Victorian England News

Goldsworthy: Part 2

Miss out on part 1? You can read it here: Goldsworthy: Part 1

Goldsworthy

Part 2

A Mick Murton Story

PILOT’S LOG, ENTRY #3

I, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, greatest inventor in all the British Empire, have sought the use of my extraordinary invention – the STEAM CARRIAGE (patent pending) – on this evening to test its viability as an emergency response vehicle. A rider by the name of Samuel Throckmorton came to me as I was testing the latest iteration of another of my brilliant inventions – the BUDE LIGHT (patent secured). A slight mishap occurred with this light, however I will not go into more detail in this entry, as this is the log book for my STEAM CARRIAGE (patent pending). Throckmorton, foolish young man that he is, at least bore enough wit to come straight to myself to request that I perform an emergency surgery, and who could blame him? All the Queen’s subject know that I, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the archetypal gentleman scientist, whose brilliance is only matched by his good looks,

“Sir Goldsworthy?”

It would appear that the young man seeks to get my attention. As I continue to fill out this log entry, I dismiss Throckmorton with a wave of my hand. He would do well to heed my dismissal, as-

“Sir Goldsworthy, your attention please?”

Not now boy,’ I tell him. Honestly, the nerve of some people. Were I not such a forgiving man, I would order Throckmorton to be punished for his insolence. Does he not know that I have been knighted by the Queen?

“SIR GOLDSWORTHY! Please!” At last, Throckmorton managed to get Gurney’s attention.

“Samuel, this had better be important.”

“With all due respect for your scientific procedures, I must request that we get going as soon as possible. Need I remind you that this is an emergency procedure?” Sir Goldsworthy tapped his chin as he pondered this for a bit.

“Murton! How is the steam pressure?” Barry Murton, a relative of mine and assistant to Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, took a break from shoveling coal into the firebox at the rear of the steam carriage to check the large array of dials and gauges used to measure the many working variables of the carriage’s engine.

“It’s, eh…” Murton scratched his head and squinted hard as he attempted to decipher the sheer volume of information before him. “Which one is it… I think we’re all set, guv!” Sir Goldsworthy nodded in approval.

“Very well, then. Samuel, Jonathan, you two will ride in the passenger compartment. Murton and I shall remain on the outside to operate the carriage.” Mister Jonathan, butler to the Goldsworthy family, opened the door to the carriage. Murton boarded first, then Mister Jonathan loaded a sizable picnic bag into the carriage before entering himself. “Now then, shall we… Ah, one more thing.” Goldsworthy reached into his pocket and produced a rolled package. “Murton, did you bring the teacups?”

“I sure did, guv!”

“Excellent!” Goldsworthy opened his package, removed two teabags, then handed them to his assistant. Murton used a tap on the side of the carriage’s steam boiler to pour hot water into the tea cups, inserted the bags, and handed one to his employer. “Good show, Murton.” Goldsworthy downed the entire cup of tea in one swig, then climbed back over the carriage to the driver’s seat up front. “Now then,” he started as he grasped the steering tiller and turned it back and forth to test it, “Full steam ahead!”

Inside the passenger compartment, Samuel Throckmorton took to drumming on the armrest with his fingers as he tried his best to wait patiently. Mister Jonathan sat across from him, ever attentive, showing no sign of concern for anything but his duties as butler. Samuel jumped slightly as he heard the carriage’s whistle sound, followed by a lurch forward. “We’re finally moving,” he said. Mister Jonathan simply nodded as the carriage rolled forward.


In a familiar pub, the owner busied himself polishing a glass as his sole customer sipped on his gin. Without warning, the door flew open and in came a group of hooligans. There were four in all, all wearing sleeveless shirts, led by a particularly mean looking man with a shaved head. With a scowl on his face he strode up to the bar counter and slammed his fist to get the owner’s attention. “OI! Get over ‘ere!” The pub owner nearly dropped the glass he was polishing, then headed to his new customer.

“May I help you?” he asked calmly.

“Me name’s Mad Barry Ferguson an’ I’m the toughest bloke around. Right lads?” He turned to the other hooligans and they all nodded in agreement.

“Ol’ Baz Fergo’s never lost a fight,” one of them chimed in.

“S’right!” Barry yelled. “Now I’ll take a round of pints fer all me lads ‘ere, an’ I ain’t payin’ fer it!”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t give away anything for free,” the pub owner replied. Barry Ferguson’s face turned bright red with anger.

