Friday, March 29, 2013

My literary ancestor etc...Sepia Saturday 170

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.

In this weeks image...........The ‘Lincoln Inn’, the ‘Lincoln Coffee Lounge’, the ‘Stinkin Lincoln’ or simply the ‘snake-pit’ occupies a mythical status in the intellectual life of post-war Sydney, as one of the meeting places of the Sydney Push, a left-wing intellectual subculture in Sydney from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Many well known names in Australia are associated with the Sydney Push, The Proletarian Push and the The Poseurs Push.

 I have to confess that such subcultures really do not connect with me very much, and the only persons who have come to my attention are Clive James and Germaine Grier, to whom I award 9/10 and 1/10 respectively for not irritating me too much for their cheek and arrogance.

So how can I connect to this image?

A little lateral thinking is required, and therein lies my luck this week. I just discovered I have ancestral connections with............ of Australia’s most prolific authors!!

My discovery goes like this:...............Do you remember my Great Grandpa William Barnes of Ashbourne freezing on the beach at Borth?

(Own collection)
Readers cannot have forgotten the old boy surely?

I was doing a little more research on the internet after a US cousin read my blog and responded....... “Is he the same guy who it is said caught a brace of trout just before he died?"

Yes..indeed it is, except that it was not a brace!! 
William Barnes, Boothby Meadow, Green Road, Ashbourne, circa 1934
(own collection)

For those tempted to be scathing about the
 size of Derbyshire trout, just ask Isaak Walton
where his most favoured fishing was.
(courtesy Wikipedia)

Getting back to the point...........

On checking out William Barnes and Ashbourne with a search, I came across a biographical site of an author about whom very few of my readers will have heard, or have read....

Nathaniel Gould !!

WHO?....I hear you say. yes that’s right....Nat Gould.


Nathaniel Gould (1857 - 1919), universally known as Nat Gould, was one of the most prolific authors of all time. During his life he wrote numerous best selling books, normally on a racing theme, and was in his day the most widely-read author in the world.

Those readers who did ever hear of him will undoubtedly leave a comment to make me enjoy my newly found pride. For others, here is a quick biography:

  • Born 1857 Manchester, of a Derbyshire yeoman family, the Goulds of Pilsbury Grange near Hartington.
  • As a young man he tried his hand at farming in Derbyshire, and in his father’s tea merchant business in Manchester.
  • Became a journalist in Newark, Nottinghamshire.
  • 1884: Emigrated to Australia. Worked on newspapers in Brisbane, Sydney, Bathurst, returning to Sydney., where he wrote his first 9 books.

  • Homesick for England he left Australia in 1895 where he settled with his family at Bedfont in Middlesex.
  • During his relatively short life of just over sixty-one years Nat Gould wrote and published over one hundred and thirty novels and stories. He died at Bedfont in 1919.
  • Nat Gould is, however, of importance even beyond his huge output of popular novels. Because his books were so widely read, his descriptions of Australian life, based on the eleven years that he spent in Australia, deeply etched themselves in the minds of his readers. Indeed it has been asserted that they were responsible for the *impression of Australia held in other countries.
(* I would assert that it was the Fosters "Australians wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else." advertisement that left the impression for my generation)

So what is my connection?

Nat Gould and I share two connections, and they are both Ashbourne. Derbyshire, “Wright” family connections. It's rather complex as there was some cousin marrying going on which make it especially confusing for someone with the very modest genealogical skills I have.

The simple one is that when working in the tea trade in Manchester he worked with my Great Great Grandfather, Francis Wright (1825-1900) and his father John (1791-?). He was a cousin of Francis also.

The ancestral connection is that Nat Gould’s Great Grandfather, John Wright, Farmer, of Crowdecote, Derbyshire (1752-1840) is............... my Great Great Great Great Grandfather.

Crowdecote, on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border, our ancestral roots.
(Courtesy Geograph)


So there you have it....Nat Gould, from Victorian Sydney Cafe fifth cousin 3 times removed.

"Nat archetypal Anglo-Australian Imperialist sportsman at the turn of the 19th century"
(and an archetypal Anglo-Blogger accountant at the turn of the 20th century).

My other connection to cafe society of Sydney

That's not all. I have a very current connection to Sydney Cafe Society. My daughter Fiona is on a gap year before university, and has been travelling in New Zealand and Australia since last October. Now she is building up some financial reserves for a little more travel, and she is working at Blend on George Street. I asked her to send me a photo of her at work in the cafe. I have no doubt she thought I was preparing a surprise Easter photo card for her Mum or something similar. I know I will be in serious trouble for blogging her photo, but it's not my fault that I have to write about Sydney cafes this week!

