1891 - 1900



March 18: First telephone link between London & Paris

April 5: Sixth full British Census

Primary education made free and compulsory



Electric oven invented

Shop Hours Act – limit 74 hours per week for under-18s

May 20: Last broad-gauge train leaves Paddington for Plymouth



Keir Hardy founds Independent Labour Party

Henry Ford's first car

Zip fastener invented 

The first country to give women the right to vote was New Zealand, which adopted the policy in 1893. Australia followed in 1902, and 13 other countries had enfranchised women by 1919, including the United States. Britain did not achieve universal suffrage for women until 1928; in 1918 only women aged 30 or over who were householders, householder's wives, or university graduates were enfranchised. New Zealand was also a world leader in several other kinds of social reform, including social security, which it embraced in 1898.



January 1: Manchester Ship Canal opens

Local Government Act passed (start of civil parish councils, etc)

Picture postcard introduced in Britain

June 30: Tower Bridge opens



January 12: The National Trust founded in England

March 22: First public showing of film on screen in Paris by Lumières

Röntgen discovers x-rays

Gugliemo Marconi invents wireless telegraphy – message over a mile

Safety razor invented by King C Gillette

July 12: First recorded motor journey of any length (56 miles) in Britain

October 17: First people in Britain to be charged with motor offences – John Henry Knight and James Pullinger of Farnham, Surrey 

Motion pictures became a reality at the end of the 19th century, thanks initially to the pioneering work of two men, Etienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge. Inspired by Marey’s studies of animal motion, Muybridge invented the Zoopraxiscope, a device for viewing the movement of people and animals. By 1891 Thomas Alva Edison and W. K. L. Dickson had patented the Kinetoscope, a large apparatus that permitted one person at a time to view images through a peephole mechanism. More successful, however, was the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe, a projector that took and printed the film beforehand, which they demonstrated in 1895.



Opening of the Underground Railway (the "shooglie") in Glasgow – remains the only underground in Scotland



June 22: Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee 

  In England, postmen deliver mail to every home.



First photograph using artificial light

Zeppelin builds airship

The Curies discover Radium


Second Boer War



October: Start of Second Boer War 

The South African Wars (1899-1902) were a series of bitter conflicts between the Dutch South African settlers (Afrikaners) under the leadership of Paul Kruger, and Britain. The Afrikaners feared the loss of the Transvaal, thanks to British imperialist ambition and the discovery of gold in the region, and formed an alliance with the Orange Free State (now Free State). British settlers (Uitlanders) in the Transvaal were heavily taxed and refused the vote, which ultimately led to an Uitlander revolt against the Afrikaners.  This was the work of Cecil Rhodes, premier of the Cape of Good Hope, whose plan was to bring all of South Africa into the British Empire. In 1899 Kruger demanded the immediate removal of all British troops in the Transvaal, and when this request was ignored the Afrikaners declared war, invading the British territories of Natal (see KwaZulu-Natal) and Cape Colony (see Cape Province). At first, the victories went to the Afrikaners, but with the landing of British reinforcements in 1900 under Kitchener and Roberts, the Afrikaners were gradually overwhelmed. British tactics included the "scorched earth policy", and the introduction of concentration camps. With both sides weary and sick of fighting, in May 1902 the Afrikaners finally signed the Treaty of Vereeniging. This brought hostilities to an end, at the cost to the Afrikaners of Transvaal and the Orange Free State becoming British colonies.

Valdemar Poulsen invents tape recorder

Aspirin invented  



Commonwealth of Australia founded

February 28: Relief of Ladysmith

May 17: Relief of Mafeking

June/July: Boxer rising in Peking