Ebenezer James MacRae
Ebenezer James MacRae was a Scottish architect serving as City Architect for Edinburgh for most of his active life. He was the son of Rev Alexander MacRae of the Free Church of Scotland. To family and friends he was known as Ben MacRae, he studied architecture under Archibald MacPherson from 1899 to 1907, remaining good friends until death. He trained at both Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art, he did various sketching tours around the country in his twenties: York, Melrose, Cambridge, Lincoln and Oxford. In 1908 he trained further, under John Kinross. Late in 1908 he got a post as an assistant in the City Architect's Department of the Edinburgh Corporation, serving under James Anderson Williamson, he qualified as an architect in 1914. He served in the Royal Engineers during World War I returned to Edinburgh as Depute City Architect. In 1925 he was promoted to City Architect, a role he held until retiral in 1946. In 1926 he took over the Director of Housing post from the retiring City Engineer Adam Horsburgh Campbell.
From this date onwards the main thrust of his workload would be the provision of high-quality social housing with good space standards and light levels. His team provided around 12,000 houses in the city, many of which in central locations to save tenants travel costs, his housing work is discussed in Volume 13 of the Book of the Old Edinburgh Club. In 1936, the young William Gordon Dey worked under MacRae undertaking the city survey of the Canongate. In the mid 1940s he compiled "The Royal Mile" and "The Heritage of Greater Edinburgh": studies of the Old Town and remainder of the city; this document was one of the first to identify buildings worthy of preservation, including several within the Edinburgh New Town and Edinburgh Old Town. It formed the basis of works such as The Abercromby Plan. A keen historian it is that he was instrumental in erecting the first series of historic plaques in Edinburgh: a series of bronze plaques along the Royal Mile explaining various Closes, his final years as City Architect were unproductive since most public building works ceased during World War II, an exception being the completion of West Pilton to a much depleted specification.
MacRae was noted for his championing of the tenement and for his sensitive infill developments within the Old Town and central Edinburgh. These were designed in a weak C17th Scots style, faced in stone with slate roofs. Elsewhere he built traditional housing in rendered brick, again with slate roofing, he never used concrete block and his department only built one housing development in facing brick, Granton Mains Crescent. In 1934 he toured Europe as part of a delegation from the Department of Health; the result was the influential'Report on Working Class housing on the Continent' known as the Highton Report. After retiral he moved out of the city to live at Taprobane in Ratho where he lived with his wife Dorothy Craigie, his hobbies included ornithology and watercolour painting. He died at the Deaconess Hospital in the Pleasance Edinburgh after a short illness, he was cremated at Warriston Crematorium on 22 January 1951 and his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance there. A memorial plaque to his memory stands in the south arcade of the crematorium.
Our Lady of Loretto and St Michael RC Church, works to presbytery and hall whilst working under Archibald MacPherson Repairs at Kirkwall Cathedral, whilst working under John Kinross Gorgie Cattle Market, Corporation Slaughterhouse and a police station, whilst assisting J A Anderson 218-240 and 241-243 Ferry Road, whilst Depute City Architect Kilcalmonell Churchyard, War Memorial Gateway as a private commission Further extensions to Gorgie Market and Slaughterhouse Edinburgh's Tram shelters and waiting rooms all lost but a waiting room still survives at 6 Liberton Gardens Stable court/curator's offices at Lauriston Castle soon after the city's acquisition of this property His tour de force, Portobello Power Station, together with the linked Portbello Lido which borrowed its hot water from the station's cooling pipes. This was the major landmark in Portobello until its demolition 1977 to 1979 Prestonfield Housing Scheme Layout of St Margarets Park, Corstorphine Stenhouse Housing Scheme 40-42 Candlemaker Row, remodelling of Candlemakers Hall 15-19 and 74-84 Grassmarket Richmond Place, West Richmond Street Public Library in Corstorphine Niddrie/Craigmillar Housing Scheme 24 houses in Gilmerton on the edge of Edinburgh Entire layout of East Pilton Housing Estate which includes Royston Mains and Wardieburn Greyfriars Hostel, 2-12 Cowgate Restoration of 74-96 West Bow 204 houses in Slateford 24 houses in Gilmerton Restoration of 39-43 Candlemaker Row including a new interior Pavilion at Clarebank School, Leith Widening of Lothian Road onto an arcade over the graveyards at St Cuthberts and St Johns Restoration of several tenements on the Canongate as part of the Canongate Improvement Scheme Alterations to Edinburgh City Library on George IV Bridge Leith Poorhouse now demolished.
