Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category


September 4, 2016

Brenda was my mum’s cousin. She was the daughter of my Great Uncle Ron and was born in 1934. That made her roughly midway in age between my mum and me.

I can’t say I saw much of her until the last twenty years or so of her life. She lived in Tonbridge in Kent and trips there involved seeing grandparents, possibly an uncle or aunt and sometimes a great aunt or uncle. We tended to see Great Uncle Ron in his antique shop – or junk shop as we all called it and Brenda inherited his love of old items and also the shop.

Here is Brenda, a lovely caring, sharing lady sitting at the back of the shop.


This photo dates from 2001. My sister visited and wrote this.

….It was but a little way then to call on Mum’s cousin Brenda, sitting in the back of the most wonderful jumble of an antiques shop. I hadn’t seen her for a few years, but when I told the lady in the shop to tell Brenda that Paula was here she called out “Oh I was thinking about you because I have some toys!” She made a cup of tea and I browsed through all the higgledy-piggledy items. The shop was busy – lots of dealers in and she always knew who they were and what they wanted and could always put her hand on just the little item that they might be interested in.

Brenda was probably the last person I really knew who lived in Tonbridge. She died in 2014.

Thornbury Railway opens

August 13, 2016

Recently I was browsing at some older Railway Magazines I had and in the December 1957 edition I came across this item.


First of all then, let me give credit to Colin H Maggs for the photo and for the extract about the opening of the line, below.

The railway, 7½ miles long, was opened on Monday, September 2, 1872, after the works had been at a standstill for twelve months, as the Midland Railway had the costly London extension under construction and its directors were undecided whether to proceed or not. On the opening day shops were closed in Thornbury, the town decorated and in the evening the inhabitants were entertained with fireworks and illuminations.

The Mayor of Thornbury left Bristol by the first train, and, with a hundred other guests or passengers, was welcomed to his town by a brass band. Fifty people booked from Thornbury on the first train to Bristol. In the afternoon 600 children and teachers travelled by a special train of 18 coaches to Yate and back for 4d. each, and also were entertained to tea.

Now I never knew the railway at Thornbury but I know the place for my wife’s great grandmother was born there in 1857. She died, aged just over 100 years later a couple of months before this article was published. My wife knew her great granny who had long since moved to Cornwall.

But would she, I wondered, have been at the opening of this railway line? I decided probably not for she was already 15 when the Thornbury branch opened and in service in Bristol.

But her younger sister, Edith, born 1864 may well have been one of those 600 children enjoying the trip to Yate.

We know a little of Edith who was living with her mother, recently re-married, in 1871 in Thornbury. By 1881 Edith was in service at Westbury on Trym in Gloucestershire and by 1891 she was in service in Bristol. In 1892 she married Maurice O’Brien who was a bookbinder originally from Yeovil in Somerset. They seem to have set up home in Edmonton in Middlesex. We know the names of 6 children born between 1894 and 1906.

Maurice died in 1929 in Edmonton. Edith died in 1947, still in Edmonton.

Granny’s Birthday Book

August 12, 2016

Many people kept and many may still keep a birthday book listing the days when friends and family members were born. This one was my Granny’s book.


Birthday wishes from Tennyson? All will be explained. In fact this was a gift from my grandfather to granny, years before they married.


There is the inscription. Granny’s birthday was January 1st so this was a birthday present from my grandad to what was then his teenaged girlfriend.

So, of course, the first birthday in the book is Granny’s own.


My dad added the year and the date of death.

Granny was often a bit fierce when it came to eradicating the names of people who died.


I think this says Aunty Emmie. She was the wife of one of Grandad’s brothers.

But Granny’s sister appears to have been allowed to remain on the books, as it were, after her premature demise.


Clearly, this is information which could be useful to a family history researcher. But sadly, Emily (always known by her middle name of Sue) had no children. I never knew her, but I rather think memory of her and photos of her are probably only with me.

Now why was Tennyson mentioned? Well, every day has a Tennyson quote associated with it and this is the one for Emily S Stevens.


What a great little item to have and to hold

Beryl Ware

August 5, 2016

Beryl Grace Ware was my great aunt. I do not know if I ever met her. She was the second daughter of William Thomas Ware and Sarah Jane (nee) Kesby. She was born between October and December 1910

Her siblings were Will, Cis, Alfred, Reg, Ron and Marj. Reg was my grandfather.


The picture is ‘as found’ and de-scratched and features Beryl – the little girl. It was taken in about 1916. Seated are Sarah Jane (nee Kesby) and William Thomas Ware my great grandparents.

Clockwise round – the little lad is Ron Ware, then Reg Ware, William Ware, Cis Ware, Alfred Ware and  Beryl Ware.

Beryl married Roy Harris who worked at the ‘Crystalate’ (record factory) and later at the waterworks with his father in law.

Beryl had a son, Anthony, born during World War One.

Beryl as a young woman.



Beryl and Roy Harris are the left hand pair on this 1935 photo of her sister, Marge, marrying Les Clifton.

Roy was keen on painting. This is a piece of his early work


Beryl is on the left of this picture taken at her brother Ron’s golden wedding celebrations in 1983. Her niece, Vera Sparrowhawk is on the right.


Beryl died in 1995

My late uncle, Bill Ware wrote

Roy Harris worked for the record company in Tonbridge until it was sold then he worked at the water works.

