Saturday, September 30, 2017

Old Newspapers and Private Schools - The Bourne Hall Academy Example

Over the last few years the digitization of old newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive has made it far easier to investigate at least some of the private schools whose records do not exist.

In 2012 I was asked about Bourne Hall Academy, at Bushey and came up with an outline history based mainly on trade directories and census returns. About a week ago Cynthia contacted me to say that her relative Henry Hunt Sirkett had been at the school and he was recorded as having passed exams in the Herts Advertiser.

I decided that it would be interesting to use this school as a case study to assess how much extra information was available - particularly in the Herts Mercury (for the early years), the Herts Advertiser from 1855 and later from the Watford Observer. In fact I found so many references that there was no way I could find time to view them all, much less record all the names and events.

I decided to concentrate on the ownership and naming of the school as told in adverts. I discovered that H L Biggs took over Grove House boarding school in January 1844 and moved to Bourne Hall Academy by 1850. From then on there were regular reports in the papers of events such as prize-giving days and cricket matches, and details of students who passed external examinations. (Because to their number I selected three or four such items to examine in detail.) Things seem to have gone well until 1882 when H L Biggs handed over the school to his son H B Biggs, and it would seem that the new headmaster was not a success and in 1884 it appears that some boys who had prepared for some external examinations were not entered.Definitely the number of boys listed as passing external exams in 1888 was lower than one would have expected some ten years earlier. In addition it seems thatsome of the school buildings may have been used teach girls foreign languages.

The exact date that the school closed is uncertain but the furniture was sold off early in 1889, and the landlord put the property on the market a few months later. The bankruptcy hearings were revealling and demonstrate than the young headmaster had failed to learn good bookkeeping while a pupil at the school ...

For full details see Bourne Hall Academy

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Formation of the Volunteer Rifle Corps in 1860

Poem on the Volunteer Rifle Corps Meeting at Berkhamsted

 In January 1860 there were  meetings at Ashridge, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring to form a combined Rifle Corps. For details (and the full poem) click on the poem.
For the historic background see Wikipedia

Friday, September 22, 2017

Early Post Card images of Old Hertfordshire

The Congregational Church. Barley, circa 1950
Now a private house
Quite a lot of my recent requests for information are for larger images of some of the early prints and post cards - the last being a view of Barley for a poster for a Harvest Supper to be help at Barley Parish Church on 30th September. As a result it might be appropriate to explain the current position relating to images on the site.

  1. There is no fee for using this web site but if you use material from the site please consider making a donation to support the mentally ill in Hertfordshire.
  2. You are free use any pictures of old post cards and prints shown on this web site where I own an original copy (This includes all post card images where there is no reference to a source book, etc.)
  3. If the picture has a blue border clicking on the image will produce a larger image - typically 1024 pixels wide. In preparation for archiving this web site the number of such images is being increased - so that it can continue to be used as a picture library with several thousand images of the county over 100 years ago..
  4. Larger images may be available - contact me if you are interested.

Wagon & Horse Pub  - possibly 1920
Now renamed the Fox & Hounds
Because of the size of the site it will take several years to upgrade all the post card images, and priority will be given to villages or selected aspects of the larger towns if people contact me. Because the last request was about Barley I have added three new post cards - and upgraded over a dozen existing views with 1024 pixel wide images.
St Margaret's House (former Rectory), Barley

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Railway comes to Tring on Wednesday 20th September

Ian Petticrew is a local historian and joint author, with Wendy Austin, of several books, including one on this subject. On Wednesday, 20th September, he will be giving a talk to the Tring Local History Society at the High Street Methodist Church, Tring.

Tring Station is at the summit of the London to Birmingham Railway (the world's first mainline route) and his talk will cover the engineers, selection of the route, the Act of Parliament, construction contracts, illustrations of the line under construction, stations, locomotives and early timetables.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Harpenden News from 1891 - A fire and a funeral

Old News
 Following an email from Colin relating to the Anscombe family of Harpenden I decided to update the Anscombe page with a link to Mrs Pamela Anscombe's funeral, which lists relatives who were still living. The page also included details of a fire at the Anscombe's shop and other local news which I have copied below.

Messrs. Anscombe wish to thank all those who rendered each useful assistance at the recent fire on their premises.

