1. Three
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    Three Member

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    Pollution, Law and Magic in the Late Victorian Era

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Three, Dec 25, 2010.

    Help with any of these three questions is greatly appreciated. My story is set in London in the 1880's, probably the West End - ish (concerning a pair of morally questionable magicians, for curiosity's sake).

    I know pollution was a huge problem in Victorian London (less so in the 1880's because of the new sewers) but how bad was it? If a body were to take a walk to the nearest pie shop, what would he encounter and how bad would it be? Would the soot be so bad practically an equivalent of a gas mask was needed? Was the snow gray? What else would our hypothetical pie-quester have to face?

    Question two: I can find absolutely nothing on investment law for the time. (Fair enough, it's really specific and obscure.) What I'm trying to find out is if two guys wanted to invest in a third party business, could one investor inherit the other's return should he die? Is that even viable now? Any way I can swing that would be spectacular.

    Third question is concerning murder investigations. Can anyone tell me how they investigated and what was considered conclusive evidence?

    Sorry if the questions are preposterously specific Any help would be fantastic. :)
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Murder investigations in those days would mainly look at circumstantial evidence, as CSI stuff wasn't invented yet. Circumstantial evidence = was the suspect missing and unaccounted for on the days of the murders, was blood found on the suspect's clothing, does the suspect have a dirty shovel hidden under his bed etc.

    Some town drunk no one liked would be much more suspicious and likely to be blamed than would, say, the preacher/mayor/etc.

    Pollution might've been bad if a mill was nearby -- have you ever driven by a paper mill? they smell like farts times a hundred -- but I'm pretty sure average Joes weren't walking around in gas masks. People got lung disease and stuff though.

    Snow...probably dingy gray...the main people getting their faces sooty were people who worked in that environment.
     
  3. jellykid
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    jellykid New Member

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    Pollution wouldn't have required gas masks. if there were a lot of mills, it would have been quite smelly, as said above. also there would have been a thick smog, so maybe mention about the darkness?
    you might want to look at two views of london: wordsworth's 'composed upon westminster bridge': http://www.potw.org/archive/potw370.html
    in contrast to george eliot's 'view from a london drawing room': http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/george_eliot/poems/3451

    Remember with the mills was the need to house the workers-these houses would have been terraced and overcrowded, resulting in slums. this led to poor hygiene and sanitation, sharing toilets between the whole street etc. and of course there were workhouses. then again, i dont think you would have seen a lot of this in central/west end london, but it might be something to keep in mind.
    good luck!:)
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    For murder investigations read Arthur Conan Doyle, read up about his mentor Joseph Bell, Jack the Ripper, Sweeny Todd and Alannah Knights Inspector Faro series (set in Edinburgh but really good). Crime levels in London at that time make London today look like a safe rural village. Bobbies/Peelers were fairly new Scotland Yard began in 1829. Police Officers were often poorly paid and tended to be rather rough themselves.

    His partner can make a will.

    Pea-soupers are what you need to look up for pollution. The walls were blackened, health was poor. The city did however have sewers etc.
     
  5. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I can't speak to that long ago, but when I was a kid there were many factories in the us and in my area. I recall brown clouds and CINDERS raining down from the sky like snow flakes. There was a part of town where people always looked filthy, probably from their jobs and I can only imagine what it was like in Victorian times, because this was 1970s America.
     
  6. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    I agree with what everyone has said about pollution..

    But, I just wanted to add- you should probably consider the social class of the people who are writing. Social class was a huge deal back then, still is.

    If your businessmen are wealthy (which they sort of have to be to be businessmen back in those days) I think the pollution would affect their "space" less than it would people in a lower social class. I hate to bring up this stereotype, but think Titanic. Lower floors the people were dirty, upper floors the people were spotless.

    However, if you are talking about regular people getting together a business, then yes pollution (dirtiness) would be a part of their lives.
     
  7. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    That's 100% true.

    I grew up in a coal mining area and do you think the rich people lived near the miners---hell no. Some of the guys, before my time, would go to this bar called The Saloon. It had tile gutters below the stools because the guys would just pee while sitting. They too depressed, exhausted, and drunk to get up. Later, after the coal ran out the rich moved away and it was discovered they had over mined and the towns above the mines started collapsing into them.

    I angry.
     
  8. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know if it's relevant for your story, but the manure from horse transports was a huge pollution problem in big cities like London.
     

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