Beryl worked for Marks and Spencer in Tunbridge Well until her marriage then only part time in shops around Tonbridge

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

July 15, 2016

Today we are going back a few years – I think it was about 1974 and a family group shared a holiday in the North Yorks Moors. Inevitably, with me as part of the group we had to make use of the railway that crosses the moors which had become a heritage line. Back then the bulk of the line was operated by a diesel train of the type still totally common on the ‘real’ main lines. It was just the length form Grosmont to Goathland that was steam operated.

I was not always good with photos and captions but I have a black and white shot of a steam loco.


The loco is number 5428. This was a general purpose engine built for the London Midland and Scottish Railway. Altogether 842 of these engines were built between 1934 and 1951. The common nature of these engines earned them the nickname of black fives – solid, reliable and unglamorous. The 55A on the front is the code for her home. Of course it was a historic address by this time – Leeds, Holbeck.

This particular engine was built in 1937 and now carries the name of a railway photographer – Eric Treacy. (S)he is still in service on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

But my photo has a little family bonus for on the other platform there are family members.


That’s my wife in the big sun hat and my sister in law looking utterly fed up with being at a railway and then the hirsute man is my brother in law. Mother in law was on this holiday as well. Perhaps she was with me, taking photos.

Great Granny Ruth again

July 14, 2016

Great Granny died not long before I was born so I never knew her. I have my dad’s writing about her and quite a collection of photos in which she appears as the woman in black.


This would have been taken in about 1920 Ruth would have been 66 at the time and was looking quite a formidable lady.image004

This photo has a caption so we know Ruth was evacuated out of Brighton and stayed with her daughter who lived in Crawley. And a little bit of white has crept into the clothing.

Ruth died in 1946.

My brother at camp

July 13, 2016

My brother at camp

My brother was born in 1947 and in this photo he is aged 8. He is at ‘camp’, our regular holiday spot on the South Downs in the parish of Beddingham.


Robin, for that was his name, is engrossed in a comic and was snapped by my father who was inside one of the odd collection of tents we had as we can see in the whole photo.

image004Now straight away I can say this was an unusual day in that it must have been just about windless. Robin is surrounded by bits of comic or newspaper which do not seem to have blown away. Camp and breeze normally went together.

The comics almost certainly came from the home of Great Aunt Nellie, about a mile away at Firle. Nellie had become a widow in 1952 and she took over the role of ‘mother’ to her grandchildren, moving in with her widower son. So although in my eyes Nellie was ancient, she had a lively home with a sub teenage grandchild (Dougie) and a couple of older men grandchildren (one would actually have been 17 at this time and the other in his early 20s).

But back to Robin, absorbed in his choice of literature. Sadly, he died as a young man in 1980. By that time we had grown out of our childhood sibling rivalry and he was a good friend. I still miss him, of course, but I am lucky to have photographic and other memories.

Nellie and Reuben at camp

July 9, 2016

Nellie was my Gran’s cousin. She was the daughter of Susannah Allen whereas my gran descended from Susannah’s sister, Sarah Ann. I still don’t know why Sarah Ann, Susannah and their elder sister Ellen all left the Butley area in Suffolk to come and live in the Isfield area of Sussex.

By the time of my childhood that older generation were long gone, but my dad knew of people and when we were at camp we could cycle to Isfield and see Nellie and Reuben, her husband. But this picture shows the two of them visiting us at camp, on Furlongs Farm. I guess it was after 1959 when Dad got a car. He’d have driven up to Isfield to collect them.


Standing at the back is a boy I can’t 100% identify. It doesn’t quite look like my brother but I guess it is. And the smaller boy is me.

Sitting we have my mum, Nellie, Reuben and my dad. As you can see, we sat quite comfortably at camp. There was space for our family to sit around a table in the tent if that was what the weather demanded.

Ellen was born in 1894. She married John Newnham in 1917 but he died in 1930. She married Reuben in 1934. He died in 1964. Nellie followed him in 1978. Both are buried at Isfield.

Eric in July

July 7, 2016

It was going to be hard for my Ravilious calendar to top that June picture with hoopoes. That was a piece of magic. And do you know what? I don’t like the July picture as much but it is growing on me.


At an instant first look at this picture I knew it was another illustration for Gilbert White’s ‘Natural History of Selborne’. It speaks of the subject matter and the era in which the book was written. The calendar has this to say regarding this image.


The lads here appear to be feeding mostly doves. We have the opposite problem. Our garden can be overstocked with their relatives the collared dove and the wood pigeon

Feeding these birds seems to be normal behaviour.


Here’s my dad in about 1922 with his mum (my gran) feeding the pigeons/doves in their local park in Bexhill.

A card from one sister to another

June 28, 2016

My Great Granny came from Butley in Suffolk but for reasons still unknown moved to Isfield in Sussex sometime in the 1870s. Her older sister, Ellen, was already in that area and they were joined by Susannah, a third sister in the 1890s.

It might have been a bit of a surprise that Susan(nah) sent this card to my great gran well into the twentieth century.


This, as we can see, is the Post Office and Street at Butley, birth place and youthful dwelling place for great gran.

By the time the card was sent Great Gran lived in Ringmer.image004We think the postmark is for 1927 and that could explain why the card was sent just to Mrs G Stevens (née Sarah Ann Crosby). Her husband, George Stevens, died in 1926.

The postmark is definitely for December 23rd so it is no surprise there is a Christmas message.image005With the Christmas greeting is the simple ‘Do you recognise this picture?’ It is signed by sister Susan(nah) and her daughter Nellie.

Nellie, my gran’s cousin, was known to me as ‘Nellie at Isfield’.