Thursday, 4 February 2016

Sepia Saturday: Seaside Fashions on Parade

My eye in this week's prompt picture turned to the two girls on the left of the picture in their beach wear.

So my theme is Seaside Fashions - Down the Decades and Across the Seasons. 

The seaside is not just for summer!!  

Judging by the clothes, this looks to be taken in winter - My husband's Great Aunt Pat with her husband Frank King, Annette and small son, also Frank.  This could well be Margate beach in Kent. 

Wrapped up for a walk along North Pier, Blackpool, my cousins Stuart and Gloria with members of the extended family May Riley and Edith Fearneough, c.1940.  The children are wearing a cap and hat  (but bare legs) and the women are dressed formally with their hats and furs.    

 A walk along Blackpool promenade with my mother and paternal grandmother who of course  were wearing their hats.    I don't  look too happy, but I do like that little handbag I am carrying. My dressmaker mother made my coats, trimmed on the collar and pockets with velvet. 
October half term holiday and the only people on the beach at Blackpool were enjoying a donkey ride - daughter second from right in her jumper and pinafore dress. 
My daughter braving the elements on a windy North Pier, with the famous Blackpool Tower in the background. 

Another windy day in May 2005  on the Isle of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. 

Onto more summer seasonal weather:  

Aunt Pat (from the first photograph)  and friends  - the cloche hats give away the era

Below my mother Kathleen Danson, her youngest sister Peggy and her great friend that I knew as Auntie Phyllis were enjoying the outdoor South Shore Swimming Pool at Blackpool in the 1930's.  

Two decades later in the 1950's,  I remember Mum taking my brother and I there for a swim.  In that era it was also a popular venue for national beauty contests   It was later demolished and  the site is now a car park  and the southern terminus of the Blackpool Promenade trams - a sad end to an iconic 1930's playground. 

Look at those shoes! 

Onto the 1940's and 50's
With my father on an unusually empty beach
My brother in his sun hat and knitted swim suit.
Little Gloria, (from the second photograph above)  engrossed in something in the sand but keeping a firm hand on that big ball!   c.1935.

Left - A happy photograph with my mother.  She always made me a new sundress every holiday - here with a bolero jacket.   My mother in a large floral print dress that was all the fashion in 1950's. Right  in my gingham dress with white trim. 

And finally: 
A very happy beach photograph of daughter and granddaughter on the beach in East Lothian, near Edinburgh. 

Click HERE to see camera work from other Sepia Saturday bloggers. 

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


Thursday, 28 January 2016

Sepia Saturday - What's Baking in the Kitchen?

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

This week's prompt photograph looks like a less than salubrious kitchen, and I doubt if I would feel happy eating something cooked there! 

No photographs exist of kitchens in my family homes.  But I have strong memories of my mother pouring over her Bero Book and her  collection of recipes, so read on to find out what a typical 1950's family was enjoying at meal times.  


Until I was 10 years old, we lived in a rented terraced house.  The kitchen was small and basic.    It was also rather dark and gloomy with a solid back door and little light getting in.   A pantry with a cupboard with a mesh door was the primitive fridge!   We later moved and my mother had Raeburn solid fuel cooker (a bit like an Aga) and this was her pride and joy. 
As a child I was a fussy and unadventurous eater, but home baking and desserts   were always my favourite.   Growing up in the1950's meant  food was simple,  limited in choice and all home prepared by my mother - no eating out or "take-aways". 

We always sat round the table for meals, apart from Sunday tea when it was sandwiches, jelly and cake from a trolley, whilst we watched the classic children's Sunday serial on the television.

During the week, desserts were puddings, such as spotted dick with custard or golden syrup sauce, baked apples, and rice pudding (which my father loved all his life,  but I hated)   Shrove Tuesday meant pancakes served with sugar and lemon.
Friday was my mother's baking day to set us up for the weekend and week ahead - cakes and biscuits with fruit pies or crumbles (apple, rhubarb, gooseberry, blackcurrant or blackberry).  Lemon meringue was my favourite Sunday dessert, along with trifle and jelly fluff (whipped up with evaporated milk). I disliked blancmange but liked Angel Delight.  Sunday tea meant chocolate cake with thick butter icing.

