Tag Archives: Family Tree

Scrap Book Project – Granddads

I suppose I was fortunate because for the first twenty years of my life I had the privilege of having and knowing all four of my grandparents, five if you include my great grandmother who lived to a grand old age.  There were boys and girls at school who had one or two missing even when we were quite young so although I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time I was privileged to know them all.

I recall my granddads really well as we lived with them for a while, visited them frequently and every year one or the other of them would come on holiday with us.

This is really unfair I suppose but grandad Ted was always my favourite because he seemed to have a better understanding of children.  Going to visit him was always something to look forward to.  He was the one that I remember had all of the patience and the unlimited time to spend for hours in the back garden at Cleveleys Avenue playing cricket (it might only have been ten minutes for all I know but my memory tells me that these sporting sessions lasted as long as a test match) or taking me to the brook with a fishing net, or fiddling about on a Norfolk beach in rock pools and flying kites on the beach.

He was about forty-five when I was born and must have had a job but as far as I can recall he was always around when I was a child.  He could drive a car and used to take us to Groby Pool near Leicester to feed the ducks or to Bradgate Park to see the deer and he liked football and cricket and was a safe and reliable grandad to be around.  He took us on holiday to Lincolnshire and Norfolk and everyone seemed to like him.  Granddad Ted died on 17thMay 1975 and it was a shock because it was unexpected and sudden and we were making plans to go on holiday in a month’s time to Devon.  He was the first granddad and also the first close relative that I knew to die and I think his funeral was probably the first that I ever attended.

Grandad Ernie was quite different.  He was Londoner and worked as a bus conductor on the old London double-decker Routemaster buses operating from the Catford depot in South London.  I can still remember him in his dark blue London Transport uniform with his red conductors badge and his leather satchel slung over his shoulder walking home from work in a jaunty sort of way all along Barmerston Road back to the flat my grandparents lived at, at number 50.

Grandad Ernie liked to have a drink (or two) and would always give my dad (who was a hopeless drinker) a headache after a night out and he used to smoke forty Embassy cigarettes a day until the doctor told him to quit or die.  He spent a lot of time sitting in his favourite chair watching the horse racing on the TV and didn’t seem to have any particular interest in children.  He was a really nice man but he never quite seemed to have the time for or the understanding of children that grandad Ted used to have.  He was generous and kind but just didn’t seem to have the time to spend with us on all of the trivial things that the other one did.  He like history and reading and he bought me a book about Winston Churchill shortly after he died and I like to think that perhaps I inherited my own interests here from him.  Granddad Ernie died two years after Ted in 1977.

  

Scrap Book Project – Great Grandparents

I sometimes wonder just how many photographs there might be of me – probably thousands!  When I was a boy my dad had a camera and recorded all the big family moments, Christmases, birthdays, holidays and so on, later I became interested in photography and had a succession of cameras as I was constantly updating and improving my photographic equipment and these days there are digital cameras and mobile phones taking millions of images every day.

There are now so many images that we discard many, delete them and simply throw them away.

It wasn’t always like this and I have some precious old photographs of my family, my parents, grandparents and great-great grandparents which tell a different sort of photographic story.  There aren’t hundreds of pointless snaps of them but instead just one or two which give an insight into who they might have been and my family heritage.  Why did they take these pictures?  They couldn’t post them on Facebook or share them through a blogging site – they were taken as personal mementos for themselves and their close families.  So what might they think now when they are uploaded onto the internet for the whole world to see, which is a place that they were never meant to be.

My great grandfather Charles Edward Petcher was the fourth of seven children born in 1884 to Francis and Ellen Petcher and he had three brothers and three sisters.  He married Maria Weston and they had two children, my grandfather Lawrence Edward Petcher in 1909 and a daughter, Mary, who died of tuberculosis at the age of about twenty.  In the picture above he looks old and worn down but he was probably no more than forty-five years old sitting in his deck chair and enjoying his back garden.

Charles was a coal miner who worked for the Desford Coal Mining Company at the Desford colliery which was part of the North Warwickshire coalfields and the closest pit to the city of Leicester.  It was a relatively modern mine that had only began production in 1902 so, and I am guessing here of course, it is likely that he started work here when he was about eighteen years old.  I don’t know exactly how long he was a miner for but certainly later on he was a policeman in the city of Leicester. My dad’s brother and my uncle Peter was inspired by that to later become a Leicestershire policeman himself.  Desford colliery closed in 1984.

