Episode 1 True Stories


Episode 1

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Transcript


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I'm going to tell you something about my life.

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My name is Florence Nightingale.

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I was born in the year 1820 in Italy,

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and named after a famous city there,

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but I grew up in England in a large country house.

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The story I will tell you starts when I was still a girl,

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when I began to imagine the life I could lead,

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when I got hold of the idea that I might do something with my life,

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and I wouldn't let it go.

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I grew up with my sister Parthenhope,

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who was also named after an Italian town.

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We were a wealthy family and our father wanted to educate us himself.

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From a young age, I loved to read, and I wanted to learn.

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I was neat and orderly, and liked everything to be in its place.

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My sister, on the other hand, just wanted to play around.

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In lessons she did her best to distract me.

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But I would not be distracted.

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I had this idea that I would do something with my life

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and I wouldn't let it go.

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Wherever I was, I was only happy if I had a book in my hand,

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much to my sisters' frustration.

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They said I was a bookworm.

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But it was more than that.

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I knew even then I didn't want to be like other girls.

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I grew up with my head in books and, over time,

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I formed a very clear idea of what it was that I wanted to do.

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What I wanted to do was work, and the work I wanted to do was nursing.

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My family didn't approve.

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What they expected of me,

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all they thought I should aim for in my life,

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was to find a respectable man to marry me.

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I knew that being a wife and mother would never be enough.

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I had this idea that I would do something with my life

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and I wouldn't let it go.

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I stuck to my books, and refused to give in.

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I would not change my course.

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At that time nurses got no training at all, but I had other ideas.

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So long as my father refused to let me work, I stuck to my books,

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refining my ideas about how I would teach nurses to help the sick.

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Eventually, I got the chance that all these years I'd been waiting for.

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I was asked to train a team of nurses for work in the Crimea,

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a place far away where there was a war.

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There was a hospital there near the battlefield where injured

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soldiers were brought in, but were never getting better.

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I trained my nurses in

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fundamental principles of cleanliness and hygiene.

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I wanted them neat and orderly, and everything just so.

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Soon we were packed and ready to leave,

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for a war that had until now had seemed so far away,

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in a country most of them had never even heard of.

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Even I had a little apprehension,

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not so much for what we might find,

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but because I knew this was my chance to prove my worth as a nurse.

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The journey to Scutari in Turkey took several weeks.

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We arrived and it was hot.

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The hospital itself was in the shell of an old army fort,

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close to the battlefield.

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As we walked towards it, I didn't quite know what we'd find.

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Whatever we had imagined, this was worse.

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The first thing to hit you was the smell,

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the stench of sickness and filth.

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Soldiers lay on the floor in pools of blood,

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undressed wounds were covered in flies, sheets, such as there were,

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were crawling with lice and maggots.

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It was a hell on earth.

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I knew in an instant what needed to be done.

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First, I had to persuade the doctor to let us get to work.

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I knew what I wanted to do and I wouldn't let it go.

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He resisted but, in the end, he said that things

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had got so bad, he was willing to let me try.

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Here was my chance to prove what I believed were

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the first principles of good nursing, cleanliness and hygiene.

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I set my nurses to cleaning every inch, every crevice,

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every corner of the place.

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First we swept.

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I believed that when the wounded came to us,

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they should expect not dirt and disease,

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but good food and clean sheets

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and fresh air and the chance for nature to heal their wounds.

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Then, we scrubbed.

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That way we would be in charge, order would prevail,

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and health could be restored.

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I wouldn't let my nurses rest until the place was spotless.

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I was strict with them and I suspect they found me rather stern.

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Finally, we brought in fresh sheets.

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And, once clean, the hospital would stay clean.

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This was how I'd imagined it,

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clean and hygienic, and everything in its place.

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Now we could concentrate on tending to the soldiers' wounds,

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and nursing them back to health.

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The change in the hospital was immediate.

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I may have been stern with the nurses,

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but at night I walked amongst the soldiers on the wards.

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I would sit with them if they wanted, or read to them,

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or take their hand if they called out.

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After all, it was for them that we were there at all,

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and I so wanted each of them to get better.

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Because of my lantern, and my nightly rounds,

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they started to call me 'The Lady of The Lamp'.

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Soon, we were rewarded for all our efforts.

