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Concrete in the Victorian Era: A Revolutionary Building Material

Did mortgages exist in the Victorian era?

Joseph Aspdin: Inventor of Portland Cement

The Victorian era was a time of great innovation and progress in many areas, including architecture and construction. One of the most important developments during this period was the widespread use of concrete as a building material.

Prior to the Victorian era, concrete had been used for centuries in various forms, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that its use became more widespread. This was due in large part to technological advancements that made it easier to produce high-quality concrete on a larger scale.

One of the key figures in the development of modern concrete was Joseph Aspdin, who patented his method for producing Portland cement in 1824. This type of cement is still widely used today and is an essential component in modern concrete.

During the Victorian era, architects and engineers began experimenting with different types of concrete mixes and techniques to create structures that were stronger, more durable, and more aesthetically pleasing than ever before. Some of the most notable examples of Victorian-era concrete architecture include:

The Albert Memorial

Completed in 1872, the Albert Memorial is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, it features a towering spire made from cast iron and covered in intricate decorative panels made from colored marble and granite. The base of the monument is made from solid brickwork covered with Portland stone and decorated with sculptures depicting scenes from Queen Victoria’s reign.

Tower Bridge

Opened in 1894, Tower Bridge is another iconic London landmark that showcases the versatility and strength of Victorian-era concrete construction. The bridge’s towers are made from massive stone blocks held together with steel bands, while its roadway is supported by steel trusses covered with ornate cast iron cladding.

The Thames Embankment

In addition to individual buildings and structures, Victorian engineers also used concrete to create entire infrastructure projects like London’s Thames Embankment. Completed between 1865-1870, this massive undertaking involved constructing a new retaining wall along both sides of the river to prevent flooding while also creating new land for development.

The embankment was built using a combination of brickwork faced with granite blocks on top and reinforced concrete below ground level. It also featured ornate lamp posts designed by architect George Vulliamy that are still standing today.


The use of concrete as a building material during the Victorian era represented a major turning point in architectural history. Its strength, durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal made it an ideal choice for everything from individual buildings to entire infrastructure projects.

Today, we continue to rely on concrete as one of our primary building materials thanks to ongoing advancements in technology that have allowed us to refine its composition and production methods even further. From skyscrapers to highways to dams and bridges, there’s no doubt that our reliance on this remarkable material will only continue to grow over time.

To learn more about modern concrete, including concrete repairs and coatings, check out the resources at

The history of painting and decorating

Did mortgages exist in the Victorian era?

The painting and decorating industry as we know it today can trace its origins back to the Victorian era when the increasingly large homes of wealthy British families were decorated with ever-more elaborate schemes. The first home painters were craftsmen who worked directly for their clients; this is how many such “house decorators” (as they would be called today) started their careers. It was soon realized, however, that this did not provide the flexibility required to meet the demands of a changing clientele or interior decorating fads.

The first attempts at moving towards a more open market were made in London in the 1840s when artists began opening cooperative workrooms where each member could benefit from the collective services, techniques, and income. By 1866, these organizations had been so successful that the Royal Academy of Arts had granted them formal recognition under the name of “The United Kingdom Alliance of Fine Art Trade.” The original aim was to enable artists to provide their decorative painting services directly to whomever they wished; in practice, however, the organization had the effect of establishing fixed prices for its members.

The British Victorian era is famous for its rich diversity of decoration styles, ranging from the stark Neoclassicism that preceded it to the florid opulence of William Morris’ design movement at the turn of the 20th century. Indeed, decorating styles evolved so rapidly that, by 1860, critics were already lamenting the “sickly monotony” of Victorian design. At this time, it was also becoming common for tradesmen with decorative skills to set up their own shops and provide house-painting services directly to customers; these painters tended to work quickly and without much embellishment (much like the decorators of the Victorian era).

Creating wallpaper designs was historically the most complicated aspect of home decoration. Hand-painting these designs were laborious work and required great artistic skill. It was not until the mid-19th century that machine-made papers with pre-printed designs became widely available, thus opening the way for a revolution in home decoration. To begin with, only undecorated white paper was widely available; but as time progressed, manufacturing techniques allowed for colored paper to be produced in large quantities, with patterns printed onto them using woodblocks. As woodblock printing is a very old technique, it had been used for centuries before its application to wallpaper manufacturing.

It was during the Victorian era that bright, eye-catching designs first began appearing in wallpaper; previously, most papers were rather plain, with cream or off-white being the most common color available. Soon enough, however, wallpaper manufacturers began introducing novelty designs into their catalogs.

