Let me start this Newsletter by saying how honoured I am by my new position as President of this Society which you will have seen announced in the latest edition of Buckets & Spades. I am incredibly grateful to those who have contacted me with their congratulations, but I can only be President with the support of our excellent committee and the membership as a whole. Thank you all.
Well, here we are nearly at Christmas and still severely affected by restrictions in our lives due to the Covid Pandemic. The one constant factor is our family history research. I have found it invaluable as a distraction from the reality of life and being able to assist others with their research queries gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. Researching people with whom I have no genetic connection has widened my experience and has made me look at records from other parts of the Country which in turn helps me with my own research.
The success of the BBC’s programme “A House through Time” has inspired others to look at their own House Histories.
- One of our Members, Keith GRAHAM, is researching Hill Road – his request for help can be seen on our Research Forum He is particularly interested in the house built and lived in by the architect Hans Fowler Price, Tyn-y-coed.
- David TYLER is researching Moorland Road and would welcome information about any of the families who lived in that road over the years. Several houses were damaged during the blitz with fatalities – CHINN, ETTERIDGE and WILKERSON
- John HARDING is also researching Moorland Road – in particular his ancestor’s connection with “The Moorland Pedler” Can you read what is reflected in that window?
- Some years ago, I took a look at Holland Street because I was fascinated by the buildings (designed by Hans Fowler Price) with their very long gardens, wide access to the rear, and stone built out-buildings. The censuses revealed that the majority of the men worked at the nearby Pottery whilst the women took in washing which were washed in boilers situated in the buildings at the bottom of the gardens and the washing lines made the most of the long gardens. Was this use just a coincidence or were the houses built with this occupation in mind?
- The Bristol & Avon FHS is advertising a book written by one of its members “Saints, Crooks and Slavers” about their own house which was short-listed for the BBC programme It includes tips on how to research your house.
Ancestry - West Midlands, England, Police Files and Ledgers, 1850-1950
Ancestry has released some new records some from the Birmingham Police and I was surprised to find a HASE relation amongst their ranks. I knew about Dora HASE – I even had a letter from her when we were first married – but had no idea that she had ever joined the Police. This must have been her war work as she was with them from 1942-1946. This is one of the advantages of having a relatively unusual surname (although it often gets misspelt) and to look at new records “just in case” Dora's grandfather was a greengrocer in Meadow Street, Weston-super-Mare.
Family History is not just collecting names and dates, we need information such as this to add necessary detail to our tree. The Women's Auxiliary Police Corp was a new one to me. Founded in August 1939 after the National Council for Women pressed for and were successful in ensuring the creation of the WAPC. They dealt with a large range of police duties, initially mainly administrative but expanding to take on roles formerly performed by Police Officers. On the 1939 Register Dora was a Ledger Clerk and Assistant Cashier so presumably her office skills would have been utilised in the Police Force. This document also describes her stature and appearance but we have to look elsewhere to discover that she was a keen and competent pianist and singer and married a widower in 1957 but had no children.
Between the wars, I'm told that Dora's brother, John, cycled to Weston from Birmingham - I wonder whether he saw any of the attractions on this leaflet? I recently put this image on the Facebook Group called Memories of Weston and it provoked quite a bit of interest. I have a Guidebook to Weston for 1928 and I found it inside.
I wonder what an Electric Turkish Bath involved or was that just the way the water was heated? It is also interesting to consider how specialist shops like Over's coped with shops such as Woolworths offering "Pick 'n Mix" as the High Street developed over the years.
A reminder that the £1.50 Wills for England and Wales from 1858 are still available from the GRO.
I have found that the Wills of unmarried members of the family are surprisingly valuable as they often name nephews and nieces and other members of the family.
The National Archives
Whilst we are still unable to visit the National Archives they are still offering the Free Download of their digitalised documents. They include PCC Wills, Military Records and many others. Try entering the Place your ancestor lived to see what is available. Click on "available for Download only" to see the range of documents which you can obtain.
Closure of Victoria Methodist Church
During the Pandemic we were saddened to hear that the Victoria Methodist Church in Station Road was closing. The foundation stones for the original church on this site were laid in April 1899 and the School Room opened for services in September of that year with the church opening in Sept 1900. There had been a Methodist Church in Weston in Regent Street since 1847 (now Barclay's Bank). If you are searching for Christenings the records are sometimes confusing. For example Mary Ann PUDDY was born in Mark on the 4th April 1861 and christened in Mark Chapel on Mark Causeway, but listed as part of the Weston Circuit of which Regent Street was the main Church.
But the England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 on Ancestry has this entry!
Victoria Chapel had not been built in 1861 but this would have been correct for later entries after 1900. Is it surprising that so many trees on Ancestry are muddled!
Like many of you I have been enjoying "The Repair Shop". It is amazing how items can become so important in our lives. Each programme you hear "Family History" mentioned in connection with these articles. Normally in November at our "Members' Evening" we invite members to share stories about their treasured artefacts. This year we haven't been able to do that but perhaps you could write a short article for Buckets and Spades explaining the importance of your heirlooms and why you want to pass it on. Sue Maguire is always grateful for contributions however short to add to our journal. The latest publication has some fascinating articles - highlighting various aspects of family history.
Brian Airey is still waiting for someone to volunteer to take over the responsibility for the Society Library. Please consider helping out. Contact Brian to find out exactly what it entails.
Facebook Group and Research Forum
I hope to encourage those of you who are reading this and are members of the Facebook Group to post more queries about your family history to that Group. We have some very knowledgeable members who will be pleased to offer suggestions about how you can find out more about your family members.
Full members of the Society can of course post their queries to the Research Forum on this web site and the same thing applies.
Don't leave it to others to offer suggestions have a go yourself
This year we will be limited to how many can get together - As an experiment why not look at all your family on the 1911 census and calculate how many lived close enough to celebrate together on Christmas Day 1910. Who was pregnant? Who died between Christmas and the Census? Did anyone get married on Christmas Day?
Have Christmas celebrations changed over the years? I remember Christmas during WW2 - yes I was a child so excitement levels were high - but looking back, the home made decorations and gifts all added to the fun. Simple games played in front of a roaring fire with hilarious results still bring back happy memories. How about writing up your own Christmas Memories for inclusion in your Family History?
Christmas and 2021
So, with seasonal greetings from your newly exalted President, wishing all our members as good and enjoyable a Christmas as you can in the circumstances and looking forward to 2021 with optimism as the year when we will all meet up again, starting probably with Zoom Meetings! Watch this space!