Archive for April, 2014

The Daffodil Fields and the Railway

April 30, 2014

Not far from where I live there is a garden centre. Once upon a time it was called a nursery and it was famed for its daffodil fields.


And what a fine sight they still made into the 1970s.Towards the end of daffodil growing, it became a ‘pick your own’ business. But earlier, blooms had been taken to the local railway station and loaded on trains to take them up to London. I learned about this when I was out steam train spotting back in 2000.

I had gone to see a King class loco on a special train which was due to pull into a loop and take on water. This was where the old daffodil station had been.

I was not alone. A group of us waited at the bridge and amongst them was an older lady I knew. She described the dawn rising in the season, the selecting of blooms and the bunching and the trolley to take them to the station. It had been part of her life. She had done it. When the train arrived she led us down the station approach road.


There’s the loco – number 6024 and named King Edward 1. Water is being pumped into the tender from a road tanker. Once upon a time most long distance railways had water troughs from which engines could scoop up water whilst travelling. But of course, there was no need for these troughs after steam engines went out of use and now special trains need to build watering stops into schedules. Whilst stopped the support crew did a quick bit of engine servicing – oiling, shovelling coal etc.


There we have name and number. The Kings were the most powerful express passenger locos on the old Great Western Railway system. This particular engine was built in 1930 and stayed in front line service until 1962. The loco spent more than ten years on the scrap sidings at Barry before being rescued and returned to serviceable condition.

This loco would never have been involved in the daffodil business’ Locos like this didn’t haul trains which stopped at quiet country stations.


There’s the man we all envy. He’s the driver.


The old King gets under way and prepares to re-join the main running line for the rest of the journey.

Access to the old station site here is now barred and perhaps it was unsafe for there was no fence between us and the trains but I can tell you my old friend the daffodil lady absolutely loved seeing a steamer at close quarters again.



Eric Ravilious – April

April 29, 2014

During the month of April my calendar has been showing me a design that Eric Ravilious drew for use on Wedgwood china. I can’t say it is a real favourite of mine. It shows an urban scene and I am generally a person of the more rural areas. But it has been appropriate for April for it depicts the University Boat Race – Oxford against Cambridge.


Eric had, of course, found an interesting spot for his view with interesting boats on a slipway in the foreground. I believe he is showing Oxford leading by about half a length.

Of course, had something similar been done in 2014, then probably only one boat would have been in view for after the clash of the oars there was really only one boat in it.

This reminds us that Ravilious designed for all sorts of purposes. He didn’t just paint pictures.

Mum, Grandad and Joey

April 28, 2014

This is a bit of family history which, alas, is long gone, but not forgotten.

In this picture, my mum looks quite young which, indeed, she was for she was born in 1924 and the photo dates from 1953 so she would still have been in her 20s.


It is clearly a summer photo. My mum has a summer dress on, with very short sleeves. She is kneeling on the ground with her dad, my grandad.

I have to say, I look at the photo and think, ‘he looks old’.

But he wasn’t. He was born in 1899 so he was 53, much younger than I am now.

But Grandad had had a hard life. He joined the First World War long before his 18th birthday and was captured and held prisoner for the duration. His first wife, my gran, died with four young children (my mum was second oldest). He struggled to keep the family together and it might be fair to say was not wholly successful – but I’d attach no blame to him, and much more blame to a system which offered no help or support in the circumstances.

One decision he made was to re-marry in haste. I’ll leave the second part of that little saying unsaid. Grandad needed a substitute mum for his children and he got one. Sadly she never really knew what a mother should be like. Life was not easy for him or the children.

As a widow, he had used drink for solace. The second wife probably stopped that. But she was at one with him in being a heavy smoker. And it is probably that which really makes him look old.

Grandad’s summer look goes as far as sleeves rolled up and the absence of a collar on his shirt.

The dog in the picture was called Joey and he was Grandad’s joy. I never liked him. I was always a tad scared. But I do recall that Joey doted on grandad and he doted on the dog.

All are gone. Joey must have gone first and I can’t remember when, but I don’t recall any other dog after Joey.

My mum died in 1967, aged just 43. Grandad died the following year in 1968.

The Huggetts of Kalamazoo

April 27, 2014

This is a tale of relatives who left a rather impoverished life in rural Sussex, England, in the mid 19th century for what they hoped would be a better life in the new world. They ended up in Kalamazoo. They are not direct line ancestors of mine so I suppose we’d call them distant relatives. Anyway, here is the tale. Anything I have coloured in red is unproven but I believe it is correct.

