Ten everyday items that were invented during the Victorian Era


The Victorian period was one of Britain’s longest historical eras.  Queen Victoria ruled for 63 years, and the Victorian period itself lasted from 1837-1901.

Sometimes, for convenience sake, this era is said to start in 1830, since that is the end of the Romantic period.  However it’s numbered, the Victorian era was a time of expansionism and the development of various inventions, some of which we are still using today in one form or another.   Great innovations were designed, but sometimes these items did not yet have the technology behind them so they could be used as extensively as their successors.   Below are ten things still in use today that were created when Queen Victoria ruled the United Kingdom and her colonies around the world.

10.The first mass produced chocolate bar and the Easter egg

Fry’s Chocolate Cream was the first mass-produced chocolate bar.  Created in 1847, it is now considered the oldest candy bar in the world.  After a few years, the company introduced the first chocolate Easter egg to be made in the UK.

Enamel sign advertising Fry’s Chocolate, pre-1925

Fry’s chocolate was founded in 1728 by Joseph Fry; the company became a family business whose members invented a cocoa bean roasting process as well as the delicious chocolates themselves.

Fry’s was one of the earliest companies to use contemporary artists in its advertising, and they were the first to adapt printed, colored labels for their product.  They have now merged and are part of Cadbury’s.  Some of their chocolate brands are still offered today, such as their Turkish Delight and Peppermint Crème.

9.Pneumatic rubber tires for bicycles were invented well before those for automobiles

The inventor of the first patented pneumatic rubber tire was a Scotsman named Robert William Thomson, who introduced his product a staggering 43 years before Dunlop came out with his tires.  Invented in 1845 when Thomson was only aged 23, these tires came on the scene when bicycles were just taking off as vehicles for the general public.  They were well before their time and, sadly, became known as a novelty due to lack of demand and very high production costs.

Thomson proved in a demonstration that the tires made what was a normally bumpy xperience into a ride that was smooth and quiet.   He called them “Aerial Wheels” and he hoped they would be used on carriages.   They were made with a thick, rubberized fabric tube encased in a leather outer skin and filled with pressurized air.

Robert Thomson’s obituary in The Illustrated London News of 29 March 1873

On testing, it was found they would last more than 1,200 miles before wearing out. He also invented solid India-rubber tires for the extremely heavy steam engines that were damaging road surfaces.  With his invention, the “Thomson Steamers” were able to travel over paved and tarmacked roads without causing damage.  Over his lifetime he was to file 14 patents for a variety of products.

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