“WOT! Do you have any idea who I am?!” Barry reached across the counter and grabbed the pub owner by the collar of his shirt. “I says I’ll take a round of ales, an’ I says I ain’t payin’ fer it! Now are you gonna listen or am I gonna ‘ave to clock ya in the gob?” The pub owner seemed oddly calm, despite the menacing snickers from Barry’s gaggle of hoodlums.

“With all due respect mister Ferguson, if you don’t stop threatening me I’ll have to call Percy.” Barry’s eyes widened and the red faded from his face, then he burst out laughing as he released the pub owner from his grip.

“Percy?! I ain’t afraid of no sod named Percy!” The rest of the hooligans joined Barry in laughing hysterically.

“Wot’s ‘e gonna do,” one of them asked, “politely ask us to leave?”

“Yeah!” another one added. “An’ then ‘e’ll get on ‘is little tricycle an’ try to flee!” The whole group of them kept laughing and poking fun, each comment resulting in uproarious laughter, until a shadow came down over them. All four hooligans stopped laughing immediately, their mirth replaced with terror, as they looked up at the massive figure who stood over them.

“Oi… Who’s makin’ fun of me name?” Standing before them was Percy, the largest and most fearsome man any of them had ever seen. He stood head and shoulders above anyone else in the pub, with his two boulder-like fists balled at his sides. He appeared as if he were already dressed for a fight, with the suspenders holding up his worn slacks being the only clothing covering his barrel chested torso. The man’s brow jutted out like a rocky ledge, casting shadow over his eyes, and the bald crown of his head rose up above his long grey hair and bushy beard like the peak of a great mountain rising above the treeline. He jabbed a big meaty sausage-like finger in Mad Barry Ferguson’s direction. “Was it you?” Barry gulped.

“I, uh… Well…” One of the hooligans chimed in.

“We was, uh, on our way out just now actually, s-sir.” Percy glanced over in his direction.

“That’s funny, ‘cause I swears I heard one-a you sayin’ ya wanted a round o’ pints, an’ ya weren’t payin.” He grabbed Barry by the collar of his shirt and lifted him into the air like a simple farm boy lifting a sack of turnips. “An’ I fink it was you!” Barry gulped as he hung there, helpless in the giant man’s grip.

“I-I didn’t mean it sir, I swear. I-I’ll pay for everything, I’ll even buy you a pint.”

“I ain’t no sir,” roared Percy as he tossed Barry back towards the entrance of the pub, “I’m a right bastard!” He pounded a fist in his free hand and rubbed them together eagerly. “An’ yer pissin me off!” Barry and all his hooligans fled from the pub, running as fast as they could.

The group of hooligans ran for a while down the street, then all stopped to catch their breath. “Do you… do you think we’re safe now?” one of them asked, breathing heavily.

“Yeah,” said Barry. “Yeah, we’re safe.” He straightened up, having caught his breath. “An’ if that sod Percy followed us ‘here,” he said as he jabbed his thumb into his chest, “I’ll clean ‘is clock, I will!” The other hooligans cheered, their spirits lifted by their leader’s bravado.

“No one can take Barry!” one of them exclaimed. Their cheering died down, however, as they heard something approaching.

“Wot’s that?” a hooligan asked. “It’s not footsteps…”

The hooligans cautiously backed into the shadows as they tried to figure out what was coming. The four of them listened carefully.

“Right, it’s not footsteps,” Barry said.

“Sounds like carriage wheels,” said one of the hooligans.

“But I don’t hear no horses,” another hooligan added.

“Look!” another hooligan shouted as he pointed down the road. The whole group gasped as they saw what was coming towards them. It was Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s steam carriage. The hooligans, though, had no idea what they were looking at. Their hairs stood on end as they watched it approach, shrouded in smoke and steam.

“It’s moving without any horses pulling it,” said the first hooligan.

“Is it the headless horseman?” asked another.

“No, he’s got a head but I don’t see no horses,” said another hooligan, pointing at Sir Goldsworthy in the driver’s seat of the carriage.

“I’ll tell ya what it is,” said Barry Ferguson. “It’s a bloody haunted carriage! RUN FER YA LIVES!” The group of hooligans all ran off in separate directions, screaming in terror.

“Even Bazza can’t fight ghosts!” one of them yelled.


