Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Workaday Wednesday - Working with Horses

Horses are absolutely necessary in this part of the country, for it is by them the farmers labour their farms and drive their corn to market.  They never work with oxen now as they did formerly" - a quote from the chapter on Earlston, Berwickshire in  "The First Statistical Account of Scotland" written 1791-1799.  
Sixty years on,  the 1851 census for Earlston (population 1,819)  lists 9 men working as  blacksmiths, 7 carters/carriers, 3 saddlers, 2  stable boys, an ostler, a farrier, a groom and a coachman - plus of course all those who would be working  with horses on the many farms in the parish.  

Anyone tracing their family history may well have  a "carter or carrier " in their ancestry - an essential occupation in transporting goods around - as shown in these vintage photographs from  the collection of my local heritage group Auld Earlston.  

A horse and cart beside the trough and old Pump Well in Earlston's Market Square.   The Well was demolished  in 1920 to make way for the War Memorial. 

The Smiddy in the Square
Below three photographs of Brotherstone,  Blacksmith's, run by the family for several generations.  

 Gypsies at the Horse Fair on East Green. c.1900

 1907 and the church choir outing on a crowded wagonette  

A winter photograph  of the Red Lion Hotel  in the Square.    The driver of this unusual sledge seems to be dressed very formally in a top hat and is not particularly well  wrapped up against the elements.  And who was he waiting for?  There does not seem to be any path cleared through the snow from  the hotel.  Or was it a promotional photograph?    From the collection of the Heritage Hub, Hawick.

Onto photographs from my family collection  and the Oldham family of Blackpool  who were carters and coalmen down three generations - Joseph Prince Oldham (1855-1921), his son John William Oldham (1880-1939) and his granddaughter Elsie Smith, nee Oldham (1906-1989).

The business was founded around 1890, steadily became prosperous and in 1905 moved to near North Station, Blackpool, Lancashire in a house with a large yard, hay loft, tack room. and stabling for around 7 horses.

 John William Oldham on one of the carriages in the family business.
 Elsie's daughter Gloria atop one of the last horses.

The coal merchant business was eventfully sold around 1948 to another local firm,
 thus ending over 60 years of the family concern. 

Workaday Wednesday is one of many daily prompt from Geneabloggers, to encourage bloggers to record their family history. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sepia Saturday - Happy Beach Memories

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history through photographs.  This week's prompt - Bondi Beach in Australia.  

I am a Blackpudlian,   born in the  seaside resort of Blackpool on the north west coast of England.  Blackpool  Tower, built in 1894, was modelled on the Eiffel Tower and rises to 520 feet - facts drummed into us at school. My parents met at the famous Tower Ballroom.  

Until the 19th century, Blackpool was just a small hamlet.  It rose to prominence with the building of the railway linking  it to the mill towns of industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire and soon became England's  most popular  holiday resort, with its miles of golden sands. The unique Blackpool Illuminations were first switched on in 1879 to extend  the season well into the autumn.

 Central Pier with the Tower in the background.

 A view from  Blackpool Tower of two of the three piers.

The earliest picture of me enjoying the beach.  I reckon it was taken June 1945, as Dad is in uniform and I know he had leave between marking VE Day in Germany and then being posted out to the Far East.
Toddling along with Dad

Our own family holidays were taken in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, where a great friend of my mother ran a small hotel. All the ingredients of  traditional seaside fun were there - setting up deckchairs, playing  on the beach, eating icecreams  taking donkey rides, exploring rock pools. 

With my mother.  Every summer she made me a new sun dress and I remember this one in green and white  polka dots, with shoulder straps on my dress and a bolero to go over it.  
Digging holes with my brother.    Goodness knows why I  was I wearing a swimming cap, as I could barely swim at this stage?    Dad with his ever present cigarette, years before he kicked the habit.  it must be a photographic quirk that Dad appears so sunburnt in the photograph below, because he did not lead a particularly outdoor life to get that brown.


We move across country to South Shields on the north east coast of England, where my husband was born.  Here is the beach at Marsden Rock where he enjoyed playing as a boy. 

For many years, holidays were not on our agenda, but now living in the heart of the Scottish Borders,  we do like to get away to the coast "to see the sea".  

A day trip away is  North Northumberland and Bamburgh beach,  dominated by the impressive castle, which can be seen for miles around. 

