Friday 30 November 2012

Small world strikes ... in Nelson Street

As I appear to have finished my latest Open Uni TMA on my deadline day (which is a week before everyone else's due to forseen circumstances in the next week) I am going to indulge myself with a continuation of yesterday's blog on the Gardener's Arms on Nelson Street, Barnsley.

While I was researching the pubs on Nelson Street on Tuesday evening I did not restrict myself to internet sources.  I am fortunate to have access to a selection of electoral roll books from Barnsley from 1930 to 1974 (no - don't worry, the house isn't going to cave in under the weight of all 44 years I only have 6 books!).  These books have been some of my favourite bed time reading when I'm a bit under the weather - you just need to turn the pages and scan down the names, enjoying the names of those odd little terraces and courts in the centre of Barnsley that are hard to pin point even with a map.  Clearances of older houses (OK, slum clearances - but some people dispute that all the houses knocked down were actually slums) appear to have taken place in Barnsley in two tranches.  The first in the 1930s and the second in the late 1950s to early 1960s.  Comparing any street in the electoral rolls over the 40 odd years gives clear indication as to when the populations moved on (though looking at all the books would pin it down even better I don't think the OH would appreciate the extra shelf space I'd need and the local studies library is currently closed.)  These books give a way of finding out who lived on Nelson Street after the currently available census data runs out.  I was interested to see what kind of people lived there and how old the houses were that were so in need of knocking down.

The photographs and maps on Yococo provide wonderful irreplaceable visual evidence of the housing that has gone.  Try a search with the word 'bleasby', this brings back a collection of pictures from the 1930s including some fantastic images of the insides of typical homes.  A search on 'location plan' brings back a set of annotated maps of the areas which were cleared and various buildings demolished in the 1950s and 60s.  (Don't worry that the images look a bit squashed on the info pages - click on zoom for the full size images and their proportions are correct - the 1930s pictures are huge though, you'll have to set your browser magnification down to 25% or less to see the whole image!)

Nelson Street features on only one of the Yococo images, although a search of the surrounding streets with the help of a contemporary map will give you glimpses of street corners.  The house that features, number 8,  has a stone inset that reads Vine Cottages MDS 1838 (I'm not 100% about that interpretation of the date - what do you think?).  It looks like quite a sizable house, steps to the front door, so probably a cellar underneath, ground floor, 1st and 2nd floors above.  The outbuildings in Court No 4 were probably stores originally - I find it hard to believe they were always homes as they became later.

Location of No 8 Nelson Street (in front of Court No 4) and date stone (from Old Maps and Yococo)
We worked out yesterday that the Gardener's Arms wasn't present on a map of the area in 1852, but that surrounding houses were.  From the Kelly's directory I found on Ancestry I can see that St George's church, which is nearby on Pitt Street, was built in 1821 and the Church of the Holy Rood which was on the other side of Nelson Street to the Gardener's Arms, in 1821, extended 1832 (thanks to the website of the school children of Holy Rood Primary School for this information - nice to see children interested in history).

The census for 1841 lists 296 people living on Nelson Street.  In 1851 there are 338 people living on Nelson Street amongst them my OH's 3x great-grandparents Peter and Harriet Duncan, who only married in October 1850, the year before.  Their first son and my OH's 2x great-grandfather was baptised in July 1851 in the nearby St George's church, so he was, more than likely, born on Nelson Street, a very precise 9 months after Peter and Harriet's marriage.  A further child, Mary is also baptised at St George's church in 1853, then the family changes allegiance to St Mary's in 1857 suggesting a move of house.  In the 1861 census they are living in Summer Street.  They may have moved before 1857 however as Mary, the second child, is reported in the Leeds Times as dying at Jamp (Jump?) near Barnsley in 1855.

Isn't it a small world ... we only started looking for missing pubs and start finding ancestors lurking in the same place.

Peter Duncan is a joiner and cabinet maker.  He may have been employed by George Hardy, a joiner master employing 1 man and 2 apprentices also living on Nelson Street in 1851.  George Hardy is easy to find in the 1861 census, living at 34 Nelson Street, he gives his occupation as Retired Joiner.  Oddly Court 4 is listed between numbers 33 and 34 Nelson Street ... is this significant, is no. 33 or 34 Vine Cottage or does the order in which the enumerator has transcribed the census schedules not reflect a walk down the street as one might think.  The fact that the numbers are sequential not separated into odds and evens suggests a different numbering system for the street than that used in the 1930 before demolition or even in the 1911 census.

Working backwards from George Hardy I found the Eagle Inn, landlord James Simmons, Provision Dealer and Beerhouse Keeper.  The pub was listed between numbers 8 and 25 Nelson Street - this makes no sense at all!  The Eagle was listed at number 17 by 1911, possibly 17 - 21, as it consists of 3 cottages joined together.  This enumerator must have just thrown his schedules up in the air and transcribed them in the order they hit the table!

Cross checking against an 1862 Trade Directory that I just happen to have printed out from the Historical Directories site, I found that James Simmons was listed at the Eagle Inn, number 9 Nelson Street.  OK, the street numbers are definitely different in the 1860s.

George Hardy proved useful again for finding Nelson Street in the 1871 census, this time he is living at number 6 - but Court 4 is still adjacent.  The rest of the numbering works out much better and lo and behold the Gardener's Arms turns up at no 18, with William Midgley, Innkeeper, his wife, son and six lodgers.  That makes number 8 Nelson Street, Vine Cottage, the home of Richard Kibling (or Kitching) Plasterer, wife, three daughters and a lodger.  Not as well off a family as I had expected in such a large house, but possibly he was in business on his own account.

