Tag Archives: event

Plague Pits of London

London during the plague saw over 15% of the population wiped out with the two year period – 1656-1666.  The bodies had to go somewhere and hence, plague pits were dotted over the London area.

Plague pits all over London

Plague pits all over London

Historic Uk, have made available an interactive map of London showing the reputed Plague Pits. Gathered from various sources with a pop-up information box for each skull and crossbones link.

The burials places include :- Vincent Square; St Giles in the Fields, where the church’s own site gives information about the deaths; Pitfield Lane, Hoxton, was once home to a large plague pit; Queen’s Wood, Highgate; Knightsbridge Green; Bakerloo Line and Cross Bones Graveyard – known as the unconsecrated memorial to thousands of prostitutes who lived, worked and died in the area.  The pit was used during the height of The Great Plague.

History UK, say that although there is little evidence of the exact locations of the plague pits, this information is based on various sources and is an on-going project, and as such they are always willing for information on any other sites in the area.

Interactive WW2 map

Aberdeen was bombed during WW2 for three years.  This devastated those living and working in the area.

In 1943, according to the Press and Journal, was the deadliest attack killing nearly 100 people and injuring many.

At one time in the air 10 Luftwaffe Dornier 217 bombers circled the district, then swooped low, dropping bombs with no regard life or limb.  Killing, maiming from a distance and leaving panic and trauma in its wake.

The city saw its last raid in 1943 but had seen 141 others that were classed as minor.

Now an interactive map has been developed to show where and when the bombs fell and if your families life was impacted by these events.




It’s May – an eventful month

Well, only a few days into the merry month of May and so much has happened.

We have see the birth of another great grandchild to Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, but that will have to wait for another blog.  There has also been celebrations taking place for the end of the war in Europe – V E Day.

We have see the commemorations to those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Lusitania, 100 years ago and we have seen an election which I don’t think anyone predicted the outcome of.  But enough of politics, so back to the Lusitania a more fitting subject for this blog.

RMS Lusitania - Wikipedia

RMS Lusitania – Wikipedia

She, RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner and holder of the Blue Riband (an unofficial accolade given to passenger liners crossing the Atlantic at a record high speed – of 35 holders of the Blue Riband, 25 were British).  She was launched on 7th of June 1906, becoming part of the Cunard Line.  RMS Lusitania was the biggest passenger ship – for a short time.  Built by John Brown & Co., at Clydebank, she weighed in at 44,060 tons. She had 9 passenger decks, provided approx. 50% more passenger capacity that any other ship at the time.  The ship was equipped with lifts, electric lights, wireless telegraph and her first class accommodation and decks were magnificent in their furnishings.

The Lusitania left New York on the 1st of May 1915 for the port of Liverpool with 1962 people onboard including a crew of 850.

Advert from American papers - Wikipedia

Advert from American papers – Wikipedia

By this time the German Government had declared that all Allied ships would be in danger of being attacked in British waters.  Submarine activity was intensifying around the Atlantic making any vessel in our coastal waters a target for attack.  It is said that the German Embassy in the United States placed an advertisement in newspapers warning passengers of the danger of being a passenger on the Lusitania.

On the 7th of May, RMS Lusitania, was off the coast of Ireland ready to complete her 202nd crossing and was due to dock in Liverpool later that afternoon.  A course running parallel to the south coast of Ireland,  and roughly 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale when the liner crossed in front of U-20 at 14:10hrs. The Commanding Officer of U-20, Schwieger, gave the order to fire one torpedo, which struck the Lusitania on the starboard bow – just beneath the wheelhouse.  Shortly after, a second explosion came from within her hull, and the ship began to founder with a prominent list to starboard.

The crew rushed to launch the lifeboats but the position of the vessel and the conditions made their deploy quite difficult and in some cases almost impossible.  As it was only six of the 48 boats were launched.

Eighteen minutes after the torpedo struck, the bow touched the seabed, with the stern still visible above the surface of the water – finally, sliding beneath the waves to her grave.

Of the 1962 passengers and crew on board the Lusitania 1,191 lost their lives, 405 members of the crew lost their lives including John Henry Lowrie Hayes .

 The Lusitania had signalled her distress which brought Irish rescuers to the scene.

By the following morning the news if the sinking, of this unarmed passenger liner,  had spread worldwide.  Most of the passengers were either British of Canadians, there were 128 Americans on the passenger list who lost their lives and this outraged many in their country.

Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, a German spokesman published a statement saying that the Lusitania carried ‘contraband of war’ and also she was ‘classed as an auxiliary cruiser’ Germany had the right to destroy her regardless of any passengers on board.  He also stated that because of the published warning in American papers that Germany were relieved of any responsibility for the deaths of the American citizens.  He stated the ammunition and military goods listed as her cargo, which included an estimated 4,200,000 rounds of rifle cartridges, 1,250 empty shell cases and 18 cases of non-explosive fuses.

Cunard denied that she was carrying munitions but admitted her transportation of small-arms ammunition.

100 years later on the 7th of May 2015, Cunard’s MS Queen Victoria underook a voyage to the site of the sinking to lay a wreath to remember those who lost their lives on that day.

Previous commemorations had taken place, including  a lifeboat crew rowing the 12 miles to the site of the disaster.

Guest Blogger

compilation logo in frameIf you don’t want the hassle of running and maintaining your own blog, but you like the idea of informing like minded people. You may be one of the people I am looking for.

Have you an interesting story to tell about a a member of your family.  Tell about the trials and tribulations of family historians or a local history  snippet on people or places; someone involved in WWI, WWII or other conflicts, a man or woman who stayed at home to do ‘war work’ or even a someone who objected to war.

