The Edwardian Period. Explore the social changes that swept through this period.

Edwardian Period 1901 - 1910

In this historic period we explore Britain as it slipped from the pinnacle of its triumph as an Empire. Politicians at home grappled with the new emerging face of Britain and with the quickly evolving societal shifts that were emerging, womens rights, the Labour Party and trade unions. Use the timeline to understand the context of events. Visit the C20th timeline for more facts or explore the people of the time .

1900Day Trade Schools EstablishedDay trade schools, mainly for boys, were established, especially in the London area, from about 1900 onwards. The first of these was the Trade School for Furniture and Cabinet-making, founded at the Shoreditch Technical Institute in 1901. They were designed to take boys at or near the completion of their elementary school career for a period of between one and three years, and to give them specialised training that would fit them to enter into workshop or factory life at about the age of 16, with the prospect of becoming skilled workers or of rising ultimately to positions of responsibility as foremen, draughtsmen, or even managers.
1900Khaki ElectionThe Khaki ElectionWhen Edward VII succeeded his mother to the throne in 1901 he inherited a Conservative Unionist government which had recently been confirmed in power. The general election was held between 26 September and 24 October 1900, following the dissolution of Parliament on 25 September. Also referred to as the Khaki Election, it was held at a time when it was widely believed that the Second Boer War had effectively been won. How quickly were things to change
1900Formation of the Labour PartyFounded by Keir Hardie
1901First Nobel Prizes were awarded.Alfred Nobel’s interest in science, culture and society is evident in his will. In the third and last will that he signed in Paris on 27 November 1895, he declared that the major portion of his fortune should go toward prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Not everybody was pleased with this – it took four years for the executors to convince all parties to follow Alfred Nobel’s wishes. On 10 December 1901 the first Nobel Prizes were awarded.
1901York study of povertySeebohm Rowntree of the chocolate manufacturing company began a study of poverty in York. He concluded that the level of poverty mirrored Booths for London. He concluded that the poor were not idle wastrels and it seemed that they could not escape their poverty. New Liberals went on to say that it was the job of the state to support them.
1901 The first establishment dedicated solely to cinema was opened in Islington.
1901Guglielmo MarconiTransatlantic Wireless transmits first radio message in Morse code Transatlantic WirelessAt Signal Hill on December 12, 1901, Guglielmo Marconi and his assistant, George Kemp, confirmed the reception of the first transatlantic radio signals. With a telephone receiver and a wire antenna kept aloft by a kite, they heard Morse code for the letter "S" transmitted from Poldhu, Cornwall. Their experiments showed that radio signals extended far beyond the horizon, giving radio a new global dimension for communication in the twentieth century.
1901Death of Queen VictoriaQueen Victoria died on 22nd January 1901 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and was buried in The Mausoleum, Frogmore, Windsor
1901The keel of the 'Holland' submarine was laid down. The Holland class were the first submarines built for the Royal Navy. They were built by Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness. The first three were designed by John Philip Holland.
1901Accession of King Edward
1901Frank Hornby begins to market in Britain his immensely successful Meccano kits.Its originator was Frank Hornby, who obtained the first patents for his invention in 1901. In the same year the first elementary set went on sale, under the name "Mechanics Made Easy". The name "Meccano" made its appearance in 1907
1901Duke and Duchess of Cornwall depart on their Colonial tour.
1901The 1901 UK censusThe census reveals that the population of the United Kingdom has almost doubled in 50 years, to 38 million
1901Rudyard Kipling's novel 'Kim' is published.Initially serialized, it is arguably Rudyard Kipling’s finest work. Now controversial, this novel is a memorably vivid evocation of the life and landscapes of India in the late nineteenth century. Kim himself is a resourceful lad who befriends a lama, an ageing priest; and both embark on a combined quest. Whereas Kim has an insatiable interest in the varied activities around him, the lama seeks redemption from the ‘Wheel of Life’. Kim becomes involved in undertaking espionage it offers many insights into political, religious and social tensions.
1901Taff Vale JudgementThe House of Lords decision upholding the Taff Vale Judgement, which ruled that a trade union could be sued and compelled to pay for damages inflicted by its officials.
1901Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance premier in LiverpoolElgar wrote a series of marches which include the music for which the words of 'Land and Hope and Glory'' were written at Edward VII's suggestion by schoolmaster AC Benson
1901 - 1904Robert Falcon Scott sets off in the Discovery on his first expedition to the Antarctic.The British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott) undertook the first extensive exploration on land in Antarctica. Funding came from the Government, the Royal Society, the Royal Geographical Society and private donations. The expedition set up base at McMurdo Sound from where sledging parties carried out recognisance and scientific programmes
1902Balfours Education Education Act 1902Act Three issues dominated the debates surrounding Balfour's education bill: the role of the school boards; religion; and the need for more and better secondary education. It was a highly controversial Act of Parliament which standardized and upgraded the educational systems of England and Wales, and led to a rapid growth of secondary schools. Also many Conservatives feared that the cost of increasing the provision of secondary education would lose them the support of the large landowners and industrialists who were the major taxpayers.
1902Coronation of Edward VII, delayed from July because of the King's appendicitis.
1902Cremation Act The major purpose of the Act was to allow burial authorities to establish crematoria.
1902Midwives Act. The stated purpose of the Act was ‘to secure the better training of midwives and to regulate their practice’. A woman could not call herself, nor practise as a midwife, unless she was certified under the Act. If she contravened this, she was liable to be fined by her local magistrates’ court up to £5. However, until 1 April 1910, there was a loophole — a woman could still practice midwifery, providing she didn’t call herself a ‘midwife’ or imply that she was one.