John Huggett, son of Henry Huggett and his wife, Hannah, was the sister of Jane Huggett, who was my Great Great Great Grandmother.

John Huggett was born about 1819 and baptised at Udimore near Rye and close to the Sussex/Kent border on 27th January 1819.

John married his first wife, Sarah in about 1840/41. Sarah came from Beckley. The family lived in Peasmarsh in the early 1840s. By the1851 UK census they were in Rye.

District Address forename surname position married age occupation Where born
Rye 162 John Huggett Head M 32 Sawyer Udimore
Rye 162 Sarah Huggett Wife M 30 Beckley
Rye 162 Sarah Ann Huggett daur UnM 10 Peasmarsh
Rye 162 Elizabeth Margaret Huggett daur UnM 8 Peasmarsh
Rye 162 William Huggett son UnM 5 Rye
Rye 162 Edgar Huggett son UnM 2 Rye
Rye 162 Edward Huggett son UnM 0.2 Rye

John and family emigrated to the USA in 1853. They travelled on the ship ‘The Golden Age’ which departed Liverpool and arrived in New York on 14th July 1853.

This is an extract from the ship’s register. It shows the complete family.


Golden Age was a wooden paddle steamer of 2864 tons, built at New York in 1852 with a capacity of 1200 passengers. She was later sold to Japanese interests.

2182 tons (1856), 1869 tons (1865), length 272.8ft x beam 41.9ft, wooden hull, side paddle wheels, three masts. Built by William H.Brown, New York in 1853, she sailed from New York on 30th Sep.1853 for Liverpool, Cape of Good Hope, Melbourne and Sydney. She operated Australian coastal services until 12th May 1854 when she sailed from Sydney for Tahiti and Panama, arriving 17th June. Purchased by the Pacific Mail SS Co in Aug.1854, she entered the San Francisco – Panama service in Oct.1854 and continued until 1869. Later transferred to the Yokohama – Shanghai service, she was sold to Mitsubishi Mail SS Co in 1875 and renamed HIROSHIMA MARU.

This paragraph is best guessing, based on evidence, Between 1853, when John and Sarah arrived in the USA and 1857, Sarah died. John re-married Mary, herself British and probably a widow on 25th September 1857.

Marriage:  25 SEP 1857   Kalamazoo, Michigan

It would also seem that William died before 1870, possibly whilst serving as a soldier in the civil war. A William C Huggett died whilst serving in the 4th regiment of the Michigan Infantry.

The next documentary evidence comes in the 1870 census. The certainly concerns Edgar and Edward whom we met as the two youngest children of John and Sarah in 1851.




This shows Edgar and his wife, Minerva, from new York, living in Comstock township, Kalamazoo County in the state of Michigan.

John and Mary, who I believe are father and step mother, were nearby, in Comstock.


This shows John with his wife and two of her children. John and Mary have had children Henry, Harriett, Mary, Nora and Minnie

I believe that John and Sarah’s first daughter, Sarah Ann Huggett, married Ben Huggett. I believe Ben may have been living in Peasmarsh, England, in 1851. This family was one I could not connect, directly to my Known Huggetts.

We can find Ben and Sarah, also in Comstock, in 1870.

Betsey, I believe, married Peter Sweet who was in Cooper, Kalamazoo in 1870. This township is next to Comstock. This shows us that Peter was not a first generation immigrant, since both of his parents were born in the USA.

In 1880 we can find Edgar and Edward, in Comstock. Edgar is married and has children.

Census Place Comstock, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Family History Library Film 1254586
NA Film Number T9-0586
Page Number 61B
 Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father’s Birthplace Mother’s Birthplace
 Edgar HUGGETT  Self  M  Male  W  33  ENG  Farmer  ENG  ENG
 Minerva HUGGETT  Wife  M  Female  W  30  CAN  Keeping House  CAN  CAN
 Charles E. HUGGETT  Son  S  Male  W  9  MI  Attends School  ENG  CAN
 Ida HUGGETT  Dau  S  Female  W  7  MI  Attends School  ENG  CAN
 Stella HUGGETT  Dau  S  Female  W  4  MI  ENG  CAN
 Edward HUGGETT  Brother  S  Male  W  30  ENG  Works On Farm  ENG  ENG
 Ernest VINCENT  Other  M  Male  W  25  FRAN  Works On Farm  FRAN  FRAN
 Sarah VINCENT  Other  M  Female  W  18  OH  House Keeper  ENG  ENG

