Posts Tagged ‘Victorian’

Visiting the gents

September 3, 2016

When in Rothesay you simply have to visit the Victorian gents’ toilet. That’s easy enough, if like me you are of the male gender. You pay your money and make use of them. For ladies, you need to find a time when they are not in use and then you, too can visit. I was able to get my wife in with no problem. She was impressed for the ladies have a modernised set of facilities.

However, I have jumped into my tale without setting things out. Rothesay is in Scotland and is the main town on the Isle of Bute. You can travel straight to Rothesay on a ferry from Wemyss Bay or you can sail to Bute from Colintraive – a very short crossing. That’s what we did but we were staying quite near Colintraive.


This building houses the Rothesay loos.

They are well labelled.image003

And inside they are just magnificent. Look at these wash basins.


And see what a fantastic mosaic tiled floor they are on.

The urinals are magnificent.


The cisterns for flushing are glass so you can see what happens.image009The cubicles and lavatory pans are pretty good as well.


It may all be historic but it is spotlessly clean and, no doubt, as hygienic as any public loos.

It does cost more than a penny to make use of the facility, but really, at just 40p it makes this a very cheap to visit utility and museum in one.

It’s definitely a place to visit.


Harriet Selden

February 10, 2016

Sometimes, when you seek old family photos you end up with rather remote relatives or relatives by marriage only. This is one of them.

Harriet Selden married my cousin five times removed – George Mallion. In my early days doing family history I rather concentrated on Mallions, largely because nobody else had. I so enjoyed sharing data and ideas with distant cousin Mark in New Orleans. It was such fun to keep discovering more.

But I have never managed to find any photos of my closest Mallion relative, Caroline, who was my Great Great Grandmother and she lived from 1850 to 1926 marrying Fred Kesby. If anybody has a photo I really would love to see it.

Caroline’s father, John Mallion would have been the cousin of George so he almost certainly knew him and his wife Harriet for they all lived in an area close to Sandhurst in Kent, very close to the Sussex border.

And here is the photo I have of Harriet Selden, a Mallion by marriage.


Harriet was born in 1833 in Bodiam, Sussex. Her father, almost inevitably was a farm labourer and the whole family can be found on the 1841 census living at ‘New House’ in Bodiam. They were still there in 1851.

Towards the end of 1854 Harriet married George in the Cranbrook district. In 1861 the couple and four children were living at Fontridge Cottages in Burwash, Sussex. The oldest two children had been born at Sandhurst Kent.

In 1871 the couple, now with 8 children were living at Old Forge Cottages in Ticehurst. This was a fairly recent move as their youngest, one year old, had been born at Burwash.

Two further children were born in the 1870s, one at Ticehurst and the youngest at Goudhurst in Kent. A granddaughter, the same age as the youngest son completed the household at Hurst Green in the parish of Etchingham.

In 1891 the widow, Harriet was in Etchingham with an adult single son and the youngest child.

I haven’t located the end of Harriet’s life.

She looks quite a formidable lady in the photo. I suppose back in that Victorian era, with ten children, you had to be.

The Metronome

May 20, 2015

Another family ‘heirloom’ here – of no great value, of course.

It’s a metronome. That’s one of those ticking machines that musicians use to help them keep the right tempo for their music. It has a clockwork mechanism so, of course, I love it.

But this one belonged to my wife’s family. In fact, her grandfather was something of a violinist and it belonged to him.

It’s a neat pyramidal shaped wooden box.


I call that an elegant shape. The front opens.


And there we see the ‘pendulum’ which keeps up a regular ticking sound. If the slider is moved to the top of the pendulum it ticks slowly whereas down at the bottom the music would have to be, ‘at the gallop’. The scale tells you how many ticks per minute you’ll get.

Of course, there are comprehensive instructions on the inside of the door.


One sentence starts, ‘If the metronome has a bell…’. Well this one does. It is operated with a pull out knob just by the winding key.


This knob can be set to various time types so you can get the metronome to go, ding, tick, tick, tick, or ding, tick, tick or just ding, tick.

The removable bottom plate is missing from this metronome which means we can see and enjoy the works.


Oh dear. I didn’t check that for cobwebs. I didn’t see them until I used flash to cope with the interior darkness! I love the elegant simplicity of it.

These devices wouldn’t be complete without a maker’s plate. It is on the front of the door.


So it is a Metronome de Maelzel imported from Switzerland.

