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Friday, 10 July 2020

Towns, Traffic & Trams - Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph shows a  city centre street scene, busy with traffic   c.1920. 

So take a look at towns, traffic and trams, in places ranging from Paris  and a Far East waterfront, to a small rural village  in the Scottish Borders and trams across the country.

A busy scene in the Square outside Paris Opera House, May 1940 - 
a postcard  from my father's war-time album.

Dad was serving in the  RAF Codes & Cipher Branch and was seconded to the  American 8th Army under General Bradley.  They landed at Omaha Beach, fought their way through Normandy to set up their headquarters at Versailles.  In Dad's own words
"With the GIs in khaki and ourselves in blue, we were very conspicuous – more so as we were so few.  We also got a jeep and as I was the only one who could drive, apart from the official driver, we used to go into Paris and park by the Eiffel Tower.  Hundreds of Frenchmen gathered there trying to buy cigarettes.

Another time I got a lift into Paris to hear General de Gaulle make a speech at the Place de la Concorde.  I was stopped by a Frenchman who said in English “RAF Sir?  My name is Joseph Calmy.   I was the Shell agent here before the war”.  I offered him cigarettes and he then invited me to a building and gave me a bag full of Chanel perfume, toiletries, powder and cream – it lasted Mum for years.  I flew back with it when I got some leave in March ‘45."

A photograph  of my father dated on the reverse September 12th 1944.


Another "service" memory -   this time from my husband's uncle, Matthew Iley White 
who served in the Durham Light Infantry in China. 1937-40.  

The Bund, Shanghai, China, c.1939.   By the early 20th century,  this was a major financial centre for East Asia. 

Mattie's Service Book showing his time in China

Matthew Iley White of South Shields, Co. Durham 

A busy place for traffic in my memory was Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass.where I spent a happy year, working in 1965-66 in Radcliffe Library. The Squar was the hub of the town, with shops, commercial buildings, and the transport intersection for buses and subway. 

More up to date on a visit to London - taking a photograph of the distinctive   red buses in the busy traffic is a must.

London, Bus, Double Decker, Road

I grew up in Blackpool, the famous seaside resort in north west England and here is the promenade,with the famous Blackpool Tower, built in 1894 and rises to 520 feet high - key facts drummed into us at school.


A change of period and place, with a look at traffic in my home village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders.

Traffic passing through the Market Square  and along the High Stret, c.1920  

Earlston in Lockdown, Wednesday April 15th 2020  at 10.00am  with the absence of traffic the most noticeable feature. This is usually a busy road linking the central Borders with the east coast, and used by commercial, business and farm traffic, buses and emergency vehicles - but what a change in the last few months. 

C,1910  - Car in the  middle of the road in what is now the A68 trunk route linking Edinburgh with north east England. 

Same road, same cottages, but taken April 2020 during Lockdown. 
Again this is usually a very busy road.   


Blackpool trams in their green and white livery  date back to 1885 and they  are one of the oldest tramways in the world.  They run  for 11 miles along the seafront. During the famous Blackpool Illuminations in autumn, trams are decorated with lights.   


Edinburgh tram 03 first day of operation.JPG
 Image - Wikipedia
 Trams first  ran in Edinburgh  between 1871 and 1956.  They made a return to the city,  after years of discusson,  in May 2014, running on a single route from the city centre out to the airport. 

Vintage tram at Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham, where life in the late 19th-early 20th century is recreated - a favourite place of ours for a day out.


To end on a cheery note - what about this "road train" which transported visitors from a  car park to the town centre in Mondsee,  Austria - a fun way to get around!


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity 
to share their family history through photograph

Click HERE
to see streetscapes from  other Sepia Saturday bloggers 

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Tea Time Treats: Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph shows friends enjoying afternoon tea in the garden,c.1920.    I have a good match,though taken earlier around 1900.

An unidentified scene from the postcard collection 
 of the Heritage Hub, Hawick 


The Kettle 
 I remember this copper kettle (below)  sitting in the hearth of my grandfather's house and I was always led to believe  it was his mother's - my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919)   I was absolutely  delighted when it eventually passed down to me.

The Best China
Complementing the kettle is this tea-set, which,  (according to her granddaughter), Maria acquired by collecting coupons from a newspaper offer.  

Pink seemed to be  the favoured colour for the "best" tea-set and I have pieces from both my grandmother Alice  and my mother's wedding china. 

 My grandmother, Alice English who married William Danson in 1907



My parent's wedding - John Weston and Kathleen Danson  in 1938


Two teapots - with no family connection, other than I liked them and bought them both in a charity shop to display in my kitchen/diner.

