Re-enactment group show off the rotten teeth, sore and filthy clothes of the Victoria era4 min read

0
20

When the poor really WERE the great unwashed: Re-enactment group show off the rotten teeth, sore and filthy clothes of the Victoria era

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous SS Great Britain was once longest ship in the world from 1845 to 1854 
  • It launched on July 19 1843 and designed for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service
  • The Ragged Victorians – The Great Unwashed – brought to life the 1800s with a traditional Dickensian scene
  • Portrayals at the Great Western Dockland in Bristol included fishermen, and even a rat catcher with rodents

Advertisement

An award-winning re-enactment group have transformed the site of Brunel’s SS Great Britain to show the harsh realities of Victorian Britain. 

Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous SS Great Britain launched on July 19 1843 and was designed for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. 

And the Ragged Victorians – The Great Unwashed – brought the 1800s to life as they dressed up as policemen, swindlers and there was even a rat catcher with live rodents.  

The museum ship is based in the Great Western Dockland in Bristol and measures 322ft in length and has a 3,400-ton displacement.

Other portrayals featured a fisherman’s wife, dock worker and a fish seller as the group donned ragged clothing, scars and rotten teeth to illustrate what lower-class Victorian Britain was really like.   

The ship, which was built in 1843, was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854, and was designed by Brunel alongside William Paterson and Thomas Guppy.

Mistletoe is stacked in brown sacks as an actor dressed as a fisherman smokes his pipes while two women rest their feet on the barrels behind him

Mistletoe is stacked in brown sacks as an actor dressed as a fisherman smokes his pipes while two women rest their feet on the barrels behind him

A man smokes a pipe in the wintry conditions. The re-enactment groups brings the past of circa 1851 to life by donning ragged clothing - typical for lower-class Victorians

A man smokes a pipe in the wintry conditions. The re-enactment groups brings the past of circa 1851 to life by donning ragged clothing – typical for lower-class Victorians

An actor covers herself in blankets to protect herself from the cold as she clutches a basket of mistletoe and festive chestnuts

An actor covers herself in blankets to protect herself from the cold as she clutches a basket of mistletoe and festive chestnuts

Children play as the snow falls around them in a traditional Dickensian Christmas scene as one boy is seen patting a working horse

Children play as the snow falls around them in a traditional Dickensian Christmas scene as one boy is seen patting a working horse  

The Ragged Victorians - The Great Unwashed depict a scene from Victorian Britain as a young girl plays in the street as snow falls around her

The Ragged Victorians – The Great Unwashed depict a scene from Victorian Britain as a young girl plays in the street as snow falls around her 

An actor plays a mother holding a baby in a bonnet on the chilly December day. For most of the 19th century, dentistry was a back-street horror show in Britain until the Dentists Act was passed in 1878 - which limited the title of ¿dentist¿ and ¿dental surgeon¿ to registered practitioners

An actor plays a mother holding a baby in a bonnet on the chilly December day. For most of the 19th century, dentistry was a back-street horror show in Britain until the Dentists Act was passed in 1878 – which limited the title of ‘dentist’ and ‘dental surgeon’ to registered practitioners

A woman in the Dickensian scene shows scarring and sunken eyes to illustrate the everyday struggle of the lower-classes and lack of medical care

A man with a waistcoat and neckerchief surveys the SS Great Britain

A woman in the Dickensian scene shows scarring and sunken eyes to illustrate the everyday struggle of the lower-classes and lack of medical care (left). A man with a waistcoat and neckerchief surveys the SS Great Britain (right) 

Actors portray sailors who are shown to take a break from the hard work as they rest on ropes next to the SS Great Britain. A man with a bandaged foot and walking stick braces the cold

Actors portray sailors who are shown to take a break from the hard work as they rest on ropes next to the SS Great Britain. A man with a bandaged foot and walking stick braces the cold 

An actor with a burgundy coat and matching neckerchief proudly smiles

A woman is depicted to be stricken by poverty as she looks glumly into the distance

An actor with a burgundy coat and matching neckerchief proudly smiles (left). A woman is depicted to be stricken by poverty as she looks glumly into the distance (right) 

An actor laughs as he is seen in worn and ragged clothing with a thick beard. The re-enactment resembles a scene from a Charles Dickens novel whose romantic idea of a White Christmas has cemented itself in popular culture

An actor laughs as he is seen in worn and ragged clothing with a thick beard. The re-enactment resembles a scene from a Charles Dickens novel whose romantic idea of a White Christmas has cemented itself in popular culture  

A man plays an SS Great Britain sailor as he takes a break from the waves to have a tipple with a woman near the docks on the bracing Sunday

A man plays an SS Great Britain sailor as he takes a break from the waves to have a tipple with a woman near the docks on the bracing Sunday 

Inside the ship shows a hoard of produce that is likely to have featured in the 1800s. It shows a crate of cox's apples and biscuits

Inside the ship shows a hoard of produce that is likely to have featured in the 1800s. It shows a crate of cox’s apples and biscuits

Meat and mistletoe can be seen hanging in lower deck of the ship. Only first and second class passengers were allowed to eat the fresh meat

Meat and mistletoe can be seen hanging in lower deck of the ship. Only first and second class passengers were allowed to eat the fresh meat 

An actor with a festive red neckerchief stands with a basket of crumpets as lower-class Victorian women shop for produce

An actor with a festive red neckerchief stands with a basket of crumpets as lower-class Victorian women shop for produce 

A woman wraps herself in a checked shawl and shows signs of poverty with dirt over her chest and face to depict harsh realities of the poor

A woman wraps herself in a checked shawl and shows signs of poverty with dirt over her chest and face to depict harsh realities of the poor 

The SS Great Britain. The ship, which was built in 1843, was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854, and was designed by Brunel alongside William Paterson and Thomas Guppy

The SS Great Britain. The ship, which was built in 1843, was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854, and was designed by Brunel alongside William Paterson and Thomas Guppy

Advertisement