What is historically correct in Chapter 10 and 11 of Spyders:—
Of course the British Librarynth is an alternative world version of the British Library, its name merged with ‘labyrinth’.
“Mr. Pugmyre’s bath house” slips the living horror author Wilum Pugmyre into the novel. I’m not sure if there were dedicated bath houses at that time in Burslem? The first public baths opened in the 1890s…
“The public baths in Moorland Road [Burslem] were opened by the Corporation in 1894” — The Victoria history of the county of Stafford: Volume 8.
The Charge of the Light Brigade did indeed happen in 1854.
Prague is indeed the home of the golem myth.
An orrery looks like this…
Navigation Road is the road between Burslem and Middleport and is as described, and it often floods at the bottom. There is no Chapel Alley in Burslem, but there is a Chapel Lane.
The growing things mentioned by Steel in chapter 10 are all real names.
Dancing bears were indeed common into the 19th century, as they are depicted in the novel…
“Once, it was said, all the children of the town [Burslem] had run out early from their Sunday Schools to see a big blue eyed bear, all washed for his public dancing. The bear danced in the square to the soft pounding of a little steam organ and some musical clappers made from big butchers’ bones, to the sounds of which he added his own occasional moans and bellows. He danced for a lick into a big brown ironstone porridge bowl painted inside with thick treacle, before being goaded away from it for more dancing. Some girls danced with him, if they were brave enough, and must have remembered it in their pub tales all their lives.” — from The Spyders of Burslem.
These bears were once so common in Staffordshire that they influenced the design of pottery…
“The ‘Bear’ jugs witness to the vogue of the dancing bear, its itinerant owner leading it from village to village to delight the rustics with its terpsichorean skill. [Early] Crudely modelled pieces of this type came from both Staffordshire and…” — Ceramics for the collector: an introduction to pottery & porcelain (1949).
Mr. William Brown of Birmingham had indeed patented the modern ball-bearing roller-skate.
England was indeed commonly said by Germans to be “a land without music”, by which they meant we had no symphonic composers of any note at all. This was broadly true.