Posts about genealogy research and my experiences

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Restaurants

This is the 16th challenge in a weekly series from GeneaBloggers called 52 weeks of personal genealogy and  history, suggested  by Amy Coffin,  that invite genealogists to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.  Week 16 – Restaurants.

This is going to be a short post.

I don’t have any recollection of going to restaurants in my childhood. It was just something that we didn’t do in our family.

A regular and favourite meal however was fish and chips from the local chippie – it was called Berts. Take out fish and chips wrapped in newspaper – wonderful.

When I was in my teens and out in Leeds with my mates we would often eat at a Wimpy bar and we thought we were really cool!!

I didn’t start going out to restaurants until I was much more grown up!!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Sports

This is the 15th challenge in a weekly series from GeneaBloggers called 52 weeks of personal genealogy and  history, suggested  by Amy Coffin,  that invite genealogists to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.  Week 15 – Sports

I was quite sporty as a child. I played football (soccer) for my school team and during sports lessons I also played cricket and rugby. My other sporting passion at school was athletics. I was pretty quick at the sprint events – 100 and 200 yards (before we became all continental and changed to meters). I also held the school record for my age group at the long jump. I competed in Leeds school events at swimming and athletics – and have some certificates to prove it.

Running Certificate

Outside of school me and my brother played in a rag tag of a local football team made up of friends and other hangers on. We weren’t very good as a team but it was still good fun.

After I left school and got a job I played football for my works team and also for a team called North Park in the Bradford Red Triangle league.

I stopped playing football in my late 20’s – apart from the odd 5-a side game.

Perhaps all this sporting activity is one reason why I now have dodgy knees and according to the GP will need at least one of them replaced before too long.

My local football team is Leeds United. I have supported them since the mid 1960’s when I went to my first game at their Elland Road ground. We had a brilliant team for about ten years up to 1975 winning domestic and European competitions. Since then the fortunes of the club have been really up and down. Right now the club is on the rise again and I think within two or three years we might be back and holding our own in the English Premier League. Here’s a link to The Mighty Mighty Whites website – the definitive history of Leeds United.

My dad was more of a rugby league fan and he supported the Leeds team. This is seen as more of a northern working mans game – unlike that cissy game of football, at least that’s what my dad thought. Every time Leeds United lost he would utter the immortal phrase “bloody mugs” and try to get me and my brother to switch our support to the rugby team. We still often repeat that phrase when Leeds United lose – and I’m sure dad will be smiling each time.

In 1996 the rugby league game in England had a bit of a makeover and the Super League was created. They switched from playing in the winter months to playing in spring and summer. All the teams were required to change their names – so the local team was now Leeds Rhinos. They compete against teams like Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers and Huddersfield Giants.

This commercial transformation has certainly helped the sport and I must admit that I quite enjoy watching the games on TV now.

I don’t recall my mother ever having a passion for sport. Although she does quite easily get caught up in the moment especially when the family is together watching a game involving one of the local teams on the telly. She can shout and scream with excitement at the players when they do something daft or at the referee when he makes a “wrong” decision.

My wife is a big tennis fan and we have been to the Wimbledon Championships a few times over the years and to see the Great Britain team in the Davis Cup competition.

These days we are armchair sports fans – although Jayne does run round the block regularly . We will watch most things on TV – football, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf, motor racing, snooker, swimming, athletics, speedway, show jumping, American Football, baseball and even darts if their is nothing else.

I am really looking forward to the Olympics coming to London in 2012. We are hoping to get tickets in the public ballot. I’d like to get to see the athletics in the Olympic Stadium but I guess that is going to be extremely popular and over subscribed. So we will need to have some other options – perhaps gymnastics, swimming, equestrian events or even beach volleyball. Whatever we get to see the experience will be amazing.

Searching for the graves

Holy Trinity Church, Cowling

I have a couple of weeks off work and thought I would make the most of my time on family history stuff.

So I spent all day yesterday updating and cross checking some research on a tree I am doing for a relative. I hardly moved from the computer screen from first thing in the morning until early evening.

Today I decided that I would get out in to the fresh air.

I dropped Jayne at the bus stop at about 6.45am and carried on to Cowling, near Keighley – a journey of about 26 miles. I had a flask of coffee, sandwiches and my camera. The plan was to hunt down some more gravestones.

I trawled through the National Burial Index recently and identified a number of relatives buried at Holy Trinity Church in Cowling and a couple at a small cemetery in Steeton with Eastburn not far from Cowling.

