Sunday, December 17, 2017

Booklet: The Story of Harpenden from Village to Town

There are already a good number of books about Harpenden, including booklets produced by the Harpenden & District Local History Society. The recently published booklet by Jean Gardner is an ideal introduction to the history of the town. 

It typically covers the main areas of interest with about a page of text and a small illustration, and there are two good maps.  Topics covered include the coming of the railways, early schooling, John Bennet Lawes and Rothamsted, the growth of the town, the churches, the world wars, and entertainment. It ends with a very useful bibliography. 

If you are just visiting the town, or have just discovered your ancestor came from Harpenden, this booklet will be a good place to start looking into the town's history.


Available from the Society

More about Harpenden

Book: Pitstone Windmill: The Rescue of an Ancient Landmark

Pitstone Windmill is now managed by the National Trust and is of interest because there were many similar post mills in Hertfordshire. David Wray and Roger Hillier's book, Pitstone Windmill, published in 2016, describes the history and restoration of the mill in detail - and also contains an excellent illustrated account of how an ancient post mill worked.



Saturday, December 16, 2017

Evacustes Phipson & the origins of Letchworth Garden City

The Cock Inn, St Albans
The previous post, on The Peaceful Path has remined me of Edward Arthur Phipson who is already recorded on my web site as a water colour artist. He went round the country painting pictures of historically interesting buildings in the early 20th century. However he was also a radical socialist who knew Ebenezer Howard and was clearly interested in the foundation of Letchworth Garden City. A few years ago I started to investigate his early history and the following is a brief summary of his very interesting radical past.
E A (Evacustes) Phipson came from a well-to-do Birmingham factory-owning family, and may have been articled to an architect. He became a socialist and had contacts with William Morris. He failed in an attempt to found a socialist colony south of Sydney, Australia, in about 1884. He then became the London agent for Topolobampo, an attempt to establish a socialist community in Mexico. In 1893 he was treasurer of the Nationalization of Labour Society at the time when Ebenezer Howard was one of a committee set up to consider the formation of a co-operative land colony in England. Later the same year he was talking about the possibility of setting up a colony at Champions Farm, Woodham Ferris, near Chelmsford, but this apparently came to nothing. He clearly found Howard's plans for Letchworth not socialist enough, but in 1903 he corresponded with Albert Kinsey Owen and urged the American to offer his services in the building of Letchworth and the following year wrote a letter about the Australian plans for a Federal Capital saying "Having studied for many years the subject of ideal cities, and taken part in the founding of several, from Topolobarapo, on the Gulf of California, to the Garden City now building 60 miles from London ..."  In 1907 he wrote in the February Edition of Garden City comparing Letchworth with the English Fairhope. However it was said that he has spent most of his inheritance on the Australian project and his paintings may well have been to provide additional income, starting in 1894.
Several years ago I started to research this aspect of Evacustes' life and prepare some draft notes with a view to posting much fuller details on my web site, but had a long list of research still to do - particularly in connection with Letchworth Garden City. It is now clear I am unlikely to have time to finish this research and will try and put a tidied up version of my draft notes online sometime next year.

In the meantime if anyone has any information on his links with Letchworth (and perhaps later Welwyn Garden City) I would love to hear from you. In addition I suspect there are a number of his Hertfordshire paintings in private hands and I would love to be able to include details in my draft biography. As he concentrated on painting historic buildings it would be of particular interest if he ever did a painting of Letchworth Garden City.

Book: The Peaceful Path- Building Garden Cities and New Towns

When the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site started the idea was not to cover the more recent history of Hertfordshire - concentrating on the 1901 census and earlier. This automatically excluded any serious look at the history of Letchworth Garden City and the later development of new towns in Hertfordshire. 

Time moves on and the site now covers to the end of the First World War and before the site finally goes into "archive mode" I felt it would be useful to include some links to books which deal with the very significant changes which affected significant parts of Hertfordshire. The book The Peaceful Path, by Stephen V Ward provides an excellent introduction as is strongly recommended. It was published in 2014 by Hertfordshire Publications, and is still available.




Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sorry for the delays in Book Reviews - they will restart tomorrow.

A41 at Boxmoor, alongside the railway line on the embankment 
When I posted Hertfordshire History Books for Christmas a week ago I had planned to have got seven or eight reviews up by now, but the snow - and some other domestic problems, such as our oven having packed up, meant I have been over tired, with little waking time to spend on the computer.

The original plan was to post some reviews last Saturday, attend a surprise family reunion meal in Surrey on Sunday, with more reviews on Monday.  If we had stuck to the plan we would undoubtedly been one of more than 100 cars trapped on the A41, as shown by the above picture from the Hertfordshire Mercury web site.

However seven years ago we has been trapped on the A41 in a snow storm (a 20 minute drive along the A41 taking about 7 hours) and I was not going to be stuck again. On hearing the weather forecast on Saturday morning we quickly booked a hotel in Surrey - getting there before the snow started - and we only returned once we were sure all the main roads were clear! In fact the reunion  (a 75th birthday party) at "The Rubbing House" by Epsom Racecourse went well

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Traditional Hertfordshire: Academic Discussion Panel - 27 January


Detailed account of the Death of Lieutenant Colonel A C Gordon

Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 22nd December, 1917
The Battle of Cambrai
... ...
While the 235th Brigade was supporting the Guards Division, the 236th  Artillery Brigade, under Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Bowring, were allocated to help the 20th Division on the Welsh Ridge in the neighbourhood of La Vacquerie.

Over the next week the Germans shelled indiscriminately in the area, including Havrincourt Wood. They killed a mess carthorse on 8th December, while the A/235 Battery lost two horses killed and three men wounded on the 10th, and the wagon lines moved to a safer position at Fins. On the 12th there was a major regrouping of artillery and the C.R.A. war diary records that “The Divisional front is from 4 p.m. today covered by one Field Artillery Group, under the command of Lt. Col. Bowring, consisting of 77th (Army) Brigade R.F.A. and 235th  and 236th Brigades R.F.A.” The war diary also reports that there was very little hostile fire with “only a few rounds on Havrincourt and our trenches.” Unfortunately, half an hour after the regrouping of the Divisional artillery one of the few shells to fall on Havrincourt that day found a target in the B/235 Battery position. Captain Pilditch recorded what happened in his diary:
December 12th. ... I was just going comfortably to bed when a message came from Brigade to say that Colonel Gordon had been killed and Major Hatfield badly wounded. It was a great shock, the worst I’ve had since Gorell’s death, especially as everything seemed reasonably quiet in front and we had had no casualties to speak of since we came into action here. It was not so much surprise at a Colonel being overtaken by the fate more commonly reserved for gunners and subalterns, (a year of Ypres had scattered all illusions and put us all on a level as far as that was concerned) but Gordon was certainly a man whom one unconsciously thought of as one who goes on and prospers and is not killed. He has done splendidly during the last week as C.R.A. to the artillery covering the Guards, and after ten days’ momentous action with so few casualties in our immediate circle, one had, as so often, become lulled into a false sense of security and hardly gave a thought to the tragic side of war. Now that pleasant illusion was shattered. The two senior officers of the Brigade had been hit, Hatfield was reported very badly wounded, and the Doctor [Hebblethwaite] had had a miraculous escape. It could, we felt, have been quiet on our front, but it was a reminder, as in the case of Kimber, and again when Gorell was killed, that on the quietest, sunniest days, death lurks quietly unseen and unthought of, but never absent and never asleep, I felt very miserable for some days after this. Gordon was a fine C.O. and a good friend to our Battery and to me personally. I slept badly, thinking of Gordon and that the last important link with the old days was gone.
December 13th. ... Flynn rode back with me along the cord-wood road to Trescault for the funeral at Havrincourt. There were ten officers from the Brigade there. He was buried in a little graveyard by the side of the road [at Ruyaulcourt]. Eighty men and two trumpeters followed. As at all funerals I felt profoundly miserable. I think at such times most of us feel ‘which one of us will be the next?’  There is one thing, however, about deaths out here. There is too much action and work in one’s life to allow of much worrying and brooding over sad happenings. One man goes, another takes his place, and still the war goes on, full of vital interest and concern for the survivors. We shall, I expect, those of us who are alive when the war stops, feel the deaths far more then than now. Also, I think, we feel that a proportion of us (in the Infantry a majority) will soon pass the same way, and the consciousness that it is but a step forward is stronger, here and now, than in the piping times of peace. So after the funeral, at which we all felt very miserable, we came back to our pigsty billet and had a good dinner and cheery game of bridge and personally I slept like a log. Gordon is not forgotten but God is merciful and blunts the edge of these sorrows while we have other hard things to bear.
The Brigade Chaplain wrote a letter of condolence to Gordon’s widow, Irene, which, in the light of Pilditch’s diary and General Fielding’s letter, seems more genuine than many which were sent to grieving relatives:
He was one of the finest commanding officers that any brigade could have. He had all the qualities which go to make the ideal leader of men, and they would have followed him anywhere. He died just after the accomplishment of the greatest achievement in his military career, having done something with his brigade which it is given to few artillery officers to be able to do. His name has been on everybody’s lips in this division, and not in this division alone. Further honours would certainly have come to him in the near future. I have known him for over two years now, and I have lost a much respected and large-hearted friend. I shall always remember him as one who inspired, by his example, the boys and men whom he led (and whom I have worked among and love) to achieve things which seemed almost impossible.
The news soon reached Hemel Hempstead, as one of the gunners formerly billeted in the town wrote with news from the front on 15th December:
We are now billeted in a village, which our boys have named “The Better Hole” on account of its being but a heap of ruins. I regret to say we have lost Colonel Lowe, who had been made a Brigadier-General, and was posted to another Division. He had been there only a month when a piece of shrapnel pierced his lungs. ... Lieutenant Colonel Gordon, D.S.O. was also killed a few days ago. No doubt you will remember him when he was at Hemel Hempstead. He was Major at that time. Corporal Gilman  was also wounded this morning but not very badly. He used to be in the Battery office at the Manse [in Alexandra Road] in the old days.
The London Gunners Come to Town Chapter 23, pages 199-201