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Soldiers that would have died before were getting better,

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and some were able to leave their beds.

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It gave me such satisfaction to watch them leave.

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I'd never felt more complete.

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After the war ended,

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I stayed until every last soldier was well enough to leave.

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When I got back to England,

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I was astonished to find that I was famous!

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Not only were people talking about my work,

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but there was a trust fund that had been set up in my honour!

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It was a good deal of money and

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I used it to start up the first ever Nurses Training School in London.

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What I did changed nursing for good.

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It became a real profession, with strict principles and standards,

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and all the better for the health of the entire nation.

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As a girl, I had decided that I would do something with my life.

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I'm glad that I took hold of that idea and I never let it go.

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I'm going to tell you about something about my life.

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My name is Alexander Graham Bell.

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I was born in the year 1847 in Edinburgh.

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To understand where I ended up,

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you'll need to understand where I started from.

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So the story I will tell you begins when I was just a boy.

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By the time I was ten years old, my mother was almost deaf.

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She liked to listen to me playing the piano,

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although I'm not sure exactly what she heard.

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She would sit beside me with her hearing tube pressed to the piano,

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and seemed to like it even though I didn't really play that well.

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Because of my mother,

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I was interested from an early age in how sound works.

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I spent ages peering inside the piano, watching how,

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when I pressed a key, a little hammer hit some strings,

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making them vibrate, and I saw it was the vibration that made the sound.

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I think it was the vibrations, too, that mother could pick up

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through her hearing tube.

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Sometimes, in the next room, my father would be teaching a pupil.

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It was his job to try and help deaf people learn to speak.

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He'd invented a system that helped them learn how to

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move their throat, tongue and lips to produce the vibrations to

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make the different kinds of sounds that went into speech.

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When there were people round for tea, and the chatter was whirling

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around the room, I didn't like the thought of my mother missing out.

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So I tried to help her follow the conversation

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by tapping a code out on her arm.

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Perhaps because of my mother, I was so glad that I could hear.

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I was so aware that the world was full of sound.

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I would go out and walk sometimes just to listen,

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and it was like the whole world was vibrating all at once.

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I thought if I listened hard enough, I could even hear

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the sound of moss growing and creeping its way along a fallen tree.

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I was always tuned in to the sounds things made,

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and even when I grew up I was still listening.

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But now I had my own ideas too, about how sound worked,

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and about all the things it might be possible to do with it.

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I was itching to try some things out,

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so my father set my brother Melly and I a challenge

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to invent a machine that could replicate the human voice.

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Ha! A talking machine!

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The idea got me really excited!

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ALEXANDER GARGLES

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We tried to figure out what it was

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that made the human voice come out at all.

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We tried to think of the body as a machine,

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with all the mechanisms needed to cause a vibration to make a sound,

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but not just any sound,

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all the different kinds of sounds that make up speech.

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HORN HONKS

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WHISTLING

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We made something, and it worked!

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Well, kind of worked.

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When I wasn't thinking about machines or working on my ideas,

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I taught deaf children just like my father did.

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I never forgot that some people, like my mother,

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could hear very little or nothing at all.

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And teaching them how to make sounds spurred me on and

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I had so many ideas about how to make machines that could manipulate sound.

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Then a chance came along for me to try out some of my ideas.

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I was asked to find ways to improve the telegraph machine.

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The telegraph machine was a relatively new invention,

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used to send messages from one place to another.

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Before the telegraph, messages had to be handwritten

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and sent by horse and cart!

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This was so much quicker.

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It sent messages from one place to another

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by taking the words of the message, and turning them into a code,

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like Morse code, which could be sent down an electrical wire.

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At the other end, the code was received

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and translated back into words again.

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But the big drawback was you could only send one message at a time,

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and it had to be sent from the Telegraph Office,

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which often meant there was a very long queue.

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And when the messages were received, at a Telegraph Office somewhere else,

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they had to be printed off, one at a time,

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and delivered to the right address.

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It was a clever system,

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but sending one message at a time was simply too slow.

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I was working on how to make the telegraph machine better,

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but I kept coming back to a different idea.

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What if, rather than turning a message into a code and then sending

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that code along an electric wire and turning it back into words again,

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what if you could send the sound of a human voice,

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so that one person could simply speak to another,

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even if they were far away?

