Victorian Era Timeline

For ease of identifying relevant entries, red color indicates fire related items, blue color indicates transportation related items, green indicates power related items, orange indicates communication related items, and normal text indicates items of note for the year. Color testing pink, turquoise, cyan, lightblue

1769 1st self-propelled military tractor invented by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot.
1775 James Watt improved on the existing steam engines.
1780 James Pickard uses a flywheel to deliver rotary motion from a steam engine.
1784 William Murdoch built a working model of a steam carriage in Redruth.
1800 High pressure steam engines developed.
Visiting cards were embraced in America and Europe but not used among the country folk or working class.
1801 Richard Trevithick built a road carriage powered by steam – the first in Great Britain.
1803 Giovanni Aldini’s most famous public demonstrations of the electro-stimulation technique of deceased limbs was performed on the executed criminal George Forster at Newgate in London. These demonstrations possibly influenced Mary Shelley.
1804 Friedrich Serturner first isolated morphine from opium and he named it morphine after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams.
1805 The first modern, self-igniting match was invented by Jean Chancel.
1813 In a passage in his epic poem The Giaour, Lord Byron alludes to the traditional folkloric conception of the vampire as a being damned to suck the blood and destroy the life of its nearest relations.
1818 Mary Shelley first publishes Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
1819 John William Polidori publishes The Vampyre.
1820 Steam powered stagecoaches in regular service in Britain.
1823 Döbereiner’s lamp_, one of the first lighters, was invented by the German chemist named Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner. The device was very large and highly dangerous and fell out of production by the end of the 19th century.
1824 First dinosaur fossils discovered.
1826 The first “friction match” was invented, but not patented, by English chemist John Walker.
1829 Scots inventor Sir Isaac Holden invented an improved version of Walker’s match, a version of which was patented by Samuel Jones and called Lucifer matches.
1830 Lucifer matches were quickly replaced after the discovery by Frenchman Charles Sauria who used white phosphorus and had to be kept in airtight metal boxes. In England, these phosphorus matches were called “Congreves” after Sir William Congreve while they went by the name of “loco foco” in the United States.
1836 American patent for the white phosphorus friction match granted to Alonzo Dwight Phillips of Springfield, Massachusetts. These are “strike anywhere” matches.
1837 Queen Victoria ascends to the throne.
Charles Dickens published The Pickwick Papers and gained instant notoriety.
An independently developed electrical telegraph by Samuel Morse and his assistant, Alfred Vail, developed the Morse code signaling alphabet.
1838 Charles Dickens published Oliver Twist.
Isambard Brunel built the Great Western, a paddle steamer that made the Bristol/New York crossing in under 15 days.
1839 The first commercial electrical telegraph was constructed by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and came into operation on the Great Western Railway in England.
1840 Queen Victorian married her cousin Prince Albert.
The Penny Post went into effect.
1841 William Henry Fox Talbot invented British photography.
1843 Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol. Sold out completely in 6 days.
The Thames Tunnel opened, connecting Rotherhithe and Waping under the River Thames in London.
William Ashgard replaced match sulfur with beeswax, reducing the pungency of the fumes.
1844 The potato famine began in Ireland.
The use of red phosphorus, not on the head of the match but instead on a specially designed striking surface, was developed by the Swede Gustaf Erik Pasch. The idea was improved by Johan Edvard Lundström.
Gardner Quincy Colton held a public demonstration of nitrous oxide in Hartford, Connecticut.
1845 Brunel built the S. S. Great Britain, the first propeller driven steamship.
The first commercial telegraph line in the United States ran along a railroad right-of-way between Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
1846 William T. G. Morton makes the first public demonstration of general anesthesia (diethyl ether).
1847 Swede Gustaf Erik Pasch patented the use of red phosphorus in the match striking surface that could ignite match heads that did not need to contain white phosphorus. Johan Edvard and his younger brother Carl Frans Lundström started a large-scale match industry in Jönköping, Sweden.
Scottish obstetrician James Young Simpson of Edinburgh was the first to use chloroform as a general anesthetic. Chloroform began to replace ether as an anesthetic but it was soon abandoned in favor of ether when its hepatic and cardiac toxicity, especially its tendency to cause potentially fatal cardiac dysrhythmias, became apparent.
The serialized gothic horror story penny dreadful Varney the Vampire is published by James Malcolm Rymer (alternatively attributed to Thomas Preskett Prest).
Rotary drum printing was invented by Richard March Hoe.
1848 England passed the national Public Health Act, which would become a model plumbing code for the world to follow. It mandated some kind of sanitary arrangement in every house, whether a flushing toilet, or a privy, or an ash pit.
1849 Charles Dickens published David Copperfield.
The Corliss steam engine was patented.
1850 The cost of sending 10 words via telegraph was $1.55.
Anton Schrötter von Kristelli discovered that heating white phosphorus at 250°C in an inert atmosphere produced a red allotropic form, which did not fume in contact with air. It was suggested that this would make a suitable substitute in match manufacture although it was slightly more expensive.
1851 The Great Exhibition of 1851 was held at the Crystal Palace which was especially built to house this exhibition. Six million tickets sold. George Jennings introduced and popularized public lavatories by installing them in the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition. Over 827,000 people paid to use the “necessary convenience.”
1852 The first person to make an engine-powered flight, Henri Giffard, flew 27 km (17 mi) in a steam-powered airship.
%{color:blue}Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator for moving passengers to upper floors.
1853 Crimean war breaks out.
1854 Florence Nightgale goes to Crimea to organize the nursing during the war.
London party held in concrete dinosaur (Iguanodon) with invitations on fake pterodactyl wings.
1855 The Lundström company introduces safety matches.
1856 Crimean war ends.
1858 Darwin and Wallace theories of evolution and natural selection.
About 12 million match boxes of “safety” matches with a red phosphorous striking surface were produced.
1859 Charles Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities which was based on the French Revolution of 1789.
Brunel dies.
Charles Darwin published the controversial On the Origin of Species.
1860 Florence Nightgale published the first nursing textbooks.
Charles Dickens published Great Expectations, considered to be his best novel.
1861 Prince Albert died from Typhoid fever at the age of 42.
The first transcontinental telegraph system was established. Spanning North America, an existing network in the eastern United States was connected to the small network in California by a link between Omaha and Carson City via Salt Lake City.
1862 Charles W. Smith replaces match beeswax with paraffin, resulting in what were called “parlor matches”.
Gustaf Erik Pasch dies.
1863 Rotary drum printing was significantly improved by William Bullock.
1864 Peter Ellis designs the first iron framed, glass curtain-walled, five storey office building, Oriel Chambers in Liverpool.
1865 Hermann Sprengel achieves 10^-2 torr vacuum.
Crossness Pumping Station comes online to pump London sewage into a reservoir using 52 ton flywheels.