The London Gunners Come to Town describes life in a Hertfordshire market town [Hemel Hempstead], its overnight transformation into a garrison town, and the war’s impact from three very different viewpoints. ... ... "The Soldier's Tale" describes life in the town, and military training in the surrounding countryside, as recorded by the soldiers at the time. To emphasize the reason why they had come to Hemel Hempstead, the book briefly follows the military career of Major Gordon of the 2nd London Division (later the 47th Division) on the Western Front. The battle of Loos is described by men from the town. The book also reports on the local men who joined the Hertfordshire Regiment and marched out of town in August, 1914

Friday, December 8, 2017

Book: With Cheerful Zeal - Dagnall Street Baptist Church, St Albans

As some of my Gibbs relatives were associated with this church in the 19th century I was delighted to get a copy of this 1999 book, which has been out of print for some time. While the current church was built in 1885 and earlier one was build in 1720 and records go back to 1675.



There was at least one second hand copy advertised online when I posted this blog

WW1 Book: We're Going Right There (Hertfordshire Regiment)

"We're Going Right There" by Duckboard
I got this well-written book some time ago, and when I read it I forgot to post a review on the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site. As copies are still available on ebay it could make an excellent present for anyone whose ancestor fought with the first wave of the Hertfordshire Regiment to go the France during the Great War.


Additional information on the Hertfordshire Territorials


BooK: The Toll Roads of Buckinghamshire (and into Hertfordshire)


Part 1 of this newly published volume contains a detailed history of turnpikes while Part 2 gives detailed histories of the 24 turnpikes that existed in Buckinghamshire, including sections that ran into other counties. Of particular interest are two which penetrated deep into Hertfordshire - The Sparrows Herne turnpike (from Bushy, via Berkhamsted and Tring, to Aylesbury) and the Reading to Hatfield turnpike which ran through Rickmansworth and St Albans.
I have also updated the subject page on Turnpikes

Hertfordshire History Books for Christmas



Books on Hertfordshire
When the Genealogy in Hertfordshire Web Site was set up in its present form in April 2001 one of the aims was to encourage family historians to make use of the extensive published literature on the County. As a result details (sometimes with a short review) have been posted on the site of about 650 book, some dating back to the early 18th century, while many modern books were reviewed within months of the publication dates. 

