Little Italy: The Story of London’s Italian Quarter, a one-hour talk on 24 April

 Little Italy: The Story of Londons Italian Quarter, a one hour talk on 24 April

In the 19th century there grew to be such a concentration of Italians in one part of London that the area became known as “Little Italy”. Based on his book of the same name, Tudor Allen will talk about the fascinating story of the Italian quarter in Holborn from the time of the first Italian settlers up to the last days of the community in the late 20th century.

A one-hour lecture on Wednesday, 24 April at 2pm, cost £6.00/£4.80. This lecture must be must be pre-booked and pre-paid, through our website or by telephone: 020 7553 3290. SoG members should enter the online shop after logging on to the MySoG section of our website. Do you have a question? email the events department.

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It is not surprising that an island nation with centuries of maritime tradition should produce seafarers in so many families. The Society’s visit to the Caird Library at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, demonstrated that with a “full house” of 18 Members and their guests; and so keen that they all arrived early! Then we were entertained in a very professional manner by Martin, an archivist and Gregory, a librarian, whose enthusiasm and knowledge of both the subject and the resources was impressive.

The Caird Library is a new building, purpose designed and well suited to both “chatty” researchers and the more serious professional. It is the largest reference library of its kind, holding over 2 million items from the 15th century to the present day including manuscripts, 100,000 books, journals, maps and drawings covering every aspect of maritime history including personal papers, business archives and dockyard records but with remarkably few “official” records, which are mostly available at Kew.

The staff are helpful and keen to promote the use of the library. They cite their main attraction is the breadth and depth of information available in one place at Greenwich compared to the fragmented records that are scattered around so many other record sources, including, even, the University of Newfoundland. A number of Research Guides have been published and the most relevant to genealogist’s are listed below, all of which are available on the Caird Library’s website.

Whilst a good starting point for genealogical research are crew lists, there are numerous supplementary sources such as Masters and Mates Certificates, the Mercantile Navy List, the Royal Navy Lists from 1814, or for an earlier period, the Commissioned Sea officers of the Navy and ships logbooks. Apart from being a source of names, the latter are also a source of entertainment, (much like so many parish registers!). For the family historian, in addition to the well-known Lloyds List and Lloyds Register, there are fascinating additional sources such as the WW2 record of “Movements of HM Ships and Submarines” or “Lloyds Service List of Ships Requisitioned by Government in War” to name but a few.

Clearly, it is only possible here to give a taster of the enormous resources available at Greenwich. Their online catalogues can be accessed at www.collections.rmg.co.uk and their Research Guides, including one specifically for Family History, can be accessed at www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library.  Google have digitised Lloyds Register of Shipping, and Ancestry have digitised and indexed the collection of Masters Certificates (with the usual words of caution about quality).

Finally, of course, a visit to the Caird Library has to include a tour of the magnificent historic buildings in Greenwich Park; but you will need a week for that!

Gregory Toth, one of our hosts, has kindly supplied the following:

The Caird Library The Caird Library is open Monday to Friday, 10.00–16.45 (until 19.45 on Thursday), and 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.45 on Saturday. Entry is via a free Reader’s Ticket which can be applied for online in advance of your first visit, or on the day. To register and to request items to view in the Library, please see Aeon and guidance on using Aeon. To help plan your visit to the Caird Library, our online catalogues can help you identify resources that you may wish to view. See the Library catalogue, the Archives catalogue and Collections Online. A guide to your first visit to the new Caird Library is available. Please note that although we hold lots of collections, maritime history research can be time-consuming so please allow plenty of time for your visit.

Contact details The Caird Library National Maritime Museum Greenwich London SE10 9NF Tel: +44 (0)20 8312 6516 Email: library@rmg.co.uk or manuscripts@rmg.co.uk

Non archive and library enquiries If your enquiry relates to a Museum 3D object, paintings, photographs, plans or images, please contact rmenquiries@rmg.co.uk for your message to be forwarded to the relevant Museum curator.

Research guides The Library has produced a range of research guides to help people carry out their own research on a wide range of topics. The guides provide information about the Museum’s collections and other sources for research into maritime history. All of our guides are available online from home. http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/research-guides/

The most useful might be the following research guides:

Research guide A3: Tracing family history from maritime records Remember that maritime records are not usually a good starting point for compiling a genealogy but they can add considerable detail about seafaring activities of an individual.

Research guide A6: Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum Information includes records of the Greenwich Hospital, the Royal Naval College and Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital.

Research guide B1: The Royal Navy: Tracing people It is important to stress that the service and official records of the Royal Navy and most Admiralty records are deposited with The National Archives, Kew.

Research guide B7: The Royal Navy: Ship records The Archive and Library has many complementary resources which will assist in researching the history, service and crew of Royal Naval ships as our holdings are extremely rich in items on individual ships and actions.

Research guide C1: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Crew lists, agreements and official logs A 10% specimen group of crew agreements for years 1861–1995, taken at random (every tenth box of papers) together with those for famous vessels (with some exceptions, such as those for the Cutty Sark and Great Britain), is in The National Archives. The remaining 90% for 1861, 1862, and years ending in ‘5’, are held by the National Maritime Museum.

