In the 1800s, Sheffield in South Yorkshire developed an international reputation as a centre of the steel industry. Many technologies, such as stainless steel, were developed in Sheffield, which grew from a population of 60,000 to 451,000 over the century. The city is mentioned in Friedrich Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, where he examines the working conditions in the factories. The city continued as an industrial centre until the 1970s, when much of the industrial economy of England collapsed.
A condition common to boxers, where injuries to the ear cause a build up of tissue which can permanently deform the ear, giving it a cauliflower-like appearance.
From late medieval times, Limehouse, on the banks of the Thames, was known as a busy port area. From 1820 a canal system connected Limehouse to the rest of Great Britain, further increasing its importance. Casual ship crews could be engaged, and ships loaded and unloaded for overseas trade. Martin's companions could hope to find work as casual dockers, unloading anything from a canal boat of coal from the north of England to a clipper full of tea from India.