Where a book relates to a particular town, village or subject there will be a link to the book web page, and in addition the book may be locates via an Author Index.

Over the years the interest in local and family history has increased enormously and the growth in desktop publishing, digitization, and online books has meant it has been impossible for me to keep up with all the new titles, web sites, etc.but I have tried to continue a few new book pages each year - if only to draw attention to the "goodies" that are out there for the serious researcher.
Part of my Hertfordshire Library

Because of difficulties with aging software and hardware (and resident genealogist) the web site is going into "archive mode" and I an sorting out my library. In this process I am finding many interesting books which I didn't have time to review. In many cases it would be useful to add these to the web site before updates stop and the site is permanently archived.

I have decided that between now and Christmas I will try to add pages, and reviews where appropriate to at least 20 of these unreported books, most of which will have been published in the last couple of years (and may make useful Christmas presents). Some of the older ones may be out of print or hard to find - and in such cases you can spend the Christmas-New Year break looking for copies.

NOTE: I am not a book shop - and if you require a personal copy of any book I mention you will need to locate the copy yourself - with help from the locating book pages on the main web site

You can help others: If you know of other books and booklets (especially if available online) relating to the history of Hertfordshire, and published in 2016 or 2017 why not help everyone by giving details in a comment below - as I can only review books on the main web site that I have actually seen. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Who has been "spying" on my blog?

For various domestic and other reasons I have neglected this blog and the associated Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site through much of 2017. Yesterday I decided to check it out prior to makings some pre-Christmas posts and updates,

Because of the lack of new posts this blog has been getting an average of 150 to 200 hits a day so I was totally gob-smacked to find that the partial day total yesterday afternoon was over 7000 hits and that the most recent pages visited were all from 2012! Something very odd was going on. Today things seem back to normal about 20 hits in the last couple of hours, and the statistics show that over a 24 hour period the site was hit about 10,000 times. However there is nothing unusual in the number of traffic sources - so there is no indication who was accessing the blog.

Has anyone else noticed such extreme usage pecks on their blogs?
The profile of the "attack" on this blog
The normal "background" is about 100 hits a say

Monday, November 20, 2017

Book: The Deacons of Cornerhall, Hemel Hempstead

I am delighted to say that this excellent family history study, first published in New Zealand in 2001, has been updated (2016) and is available online as a pdf file, which also gives a contact address for paper copies.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Grand Union Canal in the Apsley area 100 years ago

The Grand Junction Canal at Doo Little, Apsley End
Roy kindly supplied the above picture of the Grand Junction Canal (now called the Grand Union Canal) at Doo Little, between Apsley and Kings Langley. I have taken this opportunity to add four more pictures of the Canal in the Apsley Area

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Who was catching fish in Hertfordshire 200 years ago?


My attention has been drawn to the above news item that appeared in the Courier (presumably the London Courier) in 1816 and was later recorded in Kirby's Wonderful and Scientific Museum (Volume 6, 1820 - available as Google ebook) and later the story was repeated in the Guinness Book of Records (19th edition) in 1972. The current world record is just over 40lbs.

This immediately raised two questions which some of you might be able to help answer.

  • The first is who actually caught this magnificent fish - and where one might find the evidence, as the above tantalizing news story, with no name mentioned, is typical of the snippets of news in the slim papers that were being published in the early 19th century.
  • The other is a more general question - are there any records of other interesting sized fish caught in Hertfordshire in the early 19th century, and who was involved. Clearly there was a significant interest in fishing as the following 1815 advert for Rickmansworth Park Manor points out it has an excellent Trout fishery and while the advert does not name the river it would have been the Colne, a few miles downstream from Watford.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Hertfordshire Puddingstone