That's where I'll leave you for this evening, but I'm getting fond of Nelson Street now, who knows what I'll find tomorrow.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

The mystery of the Nelson Street pubs

The OH, being a CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) member of long standing has a good knowledge of the local pubs.  In the process of updating his Local Guide, the Barnsley CAMRA online Pub Guide and What Pub his knowledge has been tested.  He has a CD of pub pictures from last time Barnsley CAMRA did a thorough survey of the area, it dates from 1991/2.  To check that we hadn't missed any pubs in our recent upload to What Pub we started to cross check against this listing.

Mostly the OH knew where all the missing pubs had been before their demolition but one completely stumped him.

The Gardener's Arms, somewhere in Barnsley
The Gardener's Arms from another angle
I've given the game away with the title of this blog, but it took me nearly three days to work out where this pub had been.  A similar picture to the first one above can be found on Yococo, the Barnsley Archives picture library, but it is labelled "Pitt Street Barnsley, Gardener's Arms public house", and the only pub we could find on Old Maps for Pitt Street was the Vine Inn, which also appears in Barnsley Streets, vol 2 on pages 63-64.  There are no pictures of the Vine on Yococo. 

Eventually a Google search hit on an entry on the National Archives site for "Miscellaneous papers salvaged from The Gardener's Arms, Nelson Street, Barnsley, just prior to demolition, Summer 1990".  The items listed weren't very interesting, but the address of the pub was just what I was after.  Adjacent to the entry for the Vine in Barnsley Streets 2 is a note that Nelson Street was shortened when the Western Relief Road was built causing the Eagle Inn to be lost,  another pub the OH had never heard of.  On page 60 of the book is a map from around the 1960s indicating with a dotted line the path of destruction that the relief road was to cause.  It runs straight through no 18, Nelson Street, which is labelled PH for public house and continues on right through no 28, Pitt Street, the Vine Inn.  But there is no mention of the Gardener's Arms ...

As an Open University student I can access a website called Digimap.  The 1960s map of Nelson Street at the right scale isn't the same as the one in Barnsley Streets, but actually it does sort out a couple of questions I had about the picture on Yococo. 

Nelson Street, Pitt Street anad Castlereagh Street in the 1960s show a PH at 18 Nelson Street (from Digimap)
In the map above Nelson Street ends on Castlereagh Street with the Public House at no 18 on the corner, and where its continuation was there is a large building, apparently part of a Textile Engineering Works according to the map.  The photo of the Gardener's Arms on Yococo must have been taken from the short road that runs from NW to SE above this building.  The second photo from the CAMRA CD was taken from Castlereagh Street standing near the Church of the Holy Rood looking ENE towards the pub on the corner.  Apart from the church this area is now mostly taken up with Morrison's supermarket and the Westway.

In Barnsley Streets 2 the map shows Nelson Street running straight down through Castlereagh Street and beyond, bounded on the west by a school playground and on the east by a car park.  The OH and I had been very puzzled by the Yococo picture, initially we could only assume that the person taking it had stood in the middle of the carpark, despite there being an obvious roadway in the picture.  In fact when I zoomed out of Digimap the map at the scale above looked much more like the one in the book.

1960s map of Nelson Street, Pitt Street and Castlereagh Street showing the path of the Relief Road (from Digmap)
(Sorry for the big black lines but the .gif image wouldn't open in Photoshop so I added the lines in Paint, a bit heavy handedly, to show the path of the relief road, as indicated in Barnsley Streets.) The two maps are from the same decade, but based on the changes to the street layout, the upper one must be later as the picture of the Gardener's Arms on Yococo is dated 1970s and definitely shows a road where there isn't one on the map in Barnsley Streets 2 or in the second map section above. Shame on you Barnsley Streets 2 for consfusing us!

Remember that Barnsley Streets 2 only mentions the Eagle Inn on Nelson Street - nothing about the Gardener's Arms, and yet we have pictures of the Gardener's but nothing for the Eagle.  The listing for the Eagle in the book ends with Emma Wordsworth's occupancy from 1928 to 1931, before that was Wm. Wordsworth from 1922 to 1928.  There is a 1927 Kelly's Directory on Ancestry which lists "Wadsworth Wm.  Eagle P.H. 17 Nelson Street".  Just a small discrepancy in the name there, Wordsworth and Wadsworth, but this can be followed up.  The same directory lists "Humphrey Herbert, beer retailer, 18 Nelson Street".  A listing as a beer retailer suggests that the Gardener's Arms had a beerhouse licence at the time, it would not have sold wines and spirits. 

Before the 1911 census was fully transcribed Ancestry provided access to the Summary Books and it is possible to search them by street. 

1911 census summary book for part of Nelson Street, Barnsley (from Ancestry)
Number 18 Nelson Street is listed as a Public House and the occupant is Mr Wadsworth.  Hang on, Wadsworth, shouldn't he be in the Eagle ...?

Higher numbers on Nelson Street, from the 1911 census summary books (on Ancestry)
At number 17 Nelson Street in 1911 the occupier is Mr Hornby - the address is confirmed as being the Eagle Inn and John Hornby appears in the list of publicans for the Eagle in Barnsley Streets 2 from 1909 - 1912. 