Numerous combined traffic signs/ street lamps at various T-junctions Public wash-house on Junction Place
A1 road (Great Britain)
The A1 is the longest numbered road in the UK, at 410 miles. It connects London, the capital of England, with Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, it passes through or near North London, Welwyn Garden City, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark-on-Trent, Doncaster, Ripon, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne and Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was designated by the Ministry of Transport in 1921, for much of its route it followed various branches of the historic Great North Road, the main deviation being between Boroughbridge and Darlington; the course of the A1 has changed where towns or villages have been bypassed, where new alignments have taken a different route. Several sections of the route have been upgraded to motorway standard and designated A1. Between the M25 and the A696 the road has been designated as part of the unsigned Euroroute E15 from Inverness to Algeciras; the A1 is the latest in a series of routes north from London to York and beyond. It was designated in 1921 by the Ministry of Transport under the Great Britain road numbering scheme.
The earliest documented northern routes are the roads created by the Romans during the period from AD 43 to AD 410, which consisted of several itinera recorded in the Antonine Itinerary. A combination of these were used by the Anglo-Saxons as the route from London to York, together became known as Ermine Street. Ermine Street became known as the Old North Road. Part of this route in London is followed by the current A10. By the 12th century, because of flooding and damage by traffic, an alternative route out of London was found through Muswell Hill, became part of the Great North Road. A turnpike road, New North Road and Canonbury Road, was constructed in 1812 linking the start of the Old North Road around Shoreditch with the Great North Road at Highbury Corner. While the route of the A1 outside London follows the Great North Road route used by mail coaches between London and Edinburgh, within London the coaching route is only followed through Islington. Bypasses were built around Barnet and Hatfield in 1927, but it was not until c.1954 that they were renumbered A1.
In the 1930s bypasses were added around Chester-le-Street and Durham and the Ferryhill Cut was dug. In 1960 Stamford and Doncaster were bypassed, as were Retford in 1961 and St Neots in 1971. Baldock was bypassed in July 1967. During the early 1970s plans to widen the A1 along Archway Road in London were abandoned after considerable opposition and four public inquiries during which road protesters disrupted proceedings; the scheme was dropped in 1990. The Hatfield cut-and-cover was opened in 1986. A proposal to upgrade the whole of the A1 to motorway status was investigated by the Government in 1989 but was dropped in 1995, along with many other schemes, in response to road protests against other road schemes; the inns on the road, many of which still survive, were staging posts on the coach routes, providing accommodation, stabling for the horses and replacement mounts. Few of the surviving coaching inns can be seen while driving on the A1, because the modern route now bypasses the towns with the inns.
The A1 runs from New Change in the City of London at St. Paul's Cathedral to the centre of Edinburgh; the road skirts the remains of Sherwood Forest, passes Catterick Garrison. It shares its London terminus in the City area of Central London, it runs out of London via St. Martin's Le Grand and Aldersgate Street, through Islington, up Holloway Road, through Highgate, Potters Bar, Welwyn, Baldock, Sandy and St Neots. Continuing north, the A1 runs on modern bypasses around Stamford, Newark-on-Trent, Bawtry, Knottingley, Wetherby, Boroughbridge, Scotch Corner, Newton Aycliffe and Chester-le-Street, past the Angel of the North sculpture and the Metrocentre in Gateshead, through the western suburbs of Newcastle upon Tyne, Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, into Scotland at Marshall Meadows, past Haddington and Musselburgh before arriving in Edinburgh at the East End of Princes Street near Waverley Station, at the junction of the A7, A8 and A900 roads. Scotch Corner, in North Yorkshire, marks the point where before the M6 was built the traffic for Glasgow and the west of Scotland diverged from that for Edinburgh.
