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Military Monday - Percival Richardson. Royal Engineers Part I

I've recently added my 2x Great Uncle Percival Richardson to Lives of the First World War . I've already posted a few posts abo...

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014


One of the family items I now treasure which originally belonged to my grandparents is an old Collins' Atlas they purchased at some point during the Second World War 1939-1945.




My grandparents, Fred Richardson & Irene Jowett married in Nottingham in 1939, and spent their honeymoon on Jersey in the Channel Islands. ( I remember them mentioning seeing Amy Johnson land her plane at the Jersey airport.)  This was possibly the furthest they would have travelled at this time; from what I have seen of their early photos, they were most used to spending their holidays in Skegness, the closest seaside resort to Nottingham.

So when my grandfather joined the Royal Navy in November 1941 he realised he would be travelling great distances from his wife & daughter.  Although Fred was in the Royal Navy, after his training he was seconded to DEMS, or 'Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships' and travelled with the convoys of shipping, manning their guns.

Ship's crews were not allowed to mention their position in any letters home for security reasons and so to get round this Fred bought two copies of the Collins Atlas, taking one with him on his travels & leaving one at home with Irene.  He could then give her a page number & reference in a letter and she could work out roughly where he was or where he may be heading.



Once safely home, after the war, Fred marked and numbered all his voyages on the Atlas, so it's possible, with his service record, to work out how and where he spent his time in the Navy during the war.

So despite its battered appearance and the fact that it is decades out of date, I am very happy to have this in my care.


Wednesday, 6 August 2014


If you have traced your ancestors back to Nottingham in the census years of 1841 to 1911, it is highly likely that you will have come across lace making as an occupation.

My three main lace making families are the Oldhams, who worked in Calais during the 1860s as well as Nottingham, the Jowetts and the Bucknalls.

Looking through the census returns for these families, they did many different jobs within the lace industry, such as; 'mender', 'threader', 'draughtsman', 'clipper', 'manufacturer', 'winder', and 'warehouseman.' Not having any personal knowledge of the industry, I wasn't sure exactly what these different jobs entailed, so I was delighted to find a book of memoirs written by a local author, Mark Ashfield, who was employed in the lace industry.





I found it a very enjoyable read, with detailed description of life in a Nottingham lace factory - the hours, conditions, skills and works outings. It's available here both in paperback and for Kindle.









Another book which I've found really useful is Sheila Mason's 'Nottingham Lace 1760s - 1950s', my Oldhams even get a small mention!  It's available both via Amazon and Abebooks unfortunately at quite a price.  There may be reprinted copies available at the Nottingham branch of Waterstones, where I found my copy, for £25.






I think genealogy can be so much more than just gathering a list of names and dates.  If you can fill in the background, where they lived, how they worked, it can give you a much fuller picture of their lives.