Sunday, 29 September 2013

Strange overlaps - go by train

A hanging at Newgate prison (from Wikipedia)
As I noted here, one of the things that got me interested in chronographics was ungleichzeitigkeit, where events don't seem to line up as we feel they should. Things which seem to belong to the same time turn out to be further apart than we thought; things that seem to belong to separate eras turn out to overlap.*

An item in a television programme the other day alerted me to one of these strange overlaps.
Londoners travelled on the underground to see the city's last public hanging.
Yes, the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway, opened on 9 January 1863 using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, while William Calcraft carried out the last public execution in England five years later, on 26 May 1868, when he hanged Michael Barrett in front of Newgate Prison for his part in the 'Clerkenwell Outrage'.   

*An interesting writer on these tendencies in our thinking is Eviatar Zerubavel, professor of sociology at Rutgers University. See his 2003 book:
Zerubavel, Eviatar. 2003. Time Maps - collective memory and the social shape of the past. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

1 comment:

  1. In other news: France was still using the guillotine when "Star Wars" came out.