Archive for May, 2012

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire

Did you know that one of the first fire services actually started in Ancient Rome? Rather that rush to put out the fire of the burning building, the fire service would approach the neighbours and make them pay to put the fire out. The neighbours still had something to lose and would often pay out just to make sure their homes still stood.

 It’s no surprise then that people would often attempt to firefight on their own. To do this you need some sort of extinguisher, which is what this blog looks at. The earliest form of extinguisher would be a simple bucket passed from hand to hand to put out a fire. A long and boring journey through various suction pumps leads us to the creation of the fire extinguisher as we would recognise it. A valuable commodity as you do not need a water source nearby and the water is pressurised to create a jet. Look around you, many people have these in their homes and some of you, who are skiving at work and reading this, may have two or three types for various fires.

Fill it up, and let her rip

 Here are two examples of Fire extinguisher which reside in the museum. This first one is made by an American company but sold through a firm inManchester. It is very similar to a modern fire extinguisher as it is a metallic holder with a nozzle, the beauty of this one is that it is refillable by yourself. You fill the extinguisher with water, and some bicarbonate of water and sulphate and tighten it really quickly.

Still filled and ready for action

 The second is one which was donated to the museum by Blackburn Fire Station and runs on a similar principal to the other one. This one however, still has something in it. I am incredibly tempted to give it a shake and see what happens, although whatever is in there has probably been stagnant for over 50 years. I think it’s probably best if I get a student to do it. I don’t want to get my clothes wet!


Wanna go Fishing son? No, Dad. I want to go to School

I was a good boy at school. I’m pretty sure there was one year at school when I had 100% attendance. I had no days off ill, or doctors appointments or days truant. Im sure there were some people who did better than I did over the course of their school years, but I was still pleased with the achievement of that year.

 Guess what I got to celebrate that achievement? A car? Don’t be ridiculous! A month without homework? Not a chance! A week off? Not happening! Maybe a handshake from the head teacher? Nope! A certificate? A piddly simple little certificate to say I had achieved something no other pupil would respect? No. Not even a certificate.

Pin this on your blazer. You’ll be the envy of the school!

 I wish I could show those teachers this wasn’t the case in 1904! Not only would I have got a handshake but I would also have received a medal! It’s worth remembering that school was a very different place in 1904. Teachers were stricter, lessons were not designed to be fun or interesting and the shadow of the cane loomed large over the classroom. To have 100% attendance in 1904 would have required an iron will and an iron backside!

 It’s worth remembering that during this period there would be many parents that would prefer their children to be at work rather than at school. So maybe the medal wasn’t just for the children, it was an incentive for the parents as well.

The Ultimate Popularity Contest…

…contested by people who are extremely unpopular.

To become a politician and assume people are going to like you is being incredibly naive. It goes with the territory that you have to make unpopular decisions and do things people don’t like. But getting to that point is the hard part. Convincing the public you are the right person for the job and are going to represent the people to the best of your abilities. I remember in my first year of school voting for the class representative on the student council. It was a secret ballot and I wrote ‘abstain’ on mine. Maybe I was trying to get across the feeling that I was disenchanted with the system? More likely I had learnt the word earlier that week and throught I was being clever.

In recent years, however, there has been a push to stop voter apathy. Maybe many people no longer feel that their vote counts or matters. In which case they may not have seen one of these.

Last used in Darwen, this box has seen better days

Something you should recognise


These are the boxes you would put your votes in. The first is a metal one that was last used in the early 90’s in Darwen. The second is a more modern one, which you may have seen today. The older one has a lock and key whilst the new one is fitted with slots for plastic tags and tamper-proof stickers.

Many years after the student council debacle we had a vote during a group university project. The group was split on how to finish the project. We decided to have a blind vote and I learnt from my previous experience and cast a vote this time and even volunteered to count. The winning option won by one vote. Which goes to show my one vote did make a difference!

Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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