Following a request relating to an article published in 1953 in the Hertfordshire Countryside I have created a subject page relating to
If you have any information as to other places where it can be seen please let me know.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Hill End Hospital Cemetery

Google Satellite view 2017
It is some years since I visited it and posted details on the Genealogy Web Site and a recent query to this blog reminded me that I should bring the information up to date. The original web page related to the cemetery in 2009, at a time when work was being done to get it in order and make it respectable. I visited it again two or there year later and took photographs which are somewhere among some 25,000 waited to be sorted!  While I have added a future visit to my "to do" list I have decided to use the services of Google to see the current position.
It would seem that a small garden of rest area has been laid out adjoining the path but the area where most of the graves is much as it was in 2007 - in effect a hay meadow with many young trees (I suspect mainly oak). As such the Garden should be a pleasant place to sit and rest and contemplate nature - which was one of the things my daughter Lucy did when she was a patient there.
For more information on the Hertfordshire Asylums see ASYLUM

In updating the page I came across a problem that might affect other pages on the web site. I had included a direct link to Google showing a satellite view before any changes (circa 2007) and of course this had automatically updated to a different 2017 view.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I've been rather busy - but I haven't forgotten about genealogy

In Bunhill Fields
Joseph Phipson's grave

Over the last few weeks various matters have meant that I have not been able to spend much time on the newsletter or the web site - but when I have a moment I haven't forgotten about local history research.

On Sunday I attended the reunion of the Leo Computer Society in London and caught an early train so I could also have a look at Bunhill Fields - which is a very interesting cemetery in central London. It was used as a burial ground between 1665 and 1854 and it is estimated about 123,000 people were buried there - including many well known people such as John Bunyon, Daniel Defoe and William Blake.

One of the reason for my visit is that one of the few accessible and readable graves is one of my wife's ancestors and I wanted to make sure I had a good digital image of it.


Hopefully I will be able to continue working on the web site and this newsletter later in the month.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Thrashed for Profane Language in Hitchin Market Place in 1884 ???

ASSAULT AND PROVOCATION,
James Francis Tooley, miller, of Whitwell, was charged with assaulting Samuel Izzard, o[ Luton, and the latter was summoned by Mr. Tooley, for using obscene and profane language.
This case, arose in Hitchin market. The version of the complainant and his witnesses was that he (complainant). was calling out "muffins and crumpets" in Hitchiu market, and on passing Mr. Tooley, complainant called out "I sell crumpets four a penny, and if Mr.Tooley will pay use the sixpence he owes me I will sell five a penny," upon which Mr. 'l'ooley, with an ash stick, gave him (Izzard) a most unmerciful thrashing, causing the market people to cry shame of him, and the complainant was obliged to go to Dr. Foster, at Hitchin, and to a doctor when he got to Luton.
The defendant's (Mr. Tooley's) version was, that he had found it necessary to put Izzard in the County Court for a sack of flour sometime ago, and to commit him to prison in default of paying the installments ordered by the Court, and ever since then Izzard had taken every opportunity of insulting him in public places, and on this afternoon he was haranguing the crowd and swearing about him in front of the Hitchin Corn Exchange. He put up with this until he repeated it before two hundred people when he could stand it no longer and did thrash Izzard.
Witnesses were called as to Izzard's profane language.
The Bench inflicted a fine of .£2 and costs upon the defendant for the assault uponIzzard, and ordered Izzard to pay 20s . including costs for profane language.
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow, 28 March, 1884

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Old Newspapers and Private Schools - The Bourne Hall Academy Example

Over the last few years the digitization of old newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive has made it far easier to investigate at least some of the private schools whose records do not exist.

In 2012 I was asked about Bourne Hall Academy, at Bushey and came up with an outline history based mainly on trade directories and census returns. About a week ago Cynthia contacted me to say that her relative Henry Hunt Sirkett had been at the school and he was recorded as having passed exams in the Herts Advertiser.

I decided that it would be interesting to use this school as a case study to assess how much extra information was available - particularly in the Herts Mercury (for the early years), the Herts Advertiser from 1855 and later from the Watford Observer. In fact I found so many references that there was no way I could find time to view them all, much less record all the names and events.