Just to double check I looked at the census return for both properties.  William Wadsworth is living at 18 Nelson Street with his wife Emma (probably the Emma who takes over the Eagle in 1928, we assume after William's death) and family of five plus a servant girl.

1911 Census for William Wadsworth and family at 18 Nelson Street (from Ancestry)

The cover of the census return showing the address including Gardener's Arms
William does not include the name Gardener's Arms in his address on the census listing page, however it does appear on the reverse of the return, in different handwriting so I assume this was filled out by the enumerator before he distributed the forms.

1911 Census for John Hornby at the Eagle Inn 17 Nelson Street (from Ancestry)
John Hornby at the Eagle has a servant girl as well, his pub is slightly smaller with 8 rooms compared to the Gardener's 10 rooms.  John, however describes himself as a Licensed Victualler whereas William declares himself to be a Publican.  This supports the suggestion earlier that the Gardener's Arms only sells beer at this point.

All we need to do now is find the Eagle on a map and we'll have solved the mystery of the Nelson Street pubs.

1889 map of the Castlereagh, Nelson and Pitt Street area (from Old Maps this time)
The blocks where there was a playground, car park and factory buildings in the 1960s are filled with back to back houses in 1889.  The Eagle Inn at no 17 is lower down Nelson Street, on the opposite side to the Gardener's at no 18 as we would expect being an odd numbered address.  Notice the Albion Inn on the corner of Castlereagh Street and Blucher Street and the Shakespeare just appearing at the top right on Wellington Street. Genuinely 'a pub on every corner', well nearly!  On an earlier map, from 1852, only the Albion and Vine Tavern, in the top left of the above map, appear.  The site of the Gardener's Arms is an empty lot and the Eagle is three cottages.

I like the above map as well, for showing multiple places of worship, the Holy Rood Roman Catholic church, the Salem Chapel (Wesleyan Reform) on one side of Blucher Street and the United Free Methodist Chapel on the other.  The 1998/2000 baptism transciptions from these last two are amongst the work I've been able to bring home from the Archives to retranscibe (as the electronic copies have been lost).  If you skip back to the 1960s maps you will see that the Elim Pentacostal Church has appeared on Nelson Street, and the Church of the Holy Rood has been rebuilt in what I assume are its gardens on the 1889 map, with the older building being reused as a school.

The OH has now plotted both the Gardener's Arms and the Eagle on his CAMRA pub guide, but I haven't told him about the Albion yet ... I might save it for a birthday present - tomorrow!

Monday 26 November 2012

The Return of the User Manual

I suppose I thought that when I left work at Sheffield Hallam Uni (SHU) I wouldn't need to write User Manuals anymore.  Funnily enough I actually did enjoy creating them, the little screen shots, the arrows, contents lists and most importantly a classy border around the title on the front cover!

Today I found that I had been mistaken.

You may already have read about my involvement with the Cudworth Local History and Heritage Group (CLHG), but here's a reprise.  On Mondays and Wednesdays I doddle along to the Cudworth Centre of Excellence (or library in plain English!) and join in with their working meetings (Monday) and formal meetings (Wednesday).  Today was a quite well attended working meeting, six people including myself.  I haven't been terribly well for the last couple of weeks so I've missed a few sessions, however I felt really guilty about this at last Wednesday's meeting when JW, a regular attendee on Monday's reported that they hadn't been able to get on with work on the Group's computer (which is stored at the library) because "something was missing".  Several people then all turned to look at me as if to say, "Why weren't you there to sort it out?"

So today, despite another marathon IT session with the OH last night, struggling to get Barnsley CAMRA's pub pictures online on the What Pub system, I slowly made my way the few hundred yards from our house to the library.  When everyone had arrived and AC had wheeled the computer desk, with machine through from the main part of the library I announced that I wasn't going to touch the computer today, but rather take notes towards writing clearly understandable instructions for the use of the Access database on which the CLHG keeps its archive photos and other images. 

Two hours and 4 sides of A4 later I hadn't actually kept my word, I had touched the computer more than once 'cos sometimes the only way to work out how to explain how to do a thing is to do it yourself, then rewind and let the learner have a go.  JW and AC had been very co-operative, although JW was worried that I was only making the notes because I wasn't coming again.  She knows I'm not very well at the moment.  I think we managed to cover the common tasks that they might want to carry out on a Monday at the working meeting, and hopefully the instructions I've written up will be plain and clear.

When I got home the fun bit started, taking screenshots of my version of the Access db in such a way that it resembled the one in the library.  The trouble is, you see, that the library computer is running Office 2007 and I've got Office 2010 at home on this laptop.  And I discovered way back at the start of my involvement with the CLHG that you can't develop a 2010 db and back port it to 2007 with all the functionality working right.  In fact you can't open a 2010 db in 2007 at all, you would have to save it as 2007 and that immediately loses some of the things I'd added to make it more usefriendly.  Like the drop down list of local Cudworth people who appear in the photos to provide consistency in the data.  For example (not real names ...) getting a person labelled as Mr Joseph Brown every time instead of Mr Brown, Joe Brown, Mr J Brown, Mr Brown the schoolteacher etc, etc. 

I even had to down load a freeware screen capture application because I couldn't work out how to catch the attachment navigation buttons with Microsoft's supplied Snipping Tool.  Capture View lets you set a time delay on the screen cap so you can line up the frame, click the capture button and then nip around and activate that annoying pop up that won't stay on the screen if you lose focus on it. 