St. George's School. — On Sunday evening at evensong a special sermon was preached in the chapel of this school by the Rev. B. W. Harris, in aid of the Home Missions in East London. The offertory was also devoted to the same object.

Young Women’s Guild. — The members of the above guild held their quarterly tea and meeting at the rectory Monday. Various games were indulged in ; the members afterwards attending a service in the parish church, when address was given by the Rector.

Accident to little Girl.— On Friday afternoon a little girl named Puter, of Luton, met with a somewhat serious accident whilst playing on the large roller near the cricket ground. She was running down the shaft, and falling on to some ironwork gashed her knee. Dr. Wilson dressed and stitched np the wound.

Wesleyan Chapel. — This chapel was well filled on Sunday evening, when a sermon was preached by Mr. M. White, a coloured student of Richmond College. Mr. White also gave an address to the scholars in the afternoon. He is now training to go back as missionary among his own people.

Congregational Chapel. — The anniversary services of this chapel were held Wednesday. A public tea was provided at which good company assembled. Two excellent sermons were preached afternoon and evening by the Rev. J. Brown, D.D., of Bedford (Chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales), at which there were large congregations.

Outbreak of Fire.—On Saturday night, about 12.30, an outbreak of fire in some sheds on the premises at Messrs. Anscombe and Son's was simultaneously discovered by several persons. Mr. W. H. Anscombe, who is captain of the Fire Brigade, was quickly on the spot, and was shortly afterwards followed by the other members of the Brigade. It was then found that a shed, utilised as a storehouse for empties, with some chairs and fixtures, was in full flames. It was impossible to save this building, and the efforts of the Brigade were then directed to preventing the fire spreading to adjoining stables and premises. The structure was composed of wooden walls, and was about 30 feet long by 12 feet wide and 16 feet high, with galvanised iron roof. Messrs. Anscombe are insured in the Union Office, and the damage is estimated at about £30.

Death of Mrs. Anscombe, Jun. — The death of Mrs. Allen Anscombe. jun., occurred on Thursday in last week. The deceased lady, who was the daughter of Mr. Rothwell, had been married about eight years, and leaves three sons. She had been suffering for about eleven months from a cancer of the tongue and throat, for which she was attended by Dr. Blake. At that time an operation was performed upon her at King's College by Mr. Heath. It was hoped that this would prove effectual, but although it afforded temporary relief, it was necessary that other minor operations should be undergone. Notwithstanding the treatment and the supreme efforts used the cancer gradually increased, and eventually terminated fatally. Mrs. Anscombe bore the trouble with great fortitude and courage. For some time prior to her marriage the deceased lady took an active interest in the Congregational Chapel at Harpenden. The funeral took place onTuesday afternoon at Harpenden Church, a large number of the inhabitants of the village, and personal friends, together with relatives, being present. The service was conducted by the Rev. E. T. Vaughan, rector. The mourners were — Mr. Allen Anscombe, jun., and Mr. W. B. Bothwell, Mr. and Mrs. Mr. W. H. Anscombe and Mrs. Mallett, Mr. and Mrs. Anscombe. Mr. B. Anscombe and Miss Anscombe. Mr. A. E. Ansoombe and Miss 8. F. Anscombe, Rev. W. R. Price and Miss Ashworth. The employes of Messrs. Anscombe also followed. The funeral arrangements were carried oat by Mr. Irons, the coffin being of oak with burnished brass plates. The inscription was: Pamela Ansoombe, died 25th June, 1831, aged 36 years.” A large number of beautiful wreaths sent by relatives and friends completely covered the coffin. Among them were the following : from W.H. Ansoombe: “From brothers and sisters,” A.E.A., E.A., E.M.A., and S.F.A.; from W. E. Rothwell; “With loving sympathy.” from E. M. Rothwell; With deepest sympathy. ’ Mr. and Mrs. Frear, sen., and the Misses Frear; "With respects,” from Lizzie and Emily: With deepest sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Winter: from Mrs. Claridge ; “With deepest sympathy.” from Mr. and Mrs. Willmott; "With sympathy,” from Mr. and Mrs. Simons and all at Cell Park-farm: "In token of our esteem and sympathy” from the assistants; “With sincere respect and sympathy,” from the workroom; “In loving memory," from Eliza and Harriett Walsh.

