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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Sepia Saturday - A Bird's Eye View Over Sea and Mountains.

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

This week's prompt features an aerial  view of river and boats.   I have an ideal match, with views on high from England's east and west coasts - with a diversion across  mountains.

Here is an aerial view taken as we were coming into land at Newcastle Airport, with a clear picture of the River Tyne, its north and south piers. and on the left South Shields, the home of my husband's ancestors.  The first purpose-built lifeboat in the world was built in South Shields in 1789.  

River Tyne, with Norwegian ships in the background. 

Donaldson, White and Moffet ancestors were master mariners, sailing out of South Shields.  Extended family members were in related occupations as a caulker, seaman, river policemen, shipwright, roper, ship's carpenter and marine engine fitter.
Tyne & Wear Archives were invaluable to providing further information on the families' working lives, with added details traced in the mariner records held at the National Archives at Kew.   I discovered the ships that GGGG grandfather Robert Donaldson and GG grandfather Matthew White
sailed on around Europe - many of which came to a sad end - though not under their captaincy.  I also became acquainted with the names of different sailing vessels - barque or barc, brig, sloop, smack and snow   - an illustration of the diverse routes that family history can take you. 
This painting (below)  of the  brig ""Brotherly Love" hangs in South Shields Museum. and a better quality image can be found HERE,   
In the 1861 Census, GGG grandfather John Moffet was listed as master pf "The Brotherly Love" sailing off Flamborurgh Head in the North Sea.     The crew of eight included three young apprentices, four seamen, and a mate, with most born in South Shields. 

Great great great  grandfather John Moffet in a Napoleonic pose - one of the few old photographs of the family that have survived. 

 A  long-held family story recollected a photograph (sadly lost) of a White ancestor in a top hat in the uniform of the River Tyne police.   A silver uniform button  (left) is  still held by the family.

The Nominal Roll of the Tyne River Police (held at Tyne & Wear Archives)  provided some answers, finding that two  sons of Matthew (senior),   had been  members of the river police force – but both with rather a chequered history.

Henry White  joined 9th January 1882 and brother Matthew June 1896.  The Police Defaulters Book recorded on 11th June 1889.their  misconduct in the same incident -  "for assaulting a seaman A. W. Hanson and other irregularities, whilst off duty".   Henry was fined 2/6 and transferred to Walker Division at his own expense.  The Nominal Roll of 1904 noted his age as 42 and that he had 22 years of service, with a wage of 29/6. Matthew was fined 2/6 and transferred to the Newcastle Division at his own expense.  However he resigned a few months later.

A journey from England's north east coast across to the north west and more scary heights and scary views over the sea from the high point in my home town - Blackpool Tower.
Blackpool Tower from the North Pier
 I am a Blackpudlian.  The  Tower, built in 1894, was modelled on the Eiffel Tower in Paris and rises to 520 feet - facts drummed into us at school.   

Until the 19th century, Blackpool was just a small hamlet.  It rose to prominence with the building of the railway linking  it to the mill towns of industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire and soon became England's  most popular  seaside holiday  destination. The unique Blackpool Illuminations were first switched on in 1879 to extend  the season well into late autumn. 

You can get a cranky lift to the top of the Tower and stand on a scary glass floor to view the town below. I never did this as a child. 
View over the North Pier

Many  seaside towns have one pier - but Blackpool goes two better with the North, Central and South Piers. A visit to Blackpool would not be complete without buying  an ice-cream cone  and walking  to the end of the pier  - an often very breezy experience. 

Looking towards the North Shore and North Promenade

North Shore  was regarded as the more "select" bit of Blackpool, whereas the  South Shore had the attractions of the Golden Mile with its  amusement arcades,  fortune tellers,  food  and souvenir stalls, and the major attraction of the Pleasure Beach. 

The view down onto the Winter Gardens - the white building with the arched roof.  

Opened in 1878, the Winter Gardens is a large entertainment complex including  a theatre,   ballroom and meeting facilities, once the regular venue for the annual party political conferences.   This is where my parents first met in 1936. 

Fast forward the decades and below are memories of us  flying over the Alps into Innsbruck Airport for a holiday in the Austrian Tyrol.  

This is not for the faint-hearted air traveller.  You feel that if you could put your hands out of the plane window,  you could touch the peaks. 

