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Friday, 22 July 2022

Horse Tales of My Family

 Tales of journeys by horse and traps features in my response to this week's Sepia Satturday early 20th century prompt photograph  (see end of this post.)

Firstly an image from my local heritage group Auld Earlston in the Scottish Borders.  Dated 1907 it shows members of the church choir setting out on their annual trip on a crowded wagonette.  

Hopefully it would be a dry day as there was no protection from the elements on the 20 mile journey  It was a bit surprising that they did not choose to take the train from Earlston part of the way and then transfer to waggonette for  travelling  down the Yarrow Valley to their destination. 

The group later relaxing - many minus their hats! 

 Onto photographs and memories from my family collection: 

My father  left school at the aged of 14. In his own words:

  "I went to work at the grocer's.  I had been an errand boy there and also worked on Saturdays with time off for soccer.  I went out in a horse and trap  delivering orders (we sold bags of corn 80 plus pounds).  The pony, a Welsh cob named Tommy, was inclined to be lazy.   At night time I rode him bareback to a field!    
This was  a surprising memory as Dad never gave us any indication later in life of having the slightest interest or affinity with horses!

 My cousin's ancestors were the Oldham family of Blackpool, Lancashire  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 at the back with hay loft, tack room. and stabling for around 7 horses.


John William Oldham on one of the carriages in the family business of coal men and carters

It is never too late to discover new information on an ancestor,  as more and more Records come online.  Such was the case last year for me.  

I first wrote a  profile on my great great grandfather Henry Danson (1806-1881)  many years ago  in pre-Internet days. He lived near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  and the standard resources provided me with a good picture emerging of his life, his family (6 daughters and 3 sons) and his occupations as a farmer and later in life as a  toll collector at nearby Shard Bridge.

I am a regular user of newspapers online at British Newspaper Archive  and in a very casual browsing  of the Danson name,  I came across a wonderful find -  an obituary and a coroner’s report  on Henry's death - and discovered information on Henry that was completely new to me.  

I found out that he was well known locally as "a famous judge in  horse flesh"  and had died in a tragic accident in his horse and cart.


Blackpool & Gazette Herald:  11th November 1881.  

 The article went on:

 "For many years he possessed a breed of horses well known and much admired in the Fylde for their endurance and good constitution. They were known by the name of "Robin Hood's breed," and many of the old farmers at the present day think they are not excelled if equaled by the present breed of horses. He was a kind neighbour. His motto ever was "to do unto others as he would they do unto him."

What a lovely description of my great great grandfather  - and a wonderful find, as in Britain,  unlike  the USA,  it is not customary to write such tributes to a person, unless they have made their mark in some distinctive way in their community - as clearly Henry Danson had.  I  had no idea he was well known locally and had never heard of the breed of Robin Hood horses, as Robin Hood country was much further south around Nottingham.

But as I found later, there were some omissions in the obituary on the nature of Henry's death.  For another newspaper report  of an inquest revealed the details.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser: Wednesday 02 Nov. 1881

“FATAL FALL FROM A CART. On Monday evening Mr. Gilbertson held an inquest at Poulton-le-Fylde, on the body of Henry Danson, collector of the Shard Bridge tolls. The deceased, who was 75 years old, was riding in a cart with Mr. John  ? farmer, on the way to Poulton, when the horse took fright and jumped forward. Danson was standing in the cart leaning on his stick at the moment he  was jerked out upon the road. He was attended Mr. Winn, surgeon, but could never walk afterwards, his left thigh being injured, and he had an attack of pleurisy fortnight before his death, which occurred on Thursday night last. The jury returned verdict of Death  from the effects of injuries received, and resulting illness, through fall from a cart."

It is both sad and ironic that Henry,  noted for his skill with horses,  should have died,  whilst driving his horse and cart.  

Anyone tracing their family history may well have  a "carter or carrier " in their ancestry - an essential occupation in transporting goods around.  Such a man was my other great great grandfather Robert Rawcliffe of Hambleton Lancashire. More carter images are shown here  with  vintage photographs from  the collection of my local heritage group Auld Earlston. 

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 rural parish. 

Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
       to share their family history through photographs

 Click HERE To find more tales from Sepia Saturday bloggers.


Saturday, 9 July 2022

ON THE ROCKS - Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photographer (see end of this post)  features two lads atop of a rock. 
So  join me on my journey into rocky memories, as we visit India,  New England,  the  Scottish Borders, Isles of Mull & Iona, the Lake District,  Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire, and Marsden Rock at South Shields, County Durham.

Not two lads, but many! My husband's uncle Matty (Matthew Iley White) of South Shields, County Durham is among this group of soldiers perched on a rock in India.   Matty  served in the  Durham Light Infantry in India 1933-1937, as listed in his service book below. 


Boulder Rock near Waterville Valley, New England, in 1998.  We had visions of getting lost on a walk  in the woods here, relying on the signposting rather than a map. Fortunately we made it back to our hotel.