Herts Advertiser, 4 July, 1891
From British Newspaper Archive

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Steabbens - Butcher of St Albans and Hatfield

Alfred Wren, with the butcher's van owned by Steabbens of St Albans and Hatfield
Hillary has kindly provided the above picture of Alfred Wren, who was born i 1899 and moved to London in 1923 - almost certainly taken after the war - where he had joined the army despite being under age. I have added it to the existing Steabben page

If you have any similar early photos which could be added to an existing page on my web site I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Current Hertfordshire (and adjacent) papers online at the BNA

Extracted from latest British Newspaper Archive list: 

Barnet Press 13400 pages 1861-1862, 1879-1910
Bedfordshire Mercury 22174 pages 1837-1877, 1879, 1890-1895, 1898-1910, 1912
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 48802 pages 1859-1873, 1887-1888, 1891-1897, 1899-1954
Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press 37450 pages 1854-1855, 1859-1897, 1899-1911, 1913-1955
Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 2294 pages 1860, 1872, 1874, 1890, 1912
Bucks Gazette 4312 pages 1829-1849
Bucks Herald 55362 pages 1833-1851, 1853-1953
Hemel Hempstead Gazette and West Herts Advertiser 3456 pages 1872, 1874-1876, 1879, 1881-1882, 1886, 1891
Hendon & Finchley Times 34728 pages 1878-1940
Hertford Mercury and Reformer 14628 pages 1834-1837, 1840-1889, 1913, 1916-1918, 1939
Hertfordshire Express and General Advertiser 2394 pages 1859-1871
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow 12590 pages 1878-1882, 1884-1888, 1890-1898, 1900-1910
Herts Advertiser 16878 pages 1866-1895, 1897-1907
Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser 9882 pages 1852-1867, 1883
Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette 14476 pages 1861, 1863-1904, 1939
Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle 5436 pages 1897, 1905-1906, 1917-1919, 1936, 1939, 1950, 1953-1954
Luton Times and Advertiser 15802 pages 1855-1862, 1866-1873, 1875-1880, 1885, 1894-1916
South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal 2672 pages 1859-1860, 1862, 1865, 1879, 1882
South Bucks Standard 9206 pages 1890-1897, 1899-1910, 1912-1914
Watford Observer 14406 pages 1863-1909

The most recent newspaper to be added is the Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News - and I will be watching to see when they add new pages. The paper was founded in 1836 by my great grandfather, John Gibbs and includes good coverage of the Tring area of Hertfordshire. The Births, Marriage and Deaths column often included information on Gibbs relatives  even if they had left Aylesbury many years before.  I am also waiting for some of the later years of the Herts Advertiser to appear - as it was founded by Richard Gibbs - who was John Gibbs' brother. As yet the BNA has not covered the Maidenhead Advertiser - which was founded by another of my ancestors

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Restoration Work on the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union CanalRelining the

Relining the disused canal near Tring
Laying the concrete blocks
The process involves the following stages
(1) The side is excavated smoothly down, using the JCB
(2) Large sheets of a waterproofing fabric containing a bentonite filling are added.
(3) A wall of concrete blocks is laid against the sheeting to protect it from damage from the barges once the canal is in use.
(4) The top of the wall is covered with a roll of coconut matting 
(5) The upper part of the sheeting will later be covered with soil.
(6) When the sides have been completed along a reasonable length the bottom will be covered with a large sheet of matting.
(7) The matting on the floor will then be covered with a thick layer of soil.
(8) When a suitable length has been prepared a temporary earth dam will be added and the area flooded.
(9) When eventually the restoration work connects with the canal at Tringford the earth dams will be removed and canal badges will again be able to go along the canal.
At the present rate this is unlikely to be before about 2025.

Stalls at Drayton Beauchamp Church
The photos were taken on the recent open day, held by the Wendover Arm Trust.

There was car parking, refreshments and an information stall at Drayton Beauchamp church, with escorted trips along the canal to the working site.

[As part of my archiving activities  I plan to update the pages on the Grand Union Canal and its branches - with many pictures of the canal and its buildings as they are now.]

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fighting on Blackbirds Moor, Hemel Hempstead

The Knight in action
Yesterday I visited Blackbirds Moor, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead to see the first day of "Living History on the Moor" with out Australian Visitor. This was put on by the Medieval Siege Society. who will be preforming again today (Sunday)

The Medieval Camp Site on Robin Moor