London, BBC, Martin discussed on Discovery



This is the BBC. So these are just the purify song, mine key what Austraia's to get a nice. And in than that, we know who is Hunter said phosphorus which he continues to fill the None of chiefly in a lab at UCL postgraduate student. Martin heart is gently warming some phosphorus in a Flask under vac week heats the old stuff then can incident on. So you a cold thing though, is because of some lovely Hubbard's hoping go Ole incredibly Pule what phosphorus us? This liquid not shouldn't. If we used to cool down the finger and allow the supplementation all to Foster's onto the pro, the philosopher's sublime It vaporized and then sticks to a glass surface. The cold that his cooled with liquid nitrogen. What he's talking about is purifying one of the most dangerously flammable materials ever discovered white phosphorus. We can just kick this of law. Eight. The result is a white solid who will ignite instantaneously if it meets air. This is chemistry with most extreme, the chemistry of one of the strangest elements. In the Perry table. I am under their Saleh Professor chemistry ECO, and we're here for this edition of discovery for BBC, World Service. This is my lab, and I want to tell you about phosphorus in the extraordinary contributions it has made to our lives tour wars into our politics. You could start to see it very, very. Lately slow from two. Sublime from the the womb to the vessel onto the probe which is being who fraud and they cannot share what Martin's doing. In essence, distilling phosphorus echoes the legend of the discovery of the element around sixteen sixty nine ironically, a few years after the great fire of London. The German alchemist Hennick brunt collected large vats of urine, which he boiled down to a paste and after adding charcoal to the gun just left in the Flask, he heated the mixture and a furnace to a temperature of over fifteen 100 degrees. An astonishing achievement in itself. Out of his Flask drip to strange luminous liquid The burned fiercely an air, and that he was able to collect is a solid underwater where it continued to glow, gently the material came to be known as phosphorus from the Greek word false meaning the lights and foreign to bring and across Europe. Other alchemists and protocol Mus tried to copy Brandt's result. He finally revealed it in a moment of carelessness Wall bragging in a pub and the secret rapidly spread to his colleagues in competitors. The fact that phosphorus is so inflammable made it the obvious way to start fires. And light candles and went to British entrepreneurs. Albright and Wilson developed a process, take animal bones and extract the phosphorus from them. The scene was set for phosphorus to be incorporated into people's everyday lives in matches that rate found a key industry that you couldn't do without, but you didn't get anything in return on, Do you had no food, no hot water, No lie saying nothing without matches. I will match his everywhere in every house in every room and every 10 him and so on every street corner. This is Louise raw social historian and author of striking a light. The story of the now legendary nineteenth-century industrial dispute involving the workers in a match factory in East London. Their strike was seen as laying the foundations of the trade union movement, and he's all because the heads of nineteenth century matches contained a small amount of phosphorus. The end is deep into the white phosphorous bombs. The DYP has now those are generally boys and men. This is the one part of the production process which is not just on exclusively by women and girls. So that was the most dangerous Jope. Both work-for-food mixed with glue wind-fall Israel. That's riot police hush and whatever else has lots of different types of matches different mixture. But it's the white phosphorous that s- k and what she's so deadly and such a horrific toxin. But it also being so incredibly flammable. It makes a kind of matches a best seller which scooter Lucifer appropriately enough given how awful The effects on people's health were. The WTO bore one song pack up. He troubles in euro kit bag. I sing while as Lucifer to light your fag smile. I one thing. Smile, boys, smile. Luke To learn your fat. Smiled boys, that's the style. But what made these matches so popular with the you could get them delight almost anywhere You could strike against a wall or against your shoe? Any Rough Surface? It was spectacular. But the fact that there was phosphorus in the head had a terrible downside for those who made them sitting in factories inhaling the vapour day in and day out had some horrendous consequences. It would starts wave teeth, fake and swelling of the face and allow its you'll This was far or Fossey jaw an occupational disease. The took a terrible toll on the match woman. The winning was so desperate for word. They can Felix They will little catchy surround their neck and scarves, and they pull them out to conceal it Because if they didn't a full men, if they so he with an ever-swelling face would Sacchi because they didn't want case says a four-seat you on that books. I want both about your