As a child I remember having a book on heroines in history with an illustration of Grace Darling  (1815-1842), the lighthouse keeper's daughter at Bamburgh  who in 1838 risked storms and icy seas to rescue sailors from the shipwrecked "Forfarshire.   She died of consumption just four years later and is buried in Bamburgh, with a museum dedicated to her life.
 The view on a fine day from the castle ramparts over to the Farne Islands. 

Onto Scotland and another coastal castle in the university town of St. Andrew's. Before the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century,  it served as the ecclesiastical centre for Scotland.      

Rockcliffe Bay on the Solway coast of south west Scotland was our destination for a short break on the trail of my husband's ancestors who I had traced back quite easily  to Samuel Donaldson.of South Leith, near Edinburgh.  it was only much later when writing the narrative that it struck me I had  no evidence whatsoever that the Samuel Donaldson born in 1728 in nearby Kirkbean was the same Samuel Donaldson who married  in South Leith, in 1759.  So I abandoned this line of research - but we enjoyed discovering a new part of Scotland. 

Another bay on the other side of the country - Canty Bay in East Lothian, south of Edinburgh overlooking the Firth of Forth,  where we enjoyed some  self-catering holidays.  On the right is the prominent Bass Rock with its lighthouse and seabird colonies.  We had a clear view of it from our kitchen window and the bay was a favourite walk every day, with our dog enjoying clambering over the rocks.  

And lastly - one of my  most favourite  places  - the Isle of Iona off the west coast of Scotland - a tiny island only 1-5 miles wide by 3 miles long,  with a population of 120 pentameter residents, famous as the home of St. Columba and the cradle of Scottish Christianity.  It is a wonderful, magical  place that is high on my "bucket list" to return.    

if you think it always rains in Scotland, think again when you see the skies and seas in these photographs, though I admit we were very lucky with the weather.  We enjoyed exploring the island, walking south to north and across to the west coast, looking onto the Atlantic.  


                                           And our dog enjoyed the beaches too!  

Click HERE to discover beach favourites of other Sepia Saturday bloggers.  

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Sepia Saturday - Village Shops from the Past

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

I have gone for the obvious with pictures from the collection of my local heritage group Auld Earlston, beginning with Donaldson (no relation),   the Butchers, who are still trading  in my Berwickshire  village home.  

The 1901 census for Earlston lists a William Donaldson, aged 37, a butcher at 43 High Street. with his wife Isabella and sons,  John, William and Walter, and daughters Isabella and Helen.   Two years later "Slater's Directory for Berwickshire, 1903" lists  Walter Donaldson as the butcher. 

You can just make out the sign in the stone above the frontage, with the staff in their striped  aprons - and is that a carcase hanging  in the window? 

A similar image.  with the delivery boy and his bicycle. 

Times have moved on to four wheels, but this vehicle looks decidedly rickety. 

Staff outside the local Co-op Store 

 The~Co-op Travelling Shop that went around farms and more isolated communities.   

In the 1901 census, John P. Weatherly was described as a 40 years old Postmaster of 73 High Street, living with his wife, mother in law and  children. Edward, Ellen and Margaret.  The Trade Directory two years later adds to his role that of bookseller, stationer, and printer. 

His  grandson John Paterson Weatherly (1924-2006)  also ran the village  post office and earned a reputation as local historian,   gathering a wealth of archive  material, which forms  the basis of the collection of the local heritage group.  

But take a closer look at that newspaper placard outside the shop, which announces that "Crippin Removed to Hospital".

Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, was an American doctor  He was hanged  23rd November 1910 in Pentonville Prison, London  for the murder of his wife Cora Henrietta Crippen, and was the first criminal to be captured with the aid of wireless telegraphy.   

Mcdonald's, the Drapers - one of four such establishments in the village.


The population of Earlston in 1901 was 1677.  Shops  in the village included:

6 grocers, spirit dealers and ironmongers,  3 butchers, 2 bakers, 4 drapers & clothiers, 3 watchmakers/clockmakers/'jewellers, 1 confectioner, 1 chemist,  3 dressmakers & milliners, 1 tailor,  and 1 fishman & earthenware dealer. 

