Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Update on Ayot St Peter history and pictures

I recently discovered that there is an new site for the parish of Ayot St Peter which includes a number of interesting local history pages, which are planned to expand with time.

I have used the event to celebrate by upgrading my own Ayot Green and St Peter page, and introducing a new page for the church. As a result all the old postcard views (1 dozen of them - 2 of which are new to my site)  now expand to a 1024 pixel wide (or high) image if clicked. 

This is part of my plans in preparing the whole site for archive and if you are interested in any Hertfordshire village (or part of a town) and would like me to add large images from my own computer (but which I have not yet made available online) please let me know and I will give your suggested village priority in what is a long queue of potential upgrades.

In addition any corrections, new or updated links to other village, town, or society sites will be help me ensure that the final archive is of maximum value.

Photograph taken in Letchworth Garden City in about 1910?

In 2010 Keith asked if I could identify the above location in Letchworth Garden City which was believed to show a member of the Conder family in or near Paddock Close. At the time I suggested a location - and recently Pam has provided more information about the Conder family of Paddock Close. See full details.
Can anyone confirm my original suggestion - either by comparision with other old photographs - or by visiting the site and taking a picture of what is there now?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

I've been on a very special holiday in Devon

Bovey Castle
Our bedroom was in the first floor window overlooking the eagle.
For my 80th birthday my son decided to treat us to a stay at a luxury hotel in Devon, a few miles from where my wife and I had grown up as children. Bovey Castle is situated in an attractive wooded Dartmoor valley with gardens running down to the River Bovey and is a good place to relax away from the worries of the outside world - as it is so sheltered that mobile phones do not work (but if you are desperate to keep in touch there is WiFi).

The service and food was everything you would expect from a top hotel and it was a pleasant place to relax, wandering round the grounds, having a cream tea in comfortable arm chairs by a log fire, and bathing in the elegant indoor swimming pool. The hotel comes with an 18 hole golf course and other activities available included an introduction to fly fishing, feeding the deer, archery, air rifle shooting and cider and sloe gin making. However we only attended the falconry display as we had planned our own tour of the Dartmoor - and I had a special reason (see later blog post) to take the family to an Indian Restaurant in Newton Abbot. In addition we took the opportunity to meet up with some old friends before we returned home.

While there I took a whole series of photographs of the building, the gardens and the garden ornaments and posted them on Geograph, as a record of the place. The place is well worth a visit and details are available on their web site.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Archiving Herfordshire Local History web sites and the Wayback Machine

I have just been asked about saving the "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" web site on the Wayback machine - and I have recently been involved in discussions within the Tring Local History Society about consolidation various Tring local history digital records to ensure that they remain accessible when the current owners are no longer in a position to support them. This suggests that it might be appropriate to try and develop a county wide policy for archiving the scattered web sites of local historians and societies. However for the moment I will just say a little about the Wayback Machine and how it relates to my web site..  has been automatically monitored by the Wayback Machine since 2000 and pages have been captured on 248 occasions. The first pages captured are from 2000 - when it was a bulletin board - but on retrieving them you only get the page framework and the actual bulletin posts, which contain the historical information, are missing.

The site "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" that most people are familiar with, started in April 2001 and a check shows that several extensive snapshots of the site were taken then. I have looked at the later April archive and clicked through a number of pages - and it is possible that the whole site has been recorded as it was originally created. A similar very limited spot check in November 2001 failed to reveal any missing pages.

A check at the end of 2005 showed that while many pages were present, sections such as the pages containing a copy of the the booklet "Tring in 1947" were missing. On the other hand my WW1 talk on "The Terriers in West Herts" appears to be present, and possibly complete. It is clear that Wayback was only archiving a sample of the pages at this date.

By 2010 Wayback was only visiting the site about 4 times a year - and a check shows the Home page with the picture missing. However a quick check showed it was possible to follow some of the menus and interestingly the "Tring in 1947" pages were now accessible, so may have been archived between 2005 and 2010..

There has only been 1 snapshot in 2018, up to the end of March. The main entry page has two pictures missing but it is definitely possible to navigate through parts of the site. However it looks as is there is a limit to the depth of nesting of links and most of the pages and pictures relating to my recent research on the St Albans post card artist signing his name Karaktus had not been archived. I also suspect that many other pages, which were archived years ago, may not show recent updates. Two links on the home page are interesting. The link to the "Hertfordshire News" blog takes you to an archive copy of the blog (sampled 17 times since 2013). The link to "A Guide to Old Hertfordshire" took ages to load the google map, and if you click on a flag on the map it appeared to take you to the correct page - but it was NOT an archived page but the current live page!

The above observations fit in with what I have found, over the years, when looking for local history sites which had suddenly gone offline for some reason.In some case this was because the author/owner had died and the ISP subscription had lapsed, and in other cases the local history pages had been part of a bigger site, perhaps run by a parish council or a church, where the site had been "brought up to date" and the pages of historic information lost when the new version of the site was introduced.

In fact the Wayback machine can be asked to archive single web pages and a test this afternoon recorded one page where only the text and some of the pictures had been archived in March. The page is now on the Wayback machine - with all the pictures - but none of the links to supporting pages have been followed up and archived. This seems a good way to archive single stand alone pages - each of which will have a unique permanent URL. However over the next few weeks I will do some tests, followed up by retrieval requests a few days later, on some of the missing parts of my web site and report on the results.

