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Flying the flag for Sussex Day 2012

16 Jun

The Argus (Brighton’s local newspaper) was right when they said that Sussex Day had failed to capture the imagination.

It was also right about the lack of events taking place today to mark the occasion, but that is really nothing new. At the present rate it seems likely that the idea of Sussex Day will be all but forgotten in a couple of years time.

I marked Sussex Day in my usual way, by going for a walk. I had many options for where to walk, the weather wasn’t very promising and I am really out of practice for any long distance walking, but all in all it turned out to be a memorable walk, which I will tell you more about later.

Sussex Day wasn’t completely forgotten, it was good to see at least one village flying the flag for Sussex, although I suspect if they hadn’t already put up the flagpole for the Diamond Jubilee they wouldn’t have bothered.

Flying the Flag for Sussex Day 2012

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Spare a thought for Sussex Day

1 Jun

As Britain gears itself up for the long Diamond Jubilee weekend please spare a thought for Sussex Day.

Saturday 16th June 2012 is Sussex Day, a day to celebrate everything that is great about Sussex. You can find out more about Sussex Day on the West Sussex County Council website.

Hopefully because Sussex Day falls on a weekend this year there will be more events celebrating Sussex than previous years, although I have found a few events on the 16th June this year. It has quite clearly not made it as a major feature of the calendar yet. Don’t expect it to be celebrated by a Google Doodle any time soon.

This week has seen a steady increase in the amount of bunting and number of Union Flags that have taken hold on all manner of public and private buildings. It is great to see the country getting in the spirit of the occasion, if only some of that spirit could be bottled and kept safely for the 16th.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Sussex Family History Group Annual Conference

14 Apr

Today was the Sussex Family History Group Annual Conference and AGM at Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, West Sussex. The location and format were the same as previous years; three presentations and a handful of stalls providing a complete contrast to Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, West Sussex

The three presentations were a good mix of subjects:

  • Jayne Shrimpton: Understanding and dating old photographs – Although I have attended a couple of her presentations before and have a couple of her books, I never fail to learn something new and to be inspired to get my own photographs sorted and dated.
  • Jean Hopkins: Brighton’s Chain Pier – Some excellent historic images and some superb 3D modeling of this long-lost attraction, although the presentation was a little erratic and disjointed with some technical issues.
  • Lars Tharp: The Foundling Museum of London – This was an excellent presentation, I have heard about the Foundling Hospital on several occasions, but this talk really showed just how little I really knew. It was a fascinating talk and even after the talk it felt like we had still only scraped the surface of the history of this remarkable institution and the people involved.

Attendance appeared to be down slightly on previous years and despite my fast approaching fortieth birthday it seemed to me that I was still the youngest one there, which was a little surprising (and another contrast to WDYTYA? Live) although something I have got used to over the years. I know there are younger family historians out there, but I wonder where they were today?

Another great conference and I can’t wait for next year when the SFHG marks it’s fortieth birthday, apparently special events are being planned to mark the occasion.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Postcard Album: To Greet You at Eastertide

8 Apr

However you spend your Easter (I think this Sussex Vicar might be onto something), I wish you all the best at this special time of year.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Titanic this, Titanic that ….

5 Apr

If it wasn’t the 1940 US census, then the main topic for discussion this week seems to have been the anniversary of sinking of the Titanic, and it can only get worse as we approach the actual day of the anniversary next week.

As you might have guessed from the tone of the previous sentence I am not particularly interested in the Titanic (although possibly slightly more than the 1940 census), whether it is films, television programmes, books, passenger lists or crew records.

One thing I did find interesting however was this article from the BBC News website, Five Titanic myths spread by films, which takes a more skeptical view of some of the myths that have arisen around the Titanic.

Whilst on the subject of the BBC, you might want to take a look at the BBC Archive’s Survivors of the Titanic collection, which gives a taste of the organisation’s output over the years, including interviews with survivors.

In the meantime I will try to summon up some enthusiasm for the anniversary between now and the 14th April.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The Sussex and South London Family History Fair

11 Mar

Today I made my annual visit to the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley, West Sussex. Forsaking the swimming pool, climbing wall and squash courts I made my way to the family history fair hidden away in the corner of one of the halls.

When I say hidden I mean it, there was no signage that I could see until I was almost at the door to the hall. Fortunately from previous visits I knew where I was going, otherwise who knows what energetic past-time it might have got tangled up in.

As family history events go this couldn’t more different to Who Do You Think You Are? Live a couple of weeks ago. It was small (about twenty stalls), relatively quiet (apart from the thundering of basketballs next door), no talks or lectures and definitely no celebrities.

There was quite a mix of stalls, some I had seen at Olympia and some not, but most if not all were familiar faces, from previous family history fairs. There seemed to be more of an emphasis on books, maps and postcards than at Olympia, but from my point of view that wasn’t a bad thing.

In fact that was a good thing, if it hadn’t been for the pair of postcard dealers I probably would have been in and out within half an hour, but even then I was on my way back to the railway station in about an hour and a half.

To be honest I didn’t really have very high expectations from this fair and in this respect I wasn’t disappointed. I only came away with one purchase, a book entitled The Future of the South Downs edited by Gerald Smart and Peter Brandon. It looks like it should be an interesting read, split between the history of the South Downs and the challenges facing them now and in the future.

I very much fear for the future of small family history fairs like this. In a genealogy world becoming increasingly dominated by the internet and the likes of WDYTYA Live I am not sure that they will survive. I would have to suggest that the organisers haven’t really helped themselves, their website is very sparse on details. That being said I might try to get to their Kent fair in May.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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I need a genealogy escape day once in a while

27 Feb

I know it won’t last, but I have come away from this years Who Do You Think You Are? Live incredibly motivated and fired up with enthusiasm for family history. The challenge now is to keep this going for the next twelve months until the next WDYTYA Live rolls around (assuming it does).

The weekend was filled with talk of what could be achieved in idealised genealogy world where anything is possible if you just have the time and money and know where to look. In the real world however I have definite shortage of the first two, although the third doesn’t worry me quite so much.

One aspect I really liked about the three-day weekend was that I was, for a very short time, a full-time family historian, nothing else mattered for those 72 hours. I know I can’t afford to do this very often, but I wonder if I might be able replicate this on a smaller scale.

Perhaps once a month I could take a day out and treat myself to a genealogy escape day where I can take myself off somewhere (not necessarily an archive) where I can concentrate on family history. Maybe in the summer I could find an isolated hill-top where I can just escape everything and think of nothing else but family history for a while.

It might seem a little selfish, but I think I need to get away from the hassles and distractions of everyday life every once in a while, maybe even disconnect from the internet, or at least use it as a tool and not let it be a distraction.

One thing I am certain of is that it needs to be planned in advance, firstly so that it doesn’t cause too much inconvenience to anyone else, but secondly so that I can make arrangements and get organised, but also so that I have something to look forward to.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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