From web research I think this could be Victorian although I have to say that the ones sold by specialists seem classier than this one in terms of the wood use and the label. But never mind! It’s an item to be loved and cherished.

Forty Winks

March 23, 2015

I’m going to start this post by looking at a tin.


It is clearly old and well-worn which is not surprising as it belonged to my grandparents. The tin was a Sharp’s chocolate or toffee tin.


I do like the idea of the factory being the Kreemy Works which was at Maidstone in Kent.

I’m afraid I can’t date the tin with any accuracy – but now we turn to the contents.

This tin was where my grandparents kept tiddly winks – probably more than forty of them.


We played occasionally using a table with a blanket on it as the surface. I recall that Grandad was much more skilled at it than me.

The winks do not look like modern plastic ones with a totally uniform colour. They are Victorian and made of bone. The cup is made of bamboo – according to the site at which I quote from below.

Wealthy Victorian children amused themselves in their spare time with board games, dressing up and performing plays, playing word games and learning tricks. As well as playing traditional games such as draughts, dominoes and solitaire, children played newly invented games such as halma and tiddlywinks. The game of ‘Tiddledy Winks’, as it was known then, took off from 1890 onwards and continued as a craze for almost a decade. 
Tiddlywinks is a game for four players who play in two pairs. It would have been played on a table or the floor with a pot in the centre. Players used a larger disc called a squidger to flip the different coloured winks into the pot. The player who got most winks into the pot was the winner.
The tiddlywinks set shown here is original. The pieces are made from bone and the cup is made from bamboo.
Tiddlywinks is still played today.

This web site also has a photo showing an original box.


As you can see, it is the same set my grandparents had.

Shove ha’penny again

January 12, 2015

This game for a third time? Surely it can’t be worth so many posts. Well clearly I think it is.

My wife and I had a couple of games after most of the Christmas hullaballoo had died down. It reminded me of the lovely old ha’pennies I use for the game.

When bought, the game came with some of the old coins but to my way of thinking they weren’t quite fit for purpose.


These coins date from the 1950s and 1960s and they are lovely, with the sailing boat tails side which those of us ‘of an age’ will well remember. But they are a bit new looking.

You don’t want coins in new condition. You want ones  which have been worn smooth with the passage of time. Actually, in pubs they tend to use discs, cut to the required one inch diameter. These have never had heads or tails sides embossed on them.

Anyway, I searched through my collection of old coins and came up with a set of five half pennies which were pretty well smoothed down and these are what we use.


These coins all carry the image of the elderly Queen Victoria. They all show Britannia on the reverse and all are 19th century.

In use we keep them heads up so it is the tails side which gets worn very smooth.

The old Ha’penny ceased to be legal tender in 1969.

William Hall advertises

November 6, 2013

William Hall was a great grandfather and he was based in and around Redruth and Camborne in Cornwall. I wrote about him briefly back in July with a news report of his funeral.

William was born into a mining family in 1844. He first saw the light of day at Kehelland, a pretty little village just outside Camborne. His dad died in 1851 and his family history gets a bit confused after that because miners, including, in time, William, travelled the world in search of fame and fortune – or just a bare existence.

In 1861 William was a miner at Grinfer, Illogan.

He is missing from the 1871 census but we think he may have been a gold miner in the state of Michigan, USA at the time of their 1870 census.

In 1876 William was back in Cornwall, marrying Grace Williams at Illogan. William’s occupation is given as miner on the marriage certificate. He lived at West Tolgus.

But in 1881 William was a draper at 69, Fore Street in Redruth and in 1882 he placed an advert in the local Cornubian Newspaper.


When we first found this advert, almost by chance, we were thrilled. We were scanning old Cornubians for births marriages and deaths, using a film reader and suddenly an advert for great grandfather’s shop appeared. I took a photo of the screen and that’s what you see here.

Unsurprisingly, there were more adverts in 1883.


Business was doing OK, we assume, as William was advertising not only his stock, but also he wanted an apprentice.

Let’s look at another from 1883. This one has the date on it.


There are more adverts, but maybe we’ll save them for another occasion.

William died in 1907 so we never knew him and none of his grandchildren knew him. Somehow these adverts helped to add real interest to a man who was just dates beforehand.

And as you can see you can get tolerable images by photographing fiche and film reader screens. These were taken back in 2003 when I used a 1.3mpixel camera which, incidentally, still delivers good photographs.