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I had an idea that you could use electricity to send sound itself

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along a copper wire, but I wasn't quite sure how to build it.

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I got a man called Watson who was good with electricity to help me out.

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We rented two rooms, one next to the other.

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Together, we came up with a contraption that might just work.

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It had a mouthpiece or transmitter to speak into and then,

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using a dangerous liquid called acid, the sound would be turned

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into electricity, travel along a copper wire,

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and be turned back into sound again at the other end, at the receiver.

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We had something that we thought might work,

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and we got ready to try it out.

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But just then, at the crucial moment...

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< Come in here, Watson, I need you!

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..I spilt acid on my trousers. It was burning my leg.

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-VIA PHONE:

-Watson, I need you.'

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To my utter amazement, Watson had heard me!

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The machine had worked!

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I was so excited, I almost forgot the burning sensation on my leg!

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In that moment, the telephone was born.

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It needed more work,

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but soon, I was ready to show people what I had invented.

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It caught on and it was a great success.

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Amazing to think that the device we rigged up between those two rooms

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was the first ever telephone, and now, in your world,

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there are more five billion of them!

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What had started with me playing piano for my mother,

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and peering inside to see how it worked,

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led me down a road that ended in an invention that, quite frankly,

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the world now simply couldn't do without.

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I'm going to tell you something about my life.

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My name is Harriet Tubman.

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I was born in Maryland in the United States of America in the year 1820.

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But my story starts when I was just a child

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I was born into a family of slaves.

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My mother and father were from Africa,

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but they were snatched up from their homes

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and brought to America on a ship to work for a rich landowner.

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Being a slave meant that we were owned by our master,

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and he got to decide everything we did.

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And most of what we did was working in his cotton fields.

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The seasons turned one into the next, and every year it was the same.

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We hoed the field to sow the seed to pick the cotton,

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then hoed the field to sow the seed to pick the cotton,

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over and over, till our hands were raw, our backs ached,

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our spirits worn down by the endless toil.

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From the age of six,

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my job was to carry buckets of water out to the field.

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The bucket was heavy and sometimes I could barely lift it off the ground.

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We got no money.

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We were given just about enough food to keep us from starving.

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The landowner lived in a giant house on the hill,

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with a view over all his land.

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We slept in a small hut in the forest.

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We had no furniture, and we slept on the floor, lined up like sardines.

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But still, I loved the hut, loved us all lined up together,

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keeping each other warm.

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My father snored loudest, but it was so familiar it helped me sleep.

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Sometimes, my father would take me

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into the forest that surrounded our hut and tell me things.

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He told me how moss always grew on the north side of a tree,

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how birds made their nests.

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I loved watching the birds.

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I tried to imagine what it would feel like to fly anywhere you felt like,

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high above the tree tops, looking down on everything.

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And that's how I grew up, knowing only the small world of

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the forest round our hut and the field we worked in.

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As soon as I was old enough,

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I was put to work alongside the other slaves in the field.

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I spent years that way, until my hands were raw, my back ached,

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and my spirit was worn down by the endless toil.

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Still I watched the birds.

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The slave master could keep my back bent towards the earth but

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he couldn't stop me from imagining what it might feel like to be free.

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Then, one day, we were working in the field, like every other day,

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when, all of a sudden, one of the slaves made a run for it.

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The slave master bid me go after him,

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but I just stood still and watched, admiring how brave he was,

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willing him to magically take flight and leave the ground.

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The master was furious.

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From that day on, I had dizzy spells,

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and would fall asleep without warning.

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But the strange thing was that that blow to the head

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also made something clear to me, like I'd suddenly woken up.

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I knew I had to escape,

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I had to do more than just look at the birds and dream of being free.

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In the moment that rock hit my head, I knew I just needed to be brave.

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Early one morning, I woke before the others.

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The time had come.

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I wrapped what little I had, and a small amount of food into a shawl.

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Then I took one last look at my family sleeping like sardines and

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at the space where all these years I had slept between them, and I left.

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I headed straight into the forest.

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Soon, I had walked further, and gone deeper into the forest,

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than I had ever been before.

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I headed north, knowing that way lay the border with Pennsylvania,

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where there was no slavery, and where,

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if I could get there, I could be free.