Access Attachment nav buttons
Here they are, the little blighters!  Got you now!  I did cheat though and photoshopped this image to give me a green highlighted arrow pointing left and a pair of green arrows to complete the set.  To be honest it was easier than trying to find a multiple set of images on my test db to screen cap. 

Re-writing my notes as a User Manual took me back ... headings, numbered items, bullet points ... ahh!  And ecstasy of ecstasies  - a Contents list.  Wow, I'm even sadder than I thought.  Finally I saved the 8 page Word doc as a .pdf so the CLHG members could read it without it all falling apart if someone accidently clicks on an image or a heading, and emailed it to the Group.  I just need someone to test it for me now ... so I can thoroughly enjoy a re-write!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Oh, what a miserable morning ...

The above title is intended to be sung, humorously ...

Another wet, windy and having to dash out into the garden to rescue escaping items day.  On Thursday our newly emptied compost bin attempted to waddle, dalek-style across the fruit and herb garden, the adjacent tanning shop's sign (we live in a classy area!) smashed across the road into the neighbour's car and the drain pipe arrangement to our water butts collapsed.  Small things I know, but warning signs of what might happen if we didn't take precautionary measures quickly.  Unfortunately as I look out the window the compost bin seems to have taken off again, there's a scattering of assorted vegetable peelings and the bin itself is trying to climb over a nearby plant!  Stronger tethering measures required!

Meanwhile the OH and I are recovering from our marathon IT session on Friday night and the rushing around yesterday hosting a regional CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) meeting. 

CAMRA, being a volunteer organisation, relies upon members with IT skills to set up functionality that in any publically funded organisation or profit making business would be farmed out to consultants with the necessary skills and no doubt at a high cost.  This unfortunately results in projects that are labouriously set up by well meaning people in their spare time which do not always best serve the rest of the membership.  Some years ago the OH, who is quite IT literate for a mature time-served joiner employed by the local authority (I mean he's self taught, there being no requirement for Barnsley Council to let craftsmen even have access to email let alone keep them updated in the modern advances of technology) set up an online pub guide for the Barnsley Branch of CAMRA.  With some pointers from another member who still works in IT and a very fat php manual we managed to construct an  online guide which could be searched, contained photographs of the pubs and as part of the design included field names that followed the CAMRA national guidelines for data to be submitted to the then yet to be completed national pub database. 

Several years later and after many other branches had similarly constructed their own databases and guides the national one What Pub was launched.  It is currently visible only to CAMRA members and is slowly collecting information from the 211 branches across the country.  Don't get me wrong, I think this is an admirable idea, and definitely something CAMRA should be doing.  It will provide a central resource for keeping tabs on pub closures, changes of use, demolitions.  It will provided statistics on pub and club numbers, distribution across the country and highlight areas where tough campaigning is needed to save the last pub serving a community. 

A screen shot of the CAMRA What Pub guide front page
In no way, shape or form do I disagree with the principle of the national database.

However from a personal point of view, and after hearing the Yorkshire RD speak about it yesterday at the Regional meeting, I do worry that expecting our tiny groups of volunteers to keep doing more and more to support this and other intitiatives there will, eventually come a point where we have just had enough, run out of time, need our lives back and so on.

I hadn't been to a Regional Meeting in several years, not being the in the best of health. I'm afraid that travelling for hours to far flung parts of Yorkshire, surely the largest region in CAMRA, which stretches from Middlesborough to Sheffield, and Skipton to Hull, on public transport so that the OH can have a beer (an essential part of a CAMRA meeting you would think) is quite beyond me these days.  What I noticed straight away, as the members filed in, was that with very few exceptions they were the same old faces that I'd seen at these meetings for at least 15 years.  And later one comment really brought home what the problem was ... someone mentioned a letter in a recent edition of What's Brewing the CAMRA monthly newspaper which had asked older members to be more friendly towards younger members.  The meeting discussed this for a few minutes and comfortably concluded that none of the branches represented had any problems with young members (please bear in mind that for CAMRA young means 18-30 or even 35). 

BUT no one in that room was younger than 40 at a guess.  When the campaign started more than 40 years ago those members present yesterday were whippersnappers of 20 and 30 themselves. Why were none of the young members there to speak for themselves? Better things to do on a Saturday afternoon?  Face to face meetings are seen as irrelevant in a digital, social networking age? Or, plain speaking now, just off put by the idea of a dreary rambling gathering of elderly people that appears to achieve nothing? 

Back to the national pub database: The RD mentioned that four of the branches in Yorkshire had not as yet submitted any data to the project.  He noted that he had this in hand and that there was no cause for concern.  Having spent more than 7 hours on Friday stuggling to get Barnsley's information into the system I think that there is.  The header I have reproduced above states that 138 branches out of 211 have achieved amber or green status, that is have uploaded basic details for 80% of their real ale pubs.  Further investigation on the site showed 31% of the branches have achieved green status (so that's 65 branches out of 211) which means that they have uploaded full details for 50% of their real ale pubs.  Sorry to be a fuss pot - but 50% of solely real ale pubs for 31% of the country doesn't sound that impressive.  In order to provide the resource I described above it needs to contain all pubs, real ale and others, open and closed and it needs to be up to date in order to keep tabs on pub closures. Sadly I don't think the currently active volunteers have the skills and the time to do this.  There will be members out there amongst our 144,000 plus who would find it a doddle to upload and maintain this database, but sad to say they are probably amongst the younger ones who just don't feel welcomed or involved at branch level.

