The Bowlers, a thoroughly modern family of six, were selected from over 400 families around the UK, to embark on a unique time travel journey to 1900. For three months they swap the luxury of 1999 for a life of urban Victorian domesticity.
The Time Machine
A one hour special first shown Wednesday 22 September 1999 The past comes to life in a major new series, The 1900 House, an experiment in living history that illustrates how radically our lives have been changed by technology in the past hundred years. The Bowlers, a thoroughly modern family of six, were selected from over 400 families around the UK to embark on a unique time travel journey to 1900. For three months they swap the luxury of 1999 for a life of urban Victorian domesticity. The series starts with a one-hour special which goes behind-the-scenes to find out how The 1900 House was set up. After much research, 50 Elliscombe Road in London — an ordinary terraced house in the shadow of the Millennium Dome — is to be transformed into a time machine. It is typical of the urban housing inhabited by the aspiring lower-middle classes at the turn of the century. In 1900, it would have cost £300; and was bought for the series for £131,000. Victorian specialist and museum curator, Daru Rooke became the guide on this massive renovation project. "It's a period that's within living memory, " he said. "But it will seem as strange to a modern family as a Roman encampment might do." Daru led a team of experts, which included architects, builders, gardeners and prop buyers. They had only four months to transform the thoroughly modern Elliscombe Road into its 1900 incarnation.
The 1900 House — A Year to Remember
From the comfort of a modern home the Bowler family reflect on their three extraordinary months spent as time travelers. Although they left the 1900 House in June, the memories are still strong as they recall the highs and lows of the experience. "No rose coloured glasses here," says Joyce Bowler, "There were fantastic times but there were also days when I hated every minute of it." Among their reflections the Bowlers describe the emotional roller coaster they rode during their 90 days as Victorians and how, 6 months on, they feel stronger for the experience. The recent broadcast of the series has stirred other memories too. Colin Gidden of Sutton Coldfield describes how he was "totally gob-smacked" to discover that, out of the millions of homes considered for the experiment, his grandmother's house had been selected. In an emotional trip Colin revisits 50 Elliscombe Road for the first time in over 50 years. "I take my hat off to the Bowlers, they deserved medals for living here. It's very close to how I remember it from my very first visit as a school boy," recalls Colin. This Christmas special also reveals a bizarre crime of passion that unfolded in Elliscombe Road at the turnoff the century. Directly opposite the 1900 House stands Number 53, where a wife shot her husband dead in June of 1900. The case caused scandal in its day as the court hearing revealed the accused was in a bigamous marriage. Almost a century later, over 20 families were auditioned for the role of living in the 1900 House and the runners up, the Griffiths family of Gloucestershire, give their verdict on how the Bowlers fared and how they themselves might have coped with the experience. As 50 Elliscombe Road awaits new occupants for the next millennium, The 1900 House — A Year to Remember closes the final chapter in this unique and fascinating story.
The TIme Machine
We go behind-the scenes to find out how an ordinary terraced house in the shadow of the Millennium Dome was transformed into a time machine and why the Bowlers were selected.
The Time Travellers
In Somerset, the Bowlers indulge in a last supper of junk food before saying goodbye to the 20th Century and hello to life in the year 1900.
A Rude Awakening
The Bowlers wake up to their first morning in the 1900 house. There is no water, potties need emptying and the milk has gone off. The dream is over.
Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness
It is a week since the Bowlers began their time travel experience. But no-one has had a decent bath. The range cooker, which should provide hot water, hasn't produced a drop.
How to Be a Victorian
After four weeks of the drudgery of a Victorian level of housework, Joyce comes up with a 1900 solution: finding a servant to do the dirty work, as most women in her position would have done a hundred years ago.
A newcomer arrives at the house as Elizabeth, their new "maid of all work' starts domestic service. Scrubbing, washing, ironing, carpet beating, black-leading the range - all for 4d a day.
The arrival of the maid has given Joyce the freedom to investigate the history of the suffragette movement. But the more she learns about the battle for women's rights, the worse she feels about employing a maid.
The Good Old Days
A night out at a Music Hall is a great success but proves a rude introduction to the seedy world of Victorian London.
Back to the Future
After three months of living in the past, the Bowlers' Victorian odyssey is coming to an end. Before they leave, they decide to throw a party for their friends and neighbours.
The Bowlers reflect on the highs, lows and unforgettable moments of their three month living-history experiment.