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When night approached, and the forest grew dark,

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I remembered what my father had taught me,

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that moss always grows on the north side of the trees.

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I wasn't afraid of the forest, or the dark,

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or the creatures that lived in the night,

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but I was afraid of the slave-catchers.

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Runaway slaves were worth money if they were caught,

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and there were slave-catchers out there who it made it their business

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to hunt runaways like me down.

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I had to keep my wits about me.

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I had to keep moving, stay quiet, and remember to be brave.

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I trod carefully and didn't stop to rest or sleep.

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After weeks of walking,

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I found myself at the border with Pennsylvania,

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a state where there was no slavery,

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a place where I could be something other than a slave.

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I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free.

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I felt my lungs fill with air as if for the first time.

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I was free.

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It was a feeling of such lightness.

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I thought again of the birds I'd spent all that time dreaming about.

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I chose where I walked, where I worked.

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I looked at the world around me with wide open eyes.

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But I couldn't settle.

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Less than a year after reaching freedom, I knew I had to go back.

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I went back the way I had come,

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to the place where I was a wanted runaway with a price on my head,

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but I knew I had to go return and lead my family to freedom.

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Now I wasn't just responsible for myself,

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but I knew if they were scared, that I could be brave for them, too.

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I knew now that there was a network of people who wanted to help

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runaways like us escape.

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Their homes were called safe houses, and they each had a sign

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they would hang outside to show that it was safe to call.

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It was a secret held dear by all those it helped,

0:33:050:33:09

and to keep the secret safe, we called the network of safe houses

0:33:090:33:14

the Underground Railroad.

0:33:140:33:16

It was neither a railroad nor underground,

0:33:160:33:21

but the runaways were called passengers,

0:33:210:33:24

and the people who helped or took people in were called conductors.

0:33:240:33:29

They would feed us and send us on our way.

0:33:320:33:35

We travelled at night,

0:33:410:33:42

trying to stay one step ahead of the slave-catchers.

0:33:420:33:46

I wasn't afraid of the forest, or the dark,

0:33:560:33:59

or the creatures that lived in the night.

0:33:590:34:01

I had to make sure we all made it to the border,

0:34:080:34:11

so that my family too would know the taste of freedom.

0:34:110:34:15

Finally, after weeks in the forest,

0:34:200:34:23

we reached the border with Pennsylvania.

0:34:230:34:25

I felt a happiness even greater than the first time

0:34:330:34:36

I'd crossed the state line.

0:34:360:34:38

I could imagine no greater joy

0:34:400:34:43

than the joy I felt watching my family rejoice.

0:34:430:34:46

When I saw the joy their freedom brought them,

0:34:540:34:58

I knew then that I would have to go back.

0:34:580:35:02

I knew then that this was what my life was for,

0:35:020:35:06

to help more slaves know what it was like to be free.

0:35:060:35:11

I went back time and time again

0:35:110:35:15

and I led more than 70 slaves across the Underground Railroad to freedom.

0:35:150:35:20

Later, they said I was a hero,

0:35:220:35:24

that I'd done great things,

0:35:260:35:29

but I knew all I needed to do was to be a little brave.

0:35:290:35:35

I'm going to tell you something about my life.

0:36:080:36:12

My name is Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

0:36:120:36:15

I was born in the year 1806, before motorcars and mobile phones,

0:36:150:36:20

before aeroplanes and passenger trains and television.

0:36:200:36:24

I was an engineer.

0:36:240:36:26

It was my job to work out how to build things.

0:36:260:36:30

The seeds of the story I will tell you were sown

0:36:350:36:39

when I was just a child.

0:36:390:36:41

From the age of four my father insisted on teaching me himself.

0:36:410:36:45

He worked as an engineer and wanted me to become one, too.

0:36:450:36:48

He believed a good engineer should be able to get things exactly right,

0:36:480:36:53

so he made me sit at the long desk in the study and draw circles.

0:36:530:36:59

I drew circle after circle, over and over.

0:37:010:37:05

Sometimes it felt like I couldn't stop.

0:37:050:37:07

Circle after circle, over and over,

0:37:070:37:10

until I'd completely filled the page.

0:37:100:37:13

I learnt to never stop until something was just right,

0:37:140:37:18

I learnt that getting something right was the most important thing.

