Friday, 14 November 2008

Road safety week 10-16 November 2008

This week is the Road Safety Week campaign.
One of the House of Commons parliamentary papers I have recently catalogued is "Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety Beyond 2010, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence" (HC 460).
In it , you'll find out that the first motorway in Britain was opened fifty years ago in December. There were just over seven million vehicles licensed in Britain in 1958, and 6000 deaths resulted in that year. Not suprisingly, the number of vehicles licensed have increased by 400% by 2007; however, the deaths on the road have gone below 3000 which I find incredible.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Scottish Cemetery

Off a busy street in Kolkata lies a little corner of Scotland - the old Scottish cemetery, containing the remains of hundreds of Scots who made their home in what was the heart of Imperial India. The decaying cemetery is now the subject of a project by our heritage colleagues from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). At the invitation of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage and the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust, RCAHMS staff are on their first field trip there to assess the damage and draw up a restoration plan.
Names from the interment register will be added to a database, and the team will not only restore the monuments, but help create a green space for the city.

You can follow the team's progress in their very entertaining blog!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Deadly flu

It is 90 years since the end of World War I, in which millions of people died. But did you know that it is also 90 years since another event killed millions more? Beginning as a first wave in spring 1918, “Spanish Flu” infected an estimated third of the world’s population and killed vast numbers (estimated at 50 million worldwide), mostly those who were between 20-40 years old. It reached its peak with second and third waves in autumn 1918 and winter 1919, just when peace was settling on the countries torn apart by warfare.
Even today no one knows why it was so fatal despite teams of scientists working to try and understand the origin of the virus. This may be crucial in preventing another devastating pandemic.
There are many Official Publications dealing with the threat of another influenza pandemic which include a Scottish framework for responding,Oral Evidence from the House of Commons, and NHS Scotland public health advice for travellers.
The Guardian's interactive feature, showing news articles and adverts from when the 1918 flu struck the UK, is very good and worth a look.
Meanwhile, Google is using today's search engine technology to track flu trends in the USA.
Photo of influenza virus credited to CDC/Dr. F. A. Murphy[via pingnews]

90th anniversary of the Armistice

The Armistice with Germany was signed at 5 a.m. on the morning of 11th November, 1918. The Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, rose and made the announcement to the House of Commons. He then read the conditions of the armistice. In conclusion, he said:
"I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars."

One of the most poignant items we have in our collection is Soldiers Died in the Great War, especially the page (above) listing all those killed and injured on the day of the Armistice itself.

Monday, 10 November 2008

The Great War

With the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I approaching, we've been looking at some of our official publications from that time. From
Notes from The Front, and The field service pocket book we found some diagrams of the trenches, not only British, but German ones, too. The German trench even has a figure of a soldier with his trademark pointed steel helmet, and what appears to be a handlebar moustache. There's a lot of detail on construction and materials used, and also signs for sketching routes and battlefields, such as roads, woods, villages and churches.