"Coffee is my Life"
Fiona at Blend on George. March 2013.
(She did well to get the nail varnish to match the menu!!)

Happy Easter to all readers !!
( both of you)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dislikes and Likes....Sepia Saturday 169

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.


I tend to be impulsive. I instantly disliked this photo, or should I say, there is nothing I like about it. Such a false series of poses by the people. The cherry trees would be lovely in colour but mean nothing in B&W. The Washington monument is spectacular in real life, but just another obelisk here. What artist, other than tipsy friends of Donna Berta di Bernardo, ever set his easel on a slope when painting the vertical?

I found interest only in discovering what was the building on the far right horizon.

If the title "Photographers shooting Cherry blossoms, Washington, D.C. 4/7/22" is correct at April 7, 1922, then I can say that the building was the annex #3 of the former Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They had moved out of this building opened in 1880, moving in 1914 to a much larger new limestone neoclassical building just to the south of the original complex, which would be just off tho the right of this photo.

I am not sure what the building was used for in 1922, but now  it is the cafeteria of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The 1890 building.

The 1890 building with Annex #3 built in 1905 on the right.

The Bureau moved to the new building in 1914 (right)
(Courtesy of Library of Congress)

The new building from 1914, as seen from near the
Washington Monument.

The 1905 Annexe #3, now part of the United States Holocaust
 Memorial Museum.


In 1969, the year I left school, I spent 2 months in the USA with a "99 days for US$99" Greyhound unlimited mileage pass, and I did go everywhere. I stayed in Washington DC a few days and my tour round the Bureau of Printing and Engraving was absolutely the highlight of my stay in the District. I was, in those days, a fanatical philatelist and to see such security printing first hand was more than exciting for me.

From 1893, until this issue in 1943, the Bureau printed all US postage stamps.
 In 2005 the Bureau finally ceased as a stamp printer.

I was trying to remember more of my visit. I know the first MacDonald's I ever had was just by the Washington Greyhound bus station, I had not the faintest idea of how or what to order, but I did think "this idea could certainly catch on in the UK".......... but  sadly I failed to follow up and take on the UK franchise.

 I slept well when I was visiting. When I was tired in the evening I went to the bus station, checked the timetable carefully, and took a bus to somewhere, anywhere, arriving about 3 am. Then I simply got off and took a bus back to the city fresh for breakfast.

Greyhound bus station Washington DC (completed 1940).
It looked considerably more seedy when I was there in 1969.
(Courtesy Flickr)

Seedy no longer, and how wonderful they saved this great art moderne
(Courtesy Google Street View)

A 1969 MCI Greyhound MC-7. My regular hotel for 2 months.

Favourite Photo Likes

From my collection of ancestral photos, this is one I treasure more than any other:

Willian Neville Barnes 1889-1908
(Own collection)

Poor little Neville Barnes was my great uncle. He died in 1908 aged 18, and by then was living at Earlswood Asylum, many miles away from his family home in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. He was looked after by the family until aged 13 or so, and then went to Earlswood. Convention of how families looked after disabled children then was very different. In fact his sister, my maternal grandmother, never mentioned his disability to my mother. It was always just said one of the children, of which Neville was the youngest of 7, "died young", that is all. It was left to my Mum to discover the truth, as an adult, by looking through old photos. Even my Mum never knew he had been sent away at age 13, that was left to my research.

Earlswood Asylum, or as it was originally known, The Royal Earlswood Asylum for Idiots, commenced in 1848.

John Langdon-Down (after whom Down condition was named) was medical superintendent of the hospital from 1855 to 1868.

It is my saddest and most favoured early cabinet card. It tortures me to try to imagine how the family made their difficult decisions, and how they coped with what was socially normal and correct, and in a child's best interest, in 1903.

Royal Earlswood Hospital c.1854

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Flying the flag for Britain...for Sepia Saturday 168

My eyes were drawn only to the flags..........................

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.

I  am fanatical about the Union Jack being flown the correct way up.

 Lets start with a basic lesson:

Flagpole to the left.............................Correct                  

Flagpole to the left.............................Upside Down

Convention is that any flag is always viewed correctly with the flag pole to the left.

So how do your remember? Firstly just remember to have to check with someone who knows and don't put it up until you are sure. I simply look at the bottom left quadrant and remember the broad white stripe is on top, but you may need a more sophisticated way of remembering. (Yes, I know that there is a special word for a way of remembering something, but I can't even remember that!)

Did they get it right at Potsdam?

Its hard to say from the Sepia Saturday image as the Union Jack is hidden, so I went searching for another image taken from the other side of the table.