Research guide C2: The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Master-mariners, mates and engineers All master-mariners operating between 1854–1927 would have been required to hold a certificate, of which many have survived and are now in the care of the National Maritime Museum. These have been digitalised and made available via Ancestry.

Research guide C5: The Merchant Navy: Sources for ship histories Early tax records from the 13th–19th centuries and ship registration records from the 18th century until 1994 are held at The National Archives, Kew and in other archives; but probably the best starting place is Lloyd’s Register. Mercantile Navy List is the Board of Trade official list of all British-registered vessels, which started in 1850. Most annual volumes exist from 1857–1976 and are in the National Maritime Museum library.

Research guide C8: The Merchant Navy: Wrecks, losses and casualties It can be frustrating for researchers that information on shipwrecks and losses is often incomplete, and spread across a broad range of official and non-official sources. However, this is a strong area of interest for many people, and in many cases, other researchers will have already identified the data available and compiled it into published texts. It is therefore wise to consult some of our volumes available in the reading room.

Research guide C9: The Merchant Navy: World War One and World War Two There is a wide range of material both in printed and manuscript form. The National Maritime Museum holds some key works that are likely to assist with most research problems.

Caird Library blog Discover the latest news on the Caird Library blog and do not forget to subscribe to it. http://blogs.rmg.co.uk/library/

-Barry Hepburn

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In a new BBC TV series presented by Michael Wood, The Great British StoryBBC GBSLogo BBCBlocks web thumb Society of Genealogists taking part in The Great British Story   Bexley 23 June 2012 looks at history through the eyes of ordinary people, uncovering what life was like for everyday Britons over the last 1600 years. The Society of Genealogists will be taking part in the largest of the local BBC road-shows linking in with the series. Come and meet the SoG and ask us about tracing your family history and get help and advice from Family History Experts, the SoG Census Detectives,  SoG authors and local family historians.

 

 

 

 

MichaelWoodBannerweb Society of Genealogists taking part in The Great British Story   Bexley 23 June 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great British Story: Bexley

A free BBC local history event.

Saturday 23 June 2012, 10am – 4pm

Hall Place and Gardens, Bourne Road, Bexley, DA5 1PQ

This is a ticketed event and tickets are  only availlable from the BBC events website.  Apply for your FREE tickets here, or by calling 03709 011227

 

For map and more information about the Great British Story Events see the BBC website events pages

 

Now it’s your chance to get involved! Come along to a BBC local history event, discover Bexley’s fascinating history and learn how to delve into your own past. Find out more about family history, archaeology, oral history, artefacts and local heritage.

Find YOUR place in history:

· Listen to historian, broadcaster and writer Michael Wood discussing The Great British Story

· Track down your ancestors with help and advice from family history experts and hear Else Churchill from the Society of Genealogists talk on Finding Your London Ancestors

· Learn how experts conserve and protect treasures from the Museum of London

· Find out how to date your old photos, if you’ve inherited an family photo bring it along to find out more

· Learn how to discover the history of your home using local archive sources

· Discover Bexley’s archaeological treasures and show your own mystery finds to our experts

· Explore the history of Bexley through local heroes, landmarks, working lives and industrial heritage

· Take part in a reminiscence session and share your memories of working in and around the Thames Gateway

· Plus a full programme of talks will run throughout the day

and much more…

The event is open to ticket holders only. Apply for free tickets by visiting bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/events or by calling 03709 011227

 

Please note the SoG does not have tickets for this event

 

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The Society of Genealogists has been asked to pass on this call for anyone interested in history and genealogy to act as participants for a web usability study. The study will take place between Monday 19th March and Friday 19th April and will culminate in a 60-minute interview in either Brighton (on Friday 20th April) or Manchester (on Tuesday 24th April). The SoG can’t disclose full details of the research but we can assure you that it’s bona fide.

The study will involve documenting your historical research activities in order to improve an online service for searching an extensive collection of records held across a range of archives. People often find taking part in such usability studies interesting and rewarding. By taking part in this study you will not only get a chance to explore a developing online search facility, but will be able to actively help improve the service for researchers like yourself.

You don’t need to be an experienced researcher to take part and if you know anyone else who might be interested please pass the message on.

There will be a cash incentive for taking part in the study.

If you are interested, please answer a few questions about yourself here:

https://www.surveymk.com/s/historical-research

For more information about the study, please contact Emma O’Sullivan, emmao@cogapp.com

For more information about the organisation carrying out the research, please visit www.cogapp.com

 

Else Churchill

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London Canal Museum visit and Regent’s Canal walk 27th July 2011

Many a time I have walked along the Regent’s Canal towpath with my young grandson
and had to restrain him from that inviting narrow slope down into the water!  No,
it is not a way into the water but a way out for horses that had inadvertently fallen
off the tow path.  That was just one of the snippets of history that our Guide, Roger
Squires, imparted during our two hour walk. Roger is a volunteer with the Canal Museum and
obviously has canals in his blood: there wasn’t a single question he could not answer.