Milk Jug  and Sugar Bowl 

 My mother was a dressmaker, apprenticed  at the age of 14,  and throughout her life tried her hand at a  wide variety of crafts.  Here in the  1960s,  china painting was her choice. 

 My mother, Kathleen Weston, nee Danson

Embroidered tray cloths and table cloths
My mother, Kathleen and my Aunt Edith (left)  were both assiduous needlewomen and the tablecloth and tray cloths (below) are just a  small example of their fine work.  

How sad that the art seems to be dying.  I did  try my hand at it in my teens, but I was hopeless at stem stitch, stain stitch and French knots; could just about manage lazy, daisy stitch and best of all cross-stitch which I took up again with enthusiasm much later in life. I must admit I would be too afraid to use embroidered tablecloths and tray cloths,   fearing spills - and that would present another test of my laundering skills!  


Dainty Cakes and Sandwiches 
My mother was a great baker and the BE-RO Book was her bible - the popular recipe  book  for housewives in the 20th century Britain, promoting BE-RO  flours.  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! 

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.

And today - I cannot resist an afternoon tea! 

The table set for our Ruby wedding anniversary afternoon tea -
no room here on the table for the goodies which came later.

Cake, Baking, Sweets, Dessert, Sweet


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity

to share their family history through photographs

Click HERE
to read how other Sepia Saturday bloggers 

have pondered over this week's prompt photograph. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

A Bigamist in the Family.

Sarah Ann Cuthbert (right) was my husband's great grandmother. Researching her early life led to finding her mother Charlotte,  who proved an elusive character.  

Her life included a first marriage with a disparity in ages, the unknown whereabouts of Charlotte  for over 10 years, suspicions of a bigamous second marriage, and cases of domestic abuse by her daughter's future husband.

Charlotte  was born 20th May 1846  in Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire, daughter of William Portress and Elizabeth Morris.   Her surname on her marriage announcement stated  Portress, but it was variously spelt across records and online transcriptions as Portos, Porteres, Portros, Portes and  Porters. 

The 1851 census revealed Charlotte was the fourth of six children, with siblings Joseph, Eliza, Ann, Mark and Sarah.  In 1861 , aged 17,  Charlotte  was workng as a domestic servant to an elderly farmer William Booth, and his sister-in-law  at River Bank, Pinchbeck.  For a young girl, this must have been a lonely life as the only resident domestic help there.

year later on 15th May 1862,19 year old Charlotte was marrying James Cuthbert, 12  years her senior, as reported in the Stanford Mercury.

So what could be  the reasons for Charlotte's marriage to James?   Did it offer  security and respectability of a home?    For five months after their marriage, Charlotte gave birth to a son,  Morris   on 29th October 1862, followed by John  James in1863 and daughter Sarah Ann in 1868.  

PUZZLE NO.1  - In 1871, where was Charlotte, the mother of three young children, for neither she nor daughter Sarah Ann were listed with James and their two sons.   Was she visiting elsewhere, or had she deserted the Cuthbert household?  Efforts to trace her proved challenging.

Some public trees have a Charlotte Porter  listed in the 1871 census as a patient at the Leavesden Asylum in Hertfordshire, aged 26, but with her birthplace recorded as "not known"  - so not much help in identifying if our Charlotte has reverted to her maiden name in this instance.

Why  was she admitted to an asylum?  Was it a case of post natal depression, following Sarah Ann's birth in 1868?  In the 19th century it was not uncommon for women to be admitted on such a cause.   Would someone in Spalding be admitted to a place in Hertfordshire - some 77 miles apart?  And where was daughter Sarah Ann?  She has not been traced in the 1871 census.   Lots of questions that remain unanswered. 

A google search of Leavesden Asylum noted that it opened in 1870 and its records, including admission registers,  are held at the National Archives, currently closed due to Covid-19. The registers might identify if this was Charlotte from Spalding. 

Charlotte was  next traced in 1880 in Sheffield, West Yorks  marrying  Robert Lawson of Silkstone, near Barnsley - as listed in the GRO Civil Registration of Marriages Index. But Charlotte's  name was given, not under her married name of Cuthbert, but under her maiden name of Porter.

PUZZLE NO.2 What had taken Charlotte to Yorkshire?    Was this a bigamous marriage?  It certainly seems so.   Her first husband James Cuthbert as an Ag. Lab. could not possibly have afforded the cost of a divorce in the late 19th century.   Moreover  he was living at the same address (Dozens Bank, Pinchbeck, Spalding)   in 1881, 1891, and  1901, along with Sarah Ann Elliff, described as his housekeeper and a widow.   Jameswas listed  as  married  in 1871, and 1881, but a widower in the later censuses.