The Locomotive Act required self-propelled vehicles on public roads in the United Kingdom to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag and blowing a horn, effectively killing road auto development in the UK for most of the rest of the 19th century. (The law was not repealed until 1896, although the need for the red flag was removed in 1878.)
1866 The first successful transatlantic telegraph cable was completed.
1867 Benjamin Disraeli introduces a law giving voting rights to taxpayers.
Sylvester H. Roper and separately Pierre Michaux & Louis-Guillaume Perreaux invent a steam velocipede (first steam motorcycles).
Henry Seth Taylor demonstrates a 4 wheeled steam buggy in Quebec.
1868 Disraeli became Prime Minister, at post only a few months.
Last shipment of criminals from England to Australia.
1869 The road-steamer built by Robert William Thomson of Edinburgh became famous because its wheels were shod with heavy solid rubber tires.
1870 Charles Dickens dies.
The cost of sending 10 words via telegraph was $1.
The first telephones were rented in pairs which could only talk to each other.

The finger end of matches were made fireproof resulting in what were commonly called “drunkard’s" matches.
1872 Finland is the first to ban white phosphorous matches due to associated health issues.
Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu’s publishes a tale of a lesbian vampire, Carmilla.
1873 Amédée Bollée of Le Mans builds a series of steam-powered passenger vehicles able to carry 6 to 12 people at speeds up to 60 km/h (38 mph), with such names as Rapide and L’Obeissante.
1874 Disraeli became Prime Minister for second time and governs until 1880.
1875 Disraeli purchases Suez Canal shares gaining the controlling interest for Britain.
1876 Disraeli gives the title Empress of India to Queen Victoria.
The United States of America celebrates its centennial (100 years).
The Centennial Exposition in New York’s Madison Square Garden displays the arm of the future Statue of Liberty.
1877 The telephone, the invention of Alexander Graham Bell, became available.
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. First recording and playback was “Mary had a little lamb”.
1878 Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall for women founded.
Telephone exchange begins operation in London, England.
Aeolian Company, founded as the Mechanical Orguinette Company, is a retailer of small automated reed organs.
1879 The electric light bulb was invented by American Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison achieves 10^-3 torr vacuum.

