.jump-link{ display:none }

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Sepia Saturday - Beards and Boys

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

Moustaches, showmen, trophies and bathing suits don't feature much  in my collection - so here is a hotch-potch of vaguely related photographs to mark this week's prompt.

No moustaches and only one beard amongst  my ancestors - this photograph (one of my favourites) is of my bearded great grandfather James Danson (1852-1906) of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  Though his companion in arms is sporting a fine white moustache.

Little knowledge has come down through the family on James Danson who died before the birth of my mother and aunt. Anecdotal evidence does not reflect creditably on him - he was by all accounts of his grandchildren a bit of a ne-er do well - in contrast to the obvious respect for “Granny”. He certainly looks quite  a character in the only  photograph I have of him sitting merry in Poulton stocks.
James was born in 1852 at Trap Farm, Carleton, the nineth child  of Henry Danson and Elizabeth Calvert. A joiner, he married 18 year old Maria Rawcliffe in 1877.  It was ironic that Maria,  one of eight daughters,  and James with six sisters (and two brothers) should go on to have ten sons before their only daughter Jennie in 1897.   
James died at the age of 53 on 20th September 1906, An informative  report in "The Fleetwood Chronicle and Fylde Advertiser" of 28th September noted:  "The deceased gentleman who was 53 years old was a native of Poulton. His father was toll collector at Shard Bridge for 14 years.  Mr Danson had been ill for soem time but had only recently taken to his bed.  The chief mourners were Mrs Danson (wife), Messrs Robert, John, Tom, Willie Danson (sons) and Mr John Danson (brother from Clitheroe), Miss Cookson (niece), Mrs Riley, Mrs Roskell and Mrs Geo Riley (sisters-in-law), Mrs Porter, and Mr Threlfall.  There were a number of beautiful wreaths."

There was no reference in the funeral report to James' first born son Harry who died a year later at the age of 30, nor to the younger sons Albert, Frank and George, and  only daughter Jennie, but perhaps as children they did not attend or  did not warrant a mention.

Above  is the uncropped version of the photograph which was found in the  collection of my great aunt Jennie. Very fortunately she had written names on the reverse.  Poulton-le-Fylde  is a small town east of its more famous neighbour the seaside holiday resort  of Blackpool.  Poulton, though has the far longer history, noted for the old church of St. Chad's and its market square with a stone slab table for selling wares, and for those who fell foul of the law the old whipping post and stocks. All are still standing to be seen today.

No trophy on view here but an entertaining story of sports success which  I have featured before on my blog - here told in Dad's own words

Dad - John P. Weston -  grew up in Broseley, near Ironbridge, Shropshire. "I was mad keen on soccer, so much so that I had a trial at Birmingham with the English schoolboys. My teacher took me in his car to that and to a second trial at Shrewsbury.   

One Saturday when I was working as an errand boy, two directors from Birmingham Football Club came to see Dad and Mum to sign me on - they refused, saying I was too young to be away from home. I was not told about this until later and sulked for a month!

But a bit of glory followed, when my school team entered a cup competition. I was vice-captain and we got to the final - and won the cup, the first ever for Broseley.
One of the supporters took a carrier pigeon along with us and set it loose at the end to let Brosely know the result and to prepare  a welcome for our return to the village."  

Apparently a photograph was taken of the team's success, but no pictures of my father's early life passed down the family. Unfortunately I only had a broad indication of year for the event, which made tracing it in local newspapers difficult.    In an effort to find out more, I contacted  Broseley Historical  Society who put my enquiry on their online newsletter.    I am delighted to say I heard from three members of the society with more personal memories   - and even better with  a photograph of the winning football team.  My father on the middle row right, was  identified as Perce Weston. I always thought he hated his middle name Percy, but he seemed to be known by that in school records.  

This is the  earliest photograph I have of my father and I am so grateful  to the Society for filing this gap in my family history.   

My father is on the right of the middle row, identified as Perce Weston.

My father retained his love of football all his life and was an avid watcher of matches on television right up to his death at the age of 91. 

Does anyone remember from their childhood scratchy knitted swimsuits with straps, which turned heavy, soggy and uncomfortable if you ventured into water?  Here is my 3 year old brother sporting one, which I have  no doubt was knitted by my mother. 

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. Full marks for a triple theme post! The cropped photo became an unexpected fun group, which was unusual for such an old photo. The boys' trophy photo is a great prize.

  2. Okay - you've inspired me to include at least one trophy picture. I don't remember having an itchy wool bathing suit. I probably had one, but the first bathing suit I recall was a one-piece light green satiny thing gathered up the center. I loved that suit till one day, swimming in the local public pool, the gathers came undone & the suit hung wide open on me. I think I was about 11 then & was mortified.

  3. And what a bonny pair they are. They would have been the life and soul of the party. Every family has a few of them and it would be a rather boring life without them. I presume the stocks photo is a joke one and not for real ! A smile-a-minute post.

  4. Lovely photos to have discovered, and interesting stories to go with them. Perhaps your great grandfather could be said to have led a short life but a merry one! His friend looks to have been a rather short fellow, that is if he is in fact a real person.

  5. If your great-grandfather was a ne-er do well, it's appropriate he posed in the stocks. How funny is that!

  6. Yes I had an itchy bathing suit like the one you describe. I always maintain that that is what put me of swimming for life. That photo of the stocks is great.

  7. James Danson (and his buddy) look a little tipsy...could this be so?

  8. Once again we have things in our posts in common - the scratchy knitted swimming costumes! And I hadn't read yours before I did mine either!

  9. Doesn't a moustasche count if a beard is involved?

  10. THis is great...thanks for providing an entertaining glimpse into your family's past.

  11. What great photos, and correspondence to boot! You managed to capture multiple themes with this post. Good job.


  12. A fine post. The photo, both cropped and uncropped, of your great grandfather Danson and friend was greaat! And I got to enjoy your dad's soccer story again -- love how "keen" he was on the game. I don't remember every having a wool knitted swim suit, but I do remember my husband's grandmother knitting some pretty ugly looking "soakers" to be worn over cloth diapers. Thankfully, other means of diaper covers were available!


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.