As well as a hotel there have been a variety of sites for the transport café, now subsumed as a motorway services. Most of the English section of the A1 is a series of alternating sections of primary route, dual carriageway and motorway. From Newcastle upon Tyne to Edinburgh it is a trunk road with alternating sections of dual and single carriageway; the table below summarises the road as non-motorway sections. The non-motorway sections do not have junction numbers. A 13-mile section of the road in North Yorkshire, from Walshford to Dishforth, was upgraded to motorway standard in 1995. Neolithic remains and a Roman fort were discovered. A 13-mile section of the road from Alconbury to Peterborough was upgraded to motorway standard at a cost of £128 million, which opened in 1998 requiring moving the memorial to Napoleonic prisoners buried at Norman Cross. A number of sections between Newcastle and Edinburgh were dualled between 1999 and 2004, including a 1.9-mile section from Spott Wood to Oswald Dean in 1999, 1.2-mile sections from Bowerhouse to Spott Road and from Howburn to Houndwood in 2002–200
Fire services in the United Kingdom
The fire services in the United Kingdom operate under separate legislative and administrative arrangements in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland. Emergency cover is provided by over fifty agencies; these are known as a fire and rescue service, the term used in modern legislation and by government departments. The older terms of fire brigade and fire service survive in informal usage and in the names of a few organisations. England and Wales have local fire services which are each overseen by a fire authority, made up of representatives of local governments. Fire authorities have the power to raise a Council Tax levy for funding, with the remainder coming from the government. Scotland and Northern Ireland have centralised fire services, so their authorities are committees of the devolved parliaments; the total budget for fire services in 2014-15 was £2.9 billion. Central government maintains national standards and a body of independent advisers through the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, created in 2007, while Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services provides direct oversight.
The devolved government in Scotland has HMFSI Scotland. Firefighters in the United Kingdom are allowed to join unions, the main one being the Fire Brigades Union, while chief fire officers are members of the National Fire Chiefs Council, which has some role in national co-ordination; the fire services have undergone significant changes since the beginning of the 21st century, a process, propelled by a devolution of central government powers, new legislation and a change to operational procedures in the light of terrorism attacks and threats. See separate article History of fire safety legislation in the United Kingdom Comprehensive list of recent UK fire and rescue service legislation: Fire services are established and granted their powers under new legislation which has replaced a number of Acts of Parliament dating back more than 60 years, but is still undergoing change. 1938: Fire Brigades Act 1938. This Act provided for centralised co-ordination of fire brigades in Great Britain and made it mandatory for local authorities to arrange an effective fire service.
1947: Fire Services Act 1947 This Act transferred the functions of the National Fire Service to local authorities. Now repealed in England and Wales by Schedule 2 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. 1959: Fire Services Act 1959 This Act amended the 1947 Act. It was repealed in Wales along with the 1947 Act. 1999: Greater London Authority Act 1999 This act was necessary to allow for the formation of the Greater London Authority and in turn the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. In 2002, there was a series of national fire strikes, with much of the discontent caused by the aforementioned report into the fire service conducted by Prof Sir George Bain. In December 2002, the Independent Review of the Fire Service was published with the industrial action still ongoing. Bain's report led to a change in the laws relating to firefighting. 2002: Independent Review of the Fire Service published 2004: Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 only applying to England and Wales. 2006: The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 This piece of secondary legislation or statutory instrument replaces several other acts that dealt with fire precautions and fire safety in premises, including the now defunct process of issuing fire certificates.
It came into force on 1 October 2006. The DfCLG has published a set of guides for non-domestic premises: 2006: The Government of Wales Act 2006 gave the National Assembly for Wales powers to pass laws on "Fire and rescue services. Promotion of fire safety otherwise than by prohibition or regulation." But does not prevent future legislation being passed by the UK government which applies to two or more constituent countries. There are further plans to modernise the fire service according to the Local Government Association, its website outlines future changes, specific projects: "The aim of the Fire Modernisation Programme is to adopt modern work practices within the Fire & Rescue Service to become more efficient and effective, while strengthening the contingency and resilience of the Service to react to incidents. " The fire service in England and Wales is scrutinised by a House of Commons select committee. In June 2006, the fire and rescue service select committee, under the auspices of the Communities and Local Government Committee, published its latest report.