I decided to concentrate on the ownership and naming of the school as told in adverts. I discovered that H L Biggs took over Grove House boarding school in January 1844 and moved to Bourne Hall Academy by 1850. From then on there were regular reports in the papers of events such as prize-giving days and cricket matches, and details of students who passed external examinations. (Because to their number I selected three or four such items to examine in detail.) Things seem to have gone well until 1882 when H L Biggs handed over the school to his son H B Biggs, and it would seem that the new headmaster was not a success and in 1884 it appears that some boys who had prepared for some external examinations were not entered.Definitely the number of boys listed as passing external exams in 1888 was lower than one would have expected some ten years earlier. In addition it seems thatsome of the school buildings may have been used teach girls foreign languages.

The exact date that the school closed is uncertain but the furniture was sold off early in 1889, and the landlord put the property on the market a few months later. The bankruptcy hearings were revealling and demonstrate than the young headmaster had failed to learn good bookkeeping while a pupil at the school ...

For full details see Bourne Hall Academy

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Formation of the Volunteer Rifle Corps in 1860

Poem on the Volunteer Rifle Corps Meeting at Berkhamsted

 In January 1860 there were  meetings at Ashridge, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring to form a combined Rifle Corps. For details (and the full poem) click on the poem.
For the historic background see Wikipedia

Friday, September 22, 2017

Early Post Card images of Old Hertfordshire

The Congregational Church. Barley, circa 1950
Now a private house
Quite a lot of my recent requests for information are for larger images of some of the early prints and post cards - the last being a view of Barley for a poster for a Harvest Supper to be help at Barley Parish Church on 30th September. As a result it might be appropriate to explain the current position relating to images on the site.

  1. There is no fee for using this web site but if you use material from the site please consider making a donation to support the mentally ill in Hertfordshire.
  2. You are free use any pictures of old post cards and prints shown on this web site where I own an original copy (This includes all post card images where there is no reference to a source book, etc.)
  3. If the picture has a blue border clicking on the image will produce a larger image - typically 1024 pixels wide. In preparation for archiving this web site the number of such images is being increased - so that it can continue to be used as a picture library with several thousand images of the county over 100 years ago..
  4. Larger images may be available - contact me if you are interested.

Wagon & Horse Pub  - possibly 1920
Now renamed the Fox & Hounds
Because of the size of the site it will take several years to upgrade all the post card images, and priority will be given to villages or selected aspects of the larger towns if people contact me. Because the last request was about Barley I have added three new post cards - and upgraded over a dozen existing views with 1024 pixel wide images.
St Margaret's House (former Rectory), Barley

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Railway comes to Tring on Wednesday 20th September

Ian Petticrew is a local historian and joint author, with Wendy Austin, of several books, including one on this subject. On Wednesday, 20th September, he will be giving a talk to the Tring Local History Society at the High Street Methodist Church, Tring.

Tring Station is at the summit of the London to Birmingham Railway (the world's first mainline route) and his talk will cover the engineers, selection of the route, the Act of Parliament, construction contracts, illustrations of the line under construction, stations, locomotives and early timetables.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Harpenden News from 1891 - A fire and a funeral

Old News
 Following an email from Colin relating to the Anscombe family of Harpenden I decided to update the Anscombe page with a link to Mrs Pamela Anscombe's funeral, which lists relatives who were still living. The page also included details of a fire at the Anscombe's shop and other local news which I have copied below.

HARPENDEN.
Messrs. Anscombe wish to thank all those who rendered each useful assistance at the recent fire on their premises.

St. George's School. — On Sunday evening at evensong a special sermon was preached in the chapel of this school by the Rev. B. W. Harris, in aid of the Home Missions in East London. The offertory was also devoted to the same object.

Young Women’s Guild. — The members of the above guild held their quarterly tea and meeting at the rectory Monday. Various games were indulged in ; the members afterwards attending a service in the parish church, when address was given by the Rector.

