Thursday, 22 September 2016

Having Fun: Sepia Saturday - Work and Play 4

Having spent all this month focusing on Work, 
it is  time to have some fun and  Play.

Having fun on the beach - my husband's great aunt Violet (left) and friends, c.1920'  

Playing in the garden - my mother and aunt - Kathleen and Edith Danson c.1914

More fun on the beach - my brother in that fetching knitted playsuit - and myself

 Bournemouth in the 1950's

My brother again  - in the  paddling pool in the park at Bournemouth - he usually managed to fall in and my mother knew to take with us a change of clothes.

 Playing hide and seek with my daughter in the ruins of a castle,
 near our home in the Scottish Borders, c.1970.s

 Having fun in winter!  "The Hills are Alive"  for my husband and daughter. 
 Look at that  nifty footwork!  
Our dog has dashed out of the picture at this sight - 
spot the red dog lead around my husband, c.1990's.

Jumping for Joy!
Granddaughter is never happier than when jumping, climbing, or running, 2016. 

In Case You Missed  

Click HERE to see how other bloggers
 are marking this month's prompt of  Work and Play

Friday, 16 September 2016

Death on the Somme 100 years Ago Today : Military Monday

On 16th September 1916 died   my great uncle George Danson, a week after this 22nd birthday. 
Guard's Cemetery, Les Boeufs, near Albert  - George's final resting place.

George, the youngest of eight brothers and one sister  was a stretcher bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps and killed during the Battle of the Somme.

Captain MacLeod in writing to George's widowed mother said:    "He was one of my stretcher bearers and was gallantly doing his duty over open and dangerous ground which suddenly became subjected to severe shell fire.  He continued steadily bearing his burden and was only stopped by the shell that took his life. We mourn his loss and are very proud of him". 

A photograph, sent to his mother,  of George's grave.  It conveys in a stark way the reality of war amid the mud and blood that George must have experienced - and contrasts with the pristine white of the more lasting memorials that we recognise today.

Military Monday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers 
to encourage us to record our family history.

Copyright © 2016 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Women in the Workplace: Sepia Saturday Work and Play 3

This week a look at Women in the Workplace 
with thanks to Auld Earlston, my local heritage group in the Scottish Borders 
for  images from its collection 

Earlston Munition Workers in World War Two

Around 950,000 British women worked in munitions factories during the Second World War, making weapons like shells and bullets. Munitions work was often well-paid, but involved long hours, sometimes up to seven days a week. Workers were also at serious risk from accidents with dangerous machinery or when working with high explosive material.  Some munitions workers dealt with  toxic chemicals every dayThose who handled sulphur were nicknamed ‘Canary Girls’, because their skin and hair turned yellow from contact with the chemical. [Source: My Learning.Org ]

Earlston Nurses on Parade in the Second World War

Let's not forget Housewives at Work - Shopping in the Traveling Van 

I remember my mother wearing this kind of pinny with a handy front pocket for dusters etc. . She made them for many a sale of work. 

Workwear at the Egg Packaging Station at Georgefield Farm, Earlston 

 The distinctive work costume of the Bondagers.

Bondagers were female farm workers in south east Scotland and Northumberland. As part of their husband's contract (or bond) with the farmer, he would undertake to provide another worker (usually his wife) to help as and when required. The women wore a distinctive dress with bonnet, described as the "last remaining peasant costume" in Britain.  The custom of bondagers lasted well into the 20th century.

And from my own family election, three photographs I have featured before, but are among my favourites and fit the theme so well. 


My great aunt Jenny (seond on the left) with her work colleagues from the post office in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.Her daughter Pam recalled a story that during the First World War, a telegram was received at the Post  Office for Jenny's mother Mrs Maria Danson.  Fearing the worst, Jenny was allowed to run home with it.  Fortunately it was good news to say that brother Frank was in hospital in Malta but was doing well.    

Both before and after her marriage, my mother offered dressmaking services from her home.  Mum had been apprenticed to a tailor at the age of 14, andwas still sewing well into her 80's.  I only came across her early business card after her death. 

My mother's second cousin was Elsie Oldham, who as "Elise" (note the French version of her name!) offered "Bobbing, Shingling, Marcel Waving and Perming", from her home in Blackpool, Lancashire, and advertised on this lovely evocative 1920's blotter.

Elsie's old set of scissors and hair clippers

Elsie's son recalled how she continued working  until shortly before she died in 1989 - by that time the number of customers had dwindled to about three a week all of whom were as old as she was!  When the house was emptied a cupboard was discovered full of bottles of hair dye  in myriad colours - some of it must have been at least 20 or 30 years old!

In Case You Missed  

Click HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers
are marking this month's prompt of  Work and Play

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Highs and Lows of Work: Sepia Saturday-Work & Play 2

Take a look at the Highs and Lows of Work with my   contribution to this month's prompt of Work and Play. 

Steeplejacks working on  the mill chimney at Rhymer's Mill, Earlston in the Scottish Borders.  You get a sense  of the height of the chimney from the picture below.
Rhymer's Mill (textiles),  in its rural setting in  Earlston, closed down in 1969. 

