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

 

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