One of the most exciting things about creating this website has been making contact with a number of relations, some close and some slightly more distant, who have come across the site through online searches or through other websites such as Genes Reunited and then got in touch via email to share fascinating information, documents and photos.
Sue Read found the site via Mac Joseph's Old Ladywood website. She is the daughter of Gertrude (aka Trudy) Lee and Norman Dodd. Sue's first message posted to the website following one of the posts a couple of months back re: the Vesper Bell, said:
"I really enjoyed reading this as Mr & Mrs Lee were my great grandparents. Norman and Trudy (Gertie) Dodd were my parents. Mum was actually Emmie and Ted Robinson's niece (Henry Herbert Lee's daughter). She went to live with them when her parents died, her mother when she was only 18 months old and her father when she was 11. Sadly Mum also died in 2007 but I heard many stories about the pub during my childhood".
Since then Sue and I have exchanged a few emails and the information she has sent recently is helping to build up our knowledge of the Lee / Townley / Robinson family. I am only sorry that our beloved uncle Harry Robinson isn't still here to chip in from his chair behind the couch!
Sue has given me permission to quote extracts of her emails, saying:
"I certainly enjoyed reading the site and maybe others will have snippets of info they could share with us. I found it very touching reading about my Mum and Dad, so I'm sure others would be interested."
"I found your website of great help and along with photos and various certificates have been able to trace back to my great great great grandfather on Mums side. His name was Thomas Sweetman, born around 1796. His daughter, Ann Sweetman married a George Lee and one of their children, Emily Clara, married George Cope. They were the parents of Gertrude Polly Cope, who married Henry Herbert Lee (son to Albert & Emily Lee) and he was Mum's father. Sadly both Mum's parents died when she was very young (her mother when she was only 18 months and her father when she was 11). Mum was then brought up by her aunt and uncle who we called 'Nanny' and 'Grandad' Robinson (Harry's parents)".
"Did you discover the parents of Albert John Lee? If you did, you may be able to solve a mystery for me. Gertrude Polly Cope's mother (Emily Clara Lee) had a brother called Albert John born in 1868. Now that is a huge coincidence that Albert John Lee was also born at that time. If it was the same person who married Emily Townley, then my grandparents, Henry Herbert Lee and Gertrude Polly Cope were cousins. Henry Lee worked as an engineer at New Imperial Motorcycles and was a banjo player, being a member of a Birmingham Banjo group - don't know what it was called but we used to have a photo of him with a group of banjo players."
"I have very fond memories of Nanny and Grandad Robinson as I spent my days with them from the ages of 3-5 before I started school. Nanny Robinson had long white hair which went right down her back - she used to let me brush it for her every day. They lived in Bolney Road, Quinton and had a beautiful garden with 2 apple trees and lots of roses and hydrangeas. Grandad Robinson had been a soldier in WW1 and had been shell shocked, so sometimes when we went to see them, he would turn us away at the door as he didn't remember us. After he died, Nanny Rob (as we used to call her) practically lived with us as she came to stay on Friday night and went home to pay her rent on Wednesday. She was a very lovely lady and we were all very upset when she died."
"I don't really know anything about the Vesper Bell as I am too young (a bit older than you) but I remember my parents talking about it. Sadly Dad died in Dec 1998 and then Mum died in Oct 2007, so I'm not able to find out more. Unfortunately Mum had suffered several mini strokes, so she lost the power to readily communicate a couple of years before she died. She had already started to put together a family tree but I think she got a little confused as she thought that Henry Townley was a jeweller. I have since discovered that it was her grandfather on her mother's side (George Cope) who was the jeweller."
"I was interested to see on your website that the birth date for Henry Townley varied for different census reports. I assume that the correct date was 1833, as his eldest child, Charles Townley was born in 1854. If the 1840 birth date was correct, he would have only been 14 when Charles was born."