Tag Archives: brighton

Picture Postcard Parade: Palace Pier and Aquarium, Brighton

7 Jan

Mention yesterday of the aquarium at Brighton, Sussex gives me the perfect excuse to show you this delightful card from my collection.

There is so much going on in this scene, obviously the key features are the Palace Pier (now known simply as Brighton Pier) and the aquarium (now known as the Sea Life Centre), although this only shows the entrance to the aquarium, with it’s clock tower (now gone) and steps leading underground into the aquarium itself.

The pier itself is devoid (thankfully) of most of the “attractions” that clutter the pier these days. These were the days of promenading and when the pier was used as a landing stage, as evidenced by the two larger vessels on either side of the end of the pier. There are plenty of other boats out to sea on the right-hand side, but I don’t know if this is Brighton’s fishing fleet or just pleasure boats.

Back on dry land there are plenty of examples of horse-drawn transport, and I wonder what the man at the bottom has in his hand cart? Surprisingly though there are not that many people wandering about, perhaps it was early morning, judging by the shadows I would have said it was before midday at least. Sadly there are no trees or plants that would give us a clue as to what time of year it was.

The postcard itself is unused and printed on the back are the words “Valentine’s Series”, indicating that it was published by Valentine & Sons Ltd of Dundee, Scotland, a well-known international firm of postcard publishers. I would imagine this dates from the early 1900s and certainly pre-First World War.

Thirty minutes well spent

6 Jan

I don’t watch a lot of television, apart from Who Do You Think You Are? there is not much else that I would make the time to watch. This evening I put aside 30 minutes to watch the first episode of series two of Great British Railway Journeys on the BBC iPlayer.

I didn’t watch the first series and very nearly missed this one. In this episode former MP Michael Portillo travels by train from Brighton to Crystal Palace via Godstone (although Godstone is a bit of a way out if you are travelling from Brighton to Crystal Palace) armed with a copy of George Bradshaw‘s Tourist Guide.

The programme was is a travel documentary with plenty of history (and historic film) and discussions with historians thrown in for good measure. It helped of course that the places featured were familiar to me.

Starting at Brighton on the Sussex coast we saw the Brighton Aquarium (now the Sea Life Centre) which I think I have only visited once, probably about 30 years ago whilst still at school, I really ought to go back again this year. Then we heard about the long destroyed Chain Pier and took a ride on the Volk’s Electric Railway.

Heading up the railway line towards London we saw briefly the magnificent Ouse Valley Viaduct, which I believe at least once of my distant relatives helped to build. In fact I would imagine that plenty of my relatives were involved in the construction of the London to Brighton railway, if only there were records to prove it.

Portillo took a detour to spend the night at Godstone, Surrey. I have been through Godstone on the train several times, but have never actually visited despite have connections there with my GASSON ancestors. I certainly had no idea that there were underground quarries there and wonder if my ancestors had anything to do with them.

The programme finished at Crystal Palace, an intriguing place with a fascinating history. I paid a brief visit to the park and the remains of the Crystal Palace last year as part of my Capital Ring walk. It was one of several places on that walk which I hope to be able to visit again to explore the park and museum further.

This programme seemed very personal to me, it was almost as if the programme was made specifically for me, truly thirty minutes well spent. Now where can I get hold of one of Bradshaw’s Guides?

Ancestral Profile: Isabella GRAHAM (1818-1900)

13 Dec

Isabella GRAHAM was my 3x great-grandmother and came from the county of Durham in the north of England, but ended her days at the other end of the country in Brighton, Sussex on the south coast of England.

Isabella was baptised in St. Mary’s Church, Staindrop, Durham on the 11th June 1818. She was the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth GRAHAM of New Raby, Staindrop. She appears to have been one of eleven children, although at least three of these did survive to adulthood.

New Raby appears to have been a small settlement about a mile north-east of the main part of the village of Staindrop and about half a mile east of Raby Castle. The houses now appear to have disappeared completely and the woodland surrounding it has engulfed them. I am sure there is an interesting story behind this if I had the time to look into it.

I have no record of Isabella until the 1841 census where she is still living with her father at New Raby, Staindrop along with a six year old John GRAHAM, who doesn’t seem to be one of Isabella’s siblings so is probably a nephew. Her father is described as an agricultural labourer but Isabella herself has no occupation given. Her mother had died a couple of years earlier in 1839, and her father would die three years later in 1844.

I have been unable to trace Isabella in the 1851, so the next record I have is of her marriage to my 3x great-grandfather Thomas KINGHORN in London in 1853. They were married on the 31st July 1853 in the parish church of St. James Piccadilly in Westminster, London. This was Thomas’ third marriage but Isabella first, both were described as being of full age.

Thomas was a tailor and lived at 10 Great Windmill Street, whereas Isabella was living at 19 Great Windmill Street. Thomas’ father was Thomas KINGHORN, the mail guard about whom I have written a great deal in the past. The witnesses at the wedding were Henry MORGAN (about whom I know nothing) and Dorothy GRAHAM, who was presumably one of Isabella’s older sisters.

