing men to aid King Ida’s ambition of expanding his kingdom further inland.

As such Blæcburh becomes an important beach head for Anglo-Saxon campaigns against the Britons to the west, and a large outer fortification is built made up of a steep bank topped by a palisade of wooden stakes.

Areas of forest are hacked down in the construction of the palisade, and part of the old Roman Aqueduct is cannibalized for stone to reinforce the newly constructed bank.

Several of the British traders who had flourished for generations under the Romans are forced to work the farms to keep the Anglo-Saxon warriors fed, however at the same time the demand for blacksmiths and bladesmiths increases.

Several ruined buildings crumble further.

blackborough6

On September 20, 582 AD, the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Blæcburh, a local man finds the ancient statue of the Roman Emperor whilst chopping wood . He then goes on to claim that the ghost of St. Dubnus lead him to it and said that it was to be readorned as a statue of Dubnus and that he would someday return to help fend off invaders from Albion once more. The statue is taken outside of the village and erected there (since the Anglo-Saxons aren’t keen on putting a statue of an enemy in the center of town). September 20 officially becomes a day of celebrating the bravery of St. Dubnus.

Between the years of 583 and 599, the farmland is expanded outside of the walls and more Anglo-Saxons occupy the town.

In 604 AD King Aethelfrith unites Bernicia and Deira to form the Kingdom of Northumbria, however in 616 AD Aethelfrith is defeated by King Raedwald, who places Edwin on the throne of Northumbria.

Over the following years Edwin conquers a number of neighbouring Briton Kingdoms and Blæcburh benefits from Edwin’s successes, becoming a moderately important town in the powerful new Kingdom of Northumbria.

The farmlands surrounding the town are once again expanded and a small well is dug to supply the farmlands on the north side of the road.

A number of crumbling old Roman homes in the town are replaced with new buildings.

In 620 AD, smallpox arrives in the town, and over the next two years kills more than two hundred people.

King Edwin plans to marry the sister of King Eadbald, but in order to do so he will have to convert to Christianity.

In the 620s a group of Byzantine traders arrive in the area and settle across the river from the town proper, calling their settlement Vedras after the roman name for the river. In 643 AD construction begins on a monastery, using part of the old standing stones, and incorporating the rest and in 645 a graveyard is added.

Saxons in the town begin to accept Christianity with many converting.

In 675, the Cult of Dubnus is established, worshiping the Saint as a protector Deity of England and the descendant of the Roman Emperors (something established when the statue was rediscovered).

In 682, on the two hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Dubnus, the cult attacks and burns down the trading settlement of Vedras and its Monastery, claiming it was beginning to take away Dubnus’ spirit from the town. During the raid, Benedict Biscop is killed. A few members, however, save some of the scrolls from his collection and store them in the town church with intentions to make a new Monastery dedicated solely to St Dubnus and not St. Peter. Those that survive the attack move into the city, along with many other immigrants.

In 684, the fairgrounds are expanded along with a few farms and a new inn is added by the fair to house travelling merchants.

Despite the cracks that were appearing in the Kingdom of Northumbria at the time, Blæcburh experiences a period of peace and prosperity, becoming a major trade centre on the Dubnus River.

Another dock springs up north of the Roman walls to accommodate this influx of trade.

With the newfound influx of wealth, the chief’s daughter, Hild becomes abbess of St. Dubnus’ Monastery and a separate quarters for nuns is created, along with a small chapel and graveyard.

The last vestiges of the Byzantine traders disappear, with the final Byzantines interbreeding with local Anglo-Saxons to the point where the majority of their culture disappeared. The community on the east bank of the river continues to be called “Vedra”, the last legacy of it’s Roman heritage.

The area surrounding the stone circle becomes overgrown with a young forest. Some even say that the area is haunted due to its bloody history.

In the midst of the peace and prosperity, residents of Blæcburh see little need to have two watchtowers near the Roman bridge. The south one is gradually abandoned until by the 770s, it is little more than an aging hulk of stone. The final remnants of its stone are used to crudely repair part of the Roman wall after it crumbles due to the combined brunt of raids, flooding, and age.

Even in the twilight of Northumbria’s golden age, oral poetry becomes more popular than ever, and some monks in the newly-expanded monastery begin to write this down, especially religious poems, though one monk in secretly pens the popular tale of Beowulf.

The continental Saxon Wars trouble the people only slightly, with a few refugees–almost all those who had already converted to Christianity and were caught up in the war–arriving in town.