Ben and Sarah are still in Comstock in 1880

Source Information:
Census Place Comstock, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Family History Library Film 1254586
NA Film Number T9-0586
Page Number 61A
 Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father’s Birthplace Mother’s Birthplace
 Benjamin HUGGETT  Self  M  Male  W  44  ENG  Farmer  ENG  ENG
 Sarah Ann HUGGETT  Wife  M  Female  W  38  ENG  Keeping House  ENG  ENG
 Jennie HUGGETT  Dau  S  Female  W  20  MI  At Home  ENG  ENG
 Carrie HUGGETT  Dau  S  Female  W  13  MI  Attends School  ENG  ENG
 Lena HUGGETT  Dau  S  Female  W  5M  MI  ENG  ENG
 Harvy NICHOLSON  Other  S  Male  W  22  MI  Works On Farm  NY  NY

Betsey Sweet is at home in Cooper but has niece, Lizzie Huggett with her.

Source Information:
Census Place Cooper, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Family History Library Film 1254586
NA Film Number T9-0586
Page Number 90D
 Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father’s Birthplace Mother’s Birthplace
 Peter SWEET  Self  M  Male  W  44  NY  Farmer  NY  NY
 Betsey SWEET  Wife  M  Female  W  36  ENG  Keeping House  ENG  ENG
 Lizzie HUGGETT  Niece  Female  W  15  MI  ENG  ENG

It would look as though Peter and Betsey had no children of their own. Lizzie Huggett is almost certainly the daughter of Ben and Sarah.

In 1880, John and Mary, with the younger Huggetts were at Yankee Springs township in Barry County.

Census Place Yankee Springs, Barry, Michigan
Family History Library Film 1254570
NA Film Number T9-0570
Page Number 74A
 Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father’s Birthplace Mother’s Birthplace
 John HUGGET  Self  M  Male  W  56  ENG  Farmer  ENG  ENG
 Mary HUGGET  Wife  M  Female  W  53  ENG  House Keeping  ENG  ENG
 Henry HUGGET  Son  S  Male  W  21  MI  Works On Farm  ENG  ENG
 Nora HUGGET  Dau  S  Female  W  15  MI  At Home  ENG  ENG
 Minnie HUGGET  Dau  S  Female  W  11  MI  At School  ENG  ENG
 Carrie HUGGET  Dau  S  Female  W  8  MI  At School  ENG  ENG

Edward, brother of Edgar, married in 1882 (Data from IGI)

Marriage: 20 DEC 1882 Kalamazoo, Michigan

In 1890 a Plat map was published for Comstock Township showing the lands held by various people. The map is black and white but for clarity I have colour coded the Huggett holdings.


In 1894, a list of Civil War veterans was published. This included Edgar Huggett.

Now some hand transcribed census data

In 1900 we have

–1900 Federal Census, Comstock township, Kalamazoo county, Michigan. Edgar Huggett, born Oct 1849, 51 years old, married for 31yr, born England, to US in 1853, 46 years in US, farmer, Minerva, born May 1849, 50 years old, married for 31 years, 3 children, 3 living, b Canada English, to US 18??, 49 years in US, Ida Huggett, dau, Nov 1879, 26yrs, single, b Michigan. (SD 8, ED 107, sheet 10, image 20)

–1900 Federal Census, Comstock township, Kalamazoo county, Michigan. Edward Huggett, J?? 1853, 47 years old, married 17 years, b England, to US 18??, 49 years in US, farmer, Adis? Wife, b Mar 1863, 37 years old, married for 17 years, 1 child, 1 living, Maud A., Jan 1900, 4/12, b MI, Lena M. ???, neice, b Mar 1889, 11years, b MI. SD 8, ED 107, sheet 10, image 19

–1900 Fed census, Comstock twp, Kalamazoo county, Michigan, 12 June. Charles Huggett, head, Nov 1870, 29yr, married 4 yr, birth MI, fa-Eng, mo-NY, farmer, renting. Sarah, Apr 1874, 25yr, married 4 yr, 1 child, 1 living, birth MI, Parents Holland. Florence, dau, Mar 1897, 3yr, birth MI, Parents MI. 8 107 10 IM 19.