The  1880s proved an eventful year for the Lawcon family  
The 1881 census saw 32 year old Charlotte  at Ben Bank Cottage, Dodworth, near Barnsley with husband  Robert aged 34, a fireman in a coal pit,and Charlotte's 11 year old  daughter Sarah Ann Cuthbert.

But  there were indications that the  marriage was  soon faltering. For a notice in the  Barnsley Chronicle of 25th October 1884 stated: 


The link with the  Armitage Family. 
In the  1880s decade, daughter Sarah became involved with the Armitage family, notably Aaron Armitage,  a miner.   Local newspapers  revealed that from the age of 13,  Aaron had made   regular appearances in court - had deserted the army, returned to the Barnsley  area, and  faced  charges ranging  from obstructing a railway line and stealing a canary,  to serious charges of assault.

In 1884 local newspapers reported that  on July 5th   Aaron had been charged with assaulting Charlotte Lawson  and fined 10 shillings  plus costs.

1885 - A more serous charge was to follow when Aaron was accused of  violently assaulting Sarah Ann Cuthbert, and with  his brother John stealing a dress to pawn, the property of Sarah Ann Cuthbert - as reported in "The Leeds Times" of 6th June. The Barnsley Chronicle" gave a particularly graphic account of the case. Aaron was sent to Wakefield Prison, with the description of him as "5’6” in height with brown hair and with a cut on his forehead and burn marks on his shoulders." 

Yet two years later, 36 year old Aaron  married the same Sarah Ann Cuthbert, (at 21 years old, fifteen years his junior) on the 16th of May, at All Saint,  South Kirkby -   On 3rd of January 1888,   Aaron's daughter Alice was born, (my husband's grandmother),  but before she marked her third birthday, her father was dead.  
Aaron died 26th October 1889 with his certificate giving the cause of death as Fracture of the Lumbar Vertebrae, one year and eight months a Lumbar Abcess"   - which sounds a very painful condition.  Interestingly the name of the informant on his death certificate was given as his mother-in-law C. Lawson. 

confusing census  entry was found  in the 1891 census for  Dodworth which listed   as head Catherine (not Charlotte) Lawson, with 22 year old daughter now named Sarah Ann Hibbert and son-in-law George Hibber, and daughter Alice Lawson - Alice was in fact Alice Armitage - from Sarah's first marriage.  So Sarah, 7 months a widow, had married on 25th May 1890 George Hibbert, another  miner, at St. George's Church, Barnsley.

But where was Charlotte's husband Robert?

By 1901 the Hibbert family had moved cross country to South Shields, Co. Durham at 19 Trinity Street.  with George and Sarah  Ann,  13 year old Alice and her half- siblings - Robert aged 6  and Violet 4.  Alice and Violet (below)  remained close all their lives.

But also in the Hibbert household was Robert Lawson, described as father-in-law.  

Family Deaths
  • A Charlotte Lawson died in  Barnsley in 1900 aged 54, with no knowledge traced on her after the 1891 census.   Did she die a lonely death in a life dogged with questions? 
  • Robert Lawson died  in South Shields in 1907.
  • James Cuthbert, Charlotte's first husband was listed  in the 1901 census aged 71 in Pinchbeck, Spalding, but to date I have been unable to trace a death certificate.   
Postcript - A Link with the Past. 
In 1899 George and Sarah Ann Hibbert had a son,interestingly christened Maurice Cuthbert  - the name of Sarah's eldest brother born in 1862.  Did the brother and  sister ever meet after the young Sarah was taken away with her mother from the Cuthbert family home in Spalding?   We will never know.   Maurice Hibbert's life was short - dying in infancy.


Friday, 19 June 2020

HappyTimes with our Pets. - Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph shows a large hairy dog  atop of a man's head and shoulders in a loving cuddle.  Cue  for me go for the obvious and hunt out our  doggy pictures on life over the years with three much loved cocker spaniels. 


Cocker Spaniel no. 3 Casmir (Cass) . an orange roan who loved to have a cuddle.She was well known in our small town because of her distinctive colouring.


A sleeping pair - husband with Cocker No. 2 - Coleen - a blue roan.  We bought her from a kennels who had tried unsuccessfuly to breed from her.   But she soon settled into the luxuery of a home life.  You had to hunt for those dark eyes,hidden  in her black fur.

Husband  with my cousin's  dog 

I cannot let this post go without featuring our first cocker spaniel - Beauty, who joined the family in 1978.     When she died, we could not imagine family life without a dog - hence in due course pet numbers  2 and 3.  


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity

to share their family history through photographs

Click HERE
E to read how other Sepia Saturday bloggers 

have scratched their heads over this week's prompt photograph.