Together Thomas and Isabella had three children, before Thomas’ death in May 1863, all three were baptised at St. Jame’s Church where their parents had married.

  1. Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN (born 22 Jun 1854) my 2x great-grandmother
  2. Abraham Graham KINGHORN (born 25 March 1856)
  3. Isabella KINGHORN (born 1 Nov 1858)

In the 1861 census Thomas and Isabella are living at 3 Golden Place (just off Golden Square) in Westminster with their three children and one of Thomas’ sons from his first marriage, also called Thomas. In 1871 the widowed Isabella (whose occupation is given as a nurse) is still at 3 Golden Place living with her son Abraham and three lodgers.

By 1881 Isabella has moved to Brighton, Sussex. She is living with her son Abraham and his wife Sarah and their three children at 79 Hanover Street, Brighton. By 1891 she has moved to join her daughter Dorothy Isabella and her husband Henry BATEMAN and their two children in nearby Preston, Sussex (on the outskirts of Brighton) at 19 Yardley Street. Her occupation is given as a retired nurse.

I don’t know the exact date or cause of Isabella’s death. Her death was registered in Brighton Registration District in Q3 1900. By this time her daughter Dorothy and her family had moved to Hurstpierpoint, Sussex but I don’t know if Isabella had remained in Brighton or whether she went with them. The fact that the death was registered in Brighton doesn’t mean that she was living there, she may have died at the hospital in Brighton. The only way to know for sure would be to get a copy of her death certificate.

I don’t know where Isabella was buried (or cremated), I am guessing it was at one of the cemeteries at Brighton, but may have been at the cemetery at Hurstpierpoint. The problem is that the Brighton cemeteries charge an arm and a leg to search their records, I am hoping one day that they will become available online for a reasonable price.

Picture Postcard Parade: Souvenir from Brighton

7 Dec

Postcards from Brighton, Sussex are not particularly rare, having been a tourist destination for many years there must have been millions of cards produced. This one probably doesn’t actually show Brighton beach and I am sure if I looked I could find examples with the names of many different seaside resorts on them.

The reason this appealed to me was the colour and design, it is such a bright and cheerful card. That is why I have featured it today, after last week’s snow scenes and the generally grey weather we have had, I decided that things needed brightening up!

I have no idea who published this card, it was posted on the 23rd August 1907 to an address in Camberwell, but the handwriting is a bit dodgy so I can’t be sure, or actually make sense of the message. Hopefully it will brighten up your day to!

Unplugged: “He did not appear to be a bit worse for what he had to drink…”

4 Dec

I mentioned on my Ancestral Profile post on Monday that I thought my 4x great-grandfather George MITCHELL might have been killed in an accident on the London to Brighton Railway, well today I had chance to try and find out more with a visit to the Brighton History Centre.

Once again a local newspaper has proved itself to be an invaluable source, the report below was published in the Sussex Advertiser on Tuesday 5th November 1844. As usual there is not enough detail for me to be 100% certain that this is my man, but I am pretty confident. It is another tragic story, I don’t know why my relations (or in this case a direct ancestor) seem to get themselves in the newspapers so frequently.

FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE LONDON AND BRIGHTON RAILWAY.

An inquest was held on Tuesday last, at the Station Inn Hayward’s Heath, by Alfred Gell, Esq., Deputy Coroner, on the body of George Mitchell, a labourer, on the above railway, who met his death on Saturday, the 26th, in the awful manner shown in the following evidence given at the inquest.

Robert Whaley, sworn-I am an engine driver on the London and Brighton Railway, and live at Croydon. I left Brighton on Saturday night at half-past 11 o’clock with the engine No. 70 of the London and Brighton Railway Company, and arrived at the place where the accident occurred a few minutes before 12. We were in the Folly Hill cutting in the parish of Keymer, [p]roceeding at the rate of 15 miles an hour when I felt a sudden [j]erk of the engine; I said to the fireman that was with me, w[hat] is that, he said we had run over a man, I said that can’t be, he said he was sure of it for he saw a man’s hat fly past the engine, by this time we had stopped the engine and we went back about 30 yards but I could see nothing, my mate said here he is, and I then saw the deceased lying in the ditch which carries the water off from the line; we took him out and placed him by the side of the line, and started off to Hayward’s Heath station for assistance; we then took the body back to the Station Inn; this was about quarter past 12; It was a moonlight night and I could see a long distance before me; I am sure the man was not walking on the line or I must have seen him; my opinion is that he was lying down on the line; it was on the left hand side of the line from
Brighton; the deceased was quite dead when we took him out of the ditch; we had our usual signals on the engine and the deceased must have heard us coming had he not been asleep.

John Wright sworn: I am a fireman or stoker on the London and Brighton Railway; I was with the last witness at the time of the accident, in Folly Hill cutting; I felt the engine jerk and at the same instant saw a man’s hat fly past the engine; I said we have run over a man and Whaley said, “surely not,” we stopped the engine, took the lamp and found the deceased in the ditch.”-This witness corroborated the evidence of the engine-driver in most particulars.

