Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rural Relaxation: Graham Atkins

Graham Atkins at Book Signing
Many of my "Rural Relaxation" walks are around College Lake, a nature reserve only a few miles from where I live. It was created out of a huge chalk pit, associated with the Pitstone Cement Works, because Graham Aktins, a lorry driver who worked for the company, persuaded the management that when the quarrying finished  the site could become a wonderful home for wild life. The Site is now managed by the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), Graham having retired a few years ago.

Graham on College Lake Buggy
Recently a small sign has appeared at College Lake, under a picture of Graham, reporting he died at the end of June. This picture was taken the last time I saw him, in September last year when he was at College Lake when the Castle Hide was rededicated to George Goddard (the former quarry manager who supported Graham's work). In addition Graham signed copies of his wonderful book Creating a Nature Reserve. He was not well at the time and used one of the electric buggies to go to Castle Hide - and we must all be pleased that he was able to leave a written record of how College Lake came about, so that visitors can understand his foresight and achievement. It also provides important guidelines for anyone else planning to establish a nature reserve ona brown field site.

My review of his book says much about Graham, and the way the work that he, and his dedicated band of volunteers, made College Lake a place where I could relax  while enjoying the works of nature. Since hearing of his death I have been thinking about how I can best ensure that Graham's contribution to wild life is remembered.

Since 2009 I have been photographing College Lake as a visitor on a regular basis, and must have taken many thousands of photographs. Some have been posted on my blogs as "Rural Relaxation" and others have been posted on Geograph (see also my latest pictures on any subject)- but the majority are on still on my computer waiting to be sorted out. I have decided that in future I will end each month with a special "Rural Relaxation" post of pictures relating to College Lake, dedicated to Graham. All these pictures (and more) will be available in high resolution on Geograph.
This Month's College Lake Pictures
The New Panorama Board overlooking The Marsh
Great Mullein (AKA Golden Rod)  by path to The Barns

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wanted - Pictures of Gamnel Farm, New Mill, Tring

I have just has a request from Elizabeth for a picture of Gamnel Farm, New Mill, Tring, before the fire. Her great-grandfather, James Parker Wilkins was farm manager there as farm foreman in 1901 and a history of the farm was recently printed in the Tring & District Local History & Museum Society Newsletter.

I had taken some photographs after the fire, and before the demolition of the house, the demolition probably being undertaken to prevent the unoccupied house being used as a drug den. After taking the photographs I posted them on the web site Geograph - including high resolution images for anyone who wants them. The picture are:
There are a lot of other pictures taken by people who had entered the house in the years after the fire and these mainly show that the last occupier had decorated it extensively with mosaics - providing an interior totally at odds with the what one expects to find in a Hertfordshire farm house. You can find these pictures at the following places on the web.
While these sites concentrate on the unusual decoration, and on evidence of the vandalism, they also include some pictures of the buildings, such as this one.

However the farm house was decorated before - on the outside - and the only picture I can find is on Geograph - taken after the fire by David Sands.

At least on the wall adjacent to the road the plaster panels were covered with pargeting - pictures and patterns carved into the wet plaster when it was applied. I know that this pargeting is comparatively new (and rather crudely done) as I remember in the 1960s or 70s there was far better, and undoubtedly much older, pargeting which was lost when the farmhouse was modernized and the outside re-plastered.

So please - if anyone has pictures of the old farm and farm house before the fire - and especially of the original pargeting - please let me know, and I will pass details on to Elizabeth.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Railway Towns Views by Picture PostCard Co. Ltd

St Albans
This is one of the earliest post card, of the standard size introduced in 1899,showing St Albans Abbey. As soon as the new format was allowed the short lived Picture Postcard Co. Ltd, produced a number of cards, to be sold in railway stations, showing places on the route served by the railway. This view also appears on post cards produced by Photochrom but the relationship between the two companies is unclear.