The monastery is expanded upon, with the living quarters adding several stories to become a belfry as well. Otherwise, the late 770s and 780s pass largely uneventfully save for the gradual decline in central power. Monks pass the time by recording and inventing riddles in secular manuscripts.

In 790, Charlemagne–having rebuffed in an offer of marriage for his son Charles the Younger by Offa of Mercia–receives a better offer from the King of Northumbria and accepts. Having prayed to St. Dubnus (as he needed to strengthen his weakened position), the grateful king donates a beautiful altar screen to the monastery’s chapel.

In 793, dreadful news arrives from the north: the holy island of Lindisfarne has been attacked by savage heathens referred to vaguely as Northmen or Danes.

The following year, longships appear in the Dubnus.

The Viking attack is rapid, probably hurried, and it is this that saves the town from total destruction. The heathens land at the north dock and at the harbor gate of the town, using primitive siege weapons to breach the weakened town walls. Their primary targets are the monastery, churches, and castle, but anyone who gets in their way is cut down. The monastery is sacked, with the chapel shattered, the monks’ quarters collapsed, and the nuns’ quarters heavily damaged (though it survives, barely). The altar screen is taken in pieces to be melted down or used as jewelry. In the city, a fire sweeps through the eastern side, and the Vikings attack the church, just enough to tear it down and steal all valuables. The fishing village is sacked. The invaders retreat then, almost as quickly as they came, paying no attention to Vedras. Only a few Vikings were killed; most of the cavalry and huscarls were slain in return, along with many, many civilians. Some of the monks survived, however, by being in the loft and belfry of the quarters, with the ladder up where they could not be reached. Important manuscripts are saved.

Rebuilding is rapid within the walls, with a new church and new houses springing up (though the wall is now beyond the skill of any artisans in the town to fix). Paranoid about the attacks, the chief establishes a formal army training ground on the square by the docks, where a piece of the old church has been set up as a makeshift monument. A new dock is built. Some of the survivors migrate to the Vedras area to start over. Others leave. No new attacks come…yet.

blackborough8

The next decade passes without further Viking raids and Blaecburh slowly repairs and rebuilds.

The outer walls are rebuilt however the townspeople lack the expertise or materials to effectively repair the inner Roman wall and instead plug the gap with a mound of earth and simple palisade.

The nun’s quarters are repaired and a small annex built for the surviving monks.

The people of Blaecburh and Vedras (now anglicised to Vedram) remain fearful of further attacks and there is a steady flight away from the coast, with the fishing village largely abandoned and many people leaving the town or resettling within the inner walls.

In 812 AD the worst fears of the townspeople are realised when the Vikings return. However fortunately for the town the Vikings come in small numbers for a hit-and run raid against the monastery.

The exact circumstances are lost to history but the version of events which passes into legend is that a Viking longboat was wrecked upon the shore several miles to the north, and that the Vikings sought to capture women from Blaecburh to keep themselves entertained until they could repair their ship and return home.

One of the men of the town, bitter at having been spurned by a nun at the monastery, opens the north gate to the Vikings out of spite and the Vikings raid the monastery, slaughtering the remaining monks and kidnapping several nuns.

What really happened next is open to debate. Perhaps the fighting men of the town managed to track down and defeat the small Viking party, with some of the remaining nuns from the monastery accompanying them in order to help identify their missing sisters. However the version of events that becomes widely told (and will one day be immortalized by a certain bard) is that the nuns, filled with righteous divine fury, chased down and killed the Viking raiders themselves. Regardless of the truth, the story of “The Battling Nuns of Blaecburh” proves popular and ultimately passes into legend.

The following years bring a temporary reprieve from further raids, although the population of the town continues to flat-line as births barely match the numbers of people leaving.

In 820 AD refugees from Iona arrive in the area, establishing a small hamlet to the south-west.

It is rapidly becoming clear, even in sleepy Blæcburh, that the “Anglo-Saxon Golden Age” has ended, and a new age had begun, one where the Anglo-Saxons would gradually come to fear a ferocious enemy, more and more often…

Northumbria accepts the hegemony of Wessex at the town of Dore in 826. However, this doesn’t impact Blæcburh very much.

The exodus from Blæcburh continues, with many residents deciding that potential death by a Viking sword was less attractive than living outside the city walls and not having as much protection from wild beasts and such. Many Blæcburhans choose a less radical option than living in the wilderness by moving outside the town walls, but living close enough to Blæcburh for help in case of an emergency. Many move to the Ionan refugee hamlet, and a new hamlet is formed next to the small lake on the south bank of the Dubnus River.