This is  the earliest photograph I have of my parents together, taken by the river at Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria where they got engaged in 1937.  My mother looks very elegant, but how on earth did she negotiate those stepping stones?   
Kirby Lonsdale  on the edge of the Lake District is a fascinating small town  with   a mix of  18th-century buildings and stone cottages huddled around quaint cobbled courtyards and narrow alleyways with names such as Salt Pie Lane and Jingling Lane.  The town is noted for the its three span Devil's Bridge, first built across the River Lune c.1370. You catch a glimpse of it here.
A large rock in the Lake District - near Keswick c.1988  I don't know how I was adventurous  enough to climb to the top - I could not do it now. 


To North Yorkshire  - and the Brimham Rocks, huge balancing rock formations  with spectacular views over the Niddersdale Moors. With a labyrinth of paths and plenty of hiding places, be warned,  this is a great place to lose children who can hunt for rocks with weird names such as  Dancing Bear, The Eagle and The Gorilla, The Smartie Tube and balance on the Rocking Stones.  In the care of the National Trust. 


Little  daughter  on a little rock surveying the land above  Hawick in the  Scottish Borders, c.1976.  It must have been a good summer as the  countryside  looks unusually  dry.  

A windy day as daughter, now a lot older, is perching again on a rock on the Isle  of Iona,  

One lost sheep - perched high  on the Isle of Mul


A journey  to South Shields at  the  mouth of the River Tyne - home of my husband's mariner ancestor

Marsden Rock is a 100 foot sea stack which lies 100 yards off the cliff face.  Believed to be once  a smugglers' haunt,  it is now the home of seabird colonies.   In 1803 a flight of steps was constructed up the side of the rock. In 1903 several choirs climbed onto the rock to perform a choral service.  
 My husband spent his childhood here, with the beach a favourite playground. In a way this is an historic photograph, as in 1996 the arch collapsed, splitting the rock into two stacks. The smaller stack was decreed unsafe and demolished.  
Among the cliff face rocks at Marsden  c. 1983  

 Daughter (left) with her cousin and dog Cindy - with matching hairstyles!  c.1983 
Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
       to share their family history through photographs.
 Click HERE To find out what other bloggers and boys are getting up to this week

Copyright © 2022 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 2 July 2022

A Short Look at Short Trousers - and Caps : Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph shows three small boys, looking as if they are all set for mischief (see the image at the end of this post). 

The little lad in the middle of the prompt photograph reminded me so much of my brother (below) 


This was taken  on holiday in south coast resort of Bournemouth c. 1952 where paddling stream ran through the park,  My mother \always knew to take a change of clothes with us for my brother who inevitably managed to fall in the water at some point.  Seeing he is wearing a jumper, it cannot have been a warm summer.

 My brother again , looking very angelic,  in short trousers  bar sandals and short white socks.     I am all dressed up with my hair in ringlets, for  taking part  in Staining  Gala, near Blackpool,. Lancashire,  c. 1950. 

Toward the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, children no longer dressed like tiny adults, but had their own  style of clothes.  But boys were often still dressed in skirts  for their early years.  This photograph c.1910  came from my cousin and is of his father, with the note on the back saying  "Arthur in his first pair  of trousers".

Small boys continued to wear short trousers, with knee length socks whatever the weather.  They did not go into long trousers until the age of around 13-14 - something of a rite of passage which I remember my brother going through c.1960. 


My husband is the little lad on the bike with his older brother Ian alongside, c.1942

My husband enjoying an ice-cream, c.1950  


My husband's brother  in the cap that was very popular for boys 1930-1950's. I remember my brother wearing this style,featuring the school badge,  as part of his school uniform,  

 More Photos of boys in short trousers, though on these occasions, looking rather serious.

 Harry Rawcliffe Danson, (my Uncle Harry), born 1912 Harry's middle name came from  his grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.  This is a section of a larger family photograph taken in 1916 when his father  William Danson went off to war in Flanders.  24 years later Harry survived the Battle of Dunkirk.  He retained his good dark looks all his life

Jackie Threlfall, of Poulton le Fylde, Lancashire wearing a sailor suit, popular in the early 20th century. Taken by ? Watson, 13 Wellington Terrace, Blackpool.  A photograph from my great aunt Jennie's album.


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
       to share their family history through photographs.


To find out what other bloggers and boys are getting up to this week - click HERE 

Friday, 17 June 2022

Enticing Us to Buy in Times Past! Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph features Billboards.  So take a look here at advertisements from past times, beginning with a family connection:

 My father-in-law John Robert Donaldson came from South Shields, County Durham in north east England  He was a sign-writer and painter and here are two examples of his work in South Shields.

 Nowadays, amidst anti-smoking campaigns, this  advert  would be banned. 