And in 1920

–1920 Federal Census, North Townline Rd, Comstock township, Kalamazoo county, Michigan. Edward Huggett, owned home, widowed, 69, b England, to US 1852, naturalized, farmer, Arthur Dooley, boarder, 25, b MI, repairman at automobile garage, Edith Dooley, housekeeper, 22, b MI. 147 143 18B IM 37

–1920 Federal Census, North Townline Rd, Comstock township, Kalamazoo county, Michigan. Charles Hugget, 49, owned home, b MI, parents English, farmer, Sarah M., 44, b MI, parents Dutch, Edgar D., 18?, b MI, general labor, Bernice M., 9, b MI. 147 143 18B IM 37

And in 1930

–1930 Federal Census, Comstock township, Kalamazoo county, Michigan. Charles Huggett, owned home, $3680, 58 years old, 1st married at age 25, b MI, secontion man for railroad, Sara M., 53, 1st married at age 20, b MI, Bernice M., 19, b MI. 39-0 16 23A IM 46

To add to this knowledge, Florence, daughter of Charles and Sarah gave birth to a son. She died in the process and the son was called Lorence and cared for by Charles and Sarah.

Bernice, daughter of Charles and Sarah married Joe Prus. They had a daughter Linda who married a man called Conroy.

Sarah, on the right of the photo of Buse siblings, was Mrs Edgar Huggett


The family gathering below was at the funeral of Sarah


I have pictures of graves too – associated with Ben and Sarah Huggett. These graves are situated in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Comstock. They are:

Grave 185 – William, W.G. Huggett, 1878 – 189[2]

Grave 186 – Mother, Sarah A. Huggett, 1888 – 1926. I believe this is Ben’s wife, son of John. I believe the transcriber has the date of birth wrong.

Grave 187 – Lena Huggett Cook, wife of Fred E. Cook, 1880 – 1930


Men an Tol

April 26, 2014

Men an Tol is, literally, a stone circle. It is in west Cornwall in one of those locations that might get described as the middle of nowhere.


That red dot marks the place.

We must have known about it when we went to Cornwall back in 1972. It isn’t a place you just come across. But it is a delightful stone circle.


There are a couple of standing stones as well. Archaeological evidence suggests that these were moved in fairly recent times. Let’s see the whole alignment in 2003.


But what a great stone this is, with all sorts of folklore attached to it. Women who crawl through the hole seven times, backwards, when the moon is full are supposed to get pregnant soon after.

It is also said to cure rickets in children.

I love this wild part of Cornwall. There always seems to be something to see. And if you avoid Land’s End it is easy to get away from crowds.



Penlee Quarry, Newlyn

April 25, 2014

When I took a photo back in the early 1970s, I liked the industrial archaeology and in particular, the little industrial steam loco parked up and clearly out of use.

These days I can look things up on the wwww – wonderful world wide web – and discover more information.

So here is the photo.


When I took this photo, more than forty years ago, I captioned it as ‘Newlyn Quarry’. In fact it was the Penlee Quarry at Newlyn.

Newlyn is a kind of western extension to England’s most westerly town of Penzance. It’s probably more famous for artists than for industrial archaeology but mineral extraction had been carried out since the early years of the nineteenth century.

The quarry railway dates from 1900 by which time aggregate for concrete was being extracted as well as huge rocks known as ‘armour stone’. The railway was able to transport the products to Newlyn Quay for transfer to ships.

It’s clear that work was still going on when the photo was taken, but the little loco was on a plinth and not in use. In fact the loco came when the line opened, having been made in Germany and called Koppel. Later it was renamed Penlee and it had been withdrawn as long ago as 1946.

The good news is that the loco still exists – at Leighton Buzzard.

The Ironbridge

April 24, 2014

I’m going to guess that this is a photo everybody takes – hopefully, just a bit better than me by getting the top of the ironwork actually in the picture.


This picture dates from 1972 and was taken on that little Canon Demi camera – the one that gave me 72 half frame sized slides on a roll of film.

‘The’ Ironbridge was the first ever bridge built of iron. The area of Coalbrookdale which grew up around this structure is called Ironbridge. The river down below is the River Severn and we are in Shropshire in England.

We can see that the bridge was erected in 1779. It doesn’t tell us that the engineer was Abraham Darby. Neither does it tell us that the construction method used the techniques of carpentry. Where one piece of iron slotted into another, a wedge was used to hold it all firmly together. So a pioneering material was used but the construction was still done in age old ways.

The result is an item of beauty. With remedial work it still stands today, 235 years on. But it only carries light traffic – pedestrians.

One could say the bridge is the centrepiece of a varied set of museums stretching along the Ironbridge Gorge.

It’s a perfect place for a nerd to visit.

