The River Trent: Facts and Information for Kids

River Trent Fact File

Length: 298 km (185 miles)

Source: Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire (North Sea, England)

Mouth: Humber Estuary (England)

Other Facts About The River Trent

  • In the past, the course of the River Trent was used to mark the boundary between the North and the South of England.
  • The River Trent has many tributaries, including: River Derwent, River Idle, River Leen, River Sow and the River Tame.
  • The River Trent flows through the Midlands and many towns and cities have been situated close to it. They include: Stoke-on-Trent, Lichfield, Burton upon Trent, Derby, Nottingham, Newark-on-Trent and Scunthorpe.
  • The Trent is the third longest river in the United Kingdom.
  • Unusually for rivers in Britain, the River Trent flows in a northerly direction.
  • Some people believe that the name of the River Trent is linked to the Celtic word for ‘strong flood’.
  • Over 80 bridges cross the River Trent. Perhaps the most spectacular of these is The Swarkestone Bridge, Britain’s longest bridge made of stone. This bridge is located about 5 miles south of Derby.
  • The River Trent passes through several different English counties: Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.
  • The River Trent was an incredibly important trade route (particularly during the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s) and it is one of the main reasons why the Midlands became a key industrial area during the Industrial Revolution.
  • In Nottingham, the River Trent flows under the beautiful Trent Bridge. This is also the name given to Nottingham’s cricket ground.
  • More than 30 different types of fish live in the Trent.
  • Today the water of the Trent is clean and largely free from pollution. This certainly wasn’t the case during the 19th and early 20th centuries when the Trent was polluted by the emissions from the many factories which used its water in their manufacturing processes.

Dr Barnardo: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about the work of Dr Barnardo, founder of the charity Barnardo’s, who provided homes and education for poor children in Victorian Britain.

  • Thomas John Barnardo was born on 4th July 1845 and he died on 19th September 1905.

  • He was born in Dublin, Ireland.
  • When he was sixteen years old, he decided he wanted to become a Protestant medical missionary in China.
  • He moved to London in order to train to be a doctor. He studied at the London Hospital, but never actually completed the course to earn a doctorate. Although he is known as ‘Doctor’ Barnardo, he never actually qualified as a doctor.
  • During his time in London, Thomas Barnardo became interested in the lives of the Victorian poor. He was apalled by the number of people living on the streets of London and he witnessed the horrific effects of cholera, unemployment and overcrowding.
  • Barnardo decided to put aside his plans to visit China. He opened his first ‘ragged school’ in 1867, in the East End of London, to educate and care for poor orphans.
  • One of his pupils, a boy called Jim Jarvis, took Barnardo on a walk of the the East End, showing him the sheer number of poor children sleeping rough. Barnardo was so moved by the sight that he decided to do something about it.
  • In 1870, Thomas Barnardo opened a home for boys in Stepney Causeway, providing shelter for orphans and destitute children. A sign hang on the building which said: ‘No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission’.
  • Barnardo founded the Girls’ Village Home. Located in Barkingside, the ‘village’ consisted of a collection of cottages and was home to 1500 poor girls.
  • During his life Barnardo continued to open institutions that helped to care for poor children. By his death in 1905 it is estimated that his homes and schools cared for over 8000 children in more than 90 different locations.
  • The Barnardo’s is still in existence today. Have a look at their website.

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Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about Guy Fawkes and his involvement in The Gunpowder Plot – the failed attempt to blow up The House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5th November, 1605.

  • Guy Fawkes was born in 1570 in Stonegate, York.

  • His father died when he was only eight years old.
  • Guy’s mother’s family were outwardly Protestant (as England was a Protestant country during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I), but secretly Catholic. By the time he was a teenager, Guy was also a Catholic.
  • Guy became a soldier, fighting for Catholic countries against their Protestant enemies. He fought for Spain against the Dutch in the Eighty Year’s War.
  • During the reign of James I, Guy Fawkes became increasingly frustrated at the continued persecution of Catholics and the fact that a Scottish monarch was the King of England. He travelled to Spain to try and get support for a Catholic rebellion in England. He failed this attempt, but he did meet some of the people who would later be involved in setting up The Gunpowder Plot.