Barry Murton watched from the rear of the steam carriage as the group of young hooligans ran off screaming into the night, yelling something about ghosts. He scratched his head, wondering what they could be going on about, then heard something clearly.

“Run Bazza, don’t let the haunted carriage get ya!”

Barry Murton knew who that had to be. “That’s Mad Barry Ferguson’s gang,” he mused to himself. “And they call him Bazza? I like that.” He turned forward and yelled to get his boss’s attention. “Sir Goldsworthy!”

“What is it, lad?” Sir Goldsworthy asked. “A problem with the engine?”

“No sir,” he responded. “I was wondering if I could trouble you to call me by a new nickname.”

“What?”

“Will you call me Bazza, sir?”

“…What?!”

“Bazza, sir. I want you to call me Bazza.”

“I heard you the first time, Murton. Why in God’s name would I call you Bazza?”

“Well, uh… Mad Barry Ferguson’s blokes call him Bazza.” Sir Goldsworthy was dumbfounded.

“First of all Murton, I have idea who you’re talking about, and second, how can you possibly expect a gentleman such as myself to be influenced by the behavior of this… this… Max Harry-”

“It’s Mad Barry Ferguson, sir.”

“Right. This Mad Barry Ferguson and his bunch, who I can only assume are a group of street toughs or some other manner of plebeian?” Murton thought about it for a while.

“Well, I-”

“Forget it. Murton, I’ll have none of this nonsense. Now pour me another cup of tea.”

Inside the passenger cabin, Samuel Throckmorton was getting anxious. How long has it been so far? “Mister Jonathan, do you have the time?” The butler seated across from him shook his head.

“I’m afraid not, Master Throckmorton.” He reached into the picnic bag and withdrew a small parcel, which he unwrapped. “I believe this is Irish cheddar. Would you care to sample some?”

Many hours later, all the way across Victorian London, Sir Goldsworthy and his traveling companions finally arrived at their destination- the Throckmorton estate. Samuel peaked his head out the carriage window. “We’re here!”

“Excellent!” shouted Sir Goldsworthy. “Murton! Stop th-”

“Call me Bazza, sir!”

“Murton, you will stop this carriage immediately, and for the last time, I will NOT call you Bazza unless you wish to be out of a job!” Murton gulped and applied the brake, then shut off the steam flow to the engine. He opened another valve to release the built up pressure in the boiler, but something seemed off. Wasn’t there more steam to release last time? This was a long journey, perhaps the water tank was running low? But if that was the case…

“MURTON! Follow us!” Sir Goldsworthy waved for him to follow as he ran towards the house, with Mister Jonathan and Samuel close behind. They all sprinted toward the door, but before they could knock, it was open. Standing at the door was an older woman in her evening wear. She looked utterly deflated as she dabbed the corners of her eyes with a handkerchief.

“You must be the surgeon,” she said. Sir Goldsworthy straightened up and pounded his chest.

“At your service.”

“I’m afraid it’s too late,” she informed him. Samuel stepped forward.

“You mean… Uncle Nigel…?” The woman nodded her head in sorrow.

“Nigel is no longer with us.” Samuel was in shock.

“I am terribly sorry,” Sir Goldsworthy stated as he bowed his head in sympathy. “We came here as fast as we could.”

“Did you now?” Samuel responded, angrily. “It took nearly as long to prepare your horseless carriage as it did for me to cross the whole town on horseback.”

“It would have taken nearly as long to prepare Sir Goldsworthy’s horses and we wouldn’t have been able to bring Mister Jonathan with us,” Murton responded.

“And a fat lot of good that did!” Samuel yelled. “All he did was feed us cheeses the whole time, and Sir Goldsworthy stopped no less than six times because he decided that we needed sausages to go with it!” Sir Goldsworthy nodded as he took a bite out of a sausage.

“Master Throckmorton,” Mister Jonathan chimed in, “had we traveled on horseback, we wouldn’t have been able to bring Sir Goldsworthy’s surgical tools.”

“Surgical tools?” Murton exclaimed. “Blimey, I knew I forgot to pack something!” Murton, Goldsworthy, and Jonathan all began laughing hysterically, as if coming all the way across town for a surgery without any of the proper equipment was the most hilarious thing they’ve ever heard of in their lives. Samuel Throckmorton’s face turned bright red with anger. He was about ready to explode, until he noticed… golden light? Could it be?

