Our 90 year old cyclist

Snip Aunty Jean Gower bike rideMy cousin, Maureen Burton (née Ormston) has just sent me a fascinating newspaper cutting about our Aunty Jean. Aunty Jean is actually our great aunt. Jane Ann Evans (née Turner) was born in Amble, Northumberland in 1896. After marrying a Welshman, William Daniel Evans in 1924, she moved to Swansea. The cutting shows Aunty Jean, aged 90, meeting stars Sue Pollard and Matthew Kelly after a cycle ride around Gower in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Adding Archie to the family archives

Archie and Meggie 1949A few days ago I posted a picture of a postcard sent by my grandmother (Margaret Jane Webb, née Henderson) who was holidaying in Toronto, Canada in 1949, to her younger brother (Randle Henderson) in Amble, Northumberland. The postcard indicated that they had lost contact with their brother Archie who had emigrated to Canada and that she was planning to seek him out while on holiday. The Archie in question was their younger brother, Archibald Henderson, born 1907 at Amble in Northumberland.

The good news is that the search had a positive result. My grandparents met up with Archie in Canada. I know this now because the cousin who sent me the scan of the postcard continued to dig in her family photo box and found another gem. On the back of this photo is “Your sister and brother, Maggie & Archie, hope it reaches you before boat sails.. Sent Harriet one too.” From this we can deduce that the photo is of my grandmother and her brother taken in Toronto late 1949, before she returned home to England, and that she sent two copies: one to her brother Randle and the other to her sister Harriet. We very probably have one in our own photo box, but as that would be her own copy it may not have his name on the back.

Niagara Falls on Sunday – 1949

Postcard from Canada 1949My grandparents, Jonty and Meggie Webb (née Henderson), travelled to Canada in 1949 to visit their daughter Mary who had married Canadian Jimmy Ash and moved to Toronto.

A newly found Henderson-cousin, Jayne Handyside of Amble, has found this historical gem while rifling through her family’s old photo box. It is written by my granny and addressed to her brother Randle who was Jayne’s great grandfather. The Archie that is referred to in the postcard is younger brother to Meggie and Randle. He was born in Amble, Northumberland in1907 and emigrated to Canada.

They are clearly having a whale of a time and planning a trip to Niagara Falls, which must have been quite spectacular for them on their first trip abroad.

Amble in old photographs

Snip Amble in old photographsThose of you who are on facebook and have ancestors from Amble may be interested in joining the group Amble in Old Photographs. This group was started a few years ago by Bartle Rippon and for a while there were only about a dozen of us who participated. Membership has increased exponentially over the past couple of months. Many fascinating memories are being published. Since Bartle is a published author, The Ambler editorial board have asked him to consider putting together a book with Amble memories based on input from the group. If you have any good material hidden away in your cupboards and drawers please dig it out and join the group.

My own experiences on there have been very positive as many previously dangling branches on my Henderson part of my family tree have now attached themselves to the right spot with a little collaboration from newly found family members in the group.

Another month whizzes past

Views Sept 2015September is over and I have just had a quick review of my blog statistics for the past three months. Interest seems to be growing and I expect my September viewings would have been even better if I had continued to post daily for the whole month.

The little lapse in posting for the last week is because I was too busy giving a living introduction to ourViews country Sept 2015 family history to two cousins from the other side of the world who were visiting Northumberland for the first time. We had a whirlwind tour that included Warkworth, Radcliffe, Amble, Hauxley, Alnwick and Alnmouth. I am contemplating adding a new page to cover that visit after I catch up on the work backlog from taking a short break. Managed to tidy up a few branches on the family tree at the same time thanks to their input.

Co-operative Wholesale Society (Coop)

Amble CoopHow many of you remember being sent to the “The Store” to pick up some shopping for your mother in your childhood? The Store was the term we used for the local CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) shop. They had grocery shops, hardware shops and more.

The Coop was founded by consumers who clubbed together to enable bulk purchasing. This was a way to avoid the extortionate pricing in company owned shops, e.g. those run by mine owners where workers only had one option for where to buy their produce. By paying a minimal sum to become a Coop member, people had the opportunity to buy their groceries at an acceptable price and also earn a dividend (which we referred to as the divi). The amount paid for purchases was recorded on a “cheque” after giving your 4-digit cheque number and the dividend was paid out annually. As children we all had our mother’s cheque number firmly implanted in our minds and rolled it out regularly with every loaf of bread, quarter of bacon or bag of flour we were sent to purchase.

The photograph shows Amble Harbour Coop on the left (beside where the women are walking). This Coop was managed by my Dad’s cousin, Ralphy Tweddle, until his retirement in the 1980s. Until reminded today by Ralphy’s son Les, I had forgotten that this was one of the first shops in Northumberland to introduce a self-service system, back in 1964. Just imagine the shock to the average Amble housewife of being able to pick her own goods directly off the shelf rather than stand in a queue and ask for each individual item with her neighbours listening to what she was buying. The Coop management were clearly men of vision, ahead of their time, as they were prepared to invest in training their staff in the new system and take the risk of losing customers with such a challenging innovation as self-service.

Ralphy actually gave me a kick-start on my family history research as he told me the names of the dozen Cracketts in the banner photo on my blog. One of the girls is his mother Dorothy Ann and the couple in the middle were his grandparents, Leonard Cracket and Mary Parkinson.

The Jarrow March 1936

Marshall Riley’s Army – Lindisfarne

In October thirty-six they took a trip,
The men who made the ships,
Searching for some kind of salvation.
With heads held high, and dignified,
The towns folk and passers by,
Held them in some kind of admiration.

March on, Marshall Riley’s Army,
Marching for your rights,
You’ve surely earned them.

Any among you who grew up in NE England in the 70’s can probably quote the whole song word perfect, but I wonder how many have reflected on the meaning. I remember heading for the library at the time to figure out what it was all about. (If you are wondering why I chose to link to that particular rendition of Marshall Riley’s army on youtube, it is because I was very probably in the audience at that concert !)

For some time now I have been mulling over a couple of unconnected questions, but had not decided who to ask about either:

  1. Why are there so many Cracketts in the Midlands?
  2. Did any of my family participate in the Jarrow March?

Both were answered for me today, before I even asked the questions, by my cousin Julie Crackett-MacFarlane, who published a comment on facebook with a link to a BBC History article about the dire employment situation on Tyneside in the mid 1930s following the closure of Palmer’s Shipyard. Her grandfather, Edmund Rudd Crackett (1907-1974),  who is my 3rd cousin once removed, was born in Jarrow, County Durham. In his early thirties he joined the Jarrow March to London in October 1936 to fight for the right to work and provide for his family. It was Edmund who subsequently made the decision to uproot his family and move to the Midlands in search of employment, where they established a thriving group of Cracketts in the Sandwell area.

A big thanks to Julie for triggering my thoughts on this subject and giving me permission to publish a post about her grandfather and mention her as a contributor.