John William Oldham sitting high on one of the carriages 
in the family business of Carters and Coalmen in Blackpool.
The adverts on the wall include one for Mcdougall's flour and for a performance of Mendelssohn's oratorio "Elijah" on the North Pier.  

Men bending low over the heavy machinery at Rhymer's Mill, Earlston 

My husband's father, a painter and sign-writer  taking a lie down 
after a busy day's work.   


Arthur Oldham, my cousin's father emerging from a manhole 
during his work as a linesman for the General Post Office. 

In Case You Missed  

Click HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers
are marking this month's prompt of  Work and Play

Friday, 2 September 2016

Down at the Mill - Sepia Saturday Work & Play 1

What was life like for our ancestors, many of them women,  who worked in the textile industry, helping to produce cotton goods, knitwear, tweeds, tartan and blankets?  For they faced long working hours, poor conditions and often dangerous machinery. 

This month's  Sepia Saturday prompt on the theme of "Work and Play" show a ten year old girl leaving her loom to stare out of the window.  Was she dreaming of a more leisured childhood?  

The choice for my post was an obvious one for in the collection of my local heritage group Auld Earlston are photographs taken at Rhymer's Mill  at the turn of the 19th/20th century.  Take a look at the serviceable clothes worn, the working environment and the the daunting large scale machinery. 

The 1851 census for Earlston  described Charles Wilson as  "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  128 men and 44 women, boys and young women". At the end of he century the business was taken over by  Simpson and Fairbairn. 

Although no child features in these photographs, child employment was a feature of life for many families.  In  the Earlston 1861 Census, boys  from the age of 11 were employed as agricultural  labourers  and girls  as domestic servants. Under 14's were also employed as  a cotton winder,  a cotton factory piecer,  as workers in a woollen factory, a power loom weaver,  labourers in a timber yard, and as  apprentices to a  shoemaker, tailor, and grocer.  

A press cutting of 10th November 1871 in "The Kelso Chronicle"  makes illuminating reading:
"EARLSTOUN. Short-Time Movement.— Last week Messrs (Chas. Wilson & Sons intimated to their employees that they should henceforth have one hour each meal instead of three-quarters formerly, thereby reducing the time of labour for the week to fifty-seven......The announcement was very well received by the workers."
In this period,  the average working week was  between 55 and 60 hours, often over six days.  What a contrast to today's 35-37  hour week!   Given the long working hours, the noisy factory environment and the complex machinery, it is not surprising that mill accidents were an ever present danger.
Rhymer's Mil, Earlston,  Scottish Borders
Along the road from the mill, housing was built for the workers. 

Scottish Borders woollen mills were always at the mercy of the dictates of fashion and economics.The late 1950's and early 1960's saw declines in the industry   In Earlsto a firm,  which at one point had employed more than 300 workers and been mainstay of the local community,  experienced short time working with the tidal wave of workers coming up Mill Road reduced to a trickle.  Rhymer's Mill  finally closed in 1969. 

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

   Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to tell their family history through photographs.

Click HERE to discover tales of "Work and Play" from fellow bloggers.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Marking Six Years of Blogging

Image result for sixMy blog anniversary almost passed by without me noticing it, for  August 21st marked my six years of bloggng. 

It has been a great six years and has far exceeded my expectations when I tentatively wrote my first post in August 2010. 

 My main concern then was "Is anyone finding this and more importantly actually reading it?" A few arms were twisted with friends and relations to sign up as my first followers. But let's face it, although we enjoy writing,  recognition from others is a great motivator.

In my early days I was a avid reader of my blog statistics, but that went  overboard when I discovered spammers were playing havoc with my page views - fortunately once I set up comment moderation that problem has been not so much in evidence.  Now I tend to rely on comments to gauge how successful I have been in awakening interest.   

I never expected  to last this long, as I thought I would soon run out of material, but the prompts from Geneabloggers and inspiration from other bloggers has been so stimulatingDiscovering two cousins (third), one from my birth town, and one in the USA,   gave  me a shot in the arm, as they provided  me with fresh stories and an abundance of photographs.  

This time last year,  I was feeling a bit in a rut blogwise and questioned  "Is there a Life Expectancy to a Blog?  But I now  look forward with a more positive air. 
What have been the landmarks this past year? 
  • Taking part in the A-Z Challenge 2016  on the theme "I Remember.....Memories of Childhood and Beyond", which I think was one of my more successful contributions in this annual blogging bonanza.
  • Joining the new Facebook page, We Are Genealogy Bloggers   - set up by Lorinne  of Olive Tree Genealogy   to provide a forum for discussion, sharing knowledge and ideas on  all matters relating to the act of blogging - a great new addition that I have found very  helpful in answering my queries.