The OH and I are pretty good at home grown IT I like to think, I did spend 9 years shuffling digital student records for a living and can still manage a bit of SQL, HTML and PHP at a push (the latter with the manual on hand!).  The OH's web page is, in my opinion, wonderful (OK, he has a fondness for moving banner style ads which sometimes make the pages slow to load ...).  Even though Barnsley's own database was originally designed with field headings to suit the proposed national database we discovered several months ago that the upload we had sent when first asked was not being used as the field headings were incorrect.  It wasn't us, someone had moved the goal posts and renamed the required fields without informing us.  The OH told the database people that he couldn't rename his database fields without causing enormous amounts of work to rejig the Barnsley online database, so a helpful chap (AS) wrote us a php script that took our data, downloaded it renaming them to suit in the process.  Wonderful or so we thought.  Bear in mind that the OH also maintains the branch website, writes the branch newsletter, delivers 1000s of them himself, attends meetings, socials, runs beer festivals and on top of all that is a member of a national committee entailing weekends travelling to meeting even further away than Saltburn-by-the-Sea (at 100 miles away, our furthest Yorkshire Regional venue). 

Eventually he had a spare day - mainly due to being sent home from work AGAIN (long story).  So we sat down to do the upload.  The OH had prepared a spreadsheet of updated information, gathered during the preparation of the Barnsley Local Guide (originally due out this autumn, but now put back to March due to lack of supporting articles from other members, another symptom of the problems with volunteer participation).  The plan was to upload this information into the Barnsley database, use the script provided by AS to download it in the required format for uploading to the national database, upload to What Pub and tra laa! all done.  Hmm, not that simple. 

After a couple of hours of head scratching we worked out that the reason our uploads weren't feeding into the Barnsley online pub guide as they should have been was that the firm that provides our online database facility had migrated our database and we were still updating the old one which was no longer connected to the Barnsley online guide.  AS had somehow worked this out and his script WAS downloading from the new location, but we had to find it by trial and error.  We managed to upload the new information to the Barnsley online guide and then did the download with AS's script.  Then we opened What Pub and followed the instructions there for the upload.

Firstly we were directed to open yet another webpage with yet another data management system, the link worked to the header page, but the page after that was blank.  We tried it in FireFox instead of Internet Explorer, hooray now we could see it.  We uploaded the file and waited whilst it checked for errors - 50 records and then it stuck.  Errors in postcodes and phone numbers.  The OH was able to swiftly amend these using his phone (he had designed the Barnsley online guide to be updatable on the move by committee members so that there would be no excuse for not adding new information about pub opening times and available beers.)  We downloaded the file with the script again.  Uploaded it again.  Waited for the errors - 100 records loaded this time, more postcodes and phone numbers.  The OH wants to know where CAMRA got the sophisticated software that checks these things, it even spotted that a post code was 2km from the latitude and longitude input for the same pub.  Clever!

And again, corrected errors, downloaded data, uploaded data, sat with bated breath whilst it worked through, 100, 200, 300 and yay! it reached the end of the file successfully with just a long list of warnings that it had changed our Ys to Yes and Ns to No.  (Anyone out there from HE, it felt like a HESA return only much, much smaller!) Great stuff.  We went back to What Pub and searched for Barnsley ...

Showing the results of a search for Barnsley on 25th November 2012
Oh dear, the only Barnsley visible was the one in Gloucestershire!  Happily clicking the Branches link did take us to Barnsley, Yorkshire.  A grand total of 366 entries, but 12 of the entries are the dummies the OH uses to set up new pubs on his system so that leaves:-

354 entries for Barnsley Branch including:
  • 104 open real ale pubs/clubs
  • 118 closed pubs/clubs
  • 132 with no real ale
Unfortunately AS's script did not differentiate between pubs and clubs so all of Barnsley's entries had gone on the system as pubs - add that mending job to the list.  Photos have to be uploaded separately, as far as we could see one at a time, so that's going to take a while. 

The only Barnsley entry with a photograph so far...
So here's looking forward to the day when all the 211 branches manage to get to this point, and this great resource launches to the public.

Anyone want to hazard a guess how long it might take and how many pubs we'll have left when it is launched?

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Goodbye Barnsley Archives ... Hello Wilson's Piece

That is it now, no Tuesdays transcribing in the Archives and Local Studies Library at Barnsley until May next year. 

Yesterday some of the members of the Friends of the Archives and myself were invited in for the last time to help pack up boxes and about 8 people turned up.  The desks where the micro-fiche and film readers had sat had been dismantled, the room was full of packing boxes for the books, we couldn't even get at the coat hooks or the lockers, so for the first time ever we were allowed to put our coats on the back of our chairs.  GB, the local studies librarian/archivist, asked me to carry on transcribing the red folders (see my previous post for details) and the others did an assortment of jobs around repacking and sorting boxes of photographs.

I even joined the group at coffee time and had a glass of water with them for the first/last time.  One member made his farewells in such a way that we understood him to be saying that he wasn't sure if he would last until next May when the Archives reopens in the Barnsley Experience at the Town Hall.  He's not been well and has been getting visibly worse over the last month.  I do hope he's wrong and that he gets to see the new facilities - but the tears were pricking at the back of my eyes when he spoke.