“The bloody sun’s rising!” yelled Samuel. “I arrived at your place no later than 9 pm, and it took you until sunrise to get here!”

“So it did.” Sir Goldsworthy opened his log book and jotted down a few quick notes. “It would seem my steam carriage is not suitable for use as an emergency response vehicle after all.”

“And one more thing, Sir,” Barry interjected.

“Yes, Murton?”

“I think the boiler may be empty.” Sir Goldsworthy’s expression changed to one of deep concern.

“Murton, please tell me you put out the fire.”

“Why’s that, guv?”

“Murton, when water evaporates, it increases in volume by a thousand times. When the boiler runs dry, if you don’t remove the heat source, then if even a few drops of water find their way in, they’ll evaporate instantaneously, and then-”

“GET DOWN!” Mistern Jonathan shouted as he draped a picnic blanket over the four travelers. The steam carriage exploded with a deafening blast, causing broken pieces and flaming coals to rain down all over the Throckmortons’ property. The hoop of a carriage wheel, its spokes broken into uneven lengths, rolled by. Mister Jonathan uncovered the four and began re-folding the picnic cloth. Sir Goldsworthy looked over the wreckage, then back at Samuel Throckmorton.

“I don’t suppose I could trouble you for a ride home?”

Victorian England News

Goldsworthy: Part 1

by Mick Murton

It was a rainy night in Victorian London. The dim glow of gas lights lit the streets as the shoe shine boys packed up for the evening, and gamblers made their way to the dark alleys and abandoned buildings where they conducted business. Inside of a poorly maintained pub the owner sat, reading the paper while his sole customer sat at the bar, sipping a warm English ale. It would seem that the British Empire could soon be faced with a tonic water shortage. What, then, would he sell his customers to go with their gin? He couldn’t possibly offer them gin and regular water. Would anyone drink gin and root beer? Just then, his customer spoke up.

“Pardon me, could I trouble you for a gin?” The pub owner nodded.

“Of course. One gin and tonic, coming up.” Just as he reached for his ice tongs, his customer spoke up again.

“No no, not gin and tonic. I’ll have straight gin.” Straight gin?, thought the pub owner. The absolute mad lad! Why hadn’t I thought of that?

“One gin, coming up. Straight.” It would seem that he would make it through this tonic water shortage after all! The pub owner poured his customer a gin, and as he did so a rider on horseback galloped by.

The rider was cloaked in dark heavy wool to protect him from the rain. He was on the way to fetch Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the world renowned surgeon and scientist. He knew he was headed in the right direction, but he didn’t dare check the paper he brought with the address – in this rain, it would only disintegrate. He knew, though, that Gurney’s home would be easy enough to spot as he drew near. Just then, he saw it.

Shining from the third floor windows of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s home was the brightest artificial light that the rider or anyone else in Victorian London had ever seen. Having been commissioned by Parliament to build a lighting system for Westminster Palace, he was currently in the process of building the latest iteration of the Bude Light – his own invention – and it would be the most powerful yet. He took a step back to admire the light. With welding goggles on and his sleeves rolled up, he wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. Truly this would be the most powerful gas light ever built! The heat was unbearable. The light was blinding.

Perfect? Not yet.

“Murton!,” Sir Goldsworthy yelled. “More gas!” His assistant, Barry Murton – a relative of mine – was hesitant to comply. He readjusted his welding goggles and, hands shaking, reach for the valve. “Do it, boy!” yelled Goldsworthy. “Give it all the gas we’ve got! I must see how my light shines!”

Meanwhile, downstairs, Goldsworthy’s butler, Mister Jonathan, was preparing a tray of fine cheeses when he heard a knock at the door. “I’m almost there!” he announced. Mister Jonathan made his way to the door and opened it to see a cloaked figure.

“Is Sir Goldsworthy Gurney at home?” the man asked. “It’s an emergency.”

“What sort of emergency?” asked Mister Jonathan.

“A medical emergency, across town. We need a surgeon imme-”

Before he could finish, a loud explosion from the third floor shook the house violently.

“What on Earth was that?”

“That would be Sir Goldsworthy,” Mister Jonathan answered. “He’s upstairs working on a new gas lighting system.” The rider was speechless.