Charles and Maria lived in Desford in the early part of the twentieth century and would probably struggle to recognise it a hundred years later.  They would have been most familiar with the old part of the village consisting of High Street, Church Lane, Main Street, Chapel Lane, Cottage Lane and part of Newbold Road but not the modern developments all around it.  Desford had a hosiery industry and in this picture of Maria at the garden gate I wonder if those wrinkled woollen stockings were made in a local factory?

Desford has both an industrial and an agricultural heritage and the great majority of villagers were engaged in agriculture until at least 1700, farming arable strips in four Open Fields of the parish, and pasturing their animals on the low lying meadows by the streams. In 1760, however, by private Act of Parliament, the thousand acres of the Open Fields were enclosed, and the new fields hedged and farmed separately.

Some of these new large farms were owned and farmed by the Hill family and this is where my family history finds its way in because Florence Lillian Hill was my Great Grandmother, mother to Dorothy who married Lawrence Edward Petcher in the late 1920s.

Granddads

I suppose I was fortunate because for the first twenty years of my life I had the privilege of having and knowing all four of my grandparents, five if you include my great grandmother who lived to a grand old age.  There were boys and girls at school who had one or two missing even when we were quite young so although I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time I was privileged to know them all.

I recall my granddads really well as we lived with them for a while, visited them frequently and every year one or the other of them would come on holiday with us.

This is really unfair I suppose but grandad Ted was always my favourite because he seemed to have a better understanding of children.  Going to visit him was always something to look forward to.  He was the one that I remember had all of the patience and the unlimited time to spend for hours in the back garden at Cleveleys Avenue playing cricket (it might only have been ten minutes for all I know but my memory tells me that these sporting sessions lasted as long as a test match) or taking me to the brook with a fishing net, or fiddling about on a Norfolk beach in rock pools and flying kites on the beach.

He was about forty-five when I was born and must have had a job but as far as I can recall he was always around when I was a child.  He could drive a car and used to take us to Groby Pool near Leicester to feed the ducks or to Bradgate Park to see the deer and he liked football and cricket and was a safe and reliable grandad to be around.  He took us on holiday to Lincolnshire and Norfolk and everyone seemed to like him.  Granddad Ted died on 17thMay 1975 and it was a shock because it was unexpected and sudden and we were making plans to go on holiday in a month’s time to Devon.  He was the first granddad and also the first close relative that I knew to die and I think his funeral was probably the first that I ever attended.

Grandad Ernie was quite different.  He was Londoner and worked as a bus conductor on the old London double-decker Routemaster buses operating from the Catford depot in South London.  I can still remember him in his dark blue London Transport uniform with his red conductors badge and his leather satchel slung over his shoulder walking home from work in a jaunty sort of way all along Barmerston Road back to the flat my grandparents lived at, at number 50.

Grandad Ernie liked to have a drink (or two) and would always give my dad (who was a hopeless drinker) a headache after a night out and he used to smoke forty Embassy cigarettes a day until the doctor told him to quit or die.  He spent a lot of time sitting in his favourite chair watching the horse racing on the TV and didn’t seem to have any particular interest in children.  He was a really nice man but he never quite seemed to have the time for or the understanding of children that grandad Ted used to have.  He was generous and kind but just didn’t seem to have the time to spend with us on all of the trivial things that the other one did.  He like history and reading and he bought me a book about Winston Churchill shortly after he died and I like to think that perhaps I inherited my own interests here from him.  Granddad Ernie died two years after Ted in 1977.

 

 

Family History, Great Grandparents (1)

I sometimes wonder just how many photographs there might be of me – probably thousands!  When I was a boy my dad had a camera and recorded all the big family moments, Christmases, birthdays, holidays and so on, later I became interested in photography and had a succession of cameras as I was constantly updating and improving my photographic equipment and these days there are digital cameras and mobile phones taking millions of images every day.  There are now so many images that we discard many, delete them and simply throw them away.

It wasn’t always like this and I have some precious old photographs of my family, my parents, grandparents and great-great grandparents which tell a different sort of photographic story.  There aren’t hundreds of pointless snaps of them but instead just one or two which give an insight into who they might have been and my family heritage.  Why did they take these pictures?  They couldn’t post them on Facebook or share them through a blogging site – they were taken as personal mementos for themselves and their close families.  So what might they think now when they are uploaded onto the internet for the whole world to see, which is a place that they were never meant to be.