Victorian wallpaper designs were not printed exclusively with inks; some manufacturers also used relief blocks to produce embossed effects instead. One of the most common ornamental effects was the waffle pattern or “toile de Jouy.”

The Victorian era is also notable for its ornate styles of decoration, most notably the William Morris movement, which flourished under Victoria’s reign. This style was distinguished by complex color palettes composed up of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of different hues, repeated patterns based on plant forms, and interwoven floral themes. Many people find the resulting designs extremely gaudy, but this type of design was incredibly popular because it allowed even very poor households to display an appearance of elegance and sophistication by simply pasting printed wallpaper onto their walls.

Even today, the Victorian era is renowned for its ornate styles of decoration and is often used as a reference point when describing the interior design. One cannot even begin to imagine what houses in Victorian times would look like if they were decorated by today’s standards; the excesses of this era still remain unmatched in terms of lavishness and ostentation (at least in Britain). Of course, the Victorians weren’t just about ornamentation. They were also artists and artisans who worked diligently to develop new methods of decoration that are now widely used.

How was painting and decorating performed back in the day versus the painting we all know today? What was the process back then? How did they decorate with paint, and what kinds of tools were used?

In the old days, before home painting became widespread, the decoration was a laborious process. It often took days to properly wallpaper a room, for instance, and there were no spray paints, rollers, or even brushes that we use today. Instead, painters utilized a variety of tools that seem almost ludicrous by today’s standards but were commonplace during the Victorian era.

For starters, there was gilding. This technique involved mixing resin with gold powder and then applying it over walls or furniture using a paintbrush that had been dipped into this mixture first. On its own, gilding does not have a particularly shiny appearance. However, when the paint is then coated with a clear resin or varnish, it produces an incredible effect.

Another method of decoration involved painting complicated patterns onto walls and furniture using chewed bread as a tool to create impressions on newspapers lay atop wet paint. This particular type of design was called “sponge painting.” It produced a very interesting effect and was quite labor-intensive.

Victorian paintings and decorating are extremely different from what we see today, no?

Yes, painting and decorating have undergone a quiet revolution since Victorian times. Today, the task takes mere hours instead of days; brushes have largely replaced bread spoons for creating intricate patterns, and even wallpaper can be easily applied onto walls using patented rolls.
What are some things you should know about how they did their paintings? Did they do it themselves or hire someone?
In Victorian times, most people who could afford it had the rooms in their homes painted by professional painters. Even middle-class families would often have these professionals come in for help with painting and decorating, particularly ornate rooms such as ballrooms and parlors. However, there were some amateurs back then, but they were rather unusual. For example, one man named James Leakey would swallow paint and then regurgitate it onto canvas or even directly into a patron’s mouth.

Pro Home Painters Niagara is a home decorating service specializing in painting and decorating homes throughout Southern Ontario. We have worked on projects in over 35 cities and have done work for customers ranging from homeowners to large firms.

Did mortgages exist in the Victorian Era?

Did mortgages exist in the Victorian era?

That image is clearly not from the Victorian era!  But if you have been considering taking out a mortgage on a property, then you may be finding yourself a little curious about the history of mortgages. It may surprise you to know that the concept of mortgages is in fact not new, and has been around for hundreds of years – dating back to at least the 12th century!

Our modern-day mortgages did not really begin to take shape until the Victorian Era (1837-1901). The Victorian Era is considered to be a time of great progress and ingenuity, marking the world’s first real Industrial Revolution, which lead to sweeping social changes and political reformation. Because the Victorian Era was a time of massive growth with booming capital, this left many citizens of the United Kingdom, particularly those in rapidly growing London, England, with excess wealth and expenditures.

For the Victorian citizen looking to grow their capital even more, something that was now worthwhile was investing in not only growing businesses, but the housing market as well.

With the industrialization and expansion during the Victorian Era, came a substantial growth in population as well; this meant houses needed to be built in rapid-fire succession in order to accommodate the influx of people in England especially.

However, even though the population grew quickly, and there was a massive increase in houses being built, they were not exactly affordable, as buying a home during the Victorian Era could cost approximately thirteen times a person’s wage – which is where mortgages came in handy.

For a person looking to make an investment, or a family looking for a home, mortgages were beneficial for both parties. An investor could take out a mortgage on a property and in turn, rent it out to pay off the debt; or a person could take out a mortgage on a property live in or work on it themselves, and make payments and retain ownership of the land themselves, much like our modern-day mortgages.