You could tell how to research in a specific place i.e. the National Archives.  It could be an historical event that you would like to tell about – something that happened in your locale.

Do you have first hand experience of research in America, Canada, Australia or Europe and can give advice on where to look, with a few hints and tips that someone with local knowledge has learnt over the years.

Have you any tips on how to store your family history.  Do you have any suggestions for storing photographs or other research materials.

Or have you been on a visit to another country to do some family history ‘stuff’,  to a war cemetery, a battlefield or some other interesting place – let me know.

The blog can be short, long or something in between but it must be your own work.

Contact me at    –    guestblogger@wakefieldfhs.org.uk

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Rhubarb Festival – Wakefield

This years Rhubarb Festival will be a 3-day event, running from from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th February.  This year is going to be bigger and better than ever with a market in the Cathedral precinct, cookery demonstrations, walks and tours.

Wakefield was traditionally the centre of rhubarb growing with the Rhubarb Triangle covering the Wakefield, East Ardsley, Rothwell, Carlton and Morley areas.  For over 150 years the fruit has been growing here, as conditions were ideal. There was plenty of local fuel – coal, and a large number of market gardeners.

A large amount of rhubarb was grown in ‘forcing sheds’, they bring an early crop and some can still be seen locally.  It is said that in the sheds, lit only by candles you can hear the rhubarb growing and as candles are moved to keep the rhubarb straight the light green tops turn to face the light – this could be the noise heard by the growers as the leaves are still uncurling. themselves

Years ago rhubarb was sent to Leeds on overnight trains full of rhubarb for the London markets.  Along with Champagne, Parma Ham, Yorkshire Rhubarb has protected status and joins British foods such as the Melton Mowbray pork pie, Stilton cheese, Arbroath Smokies and Jersey Royal potatoes to name just a few.

p.s. keep the event quiet as I want to be able to get a parking space!!

Wakefield – history and heritage here

Facebook page

For information and tours visit here E Oldroyd & Sons

History in a Wardrobe

What a wonderful way to learn about capsules of time – through a wardrobe, or should I say what is kept in a wardrobe.  But Lucy Adlington has a unique, informative and enjoyable way of bringing history alive through her History Wardrobe talks.

A friend of mine has known Lucy for many years, becoming friends by attending  one of Lucy’s talks and asking questions afterwards.  Talk, does not seem the right word as the events are more than that – more like a walk through a period of time with the audience being a friend or someone to have a conversation and a joke with.

I met Lucy earlier this year when my friend suggested I go to one of her events – that didn’t go to plan as the traffic was terrible and I arrived a little late. Lucy had started and  was all decked out (ouch!) in her finery as a first class passenger on the Titanic with her ‘husband’.

The changing of costumes during a day onboard the Titanic was wonderful, interspersed with jovial banter from the pair and was a delight – just like being party to their private jokes.  Then sadly the news of the iceberg reached the passengers and we follow the couple as they tell what happened to them – I won’t give away who their characters are as that would give away the ending!!

I next saw History Wardrobe when Lucy was in Agatha Christie mode during the 1920’s onwards and with the help of Merry wore some wonderful and original costumes from morning attire, day wear to an evening dress that would not be out of place on the red carpet today.  The duo worked off each other with quips and remarks flying fast and furious.

But seriously, the costumes together with snippets of Agatha’s novels went down a treat.  As with most of Lucy’s talks there are extra costumes on mannikins and memorabilia from the  period.

My latest show was ‘A woman of a certain age’, about Jane Austen and women in various times of there life in Jane’s  novels – the girl, the spinster, the married woman, the dowager, the widow and the ‘lady of a certain age’.  The costume worn by Lucy was simple but very striking.  Lucy de-constructed the dress, which in some places was held together with pins.  Hats were worn, flouncy capes worn, sections of Jane’s novels were read as examples of the times in a woman’s   life. An enjoyable time was had by all and many in the audience have been to more than one talk.

So, who is this lady that travels the country doing what women like doing – dressing up and talking?  Lucy is a graduate of both Cambridge and York Universities with degrees in English and Medieval Studies.

Cocktail anyone?

She has run workshops, given presentations and with her hands-on approach  is always in demand.  As well as all this Lucy is an accomplished author of childrens and young adult books.

A full diary of events can be found on the History Wardrobe website, so where ever you are in the country you will be able to see an event……………BUT !!!  keep it a secret, as I want to be able to get a seat!!!

WDYTYA & Find My Past Discount

Good News, Find My Past, like many others will be having a stand at the Who Do You Think You event which opens its doors next the  Friday, 25th February 2011.

To promote this FMP they are offering,  for a limited period 10% discount – valid from 21st February to 4th March 2011.

To take advantage of this discount click on the Find My Past link below and enter the discount code when prompted in the payment section.

discount code     WDYTYA11

As well as Find My Past there will be lots of other well known faces there including :- The Society of Genealogists ; Ancestry ; Alan Godfrey Maps ; Archives for London ; Commonwealth War Graves Commission ; Parish Chest ; Scotlands People ; Various magazines and Publishers + over 100 workshops.

Tip :-  Take smaller denomination notes (£5 & £10) and £1 coins, don’t weigh yourself down with coins but it does make it easier for those smaller purchaces.

Tip :- Take copies of documents, don’t risk the chance of losing the originals.

Tip:- Make notes of the names, places, dates etc that you may need or put it all in a Family History Diary and have all your information in one place and at hand for those excursions i.e. a day out at WDYTYA or a visit to the Archives or Local Studies Centre.

Have a wonderful day

Family History Diaryclick here to get your diary in a choice of sizes and colours – making it easier to follow your family.