Committee report The committee's brief is described on its website: The Communities and Local Government Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure and policy of the Department for Communities and Local Government and its associated bodies. Government response This document, the subsequent government response in September 2006, are important as they outlined progress on the FiReControl, efforts to address diversity and the planned closure of HMFSI in 2007 among many issues. Both documents are interesting as they refer back to Professor Bain's report and the many recommendations it made and continue to put forward the notion that there is an ongoing need to modernise FRSs. For example, where FRSs were inspected by HMFSI, much of this work is now carried out by the National Audit Office. Fire Control On 8 February 2010 the House of Commons Communities and Local Governm
East Coast Main Line
The East Coast Main Line is a 393-mile long major railway between London and Edinburgh via Peterborough, York, Darlington and Newcastle. The route is a key transport artery on the eastern side of Great Britain and broadly paralleled by the A1 road; the line's origins were built during the 1840s by three railway companies, the North British Railway, the North Eastern Railway, the Great Northern Railway. In 1923, the enactment of the Railway Act of 1921 led to their amalgamation to form the London and North Eastern Railway; the line was the primary route of the LNER, who competed against the London and Scottish Railway for long-distance passenger traffic between London and Scotland. The LNER's chief engineer Sir Nigel Gresley designed iconic Pacific locomotives, including the steam locomotives "Flying Scotsman" and "Mallard" which achieved a world record speed for a steam locomotive, 126 miles per hour on the Grantham-to-Peterborough section. On 1 January 1948, the railways were nationalised by the government, operated by British Railways.
During the early 1960s, steam locomotion was replaced by Diesel-electric traction, including the Deltics and sections of the line were upgraded so trains could run at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. With the demand for higher speed, British Rail introduced InterCity 125 High Speed trains between 1976 and 1981. In 1973, the prototype of the HST, the Class 41, achieved a top speed of 143 mph in a test run on the line. During the 1980s, the line was electrified and InterCity 225 trains were introduced; the line links London, South East England and East Anglia, with Yorkshire, the North East Regions and Scotland and is important to the economy of several areas of England and Scotland. It carries key commuter flows for the north side of London and handles cross-country and local passenger services, carries freight traffic. Services north of Edinburgh to Inverness use diesel trains. In 1997, operations were privatised; the current operator is London North Eastern Railway, bringing the LNER name back into use, which took over from Virgin Trains East Coast in June 2018.
The ECML is part of Network Rail's Strategic Route G which comprises six separate lines: The main line between London King's Cross and Edinburgh Waverley stations, via Stevenage, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, Northallerton, Durham, Morpeth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar. The line crosses the Anglo-Scottish border at Marshall Meadows Bay; the branch line to North Berwick The Dunbar loopThe core route is the main line between King's Cross and Edinburgh, the Hertford Loop is used for local and freight services and the Northern City Line provides an inner suburban service to the city. The route has ELRs ECM1 - ECM9; the ECML was constructed by three railway companies. During the 1830s and 1840s, each company built part of the line to serve their own areas, but intended linking together to form the through route that became the East Coast Main Line. From north to south, these companies were: the North British Railway, from Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed, completed in 1846; the North Eastern Railway from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Shaftholme.
The Great Northern Railway from Shaftholme to King's Cross, completed in 1850. The GNR established an end-on connection at Askern, described by the GNR's chairman as being "a ploughed field four miles north of Doncaster". Askern was connected to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, a short section of which linked with the NER at Knottingley. In 1871, the line was shortened when the NER opened a direct line from an end-on junction with the GNR at Shaftholme just south of Askern to Selby and direct to York. Recognising that through journeys were an important and lucrative element of their businesses, the companies built special rolling stock for through traffic, services were operated under the name of "East Coast Joint Stock"; this continued from 1860 until 1922. In 1923 the Railway Act of 1921 required the companies to form North Eastern Railway. Throughout its existence, the LNER was the second largest railway company in Britain, with lines to the north and east of London. On 1 January 1948, after the Transport Act of 1947 was implemented by Clement Attlee's Labour Government, the LNER was nationalised with the other companies to form British Railways.
British Railways managed the ECML as its Eastern Region division up to discorporation during the early 1980s. Alterations to short sections of the ECML's route have taken place, including the King Edward VII Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1906 and the Selby Diversion, built to bypass mining subsidence from the Selby coalfield and a bottleneck at Selby station. During 1983, the Selby Diversion opened: it diverged from the ECML at Temple Hirst Junction, north of Doncaster, joined the Leeds to York Line at Colton Junction, south west of York; the old line between Selby and York is used as a cycleway. Mining subsidence affecting 200 metres of track 17 km to the east of Edinburgh, near Wallyford, led to a temporary realignment while the ground was stabilised; the tracks and overhead electrification equipment were re-routed. Stabilisation was completed in 2000 and the track returned to its original alignment. In 2001 severe subsidence occurred at Dolphingstone and about 2km of track was relocated avoiding a permanent speed restriction.