  • Setting up A Facebook page for my blog.   This was a major achievement for me, given I am not a techy person, but once done it proved easy to post  my blog onto it.    I have never  been a Facebook fan, but for some time, I was aware  I was not making the most of social media to promote my blog, and my early impression is it has given a boost to my page views. But  it will never replace my blog itself, where I particular value  the comments from fellow bloggers.
  • Developing the blog I set up in 2015 for my local heritage group  - Auld Earlston - it's a challenge managing two blogs - but very enjoyable all the same. 
And on the Down Side  
The three family history narratives I have been working on for a long time remain on my "to do" list, and I cannot say that my Family History board on PInterest has evoked much interest - I need to look at making more effective use of this opportunity, 

How has blogging changed in the six years? 
I can do no better than recommend you look  at Wendy of Jollett etc. whose recent anniversary post HERE reflects  on different aspects of blogging and how they have changed - it makes very thought provoking reading. 

As for me - there is life in my blog yet, and I look forward to another year of discovering stories connected with my family history, writing posts that appeal to readers,  and reading the posts of my fellow enthusiasts.  

 Image result for birthday
Images courtesy of Pixabay 


Friday, 26 August 2016

The Sad Story of Edward Stewart Ingram Smith - Surname Saturday

Edward Stewart Ingram Smith (1871-1923) the paternal grandfather of my cousin Stuart,  is the focus of this third part of the Smith story.  He was a man of many parts -  boy soldier,  waiter, photographer,  and upholsterer.   In this photograph of him as a 20 year old young man, he has a sensitive and artistic air about him. 

This profile is the third in a series of posts on the Smith family who hailed originally from  the island of Unst in the Shetlands - the most northerly part of the British Isles.  In a number of moves and facing bankruptcy along the way, great grandfather James Ingram Smith settled  in the famous  seaside resort of Blackpool in Lancashire.

Edward was born in 1871 in Ceres, Fife,  Scotland, eldest son of John Ingram Smith and Isabella (Ella) Edward.   His Ingram middle name came from  that of the Shetland minister who had  baptized his  father - and was one adopted by future generations of Smiths. 

In his early childhood, Edward experienced several moves across country  as his father's hotel businesses failed.   In 1881 the family (now with six children) was in Aberdeen where his father was butler at Skene House

Edward's daughter Ella  (who lived to the age of 99)  left notes relating how her father  wore the kilt until he was 17 years old, played the bagpipes and spoke Gaelic  He enjoyed art and painted in oils.  He was well educated  in Edinburgh and spoke with a soft lilting accent  and used to say that Edinburgh people spoke the best English.  

Leaving school, Edward joined the army as a  Gordon Highlander, but did not settle and was bought out by his parents. 

By the time of the 1891 census, 20 year old Edward was  in Leeds where his father John  was manager at the Victoria Hotel.  Edward's occupation was listed as photographer. 

A further move by the family followed, as by 1901  Edward was working as a waiter at the Belvedere Hotel, South Promenade, Blackpool.    

His daughter recalled that Edward was brought up in the Scottish Presbyterian Church but  converted to Catholicism for his first girl friend, without actually practising in the faith.  In 1902 in Kirkham Registrar, near Blackpool,  Edward married Lily Beatrice Jones, 13 years his junior. (below)  

Four children were born to the marriage - Lily Ella, Arthur Stuart Ingram, Edith Florence and baby Edward who did not survive infancy.   Edward's interest in photographer is illustrated in the many delightful portraits he took of his children - son Arthur, with his mop of long fair curls,  and in a "little Lord Fauntleroy"  outfit
Ella, Edith and Arthur

Left - Edith Smith (1910-1982), dressed a snowball for a fancy dress event at Blackpool. Arthur (1906-1979)   and far right Ella (1904-2003) with her teddy. 

In the 1911 census, Edward's occupation was still given as photographer, but illness struck and Edward had to give it up.   He moved into upholstery, and eventually  opened up a furniture  business in Blackpool.

In 1915 at the age of 44, Edward, as a previously serving soldier,  was called up to return to the army  and he joined   the Liverpool Scottish Regiment.  He served  in France, but was gassed and injured at the Battle of the  Somme. After the Battle of Delville Wood, where he was wounded in action, he was invalided back to England and hospitalised.   His daughter Ella related how   he went to meet her  at the school gates and she did not recognize him, as his weight had dropped from 15 to 9

But  family  life proved unhappy following Edward's  discharge. His mother died in July 1919 and at some point, he separated from his wife and childrenA news item  of 24 November 1919 in "The Lancashire Evening Post"  made sad reading:

One cannot  help reflect that having to return to active service at the age of 44 and face the harsh physical and mental conditions of the World War One battlefields took its toll on Edward, as on so many soldiers.   He died in 1923 aged 52.    His wife Lily survived him by a further 40 years and married for a second time.  

The photograph below shows an older Edward Stuart Ingram Smith with haunting eyes and a dispirited air - a  far cry from the handsome young man of thirty years earlier.  

In Case You Missed:
An Island Family - the  Smiths of Unst,  Shetland
John Ingram Smith - From Butler to Bankruptcy                                 

Surname Saturday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers  encouraging bloggers to write about their family history 

The information on Edward's court appearance only came to light in preparing this blog post, and is included here with the permission of the Smith family.

I initially was looking for an item on Edward's war service and searched British Newspapers Online (included in my FindMyPast subscription), it is an extensive  resource that features many small local newspapers besides the national titles.  You can also access the  collection on the GenesReunited website and at  British Newspapers Archive.