I had quite a long list including Dawson, Gawthrop and Snowden ancestors. I have to say that I wasn’t all that optimistic of finding very many headstones. And indeed that turned out to be right – I came home with only six names crossed off my list.

I am guessing that the graves I can’t find must all be without headstones. There were a great many of these. So I am thinking that perhaps the church will have a record of who is buried in which unmarked grave. There wasn’t anyone around today so I will have to follow this up later.

I was a bit more optimistic when I visited the small cemetery at Steeton with Eastburn. I was looking for the graves of two brothers – Arthur and Clement Dawson. Unfortunately I couldn’t find them either. And by now it had started to rain so I was feeling rather miserable.

I did manage to take a good photograph of Holy Trinity Church though. I have been on the look out for a postcard but haven’t seen one yet.

This is a Victorian church designed by Robert Dennis Chantrell and built in 1845. It is now a Grade II listed building.

The village of Cowling is Saxon in origin and is recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Collinge’. The name means Coll’s people or tribe. At the time of the Norman Conquest the main landowner was Gamel who had very large land holdings in Yorkshire. His name survives in Gamsgill on the northern edge of the village.

Originally the village comprised three separate hamlets namely Ickornshaw, Middleton, Gill and Cowling Hill. It was only following the construction of the main Keighley to Colne Road and the building of large mills alongside the road that what is now regarded as the main village was constructed providing terraced cottage homes for the mill workers.

The older parts of the village faded in importance and as a result the parish church and village school are located on what appears to be the outskirts of the village between Ickornshaw and Middleton, the centre of the village having moved since their construction.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Spring

This is the 14th challenge in a weekly series from GeneaBloggers called 52 weeks of personal genealogy and  history, suggested  by Amy Coffin,  that invite genealogists to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.  Week 14 – Spring

I really don’t have much to say about the topic of Spring. It doesn’t hold any particular special or romantic memories – childhood or otherwise.

I guess that if there is one thing that sticks in my mind it is about the tradition in our family of getting new clothes for Whitsuntide. Here I am in my new blazer and probably everything else was new as well.  This picture is taken outside the home of my grandma and granddad in Leeds, England. I was glad when my brother and sister came along because I didn’t have to suffer this trial on my own.


Was this a tradition for anyone else?

Espley Hall – Update

In my last post about Espley Hall I said that I thought the building was now being used as a wedding and meeting venue.  Fortunately I had a comment added to my post by someone who has personal knowledge of the hall.

Although I haven’t got an exact date it seems that Espley Hall might have been built about 1864.  The first census record I can find is 1881 in the civil parish of Highlaws Low and High, near Morpeth, Northumberland.  The head of the house is Charles Bulmer, aged 26 and described a Gentleman Farmer.  He is living with his wife Mary Ann and their daughter Mary (4).  Also there is his brother in law Frank H Ralphs (retired farmer) and his wife.  There are four servants – cook, housemaid, laundry maid and nurse.

The Bulmers are still there in 1891 and Charles is described as “Living on his own means”.  They have three more children – Charles (9), James Muir (8) and Ellen (6).  The brother in law and his wife are still there but now described as Fred Henry Ralphs and Grace Murray Ralphs.  They continue to employ four servants – cook, nurse, housemaid and general servant.

In 1901 the head of the house is now George B Bainbridge.  I understand he is from the dynasty that started Bainbridge Department store in Newcastle – now part of the John Lewis empire.

Anyway George is 50 years old described as a landowner and director of public companies.  He is living with his wife, Catherine and three children – Cuthbert (26), Mary F (21) and Geo. A (19).  They must have needed more looking after because there are six servants – cook, two housemaids, laundry maid, waiting maid, and kitchen maid.

The census for 1911 shows George, Catherine and Cuthbert are still living at the hall.  They now have eight servants for thee people (very Downton Abbey)- cook, waiting maid, two house maids, two laundry maids, kitchen maid and scullery maid.

I understand that the Bainbridge family sold the house and the estate sometime in the 1940’s.  Since then it has had several owners including the Sanderson’s, a prominent local family who opened Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth.  Later owners of the hall ran it as a private restaurant and wedding venue between the early 1980’s and late 1990’s.