1902The Balfour governmentArthur Balfour succeeds Salisbury as Conservative Prime Minister.
1902Death of Cecil Rhodes Cecil Rhodes 'the architect of Empire'. He was a British businessman, mining magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896
1902Boer War ends.Boer WarsWar
1902Sinn Fein foundedIrish politician Arthur Griffith launches Sinn Fein, as an organization campaigning for a strong and independent Ireland.
1902Sir ThomaSir Thomas Liptons LiptonSir Thomas Lipton was a grocer who, from his humble Glasgow roots became a philanthropic multi millionaire by opening a chain of grocery shops that catered for the ordinary people.
1902'Land of Hope and Glory' This piece of music features in its lasting form as the finale of Elgar's Coronation Ode for Edward VII
1903First Wright flights. Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above a wind-swept beach in North Carolina. The flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet.
1903Radioactive half-life.Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy identify the phenomenon of radioactive half-life.
1903Windshield wiperMary Anderson invented what?sMary Anderson invents windshield wipers
1903King Edward VII proclaimed Emperor of India.
1903First edition of the Daily Mirror.
1903Formation of the suffragette Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).A new pressure group was formed by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. They would apply pressure to the government of the day and bring public attention to the rights of women to have the vote.
1904Benjamin Holt invents a tractor.
1904Entente Cordiale signed with France.All disputes with France over Africa were resolved with the Entente Cordial.
1904J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up opens in London.
1904War breaks out between Russia and Japan when the Russian fleet attacks at Port Arthur.
1904British troops under Francis Younghusband enter Tibet's holy city of Lhasa.
1904Rolls-Royce car manufacturing company formed.
1905The Bloomsbury Group begin to meet.The Bloomsbury group was a circle of artists, writers and intellectuals including Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell, their brother Thoby Stephen, Clive Bell, Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, and Saxon Sydney-Turner. E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry also became prominent members of the group from around 1910. Their original Bloomsbury house, became a centre of artistic and intellectual activity when their brother Thoby brought his Cambridge University ‘Apostles’ friends to the ‘Thursday Evenings’ the sisters hosted. At these gatherings everything from the status of art to issues of Britain’s declining empire was subjected to intense scrutiny.
1905English engineer Herbert Austin sets up a factory to manufacture cars at Longbridge, south of Birmingham
1905Hitler moves to Vienna, hoping to be a painter, but is twice rejected as a student by the Academy of Fine Arts
1905Lord Curzon resigns as Viceroy of India.
1905Balfour resigns. Henry Campbell-Bannerman leads the Liberals to a massive election victory in the UK on a promised programme of reform.
1905Bloody Sunday is the name given to the events of Sunday in St Petersburg, Russia, when unarmed demonstrators led by Father Georgy Gapon were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard as they marched towards the Winter Palace to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. 40 people died.
1905Sherlock Holmes returnsBy popular demand, Arthur Conan Doyle brings his famous detective back from the 'dead' in a new book, The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
1905Einstein's Theory of Relativity proposed.
1905Automobile Association founded.
1905Women's Suffrage Bill 'talked out' in Commons.
1905Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney arrested: start of the militant phase of the Suffrage movement.
1906English biologist William Bateson uses the word 'genetics' to describe the phenomenon of heredity and variation
1906 E. Nesbit publishes The Railway Children, the most successful of her books featuring the Bastable family
1906The Cunard company launches the Lusitania on the Clyde as a sister ship to the Mauretania
1906Workman's compensation ActProvided compensation for industrial diseases. There had been a general concern about the physical deterioration of the urban population.
1906 San Francisco earthquake 800 die.
1906Liberal landslide at General Election; Labour wins 29 seats. Labour Party formed.
1906 HMS Dreadnought launched.
1906Free school meals introduced for children in need.
1907Taxation ReformDifferentiation between earned and unearned income, the latter being taxed at a higher rate. Also personal declarations of income became compulsory. Taxation reform was necessary because of the naval race with Germany and the introduction of the old age pension.
1907Women can stand for election in county and borough elections and can take the office of mayor.
1908Attempt to reduce the numbers of public housesAn attempt by the Liberals to reduce the number of public houses failed/
1908Huge increase in days lost to strike actionA year of bad trade and high unemployment when certain employers mostly in the cotton industry and ship building sought to improve matters by decreasing the workers wages.
1909The People's Budget
1909Scout MovementFounded by Robert - Baden -Powell, the Scout movement and a little later the Guide movement became very important to young people.
1909Old Age Pension scheme inaugurated
1910Budget and Lords crisis. There are 2 General Elections in this year.A general election was held in January with another called in December.
1910Death of King Edward VIIThe King died on the 6th May and his funeral was held on the 20th May.
1910Long and bitter strikesThe same issues as in 1908 only this year the railway workers came out on strike but the most bitter battles were in the north eastern coalfields. In November there is serious rioting in the Rhondda and Aberdare valleys. In Tonypandy shops are looted. Troops are called out onto the streets.
1910Women suffragists created disturbancesWomen suffragists create a disturbance in Downing Street, 59 charges arise out of the disorders.
1910The Terra Nova leaves for Antarctica.
1910Death of Florence NightingaleThe 'Lady of the Lamp' English nurse served during the Crimean War. She reduced the death rate in hospitals from 42% to 2% under her supervision. A statistician and responsible for the founding of hospital schools of nursing.
1911Parliament Act. National Health Insurance introduced.
1911Home Rule introduced.
1911Sidney Street siegeThe siege followed the murder of police officers in Hounslow by a gang of Russians.
1912Captain Scott reaches the South Pole.
1912Balkan Wars
1912Sinking of the Titanic