Accident to little Girl.— On Friday afternoon a little girl named Puter, of Luton, met with a somewhat serious accident whilst playing on the large roller near the cricket ground. She was running down the shaft, and falling on to some ironwork gashed her knee. Dr. Wilson dressed and stitched np the wound.

Wesleyan Chapel. — This chapel was well filled on Sunday evening, when a sermon was preached by Mr. M. White, a coloured student of Richmond College. Mr. White also gave an address to the scholars in the afternoon. He is now training to go back as missionary among his own people.

Congregational Chapel. — The anniversary services of this chapel were held Wednesday. A public tea was provided at which good company assembled. Two excellent sermons were preached afternoon and evening by the Rev. J. Brown, D.D., of Bedford (Chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales), at which there were large congregations.

Outbreak of Fire.—On Saturday night, about 12.30, an outbreak of fire in some sheds on the premises at Messrs. Anscombe and Son's was simultaneously discovered by several persons. Mr. W. H. Anscombe, who is captain of the Fire Brigade, was quickly on the spot, and was shortly afterwards followed by the other members of the Brigade. It was then found that a shed, utilised as a storehouse for empties, with some chairs and fixtures, was in full flames. It was impossible to save this building, and the efforts of the Brigade were then directed to preventing the fire spreading to adjoining stables and premises. The structure was composed of wooden walls, and was about 30 feet long by 12 feet wide and 16 feet high, with galvanised iron roof. Messrs. Anscombe are insured in the Union Office, and the damage is estimated at about £30.

Death of Mrs. Anscombe, Jun. — The death of Mrs. Allen Anscombe. jun., occurred on Thursday in last week. The deceased lady, who was the daughter of Mr. Rothwell, had been married about eight years, and leaves three sons. She had been suffering for about eleven months from a cancer of the tongue and throat, for which she was attended by Dr. Blake. At that time an operation was performed upon her at King's College by Mr. Heath. It was hoped that this would prove effectual, but although it afforded temporary relief, it was necessary that other minor operations should be undergone. Notwithstanding the treatment and the supreme efforts used the cancer gradually increased, and eventually terminated fatally. Mrs. Anscombe bore the trouble with great fortitude and courage. For some time prior to her marriage the deceased lady took an active interest in the Congregational Chapel at Harpenden. The funeral took place onTuesday afternoon at Harpenden Church, a large number of the inhabitants of the village, and personal friends, together with relatives, being present. The service was conducted by the Rev. E. T. Vaughan, rector. The mourners were — Mr. Allen Anscombe, jun., and Mr. W. B. Bothwell, Mr. and Mrs. Mr. W. H. Anscombe and Mrs. Mallett, Mr. and Mrs. Anscombe. Mr. B. Anscombe and Miss Anscombe. Mr. A. E. Ansoombe and Miss 8. F. Anscombe, Rev. W. R. Price and Miss Ashworth. The employes of Messrs. Anscombe also followed. The funeral arrangements were carried oat by Mr. Irons, the coffin being of oak with burnished brass plates. The inscription was: Pamela Ansoombe, died 25th June, 1831, aged 36 years.” A large number of beautiful wreaths sent by relatives and friends completely covered the coffin. Among them were the following : from W.H. Ansoombe: “From brothers and sisters,” A.E.A., E.A., E.M.A., and S.F.A.; from W. E. Rothwell; “With loving sympathy.” from E. M. Rothwell; With deepest sympathy. ’ Mr. and Mrs. Frear, sen., and the Misses Frear; "With respects,” from Lizzie and Emily: With deepest sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Winter: from Mrs. Claridge ; “With deepest sympathy.” from Mr. and Mrs. Willmott; "With sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Simons and all at Cell Park-farm: "In token of our esteem and sympathy” from the assistants; “With sincere respect and sympathy,” from the workroom; “In loving memory," from Eliza and Harriett Walsh.