The Picture Postcard Co. Ltd. produced earlier railway advertising cards but I have not been able to find out if any were of St Albans, or whether any of their cards featured other Hertfordshire towns.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

HFHS Meeting next Saturday

The next Hertfordshire Family History Society meeting will be on July 26th

Marriage Law
An Investigation into Marriage and its alternatives
by Rebecca Probert

Click here for meeting details

At the same time there is

Buckinghamshire Family History Society Open Day

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pictures of Heath Farm, Bernards Heath, St Albans

In June I visited Jim, who lives in one of the modern houses that were built on the site of Heath Farm, which was the Reynolds Family home for about 60 years from 1871. He had some very interesting photographs which he has allowed me to copy, and I had planned to spend the summer writing up the history of the farm from some extensive notes I prepared in the 1990s. However other matters mean that I am going to have less time to spend on family history over the next few months - so I have put the pictures, with brief comments on line. If anyone can add to the history of the farm and the dairy, particularly after 1926, I would be very interested to hear from you. The new pictures are on the following pages.

Heath Farm in 1911 - This page shows views of the Aldenham Harriers meet at the farm, and Jim had two pictures, almost certainly taken on the same occasion which show one of the barns, and the row of lime trees, far more clearly.

Heath Farm circa 1960 - A series of photographs taken not long before the farm house and remaining buildings were demolished.

Heath Farm Dairy - An interior photograph of the dairy, delivery carts and van, and milk churns, etc.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Town Crier (and the Carnival) at Tring

Yesterday I decided to redirect my usual rural relaxation walk and take a stroll down the town to see the Tring Carnival Procession and visit the Carnival proper on Pound Meadow.

The above picture shows Tring Town Crier encouraging people to visit the stall of Tring Local Museum

The procession was lead by a venerable old traction engine. followed at a distance by the Town Crier
More Pictures below the Fold

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site on ITV

Watch program on ITV (for limited period only)
Last Thursday ITV showed a program on Champneys wich included a very brief discussion about the Rothchilds owning it (with some errors) and at the same time showed some pictures on a tablet computer including the above image showing kangaroos in the grounds of Tring Park. These come from the page on the Museum on the main web site.

The Queens at St Albans in 1914-5

The 24th County of London Regiment (The Queens) was a territorial regiment that had its origins in the 4th Volunteer Battalion of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment).

St Albans
When the War broke out this was one of the battalions which came to the St Albans area in August 1914 with the 2nd London Division and went to France as the 1/24th County of London Battalion in March 1915. However the 2/24th Battalion remained in the area between April and June 1915. Can you help? I don't know which part of the St Albans area (including surrounding villages) they were posted.

This picture of an unknown soldier in The Queens was taken by L. L. Christmas, a photographer who moved to St Albans from Watford in the latter part of 1914 and took many more photographs of the troops.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Country at War - Life on the Home Front in Hertfordshire

One of the pictures provided from this site for possible use in the film
A County at War - Life on the Home Front in Hertfordshire 
will be shown at the Rex Cinema in Berkhamsted on August 4th, doors opening at 2pm and 7pm. Following the film there will be a live performance by OVO and the audience will be invited to join in with some songs from the period. Tickets are £20 and £15 may be obtained from the Rex Booking Office. Money raised will help the Keech Hospice Care (caring for seriously ill children in Hertfordshire).

Saturday, July 5, 2014

British Schools Museum - First World War Exhibition

The School Front - Exhibition Display
On Thursday I visited the British Schools Museum at Hitchin with a party from the Genealogy Group of the Tring U3A. I had previously visited the Museum in 2010 and have added a report of the latest visit to the earlier report.