My great grandfather Charles Edward Petcher was the fourth of seven children born in 1884 to Francis and Ellen Petcher and he had three brothers and three sisters.  He married Maria Weston and they had two children, my grandfather Lawrence Edward Petcher in 1909 and a daughter, Mary, who died of tuberculosis at the age of about twenty.  In the picture above he looks old and worn down but he was probably no more than forty-five years old sitting in his deck chair and enjoying his back garden.

Charles was a coal miner who worked for the Desford Coal Mining Company at the Desford colliery which was part of the North Warwickshire coalfields and the closest pit to the city of Leicester.  It was a relatively modern mine that had only began production in 1902 so, and I am guessing here of course, it is likely that he started work here when he was about eighteen years old.  I don’t know exactly how long he was a miner for but certainly later on he was a policeman in the city of Leicester. My dad’s brother and my uncle Peter was inspired by that to later become a Leicestershire policeman himself.  Desford colliery closed in 1984.

Charles and Maria lived in Desford in the early part of the twentieth century and would probably struggle to recognise it a hundred years later.  They would have been most familiar with the old part of the village consisting of High Street, Church Lane, Main Street, Chapel Lane, Cottage Lane and part of Newbold Road but not the modern developments all around it.  Desford had a hosiery industry and in this picture of Maria at the garden gate I wonder if those wrinkled woolen stockings were made in a local factory?

Desford has both an industrial and an agricultural heritage and the great majority of villagers were engaged in agriculture until at least 1700, farming arable strips in four Open Fields of the parish, and pasturing their animals on the low lying meadows by the streams. In 1760, however, by private Act of Parliament, the thousand acres of the Open Fields were enclosed, and the new fields hedged and farmed separately.  Some of these new large farms were owned and farmed by the Hill family and this is where my family history finds its way in because Florence Lillian Hill was my Great Grandmother, mother to Dorothy who married Lawrence Edward Petcher in the late 1920s.

A Life in a Year – 17th May, Death of a Granddad

I suppose I was fortunate because for the first twenty years of my life I had the privilege of having and knowing all four of my grandparents, five if you include my great grandmother who lived to a grand old age.  There were boys and girls at school who had one or two missing even when we were quite young so although I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time I was privileged to know them all.

I recall my granddads really well as we lived with them for a while, visited them frequently and every year one or the other of them would come on holiday with us.

This is really unfair I suppose but grandad Ted was always my favourite because he seemed to have a better understanding of children.  Going to visit him was always something to look forward to.  He was the one that I remember had all of the patience and the unlimited time to spend for hours in the back garden at Cleveleys Avenue playing cricket (it might only have been ten minutes for all I know but my memory tells me that these sporting sessions lasted as long as a test match) or taking me to the brook with a fishing net, or fiddling about on a Norfolk beach in rock pools and flying kites on the beach.

He was about forty-five when I was born and must have had a job but as far as I can recall he was always around when I was a child.  He could drive a car and used to take us to Groby Pool near Leicester to feed the ducks or to Bradgate Park to see the deer and he liked football and cricket and was a safe and reliable grandad to be around.  He took us on holiday to Lincolnshire and Norfolk and everyone seemed to like him.  Granddad Ted died on 17thMay 1975 and it was a shock because it was unexpected and sudden and we were making plans to go on holiday in a month’s time to Devon.  He was the first granddad and also the first close relative that I knew to die and I think his funeral was probably the first that I ever attended.

Grandad Ernie was quite different.  He was Londoner and worked as a bus conductor on the old London double-decker Routemaster buses operating from the Catford depot in South London.  I can still remember him in his dark blue London Transport uniform with his red conductors badge and his leather satchel slung over his shoulder walking home from work in a jaunty sort of way all along Barmerston Road back to the flat my grandparents lived at, at number 50.