Icecream was a very special treat, reserved for birthdays, as we did not have a fridge until c.1958, so it had to be bought at the last minute.

My mother's recipe boo
A page from my mother's recipe book
My mother was a great baker and the Bero Book was her bible - I still have her copy,  somewhat stained and the cover torn but very obviously used a great deal.   We enjoyed  Caribbean slices, Paradise slices, Victoria sponges, chocolate crispies, coconut pyramids, ginger biscuits and Shrewsbury biscuits, flapjacks, fairy cakes, butterfly cakes. and Eccles cakes   I loved currant slices -  I ignored their school dinner nickname of  "fly pie" or "fly cemetery" - Mum's were far nicer!  I look back at home made jam and jellies with the muslin bag slung between to two chairs to drip, drip.  Home-made marmalade was delicious  - nothing to beat it, despite the arduous task of chopping up all those Seville oranges by hand - no labour saving devices then! 

Time for Tea!   
My mother's wedding china from 1938 -
 I can only remember it coming out of the china cabinet at Christmas time.
Looking back so much of the food we ate seems stodgy and fattening, yet I cannot remember obesity being an issue. I suppose we walked everywhere, played outside, got plenty of fresh air and exercise and did not snack as today.     It remains  a happy family time in my memory.
Mum, Dad, my brother & myself c. 1954

Click HERE to find out what other Sepia Saturday bloggers  have been cooking up for our taste buds this week.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Workday Wednesday - At the Mill

We often think that the role of women in the 19th century was one of all things domestic.  But for many of our female ancestors, life involved working in the mill in   various aspects of textile production, whether it be knitwear, tweed, cotton, lace or carpet production.  

In my village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders, the textile industry was,  
for over 200 years, an important part  of the local economy.  

We have one of the earliest descriptions of the village  in "The First Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-1799," edited by Sir John Sinclair, where  Parish Minister Rev.  Lawrence Johnston wrote:
 "The principal manufacture is linen cloth.  There are between 40 and 50 weaver looms mostly employed weaving linen........ We have only one woollen manufacturer,  though no place could be better  situated for carrying out that branch of trade.   The Leader Water runs along the west and there is plenty of wool to supply 20 manufacturers."
Later, a cauld (or weir)  on the Leader Water came to provide the mill lade with the water to power both Rhymers Mill and Mid Mill.

In the 18th century, RHYMER'S MILL was  a corn mill before being transformed by the Whale family into a textile mill where  the  manufacture of gingham was introduced by Thomas Whale.    

A carved inscription on the old mill building, 
with  the names C & M Whale clearly visible.

The 1891 publication "Two Centuries Of Border Church Life V2   - with Biographies Of Leading Men And Sketches Of The Social Condition Of The People On The Eastern Border",  by James Tait.  includes a paragraph  on the Whales Family.  
"Thomas Whale died on the 11th March 1814, aged 74 years; and his widow died two years afterward;  but the business was carried on with great skill and success by their daughters,  Christian was the elder, and was a very clever woman, but she modestly gave the first place to her younger sister Marion and the designation of the firm was "Marion Whale Co,"   The gingham was manufactured of cotton and the weaving was done in private houses;  in some of which there was a factory containing twenty or thirty looms.  The colours were woven into the cloth, not printed as is now generally done;  and everything was of the best material  One of the sisters travelled to Edinburgh, along the Northumberland coast and even to London, which was very inaccessible in those days.  After a life of great activity and usefulness, Christian Whale died on the 22nd July 1872, aged 75 years, and is designated on her tombstone "late manufacturer of Earlston". 
The 1851 Census identified Christian  Whale as a 64 year old manufacturer of gingham and cotton, employing 60 workers, mainly weavers and winders of cotton. Also in the business was her sister Marion aged 56.   Ten years on in 1861 Christian, now aged 74  and Marion 66, were both described as Gingham Manufacturers.

How usual was it in mid Victorian times for women entrepreneurs to head a business?  

