The photograph above shows an example of the ‘Death or Glory’ Pipe that was found during the Community Archaeology and History Project excavations in Whitworth Park last year. The design shows the emblem of the 17th Lancers, whose motto is “Death or Glory” and commemorates the Charge of the Light Brigade.
An article in the Telegraph last Easter drew attention to recently-revealed accounts written by survivors of the infamous military action which took place on 25th October 1854 during the Crimean War. The letters were found in a the archives by Anthony Dawson, who is an historian of the Crimean War. They have not been seen for 160 years. They will be published in a book Letter from the Light Brigade that will be published later in the year.
It is not claimed that there is any connection between the Charge of the Light Brigade and Whitworth Park but it does show how the historical event influenced late Victorian material culture. The shift to a globalised economy thanks to mass production and the birth of marketing as an arm of commercial practice in the Victorian period is something that we still live with today.
After the First World War cigarettes became more popular than clay pipes for the smoking of tobacco, and many clay pipe manufactureres went into decline. In the 1950s the the Pollock clay tobacco pipe business in Manchester revived an earlier marketing initiative by creating a line in glazed pipes in bright colours, featuring more ‘child-friendly’ designs such as the football game and the skull-and-crossbones (see image above). Whether Pollocks were intentionally copying the popular earlier death’s head design I don’t know, but it is so similar they could have come from the same mould. Thanks to the helpful staff at the Museum of Science and Industry you can even see such pipes being used to blow bubbles. The Death or Glory motif shows, as I’ve said previously on this blog, there really isn’t much new under the sun, save perhaps for the cigarette.
The Death or Glory pipe is currently on show in the Whitworth Park: Pleasure, Play and Politics exhibition at Manchester Museum.
The Whitworth Park Community Archaeology and History Project was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund Your Heritage grant. Additional funding was provided by The Council for British Archaeology, The Council for British Archaeology North West, Manchester City Council, and the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester. The exhibition is supported financially by The Robert Kiln Charitable Trust and cities@manchester.