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Design Museum

The Design Museum has reopened, after a move to High Street Kensington. How did design create the modern world? See below...


Welcome to InfoBritain, for historical visiting information in the UK. InfoBritain tells you what happened and where it happened. We have articles and visits relating to all historical periods from prehistoric Britain to recent times, and to the lives of major British authors, artists, musicians, scientists, politicians, military and royal figures. You can use our site search, or our various menus to find suggested visits relating to times or people. Alternatively go to the regions menu, find a place to visit in a particular area, and then link back to the history relating to it. We also have a full accommodation booking service for all parts of the mainland UK. We specialise in historic accommodation, but we also have comprehensive lists of hotels of all types and price ranges. See the regional menus on the right. Enjoy!

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A Personal Note (Archive)

October 29, 2016

The Design Museum which reopened in November celebrates a process which is inextricably linked with the modern world. The period from 1770 to 1914 saw European society change profoundly. Industrialisation meant that craftsmen could no longer make spontaneous decisions about what they made. The actual creation of a product was increasingly mechanised, and a product's form had to be worked out carefully beforehand. The person doing this planning became known as a designer. This process began late in the eighteenth century, and is well illustrated by developments in textile production. In 1764 James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, a machine with sixteen spindles that greatly speeded up the spinning process. By 1769 this machine was being sold widely. Before any item was made using the spinning jenny it had to be planned, and then put into production.

But it wasn't only technical planning that designers were responsible for. As they were designing the process to create a product, it occurred to many that planned changes to a product would help sales. From the 1760s the Lyons silk industry introduced twice yearly collections to enhance differentiation between products, to stimulate trade, and to combat copying. By 1800 patterns in printed cotton for dresses changed routinely with each season. For furniture fabrics new patterns were produced every two to three years.

So designers created the technical ability of modern industry to produce products efficiently. They also created the idea of fashion that would keep people buying those products.

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The InfoBritain view of history (with thanks to The Simpsons)


Historical news for December

Christmas markets are today considered a continental tradition, but they were popular in England up intil the seventeenth century when Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas. Following the restiration of the monarch in 1600 Christmas returned, though Christmas markets were slower to make a come back. Today there are many Christmasd markets around the UK, many of which have a welcome continental influence. Go to for more details.


Anniversaries for December

1st December 1942: Britain's wartime coalition government reveals plans for a welfare system designed to care for all from "cradle to the grave." Proposals are set out in the Beveridge Report, written by economist William Beveridge. The report sells half a million copies, a considerable quantity for a governent report. Winston Churchill decides to delay implementation of proposals until after the war, while Labour MPs give enthusiuastic support. This probably explains the landslide victory of Clement Attlee's Labour givernment in the general election of 1945.

2nd December 1954: After years of hounding alleged Communists in government, the entertainment industry and education, Senator Jospeh McCarthy is censured by the United States Senate for conduct unbecoming of a senator.

11th December 2001: As computers change communication habits, Consigna, the compnay running the Post Office announces the cutting of 30,000 postal jobs.

16th December 1977: The Queen opens an extension of the Piccadilly underground line to Heathrow Airport. This is the first such link between a city and its major airport.

20th December 2007: Queen Elizabeth II becomes the Uk's oldest monarch, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived 81 years, 7 months and 29 days.

25th December 1960: The General Post Office makes its final Christmas Day deliveries.

31st December 1879: At Menlo Park, New Jersey, the inventor Thomas Edison demonstrates his incandescent lighting system, the light bulb, for the first time. Although this cannot claim to be the first lightbulb, Edison's work led to the first commercially viable lightbulb system.


A preview of my novel - about a girl who discovers that surprisingly she can't find her way to the sort of secret world found in story books. So she searches for an alternative.



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Almost all photography on InfoBritain is by InfoBritain or by named contributors. All educational use is permitted, but copyright is reserved for commercial uses. Occasionally we have used copyright free stock images which are available for any use. A note will identify these images.

Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.

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