0:37:180:37:23

By the time I'd grown up,

0:37:230:37:25

I could draw anything. I could build anything, too.

0:37:250:37:30

I did become an engineer, as my father had hoped.

0:37:310:37:34

If they needed a bridge over a river, I could build it.

0:37:340:37:37

If they needed a new pier or harbour wall, I could build it.

0:37:370:37:42

But what I wanted was to do was something really big,

0:37:450:37:48

something bigger and better than the world had ever seen.

0:37:500:37:54

I wanted to prove that there was nothing

0:37:540:37:56

good engineering could not achieve.

0:37:560:37:59

Finally, my chance arrived.

0:37:590:38:03

I was to be Chief Engineer on a brand new railway,

0:38:030:38:07

the Great Western Railway.

0:38:070:38:10

It was to be a new kind of track to take a new kind of train.

0:38:100:38:14

Now here was a project to put all my engineering skills to the test.

0:38:140:38:18

It would be the first of its kind, something the world had never seen,

0:38:180:38:22

a railway built to transport not coal and bricks and other stuff,

0:38:220:38:26

but designed to carry people, passengers, from place to place.

0:38:260:38:30

It would run from the capital city London,

0:38:320:38:34

to the smaller city of Bristol more than 100 miles away.

0:38:340:38:38

As Chief Engineer, I would need to work out the route,

0:38:380:38:41

and build a track to take a train that would run faster

0:38:410:38:45

than any train had ever run before.

0:38:450:38:47

I wanted to plan every part of the route myself.

0:38:470:38:51

I needed to see for myself what obstacles lay in the way,

0:38:510:38:55

what problems there were to be solved.

0:38:550:38:58

I walked and walked and walked.

0:39:050:39:08

Now, here's a thing you might not know.

0:39:100:39:13

I suspect you don't wear top hats.

0:39:130:39:16

There were considerable advantages to the big hats popular in my day.

0:39:160:39:20

They could make a short man look taller,

0:39:200:39:22

and also double as a convenient place to store one's lunch!

0:39:220:39:26

My aim was to build a track to take a train that could travel

0:39:400:39:44

the 100 miles from London to Bristol and take no longer than four hours.

0:39:440:39:49

I knew for the journey to be that quick,

0:39:490:39:51

the train would need to run fast.

0:39:510:39:54

And I knew that for the train to run fast,

0:39:540:39:56

the track that it ran on would need to run straight.

0:39:560:39:59

For the train to run fast and the track to run straight,

0:39:590:40:03

it would need to cut through or cross over anything that lay in its way.

0:40:030:40:08

I walked and walked.

0:40:110:40:13

I would not rest and I would not waver.

0:40:130:40:16

I surveyed the countryside by day,

0:40:160:40:19

and at night I worked in my carriage.

0:40:190:40:22

I had my measurements, I did my sums, I drew my plans.

0:40:250:40:29

If there was a river, I would build a bridge over it.

0:40:290:40:32

If there was a hill, I would build a tunnel through it.

0:40:320:40:35

There was no problem that engineering couldn't solve,

0:40:350:40:39

and I would not rest until my work was done.

0:40:390:40:42

But it wasn't just the hills and the valleys

0:40:430:40:46

and the rivers that I had to overcome.

0:40:460:40:49

There was another obstacle that lay in the way.

0:40:490:40:52

It was a problem I hadn't even thought of.

0:40:520:40:54

People were terrified of trains.

0:40:540:40:58

The train was still a new machine.

0:41:030:41:05

Most people had never even seen one.

0:41:050:41:08

I had to persuade them the railway was a good idea,

0:41:080:41:11

that it could change their lives for the better.

0:41:110:41:15

The fastest most people had ever travelled was

0:41:210:41:24

the speed of a carriage or a trotting horse.

0:41:240:41:28

Some people even thought that

0:41:280:41:30

if you travelled that fast, the train would boil your brain!

0:41:300:41:34

A ridiculous idea of course!

0:41:340:41:35

But I knew a passenger train would be useless without passengers,

0:41:400:41:44

so I did my best to convince they need not be afraid.

0:41:440:41:48

I didn't know if, when the track was finished, the passengers would come.

0:41:480:41:53

But, for now, I had other things to think about.