Oxford’s Somerville College for women founded.
The Edison Telephone Company of London Ltd first exchange officially opened 11 Queen Victoria Street, London, with ten subscribers who used carbon transmitters and chalk receivers. By the end of the following February, when the company had another two exchanges in operation, it served 172 subscribers.
1881 Disraeli died.
British Museum of Natural History in South Kensington, London, opened.
1882 Charles Darwin dies
1884 Charles Gimingham exceeds 10^-4 torr vacuum.
5 women’s societies at Oxford (not granted full collegiate status 1959). Women allowed to attend lectures & take exams (not awarded degrees until 1920). Halls built for female students (later became colleges).
Washington Monument completed.
1885 First automobile built by Karl Benz.
American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) formed.
Thomas Twyford pioneered the first trap-less toilet and built a one-piece, free-standing unit on a pedestal base. This eliminated the problem of leaky joints and foul odor.
1886 Oxford’s St Hugh’s college for women founded.
Coca-Cola first sold in U.S.A. for 5 cents per glass and they sold 9 glasses per day.
The Statue of Liberty is dedicated on Liberty Island (formerly Bedloe’s Island) in New York. The completion was celebrated by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
1887 Construction begins on the Eiffel Tower, the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.
1888 London’s Metropolitan Police Service estimated that there were 1200 prostitutes and about 62 brothels in Whitechapel.
Jack the Ripper terrorized the East End of London.
Eastman’s Kodak Camera goes on sale to the public.
Karl Benz first starts producing automobiles in Germany and in France (by Emile Roger under license from Benz).
The electromechanical automatic telephone exchange is invented by Almon Strowger, and then gradually replaced manual switchboards in central telephone exchanges.
Johan Edvard Lundström dies.
1889 Eiffel Tower completed and used as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.
The first company formed exclusively to build automobiles was Panhard et Levassor in France, which also introduced the first four-cylinder engine.
1890 First folding Kodak cameras introduced with folding bellows that permitted much greater compactness.
Cradle style telephones in use.
The cost of sending 10 words via telegraph was 40¢.

Matchbooks invented.
The first person to be executed by the electric chair was William Kemmler in New York’s Auburn Prison.
1891 Eastman began producing 2nd line of cameras, the Ordinary range.
Major telegraph lines connect Britain to the entire world.
1892 Eastman Kodak Company of New York organized, coined the advertising slogan, “You press the button, we do the rest.” Kodak company attained its name from first simple roll film cameras produced by Eastman Dry Plate Company, known as the “Kodak” in its product line; 1892 Kodak camera for anyone to use.
Nikola Tesla experimentally demonstrated the transmission and radiation of radio frequency energy proposing that it might be used for the telecommunication of information.
Thomas Edison receives a patent for a two-way telegraph.
1893 New Zealand became first country to give women the right to vote.
Dorothea Beale founds Oxford’s St Hilda’s College for women.
In the United States, brothers Charles and Frank Duryea founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, becoming the first American automobile manufacturing company.
1894 August Kahlbaum exceeds 10^-5 torr vacuum.
First public demonstration of wireless telegraphy in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on August 14: Radio signal sent from neighboring Clarendon Laboratory building and received by apparatus in lecture theater.
New England Telephone and Telegraph installed the first battery-operated switchboard in Lexington, Massachusetts.
1895 One of the first four-wheeled petrol-driven automobiles in Britain was built in Birmingham by Frederick William Lanchester.
Marconi built a wireless system capable of transmitting signals at long distances (1.5 mi./ 2.4 km).
1896 First Olympic games (as the modern games are) held in Athens, Greece.
Theodore P Brown introduced and marketed the “Aeriol Piano”, which was the first substantially complete player piano.
1897 Francis E. Stanley and Freelan O. Stanley produce their first steam car, selling over 200 cars during 1898 and 1899, more than any other U.S. maker.
The first motor car in central Europe and one of the first factory-made cars in world, was produced by Czech company Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau (later renamed to Tatra), the Präsident automobil.

The British Marconi company was established and began communication between coast radio stations and ships at sea.
1898 The Locomobile Company of America bought patents from the Stanley Brothers and began building steam buggies from 1898 to 1905.
The first automobile arrives in Japan, a French Panhard-Levassor.

Two French chemists, Henri Savene and Emile David Cahen, developed and patented a safe “strike anywhere” match using phosphorus sesquisulfide.
1900 In the United States, the Diamond Match Company obtained the patent for sesquisulfide manufacture for a sum of $100,000.
1901 Queen Victoria dies.
Marconi conducted the first successful transatlantic experimental radio communications.
1902 Ransom E. Olds and his Olds Motor Vehicle Company (later known as Oldsmobile) started automobile production.
Julio Cervera Baviera founded the Spanish Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Corporation.
1903 Ferrocerium (often misidentified as flint), patented by Carl Auer von Welsbach, makes modern lighters possible.
Rambler standardized on the steering wheel and moved the driver’s position to the left-hand side of the vehicle.

Victorian Era Timeline

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