W.B. Fair was chairman and master of ceremonies at the Royal Music Hall in High Holborn (which became the Royal Holborn Theatre of Varieties in 1887). He was also the proprietor of the Winchester Music Hall on Southwark Bridge Road between 1878 and 1880.
The song Tommy, make room for your uncle tells of a character Fred Jones, Hatter of Leicester Square, who is wooing Tommy's mother; the chorus went like this:
Tommy, make room for your uncle
There's a little dear.
Tommy, make room for your uncle
I want him to sit here.
As is implied in the text, there is a joke here because of the double meanings of the words Tommy (or Tom) and uncle.
The Salvation Army is a Christian charitable organisation which operates on a world-wide basis. It was founded in the East End of London in 1865 by William Booth and his wife Catherine.
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was an English poet, socialist, philosopher and early advocate of sexual freedom and gay rights.
Towards Democracy was a lengthy prose poem in 4 parts, written between 1883 and 1902.
A flounder is a marine flatfish found in both northern Atlantic and Pacific waters. Depending on the species, mature flounders may weigh anything between 20 pounds (9 kilos) and 600 pounds (272 kilos).
Plaice, sole and halibut are all types of flounder.
Victoria Park, which opened in 1845, is an open green space in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
By the end of the 19th Century, it had become an important recreational area, as well as a venue for political meetings and rallies.
The White Slaves of England was a book by John C. Cobden, published in 1853.
In 1888 Annie Besant, the socialist activist (also referred to in bookmark, p.445), wrote an article for the halfpenny newspaper The Link entitled White Slaves in London.
He was one of the earliest members of the Fabian Society, a socialist society founded in 1884 and still in existence today.
Christian Science is a religion that was founded in 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910). It is practised by members of the First Church of Christ, Scientist which was founded in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Social Democratic Federation was Britain's first organised socialist political party.
It is not clear what colours represented the SDF; red is the colour usually associated with communism and left-wing socialism.
Toffee apples (known as candy apples in America) are apples coated in a crisp caramel coating (often coloured red) and served skewered on sticks; their most striking feature is the texture contrast between the soft flesh of the apple and the crispness of the coating.
Recipe 1 for toffee apples;
Recipe 2 for toffee apples.
Friction matches had been invented in 1826, and matches made with white phosphorus in 1831. Unfortunately, the use of white phosporus led to the horrific health problem known as phossy jaw in workers involved in match manufacture.
In July 1888, the matchgirls of the Bryant and May factory at Bow in East London (who had organised themselves as the Matchgirls' Union with the help of the socialist activist Annie Besant) went on strike in protest about this issue and other injustices in their working conditions.
Girls who sold matches on the street were also known as match girls.
Whelk is the common name given to various varieties of sea snails.
In Britain, it usually refers to an edible species known as Buccinum undatum, also known as the northern whelk or the common whelk.
Whelks have been, and sometimes still are sold from stalls at the seaside alongside other seafood such as cockles, mussels and prawns.
The phrase 'not fit to run a whelk stall' is sometimes used as a derogatory description of someone perceived as useless.
Follow this link to see a London whelk stall (c.1910).