0:41:530:41:56

The biggest challenge of all was a great big hill called Box Hill,

0:41:590:42:03

an enormous hill, two miles wide, solid rock.

0:42:030:42:07

To build a tunnel through this would take a tunnel longer than

0:42:090:42:12

any that had ever been built before.

0:42:120:42:14

This was the big opportunity I'd been waiting for.

0:42:160:42:20

To halve the time it would take to build the tunnel, I would

0:42:290:42:33

have workers digging from east and west, either side of the hill.

0:42:330:42:37

This is where my measurements would need to be exact,

0:42:390:42:43

my sums would need to be spot on, and my plans would need to be perfect,

0:42:430:42:47

so the two halves would meet in the middle.

0:42:470:42:50

Get it wrong and it would be a disastrous waste of time.

0:42:510:42:55

I employed 1,500 men.

0:43:120:43:13

Half of them worked through the day, half of them all through the night.

0:43:130:43:18

Even with this many men, it would take five years to build.

0:43:180:43:23

It would cost thousands and thousands of pounds.

0:43:230:43:27

Week after week, they dug and dug, day and night,

0:43:270:43:32

chipping away at the solid rock.

0:43:320:43:34

Ton after ton of rock was removed,

0:43:340:43:37

the two parts of the tunnel edging closer and closer together.

0:43:370:43:41

Finally, the moment of truth arrived.

0:43:470:43:50

The digging was nearly finished but had it worked?

0:43:500:43:53

I had to be there to see for myself if I'd got it right.

0:43:540:43:58

I'd done it.

0:44:210:44:24

My sums were good, the two halves of the tunnel were perfectly lined up.

0:44:240:44:29

Finally, the line between London and Bristol could open.

0:44:290:44:34

A very straight line it was, too.

0:44:340:44:37

I'd shown the world that engineering could achieve great things.

0:44:380:44:43

Now I could show that it could even change the way people travelled.

0:44:430:44:48

And, to my great relief, people came.

0:44:510:44:53

For the first time ever,

0:44:530:44:55

passengers waited on the platform for the train.

0:44:550:44:58

Although some of them were still afraid,

0:45:170:45:20

as they boarded the train, they were making history.

0:45:200:45:23

I was proud to stand on the footplate of the train

0:45:360:45:39

and feel the wind on my face as we sped, just as I'd planned,

0:45:390:45:42

between London and Bristol.

0:45:420:45:45

I was there. I'd made this happen.

0:45:470:45:50

Nobody's brain boiled and a new era in transportation was born.

0:45:500:45:54

For me, now I'd done this, I wanted to do something even bigger.

0:45:590:46:05

I wanted to build an enormous steam ship to

0:46:050:46:07

take people from Bristol across the Atlantic Ocean to New York.

0:46:070:46:11

I was determined to succeed, I would not rest and I would not waver.

0:46:110:46:15

But that's another story.

0:46:170:46:19

I'm going to tell you something about my life.

0:46:540:46:58

My name is Mary Anning.

0:46:580:47:00

I was born in the year 1799 to a poor family in a small town by the sea.

0:47:000:47:06

It's difficult to know where to start my story, because the truth is,

0:47:060:47:09

I was born once, and then, when I was just 15 months old and still a baby,

0:47:090:47:16

I had my second beginning.

0:47:160:47:18

My mother had left me in the charge of three ladies.

0:47:210:47:25

They were getting some fresh air when suddenly the sky got dark

0:47:250:47:29

and a storm cloud came rolling across the sky.

0:47:290:47:33

As the rain started, they ran to shelter under a tree.

0:47:340:47:38

Suddenly, a great bolt of lighting leapt from the sky,

0:47:430:47:48

striking the tree and the ladies with it.

0:47:480:47:50

All three of the poor souls fell to the ground.

0:47:520:47:56

My father came running.

0:47:570:47:59

They say I was a dull child before, but that after the lightning strike

0:48:050:48:09

I was bright, like the lightning itself had gone into me

0:48:090:48:13

and brought me fully to life.

0:48:130:48:15

I grew up by the sea.

0:48:220:48:24

Every day my father would take my brother Joseph and I

0:48:240:48:27

down to the beach, no matter what the weather.

0:48:270:48:30

We were looking for these things we called 'curiosities'.

