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Friday, 28 August 2015

Sepia Saturday - A Crowded Journey

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers the opportunity to share their family history through photographs. 

A classic match for the prompt photograph begins this tale of crowded journeys, thanks to my local heritage group in the Scottish Borders  Auld Earlston.  

 In 1907 Earlston Parish Church Choir  set out from the Red Lion Hotel for a day's outing  to Yarrow Manse  - a 16 mile journey through the Borders countryside of rolling hills and river. 

I did wonder why they had chosen this form of transport all the way, as they could have got a train from Earlston for part of the journey  and then taken up the horse drawn vehicle to reach  the small village of Yarrow.   The choir seemed to be dressed in light summer attire, so hopefully it would be a dry day as there was no protection from the elements.    The group  look rather solemn in the photograph below - not surprising if they faced the long bumpy journey back home. 

Another crowded wagonette is in the background of this photograph, ready to set off from the Bull Hotel in Poulton-le-Fylde, for the three mile journey to Blackpool, Lancashire.   My great uncle Bob is the slight figure in the peaked cap standing on the left in front of the horsedrawn bus. He was a postman, the third son (of seven brothers and one sister)  of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde,  born on 3rd June 1881, and most probably named after his maternal grandfather Robert Rawcliffe.  

I was pleased to see  that the British Postal Service Appointment Books had been made available on www.ancestry.co.uk, and upgraded my subscription to view the records.   It is always fascinating to see an original record relating to an ancestor, but to be honest they gave little information besides recording his name and appointment in  1907 in Preston as a Rural Postman with a further entry showing  his appointment  as postman in Blackpool in May 1925.  

His daughter Irene  presents a much more colourful picture of his work and recollects that:

"He went a long way on his bicycle from Poulton over Shard Bridge [where his grandfather Henry Danson had been a toll keeper] to deliver the post over Wyre.  He had a little hut at Presall where he had to wait until it was time to do the collections and then ride all the way back to Poulton.

In later years he worked from Blackpool General Post Office where his round was North Promenade and the Cliffs - very windy, but it seems the hotel people looked after him with cups of tea now and again. 

He was told at the oubreak of the First World War when his five brothers were joining the army, that he had a bad heart.   But work must have kept him fit, as he lived to be 89 years old and died in 1970."

Great Uncle Bob in 1929 at the wedding of his only sister Jennie.
A move to four wheels for this family picture, which first appeared on my blog some years back. 

The postcard was in the  collection of my Great Aunt Jennie of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, and judging by the style of dress |(especially the cloche hats, and  the little girl standing up), it  must have been taken in the 1920's.  There was no inscription on the reverse, but the photographer/publisher was identified as Arthur Hadley,  Photographer, Ramsey, Isle of Man and there is the famous three legged Manx sign on the side of the vehicle.   This could be a clue, as one of Jennie's many brothers. Albert, worked on the Isle of Man ferry between Fleetwood,  Lancashire and the Isle of Man.   

I like it as a happy holiday photograph,  though I wonder how safe I would find the vehicle with so many people on it.    I could imagine someone might need to get out and push,  if going up hills!  

Finally back to Earlston and  a crowded journey of a different kind - with a  heavily  overloaded hay cart approaching the Market Square. 

Click HERE to discover more journeys from Sepia Saturday bloggers. 



  1. I have several folks in my line who were appointed postmasters of their community. The record of appointment is not very interesting or helpful - a date and community name, that's it. These photos are so interesting. I have nothing remotely similar.

  2. :) I don't wonder that the choir didn't look too cheerful in their group photograph after traveling 8 miles in that crowded wagon & facing another 8 going home. The seating in that thing looked worse than present-day airline accommodations! I would wonder, as you do, why they didn't take the train at least part way? The expense, maybe?

  3. I am enjoying seeing all these great sep. sat. pix. I have been away too long. Nice post La Nightingail as usual.

  4. The "somber" choir shot -- all of them sitting down; has a dog and a cat in it -- I can't imagine taking a cat on that trip!

  5. You've definitely won the prize for best match this weekend. My thought about the choir was whether they sang as they traveled. I imagine the rhythm of the horse trot and the rattle of the wheels would inspire a song or two. It certainly happened when I was on long school bus rides.

  6. I feel for the ladies in the choir group photo, they all took off their hats, leaving a great example of "hat hair."

  7. I enjoyed your photos! I have to imagine the light summer clothes didn't feel very "light" when the noon sun was around. I would have been a sweaty wreck.

  8. I agree with Mike, perfect photos to match this week's prompt! They must surely have been bone-shaking rides for the participants.


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