Facts About The Gunpowder Plot

  • Although Guy Fawkes is the most famous of those involved in The Gunpowder Plot, it was actually Robert Catesby who was the leader of the failed attempt to kill James I when he opened Parliament in 1605.
  • The plotters, led by Robert Catesby, were: Guy Fawkes, Thomas Wintour, Robert Wintour, John Wright, Thomas Percy, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, John Grant, Christopher Wright, Sir Ambrose Rookwood, Francis Tresham and Sir Everard Digby.
  • The plotters planned to set off 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar (called an undercroft) directly under the House of Lords, killing King James I and other key Protestant members of the Royal Family and Privy Council.
  •  Guy Fawkes, due to his experience as a soldier, was placed in charge of lighting the gunpowder fuse.
  • The plot failed because an anonymous letter was received by Baron Monteagle (a Catholic who would have been in the House of Lords on 5th November) warning him to stay away to guarantee his safety. The letter was passed to James I and he ordered that the buildings around the House of Lords be thoroughly searched.
  • Guy Fawkes was found in the cellar under the House of Lords carrying a lantern, a pocket watch and several matches. Thirty six barrels of gunpowder were also revealed, hidden under a stack of firewood.
  • Guy Fawkes was arrested. King James I gave his permission for Guy Fawkes to be tortured and he finally confessed to his part in The Gunpowder Plot. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered on 31st January 1606.
  • Although he did die on 31st January, Guy Fawkes managed to avoid the agony of being quartered (cut open while still conscious) by jumping from the gallows and breaking his neck.

Bonfire Night (sometimes called Guy Fawke’s Night or Firework Night)

  • The fact that the Gunpowder Plot failed was celebrated on 5th November 1606 (the year after the event) and on this day every year since. Church bells used to be rung and bonfires were lit.
  • Traditionally, effigies (life size models) of Guy Fawkes were made by children out of straw, newspaper and rags. These were known as ‘Guys’ and they were thrown onto bonfires and burnt. Fireworks were also set off on the night of 5th November.
  • Many of these traditions still take place in England today, although lots of children don’t know the exact reason behind the celebration.

Victorian Christmas Facts and Information

The celebration of Christmas was very important to the Victorians. Here are some facts about the different traditions and activities associated with Christmas in Victorian times.

  • At the beginning of the Victorian era Christmas was hardly celebrated at all in Britain. However, by the end of the period, it was considered to be the biggest and most important annual celebration in the Victorian calendar.

  • The Victorians started (or at least made popular) many of the Christmas activities we do today.
  • Many people think that Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband) was responsible for shaping how Christmas was celebrated by British Victorian families. He was born in Germany. In Germany evergreen trees were traditionally brought into the home at Christmas time and decorated (with candles, sweets and fruit). In 1848 the royal family were pictured celebrating Christmas around such a decorated tree, and the fashion for Christmas trees spread very quickly from this point on.

Facts About Victorian Christmas Cards

  • In 1843 Henry Cole asked an artist to make a card for him to send out at Christmas. It featured a family sitting around a dinner table and a Christmas message. The idea seemed to catch on and soon many wealthy Victorian families were sending out their own cards.
  • Victorian children were encouraged to make their own cards and there is even evidence that Queen Victoria had her own children do this.
  • The first printed Christmas cards were very expensive to manufacture, but the price went down dramatically during the Victorian period. This was due to improvements in colour printing technology and the new halfpenny postage rate.
  • In 1880 over 11 million Christmas cards were printed!

Victorian Christmas Crackers

  • In 1848 a British sweet maker, Tom Smith, came up with a the idea for the Christmas cracker. When he visited Paris Tom noticed that sugared almonds were sold in twists of paper (bon bons). He used this as inspiration for his Christmas crackers – sweets wrapped in a paper package that snapped apart when you pulled the ends.
  • During the Victorian period, Tom Smith’s idea was adapted and improved. The sweets were often replaced with Christmas paper hats and small gifts were added.
  • The Christmas crackers of the later Victorian era were quite similar to the crackers placed on today’s Christmas dinner tables.

Victorian Christmas Presents and Gifts

  • At the beginning of the Victorian period families often gave and received presents to celebrate the New Year. But, as the importance of Christmas as a family celebration grew, the gift-giving was moved to Christmas.
  • The first Victorian Christmas presents were fairly small – gifts such as fruits, nuts, sweets and handmade items were hung from the branches of the Christmas tree.
  • The size and expense of the gifts steadily increased. Victorians started to buy gifts from shops and they were often too big to hang from the tree. By the end of the Victorian era, many families had taken to leaving Christmas gifts under the tree.

Facts about Victorian Christmas Dinner

  • The Victorians are also responsible for popularising many of the traditional British Christmas foods.
  • The first Victorian mince pies were made of meat (a recipe that dates from Tudor times), but the mince pies made later in the nineteenth century didn’t contain meat and were pretty much like the ones we enjoy today.
  • Although some Victorian families celebrated Christmas with roast goose or beef, it was in Victorian times that roast turkey became the main part of the Christmas dinner. By the end of the Victorian period, most families would roast a turkey for Christmas.