The visit was well timed as the Museum had just opened an exhibition on the First World War. Only days earlier they unveiled a war memorial in one of the classrooms with the names and regiments of the pupils who had lost their lives in the conflict. In addition the book Remembered with Pride, by Jean M Handley has been published - and gives detailed biographies and war time histories of the casualties. 
(which includes details of the book, which can be brought from the museum)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Derbyshire Territorials at Watford - August 1914-April 1916

PC by Harry Cull of Derbyshire Territorials
In updating the Harry Cull page I discovered an excellent web site dealing with the Derbyshire Regiment in the Great War.. In addition to the above picture by Harry Cull it had three other pictures of the 2/6th Battalion who arrived in Watford on 9th August 1915 and initially camped in Cassiobury Park, later moving into billets. There is a picture of them shortly after their arrival taken by Beckley, of 33 Mildred Avenue, Watford.  There are 3 three other pictures in Watford before you come to the above picture by Cull which is probably of the Derbyshire Scheme Men who came to Watford in January 1916. The Derbyshires left Watford. The Battalion, along with the rest of the 178th Brigade left for Ireland on 26th April, 1916.
Information to help me identify which units were based where in Hertfordshire always welcome

Tug of War - are they Watford Footballers??

Tug of War - but who are they?

This post card was produced by Harry Cull, of 169 St Albans Road, Watford, probably shortly after the end of the First World War. The tuggers all have very distinctive matching shirts, with a "Z" in a shield, suggesting that they are part of a local football. The building in the distance on the right has a distinctive shape - so may be a clue to the location. Finally the distinctive numbering may be a clue and other cards from the same event might have the same numbering system. If I has more examples with similar numbering it should be possible to narrow the likely date and perhaps even identify the event  and the names of the teams competing in the tug of war.
See other post cards
taken by Harry Cull

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why did George Nichols employ so many photographers?

From Photohistory of Sussex
Bob wrote to ask if Thomas Owen Rolph could have worked with George Albert Nichols in Croydon, before George moved to Wormley and later Hitchin. On re-examining the census returns I found an error in FindMyPast indexing and George's 1871 census entry actually continued over the page. The household included one [photographic artist] apprentice and five photographers. If we include George Nichols and neighbour Thomas Rolph we have eight photographers - a very big photographic organisation for 1871. But a search on google and ebay failed to produce any photographs produced by the business, which was taken over by Jesse Holloway a few years later. When George arrived in Hertfordshire he was clearly working on a far smaller scale - did he have financial difficulties that caused him ti leave Croydon?

As this involves out-of-Hertfordshire research I will not be following this up myself - but it would be interesting to know more ...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Distinctive Harpenden Views circa 1910.

The High Street, Harpenden
Last month I posted some pictures of Berkhamsted, including some with a very distinctive frame with four leaf clovers. I already knew that there was at least one similar card from Harpenden, and have now tracked down four more of that town. They are all the same - very high class colour printing, glazed, and embossed. The combination of embossing and glazing was clearly a mistake as in every case the glaze has cracked and I have not yet found a card where the brown frame has not come away in places - and has been digitally repaired! It could well be that only two sets were produced, in 1910 or 1911, for Berkhamsted and Harpenden, but the design was dropped because they proved to be easily damaged when displayed in the shops.

I have also established that there were other "LN" cards - including the Northamptonshire Implement Gate in the "Castle Series of View Cards" series - all pointing to a Northamptonshire publisher - bit have not yet got a name and address.

If the cards were produced in sets of six I am looking for card number 516 of Harpenden and cards number 522 and 524 of Berkhamsted. If you know the subject of these cars, or even better can supply a digital image, please let me know.
Click here to see the cards in the series I already have.

A brief report on June 2014

A quieter month, and while there were 27 new posts there were quite a few "light weight" ones (such as notifications of meetings, etc) which will only interest a few of you, the number of visitors was down. Part of the reason is that I have spent quite a bit of time getting my other blog, Trapped by the Box, back up and running after a period of neglect, and I plan to spend more time on that blog over the next couple of months, as past history suggests people spend less time on genealogy during the summer months.

My plan for July is to answer all suitable queries and to post the answers online within a week. In addition I would like to get at least half a dozen small projects out during the month, and a varying number of small items (such as news of forthcoming meetings, more postcard images, old news, recipes, etc). I would hope at least a third the posta will be related in one way or another to the First World War. However I currently have at least a couple of year's worth of new material waiting to go online - but most of that will have to wait.

So make the most of the summer, and we can all get down to more serious research when the evening get darker.