This description of a meeting of the Huddersfield Literary and Scientific Society’s “Microscopical Soiree” is taken from a copy of the Huddersfield Chronicle of the 9th January 1879 – 140 years ago. Old newspaper articles can paint pictures just as well as any art school graduate, and as you read through the list of microscopic treats on offer – spores of a truffle, trout’s ova, section through a coal miners’ lung – you begin to picture a body of frock-coated, heavy bearded Victorian gents fussing over the specimens and speculating about the future of mankind. The youngsters are deriving considerable amusement from Mr Wood’s patent atmospheric stereoscope, and the women – one presumes – are at home supervising the scullery maid.
But history has a habit of catching you out and challenging your perceptions, because in walks Mr Dammann and what has he got with him but a telephone! Logic tells me he has somehow got lost in the time warp that exists near Ainley Top and arrived fifty years too early. Old newspapers, however, never lie …. unlike their modern counterparts!