Tag Archives: brighton

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.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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See the latest progress on The Keep

19 May

The Keep is the new historical resource centre for East Sussex and Brighton & Hove which is currently under construction in Falmer, East Sussex.

The construction seems to be progressing at a rapid pace and you can see the latest status of the development on a dedicated photostream on flickr.

Admitedly it doesn’t look much like a record office at the moment, that is not surprising as there is still another year to go before it opens for business, but it is great to see progress being made.

I like that the building work is being recorded (and being made available) so that we can watch this building site transform into an archive before our eyes.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Postcard Album: Steep Grade Railway, Devil’s Dyke

27 Mar

Just over a week ago I showed you a postcard of the “station” at the top of the steep grade railway that used to run up and down the side of the South Downs at Devil’s Dyke near Brighton, Sussex. The rather battered postcard below shows pretty much the full extent of the track.

It wasn’t a particularly long railway and in contrast to the little engine shed at the top there was nothing other than a platform at the bottom and a short walk to the nearest village, where visitors were supposed to be taking tea. I suspect however most probably just went up and down for the novelty of it.

The postcard was used, but unfortunately the stamp has been removed, taking most of the postmark with it. Just enough is left to see that it was sent in 1906. This card was published by Frederick Hartmann, a national publisher of postcards based in London.

Last week as I returned from Lewes and Brighton on the bus in the late afternoon the path of the track bed was incredibly well defined on the hillside, because of the short grass and low angle of the sun. There are more trees on the side of the hill now, but I wish I could have stopped the bus and jumped out and taken a photo.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Confessions of a Bus Geek

24 Mar

The Urban Dictionary defines a bus geek as “someone who rides Public Transportation for purposes of entertainment”. Apart from the American term public transportation (we have public transport in the UK) this pretty much defines how I spent my Saturday.

There was no logical reason for my friend Chris and I spending just over five hours sitting on buses today, it just seemed like a fun idea. It was a coincidence that I was able to visit and photograph one of the places on my genealogy hit list along the way (more about that in a future post).

In fact the whole journey was a bit like a family history tour, passing through so many places in my family tree. Unfortunately we didn’t actually spend time off the bus anywhere other than Tunbridge Wells, but it was good to be travelling through the landscape of my relatives none the less.

The journey itself was a round trip (otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting at home writing this) of about 90 miles, mainly through East and West Sussex, but also crossing into Kent and Surrey.

For the fellow bus geeks reading this the bus routes were:

  1. Horsham to Brighton (17, Stagecoach)
  2. Brighton to Tunbridge Wells (29, Brighton and Hove)
  3. Tunbridge Wells to Crawley (291, Metrobus)
  4. Crawley to Horsham (23, Metrobus)

I have travelled on these routes before, but never the complete routes. I don’t think I have ever been to Tunbridge Wells before, by any mode of transport, but I will definitely be heading back there again. Not least because of the famous Hall’s Bookshop.

I was delighted to find a memorial below to Air Chief Marshall Dowding in Calverley Grounds (the park where we sat and enjoyed a sandwich in the sunshine). This was a perfect piece of genealogical synchronicity because he was born in Moffat, Scotland, the same town as my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Kinghorn.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Postcard Album: Steep Grade Railway, Devil’s Dyke, Sussex

17 Mar

Several weeks ago I mentioned the steep grade railway that once ran up and down the side of the South Downs at Devil’s Dyke near Brighton, Sussex. Well, the postcard below shows the “station” at the top of this railway.

This is a superb postcard, showing much detail of the station, which doesn’t exist any more (apart from some brick foundations). Not only does it show the engine house and platform but also one of the carriages is in view.

The publisher’s name is down the left-hand sided, Mezzotint Co. of Brighton, and although this postcard wasn’t posted (so no postmark) it was probably published around 1904. Although it wasn’t postally used it does have an interesting message on the back. I wonder who Vera was?

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Brighton from the South Downs

11 Jan

Brighton from The Chattri, Patcham, East Sussex (7th January 2012)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Finding Frank: who lived at 2 Oxford Place, Brighton, Sussex?

15 Nov

One of the few pieces of information I was able to gather about the Frank TROWER whose name is recorded on the Brighton War Memorial was that Frank was the brother of J TROWER of 2 Oxford Place, Brighton.

Apart from his age and date of death this is the only other piece of genealogical evidence that I have to try place Frank within my family tree, but frustratingly I have been unable to tie the address to any of the TROWER family.

Last Saturday I made a quick visit to Brighton History Centre and tried to get some more information on who was living at 2 Oxford Place. Every piece of evidence I looked at points to the residents being the BROWN family without a trace of TROWER anywhere.

I had previously found the BROWNs living at 2 Oxford Place in the 1911 census, with a widowed Jane as the head of the household living with daughter Annie and sons Percy and Albert Ernest.

The Brighton directories I checked covering the period just before the First World War through to the end of the First World War all gave Miss A Brown as living there, as did the 1918 Voters List. Not a TROWER in sight.

I know directories are notoriously inaccurate but the consistency across all the sources suggests that it was the BROWN family that were resident at 2 Oxford Place and not the TROWERs. I suspect that the evidence from the CWGC website is correct, J TROWER did live there, but only as a lodger and as such make it into any of the records.

There is a possibility the there was a family connection between the BROWNs and the TROWERs. Jane is almost certainly too old to be the sister of Frank, even if she had started out as a TROWER.

There are of course other records that might give an address for J TROWER regardless of whether he was a property owner or lodger. A marriage certificate or perhaps the birth or baptism record for a child should give a specific address. This would be costly and I wouldn’t know where to start, assuming that the J TROWER at 2 Oxford Place did in fact get married and have children.

Of course there could be an employment record somewhere. Perhaps he worked for the Post Office or the railway, or maybe a military service record somewhere that would have an address, but that really would be searching for a needle in a haystack, if not in a field full of haystacks.

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