Main content

Acid Attacks

Helen Castor is joined by an expert on Victorian sex, suffrage and entertainment, Dr Fern Riddell, and Dr Bob Nicholson, historian of humour at Edge Hill University.

Helen Castor is in the chair for this edition of the long-running history magazine programme. Today, she's joined by the historian of Victorian sex, suffrage and entertainment, Dr Fern Riddell - along with an expert on Victorian and Edwardian humour, Dr Bob Nicholson of Edge Hill University in Lancashire.

Making History reporter Hester Cant braves the streets of north London with Fern Riddell to dig into the nasty past of acid attacks on the capital's streets, and a nineteenth century scare that became actor murdering mania.

Iszi Lawrence takes to the jiu jitsu mat with historian Naomi Paxton to discover how and why the suffragettes embraced this martial art.

Tom Holland has a tale that's hot off the historical presses.

And the Cornwall village of Linkinhorne comes under the spotlight when it enters the jeux sans frontières of history competitions, Top Town History.

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 17 Sep 2018 23:30


Helen Castor is in the chair for this edition of BBC Radio 4’s popular history magazine programme.

She’s joined by:

Dr Fern Riddell an expert in sex, suffrage and entertainment in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Dr Bob Nicholson who researches nineteenth century journalism and popular culture.

Acid Attacks

The wave of callous and life-changing acid attacks in London feels like a new threat on the streets of our capital. But, this is a crime that was horrifying Londoners in the nineteenth century too. Making History’s Hester Cant took Fern Riddell out onto the streets of North London to hear about one particularly nasty attack which the press of the day labelled Actor Murdering Mania!

The Guardian

Cassie Watson - Legal History

New Statesman

Suffragettes and Jiu Jitsu

A hundred years on from property-owning women winning the right to vote, it’s easy to forget the long and violent struggle which only truly ended in 1928 when women were given the franchise under the same terms as men. By taking direct action, suffragettes put themselves in great personal danger, not least from police officers and prison warders who would stop at nothing to undermine what was, effectively, a terrorist group that would resort to bombs as well as street protest to get their message home.

The suffragette response wasn’t to stop their protest or even their violence but to protect themselves by learning a martial art called Jiu Jitsu. Making History’s Iszi Lawrence is a purple belt herself and she showed the historian of the suffragettes, Dr Naomi Paxton, a few moves.

Dr Naomi Paxton

Bartitsu Society

History Extra

Pink News

Breaking Ground - the archaeology of a football ground

Football fans who are old enough will remember Bradford Park Avenue as the team who seemed to be continually applying for re-election to the football league. But, this former Division 4 club that’s now playing in the National League can boast of being a premiership outfit in terms of archaeology. In 2013 a band of supporters, historians and archaeologists got together for a football first: a dig on a former football pitch Bradford P.A’s old ground Horton Park Avenue. The project has spawned a book that was shortlisted for a major prize in 2017 - Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology & Mythology.

Tom Holland spoke with historian David Pendleton who took his call whilst standing on the very spot that he saw his first football game at Park Avenue several decades ago….

The Yorkshire Post

Bradford Park Avenue

National Football Museum

Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Top Town History

Fort William are back and face the historic might of … Linkinhorne in Cornwall, will the Scots be triumphant in their quest to lay claim to be top for history in the UK?

To suggest a town or a story for our team to look into email

Making History is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4


  • Tue 9 Jan 2018 15:30
  • Mon 17 Sep 2018 23:30