Dating from just after the Second World War, this was painted directly onto the board, because of a shortage of paper.  The story here went that the railway company who owned the wall  eventually tried to paint over the advert, but the original paint kept showing through.  Standing alongside his Dad's work, was John's son Ian, who later followed him into the family business.

In the 1950s, the family moved to Scotland and here is another of John's signs.


Beamish Open Air Museum, near Newcastle  is one of our favourite family outings. In 300 acres of countryside it recreates and explores the everyday life of people in North East England from around 1880 to 1950, with a  High Street of houses, shops &  trades, vintage trams and buses, a  colliery with a pit village,  farm, manor house and railway station.   Here is the stable yard, with advertising billboards.



  Not feeling so great?  Why not try these remedies? 

Vick was my mother's standard remedy for coughs and colds - and we still have a jar today in our medicine cabinet! 

So what about some kind of "pick me up".

                                                           With an original "Tweet". 



Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
       to share their family history through photographs.
Click HERE to see that other Sepia Saturday bloggers are writing about this week

Thursday, 9 June 2022

ON SALE HERE - Sepia Saturday

 A old fashioned shop floor displaying women's wear is the prompt photograph from this week's Sepia Saturday blog - see the end of this post. 
Cue for me to hunt out vintage photographs and fashion advertisements  from my local heritage group Auld Earlston in the Scottish Borders  - and to jump forward over  100 years to dress  displays in Austria.
Lochhead's watchmaker & jeweller on Earlston High Street, c.1900
Look at the right hand window for that unusual term "cyclealities".
 A crowded shop window of the Co-op store in Earlston. c.1950

Another  crowded window display from Weatherly's stationer, newsagent, printer  and post office. Members of the Weatherly family down the generations ran the business for over 100 years.

Fashion advertisements  took centre stage on the  front page of  in a short lived local newspaper  "The Earlston Comet" of 1891 - too early for photographs, but promotions by the drapers and  clothiers in the village, give us  a good description of what the well dressed man or woman would be wearing in the late 19th century. 

Thomas Clendinnen & Sons, Drapers, Milliners and Clothiers announced their:

For the whole of  their stock, replete with all the latest novelties in Plain and Diagonal Serges, Homespun, Twist, Knicker Checked and Striped, Dress Tweeds,
Ladies Jackets, Braemar and Russian Cloaks,
Trimmed Hat and Bonnets in Newest Style
White, Scarlet and Shetland Flannels
 Gentleman's Tweed Suits - Made to Measure- From 37s.6p 
New Melton and Diagonal Overcoats from 30s. 

All garments carefully made and finished -  Perfect Fit Guaranteed. 
Also in the field of fashion was David Wallace,  with this  advertisement:

"An Immense and Magnificent Collection of every New and Fashionable  Dress Material....which for Variety, Superior Quality, Good Taste and Moderate Prices is unequalled in Earlston.Tweeds in Cheviot, Homespun, Harris and Grampian makes, latest styles and newest mixtures.  Black materials in great variety.
The latest novelties in Millinery, Flowers, Feathers etc.  Bonnets composed of Velvet and Jet, from 10s.6d to 25s.  The latest novelty in hats is Gladys in French Beaver, trimmed with Feathers.  All orders for this Department made up in the most Fashionable and Tasteful Manner." 
Note the reference to "black materials" - at a time when formal mourning wear was still the custom.  Somehow the name "Gladys" does not quite conjure up an image of a French beaver hat with feathers!   

Draper David Wallace was listed in the 1891 census as at the High Street with his wife Ruth, two young children Robert and Ruth, and  eldest son Henry described as a  Draper's Apprentice.   

Miller's Drapers Establishment, offered competition with the claim:  
"The largest and cheapest collection  of Autumn and Winter drapery  goods to be seen in any warehouse in the South of Scotland. 
The constant desire is to supply goods of Reliable Quality
 suitable for all classes of the parish."  
  [Note that phrase "All classes of the parish" - you could not use that now!] 

Southern  Reporter: 1894 
 I love seeing on holiday in Austria and Bavaria, the wearing of the traditional costume,   not just in hotels and restaurants for the benefit of the tourist trade, but worn on Sundays, on high days and holidays and for weddings. The many shops that sell the dresses indicate this is not just a fancy dress, but an important part of the local culture.





And after all that window shopping, take a break! 
In Austria we cannot resist going into a"Konditerei " - the equivalent of the French patisseries - not just to view the wonderful displays of cakes, pastries, fruit slices etc., but definitely  to taste a sample - or two! This is an important part of our holiday - any thoughts of diets go out of the window!  

A view of Cafe Zauner in Bad Ischl, near Salzburg. It was founded in 1832 and is in the traditional style of an Austrian Coffee shop. Unmissable for the food and the surroundings. 
    Shop in Bad Ischl, Austria advertising its handmade biscuits - Lebkuchen, 

Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
       to share their family history through photographs

 Click HERE to read how other bloggers are enjoying their shopping expeditions