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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Cheshire salt workers and a special offer

The January issue of BBC Who Do You Think You Are? magazine includes my feature on finding out more about salt worker ancestors in Cheshire. The magazine also has a special reader offer for my latest book Tracing Your Canal Ancestors.

There’s more about the salt industry during the early nineteenth century in Regency Cheshire. The salt industry left an unhappy legacy of subsidence, particularly in the Northwich area. People, horses, salt works and houses were swallowed up by the ground when it suddenly collapsed underneath them.

Image: An interested crowd has gathered where this Northwich house has sunk from subsidence in 1892. Good Words, 1893.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Find My Past Preview: A Royal Scandal

This week's programme is the series finale of Find My Past's series on Yesterday, which airs on Thursday at 9pm.  This episode is devoted to a Victorian royal scandal: the story of Sir Charles Mordaunt and his wife Harriet Sarah Moncrieffe, daughter of a Scottish baronet.  Harriet entertained a string of lovers, one of whom may have been the Prince of Wales: the future Edward VII. The shocking thing to modern eyes about this tragic marriage is the 'double standard' surrounding adultery.  Men were allowed to have their 'little affairs' providing they were discreet, but women like Harriet risked losing everything.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Find My Past Preview: Tay Bridge Disaster

This week's Find My Past episode focuses on the Tay Bridge Disaster of 28 December 1879. In this horrific accident one stormy night, many people lost their lives when the bridge collapsed during a gale.  A passenger train on the bridge (which had opened just the previous year) plunged into the ice-cold waters of the Tay: no-one survived.  As always, the programme, which airs on Yesterday this Thursday at 9pm, looks at the stories of some people whose ancestors were involved in this tragedy.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Queen’s Barge

I was very interested to see the design for the barge which will be used by the Queen to travel down the Thames during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

When Queen Victoria visited north-west England in 1851, she and Prince Albert travelled along the Bridgewater Canal from Patricroft station to Worsley Hall to pay a visit to the earl of Ellesmere. The Earl had two imposing state barges fitted up to carry her Majesty and her retinue during her visit to Worsley. The stern of each boat was decorated with the earl of Ellesmere’s coat of arms. The queen’s boat was painted white with gold mouldings, and was upholstered inside with crimson satin.
There was intense excitement locally, but it was all too much for the canal horses. The Times reported that the horses received special training: ‘…in order that they may not be frightened at the shouts they are destined to hear.’ This was a necessary precaution because: ‘…when the horses were first tried they jumped into the canal.’ (Times, 8 October 1851.)

You can still see the Duke of Bridgewater's Boat House at Worsley today.

Image: The state barges on the Bridgewater Canal used during Queen Victoria’s visit to Worsley. Illustrated London News, 18 October 1851.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Find My Past Preview: The Suffragettes

This week's Find My Past episode explores the Suffragettes' heroic struggle to win votes for women. On 4 June 1913 Emily Davison stepped onto the racecourse at Epsom as a protest to help publicise the suffragette movement.  She died from her injuries shortly afterwards. 
In this week's programme, which airs on Yesterday at 9pm on Thursday, three people - Philippa Bilton, Katy Arnander and Matt Jopling - discover how their ancestors are linked to this famous but tragic incident in the history of women's rights.