The Watts Monument tells the story of young David Selves's death briefly and simply:
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The choice of 10 parks for south-east London includes Deptford Park, which hopes to add a new pergola, shelter and seating as well as a picture meadow, fruit trees and community food plots, and to improve the play area. However, it will have to be in the south-east's top two to get funding: if you want to support it or any of the other 46 parks you can choose from, vote here. Don't forget that you only have one vote, use it carefully!
Stolen (or Strayed) on the 1st of this instant July out of the Grounds of Mr Thomas Barrs at Deptford in Kent, a Nutmeg Grey Gelding, full Aged, about 14 hands and a half high, a bold Countenance, something Flea Bitten about the Neck, a whisk Tayl, a hurt on his oft Leg behind, in the Fetlock Joynt, all his paces. If discovered (so as to be had again) to Mr Tho Barrs aforesaid, or to Mr Thompsons Livery Stables at the black Horse in Hounds-Ditch, shall have a Guinea Reward and charges.
Happily, on my visit at least, the Grévin didn’t have the ridiculously long queues its London cousin usually does. I was soon through the doors and into the impressive entrance with its grand staircase and ornate mirrors. Upstairs, visitors are ushered into a small, apparently circular and very dark room. Soon, there is an announcement and the show begins. As lights appear, it becomes apparent that the room is actually hexagonal and mirrored; clever use of lights and a few models turn the space into a forest and a vast palace. What is even more impressive is that this attraction is Edwardian, created for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 (although the actual show content is updated from time to time). You can see how it’s done, there is only a small amount of technology (electric lighting, sound and a few moving parts), and yet the effect is utterly magical. Everyone was impressed, right up until the loud voice telling everyone to move along broke the spell!
The Grévin’s theatre has hosted stars including Charlie Chaplin, Mistinguett, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Marcel Marceau and Josephine Baker. All have left souvenirs which are on display, while the theatre itself now has an audience of waxworks. The rest of the museum has waxwork-populated scenes including Bernard-Henri Levy, Jean-Paul Sartre and Ernest Hemingway hanging out in a bar; Auguste Rodin in his studio sculpting Pablo Picasso; a bistro where chef Bernard Loiseau pours champagne for Marguerite Yourcenar while Jean-Paul Gaultier chats with Maria Callas; and a wonderful and non-chronological selection of historical tableaux including Enlightenment greats sharing conversation, Henri IV being assassinated by Francois Ravaillac, and Marie Antoinette on trial in the shadow of the guillotine. Contemporary personalities also appear – from Nicolas Sarkozy to Zinadine Zidane – very much in the original spirit of the museum, which was founded by journalist Arthur Meyer to show the newsworthy figures of the day in three dimensions. (The sculptor and caricaturist Alfred Grévin brought the idea to life and gave his name to the museum). Through all of this, magicians wander around doing impressive card tricks.
The Musée Grévin works on two levels. It’s obviously an entertaining place to stroll through enjoying the waxworks and having your photo taken with (effigies of) famous people. However, its baroque interiors, the original attractions and the atmosphere also give a sense of what these attractions felt like a century ago. As you exit into the nineteenth-century shopping arcade Passage Jouffroy, past and present seem to have mingled for a little while.
Related post: shopping passages.
The Working Classes are particularly requested to attend, as they will hear much in which they are deeply interested, and calculated to promote their Happiness and Prosperity
DEAN STANHOPE’S SCHOOL,
BUTT LANE, DEPTFORD.
January 1, 1814
Rules for the Guidance of Parents, Relations, & Friends.
They are to send their children regularly to School, clean, washed and combed, a quarter before nine in the morning, and a quarter before two in the afternoon, precisely.
On Sundays, they are to send them before they proceed to Church, a quarter before ten in the morning, and a quarter before two in the afternoon, precisely.
They are not to detain them from School, or Church, except from sickness, or with leave. – In case of sickness, immediate information must be given.
They are not to take their children from the School without one month’s previous notice. The cloaths, &c. are to be immediately returned on the removal or dismissal of any child: security to that effect must be given by parents, relations, or friends.
They are not to interfere with the discipline of the school.
Parents, relations, and friends, are expected to instill into their children the principles of gratitude, obedience, and submission.
N.B. No child having an unseemly appearance, a cutaneous eruption, or infectious disorder, will be admitted into the School.
Rules to be observed by the Children.
They must go directly to and from the School in an orderly manner.
They must take the greatest care of their cloaths, caps, books, &c. and never appear in the Streets dirty or ragged.
They must pay every proper and due respect to their Benefactors, Elders, and Superiors, whether passing them, or meeting them in the Streets.
They are never allowed to appear in the Streets but in the uniform dress allowed them by the Trustees.
The Boys are to be on the Muster Ground, precisely at the times appointed, otherwise they will lose their call.
Children are not to take God’s Name in Vain; to swear, to lie, to steal, to cheat, to play truant, or to throw stones. For misbehavior at Church, they will invariably be punished.
I.F. WALKER, A.M.
Image: Dean Stanhope's School c1840, from ideal homes: suburbia in focus.
Thus started a chain of events which would result in five deaths. First, Digby’s colleague Arthur Rutter, who had seen him fall, climbed down to rescue him. However, he too disappeared into the water. Meanwhile, another colleague went to fetch help; he brought back the engineer in charge of the works, Mr F Mills. Mills too descended to see what had happened; he too was overcome and sank into the water. Robert Durrant was next to attempt a rescue, but also went into the water. Finally, Frederick Jones followed; he was overcome but did not actually sink into the sewer water.
The police now arrived, under the command of Sergeant Brain. Pumps were switched on to reduce the water levels, and a bucket of burning coal was lowered into the sewer to test the air (uselessly, as it turned out). A local watchman, Herbert Worman, now volunteered to make a further rescue attempt and was lowered down with a rope around him. He attached another rope to Jones, who was lifted unconscious from the sewer.
Eventually, the other men’s bodies were removed; having been in the water three or four hours, all were dead. Meanwhile, the unconscious Jones was taken to hospital and artificial respiration attempted for two and a half hours. He remained unconscious but breathing, and was given brandy-and-ether injections every fifteen minutes. Finally he was given oxygen, but died in the early hours of the next morning.
These events and the enquiries which followed were fully reported in the local newspaper, The Barking, East Ham & Ilford Advertiser. The inquest on the four men who died at the scene reached a verdict of accidental death after hearing evidence that the deceased had drowned. However, the cause of the calamity was still something of a mystery. It was only solved at the second inquest, for Jones, where evidence from Dr Haldane, a leading expert on poisonous gases from Oxford University, was read out. He concluded that the cause of the incident was ‘sulphuretted hydrogen’ (hydrogen sulphide) in the sewage water, which poisoned the air sufficiently to overcome the men. The presence of the gas wouldn’t have prevented the coal from continuing to burn. Once again, the verdict was accidental death. However, the jury had harsh words for the Council about the lack of safety precautions in place, which they described as “great negligence”. Meanwhile, a Relief Fund for the widows and orphans of the five deceased had collected over £776 by early August.
The mystery, the lack of health and safety precautions, and the generous public response are not mentioned on the Watts Memorial. However, the bare fact of the bravery shown by the four men who died attempting to rescue their colleagues is clearly expressed: