Britain had become the world’s first industrial superpower, with a vast and expanding empire bringing trade and goods from all over the globe. Internally it was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain.
In other fields such as science, technology and exploration it was also a time of advancement with visionaries such as the naturalist Charles Darwin and the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel helping to make the Victorian era one of the most progressive eras of discovery and development.
The Victorian era was also a time of unprecedented demographic increase in Britain. The population rose from 13.9 million in 1831 to 32.5 million in 1901. However the growth would lead to social consequences and reforms introduced to alleviate them.
Key events of the Victorian era.
1837 (20 June). Victoria comes to the throne.
1838 (1 August). Slavery abolished in the British empire.
1838 (17 September). London-Birmingham rail line opens.
1840 (10 January). Uniform postage rate of one penny introduced.
1845 (September). Irish potato famine begins.
1851 (1 May). Great Exhibition opens.
1854 (28 March). Britain and France declare war on Russia entering the Crimean War.
1859 (24 November). Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ is published.
1861 (14 December). Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, dies aged 42.
1872 (18 July). Voting by secret ballot introduced.
1880 (2 August). Education becomes compulsory for children under ten.
1889 (1 April). New local government authorities.
1901 (22 January). Victoria dies.