The earl of Blæcburh, Deorwine decides to rebuild the section of the palisade that was taken down when the docklands were constructed to defend better against possible Norse raids.

Most of the remains of the old fishing/trading settlement at Vedram either have crumbled into the sand by now or have been swept away into the sea.

As more people move inside the Roman walls, a new well is dug.

To further protect against raids, two new watchtowers are built, one near the north gate of the town and one far to the north of the town, at the mouth of the Dubnus. A larger stable is also built in the southwest corner of the walls.

In 848, however, residents of Blæcburh awoke just before dawn to the horrible sounds of the largest longship fleet assembled so far in the Dubnus sail into the estuary. The fleet was not a hastily-planned raid, but a full-fledged attack. The signal fire at the far northern tower was lit, but it was too little, too late and shortly afterwards, the tower was overrun and the guard was slaughtered.

What followed next was complete and utter chaos. Monks and nuns rapidly fled the monastery and some hastily hid the treasures and books in latrines and holes while the garrison assembled at the north gate. The walls were set on fire by flaming arrows and were soon breached. The garrison fought bravely and to the last man, but were eventually overwhelmed by a smaller surprise party of Norse warriors closing in from the south, surrounding them and eventually slaughtering the vast majority of them. They then closed in on the inner walls, looting and burning much of the outer town and eager with bloodthirsty rage to plunder the inner town. The paltry defensive force, led by Earl Deorwine himself gathered near the makeshift patch in the wall. The Norse quickly broke through the patch and engaged the Anglo-Saxon force. Fierce fighting ensued, yet many Norse abandoned the carnage to loot the town, evening the odds a bit. Despite this, the Saxon force found itself quickly outnumbered, and the earl blew his war horn in a desperate call to victory before being stabbed in the back by a Norseman. The true story of what happened next was lost to history, but according to an old monk hiding in a nearby home, the spirit of Saint Dubnus the Musical himself, leading an army of Christian martyrs came through the streets and passed through the bloodbath, empowering the earl’s son, Cyneburg, to lop the head of his father’s killer clean off, pick up his horn and blow a note through it that was “straight from heaven”. The remaining Anglo-Saxons then rallied and slaughtered the Norsemen attacking them, parading through the streets with Cyneburg blowing the now-hallowed horn, and mopping up the remains of the Norse force, singing in praise all the while.

The battle was over, but it had grave consequences for the town. Nearly all of the remaining farms outside of the Roman wall were torched from the fire started by the burning palisade, the monastery and nunnery were obliterated, parts of the wall had crumbled, and even the old Roman bridge partially collapsed. The town’s population had fallen in the hundreds. Cyneburg was hailed as a hero and Deorwine became a martyr, yet many of the town’s residents wondered if Blæcburh could survive, despite the miraculous battle.

The next few years were harsh. With many of the farms gone, the town had struggled to feed itself, but eventually prevailed. The exodus to the countryside continued, with many of the farmers relocating to the two new hamlets (someone please name them soon, I am garbage with place names).

The surviving monks and nuns decide to relocate their monastery to the southwestern hamlet, as many people there had a monastic background and were glad to become monks again. Besides that, it was shielded, by the forest from the Norse. Deorwine’s horn is taken there, along with many of the hidden manuscripts and treasures.

Rebuilding continued uninterrupted for the next few years.

As the Kingdom of Northumbria breathes its last breaths and the Norse change from an attitude of raiding to an attitude of conquest and colonization, Blæcburh is definately affected, but not in the ways one might think.

In 876, a raiding party of Vikings coming from the south, led by Halfdan Ragnarsson, King of Jorvik marches to Blæcburh to plunder local monestaries. The old earl Cyneburg, in an event that would further solidify him as a local hero, met Halfdan south of Blæcburh and allowed him to appoint a follower as a ruler of Blæcburh and its environs and would collect tribute for the Kingdom of Jorvik to the south. Though Cyneburg was essentially stepping down and offering the city up to pagan rulers, he saw that Blæcburh could not survive many more attacks by Norsemen, and he achieved the favor of many, though some pious clergy scoffed at him, though the monks were secretly grateful (the monastery would’ve been destroyed AGAIN). Halfdan accepted and after several months, a follower of Halfdan, Gunnar Njordsson came up to Blæcburh to rule. Cyneburg spent the final year of his life as a farmer before dying a humble death.

blackborough9