There were  close connections  with the Clendinnin family.  The 1851 census recorded that Elizabeth Clendinnen. aged 39 and a widow was a "manufacturer of plaids", and her son was named Thomas Whale Clenddinnen.   Other family members were employed in the mill with 15 year old Lancelot described as a "cotton warper".  

In Slater's 1903 Directory of Berwickshire,  Thomas Clendinnen & Sons,  are named  as "gingham manufacturers, tailors and drapers".  They also had a shop on the High Street.

Rutherfurd’s 1866 Directory of the Southern Counties, published in nearby Kelso,   commented :
 Earlston produces quantities of the Earlston ginghams. There is no other place in the country where the same class of gingham is made”.
Two surviving examples of the Earlston Gingham  in the collection of Auld Earlston.

Rhymer's Mill later became a dye works run by a firm called Sanderson and the path  alongside the Leader Water is still referred to as "The Tenters" where the dyed wool was hung out to dry.  In 1911 the premises were taken over by John Rutherford & Sons,  agricultural engineers, who operated at the mill until the business closed down in 2014. 


The photograph below from  the Auld Earlston collection is captioned:   

"Thomas Gray, (1856-1910), Manufacturer of Gingham - a cotton fabric originally made in India Gray.  He  lived in Earlston and was a well-known Border fiddler"

Unfortunately efforts to trace any further information on this Thomas Gray with those dates have met with limited  success.   An entry in the 1881 census for Earlston lists a Thomas Gray, a gingham manufacturer born in Earlston, living on his own at Kilknowe Head, but his age is given as 85, so born c.1786.  Records of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club  refer to him as a noted antiquarian, known as "Tam of Earlston"  or "Gingham Tam".  Some more research is  needed here to identify the Thomas Greys. 


At MID MILL Charles Wilson & Sons  manufactured  blankets and tweeds. The 1851 census described him as a "of the firm of Charles Wilson & sons,  blankets and plaiding manufacturers employing 18 men 7 women and 19 girls".  Ten years on, the business had extended to making tweeds, and employed  "28 men and 44 women, boys and young women". 

Slater's Commercial Directory of 1882 recorded Roberts, Dun & Company as Tweed Manufacturers at Mid Mill.    Subsequently Simpson and Fairbairn took over the business and greatly extended its operations.  A 1903 Directory described Simpson & Fairbairn  as a tweed manufacturer and dyers at Mid Mills 

It appears that the firm later adopted the name of Rhymer's Mill, as in the photographs below.

Always at the mercy of  the dictates of fashion and economics, Border woollen manufacturers between the wars  had a hard and stressful time.  The global depression, tariff barriers and instability especially in Eastern and Central Europe made export markets difficult.  Cheaper competition from areas like Yorkshire and North America plus the reduced  purchasing power of the unemployed resulted  in idle plants and closures.  In Galashiels a third of the manufacturing capacity of the town was lost in the 1930's 

 Mill Road houses, built for the workers.

However Simpson and Fairbairn  weathered the storm,  although short time working was often prevalent.  During World War Two, the mill was fully employed on service and  utility clothing  and after the war it was a boom time for the Borders as world wide stocks of clothes had to be replaced, with the firm employing more than 300 workers. 
making it  the economic mainstay of Earlston. 

But by the late 1950's and early '60's, the old problems of cheaper competitors and vulnerability to changing fashions had returned.  The   firm tried  to innovate by making cellular blankets and moving into  ladies' wear. 

On 13th June 1961 "The Southern Reporter" headline read "Closing of Earlston mill shocks 200 workers",  with a skeleton staff retained in the  hope the mill could re-open, once orders were forthcoming. The tidal wave of workers coming up Mill Road was reduced to a trickle.   After a few months, the mill did restart with the weaving and finishing department only and in 1966 a Mr Claridge (a textile designer) took over and oversaw a brief period of expansion.  

But the decline could not be stemmed.  The mill finally closed in 1969 when a workforce of almost 100 was made redundant.  

Earlston's role in the  Borders textile industry came to an end. 

 Today a street name sign reminds us of the village's past.