This was completed in 2002. The line was worked for many years
HMS Thetis (N25)
HMS Thetis was a Group 1 T-class submarine of the Royal Navy which served under two names. Under her first identity, HMS Thetis, she commenced sea trials on 4 March 1939, she sank during trials on 1 June 1939 with the loss of 99 lives. She was salvaged and recommissioned as HMS Thunderbolt serving in the Atlantic and Mediterranean theatres until she was lost with all hands on 14 March 1943; this makes Thetis one of the few military vessels that have been lost twice with her crew in their service history. Thetis was built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead and launched on 29 June 1938. After completion, trials were delayed because the forward hydroplanes jammed, but started in Liverpool Bay under Lieutenant Commander Guy Bolus. Thetis left Birkenhead for Liverpool Bay to conduct her final diving trials, accompanied by the tug Grebe Cock; as well as her normal complement of 59 men she was carrying technical observers from Cammell Laird and other naval personnel, a total of 103 men. The first dive was attempted at about 14:00 on 1 June 1939.
The submarine was too light to dive, so a survey of the water in the various tanks on board was made. One of the checks was. Lieutenant Frederick Woods, the torpedo officer, opened the test cocks on the tubes; the test cock on tube number 5 was blocked by some enamel paint so no water flowed out though the bow cap was open. Prickers to clear the test cocks had been provided but they were not used; this combined with a confusing layout of the bow cap indicators — they were arranged in a vertical line with 5 at the bottom and the "Shut" position for tube 5 on the dial was the mirror image of tube 6 above it — led to the inner door of the tube being opened. The inrush of water caused the bow of the submarine to sink to the seabed 150 ft below the surface. How the outer door to Tube 5 became open to the sea is a question that will never be answered: Woods maintained that until at least 10 minutes before he opened the tube all the indicators were at "Shut". An indicator buoy was released and smoke candle fired.
By 16:00, Grebe Cock was becoming concerned for the safety of Thetis and radioed HMS Dolphin submarine base at Gosport. A search was instigated. Although the stern remained on the surface, only three RN personnel and one Cammell Laird man escaped before the rest were overcome by carbon dioxide poisoning caused by the crowded conditions, the increased atmospheric pressure and a delay of 20 hours before the evacuation started. Ninety-nine lives were lost in the incident: 51 crew members, 26 Cammell Laird employees, 8 other naval officers, 7 Admiralty overseeing officers, 4 Vickers-Armstrong employees, 2 caterers and a Mersey pilot; the crew waited before abandoning the vessel until it had been discovered by the destroyer Brazen, sent to search for it and which indicated her presence by dropping small explosive charges into the water. In order to effect an escape from the stricken vessel, the escaping crew were required to enter the submarine’s only escape chamber, which could only accommodate one person at a time.
As the pressure outside the submarine was greater than the pressure inside, this had to be equalised before the outer door of the escape chamber was opened. The escape chamber was flooded with the occupant having to wait until the chamber was full of water. Only would the pressure within the escape chamber be equal to the outside sea pressure. In the case of HMS Thetis, 4 members of the ship’s company, three RN personnel and one Cammell Laird’s employee used the escape chamber. During the 5th attempt to escape the occupant of the chamber panicked and tried to open the outer escape hatch before the chamber had flooded; as a result, the increased pressure outside the submarine caused an in-rush of sea water, thus drowning the escapee. Because the outer escape hatch remained open it rendered the escape chamber inoperative, preventing the escape of any other crew members; the incident attracted legal action from one of the widows, who brought a claim of negligence against the shipbuilders, for not removing the material blocking the valve.