However, since mortgages became so widespread during the Victorian Era, this also lead to the creation of legislature in order to protect potential buyers from being scammed. Occasionally people would create advertisements under the names of fake banks to sell capital that did not exist, and as a result, Parliament created the Bill of Sales Act to prevent the active ruin of many consumers. The Bill of Sales Act required all bills of sale to be registered with the High Court, so any interested buyers could find out whether or not the capital in question had already been sold.

So, it is fairly interesting to know that mortgages, as a concept, have been around for hundreds of years, and it was only in the last two hundred years that they have really begun to reshape and modernize into the familiar investment we know today.

In conclusion, mortgages did exist in the Victorian era!  Landlords and landladies were still essential roles in caring for a rental property, renting was still an incredibly common practice, and not a whole lot is incredibly different from modern times, aside from further creation of legislature to ensure the protection of mortgagors, mortgagees, and their tenants.

Junk Removal in the Victorian Era

garbage incinerator used in the victorian era

Since the beginning of history, waste has been generated by humans. Have you ever wondered how waste and junk was handled in the early industrial Victorian time period?

Following the initial onset of industrialization and the growth in the population of large cities in England, the rapid accumulation of waste caused a sanitation problem and an overall decrease in the quality of life in these cities. It wasn’t uncommon for people to literally throw their garbage (and even human waste) out of their windows, onto the streets. The thinking at the time was that stray wildlife would simply eat whatever they threw out. That did happen, to a certain extent, but then it was immediately followed by a large amount of defecation created by those animals that were constantly eating the garbage.

The streets literally became filled with garbage and dung, which lead to cries from the general public for the creation of an authoritative body to oversee waste management. So in the late 18th century, the first iteration of waste management appeared in England.

By the mid-19th century, waste management services in London England continued to evolve. Changes were prompted by terrible cholera outbreaks and the desire to reduce disease transmission. The Public Health Act of 1875 made it mandatory for every household to place their waste in “moveable receptacles” to be picked up for proper disposal on a weekly basis. This was the first concept of a garbage bin.

This also lead to a stark increase in the amount of waste required to be disposed of, since it was now mandatory for all households to put their waste out for collection each week. To handle the large amount of waste, incineration plants were created. These were also called “destructors”. The first incinerator was built in Nottingham by Manlove, Alliott & Co. Ltd in 1874, but it was met with harsh opposition due to the large amounts of ash it produced, which ended up wafting over heavily populated areas nearby.

There was practically no concept of recycling in this time period. Unlike in modern times, when you can call a junk removal service, like Eco Junk Removal, to properly recycle and dispose of any junk or debris you might have accumulated over the years. So just imagine having to incinerate any junk at your home instead of having it picked up by junk removal professionals.

By the early 1900s, there were several hundred incinerators in Britain and also the United States, actively burning junk and garbage. Due to the byproducts of burning this garbage, other ways of dealing with the ever-increasing amounts of waste were experimented with. Eventually, landfills became the most practical way of handling the waste.

What about the way junk and garbage were transported in the Victorian era? As you would expect, the method of transportation was very crude. Victorian era garbage removal trucks were very rudimentary. Often, they were just open bodies on a frame hooked up to a team of horses. It wasn’t until the 1920s when the first closed-bodied truck was invented. These closed-bodied trucks included a dumping lever mechanism that helped eliminate odours as the waste was being collected. They became motorized as well, and eventually a “hopper mechanism” was invented, which allowed the trucks to pick up large waste dumpsters and dump them into the back of the truck.

We hope you enjoyed this look into the past and most importantly, you appreciate how far we’ve come in the waste management and junk removal space. See you next time!

Victorian Era Hairstyling

Hair has always been a show of status, especially in the time of aristocracy.  It was namely the Victorian Era, which marked the reign of Queen Victoria from 1937 to 1901, that claimed hair was a person’s “crowning glory”. 

Who opened the first hair salon?

During that time, the world’s economy was expanding and the role of women grew. In the beginning, women were expected to follow the pursuit of finding a man to marry. But as the 20th century grew near, many women were leaving the house more and working in factories and becoming entrepreneurs, like Martha Matilda Harper.

The first hair salon was opened in 1888 by Harper, who had moved from Canada to Rochester, NY. She grew up a servant and later worked for a physician who studied hair health and shared his recipe for hair tonic. Armed with the recipe and some money she saved up, she traveled south into the States and started The Harper Hair Parlor.