At Cenarth

April 23, 2014

Back in 1983 – 31 years ago – we hired a little wooden chalet near Cenarth in south west wales for a week. It was, we recall, absurdly cheap and we rather relied on good weather to keep us tolerably warm. Our children would have been about 6 and 3 at the time.

Here’s the three year old sitting in the bridge at Cenarth.


Those (for there was one at each arch end) holes were tailor made for enjoying by a little one. The older one could enjoy the rocks in the river Teifi and we could all enjoy watching the water rushing downhill as it made its way towards Cardigan and the sea.

But here we’ll have a human story – one that brings a smile to us now, all those years on.

We were in the little chalet. The children were in bed, but not asleep when this sentence was heard through the paper thin walls as older child deemed it time to educate the younger one.

‘Strange things will happen to you when you are a teenager.’

We listened agog for what would come next.  It seemed that our older child was aware that a pause would build up the tension. Eventually it came.

‘You’ll wear black leather clothes and dye your hair purple.’

In the event, I’m not sure either ever happened!

I wonder what little gems our grandchildren will pass on to their parents.

Evolution of the gramophone

April 22, 2014

As domestic improvements continue, more strange little books continue to turn up. Now here is one that is entirely suited to me, but I have no idea where it came from or when. It’s not much more than a pamphlet and it has the title, ‘Evolution of the Gramophone’ and a subtitle of ‘From the Phonograph to the Electrogram’.


As we can see, this little publication came out to accompany an exhibition staged by the Army and Navy Stores on Victoria Street in London, by arrangement with His Master’s Voice.

I’m afraid I have no idea when this exhibition took place but I guess at the early 1950s.

Inside we have pictures and a brief description of each exhibit. This is a page of oldies!


Up in my loft I have the works but not the horn of an HMV Junior Monarch (I think). I really ought to see if I could make something of it

If we look to the back of the booklet we can see what was, presumably, modern at the time.


The way recorded sound has changed in my lifetime beggars my belief. In my own home we never had any kind of gramophone until I started collecting, but I know that the basic unit for sound was still the 78rpm record allowing about three minutes of music per side on a 10 inch diameter disc. Long playing records existed but it wasn’t until towards the end of the 1950s that the old 78s were really swept into oblivion.

I remember stereo arriving. An elderly friend was the first person I knew with a stereo player and if you sat in his room in a specific place you could hear sound coming from two places. It never seemed to matter to me.

Reel to reel tapes came and went because the much more convenient cassettes proved capable of giving adequate quality. The Walkman arrived on the scene as part of the Japanese invasion.

And then, in the 1980s, we moved from analogue to digital with the CD. The tape people tried to join in (remember digital audio tape (DAT)?

Now, it seems, the CD has had its day as music storage has become tied up with computing. MP3 players seemed to come and go as ever more wonderful devices hit the stores. And now you don’t even need to hit the stores to purchase music. You can just hit ‘download’ instead.

And of course, stereo isn’t enough now. We need surround sound. But when I say ‘we need’ I tend to mean ‘other people seem to need’. I still love my good old 78s and even if I play them on a 1950s electric gramophone, it is still just a mono device.

I guess I do live a bit in the dark ages when it comes to sound and music.


Dick and Ivy

April 21, 2014

When I was a child, family friends seemed few and far between but one man stands out as a real friend and he was called Dick. Dick lived in Leigh in Kent. He was a quietly spoken man, with a lovely gentle accent and a wife I don’t remember really called Ede or Edie.

I liked Dick very much and when we visited grandparents in Tonbridge, we often broke our journey home at Leigh Halt and went to see Dick, Sometimes, if there was time, he’d take us to his place of work which was the little sewage treatment plant for Leigh. Walks with Dick were full of country facts. He seemed to know every bird, every tree, and every flower. He knew where to see fish in the river. In fact he knew everything. I realised my dad also engaged him in conversation about politics and other matters of a more national or international kind and Dick was fully up to them as well. It was clear that Dick was perceptive and sharp witted despite what seemed to be quite a lowly job.

By the time I was a driver and went off to see grandparents on my own or with my girlfriend, Dick had remarried. He married his next door neighbour called Ivy. It amused me that after years of calling him ‘Mr Wood’ which was his name, she persisted well after they were man and wife.

Like my dad, I found Dick a fascinating chap and we used to visit him whenever we could.

Here he is with Ivy.


This was on one of my dad’s Industrial Archaeology courses in the early 1970s. Dick loved to learn.

I have no doubt that Dick influenced my father and me as well. He never had children of his own, so it is good to think that some of his ways still live on.