The First Great Train Robbery
Started: 16th Dec 2012 at 19:57
Last edited by dostaf: 16th Dec 2012 at 19:58:45
I remember getting the book at about the same times as the movie was in the cinemas, it was a movie tie-in edition with Connery on the cover. Brilliant book, brilliant movie.
Replied: 17th Dec 2012 at 05:39
Really enjoying the read at the moment, Cadfael.
Not as jolly as the film, what with the dog fighting and the, young, but legal for the day, girls.
Some stuff in there is a bit slapdash and the glossary I found is very useful.
Just got to the Bateson's Belfry bit, and done a bit of googlin.
"Bateson's belfry," as it was ordinarily known, was a plain iron bell mounted on the lid of the casket, over the deceased's head, and connected by a cord or wire through the coffin to the dead person's hand, "such that the least tremor shall directly sound the alarum." Bateson's belfries attained instant popularity, and within a few years a substantial proportion of coffins were fitted with these bells. During this period, three thousand people died daily in London alone, and Bateson's business was brisk; he was soon a wealthy man and respected as well: in 1859, Victoria, awarded him an O.B.E. for his efforts.
As a kind of odd footnote to the story, Bateson himself lived in mortal terror of being buried alive, and caused his workshop to fabricate increasingly complex alarm systems for installation on his own coffin after he died. By 1867, his preoccupation left him quite insane, and he rewrote his will, directing his family to cremate him at his death. However, suspecting that his instructions would not be followed, in the spring of 1868 he doused himself with linseed oil in his workshop, set himself aflame, and died by self-immolation.
Then google sent me this:
Novels are of course works of fiction, but it is this novel that appears to be the source of the belief in the 'Bateson Belfry'. Just in case the story has any factual basis I have done a little research into it. Did Bateson even exist? The comprehensive Oxford Dictionary of National Biography makes no mention of any George Bateson - surprising for a prominent inventor who is supposed to have been awarded an Order of the British Empire. Did he record a patent? I can't find any record of the supposed patent at the UK Patents Office. Was he awarded the OBE? No, he wasn't. Queen Victoria didn't award Bateson, or anyone else, the OBE, she died 16 years before the OBE was inaugurated.
So I checked with Wiki
Replied: 17th Dec 2012 at 14:51
Last edited by dostaf: 17th Dec 2012 at 20:23:24