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Friday, 23 March 2012

A Walk around Audlem

Recently we enjoyed a visit to Audlem in Cheshire. I was keen to have a look at the village, not only but it has a famous set of canal locks, but also because I think some of my Dickman ancestors lived near there briefly in the 1820s. The parish church is on a high mound, and has a commanding view of the many pretty old buildings in the village.
Audlem is on the Shropshire Union Canal, and we had a lovely walk along the towpath. The old mill near the wharf is now a canal shop with gifts and books; many thanks to Chris and Peter for their warm welcome. I signed some copies of my book Tracing Your Canal Ancestors while I was in the shop, so do contact the Canal Bookshop just in case if they have any left.
Audlem is also home to a Festival of Transport with narrow boats and vintage vehicles; the festival is on 29 July this year.

The parish church of St James the Great, Audlem.
Audlem Mill, formerly Kingbur Mill.
Canal boats on the Shropshire Union.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Competition Winner is Announced!

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to enter my competition. I was very impressed by the standard of all the entries and the ingenuity you displayed. Most people who entered the competition preferred the option of factory work, and I think I would have preferred that too. I can’t imagine what it would have been like spending hours crawling along a mine shaft dragging heavy coal waggons, or climbing up a chimney which was still suffocatingly hot from use.

In reality, you wouldn’t have had much ‘choice’ about where you worked if you were a child growing up in Victorian Britain. It would have depended on what work was available. And children’s parents were often  primarily interested in how much wages they could bring home; they couldn’t afford to be choosy about working conditions.
Sadly, there can only be one winner, and it gives me great pleasure to announce that the competition winner is: Jacqueline Pye!
Congratulations, Jacqueline! I loved your poem. If you could please send me your address (my email address is at the bottom of this page), I’ll pop a signed copy of The Children History Forgot in the post to you.

A cotton factory girl. Engraving, Lancashire by Grindon, Leo H., (Seeley & Co., 1892.)
Lord Shaftesbury visits a coal mine in the Black Country in 1842. Engraving by unknown artist, Rev. Edward Lightwood’s The Good Earl, (London, 1886).
A child chimney sweep of the 1860s. John Leech, ‘Pictures of Life and Character’, Punch (Bradbury & Evans, 1863).

Monday, 5 March 2012

Bringing the Past to Life

Robert Hale Ltd, who publish my books The Children History Forgot and Regency Cheshire, has just launched a new books blog about their authors and newest titles.  You can read my guest blog post about bringing the past to life here.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Titanic Ancestors

On 15 April 1912, the White Star Line’s beautiful new ship Titanic sank on its maiden voyage to New York after hitting an iceberg. Only around 700 of its 2,200 passengers and crew survived, despite the bravery of its officers such as William McMaster Murdoch from Dalbeattie.

My latest feature for Discover My Past Scotland has tips for finding out more about your Scottish ancestors on the Titanic. The Encyclopedia Titanica is also a wonderful resource for information about the Titanic’s passengers and crew. 
You can also now search the passenger and crew lists here at the National Archives website and explore this image library showcase.
The Titanic, Frank C Bowen, Ships For All, 2nd edition, (Ward, Lock & Co. Ltd, c.1930).
Titanic’s sister ship the Olympic being launched at Belfast in 1910. Cassell’s Book of Knowledge, Vol. VII, (Waverley Book Co., c.1924). All images from the Nigel Wilkes collection.
Artist’s impression of an ocean liner braving the peril of icebergs. Cassell’s Book of Knowledge, Vol. IV, (Waverley Book Co., c.1924).