After careful analysis....yes!!..they got it right.
(Nice table cloth Joseph...but perhaps green would have been more tasteful.)

( Courtesy Christies.COM) [POTSDAM CONFERENCE, 1945]. Oversized color photograph of the attendees of the Potsdam Conference seated at a large round table, signed on the mat in ink by President HARRY S. TRUMAN ("Harry S Truman"), British Prime Minister WINSTON S.CHURCHILL ("Winston S Churchill"), Truman's Chief of Staff, Admiral William Leahy and one other unidentified participant, [Potsdam, July 1945]. 18½ x 22 inches, matted and framed. Fine. Realised $19,120.SALE 1246.New York, Rockefeller Plaza. 17 June 2003.

Did Churchill know what was correct and incorrect?

History does not tell us whether he knew or cared about which way up to fly the flag, but he certainly got confused with his V signs, and his embarrassed aides had to correct him.

(In Britain the right hand gesture is particularly offensive !!)

Do I always get it right?

Well....I hope so, but its easy to slip up. But ever time I see a Union Jack I check, and if I can I will let the person know. I have pushed notes through doors, and have even gone into The Hotel Royal reception desk in Poznan, Poland to tell them. Such a sweet and apologetic girl  behind the desk !!

Poznan 2011: I had to be extra observant!
(courtesy Google Streetview)

My most Royal encounter in 2012

(.................. for which I am still awaiting my knighthood)

May 16, 2012: On the TV news I saw the lighting of the Olympic flame at the Acropolis, and the flag was upside down !! Outrage !! But too late to grumble. 

The next day at 4 pm Anne, Princess Royal, was due to take delivery of the flame at the Panathenaic stadium for onward transportation to the UK. At 1 pm UK time I put on the TV news by chance, and saw the venue, with crowds gathering...................and again the flag was upside down !!

Time for me to slip into action.

I rang Buckingham Palace and asked to speak to the Princess Royal's office. No problem, as easy as pie, a palace phone number on the internet, a polite real person answers the phone, no option buttons to press. Straight through to the right office.  "Oh Dear !!" the the well spoken lady said  "I will get a message over there immediately"

.....and she did !!

.....and they got some Greek soldiers out of bed...........still in their slippers.........

back to bed.. .......flag now correct !!

Cheers Nigel !

Later....the flame come through Derby..............

All correct!! I took my flag party to watch the Olympic flame come past my street.
Spot the Grand Union flag (stripes) and the pre 1805 Union Flag.
Red Australian Ensign, New Zealand flag and Fiji flag hidden.
(Own collection)

Oh dear !!! This little girl had not read my blogs !!
(Own collection)

Even the Prince of Wales was oblivious

H.R.H. The Prince of Wales throwing the ball
 at Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football,
February 21, 1928.
(Own collection)
When the present Prince of Wales threw the ball up in 2003 his
 security men were, presumably, checking the flags when they
lost him to the mob !!
(Courtesy Reuters)

My match-box cover

I am not sure if  I can still buy a box of matches the size to fit this little 1945 pressed tin souvenir cover.

In my reading of history it was in fact Stalin who was the "Greatest Tyrant in History",
 and indeed Hitler takes some beating, but 1945 was not a good year to upset Stalin.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cracks, cracking, and a cracking good time.. Sepia Saturday 167.

Read about Sepia Saturday blogs here

I have lots to write this week. I had never heard of Mosman Bay before this prompt photo made me investigate. What a beautiful bay, and what a shame someone cracked the glass slide. I have never been to Sydney, or Australia for that matter, but I should know more. My youngest daughter Fiona has been there since last October on a gap year before University in Nottingham next year, and is living in a back-packer's hostel a stone's throw from Mosman Bay.

If you sail south for one mile, to the right in this photo, and then turn west again for a further mile, you will come to Sydney Harbour Bridge, probably one of the best known landmarks of Australia.

A cracking good time

I want to share with you a letter written to my late first cousin once removed Victor Sydney (no connection) Smith when he was at school at Abbotsholme, a severe boys' boarding school on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border. It was from his aunts Mabel and Edith Smith of Derby, and they were cruising around Australia and were witnesses to, and enjoyed the party of the opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge on March 19, 1932.

(Own collection)
(Own collection)
(Own collection)

Orient Line SS Orford about to pass under the bridge. (Courtesy Flickr.)

Crack open the whisky!

Next I wondered what my Sydney friend "MS" could tell me about Mosman Bay, by way of anecdotes. I know he has always had yachts when he has lived in Sydney, and pined for sea-water when he lived in Derbyshire. Yes...he writes......... he knew it well from his days at Sydney Amateur Sailing Club just to the right of the prompt image on this side. I then got a totally unrepeatable story of bad behaviour when he took some work colleagues out on his boat, which commenced with .........."and after the race we cracked open a bottle of whisky. Needless to say the skipper fell asleep and the work colleagues chose to depart on the tender leaving me asleep.......on the way of getting home......"