Thomas Spry Byass sworn: I am a surgeon and reside at Cuckfield; about twenty minutes past one, on Sunday morning, I arrived at Hayward’s Heath Station; deceased was quite dead when I got there; I found a large wound in the abdomen, the intestines protruding, which was quite sufficient to cause sudden death; It appeared as if a heavy weight had pressed upon the body; I have no doubt but that deceased was dead in an instant after the accident happened.”

George Pratt sworn: I am a labourer and I live at St. John’s common; I saw deceased at Ellis’s Beer Shop, at Burgess Hill about nine o clock on Saturday night, and we drank together, he had one pint of beer when he first came in and had one glass with me; we then went to another beer shop, the New Anchor, kept by Agate, also at Burgess Hill; we stopped there till ten o’clock, during which time we had three pints of ale between us; I walked with deceased to Cants Bridge, which crosses the Railway; I asked him if he was going home and he said yes, but he did not want to get home till mid-night as there was a warrant out against him for poaching, and he has been away from home some time. He was working on the Line between Burgess Hill and The Hassocks; the deceased’s wife and family live at Balcombe, and I last saw him walking in that direction, on the Line, about two miles from Folly Cutting. He did not appear to be a bit worse for what he had to drink; I have known him for some years.”-

Verdict: that deceased was accidentally killed by the engine No. 70, of the London and Brighton Railway Company, passing over his body, and that there was no evidence to shew in what position deceased was in at the time the engine came up to him. Fine one [shill]ing on the engine.

Im[med]iately after the inquest, a subscription was entered into by the [c]oroner and Jury on behalf of the widow and six orphan children of the deceased, who are left in a most deplorable state of distress. The subscription list is lying at the Station Inn, and Mr. John Bennett, junior, landlord, will be happy to receive donations on behalf of the bereaved family.

This is a wonderfully detailed report of the accident and of the effects of the accident, the “widow and six orphan children” matches with my George MITCHELL’s family. There are so many questions going through my mind: What was the engine like? Where is Folly Cutting? How much was the subscription in the end? Did the family receive any poor relief? What about the warrant for poaching, what was that about? Are the beer shops still in existence? Where is Cants Bridge?

George MITCHELL was buried in Cuckfield (where it is likely he was born) although the family were living in Balcombe. I am guessing the parish of Balcombe washed their hands of him, not wanting to have to support his family financially. There might be some record of that? Does he have a gravestone at Cuckfield? It sounds like his family couldn’t afford one but perhaps the railway company might have done.

So many questions but only handful of answers. If I can find a death certificate for George, then I should have another piece of evidence for his date of birth (the burial record says he was 32 years old). This might enable me to find his baptism, probably in Cuckfield and push that branch of my family tree back another generation.

Something Sussex: The Keep – the next step

2 Dec

Plans for The Keep moved another step forward with the submission of a planning application to Brighton & Hove City Council in October 2010.

The Keep is destined to be the new home for the collections of the East Sussex Record Office and the Brighton History Centre among others, and if all goes according to plan (and funding is forthcoming) it should be opened to the public in 2013.

The hope is that a decision will be reached by the 14th January 2011 and all the documentation about the application can be found on the Brighton & Hove City Council website in their planning register (application number BH2010/03259).

The application itself is described as being for the “Construction of an archive centre comprising lecture and educational facilities, reading room, conservation laboratories, archivist study areas, offices, cleaning and repair facilities for archives, repository block and refreshment area. Associated energy centre, car, coach and cycle parking, waste and recycling storage, landscaping including public open space and access.”

Delving into the documentation provides some interesting reading. The first document on the list is the application form and this includes opening hours which it gives as 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, with two evenings during the week and one Sunday a month. I fully expect these to change by the time it opens, but being able to visit on a Sunday would be a great advantage for me.

There is still much consultation and discussion to be done, but at least the plans have moved another step closer to completion.

Picture Postcard Parade: Winter Scenes in Brighton

30 Nov

To celebrate the fact that this morning I woke up to the first snowfall of the winter (it was only a light dusting, but snow nevertheless), here is a postcard from my collection which consists of twenty-one different views of a snow-covered Brighton, Sussex.

What is most interesting about this postcard is that it is made up of lots of individual postcards. If you click on the image and look closely at the enlarged image you will see each picture has a caption just like a postcard. The postcard on far-right of the second row is of Preston Park and I have a full size version of the postcard in my collection.

I have similar multi-view postcards in my collection where you can actually see the pins that were used to hold the cards in place while the photographer took another photo of the montage of postcards.

I don’t know who the photographer/publisher was, but the postcard of Preston Park gives a clue to the date, it has an extra caption giving the date of the 24th April 1908. I don’t know whether this relates to the date of the snowfall or when the photo was taken, the snow could have lingered for some time. I will have to check the local newspapers to see exactly when the snowfall took place and what the effect of the snowfall was on the residents of Brighton.

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