Grandad Ernie liked to have a drink (or two) and would always give my dad (who was a hopeless drinker) a headache after a night out and he used to smoke forty Embassy cigarettes a day until the doctor told him to quit or die.  He spent a lot of time sitting in his favourite chair watching the horse racing on the TV and didn’t seem to have any particular interest in children.  He was a really nice man but he never quite seemed to have the time for or the understanding of children that grandad Ted used to have.  He was generous and kind but just didn’t seem to have the time to spend with us on all of the trivial things that the other one did.  He like history and reading and he bought me a book about Winston Churchill shortly after he died and I like to think that perhaps I inherited my own interests here from him.  Granddad Ernie died two years after Ted in 1977.

Insley’s Lane, Shackerstone, Leicestershire

My great, great, great grandfather was Thomas Insley (on the left)  whose son Joseph married (Florence) Lilian Hill in or about 1908.  The Insley family lived in Shackerstone in South West Leicestershire.  Today Shackerstone is a pretty unspoiled rural village and in the mid nineteenth century the village was a successful self-supporting Victorian community that had four farms, two pubs, two shops, a builder, a carpenter, brickworks, a post office, a coal merchant, a dressmaker, a shoemaker and a blacksmith.  Shackerstone Mill was situated by the River Sence and was operated by the Petcher family who owned Bridge Farm where there was a bake house and a bakery.

 It also was the home for a successful coach building business that was first established in the 1770s.  It was run by the Insley family, which provided employment for a coachbuilder, a wheelwright and up to thirty other employees. The coach works were situated in Insley’s Lane in the centre of the village and convenient for the railway station from where it supplied wagons and later on wheelbarrows throughout the country.

The invention of the wheel was arguably the most important ever and the skill of a wheelwright in building a wheel was considerable and this made the Insley’s very important and influential people in the village.

The hub, or nave, of a wheel was made from seasoned wych elm that would not split even with mortises cut in it for spokes.  It was barrel-shaped to accommodate two iron stock hoops that were shrunk to fit direct from the red-hot forge.  The hub was then set in a cradle and the spoke mortises marked, drilled and cut.  The mortises had to allow for a tapered fit and also for the angle of dishing of each spoke.  The hub was augered to receive a cast-iron ‘box’ or ‘metal’, which was driven in and was the bearing for the axle.  Finally, the top of the hub was cut away so that a cotter pin could be later inserted to retain the wheel onto an axle.

The spokes were usually made from oak, which had been seasoned for a minimum of four years.  They had square ‘feet’ that fitted into the hub and circular ‘tongues’ that fitted into the felloes.  Two spokes would fit into each felloe, which was made of ash or hickory.  The felloes would have preferably been grown curved so that when the wood was sawn using a template, less grain of the wood was cut resulting in a stronger component.  Felloes were joined together with an oak dowel.

The complete wheel was held together with a tyre made from iron.  The tyre would start life as an iron bar, perhaps four inches wide and three-eighths of an inch thick for a working cartwheel.  It would be shaped using a tyre-bending machine, which is a set of rollers operated by a handle that bent the bar into a perfect circle and after welding the two ends of the bar to form a ring the tyre was heated in a circular fire.  Meanwhile, the wheel was mounted on a tyring platform – usually a large stone or metal plate – using a clamp to hold the hub of the wheel.

When the tyre was ready it was carried from the fire with tongs, and placed over the rim of the wheel.  After hammering into position, water was poured onto the hot metal to cool it before the wood of the wheel became burnt.  As the metal contracted it crushed the joints of the wheel tight and so completed the job.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century the traditional craft of the wheelwright faced increasing competition from the manufacturing industries and factory produced cast iron wheels and they had to diversify and find new business.  One way was to expand into the coach building business and by the 1901 census both Thomas and my great grandfather Joseph were recorded as ‘coach builders’.

From documentary evidence and first hand accounts we can be sure that the Insley coachbuilders manufactured a full range of carts and wagons for local farms and businesses including the nearby water mills.  Their catalogue included the ‘gig’ which was a light two-wheeled sprung cart pulled by one horse or a pony and a ‘dray’, a versatile four wheeled flat bed cart usually pulled by two horses but they were also well known for a specialist cart of East Anglian or Lincolnshire design called the ‘hermaphrodite’

This was a unique type of two-wheeled cart that could be converted to a four wheel wagon when extra capacity was required in the fields at harvest time.  Although they were all rather similar and were based on the same overall design, each had their own distinct differences in regards to their place of manufacture and according to records the Insley design was quite unlike anything else made locally at the time.