In addition Wayback also offer a subscription archiving service which will regularly scan and update the archives of selected web sites. This seems to be aimed at major libraries and Universities - for instance to archive web sites linked to particular research projects - and would not appear to be suitable for use by large numbers of individual local historians. However it might be possible to co-ordinate web activities across the county - with one organisation (perhaps HALS?) being responsible for selecting what local sites to archive.

Any ideas anyone???? - Comments would be helpful.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New and bigger post card views of High Cross and Colliers End

Multiview post card of High Cross
When this site is mothballed it will still be available online, but higher resolution images will no longer be supplied on request. Anticipating this change all post card images for High Cross (11) and Colliers End (6) now give a 1024 pixel wide image on clicking. Two new view cards have been added.

Links to:   High Cross     Colliers End

I have also added a lengthy press account of the dedication of St Mary's, Colliers End.
Colliers End

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Two Brewers (Locke & Smith)
Helen Gordon Liddle was a suffragette who wrote The Prisoner: A Sketch. An Experience of Forceable Feeding by a Suffragette. Some time later (if you have details please comment below) it seems she moved to Chipperfield, near Kings Langley, and wrote a most interesting local History Notes on Old Chipperfield

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Watford Photographers - Dating early photographs and post cards

Unknown school photograph by J. Russell of Watford circa 1910
By Basebe & Son
circa 1910
I have just had a query about Watford photographers but unfortunately it was sent via an anonymous comment on this Newsletter - which means I cannot reply directly. Instead I post below a list of all the pages on the main web site which currently relate to Watford photographers and post card publishers. The names in larger print are ones which are known to have taken portraits or group photographs. In general the rest are only known to me because they have published post card views.

 7th Battalion, 2nd London Division, taken by Harry Cull, Watford, probably in 1914
The above pages are all part of the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site which, for technical reasons, will be moving shortly into full archive mode. This means the information will still be available online, but it will be impractical to add more information.There are a number of pages which clearly could benefit with an update (more sample pictures/backs and biographical information needed) Fortunately there is still time to add more information - making the archive  more useful in future.

Note that this study only covers Victorian photographers and up to the end of the First World War and later pictures are not of interest

If you can help by sending me examples of named Watford photographers' work (digital images of the picture AND the back) together with any supporting information I may be able to approximately date it and use it to illustrate the work of the photographer. (While I will not be able to identify portraits an approximate date could well help you to work out who it might be.)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Update of of Information on 20th century Cemeteries

In 2007 I gave some advice on Burials in Stevenage in the 20th Century and included a web address which I now discover has been changed - and I have updated the link on my site accordingly. Jeff Knaggs' web site now contains memorial stone lists for the following cemeteries:
  • Knebworth Cemetery
  • Almonds Lane Cemetery, Stevenage
  • Weston Road Cemetery, Stevenage
  • St Mary's Church and Churchyard, Shephall, Stevenage
  • Welwyn Cemetery
  • Woolmer Green churchyard

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Safeguarding the Family Treasures

Sad family news makes one think of the past and look back at the family treasure that have ended up in your custody. One of my first cousins, Helen Heini nee Clarke (1929-2018) has just died and I had planned to attend the funeral tomorrow, but unfortunately the current snow means I will not be going.

Instead I will be looking at this lovely hand-made album which was presented to my grandparents, Walter and Bertha Locke when they celebrated their Diamond Wedding on 15th July 1955. When it was made all their family got together and it contains a wealth of family photographs, the earliest taken in 1868 showing Walter as a baby with his parents and 11 siblings. This is unfortunately a rather fuzzy copy of the original but the copy of the whole family in Aylesbury in 1883 is far clearer and I have
put a copy of it on the "Ancestor" pages of my web site. While I have recorded the names of everyone in the picture I am not always certain which is which but hope to add that information later.

John and Caroline Locke and their 12 surviving children in 1883 (Click for their names and dates)
Yesterday I produced a digital copy of the album and started to document it, so that multiple copies can go to interested members of the family. In a few cases I may have better images and I definitely have other family pictures which are not in the album which I can add to the digital file.

So I echo my previous message, How Family History gets lost. If you have any unique photographs or documents that represent the history of your family - now is the time to ensure that the information they contain is properly recorded in a way that preserves it for future generations of family historians..

Sunday, February 25, 2018

How Family History gets lost - The example of the Horn Family of Handside, Hatfield

Why am I starting with a post card of Ramsgate Harbour - when Ramsgate is clearly not in Hertfordshire?

In trying to identify Karaktus (the St Albans comic card artist) I have been researching the history of The London View Company which started publishing view cards of seaside resort along the South coast of England. I purchased this card because of the early date and the format of the back - which suggests that the London View Company was using a different printer. At the time I made the purchase I totally ignored the handwriting

That is until the card (and a similar one being sold at the same time) arrived in the post and I realized that both cards were addressed to Mrs S. Horn, of Handside, Hatfield, Herts.  But Mrs Sarah Horn, of Handside Farm is already featured on this web site:
William James & Sarah Horn of Handeside Farm
See HORN, Handside Welwyn/Hatfield, 19th century
Sarah was born Sarah Cox and is a cousin of mine, the common ancestor being Thomas Cox (1794-1874). I have no reference to her being connected to 22 Ridgemont Road, St Albans, but note that Ridgemont road is already  briefly mentioned on this web site in a different context. The message on the card starts "Dear C S" - presumably for "Dear Cousin Sarah" and is signed "J H", the other card addressed to Handside being signed "Jack". But who was cousin Jack?