Brief Timeline of the Late Victorian and Edwardian Eras


Women’s clothing becomes less voluminous, lawn tennis takes place of croquet as means of meeting opposite sex, bicycle becomes fashionable. Agricultural depression as cheaper frozen meat from Australia, New Zealand and South America floods into Britain, cheaper grain comes in from North America.

London’s first electric Underground
March: Forth railway bridge opens – took six years to build

March: First telephone link between London & Paris.
Primary education made free and compulsory

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

Keir Hardy founds Independent Labour Party
Henry Ford’s first car
Zip fastener invented

Graduated death duties introduced in Britain
Picture postcard introduced in Britain

Mar 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
Jul 12: First recorded motor journey of any length (56 miles) in Britain
Oct 17: First people in Britain to be charged with motor offences – John Henry Knight and James Pullinger of Farnham, Surrey

Opening of the Underground Railway (the “shooglie”) in Glasgow – remains the only underground in Scotland
First modern Olympic Games held in Athens (some say 1894)
Term psychoanalysis first comes into use
Items considered luxuries in 1837 are now common comforts,food, clothing, bedding, furniture, all far more abundant; gas and oil lighting being replaced by electricity; seaside holidays no longer rare

Jun 22: Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee
Workmen’s Compensation Act: employers liable for insurance of workforce

First photograph using artificial light
Zeppelin builds airship
The Curies discover Radium

Boer War (1899-1902), sparked when Englishman dies in Boer police custody. Scandalous British camps cause many deaths of woman and children; education now compulsory to age 12, 1 of 8 receives education after age 14.
Valdemar Poulsen invents the tape recorder
Johann Vaaler designs the paper clip
Aspirin invented

June/July: Boxer rising in Peking
School leaving age in Britain raised to 14 years
Central Line opens in London: underground is electrified
Max Planck proposes the Quantum Theory
Escalator shown at Paris exhibition
First transmission of human speech by radio waves

Edwardian Era

The wonders of the modern world, which had only sprang into being in the 1880s and 1890’s brought the first rewards of modern industrialization and mass-produced abundance. Socially, the Edwardian era was the period during which the British class system was at its most rigid, although paradoxically, changes in social thought, particularly the rising interest in socialism, attention to the plight of the poor and the status of women, expressed in, for example, the issue of women’s suffrage, together with increased economic opportunities as a result of rapid industrialisation, created an environment in which there could be more social mobility and people would become more liberal. This change would be hastened in the aftermath of the first World War. The upper classes embraced leisure sports, which led to rapid developments in fashion, as more mobile and flexible clothing styles were needed. The corset was modified; its everyday wearing was gradually abandoned.

22nd January: Death of Queen Victoria, aged 81, after a reign of 63 years. Edward VII succeeds to the throne.
Oct 2: Britain’s first submarine launched
Dec 12: First successful radio transmission across the Atlantic, by Marconi – Morse code from Cornwall to Newfoundland
Ragtime introduced into American jazz
Trans-Siberian Railway opened

May: Boer War ends.
9th August: Coronation of Edward VII, delayed from July because of the King’s appendicitis. Balfour’s Education Act provides for secondary education. Cremation Act – cremation can only take place at officially recognised establishments, and with two death certificates issued.

October: Formation of the suffragette Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst.December: Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Wright Brothers make the first successful flight in a petrol-powered aeroplane. Irish land purchase bill, Wyndham’s Act, permits Irish to buy land from landlords with 150 million pounds worth of loans included.

May: Rolls-Royce car manufacturing company formed.

July: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity proposed.
October: Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney arrested: start of the militant phase of the Suffrage movement. Aspirin on sale in Britain.
December: First motorized ambulances for traffic accident victims introduced by London County Council (previously ambulances were used only for people suffering from infectious diseases).

February: Free school meals introduced for children in need.
April: SOS becomes the international distress signal.

April: Women can stand for election in county and borough elections and can take the office of mayor. First airship flies over London. Pavlov begins his studies on conditioned reflexes. Lumiere develops a process for colour photography. Diaghilev begins to popularise ballet. First ‘Cubist’ exhibition in Paris.

June: Olympic Games staged in London. Coal Mines Regulation Act in Britain limits men to an eight hour day
Separate courts for juveniles established in Britain
Lord Baden-Powell starts the Boy Scout movement
First ‘Model T’ Ford

July: Bleriot makes the first cross-Channel flight, taking 43 minutes.

21st May: Death of Edward VII; succeeded by George V.
Madame Curie isolates radium
Halley’s comet reappears
Tango becomes popular in North America and Europe

March: Shops Act legislates for 60-hour week and all employees entitled to half-day holiday each week. Payment of MPs introduced.
December: Period of industrial unrest 1911 to 1914.
Parliament Act in Britain reduces the power of the House of Lords
British MPs receive a salary
Rutherford: theory of atomic structures

April: The ‘unsinkable’ Titanic sinks after hitting an iceberg, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
September: British Board of Film Censors established. Royal Flying Corps (precursor of the Royal Air Force) established.
Britain nationalises the telephone system

Third Irish Home Rule Bill rejected by House of Lords – threat of civil war in Ireland – formation of Ulster Volunteers to oppose Home Rule
Geiger invents his counter to measure radioactivity

April: George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion opens in London.
28th June: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo.