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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Runaway Elephant in Swindon in 1861

It was with glee that I tore into my purchase from, ripping off the packaging to reveal a wonderful antique object;

‘The London Journal’ of 1861;

Being the entire year of 1861 publications of The London Journal bound in one volume.

Magazines and newspapers from the Victorian era are fantastic time capsule-esque pieces of history, effectively a snapshot of the time in a similar way to photographs. With a lot of the stories being small snippets of news, volumes like these are full of events that would otherwise be lost to history entirely.

For example, last night I came upon the following story:

“Cookes circus was performing at Swindon, and whilst on the road near the town, the lad who rode the elephant dismounted to inspect the work of a person who was flaying a horse which had been killed by the roadside. It is supposed the scent of blood affected the elephant, for, with head and tail erect, the beast rushed through a strong hedge out of the road and across some fields. The keeper in alarm followed it, crying “Stop her! Stop her!” a request which was decidedly unheeded, as the persons who witnessed the approach of the elephant took flight themselves at the sight of such an unusual monster traversing the pastures of North Wilts.
The beast was fortunately secured by its keeper without having done any harm.”

The London Journal was published weekly from 1845 to 1928 at a cost of one penny, by the mid 1850’s the circulation of The London Journal was 500,000.
By 1883 it had transformed itself from being a “penny family weekly” into what was recognizably a “woman’s magazine”.

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