health, But I didn't want you to report you to the fat. Train inspectors. What would then happen was that you would you would start to decay While you still alive and accounts say that it was the smell it was the was the smell of your body, boxing bicycling while you're alive. Huge abscesses in the jaw and bits of bone, the size of pays apparently would work their way out through these apps as just horrific. Horrible. Even families couldn't stand to have sufferers under the roof. So later veteran 'Spect his find match workers living on the outskirts of towns and cities almost like you might imagine lepers Leisa doing it in the final stages. This disease just at awful disease know everybody died. But those that did Beijing on the brain hemorrhaging It was just an awful way to go And nothing that could be done about it. And I plastic surgery over sleigh Then. So the best you could hopeful was to have all the flesh kosh away And Gino false teeth screwed Aiden. Lynch got screw Street in to replace the tastes that you've lost. So just really, really just awful conditions in the factory were terrible. There was no ventilation and no respect from the work or escape from the phosphorous that which is particles in the air and everywhere that was not Canteen. There was no food provided. So you'd see the women and girls unwrap a bit of bread, put it on the side if there were bench. And by the time they go chance to each said, Of course, you can imagine the Foster's Posco's in the air have filtered down on to the bread. So the goal of deadly seasoning. And that's because working class, women and girls would have missing teeth and holes in in that gums can afford the dentist. That Dave, The poisoning really easy roots in to the job on this factory, which today is a block of apartments for the well off on the doorstep of the City of London belong to Bryant in May than the leading matchmakers the British empire. It was a business of huge significance, literally lighting, the fires and the candles from London to Calcutta and said, they were incredibly in with politicians if the day great connections, friends in high places. And there's a statue of William Gladstone on the by road to this day, which Bryant in May made their work has pay very generously to Iraq settle of rarely an creeping up to the powers-that-be. And that's why even when other countries ban white phosphorus coming from the the late 1800s We don't until well into the the nineteen tens because the government says, Well, we counts upset Brian Tomase profits that two important to the economy. The workforce in their match factors consisted largely of women, especially girls mostly poor Irish emigrants while the roller HOV worked on the docks in the engineering projects Vitor inland. But can. Asians got so bad that in eighteen 88 They took on the might of these powerful businessmen and they won. It started with the sacking of a popular woman who is accused of contributing to a left-wing publication criticizing conditions in the factory, but very quickly their protest became a revolt against those conditions. And they gathered wide support as the public learned more and more about the reality. The match women's lives. A tight starts to ten quite quickly and match me, right clever. They go to parliament and meet with and pace and tell them about their lies. And this was so shocking to have. Yeah, women who pool when the inside edge One goal his twelve because he's a very, very young women and girls sweep solve hub on it, and shows that she's actually bulled onto her hat because she's it pallets of matches on her heads since infancy such as has completely worn away. Now that's brilliant. And what they tell me pays really change things. They realized that this is a pooling that the woman a telling the truth, They launch an independent investigation, and the public me begins to shift really foster. Then you see pay posts completely on the match from insides, brought in my really getting dragged in the press that still angry that still hostile. This still saying, It's all lies in where wonderful employers in its is these rights under the beds. These wretched socialists have stood things out, but very quickly set a two-week strike around two weeks. Things ton against them on its own. So the embarrassment of the Liberal MPs and clergymen, he would being exposed in the press as shareholders, but the extraordinaire success that the women, how what impact of that have on British society more more widely? How are they viewed by other women in the country? It's absolutely huge. The impact it's reading, cripple. I fen being history cake, SAT and looked to instant instances if strikes around this time. And before this time in the right of strike, shoots up all around London and then spreading through the country and to Ireland and Scotland as well. This is a wave strike just sweep the country Walk us. You've never been allowed to unionize the poorest the most explosive Use strikes to demand the right to form unions omega hundreds of thousands of people joining unions over the next few years. So it all starts with the

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