"I don't mind praying to the eternal Father but I must be the only man in the country afflicted with an eternal mother. "

Edward VII as Prince of Wales

Edward VII the Edwardian era and period in Britain




King Edward VII had spent most of his life waiting in the wings as Prince of Wales. His mother, Queen Victoria, became Britain's longest reigning monarch whilst Edward waited to be granted a position and responsibilities which, Queen Victoria was reluctant to give. With time on his hands the Prince brought scandal to the royal family with two citations in divorce cases. It was difficult to imagine how Edward could adjust his playboy lifestyle to become King after his mothers death but he managed to make the role his own with the help of his long suffering wife, Queen Alexandria of Denmark.

King Edward VII the Duke of York and Clarence, Queen Alexandria and the King's daughters

King Edward VII the Duke of York and clarence Queen Alexandria and the king's daughters

King Edward VII, steers the country into the new Edwardian period.

Almost as if the turning of the century heralded in a new world perspective, a shift from European dominance to a rise in the power of America and Japan and an emerging independent India so King Edward VII came to power. Although politicians such as Joseph Chamberlain were concerned with maintaining Britain at the heart of global trade so other politicians and the King himself were more concerned with the threat from a previous ally closer to home, Germany. Unification and industrialization during the latter part of the 19th century had made Germany into a great economic and military power.

Edward VII was known as the 'Peacemaker'. He was concerned that his nephew, Kaiser Willhelm II had a vision for the German people that would drive a rift through Europe and tip Europe towards war. His fears proved to be well-founded.

Edwardian Peace but Edward VII was troubled that the Kaiser would tip Europe into War he was correct

King Edward VII his nephew Kaiser Wilhelm II with Queen Alexandria and the future King George V.

Edwardian politics and society.

The Edwardian Period and the period up to what is called the modern period occupies a small time frame but one in which world and domestic politics were turned on their respective heads. The working classes found their voice in the trade union movement and the role of women in society began, fundamentally to change. Tumult in Government caused King Edward to become embroiled in politics and he became involved in the debacle when the Conservatives in the House of Lords refused to approve the Liberals "Peoples Budget". The King was so dismayed that he introduced his son as the "the Last King of England" to the Foreign Secretary of the day. He had tried to intervene and urged the Conservatives, Balfour and Lansdowne, to pass the budget. Winston Churchill and Lloyd George were the 'Radicals' in the thick of the action proposing change. The people were finding a voice and nothing would ever be the same again. The death of King Edward in 1910 was absorbed as the politics continued to role over daily life. The Parliament Act of 1911 would ultimately resolve the constitutional relationship between the Commons and the Lords. The age old concerns about the role of the monarch and Parliament and the relative roles of the Commons and the Lords had made its final transition. Never again could the Lords of the Land ultimately stop the democratic will of the people.This complex period can be examined more fully in our Edwardian timeline which we are are adding to dynamically.

After the death of King Edward VII.

The times were changing, a World War was approaching and the new king, King George V would steer Britain into the Modern Era.

There would be a change of name for the monarchy and a break with their German past but the world is beginning to creak and the political and economic environment that created conditions for world war just four years after the death of King Edward would create the fractures and fissures that would, for generations, lead us to the present day and the complicated and fractious situation in the Middle East.