 Two photographs taken in 1974  of the Derelict Rhymer's Mill

Earlston census returns for the mid 19th century identified workers in the following occupations:

Cotton Weaver, Cotton Winder, Cotton Warper, Cotton Gingham Weaver, Clerk in Gingham Warehouse. Agent for a Gingham Warehouse  
Piecer in a Woollen Factory   (a 13 year old boy) 
Machine Feeder in a Woollen Factory (15 year old girl) 
Steam Loom Weaver of Wool (18 year old girl) 
Blanket Weaver, Power Loom Weaver, Hand Loom Weaver,  Wool Carder, Wool Picker, 
Overseer in Woollen Factory, Power Loom Tuner, Spinner in Woollen Factory 

With grateful thanks to Auld Earlston for permission 
to feature photographs from its collection 


Workday Wednesday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers,  
encouraging  writers to record aspects of their family history. 


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Sepia Saturday - Families Together

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.

This week's prompt shows  a family group with lots of features for inspired bloggers to comment on - hats of varying styles, children, sailor suits, yachts, pocket watches, a parasol, a buttonhole flwoer, unsmiling faces - and even a dog! 

I am indebted to my cousin Stuart's collection for his contribution towards my theme of "Families Together". 

Stuart's Great Grandparents -  Joseph  & Mary Oldham and Family. c.1908

Here are Joseph Prince Oldham (left) and his wife Mary Alice Knowles (right) with their son and heir John William Oldham,  and three daughters - Edith (standing), young Beatrice (holding the dog lead),  and seated  Sarah Alice.

The Oldham family of Blackpool, Lancashire were carters and coal merchants for three generationsThe business was founded around 1890, steadily became prosperous and in 1905 moved to near North Station, Blackpool in a house with a large yard, hay loft, tack room. and stabling for around seven horses. An accident at the coal sidings in the railway station resulted in Joseph being blinded and he died in 1921, with his will, signed with his "mark". 

Joseph's son  John William took over the business,  where workers included George Butler who had become  his brother-in-law,  by marrying Sarah Oldham in 1910.  Five  years earlier, John had married my grandfather's cousin Mary Jane Bailey.   Young Beatrice married Jack Clark  on 26th December 1919,  in a much  more informal  postwar wedding than her sister's,  judging by the style of dress and hats. Middle daughter. Edith became in 1939 the second wife of Harry Fearnehough, following his divorce.  
Weddings of course are a great occasion  for family group photographs - as seen here: 

 A magnificent array of hats (and buttonholes)  in this wedding group at the marriage in 1910  of  Wilfred Hyde and Annie Coombes, relations of Stuart's wife.

 Another Coombs wedding -  Albert Leslie Williams & Hilda Florence Coombs
in London  in 1931. 
At this time, hats in the  Dutch style were obviously in fashion across the country  for bridesmaids - below at the wedding in 1929 at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  of my great aunt Jannie Danson to Beadnell Stemp.  

Jennie was the last child and only daughter out of a large family  of sons, born to James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe.  At her wedding she was given away by her eldest brother  Robert Danson (on the left),  The little bridesmaid on the left was  my aunt Peggy Danson, with the matron  of honour on the right, Jennie's niece Annie who had married a year earlier.


 Three generations of the New Zealand branch of the Oldham family, c.1927 

The little girl, Edith Nancy stands between her grandmother Sarah Oldham. nee Cross and her father and mother seated  - James William Oldham and Edith Keyner.  ARthur Oldham,  Standing are young Dorothy Lilla and grandfather Arthur Oldham.   

Alfred and Sarah Oldham emigrated to  New Zealand in 1906, where they ran a wholesale tobacconists and stationery business on Karangahape Road,  Auckland.   

This photograph is a postscript  to the one below  of the two little Oldham girls in their knitted dresses that  featured in my last week's Sepia Saturday post.  

Click HERE to see what other Sepia Saturday bloggers 
have come up with this week. 

[With apologies - blogger is playing me up,  as I cannot get rid of the small type for my introduction, despite the draft on screen showing Normal size].