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The Clay Tobacco Pipe


Tobacco arrived on British shores at some time in the 16th century, over 500 years ago. By the end of the 17th century there were over 1000 clay pipe makers in London alone. Lots of people in Ryde would have been smoking tobacco in pipes like these 300 years ago, not aware of its bad affect on their health – in fact believing it was good for them!



‘What have you got there, Bennelong?’, I asked.

Bennelong had something white in his hand with a long stem and a small bowl on the end that was glowing soft red. It was a pipe. Startled by my question, he dropped it and it cracked when it hit the ground.

‘Gosh, damn it, Penny!’, he muttered, ‘wish you wouldn’t sneak up like that.’

Edie glanced as he picked it back up to examine the damage. ‘It’s bad for you anyway’, she scolded.

‘I thought it was supposed to cure the plague’, I said. That’s what I’d heard from the people around here’.

‘That’s what people say but how could it really help? Everyone just ends up coughing their lungs up because of it eventually. Best have nothing to do with it.’

Bennelong seemed to have decided that the pipe was unable to be saved, and discarded it.



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