Sunday, 30 September 2012

The big reveal William Hardacre (aka Humbug Billy)And the Bradford humbug poisonings

So here it is, my two week project. I was given a plastic box full of cusious objects. The box contained :

a ball of string

some raffle tickets

a bag of salt (in a clear plastic back)

a packet of peppermint chewing gum

As soon as I saw the salt I knew what I wanted my project to revolve around, and luckily the rest of the objects seemed to just fit in with my theme.

The theme
In 1858 William Hardacre of Bradford West Yorkshire poisoned over 200 people, 20 of those poisonings resulted in death!
How did he do this? i hear you ask, well quite simply Poor William was a victim of the sugar taxation of the times. Sugar was exotic, expensive and hard to get hold of, if you were a poor market stall owner like old Billy you simply had to substitute sugar with other things.
Now Billy used to use a drug called 'daft' in place of other expensive, somewhat hard to come by ingredients. but one day due to ill labelled and tragically placed jars the apothecary that supplied Billy with his ingredients accidentaly gave him a dose of arsenic! Obviously with ill labelled jars, no one noticed the deadly mistake, it was a white sugar like substance, easily mistaken.
It's said that each peppermint humbug contained enough arsenic to kill two people, so it's surprising that only 20 of those people died.
No one involved were prosecuted for this deadly accident, but it did lead to the sugar taxation been lifted and laws on what could be used in food consumption.
I've portrayed Billy in such a manner as the news papers of the time portrayed him as a cold blooded killer, depicting him in as a skeleton in a kitchen of horrors, mixing all manner of things into his sweets.
The numbers on the tickets represent the numbers poisoned
the humbugs are made from the string
the chewing gum was incorporated as the humbugs were peppermint flavoured
and the salt was used as a play on the arsenic mix up, as without a label , it could have been anything
I'm very proud of the puppet I've made and am going to be making a lot more of them, hopefully I shall become a master puppeteer

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