She later opened up many locations by employing other working-class females to learn her Harper Method through training programs. She was one of the first to franchise her business, many years prior to McDonald’s.

What was it like to visit the first hair salon?

In the Victorian Era, it was still normal for the upper-class women to have their servants tend to their hair and when they did use a hairdresser, they made house calls. Harper’s salon gave women the opportunity to leave the house and participate in a type of sisterhood only found at women-only salons. Men’s barbershops were much of the same.

Harper’s Method focused primarily on two things: customer-centric service and all-natural products. At home, women would only clean their hair weekly or monthly using Castile soap or ammonia. The soap would strip the natural oils from the hair and scalp and cause dandruff while the ammonia would sting their noses and burn their scalp.

The term shampoo became associated with washing hair in the late 1800s, but prior to this, the word shampoo meant to wash the head and body with soap. The hair washing stations that we have in our modern salons were invented by Matilda Harper, however, she never filed a patent on it. The headrest and reclined chair over the sink helped redefine the word shampoo.

How did women care for their hair?

Many women followed the social rule of brushing one’s hair 100 times a day. It’ spread the natural oils from the scalp and cleaned the hair without washing. Women didn’t bathe often nor did they get fully naked, either. They rarely soaked in a bath so washcloths with water and vinegar did the trick.

But hair hygiene became more and more popular. Women had long hair that was rarely cut and often touched the floor. But it was always pinned up. Once a female reached the age of sexual maturity, she would no longer leave her hair down—only for intimate moments with her husband. So the hairstyles were aimed towards a natural look, but always in an up-do, much like the elegant and classy bridal hair styles of today.

What hairstyles were popular back then?

At the beginning of the Victorian Era, hairstyles were simple: clean and shiny hair with a middle part and a braided or twisted updo. Women looked to Queen Victoria for inspiration so they were to be clean, pristine, and elegant.

In the 1850s, many women pinned their hair in a low bun on the back of their heads but left curls to hang on the side of the face. These were called chignons and were like a waterfall of curls. Or they had loops of hair hanging along the side of their heads.

By the 1880s there were new hairstyles that called for volume. It’s said that women would wear their hair “big” on the sides to match their waist size. Using clumps of hair leftover from their combs, they would place “ratts” of this hair underneath to create plump. Pompadours also became popular with the help of these hair tuffs.

The end of the 1800s gave way to the Gibson Girl hairstyle created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. The hair was loosely piled on top of the head into a big bun.

What tools were used?

A Victorian Era woman’s vanity would hold a comb, a Mason Pearson style brush, and a hand mirror. Extra hair was collected in a hair receiver, a box designated for the strands caught in the brushes.

In 1890, the first curling iron was credited to a Frenchman named Marcel Grateau. The metal rod would be held over a flame or burning alcohol to gain heat before the hair was wrapped around. This led to the Marcel wave, a crimped style of hair named after the creator that stayed popular for many decades after.

Ultimately, hygiene was held of most importance. If you looked clean, if your hair was shiny, if it was held tight in an updo, you were as beautiful as the queen herself.

Windows in the Victorian Era

In the 19th century, glass production advancements made a massive impact on property construction.  These advancements resulted in less demand for sash windows and the rise of Victorian windows that are characterized by their distinct “two over two panel” design.

Sash windows are made of one or more movable panels, or “sashes”, that form a frame to hold panes of glass.  These sashes are separated by glazing bars.  The advancements in glass production allowed Victorian windows to do away with the glazing bars.  As glass designs continued to get heavier, sash horns were added for structural support, which became a hallmark of Victorian window style.

Before the rise of various technological advancements, traditional Victorian windows were primarily made of either softwood or hardwood timber materials, such as mahogany, cherry or pine, as well as copper, iron, and other materials. At present, Victorian-inspired windows can be indistinguishably replicated using either uPVC or aluminum materials.

During the Victorian period, the most common width for windows was approximately 4 feet, with the width being shorter than the height.  Classical construction valued window proportion balanced with the overall aesthetic of the building exterior.  Victorian design perceives windows as an element that adds value to a property, without compromising the overall aesthetic of the home.

Window cleaning during the Victorian period was considered to be a laborious and time-consuming task since it involved cleaning an enormous number of sash windows.  The number of windows was an indicator of the wealth of the homeowner. Window cleaning was often carried out by housewives of normal-sized homes, or by servants of large houses.

