The Victorian Slum, episode 4

Episode 4 of ‘The Victorian Slum’; the 1890s.

Skip the first 2-3 minutes if you can remember further back than a week ago.

The doss house is too empty too much of the time.
I think that he would have had more customers than he could have handled if this really was Victorian times.
So maybe the production team could have brought in volunteers who arrived in the evening just to sleep there.
I bet they could have found enough crazy people who would actually enjoy doing that, weirdos like me.

The reproduced packaging looks good, these days when you can find so much on the internet and then just print it, cut it out and stick it on, it is no longer as much work for the props department as it once was.

The Howarths are moving up in the world which, technically means moving down and having their own little workshop on the ground floor.

It looks grand but if that black sculpted dress form or mannequin with his 6 pack is Victorian, I’ll eat my hat.
I don’t understand mistakes like these.
Surely the production team knows its not genuine, surely these clothes forms are not that difficult too find, even an Edwardian or 1930s-40s one would look more in place that this one.
Or at least camouflage it, glue some canvas to it or something!
It stands out like a sore thumb.


On the other hand… wrapping flowerpots in some shoddy jute is silly and looks very much like “we couldn’t find anything Victorian so let’s just wrap it up with dirty old fabric.”.


Anyway, the Howarth are very happy and that makes us happy.

Quite shocking to realise that the cost of some porcelain dog would feed a slum family for 3 weeks.
Can you imagine how it would have made people feel back then, walking around while their children are going to bed without dinner and to school without shoes and seeing ladies and gentlemen walking around wearing gloves or hats or even a little pin on their jacket that cost so much they could change your life around.
It is a miracle there weren’t more revolutions back then.

Ah here are the Irish brother and sister, can’t help noticing Johns hair again, it is amazing.
This should become  a new fashion trend; the floppy wild semi-electrocuted bowler hat coupe.
The Slum Special.

The fake flowers in the shop look rather un-Victorian.
I don’t know what fake Victorian flowers looked like but I doubt they were plastic and that is what these look like.
Didn’t the Potters spend an entire episode making fake flowers the old fashioned way?
Why not sell those?


It is so nice, again, to see father and son Howarth working together, a Victorian necessity, a modern day blessing.
How often do people get this chance today?
Sure, sending kids to school is important and will be better in the end, but I reckon quite a few of us would secretly rather enjoy simply keeping our kids home and taking them to work, spend the day working together and one day seeing them take over your store.
It is also nice that the Howarth junior realises this, he’s a very observant young man.


Wonderful segment about Mr. Charles Booth.
His data has been such an invaluable source of information.

Oh dear, the kids are being send to school.
An improvement, of course, but it also means one member of the family can no longer work.
The teacher looks fantastic, I immediately like her although I reckon she’ll be able to strike some fear into those kids hearts as well.

It is a shame the class room isn’t fuller.
Another missed opportunity.
I reckon they could have found enough young volunteers to join our contestants in those benches for a few days.
How many days did the kids spend in this school during the recording of this show anyway?

Will teacher use the cane?
Of course not, even if she would have wanted to, even if the kids would have agreed, even if the parents had agreed that for the sake of historical accuracy, the teacher should be permitted to strike the children if they misbehaved, it probably wouldn’t be allowed by law, Health & safety or some other softy wimpy rules or laws.

A drought!
Their water is rationed and now we get our first proper look at the toilet facilities… oh no we don’t.

We still don’t know if these people use a proper Victorian privy or if there are some modern toilets hidden in those  outside toilets.
It is not because I think the contestants wouldn’t be ok with it, we already know they are willing to suffer, but because you just never know these days with all these strict laws and regulations if it is even allowed.
Oh I spoke too soon, we do get a look now, thanks to the sanitary inspectors.
They loo pretty good although I wonder why there’s fabric stuck to the top, if there isn’t secretly a modern toilet hidden under that lid and of course that toilet paper is way too fancy.
Up to the 1930s most people would have just used newspaper.
We’ll never know until one of the contestants or crew members spills the beans!


They are shutting the dosshouse down, the scene feels a little too directed and orchestrated for my liking.
Getting two of the neighbours to do the inspection and then “deciding” that the place must be closed feels a little staged.
Why not hire some outsider to do that, preferably in front of the contestants who would have had no idea and would be surprised, shocked, delighted and/or horrified with some stranger pointing out all the things that needed improving.
Mr. Gardiner takes the news well, I expected him to at least remove the boards so he could strip the place clean of stuff he might be able to sell.
Some of that bedding might have given him a few pennies.

Maria and John are leaving, they did very well and are now moving on. Seeing them say their goodbyes makes you realise that this group of contestants have grown very close and are, in all this fairness and simulated history, experiencing more real good old community spirit than most of us ever will.
Which is kind of sad.


Teaching kids gender specific practical skills may no longer fit in how we think today but secretly I wish I had such lessons when I was a kid in the 1970s.
We need to bring practical skills back, perhaps not gender specific but as much as kids would hate to learn how to sew or do woodwork, you just know that there will come a time in their life later on when they realise that it is quite handy to have that knowledge.
I wish someone taught me how to darn stockings.
Of course for the poor Victorian children these lessons were useless, they already knew all these things.
It is wonderful to see how our modern children feel they would have rather stayed at home to do their bit and help their families.

Poor Mr. Howarth isn’t dealing with the work pressure very well, then again, when everything goes wrong, we’d all need a break.
An alcoholic break.
The temperance pledge would have been another good excuse to bring some outsiders in.
Can you imagine how our slum dwellers would have felt if in stead of just one of them suggesting they sign it, some fancy posh people in Victorian outfits, or some priest came around who thought their drinking was the reason for their poverty and who tried to shame them into signing this pledge?
Would have been a wonderful scene.

The ladies are going to the bath house!
I wish we still had more of these around.
Wonderful swimsuits ladies, the steam and being brought up properly means we can’t take a proper long look at them, so I can’t be sure but they looked very authentic and that pink soap looked like carbolic soap to me.
Good stuff.

Time to improve the slums, about time.
Even super-visual improvements are improvements.

The suit Mr Howarth made looks amazing.
If he would start making historical suits after this show I bet he’d sell lots of them.
I know so many people who’d pay good money for one of those.

Oh my, the slum is going to be demolished, time to move!
As wonderful as it was to demolish the slums and build some proper social housing, it is of course a shame that so much of that history then vanished for ever.
Then again, most of it probably would have been destroyed during the Blitz anyway.
The Boundary Estate looks wonderful.
Having gas and piped water is quite amazing, especially then.
This would have remained a luxury for many people in Western cities right up to WW2.
What a shame that they haven’t kept or reconstructed what those first apartments in the Boundary estate looked like.
I think they should.
With such an important historical building it would be so nice but also important to remind people what social housing looked like when it was first build.
Wonderful to see our Victorian slummers get upset and angry about the unfairness of losing their home while not being able to afford the new homes being offered to them or because they’re told to improve their building only to find out its to get their owner more cash for when it gets demolished.
Victorian life was unfair and it is good to realise that, not just for our participants but also for the viewers.
It is good to realise how good we have it today and how far we’ve come even though we still have a long way to go.

The episode ends on an uncertain note regarding the future.
Next week, big changes, progress, change and suffrage!
I can’t wait.


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