The Friends of the Archives group support the work of the Archives by holding talks, doing raffles and selling tea, coffee and biscuits and so on.  Last week at the 'fuddle' the Archive staff put on for everyone they handed over another £100 to the Head Archivist Paul Stebbing.  Various chairs, trollies and other items in the Archives are nicely labelled "Bought with the donations from the Friends of the Archives", it does make you wonder how they are going to manage to keep the new museum going when the intital funding runs out if Barnsley Council can't even afford new chairs for the Local Studies Library.

I've been allowed to bring two of the red folders home to give me something to be getting on with.  I chose two that contained records from town centre Methodist chapels as there's always the chance of finding one of the OH's ancestors in them. 

I've got: Wilson Piece Methodist, Westgate Methodist, Salem Blucher Street Independent and Honeywell Methodist to do.  There's also an unfinished transcription of the New Street Methodist New Connexion Chapel which someone else had started.  That'll keep me busy and be a change from OU and Family History whilst I'm sitting here under the weather.

A sample of the information on the old transcriptions
The dates on these old transcriptions are around 1998-2000, which sounds recent but I expect the originals were on floppy disk and that may be why the Archives can't find them any more!  I did try OCRing a couple of pages and the first one worked OK ish, with trouble caused by the formatting of the page (as a grid) more than the actual text.  Acrobat Professional was happy to identify most of the words in the scans I took, but when it came to doing an export to Word all the text bunched up at the top left of the page and retyping the whole thing will be less of a task than trying to sort out the mess.  Even copying and pasting from the pdf didn't work very well as some letters, for example J and C didn't seem to OCR properly.

This is what I got for the top line of the table:
apt ism
Date Birth Date Surname -- Childs Name Parent Ch~istian - -- - Name.Wifes Maiden Nam Born Parish Of Abode ~ounty ofYork Trade/Employment

Not good I think you'll agree.  Pushing up the dots per inch on the scan just made things worse as it started picking up scuff and dust on the page as well.  So this is what I'll be doing ...
Pdf of old transcription with Excel open on top
The whole thing will then need checking against the original in the Archives at such a time as they reopen and the old registers become available again. 

Even local Barnsley people may be wondering where or what on earth Wilson Piece is? 

A thesis submitted to Warwick University (Kaijage, Fred J. (1975) Labouring Barnsley, 1816-1856 : a social and economic history. PhD thesis, University of Warwick. [Accessible online at:] says the following about the area:

A cutting from Kaijage, Fred J. (1975)
Kaijage is quoting from Burland, a piece in the Barnsley Times from 1878. The land being "awarded" is a reference to the enclosures of the commons in 1777. There is more about Wilson's Piece in Aspects of Barnsley 3, in an article by Harold Taylor about Handloom Weavers, unfortunately the book is out of print and I do not own a copy. (If anyone ever has one to sell or spots a copy on e-bay please, please, let me know!)

Searching on the Old Maps site I think I've been able to pinpoint the chapel to the corner of John Street and Heelis Street, in the upper right quadrant of the map below. 

The Wilson's Piece area from the 1852 Town Plans of Barnsley on Old Maps
The map clearly shows how densely packed the house were, with back to backs and lots of little courts infilling the spaces in the grid of streets. (This area is mostly flat now, with a big car park, a hand car wash and other empty plots waiting re-development - the houses were mostly cleared in the 1960s! and any industry that sprang up in the area was cleared in the last 10 years or so.)

The records that I have for the chapel run from 1822-1837 and that is all that is recorded for this chapel on the National Archives listing for the Wilson Piece Chapel.  The congregation appears to have moved to the Westgate Chapel according to an extract from the 1851 religious census.

Extract from the 1851 religious census - found on Google Books
I can only assume that the rest of their registers have been lost as the Westgate listing on the National Archive site only shows their own register 1796-1836 (I have also brought home the old transcription of this chapel to re-transcribe).

By 1889 the map shows a Temperance Hall on the site.  Probably the same building, but re-used I suppose.

A section from the 1889 Barnsley Town plan on Old Maps
showing the corner of John Street and Heelis Street
A search on Barnsley Council's image library YOCOCO found an image of the chapel in later years - but no reference as to where the image came from - a snip from some sort of book about Methodists maybe?
Probably the building that was Wilson Piece Methodist Chapel, but at a later date.
The building in the picture above has a sign above the door saying that it is the Institute of St John's Church, which was built in the area after 1851.  The 1851 religious census records a congregation for St John's, but it meets in the school at that time.  You can see the school at the bottom of the 1852 map snip I've included above.

Lots and lots of the OH's ancestors lived in this area until it was demolished in the 1960s.  Hopefully some of them will turn up in the various registers.  I will save all these map bits and pictures - I've enjoyed my romp around the web collecting this information.

Bye for now.

Monday 19 November 2012

Why do I do OU?

I was sat here last night, without the computer turned on, doing a bit of reading for my OU module "Understanding Global Heritage" and struggling a bit with some of the wordier bits.  I began to think (as an undercurrent, in that prevarication sort of way you do when you are getting a bit bored with whatever you are meant to be doing) why I put myself through this year after year.  Why was I so upset when the OU put the fees up this year meaning that once I've achieved this Humanities degree under the transitional arrangements I can't possibly afford to go on studying?  What is it about studying at the OU or Barnsley University Campus or even Barnsley College that seems to make life more livable.