0:48:430:48:47

They were beautiful things, hidden inside the rocks.

0:48:470:48:51

I didn't know what they were, these curiosities,

0:48:510:48:54

but somehow I knew that they came from another world.

0:48:540:48:58

You might know them to be fossils.

0:48:580:49:02

You might know that they are creatures that

0:49:020:49:05

lived millions of years ago, turned to stone

0:49:050:49:08

and waited to be discovered amongst the rocks.

0:49:080:49:10

But we didn't know that then.

0:49:100:49:14

To us, they were just beautiful mysterious things.

0:49:140:49:19

I learnt how to spot them. I was good at it.

0:49:190:49:23

A keen eye, my father said.

0:49:230:49:26

My father taught me how to get the curiosities out of the rock.

0:49:360:49:41

You had to have such patience.

0:49:410:49:43

One hit too hard with a hammer and the whole thing could be in pieces.

0:49:430:49:49

So I learnt to be patient and to find it one tiny chip at a time,

0:49:500:49:55

to tease it out from where it had been hiding for who knows how long.

0:49:550:50:00

Because we were poor,

0:50:060:50:08

once we'd got the curiosities out of the rock, and cleaned them up,

0:50:080:50:12

me and Joseph would sell them from a stall on the street.

0:50:120:50:16

People thought they were frozen lightning bolts or

0:50:220:50:26

the devil's own toenails!

0:50:260:50:28

We'd sell them for a penny each.

0:50:290:50:32

One day a lady came by.

0:50:350:50:37

Said her name was Elizabeth Philpot.

0:50:370:50:40

She showed such special interest in our fossils,

0:50:430:50:46

and thought we had a fine collection.

0:50:460:50:50

She seemed to know more about these things than anyone I'd ever met.

0:50:500:50:54

So when she asked if I'd like to see her fossils,

0:50:540:50:57

I asked father and went with her straightaway.

0:50:570:51:00

I'd never seen anything so fine.

0:51:070:51:09

She had them all lined up like little treasures in a special cabinet.

0:51:090:51:14

There were things in that cabinet I'd never seen before,

0:51:180:51:22

things that made my heart beat harder.

0:51:220:51:24

Then she gave me some books to borrow.

0:51:290:51:31

I was so hungry to see what they said.

0:51:310:51:34

I read about all the new ideas coming from

0:51:400:51:43

the best men in science, ideas that were new and strange,

0:51:430:51:47

that these curiosities were really creatures from another time,

0:51:470:51:52

that had died and been somehow locked up inside the stone,

0:51:520:51:57

thousands, even millions of years ago.

0:51:570:52:00

I started to see the fossils differently

0:52:040:52:06

and imagined them coming to life!

0:52:060:52:09

It gave me such a thrill to think of it.

0:52:110:52:15

It was all I wanted to do, to walk on the beach

0:52:150:52:18

and stare at the stones.

0:52:180:52:21

It was like an itch or a twitch,

0:52:210:52:25

just knowing that there were fossils out there, waiting to be discovered.

0:52:250:52:30

Then a terrible thing happened.

0:52:320:52:34

My father got very ill.

0:52:400:52:41

He had fallen down the cliffs and just wasn't getting better.

0:52:410:52:46

I was just 12 years old when my father died.

0:52:580:53:03

Now I would have to walk the beach without him.

0:53:030:53:07

We were more poor now than ever.

0:53:110:53:14

Selling curiosities was our best chance of making money,

0:53:140:53:18

so every day I went out to look for them.

0:53:180:53:22

And besides, the fossils were all I thought about.

0:53:220:53:26

It was like an itch or a twitch,

0:53:260:53:28

knowing that there were fossils out there just waiting to be discovered.

0:53:280:53:34

I grew up and I never stopped looking.

0:53:370:53:41

I could see the world so clearly now.

0:53:410:53:43

I knew what the scientists were saying about what they were,

0:53:430:53:48

these fossils as they now were called, and I had my own ideas, too.

0:53:480:53:52

It must be hard for you to imagine,

0:53:520:53:55

but these were such extraordinary ideas.

0:53:550:53:59

People found it hard to believe that the world could really be

0:53:590:54:04

millions of years old, and that the curiosities

0:54:040:54:08

were really creatures that had lived all that time ago.