For her the Admiralty invoked Crown Privilege and blocked the disclosure of, amongst other items,'the contract for the hull and machinery of Thetis as evidence in court, on the basis that to do so would be'injurious to the public interest'. The case is one of interest in English law, as the judges in this case accepted the Admiralty's claim on face value with no scrutiny, a ruling overturned; the Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association were commissioned to salvage the sunken submarine. On completion of the salvage operation the bell from Thetis was presented to the Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association by the Admiralty. One further fatality occurred during salvage operations, when Diver Petty Officer Henry Otho Perdue died from "the bends" on 23 August 1939. On Sunday 3 September, Thetis was intentionally grounded ashore at Anglesey, it was the same day. Human remains that had not been removed by the salvage team were now brought out to a Naval funeral, with full honours; the loss went beyond that of a submarine's crew.
Among the dead were two naval constructors and several of the submarine team from Cammell-Laird. The Thetis disaster was in marked contrast to the successful rescue of the survivors of USS Squal
The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces, it may be awarded posthumously. It was awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours, it may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been presented by the British monarch; these investitures are held at Buckingham Palace. The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals, 11 to members of the British Army, four to the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War.
The traditional explanation of the source of the metal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the Siege of Sevastopol. However, research has suggested another origin for the material. Historian John Glanfield has established that the metal for most of the medals made since December 1914 came from two Chinese cannon, that there is no evidence of Russian origin. Owing to its rarity, the VC is prized and the medal has fetched over £400,000 at auction. A number of public and private collections are devoted to the Victoria Cross; the private collection of Lord Ashcroft, amassed since 1986, contains over one-tenth of all VCs awarded. Following a 2008 donation to the Imperial War Museum, the Ashcroft collection went on public display alongside the museum's Victoria and George Cross collection in November 2010. Beginning with the Centennial of Confederation in 1967, followed in 1975 by Australia and New Zealand, developed their own national honours systems, separate from and independent of the British or Imperial honours system.
As each country's system evolved, operational gallantry awards were developed with the premier award of each system—the Victoria Cross for Australia, the Canadian Victoria Cross and the Victoria Cross for New Zealand—being created and named in honour of the Victoria Cross. These are unique awards of each honours system, assessed and presented by each country. In 1854, after 39 years of peace, Britain found itself fighting a major war against Russia; the Crimean War was one of the first wars with modern reporting, the dispatches of William Howard Russell described many acts of bravery and valour by British servicemen that went unrewarded. Before the Crimean War, there was no official standardised system for recognition of gallantry within the British armed forces. Officers were eligible for an award of one of the junior grades of the Order of the Bath and brevet promotions while a Mention in Despatches existed as an alternative award for acts of lesser gallantry; this structure was limited. Brevet promotions or Mentions in Despatches were confined to those who were under the immediate notice of the commanders in the field members of the commander's own staff.
Other European countries had awards that did not discriminate against rank. There was a growing feeling among the public and in the Royal Court that a new award was needed to recognise incidents of gallantry that were unconnected with the length or merit of a man's service. Queen Victoria issued a Warrant under the Royal sign-manual on 29 January 1856 that constituted the VC; the order was backdated to 1854 to recognise acts of valour during the Crimean War. Queen Victoria had instructed the War Office to strike a new medal that would not recognise birth or class; the medal was meant to be a simple decoration that would be prized and eagerly sought after by those in the military services. To maintain its simplicity, Queen Victoria, under the guidance of Prince Albert, vetoed the suggestion that the award be called The Military Order of Victoria and instead suggested the name Victoria Cross; the original warrant stated that the Victoria Cross would only be awarded to officers and men who had served in the presence of the enemy and had performed some signal act of valour or devotion.
The first ceremony was held on 26 June 1857 at which Queen Victoria invested 62 of the 111 Crimean recipients in a ceremony in Hyde Park, London. A single company of jewellers, Hancocks of London, has been responsible for the production of every VC awarded since its inception, it has long been believed that all the VCs were cast from the cascabels of two cannon that were captured from the Russians at the siege of Sevastopol. However, in 1990 Creagh and Ashton conducted a metallurgical examination of the VCs in the custody of the Australian War Memorial, the historian John Glanfield wrote that, through the use of X-ray studies of older Victoria Crosses, it was determined that the metal used for all VCs since December 1914 is taken from antique Chinese guns, replacing an earlier gun. Creagh noted the existence of Chinese inscriptions on the cannon, which are now legible due to corrosion. A explanation is that these cannon were taken as trophies during the First Opium War and held in the Woolwich repository.
It was thought that some medals made during the First World War were composed of metal captured from different Chinese guns during the Boxer Rebellion. This is not so