I tried a variety of answers (and I had to write them in pencil on the back of one of the sheets of my study guide and wow! did just 100 words hurt my wrist and thumb!):
  • to gain a degree - well it can't be that as I've already got one
  • to learn more stuff  - nope not that either, I could just read the books
  • to meet like minded people - well it could be, but I've blown it for this year with the tutorials being in York
  • to keep busy - getting warmer although I could just do more Family History, or volunteer more at the Eldon Centre or join more societies - ah, if I was well enough to get out and about any more
  • to feel worthy - increase my self respect, self improvement is a GOOD thing, protestant work ethic and all that and seeing as I haven't got a  job ... studying is the next best thing
  • to stop my brain seizing up  - oddly I do enjoy the deadlines, doing the TMAs (Tutor Marked Assessments, they make me HAVE to do things, I can't put them off or I would have wasted money
  • because it's something I can do EVEN THOUGH I'm not very well - I can work at home, with my feet up on the sofa or even in bed
The current transitional arrangements at the OU meant that I have had to declare an aim (the qualification that I was trying for) in order to get the rest of the modules that counted towards that qualification at the old fee rate. 

The old fees were in the realm of £700 for a 60 point module (that's half a year of undergraduate study from a usually three year course), the new fees are £2500 for the same course.  If you have no degree you can get a student loan, if you already have one, tough, if you want to study for personal development, career change, or just for something to do then you will have to pay the full wack.

I had been collecting various modules since I started work at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) in 2001.
DD201 Sociology and society (2011)
AT308 Cities and technology: from Babylon to Singapore (2007)
MST121 Using mathematics (2006)
M150 Data, computing and information (2005)
M248 Analysing data (2004)
MDST242 Statistics in society (2003)

As you can see they show a change in direction, not history any longer, but maths, computing and social sciences.  I started off doing things that were useful for work and then threw in AT308 because it was about architecture, something I knew very little about, but it did have links, of course, to history.

I didn't really have an aim, and I had actually stopped studying at the OU after AT308 as I became more ill and couldn't manage real work and study at the same time.  I did my PTTLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector) certificate at Barnsley College (one evening a week) with my daughter in 2008/9 and my Advanced ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) in 2009/10 as part of my over arching plan to change my career to part time teaching, which I hoped I could manage when commuting to Sheffield and the stress of Student Records at SHU all got too much for me.  I started a PGCE at Barnsley University Campus (part of Huddersfield Uni) in the autumn of 2010, by which time SHU had begun the process of terminating my contract due to ill health. 

Unfortunately I wasn't able to complete the PGCE - the 8 hours a week in service (actual teaching) they stated at the interview actually became full time after Easter 2011 and there was no way I could manage that.  Just catching up what I had missed in early 2011 when my father died took weeks and eventually I had had to throw in the towel, with all my academic work completed, but short half my practical teaching hours.  I do now say I'm three-quarters of a teacher and the Uni did recently send me a certificate to say I had successfully completed half the course (they didn't count the last two essays I submitted - and passed -  as I hadn't done the teaching practise to go with them). 

So why back to the OU again in 2011 for DD201?  Because I had my redundancy money and I could, I suppose.  I had enjoyed the sociology bits of the PGCE and thought the OU module might expand on that.  It didn't really but it was equally interesting in lots of different ways. 

Then they announced the fee increases and the transitional arrangements.  I hadn't thought I qualified for the transitional arrangements because of my pre-existing degree, but I was chatting to the invigilator at my Sociology exam (I got rest breaks because of my ill-health) and she said I should enquire as she was sure I did.  However I had to make a decision about what my aim was and register that quite quickly to qualify.  And I would have to study at least one module a year from then onwards without a break until I had achieved it.  So no time off, no rest years, no leisurely thinking about what to do next.

After a lot of work with the OU qualification calculator I worked out that I could have a BSc (Hons) Open (not a named degree, just one that is in nothing in particular) straight away using the maths and computing modules or I could add a few more modules and go for a BA Humanities.  Either would end up being 2:1 as my level 3 credits for AT308 and the module I did online with Oxford Uni (yes, they are allowing me to count that as well) are that grade. 

The second option gave me the chance of two more years at £700 a module so I plumped for that.  Hence Heritage this year and "From Enlightenment to Romanticism" next year. Lots of reading, which I can do while resting and exams at the end, but I've got that sussed now after the palaver with the doctor for a note for the Sociology exam. 

What will I do after that?  Well at least I shouldn't have to worry about that until 2014.  But as you can tell, I have already started ... worrying that is!!

Friday 16 November 2012

Scotland's People, Gardening and Children in Need

This morning my daughter paid back another installment of the money I lent her for the deposit on her University accommodation the year before last.  I had been waiting for this cash with bated breath as without any income of my own (since my Employment Support Allowance was stopped in April) I can't just buy credits for Family History sites whenever I want them. 

(Incidently I'm typing this whilst watching Children in Need, so I apologise for any mistakes and possible stilted grammar. And aren't One Direction young?  Very young!  and Terry Wogan getting rather old.  Though on Pointless earlier they did say that Children in Need has been going since 1980.  Good grief, I was only 19 when it started! )

You may have seen that last week I was researching the Whealleans family.  My great, great, great aunt Amelia Mordey Hutton (b. 1842) married Thomas Davidson Whealleans
(which I think is a really great name for researching) and in the first census after their marriage, 1871, they are living at Otterburn Hall in Northumberland.  Their two sons are both born at Otterburn, Edward in 1871 named after Thomas's father and Thomas Frederick in 1874 named after Thomas himself and Amelia's father (so she maybe she had forgiven him for running away when she was a child?). 