 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Islington canal tunnel and tranquility just behind King's Cross station


There are about 12 locks between the start of the canal in Limehouse, on the Thames, and Camden,
rising 96 feet.  Then the canal continues on the level for over 20 miles to where it joins the
Grand Union canal in Middlesex.  Construction started in 1815 and the intervening years have seen
many changes of use and fortune.  The early railways deprived it of much income but at the same
time brought in other freight such as coal.  Just behind St Pancras station lie the remains of the
steel structures that supported the railway lines bringing coal from the Midland coalfields, below
which lay the canal barges waiting to receive their load from the bottom discharge hoppers of the coal trucks.  The noise must have been horrendous.  Then the barges distributed  the coal right across London, east to west.  Adjacent is the St Pancras gas works site and if you fancy an apartment with a difference, the plan is to build them within the frame of the giant gas holders!   But there in the middle of this industrial dereliction was a Heron, happily perched on a canal barge.

During the war, the canal traffic increased considerably again because of the shortage of road haulage
and the Canal Company started to make profits again.  The war also brought problems!   Kings Cross Station  lies below the canal level and it was realised that a well placed bomb breaching the canal would allow huge quantities of water to escape flooding the station.  So, at intervals along the canal, ‘stop’ gates were fitted which were closed every night and the remains of those gates are still visible; if you know where to look as Roger clearly did.

Camden lock and lock keepers cottage now a Starbucks 300x225 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Camden lock and lock keeper's cottage now a Starbucks

 

Ice was a major commodity on the canal and there are several ice pits, one of which is located in the Canal Museum.  The largest ice well in London is right next to the Holiday Inn hotel in the middle of Camden.  It was constructed in 1839 and was still in use up to 1913.  It is no less than 100 feet deep, 40 feet in diameter and held 2000 tons of ice.  ‘Is’ because it is still there, capped below the surface and preserved thanks to English Heritage.  Warehouses lined the canal and, just like the dockland warehouses, many have been converted to residential accommodation but perhaps the most spectacular ‘conversion’ is Camden market.  Until as late as the 1950’s, this area was covered with timber but is now covered with this thriving sprawling market, a cosmopolitan riot of colour, smells, languages and nationalities.  It has become a tourist attraction in its own right and my younger overseas visitors always make a bee line for it.

Battlebridge Basin home of the Canal Museum and …. a heron 300x225 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Battlebridge Basin, home of the Canal Museum and …. a heron

For most of the canal’s life, horses were used to tow the barges and it was not until after WW2 that a few tractors were employed.   Anyone who walks the Regent Canal may well have noticed the gouges in the stonework supporting the bridges.  I always blamed drunken cyclists but in fact they represent nearly 200 years of wear, created by the horse’s tow ropes as they laboured many yards ahead of the barge.

Water has always been a problem for the Regent’s Canal and until the two Companies merged in the 1920’s, the Grand Union canal jealously guarded the water that escaped when the connecting locks were opened.  Water conservation is also one of the reasons for the twin lock system on the Regents canal so that as water in one lock was lowered half of it could be discharged into the adjacent lock to raise boats travelling in the opposite direction.  There was also an extensive pumping system to return water back to the top of the canal from the lower reaches in Limehouse.  At least one of those pumping stations has survived, albeit one now serving as a lock keepers cottage.  Most people will be familiar with the traditional canal lock gates and their wedge shape to hold back the water whilst allowing the gates to be easily (?) opened when needed.  Contrary to popular perceptions, they were not invented by early canal engineers but by Leonardo da Vinci; but then what didn’t he invent?

Whilst the canal has not changed in 200 years, the roads above it have and our guided pointed out the many changes of bridge construction such as widening or strengthening to carry trams.  Perhaps the most bizarre was the new bridges that had been built near St Pancras that had been disguised by ‘planting’ on each side the girders from the old bridge as a facade.  They served no useful purpose other than to maintain the historic appearance of the area. It was also good to see at various locations along the canal that some original foundation stones for the bridges had been preserved nearby, recording the various dignitaries at the time (genealogy at last!)

A cormorant in the middle of Camden 199x300 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

A cormorant in the middle of Camden

Perhaps the biggest surprise was to see a cormorant sitting on top of an egg in the middle of Camden. Egg?  Well that’s another piece of history, albeit modern.  One of the ‘converted’ canal side buildings was the original TV-AM television studios and they erected these huge egg cups all around their roof. TV-AM went long ago but the egg cups remain and now provide a handy perch for any passing cormorant.  At least it proves there are fish in the canal and those rows fishermen along the tow path are not wasting their time.

 

Genealogy at last 300x225 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Genealogy at last!

After St Pancras the canal disappears into a 960 yard tunnel –  but that is a different story and a
different tour that the Canal Museum offer – but by boat!

 

 

Barry Hepburn (group leader)

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