Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Family Miscellany

Below is an assorted selection of interesting items from the family archive. Items of family history interest don't have to be restricted to old photographs and birth certificates and most old documents can tell an interesting story or two for future generations.

So take my advice and think twice before emptying the contents of your top drawer into the nearest available black bin liner!

Item 1 is page 2 and 3 of Harry Robinson's passport (Harry was my dad's brother-in-law), issued on 3rd June 1958. But as you can see, back in 1958 a man's passport also included his wife, implying a rather chauvinistic assumption by the Foreign Office that the wife was never going to travel abroad without her husband.

So it is that both Kath and Harry Robinson are included in his passport. The bearer is registered as Harry, a setter operator, born in Birmingham on 31.3.1920. Height 5ft 4in, eye colour blue, hair brown and no special peculiarities.

Kath is registered as his wife, a machinist born in Ahmadabad, India on 3.1.1922. Also 5ft 4 with blue eyes and blonde hair.

The passport was due to expire in 5 years time, on 3rd June 1963 and their visas included:

20 Juil 1958   Boulogne
21 Juili 1958   Schweiz
25 Lug 1958   Uscita
29 Juil 1958   Dunkerque
30 Juil 1959   Boulogne
8 Aug 1959   Oostende
2 Aug 1961   Oostende

There are one or two other visa stamps that are difficult to read.

On page 31 of the passport there are details of the 'travelling expenses' declared by the holidaying couple on three different journies to the Continent:

24 June 1958    £100
8.7.1959   £94
15 July 1967   £40

And if we are wondering how far that £100 worth of travelling expenses stretched back in 1958, the photograph below of Kath feeding pigeons was taken on 22nd July 1958 in Milan, indicating a fair journey across Europe by train perhaps?

What is unusual about this image is that it was clearly a black and white photo, selected parts of which were coloured, presumably by hand. So Kath's dress is pink and the pigeons blue with just a touch of the same blue on a lady's dress in the background, possibly a dash of yellow in Kath's hair and in the shirt of the man directly behind her and even a delicate application of red lipstick, but everything else remaining in mono shades. I wonder was this a technique used by an Italian street photographer or did Harry take the photo and the technique was applied by a developer in the UK? These days the technique has become popular again in digital photography, but I am certain in the 1950s it was done by hand almost to artistic levels in the popular magazines of the day such as The LadyGood Taste and Cosmopolitan.  

This is a very fragile photograph showing a group of women in a convalescence home. The lady in the 2nd row, end of row on the left in the dark dress is my grandmother, known to us as Nanny Mill, or Florence Millington, nee. Clayton.

Presumably Florence was recovering from an operation or illness. I don't know what year this was taken but can I safely guess it was in the late 1940s / early 1950s by the fashion and hairstyles?

On the subject of grandparents, here is another very fragile document, the four torn quarters of which are held back together by ancient strips of sellotape, all of which adds to it's character and authenticity. This is my maternal grandparents' marriage certificate.

James Lawlor of 92 Walsh Road, son of Denis Lawlor and Catherine Cushen of the same address, married Elizabeth Whelan of 49 Bolton Street, daughter of John Whelan and Anne McDonnell of the same address at the Church of St Michan, Halston Street, Dublin on 22nd July 1938. They were married by the Rev. John Scanlon in the presence of Patrick Gorman of 20 North Brunswick Street and Mary Whelan of 46 Bolton Street. 

I hope my dad Geoff will forgive me for posting up this next set of documents ("not so much of the old" I can hear him saying), although he should not be embarrassed as they show him in an entirely glowing light.

Firstly, from the Summer term ending July 1948, dad's school report from St Peter's R.C. School. At the age of 11 Geoffrey Millington was about to move up into the senior section of the school from Class J8. We can see from his report that he attained good remarks and above average scores in all of his subjects, achieving 100% marks for arithmetic. His head teacher, E.M. Clements, adds "Has worked steadily and is getting on".

But I love my grandfather's reply on the back of the report, which I feel indicates a touch of working class deference for those in authority at the end:

Dear Miss Clements & Staff. 

I am very pleased with Geoffrey's school Report and I am sure he will do better in the future.

Yours Respectfully

Mr W J Millington  

My grandfather's confidence in his son "doing better in the future" certainly seemed to pay off as, four year later at the age of 15, my dad achieved a glowing end of school report in July 1952. A report that I for one would have been envious of showing 90% grades in several subjects and remarks which repeatedly included "Excellent" and even "Top boy in class!" in science. Strangely the one subject area in which he dropped marks over a four year period was arithmetic - by far his top subject at aged 11, which may well say more about the teacher than the pupil.

And finally...

The format of school reports may not have changed much over the years but here is a document that to the best of my knowledge we don't see these days, it's my dad's Scholar's Leaving Certificate issued by City of Birmingham Education Committee.

The document certifies that Geoffrey Millington attended St Peter's R.C. School and "is legally exempt from attendance at School, having ceased to be of compulsory school age as defined by Sections 35 and 38 of the Education Act, 1944".

Head teacher Miss Clements remarks: 

"An extremely intelligent boy who has done very well at school. He has been most efficient as School Captain. Conduct - excellent".

Dated July 24th 1952. Chief Education Officer was M. Russell.

More miscellany in the future.

Do you have any scanned documents you can contribute to the website?

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