0:54:080:54:12

Then, one day, I was out hunting,

0:54:230:54:26

eyes scanning the stones and cliffs as usual,

0:54:260:54:30

and I saw something that made

0:54:300:54:32

the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

0:54:320:54:35

It weren't much to see, but there was a hint of something sticking out

0:54:410:54:46

from a large slab of slate.

0:54:460:54:48

I could have walked past it a thousand times.

0:54:480:54:51

But this time, it was as if I could see beneath the surface,

0:54:510:54:55

and I just knew that this was something really big.

0:54:550:54:59

I'd never lift it on my own. I called some quarrymen,

0:55:040:55:07

who knew me well for all the time I spent on the beach,

0:55:070:55:11

to come and help carry the slab back to my work room.

0:55:110:55:14

I had to calm myself down.

0:55:340:55:37

I knew it would take an age, and that I had to be patient.

0:55:370:55:41

I started to chip away at the great slab.

0:55:410:55:44

Just like my father had taught me,

0:55:440:55:48

I had to work one tiny chip at a time.

0:55:480:55:51

Hurry, and I could ruin it.

0:55:510:55:53

One tiny chip at a time, I waited to see what would emerge from the rock.

0:55:530:55:59

One tiny chip at a time, I couldn't stop.

0:55:590:56:02

I couldn't think of anything else.

0:56:020:56:05

As it slowly emerged,

0:56:080:56:09

I knew this was different from anything I'd found before.

0:56:090:56:14

It took days, weeks, one tiny chip at a time.

0:56:150:56:20

Finally, I stood back and looked at what it was that I had found.

0:56:280:56:32

It was the skull of some great creature,

0:56:320:56:35

a creature like nothing alive.

0:56:350:56:37

I ran to fetch Elizabeth.

0:56:390:56:42

She came with an important man of science, all the way from London.

0:56:430:56:48

He said it were like nothing he had ever seen,

0:56:510:56:53

and that he'd never seen a creature with such an enormous eye.

0:56:530:56:57

He said it was important.

0:56:590:57:03

He said that all of science would be amazed.

0:57:030:57:07

Imagine that!

0:57:070:57:09

They called it an ichthyosaur after the Greek words for 'fish lizard'.

0:57:090:57:14

To my astonishment, he gave me £25 for it.

0:57:180:57:21

For the first time in my life,

0:57:250:57:27

my family would have no need to worry about money.

0:57:270:57:31

My ichthyosaur was just the beginning.

0:57:340:57:38

I never stopped looking.

0:57:380:57:40

I found more things the world had never seen.

0:57:400:57:44

They took my fossils up to London,

0:57:440:57:47

put them on display in the British Museum.

0:57:470:57:51

My finds would change the whole way the world was understood.

0:57:510:57:55

But they never once said who had found them.

0:57:570:58:01

The men of science wrote their books and forgot all about me.

0:58:010:58:05

Now though, almost 200 years later,

0:58:060:58:09

they say I was the greatest fossil hunter ever!

0:58:090:58:14

How about that?

0:58:140:58:16

My father would have been so proud.

0:58:160:58:19

I found many incredible things,

0:58:190:58:23

but just think, for every fossil I found,

0:58:230:58:28

how many more may lie undiscovered right beneath your feet?

0:58:280:58:34

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:510:58:54

This two-part series tells the stories of ten extraordinary and inspiring people who changed the world. These are stories of bravery, invention, determination or discovery. But each story begins when they were children, illustrating an event that shaped them or set them on their path.

The unfolding narrative is brought to life and played out using a unique mix of drama, choreographed movement, specially composed music and animation. Aimed at primary school-aged children, the historical characters speak directly to their young audience enabling the viewer to get to the emotional core of the story too - the excitement felt at a fossil glimpsed in the crumbling mud of a cliff face or the thrill of an engineering problem solved.

This first episode looks at Florence Nightingale, Alexander Graham Bell, Harriet Tubman, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Mary Anning.

The programme looks at how Florence Nightingale revolutionised nursing for ever. It shows how Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and follows Harriet Tubman as she frees slaves. It also looks at how Isambard Kingdom Brunel tunnelled through Box Hill to build the Great Western Railway, and watches Mary Anning discover the first ichthyosaur fossil.


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