Back upstairs, a soot-covered Goldsworthy Gurney was putting out small fires throughout the workshop with a watering can while a panicked Barry Murton shut every gas valve he could find as quickly as possible. Just as the last flames were quenched, he heard a knock at the door. “Ah! That must be Mister Jonathan with our cheeses. Murton, clean up this mess.” Murton first looked at the destroyed Bude Light prototype, then the burnt crisps of wallpaper that had first peeled off the wall from the heat, then been incinerated in the blast. He let out a defeated sigh and grabbed a broom.

Goldsworthy opened the door and greeted his manservant. “Well met, Jonathan.” Mister Jonathan raised an eyebrow.

“Is everything quite alright, sir?”

“Of course it is, my assistant is just cleaning up after our experiment.” As Murton swept, a large tube fell from the destroyed light and hit him in the head. He dropped his broom and clutched his head in pain.

“Well sir, your cheese platter is here, and you have a guest as well.”

“Oh?” The rider, now no longer covered in his cloak, took a step forward.

“My name is Samuel Throckmorton. Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, we need you across town for surgery. It’s an emergency.” Goldsworthy considered the man for a moment.

“Did you come by horse, Samuel?”

“I did, sir.” Goldsworthy nodded in acknowledgment. “Mister Jonathan, have the stable boys put up Samuel’s horse for the night.”

“But sir, I must come with you!” protested Samuel.

“And you will. Murton! Enough cleaning, prepare the Steam Carriage!” Goldsworthy hurried out of the laboratory with Murton close behind. Samuel Throckmorton was puzzled.

“What on Earth is a steam carriage?” Mister Jonathan raised an eyebrow.

“Would you like to sample any of these fine cheeses?”

Victorian England News

The Royal Flush

A story addressing current events from almost 200 years ago, by Mick Murton

The date was June 5th, 1867. It was a foggy Wednesday afternoon in Victorian London. All throughout the streets you could see the usual assortment of tea-sipping dandies and meat salesmen going about their daily business while the women rolled expensive cigars for railroad tycoons- all in all, nothing out of the ordinary. At London Harbor, however, something unusual awaited.

Offshore in the harbor, large curtains covered an area that had been restricted from the public eye. For months workers labored- welding, tightening bolts, pouring concrete, fitting pipes, and doing all sorts of noisy work that left the people of London wondering just what in the blazes was going on. Lately, thick black clouds of smoke and puffs of steam started erupting from behind the curtains, and the sound of running water could be heard. Was a ship being built out in the harbor for some reason? Nobody knew, but today they would find out.

On the shore, a viewing area had been set up. Ordinary people stood, staring in awe, wondering what could be happening beneath the massive curtained area. They were promised to be shown a feat of engineering unlike anything they had ever seen, and it was certainly a big deal- rising above the crowd was a grandstand filled with high class socialites, nobles, even members of the Royal Family and Queen Victoria herself. This was a crowd that could not have been gathered except for one purpose- to view the latest engineering feat of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a man famous throughout the British Empire as one of its greatest engineers. After the launch of the Great Eastern- an oceangoing steamship deemed impractical due to its sheer massive size- Isambard had disappeared for a few years, but today he returned to unveil what he claimed to be his greatest work ever. Most historical accounts state that Brunel had died shortly after the launch of this ship due to stress related illness, but the truth is far stranger.

On a stage just outside of the restricted area, built just for this event, stood Brunel himself, clothed in his finest suit, adorned with his signature top hat. At 2:00 sharp, he stood tall and cleared his throat. All eyes were upon him. “Behold,” he began, “the greatest of my many creations!” He walked over to a decorative rope and gave it a tug…


July 4th, 1864. Brunel, in his workshop, dipped his fountain pen into an inkwell and began maniacally scribbling out more designs. His assistant, William Livingston Murton- a relative of mine- watched dumbfounded. He picked up a discarded sheet of paper and attempted to interpret the madly scribbled technical drawing.

“What’sis, guv?” asked William. Brunel stopped scribbling, startled. A single bead of sweat dripped down his forehead. Heart racing, he took his handkerchief and wiped his brow.

“Schematics, William. We’ve gone over this.”

“But this don’t look much like a ship, Izzy.” William squinted and turned the paper a few ways.

“It’s not a ship!” Brunel roared, slamming his work desk with both fists. The inkwell jumped, splashing drops of ink on an unused section of the paper. He paused to be sure that the ink didn’t spread, then resumed his drawing.

“What is it, then?”

“My greatest work yet, William. Something so large, so powerful… By the beard of Thor, the world has never seen anything like it!”