Other Facts About Christmas in Victorian Times

  • The family was really important to the Victorians. They saw Christmas as a time to focus on family relationships, and most of the Victorian Christmas traditions (such as gift giving, eating a Christmas dinner, decorating the Christmas tree) were shared by all of the family members.
  • Charles Dickens is also credited with spreading many of the Christmas traditions in Victorian times. His famous book, A Christmas Carol, was very popular and it influenced how Victorian families approached the celebration of Christmas.

The River Severn: Facts and Key Information

River Severn Fact File

Length: 354 km (220 miles)

Source: Plynlimon (Wales)

Mouth: Severn Estuary (Bristol Channel, England)

Other Facts About The River Severn

  • At 354 km the River Severn is the longest river in the British Isles.
  • It flows through the region of Powys in Wales, and the counties of Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucester in England.
  • The Severn has the greatest water flow of any river in England or Wales.
  • The River Stour, River Vyrnwy, River Worfe, River Teme, River Wye and River Avon (Warwickshire Avon) are all tributaries of the Severn.
  • Several large towns have developed from the original settlements on the banks of the Severn. These include: Newtown, Welshpool, Shrewsbury, Ironbridge, Stourport, Worcester, Tewkesbury and Gloucester.
  • The River Severn is bridged in lots of places. Two of the bridges, the Severn Bridge and the Second Severn Crossing, link Wales and England by road.
  • Before the 16th Century, the Bristol Channel was known as The Severn Sea.

Here’s a link to our main river facts and resources page.

Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses: Facts About Hermes

Here are some facts and pieces of information about Hermes, the Ancient Greek messenger god:

  • When he was very young Hermes was very mishievious. He stole a herd of cattle belonging to the god Apollo and he used the gut from one of the cows, along with a tortoise shell, to make a musical instrument called a lyre.
  • Apollo wasn’t very pleased to find his cattle missing. He asked Silenus and the satyrs to help him find the thief. They eventually tracked down Hermes. After a a heated discussion, Hermes managed to convince Apollo to take the lyre in payment for the stolen cows.
  • Zeus was amused by the mischief caused by Hermes, but he didn’t want him causing more problems in the future. He decided that Hermes needed a job, so he made him the messenger of the gods. Zeus gave Hermes a pair of winged sandals and a winged helmet so that he could move quickly when delivering his messages.
  • Hermes was the patron of travellers and the god of trade and treaties (due to the fact that he had managed to persaude Apollo to exchange the cattle for the lyre).
  • It is said that thieves and liars often prayed to Hermes, hoping to receive his sympathy.
  • It is also said that many Ancient Greeks believed that Hermes was responsible for the invention of the alphabet, boxing and gymnastics.

Find out more about the Greek gods and goddesses – click here.

Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses: Facts About Aphrodite, Goddess of Love

Here are some facts about the Ancient Greek Goddess Aphrodite:

  • Aphrodite was born when Uranus was defeated by Zeus and the New Gods. A drop of Uranus’s blood fell into the Ocean and caused it to foam. From the froth emerged Aphrodite.

  • Aphrodite was the goddess of love. She had no other jobs or duties except to look pretty and have others fall in love with her.
  • She wore a girdle with magic powers. The girdle made its wearer seem incredibly attractive to all who looked upon them.
  • Aphrodite was married to Zeus’s son, Hephaestos. He worked in the forges of the Greek Gods as a blacksmith, making jewellery and weapons.
  • Aphrodite wasn’t faithful to Hephaestos, and she had many lovers (both men and gods) including: Ares (the god of war), and a handsome human called Adonis.
  • Aphrodite had quite a few children. Her sons included, Eros and Aeneas, and she had a daughter called Harmonia.
  • Although Aphrodite was the goddess of love, she could be quite angry and vicious at times. For example, when a man called Glaucus insulted Aphrodite, she decided to punish him. She fed his horses magic water so that when he used them in a chariot race they went mad and crushed him to death. They then ate him!
  • Aphrodite could also be kind. For example, when the sculptor Pygmalion, one of her loyal followers, could not find a wife, Aphrodite gave life to one of his sculptures. Pygmalion called the living statue Galatea, and they got married.
  • Aphrodite was closely associated with Cyprus, an island near to where she was ‘born’.
  • The Roman name for Aphrodite was Venus.

Learn more about some of the other Greek gods and goddesses by clicking the link.

Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses: Zeus – Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about Zeus, the King of the Ancient Greek Gods.

  • Zeus was the son of the Titans (human-shaped giants) Cronos and Rhea.
  • Following a battle with the Titans, who were captained by his father Cronos, Zeus and his brothers and sisters (the New Gods) took control of the world. Zeus became ruler of the sky and King of the Gods.

  • When he is angry, Zeus hurls thunderbolts (created for him by the Cyclopes).
  • Zeus married his sister, Hera.
  • Apart from Hera, Zeus has two other sisters, Hestia and Demeter, and two brothers, Pluto and Poseidon.
  • The Roman name for Zeus was Jupiter.
  • Zeus ruled the world from Mount Olympus, but he was very keen on making visits to the Earth and getting involved in the lives of humans.
  • Zeus and Hera had three children, Ares, Eris and Hebe.
  • Zeus had several relationships with mortal women, goddesses and nymphs (such as Leda, Europa, Alcmene, Danae, Io and Semele) and he was the father to Perseus, Heracles, Tantalus, Polydictes, Minos, Helen (and many more).
  • Zeus was incredibly powerful and he was exceedingly terrifying when he was angry.
  • He was immortal and could do what he wanted to the lives of mortal men and women.

Click here to find out more information about some of the other Ancient Greek gods and goddesses.

Charles Darwin Facts

Charles Darwin was an English scientist. He is most well known for his theory of evolution.

Here are some facts about Charles Darwin:

  • Charles Darwin’s father was a doctor and he really wanted Charles to study medicine at university. Charles started to train to be a doctor, but he was afraid of the sight of blood, and switched to studying the classics. However, Charles soon realised that his real passion was for geology (the study of the Earth and rocks) and botany (plant biology).

  • In 1831 Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle, a naval survey ship. Darwin was there to collect plant and animal specimens from the countries and islands the ship visited.
  • The voyage took five years. For Charles Darwin, the most important part of the journey was the time spent in the Galapagos Islands. These islands are the home to plants and animals that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Darwin noticed that each of the different islands was home to a different type of tortoise.
  • When the Beagle returned to England, and Darwin began to study the specimens he had collected in more detail, he realised that the differences in finches of the Galapagos Islands followed a similar pattern to those he had observed in the tortoises. The finches from all of the islands were similar, but birds from different islands had different beaks.
  • Darwin started to study other animals and plants, and he began to piece together his theory of natural selection which explains how populations evolve.
  • Darwin didn’t publish his findings straight away because he knew that they would be extremely controversial and upset many people.
  • On the Origin of Species finally came out in 1859. It was a massive talking point because it challenged the truth of the creation story found in the Bible.
  • Today, Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been accepted (by most people) as scientific fact, and new fossil discoveries are constantly adding to our knowledge of the different stages of evolution.
  • Darwin’s appears on UK £10 notes, and a statue of him has been placed in the main hall of London’s Natural History Museum.
  • More than 120 species have been named after Darwin.

Click here to find out some facts about other famous Victorians.

Joseph Lister Facts

Joseph Lister was a British surgeon who made surgery safer for patients by introducing sterilization techniques.

Here are some facts about Jospeh Lister:

  • Joseph Lister studied at the University of London and he entered the Royal College of Surgeons when he was 26.

  • Lister worked as a professor of surgery at universities in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
  • His greatest contribution to medicine was to promote the use of carbolic acid as an antiseptic. Lister was heavily influenced by Louis Pasteur‘s work on bacteria. After studying Pasteur’s findings, Lister soon realised that severe changes needed to happen to prevent so many people dying after surgery, due to infection. Traditionally, surgeons wore dirty aprons, surgical instruments were unclean and surgeons didn’t even wash their hands before carrying out operations. Lister tested what would happen if the surgical instruments and bandages were treated with carbolic acid, and he was pleased to see that infection was significantly reduced.
  • By 1879 Lister’s ideas had been accepted by most hospitals in Britain. Carbolic acid was used on bandages and was even sprayed into the air during operations to kill bacteria and reduce the risk of the wound becoming infected.
  • Lister also made other contributions to medicine. He was the second man in England to operate on a brain tumor, and he worked out a method of repairing kneecaps with metal wire.
  • In 1897, he was made Baron Lister of Lyme Regis.
  • In 1901, although he had retired as a surgeon, he was asked to give advice about antiseptics and sterilization when Edward VII had his appendix removed.
  • Lister died in 1912, aged 84.

Joseph Lister

Find out about some of the other famous Victorians by clicking here.