There seems to have been various renovations over the years and the former servant quarters in the East Wing have been converted into a separate house sometime in the 1970’s.  There are a number of other houses:-

Espley Hall – the main body of the house

The West Wing

Courtyard Cottage

2 Espley Court

Butchers Cottage

I am grateful to David Bawn who posted the comment on my blog and for his background information.

A Good Day at the Fair

We had a wonderful time at the family and local history fair in Pudsey today.  I don’t know how the turnout compared to other years but there seemed to be a lot of people.

There was a really good range of exhibitor stands – including several local family history societies, the Guild of One Name Studies and Find My Past.

By the time we arrived there were already plenty of people browsing the various stands.  So we wandered around to get our bearings and see what was on offer.  As you would expect there were any number of different resources available – cd data discs; transcription booklets; books about researching; books about occupations; books about Yorkshire; information leaflets; maps; family history software; charts; storage binders – just about anything you could want.

We spent time chatting with people from Keighley & District Family History Society about my Dawson’s from Cowling and with Wharfedale Family History Group about the area they covered and the resources they had available.

Mum’s family hail from the Red Rose County so the Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society had some interesting things to say about their future online information which they hope to launch in the next 12 months.  The Guild of One-Name Studies were of particular interest and we chatted with them for a while about the organisation and the support for one-namers.

There was also a good selection of talks on offer:-

Dating Old Photographs – Colin Harding

DNA and Family History – Chris Pomery

Nineteenth Century Pauper Ancestors – Dr Paul Carter

Starting Your Family History with Find My Past – Amy Sell

Ordnance Survey Maps – Alan Godfrey MBE

Sources for Family History – Leeds Central Library

and the two we chose

Yorkshire Genealogy Online – Jackie Depelle

Managing a One Name Study – Glenys Marriott

Both our talks were really informative and I scribbled loads of notes in my trusty little book, especially about Internet resources that I haven’t fully explored yet.

As predicted my wallet came away a bit lighter.  I bought a Mac version of Family Tree Maker, a copy of the National Burial Index (third edition) and two large wall charts (they will  fit nicely in an IKEA frame).  All these goodies came from My History.

I also purchased a couple of booklets about using postcards to “illuminate” your family history and researching Methodist records.

Also as predicted Jayne ended up carrying the bags!!

All in all a really good day out.  Now looking forward to the fair at York Racecourse in June.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Sweets

This is the 13th challenge in a weekly series from GeneaBloggers called 52 weeks of personal genealogy and  history, suggested  by Amy Coffin,  that invite genealogists to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.  Week 13 – Sweets

I have to admit that I was never really a sweetie loving kid – at least I don’t recall that I was.  The first sweet shop I remember was run by an elderly lady and I think it used to be a room in her house.  I clearly remember going up a short flight of stone steps to the door of the shop – more like going into someone’s front room.  It was the sort of old fashioned sweet shop that you think of – with big glass jars and you asked for a “quarter of ….” and got your purchase in a little paper bag.

I imagine that if you ask most people of my age in the UK to think of one sweet from their childhood a lot of them would say Spangles – so let’s get them out of the way.  Just in case you can’t remember, Spangles were square sweets with rounded corners and a dimple in the middle of each side, they were individually wrapped and came in a tube.  They were made by Mars and came in a selection of different colours and flavours – including blackcurrant and orange.  I’m sure there were many more – do you remember?

One other Mars sweet product was Opal Fruits – chewy fruit sweets that were “made to make your mouth water” (according to the jingle) – come on now I know that you’re singing it as you just read this.  They came in four “refreshing fruit flavours” – orange, lemon, lime and strawberry.  Which one was your favourite – Jayne has just told me that hers was strawberry.  Controversially Mars changed the name in 1998 to Starburst.

And then of course there was the good old Sherbet Fountain.  This particular delight came in a yellow cardboard tube filled with white tangy sherbet and had a hollow liquorice stick poking out of the top.  I think the idea was that you suck the sherbet through the liquorice – quite often as I recall we just ate the liquorice and poured the sherbet straight into our mouth or if you wanted to be more elegant you dipped the liquorice into the sherbet and sucked it.

Sticking with the sherbet theme what about flying saucers – rice paper discs filled with the old tangy stuff that just melted in your mouth.

My final memory is of liquorice Pontefract Cakes – they were a particular favourite of my grandfather in Leeds.

My wife, Jayne, had a Saturday job working at Woolworths in Skegness, Lincolnshire.  She admits that her preference would have been to work on the record counter – but no, she was on the sweetie “pick and mix”.