“Looks like a swimming pool, innit?” Brunel chuckled.

“No no no, my dear boy. What you see here is no pool. I have a plan to build something of such great utility that every city in the world will be clamoring to buy one from me!”

William simply stood there, mouth agape.

“Aren’t you going to ask what it is?”

“A machine that lets people talk to one another across long distances?” asked William. Brunel shook his head.

“Stupid boy, such a thing would never work. This is going to be the world’s largest toilet!” He grabbed a series of rolled up documents from a metal bin behind him and rolled them out before his assistant. “Behold!” Murton gazed at the documents in slack-jawed wonder.

“How powerful is it, guv?”

“Powerful enough to change the world,” said Brunel. “And I have to finish it soon, before that fool Robert Stephenson finishes his.” (In truth, Robert Stephenson had no plans to build such a thing.)

“Yours will be bigger?”

“Yes,” Brunel stated confidently. “If I know Stephenson, he will be using locomotive engines. We’re using something much more powerful.”

“Oxen, guv?”

“What in the blazes are you- No William, steamship engines! By the Crown of Britannia, what do I keep you around for?” William had no answer for that.


Back in the present day, Isambard Kingdom Brunel gave the rope hanging from his cordoned-off work area a strong pull. “Behold!” he roared, as the curtains dropped off from around his greatest work yet. The crowd gasped in awe.

“Good heavens!” a nobleman declared, his monocle falling to the ground. His wife fainted in her seat next to him.

In the front row, a commoner leaned over to the man next to him. “It looks like a big ol’ toilet, innit?” And indeed it was- standing at over 300 meters tall and made of steel reinforced concrete, this was in fact the largest and most powerful toilet ever built.

Thick black smoke poured from smokestacks in the boiler column behind the toilet. Having been burning all day, the steam pressure was finally sufficient to drive the engines. Massive steam pistons turned, driving pumps that filled the toilet’s enormous tank. With each back and forth motion of each engine’s individual pistons, a puff of saturated steam was emitted, letting out a discernible chuff. The crowd stood in stunned disbelief, unable to believe what they were seeing. Clearly this toilet was much too large to be used by any human being, but what were the strange wooden structures that circled its rim?

“As you can see,” Brunel began, “the rim of this toilet bowl is large enough to serve as a walkway.” He motioned towards the rim as he spoke. “Stalls are placed at regular intervals so that you may do your business in private- yes that’s right, you– this toilet is open to the public.”

Up in the grandstand, the Archbishop of Canterbury approached the Queen’s seat. He took a knee before her. “Your Majesty, I do hate to be so forthcoming as to make a request, but… please! This is as absurd as it is obscene, you must do something!” Queen Victoria considered the request, then stood up.

“Give us a demonstration!” That was not what the Archbishop had in mind.

More than happy to oblige, Brunel signaled a worker atop the toilet’s tank. Said worker waved in acknowledgement and turned a wheel, opening the valve that operated the flushing mechanism. As the massive valve opened, thousands of gallons of water poured into the bowl. A mighty roar of rushing water echoed throughout London as the bowl filled, and then it reached critical mass- now the toilet would drain, directly into the harbor.

Had he been more careful or less shortsighted, Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have realized his fatal error here. So massive and powerful was this toilet that each flush introduced enough water into the harbor in a short enough amount of time that the effect is as if the tide came in multiple times, and all at once. As the water in the harbor rose, anchored boats and ships crashed against their docks. Workers fled as the waters then rose above the docks, climbing higher still until even those ashore were not safe. Harbor water flooded in through the sewer drains and began bursting up through manholes. Spectators in the standing area now began to flee, and those in the grandstand watched in horror as the ever-rising tide drew near. The streets ran like rivers, and even London’s brave meat salesmen abandoned their wares as they sought refuge from the rising tide of toilet water. As the tide came out, boxes of tea, fruit stands, and many racks of top hats awaiting purchase were washed out into the harbor.

Brunel himself was shocked- he didn’t expect this result. He had been too preoccupied with the magnificence of his creation to ever consider a consequence like this. He surveyed the wreckage, and then gazed towards the grandstand. He could see Queen Victoria still there, looking greatly irritated. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He reached up and removed his hat, holding it before him. He opened his mouth to apologize, but before he could, the Queen stood and issued an order, backed by the full authority of the Crown.

“Off with his head!”