The procedure of window cleaning during the Victorian period involved the use of hot water placed in a metal bucket, accompanied by a cleaning cloth. In some cases, people would incorporate vinegar in order to add a little bit of shine and to remove stubborn grease on the surface of the sash windows. Then after the cleaning process, the windows would be left open in order to let the pungent smell of the vinegar out.  Also, newspapers were typically used to buff the surface of the glass, since newspaper in that era contained a particular ingredient that helped in eliminating greasy smears.

Well, we sure have come a long way in the window cleaning world.  According to the experts at Sudbury Window Cleaning, housewives, servants, vinegar, and newspapers are no longer used in the cleaning of residential windows.  Instead, they employ good old fashioned elbow grease and the right tools for the job, to prevent damage to your windows and to preserve their long life.  You can read all about modern era window cleaning on their website,

In conclusion, Victorian homeowners placed a great value on the appearance and quantity of windows on their property, as they considered it an indication of their wealth.  The old method of cleaning these windows involved servants using a vinegar-based cleaning solution and newspaper to cut through the grease and dirt on the windows.  We love the look of Victorian windows, but we’re very thankful for modern window cleaning practices.

Dental care in the Victorian era

Most of us cringe at the thought of going to the dentist, sometimes, for even just a rudimentary procedure. We don’t like needles poking our gums or the painful reaction of a dentist touching a very sensitive tooth. Yet we can draw some comfort from the fact that dentistry has come a long way since the Victorian era of the 1800s and early 1900s.

Back in Victorian times, there was no such thing as a dentist. You either went to see a barber or a blacksmith who doubled as a kind of “dental surgeon.” Methods of dealing with decaying teeth pretty much came down to having them pulled out, with no pain medication and no anesthetic. Patients suffered in agony as they were often held down or strapped down by an assistant to limit any squirming by the patient that could inhibit the work of the barber or blacksmith.

For most of the 1800s and into the early 1900s, tooth extraction was the only method of dealing with toothaches and decaying teeth. Dental care was so bad during the Victorian Era that many thousands of people died from dental treatments gone wrong. Back in the 1800s, getting a tooth removed could potentially result in death.

To try to mitigate against decaying teeth and toothaches, people living in the Victorian era would resort to dental hygiene practices such as, cleaning teeth with water and twigs and using rough cloth as a form of toothbrush to try to remove food particles and plaque. These attempts at trying to care for teeth were quite rudimentary and frequently unsuccessful. What made matters worse is that during this time period, sugar became more widely distributed, which, as expected, increased tooth decay rapidly, further compounding the problem.

Toothaches in the 1800s and 1900s were so painful that many people preferred to have an aching tooth removed. The process was painful and risky but the pain of the tooth removal was only temporary and many people preferred to take the risk and the temporary agony. Early attempts were made to use wooden teeth as dentures but the interaction of saliva with the wood only lead to eventual decay. Other methods included using teeth from dead bodies for dentures. These types of efforts at replacing damaged teeth are a far cry from modern dentures and dental implants which are common today.

Despite the lack of access to better technologies in dentistry for most people, the first university-affiliated degree program for dentistry was established at Harvard University in 1867. In 1871, Dr. Robert Tanner Freedman became the first African-American graduate to become a dentist. In the same year, Dr. James B Morrison patented the foot-treadle dental engine which was, as the name suggested, powered by the pumping action of one’s foot which then powered a drill that could effectively remove tooth decay.

So, while we may cringe at the thought of going to visit a dentist or oral surgeon, let us be thankful that we didn’t have to endure the horrible pain of botched dental procedures of the Victorian Era.

Lamp shades

We love Victorian lamp shades, especially ones that are sewn by hand.  We think Victorian lamp shades have been and remain one of the most beautiful accent decor accessories in homes today.  Their uniqueness and beauty can create a lovely ambiance for your home.

The popularity of having Victorian and Vintage styled lampshades in homes, hotels and Bed & Breakfasts has increased dramatically due to the softness and ambiance they create.  The soft lighting that emanates from Victorian Lamp shades can give a room a peaceful and romantic aura.

The beauty and warmth of Victorian Lampshades has become a requirement for many homes that crave a unique work of art that the owners have had a hand in designing.  

We firmly believe when picking the shape of your lamp shade, have it match the lamp’s contour.  For example, if the lamp base is oval with some curves, the best style of shade would be oval with curves.  If your base is bottom-heavy, try adding a Victorian shade in the shape of a cone on top of the base.