Tag Archives: crawley

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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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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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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Sussex and South London Family History Fair

13 Feb

As family history events go the Sussex and South London Family History Fair held at the K2 Leisure Centre, Crawley, West Sussex was pretty low-key. It is one of several small regional fairs held mainly across the south of England by Family History Fairs.

Compared to previous events this year’s seemed a bit smaller, there were probably about 15 to 20 stalls, although not all were occupied and it was not easy to tell where one table ended and another started (or continued around the corner). It was quite busy, there appeared to be a lot of people milling about, but it was rather cramped, not much space in the aisles, which probably made it seem busier.

The stall holders were pretty much the same mix as previous years, five or six family/local history societies, a few software and data suppliers, three postcard dealers, a couple of booksellers and one archive (the West Sussex Record Office). In other words none of the major names such as ancestry or findmypast, but it was a local fair so that didn’t really matter too much.

I was somewhat disappointed by my visit, I got what I went for (some organisational supplies) and a few postcards as well, but I didn’t really find anything different or anything new this year. It was almost as if nothing had happened over the last twelve months, nothing seemed to have changed, there may have been a new data CD here and there, but nothing really stood out.

It seemed to me that the UK family history scene, at least at a local level, has become pretty stagnant, perhaps the wealth of online data available has sucked the life out of local societies and suppliers. I know I was looking at some data CDs (that I don’t recall seeing before) and thinking that I could probably find all this stuff online in no time at all, and if not online then at the local library.

I was getting quite disillusioned already, but when I spotted a stall selling data on 3½” floppy disks my heart sank. I seriously hope they were just trying to shift some old stock, and I wondered if they had actually sold any in the last few years and whether they actually still worked now, if you could still find a drive to use them in (I know I still have one but that’s because I like old technology).

It didn’t help that the weather was pretty miserable, but the morning was really only saved by the three postcards that I bought. The only other positive thing was the discovery that the Sussex Family History Group are going to be holding a “Family and Local History Day” in Worthing, West Sussex on the 17th April 2011. Hopefully this will restore my faith in the local family history scene.

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