Herts Advertiser, 4 July, 1891
From British Newspaper Archive

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Steabbens - Butcher of St Albans and Hatfield

Alfred Wren, with the butcher's van owned by Steabbens of St Albans and Hatfield
Hillary has kindly provided the above picture of Alfred Wren, who was born i 1899 and moved to London in 1923 - almost certainly taken after the war - where he had joined the army despite being under age. I have added it to the existing Steabben page

If you have any similar early photos which could be added to an existing page on my web site I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Current Hertfordshire (and adjacent) papers online at the BNA

Extracted from latest British Newspaper Archive list: 

Barnet Press 13400 pages 1861-1862, 1879-1910
Bedfordshire Mercury 22174 pages 1837-1877, 1879, 1890-1895, 1898-1910, 1912
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 48802 pages 1859-1873, 1887-1888, 1891-1897, 1899-1954
Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press 37450 pages 1854-1855, 1859-1897, 1899-1911, 1913-1955
Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 2294 pages 1860, 1872, 1874, 1890, 1912
Bucks Gazette 4312 pages 1829-1849
Bucks Herald 55362 pages 1833-1851, 1853-1953
Hemel Hempstead Gazette and West Herts Advertiser 3456 pages 1872, 1874-1876, 1879, 1881-1882, 1886, 1891
Hendon & Finchley Times 34728 pages 1878-1940
Hertford Mercury and Reformer 14628 pages 1834-1837, 1840-1889, 1913, 1916-1918, 1939
Hertfordshire Express and General Advertiser 2394 pages 1859-1871
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 12590 pages 1878-1882, 1884-1888, 1890-1898, 1900-1910
Herts Advertiser 16878 pages 1866-1895, 1897-1907
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser 9882 pages 1852-1867, 1883
Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette 14476 pages 1861, 1863-1904, 1939
Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle 5436 pages 1897, 1905-1906, 1917-1919, 1936, 1939, 1950, 1953-1954
Luton Times and Advertiser 15802 pages 1855-1862, 1866-1873, 1875-1880, 1885, 1894-1916
South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal 2672 pages 1859-1860, 1862, 1865, 1879, 1882
South Bucks Standard 9206 pages 1890-1897, 1899-1910, 1912-1914
Watford Observer 14406 pages 1863-1909


The most recent newspaper to be added is the Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News - and I will be watching to see when they add new pages. The paper was founded in 1836 by my great grandfather, John Gibbs and includes good coverage of the Tring area of Hertfordshire. The Births, Marriage and Deaths column often included information on Gibbs relatives  even if they had left Aylesbury many years before.  I am also waiting for some of the later years of the Herts Advertiser to appear - as it was founded by Richard Gibbs - who was John Gibbs' brother. As yet the BNA has not covered the Maidenhead Advertiser - which was founded by another of my ancestors

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Restoration Work on the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union CanalRelining the

Relining the disused canal near Tring
Laying the concrete blocks
The process involves the following stages
(1) The side is excavated smoothly down, using the JCB
(2) Large sheets of a waterproofing fabric containing a bentonite filling are added.
(3) A wall of concrete blocks is laid against the sheeting to protect it from damage from the barges once the canal is in use.
(4) The top of the wall is covered with a roll of coconut matting 
(5) The upper part of the sheeting will later be covered with soil.
(6) When the sides have been completed along a reasonable length the bottom will be covered with a large sheet of matting.
(7) The matting on the floor will then be covered with a thick layer of soil.
(8) When a suitable length has been prepared a temporary earth dam will be added and the area flooded.
(9) When eventually the restoration work connects with the canal at Tringford the earth dams will be removed and canal badges will again be able to go along the canal.
At the present rate this is unlikely to be before about 2025.

Stalls at Drayton Beauchamp Church
The photos were taken on the recent open day, held by the Wendover Arm Trust.

There was car parking, refreshments and an information stall at Drayton Beauchamp church, with escorted trips along the canal to the working site.

[As part of my archiving activities  I plan to update the pages on the Grand Union Canal and its branches - with many pictures of the canal and its buildings as they are now.]

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fighting on Blackbirds Moor, Hemel Hempstead

The Knight in action
Yesterday I visited Blackbirds Moor, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead to see the first day of "Living History on the Moor" with out Australian Visitor. This was put on by the Medieval Siege Society. who will be preforming again today (Sunday)

The Medieval Camp Site on Robin Moor