On Thursday I discovered that someone who was descended from Thomas and Amelia Whelleans had put their family tree online on Ancestry.  I hadn't filled in many of the blanks in my tree at this point - one of the sons appears to vanish and the other has moved to the Lake District by 1911.

(Dr Who minisode - hmm, that was interesting, maybe, and has the actress who plays Madame Vastra changed?)

The online tree showed that a daughter of one of Thomas and Amelia's sons had married a William Dixon in 1927.  In fact the person who posted this tree only had Thomas and Amelia's younger son listed, oddly the one I couldn't find earlier.  The problem with the Whealleans name is that it is often transcribed incorrectly, without the h, so that's Wealleans, sometimes with one or more of the e's missing, for example Weallans and even with completely the wrong vowels, that would be Whillians.  Honestly, as found on Family Search.

(John Craven just turned up on Children in Need - he read out a letter from me on the Multicoloured Swop Shop when I was 17, he was less grey then!)

On Ancestry online trees you can look at the person's family tree diagramatically, so I had a scan.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that William Dixon's mother was a Bormond.

A section of the Dixon Family Tree from

I don't think I've told you this yet, but one of the very uncommon family names in my tree is Bormond, all the Bormonds in Great Britain appear to descend from a family in Alnwick, Northumberland in the 18th century and there aren't that many of them.  So seeing this name on someone's family tree is very exciting.  And to see it on a tree that is already related to me via another line is very intriguing. 

(Short pause - Russell Grant and Ann Widdecombe dancing ...)

This means that William Dixon and Mary Whealleans were already related before they got married!  Yaaayy!  With the help of the diagram tools in Family Historian (my family tree programme) I soon worked out the relationship.  William Dixon's great grandmother's sister was the mother of the wife of Amelia Mordey Hutton's brother.  I really don't expect you to get that in one, but there's a helpful diagram coming up in a minute ...

(Dr Who Christmas special trailer - oooohhh!)

Bear (ha, Pudsey Bear!) with me - note that William Dixon's great grandmother (Agnes Bormond) is the sister of Mary Wheallean's grandmother (Amelia Mordey Hutton)'s brother (William Satchell Hutton)'s wife (Ann Bormond Smith)'s mother (Jane Bormond)

So, having worked that out - which makes me happy even if you are confused - we move on ...

The owner of the Dixon tree had noted that the children of Thomas Frederick Whealleans and Esther Common were born in Scotland but he/she did not know where the couple married.  I nipped along to the Scotland's People site and searched the Statutory Marriages for the name Whealleans.  I got two hits.  Now to view the hits you need to use credits and I just happened to have three credits left from a foray onto Scotland's People with a friend in August (whilst at the Great British Beer Festival, but that's not relevant). 

Scotland's People marriagesearch results

(Girl's Aloud - looking like very decorative stewards in orange frocks - the song's a bit shouty though.  Have you noticed how the Strictly Come Dancing competitors seem to be turning up in Children in Need?  The chap from Westlife was in Greggs making cupcakes earlier.)

As you can see from the image above it costs 5 credits to view a marriage certificate.  This is much cheaper than buying a paper copy of an English or Welsh certificate.  30 credits cost £7 so 5 credits is about £1.17 and  the certificate is available instantly whereas an English/Welsh certificate costs £9.25 and you have to wait for it to come in the post. 

(They've made £10 million already!)

The only problem was that I had no money last week.  I was waiting for my daughter to pay me and she was waiting for her Uni bursary to turn up.  Eventually today it came - hooray!  I logged on and using the saved searches in my account was able to download the marriage certificate for Thomas Frederick Whealleans and Esther. 

(Alan Sugar in East Enders ... I haven't seen East Enders in years, but I still seem to know who everyone is!)

1900 marriage certificate for Thomas Whealleans and Esther Common from Scotland's People
Scottish certificates contain more information than English/Welsh ones too!  Instead of just the father's name you get the mother and her maiden name.  As you can see here this confirms that Thomas F Whealleans' mum was indeed Amelia Mordey Hutton, my great,  great, great aunt.  I also downloaded the 1901 census for the couple, showing that they were living at Tarras Lodge, deep in the hills of Dumfrieshire.

I fed this information into my tree, just in time as the OH came home early and wanted to know what to do with his unexpected day off.  Here's the finished section of my tree.  The little yellow tags show that I've found the person in the various census returns. 

My OH had been sent home from work as they were unable to find him light duties as recommended by the firm's occupational health doctor.  We ended up doing some gardening, with the OH doing a lot of the things that the doctor said he could do but his boss was reluctant to let him ...

(Chris Moyles and Morecambe and Wise! I agree with Tess - surreal!)

We emptied the compost bin, the OH reinforced the raised bed, we moved pots, planted daffodil bulbs, the OH dug holes in our concrete front garden and we planted lavender.  His firm may not have found anything for him to do this afternoon, but I made up his hours.

(Lisa Riley from Strictly up the BT tower with some children, what next?)

I think that's it for tonight - back to Children in Need!