What struck me was the number of women in business - Miss Jane Douglas, confectioner;  Mrs Margaret Kerr & Mrs Jane Readman grocers;  Miss Margaret Mcdonald, Miss Jane Wood &  Miss Isa Tennant. dressmakers & milliners;  Mrs Agnes Smith,  baby linen,  Mrs Isabella Winchester, draper,  and "in charge of the telephone call office" Miss Isabella Aitchison. 

Over a century later,  we are left with 2 convenience stores, a butcher' (Donaldson's), a baker, chemist, flower shop, sweet shop, 3 pubs, 2 hairdressers, a beauty salon,  a craft shop, an electrical shop, a cafe and a tearoom  a fish & chip shop and a chinese take-away - how times have changed! 

                                          Earlston High Street at the West End

Vintage photographs courtesy of The Auld Earlston Group  

The Crippen story aroused enormous public interest at the time - See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/execution-dr-crippen#sthash.Rvy7ZSbM.dpuf

Finally two images I have featured before. but  they tie in with this week's theme, and make me smile!   My camera was ready for this lucky shot, taken in Munich, Bavaria, as the  large picture frame is carried across the road to an antique dealer.

And to revert to the butcher's theme, here is a lovely shop sign  of  a Highland Cow advertising the butcher's in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. 

Click HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers 
have viewed this week's prompt

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sepia Saturday - Happy Student Days

 Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history through photographs.


  This week's prompt shows a group of students looking very glum.  Well,  I can  recall one group photograph taken at my wedding where I seem to be the only person smiling - It was not a portent to the future as we are about to celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary!   However  I decided to consider family sensitivities and not feature the photograph online.   Instead I am looking back to my own happy student days.    

This  is the earliest photograph I have from  my school days in the 1950's when I attended Devonshire Road School, Blackpool, Lancashire.  I am on the second front row, second from the right, next to the boy in the  striped pullover. 

The fashion and hair styles here  were so typical of the day - the girls with plaits (me).  pudding basin haircuts, side slides or fancy top ribbons.  Boys of course wore short trousers regardless of the weather, with the step into long trousers a right of passage around 12-14 years old.   Look at any school photograph from across the country, taken in the 1950's and the styles are so similar

I counted a class of 46 - double today's standard for class size!   We sat in seried rows of individual desks with the ink well hole on the top.  I remember chanting our times tables, copying handwriting with scratchy pens,   the dreaded mental arithmatic sessions and of course reading which I loved. 

On a Friday afternoon we all gathered in the hall  for community singing  and I learned such patriotic songs as The British Grenadiers, Hearts of Oak, The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, Bluebells of Scotland and my favourite Men of Harlech, sung with much gusto.  Sea shanties were very  popular as we swung from side to side to sing What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?  and the chorus  "The Landlubbers Lying Down Below, Below, Below".  Are these now all forgotten,  as I doubt that children are familiar with them today?

 I moved on from Infants to Juniors, where the boys and girls were in separate classes.  I am the prim little girl second from the right on the front row of seats.  Hair styles are much the same, but see the popularity of peter pan collars, and our Clark sandals.  And another feature missing from the group  - no signs of any obesity crisis amongst us  here, as we were growing up when rationing was still in force. It only came to an end in July 1954  -  9 years after the end of the war.

There was not a strict uniform at my primary school, but I was desperate to wear a gymslip and tie.   My mother did not like them, but eventually I got one handed down from my cousin and wore  the school red and navy striped tie and the red girdle round my waist, feeling I had stepped out of one of the school stories I loved to read.

We didn't seem to get  class photos or individual portraits at my secondary school (girls only)  but I remember two occasions when the whole school (about 500  of us I think) gathered on the playing fields for a massive group photograph.  The first year pupils sat cross legged on the grass, with the staff in their academic gowns seated  on chairs, and the rest of the school grouped behind, either standing or  balanced on gym forms.  The result was a large rolled photograph in a scroll box.  Unfortunately I did not see fit to keep these and threw them out when I was having a major de-cluttering session  prior to getting married and moving to a small flat.   I do regret that now! 

So I have nothing but my memories to remind me of my High School days and University days where I was unaware of any group  photographs ever being taken.

My student days ended on graduation, - followed four years later by my brother - and look at those 1970's sideburns!  Both our parents left school at 14 years old,  and we were the first generation to go to university - something our parents were very proud of. A happy occasion all round. 

Click HERE to discover more stories  from fellow bloggers. 


With apologies - I cannot seem to get rid of the double spacing at the start of my post.