This morning this image arrived of "MS" and his wife and boys taking my daughter Fiona sailing shortly before I write this blog, a few bays to the north of Mosman Bay. This photo is about as fresh as you will ever see on Sepia Saturday, and Fiona is the one having a cracking good time.
(Courtesy "MS" collection.)

My poor ancestors

Here are some of my cracked but precious ancestor images:

Granny Aspdin circa 1895, yes, you have seen her before too many times, Evelyn, one of the skating Slater sisters.
(Own collection)

My great great grandfather Thomas Barnes of Ashbourne , 1810-1858. This is actually a tinted ambrotype image of an earlier ambrotype glass. You can see the edges of the original glass when its not behind the mount. So I suspect it was originally taken say circa 1856 when he was 46, and duplicated on his death for family members say 1858+. I have two copies, the other thankfully not cracked.
(Own collection)

A cracked glass plate of a coal fired kiln at my ancestral works of WH&J Slater, salt glazed sanitary pipes and fittings, chimney pots etc, Denby near Derby. Year unknown and difficult for me to date as it still looked like this in the 1950s when I was small, before the kilns were oil fired and salt glazing had to cease due to air pollution.
(Own collection)

I feel sure someone is going to date the kiln image for me now I can show you the box the slides are kept in.
(Own collection)

Cracking the whip!! For those who remember the Skating Slater Sisters of prior weeks, here is Beatrice Slater on horseback in the Derby yard of WH&J Slater, my home, with some of the pipes from the kiln. Circa 1906.
(Own collection)

5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters

Among the papers of my late father Lt Col Geoffrey Aspdin, relating to the capture of the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters in Singapore in 1942, and time as POW slave labour on the Burma Siam railway, I found this cracked glass negative.

Glass negative (3.25 x 4.25 inches), almost certainly produced in the re-photographing of a positive image made in 1946/7 as the slide is stored in a Kodak bromide paper box with a stamped date of December 1946. The original image is Lt. Colonel Harold H Lilly, commanding officer of the 5th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters. He is photographed in Singapore between 29/1/1942 and 15/2/1942. He is looking very relaxed sitting reading in front of his tent, apparently oblivious of impending fall of Singapore and capture by the Japanese within days. From 1942 to 1945 the battalion were POWs treated by the Japanese as slave labour on the Burma Siam Railway. 450 officers and men of the battalion died in captivity.
(Own collection)
Luckily there is another positive image.
Lt. Colonel Harold H Lilly.

While the CO was reading, my father
 Captain Aspdin was taking a dip in the Straits of Johor

Jungle cemetery of some of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Burma Siam Railway. Photo assumed to be circa 1945 as markers are wooden.
(All own collection)

Lt. Colonel HH Lilly (left) was a well known commanding office on the railway and highly regarded by men and officers of many other regiments with whom he had contact. I have always felt that Alec Guinness modeled his appearance on him when he played the fictional Lt. Colonel Nicholson (right) in  the film Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). For the sake of historical accuracy, however, I have no evidence that this was the case.

Crack-Heads of Derby, Vandals, and Criminals

In Friar Gate, Derby, just round the corner from my home, is some beautiful street art, ceramic heads representing alleged prisoners from the old Derby Gaol, which was originally in Friar Gate. They were made about 14 years ago by artist Tim  Clapcott at a time when pavement renovation works were being carried out. Sadly Derby has its fair share of vandals, and it was inevitable that eventually someone would damage them, as indeed they did in 2010. The good people of the city were outraged at the loss of these much loved icons of our past.

Some cracked heads in 2010. I am too ashamed to show the worst damage.
(Own collection)

I carefully stored the cracked and broken bits wondering what the outcome would be. This weekend Tim Clapcott arrived with a new set of heads and has been working all hours for 3 days to get them installed. It is very exciting to have our prisoners back looking so good.

Artist Tim Clapcott installing his new heads In Friar Gate, March 3, 2013.
(Own collection)

I was able to show Tim an interesting news-sheet purchased by my ancestors April 1847 and carefully put away. More ancestors having a cracking good time, with free entertainment.

The ghoulish news sheet sold to spectators of public hangings at Derby Gaol.
(Own collection)

I will let you read the crimes you should not commit in Derby if you do not wish the hangman to crack your neck.

Finally.............: To the residents of Mosman Bay 
......A warning.........I suggest you continue to give Derby a miss !

The end