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

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Photo Album: Unknown woman

15 Jun

It wasn’t just his own or contemporary photographs that survived in the collection of my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower, but older family photographs. This is one such carte de visite that survived, probably dating to a couple of generations before Percy’s.


Sadly unlike Percy’s own photographs there is no name or details on the back of this one, obviously certain clues to the age can be found in the dress, posture and photographer’s name, but that alone would probably not be enough to identify the subject.

There is probably going to be a connection with the Trower family although it might come from his wife’s side of the family. I doubt I will ever know for certain who this woman was.

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Wandering: Box Hill, Surrey

14 Jun

The recent extended Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend gave my friend Chris and I chance to get out for a walk, unfortunately the less than ideal weather conditions meant that it was only going to be a brief walk.

Short of time we decided to head to Box Hill near the town of Dorking, Surrey. Box Hill is just a short train ride from Horsham and situated on the North Downs. If we didn’t have time to get out onto the South Downs then the North Downs would have to do.

Box Hill is also going to be playing its part in the London Olympics. It is hosting part of the cycling road race (both the womens and mens races) and we were interested to see how preparations were going. The cyclists will be racing up and down Box Hill as part of the road race before heading back into London from whence they came.

They will no doubt appreciate the newly re-surfaced road, but the freshly erected signs will probably be no more than a blur as they whizz past, on the way from Dorking to the top of the hill.

Apart from the new road surface and signs there didn’t seem to be a great deal to indicate that the Olympics were coming. There has been a bit of clearance along the roadside, where spectators will be crowded, but apart from that you could be forgiven for not noticing the approaching furore.

Of course the cyclists will not have time to enjoy the view from the top of Box Hill over the town of Dorking, Surrey. A view made all the better for the presence of a trig point. Nor will they have to experience the steep and slightly treacherous descent down the side of the hill, which was nice and slippery after the recent rainfall. Unfortunately that all means they will miss the joy of having to pick their way across the River Mole on the concrete stepping-stones.

The closest railway station is Box Hill and Westhumble, Westhumble is the village to west of the railway line and Box Hill is east of the station. It is a delightful little station which although short on facilities has quite a reasonable service. It’s survival is probably down to its role as a gateway to the North Downs.

When we visited it was receiving the attention of railworkers, who were busy excavating the southern end of the station, presumably to enable extension of the platforms in anticipation of the increase in traffic that the Olympics will bring.

In a fitting tribute to forthcoming Olympic games the workers were taking part in a their own relay. Taking it in turns to push wheelbarrows full of stones and soil along the length of the platform the skip waiting outside the station.

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Wordless Wednesday: Flying Scotsman in the rain

13 Jun

Railfest 2012, National Railway Museum, York (8th June 2012)

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Statisticly Speaking: Missing birth and baptism events

12 Jun

I have decided that I would like to be able to use Family Historian to produce lists of individuals based on certain criteria, such as a list of all those men who might have served during the First World War.

To be able to produce these queries I need to have an idea of the lifespan for each individual and for this I need to have a birth/baptism event and a death/burial event for each individual.

I have been taking a look at how much work would be needed in making sure that I know where and when everyone was born. It looks like I have quite a bit of work to do.

Out of a total of 1797 individuals currently in my database there are 769 people (42.8%) without birth dates and 845 people (47.0%) without a place of birth. The discrepancy between the two is not really surprising, there are many occasions where there is not clear evidence where a person was born, even if I have a date of birth.

The situation with baptism events is not quite so good, there are 958 people (53.3%) in my database without baptism dates and places.

The fact that the number of dates and places match is consistent with the fact that all the baptism records are all coming from the same source (parish registers) so they should match, however the birth records come from a variety of sources, some providing only dates and other dates and places.

The good news is that there is only a partial overlap between the births and baptisms which means that there are only 379 people (21.1%) without a date for either their birth or baptism.

I am not sure yet where I shall focus my attention, the 379 people without a birth or baptism date is the obvious place but it might be better to tidy up the existing data first before adding any new data.

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Distracted by Percy the Prawn

11 Jun

Last night I took the plunge and started transcribing the diary of my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower.

I have been in this position before and have never managed to progress beyond the first couple of pages , hopefully this time I can keep the momentum going.

I am going to try to do a page a night. I realise that at that rate it is going to take almost two years to complete, but I have precious little spare time as it is without devoting several hours a day to reading difficult handwriting. Small chunks are definitely the way forward.

I have started working in just a basic text editor for now, but I will be looking for something a bit more advanced before I get too far down the road because I want to be able to do more with the text than just having it sitting as a plain text file on my hard drive.

It is quite obvious to me that I will need to add some footnotes as I go along, mainly for my own benefit, to explain some of the people, places and events mentioned.

Last night’s page included a reference to the one of A. J. Alan’s wireless stories and of course I had to stop to find out who A. J. Alan was and even listened to a couple of his stories. These two stories were quite light-hearted (and where I found Percy the Prawn) but some of his other material was somewhat darker.

Percy didn’t say whether he liked the story he listened to or not, but I certainly enjoyed them and they had made me contemplate getting hold of some more of his work. At this rate it is going take a lot longer than two years to complete.

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My Family History Fortnight: Sunday 10th June 2012

10 Jun

There is not a lot of family history activity to report for the last two weeks. The fact that I have left it for two weeks shows just how family history free my time has been. There was a good excuse last for last week’s inactivity, but the week before was really just down to me being lazy.

Holidays galore

I had hoped that the long bank holiday weekend last weekend would provide some time for me to do some work, but there was so much else going on that I never really got down to any research.

On top of that the end of this week has seen my wife and I away for another long weekend, primarily for me to indulge my passion for trains, but also as an excuse to get away for a few days.

Percy Ebenezer Trower

Much of my recent blogging has centred around my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower. Although this wasn’t really a conscious decision on my part, it probably stems from the fact that in the absence of any new research I have been “forced” to go back and look at information I already have.

In particular I keep returning to the fact that I really ought to transcribe his diary. Whilst it is useful to be able to look up particular dates and events it is not possible to search the entire volume without having an idea of the date. I fear there is so much more of interest that could be uncovered if only it was transcribed and possibly indexed, or at least searchable.

The sheer scale of the task and Percy’s handwriting has put me off up to now, but I feel now might be a good time to start.

Adding birth and death details

The other thing that I have looked at is the lack of birth and death details for many of the people in my family tree.

I want to be able to do a bit more querying of my database, so that I can produce lists of people to search for things like First World War service and Probate Index entries.

For this I really need to establish the starting and ending points for the people in the database. This means I need a birth/baptism and burial/death record for each individual.

This is not something that is going to happen quickly, some should be quite easy to work out, but some of the deaths could be difficult to pin down with any confidence without getting a death certificate, which is nothing something I really can afford to do.

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