For smaller farms that could not afford a barn full of expensive specialist vehicles the selling feature of the cart for was that it was a multi-purpose vehicle that could be used throughout the year.  For most of the time the top frames, raves and fore-carriage could be removed and the rear part was used as a conventional tip cart, whilst at harvest time an ingenious conversion provided a wagon with the large carrying platform and the additional length and the temporary advantage of four wheels converted it into a high capacity hay wagon.

This multi-purpose design explains the name hermaphrodite which is a term that derives from Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite in Greek mythology, who was fused with a nymph, Salmacis, resulting in one individual possessing physical traits of both sexes, i.e. it was interchangeable.  Locally the wagon was referred to as a wagonette, the morphy or the moffrey.

The drawing is of an Insley wagonette that was probably built in the 1920s for the farmer H S Foreman of Stapleton, Leicestershire, about ten miles from Shackerstone.  The maker’s name, Insley, can be clearly seen on the front of the wagon on the front board of the tub. It was in regular use until about 1965 and was eventually transferred to a rural museum in Herefordshire for safe keeping.  The drawing is by the grandson of the owner M A Foreman, himself a Leicestershire farmer.

Coach building was another trade that required enormous skill and to complete a single order could take as long as six months.  They were very successful at this as well but what they probably didn’t need was the motor car, Henry Ford and the assembly line and the business ceased trading in 1935.

http://www.witheridge-historical-archive.com/wheelwright.htm

Every Picture Tells a Story – The Wedding Party

I have recently started to build a family tree and I have come across this wonderful old photograph of a family wedding.

The picture was taken only fifty years or so before I was born in 1906 but seems to show a completely different way of life to even the 1950s and the happy couple are my great grandparents Joseph Insley and Florence Lillian Hill.  Joseph was a coachbuilder who was born in 1873, one of eight children to Thomas Insley, a wheelwright, and his wife Martha (nee. Johnson) who lived in the village of Shackerstone, near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.  Florence was one of seven children, the daughter of James and Emma Hill (nee. Marritt) from the nearby village of Newbold Verdon.

This wasn’t the first time that an Insley had married a Hill because nearly a hundred years before this event James Hill, born in 1786 in Shackerstone married Mary Insley who was born in 1799 and was also from Shackerstone.

By all accounts these were two important families in their respective villages and I think the photograph gives that away.  On the back row are some of the splendidly turned out brothers and sisters, Sidney Evelyn Hill and Constance Hill, Johnson Insley and then Mabel and Perceval Hill.  I can remember visiting Uncle Johnson when I was young but most of all I remember Aunty Mabel; she never married and lived with her Pekinese dog Monty and had the habit of continually repeating ‘yes, yes…yes, yes’ whenever anyone was speaking to her, we used to call her yes, yes Mabel.  She loaned my parents the money to buy their own first house and we used to visit once a month for dad to make the agreed repayments.

On the far left, in the middle row the man with the weird beard is Thomas Insley and then Martha his wife doing her best Queen Victoria impression, the groom, Joseph, aged thirty-one and the bride, Florence (but known as Lillian), aged twenty-six and then her father, farmer, James Hill and his wife Emma who was originally from Bromley in Kent. Strange to think that these people, born a hundred years or so before me at a time when Sir Robert Peel was the Prime Minister of Great Britain were my great, great grandparents.

On the front row it looks like the bridesmaids, Louise Deacon (not to be confused with the Leicester Tiger’s lock Louis Deacon) and my great grandmother’s youngest sister Dorothy who was born in 1895.

I never knew my great grandfather Joseph because he died in 1949 but I knew my great grandmother well because she lived until 1975.  We called her Nana and I think we lived with her for a while in her house in Una Avenue off the Narborough Road in Leicester.  It was a 1920s semi detached house with a front garden with a black wooden gate and a long back garden with fruit trees at the bottom.  Inside it was dark and moody and was of that time that was the last of the Edwardian era.  It was full of interesting ornaments and memorabilia, old photographs, brass ornaments, heavy velvet curtains to keep out the draughts and what I remember most, a second world war hand grenade (without any explosives of course) that used to be kept on the sideboard.

The picture below was taken in about 1910 and in the picture are Dorothy Hill on the left and my great grandmother Lillian on the right and the little girl sitting on the wall is my grandmother, also called Dorothy.