Below is the Europa Bridge on the main route from Austria into Italy. 

 To discover more scary heights from Sepia Saturday bloggers, click HERE

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Note - with apologies - this post has drive me scatty, as no matter what I do, the font and size is coming out wonky. despite a standard setting and looking fine in Blogger draft form!  


  1. I enjoyed your whole post, but those last two photos in particular brought back some memories! In 1976 Kit & I had to fly from Medford, Ore. to Fresno & drive up to Oakhurst from there to find a house to buy. He'd been transferred to the U.S. Forest Service's Bass Lake district & we had 4 days to find a house - which we did. It was flying back over the Cascade Mtns. to Medford that had me holding my breath. As did you, I felt like I could almost touch the mountain tops as we flew over them, but worse yet, as we approached the airport we were flying so low - still over the mountains - it looked like we were actually skimming the tree tops. And then suddenly it all dropped away & instead of skimming tree tops, we were skimming the tops of buildings. I'm not the most relaxed flyer in the first place & I can tell you my fists were clenched so tight my knuckles were white!

  2. I always think Blackpool sounds like a fun place to visit.

    It could be that copying and pasting is causing font problems, though that would probably show up funny in draft too.

  3. A fascinating post. I wonder what Henry and Matthew's 'other irregularities " were?

  4. I was told that I had been taken to Blackpool as a child but have no memory of it at all. The views of Newcastle from the air were familiar to me as I have flown in and out of the airport many, many times.

  5. Somebody commented earlier that photos of cities (from the air) look pretty much alike -- I agree; this one does, too. Makes me think that building cities is an experience all cultures share...

  6. I enjoyed hearing about your family's past, and seeing the port where they sailed from. THen the pics and stories about Blackpool...a completely different chapter, but most interesting. And then you did take another tagent to the flight over the mountains...great pics considering your emotions at the time!
    I've also been having font problems, caused mostly by cutting and pasting. But when I get that tiny little font, which only shows in final or preview version, I just set Large for the whole post, and usually you can read it in a normal size (and it isn't huge like it sometimes is.) Who knows...

  7. Because my ancestry is mostly English and Scottish I enjoy this kind of post, giving me information about a place but with its personal connections - the real people bring it to life.

  8. I've never been to Blackpool despite its popularity as an English seaside town. However my ancestors came from North Shields so I loved that image of the Tyne mouth and stories of your Tyneside ancestors.

  9. A very interesting post. I had never heard of South Shields until the other evening when I watched "Who do you think you are?" and the comedienne Sarah Millican went there to check out her ancestors. I remember going to blackpool beach as a very little girl. We rode ponies on the beach.

  10. It's so easy for us today to get new perspectives from a variety of heights, I often wonder how people in older times experienced seeing their world from something like the Blackpool Tower for the first time. Unless they had a view from a mountain, not likely in South Shields of Blackpool, it must have been a tremendous thrill.

  11. Fascinating! Re Newcastle, I just flew back tonight from Newcaste to Melbourne, after a few days up that way, north of Sydney. Our Newcastle is of course named after yours, and large amounts of coal are exported from its harbour. A lot of your miners came over from there to here in the 19th century.

  12. I really liked the weaving of family history and the locale -- gave a vibrancy to each. The silver button also gave a poignant touch to the family held memory of the ancestor in the police uniform. Thanks.

  13. Loved the plane photos. We flew over Mt. Everest last year -- it was sticking up out of the clouds. Everyone on the plane rushed over to one side. I thought it would tip over. Probably thousands of photos were taken. You wonder if years hence any of them will be around for people to view on a Sepia Saturday of the future.

  14. I always learn something in SS posts. This time? I had never even thought about where and when lifeboats began. Now I know.

  15. my G G G aunt Mary married henry white her name was mary McAuliffe she was born in south shields but her parents moved to Seaham after reading that they got in to bother for hitting a A Hanson will of duty i did smile as this man was married to Marys sister Ann he was axel Hanson who left her she went on to re marry in hartlepool saying she had never been married before (a lie ) she disappears after 1891 i may have a photo of henry when young as we are unsure who it is but it looks a bit like the man of the photo you have but older

    1. Lor, i was delighted to receive your comment and learn of a White connection. Do,please send me an e-mail with any further information, and a photograph of Henry would be great. I don't have many photographs of the family, but will try and sort some out.



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