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South Tyneside Branch / NDFHS South Tyneside Branch - November 2016 Meeting
« Last post by Annf on October 29, 2016, 05:44:27 PM »
The next meeting of NDFHS South Tyneside Branch will be held on Wednesday 16th November 2016 at 1.30pm at St Hilda's Visitor Centre, Market Place, South Shields, when Susan Lynn will be presenting a talk entitled 'Dolly - A North Shields Legend' - the story of the wooden dolly.

All members of NDFHS and visitors are welcome to attend.
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North Northumberland Branch / CHARLES TREVELYAN: left wing and upper-class?
« Last post by Vglass on October 19, 2016, 10:48:41 AM »
Our next talk is on Sat 19 Nov at 10 am Bell View, Belford when Mike Fraser will be talking about his recent research on Charles Trevelyan of Wallington. A fascinating story of a man from the Northumbrian upper-class who became a socialist MP. Come at 9.45 for coffee and chat!
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Tynedale Branch / Report of Oct 2016 Tynedale branch meeting
« Last post by Susanne on October 17, 2016, 04:15:03 PM »
Today’s Meeting  (16 members and 1 guest present)    13 Oct 2016   
              Michael Greatbatch         Big Houses of Benwell and their Occupants
Most of the listeners to today’s talk knew Benwell only vaguely as that area between the West Road in Newcastle and the Tyne, south of the General Hospital.  A few knew the area much better but even they left the talk knowing much more about the history and the big houses that used to dominate the area before all the re-development that started in the mid nineteenth century.  Much of the research on the area was done by a committed group from the Benwell Residents Association .  It was written up by Michael in 2011 and is now out of print and scarce.  The West Road turnpike, linking Newcastle and Carlisle made this area very attractive for the professional classes. West of the city and set well above the river it avoided the noisome smells created by the growing industries.  “Stoney” Bowes owned the estate but on his bankruptcy it was sold in 1811, divided into 10 lots.  The Tithe schedule showed the buyers.  Over the next few decades large stone houses were built.  There is more detail of some than others. Much of this came when the various houses were sold on or listed for renting and details were published in newspapers or sales documents.  One of the few that survived was Benwell Tower.  Built by the Crawhall family it had various occupants, later becoming the “Bishops Palace” for the Bishop of Newcastle who added a chapel. Later incarnations were as a pub (The Mitre), BBC studios (and home of “Byker Grove”) and currently an Islamic School who invited the Benwell residents to look round.  Other Big Houses included Benwell House, Benwell Villa, Condercum Villas and Condercum House (after the Roman fort here), Benwell Dene, Springbank, etc.  Pendower House became an open-air school then an Education Development Centre that closed in 2002. Two houses were closer to the river – South Benwell House and Paradise House.  Censuses provide a lot of detail about Benwell families. In these big houses there were sometimes more servants than family members.  Meanwhile the area was becoming more crowded with terraces and semis housing the workers at the growing industries, including the colliery and the Elswick Works. These houses often had more than one family to a house. The well remunerated professionals that had owned or rented here moved out, often to further up the Tyne valley.  Now, in general, only street names are left as mementoes of their passing through.  Everyone enjoyed the meeting.
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South Tyneside Branch / South Tyneside September 2016 Meeting Report
« Last post by Annf on October 07, 2016, 03:53:38 PM »
South Tyneside commenced the 2016/17 season of branch meetings on Wednesday 21st September by holding a Members Forum, with special help for beginners. 

The meeting was attended by members and a visitor who brought along a wealth of memorabilia relating to an ancestor who fought in both the Boer War and WW1, and who was given the freedom of the Borough.  'Brick Walls' were the other subjects discussed such as missing baptisms, wills and merchant navy records.

The next meeting is to be held on the 19th October, which will be a film presentation by Dorothy Hall from North East War Memorials Project entitled 'Always Remembered'.   All members and guests are most welcome to attend.
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North Northumberland Branch / THE ANCESTOR I WOULD LIKE/NOT LIKE TO MEET
« Last post by Vglass on September 28, 2016, 05:45:00 PM »
Our next meeting will be on Sat 15 October. Coffee will be available from 9.45am at Bell View, Belford. I hope the chosen topic –“ The Ancestor I would like/not like to meet” inspires you with some thoughts and stories of  one of your ancestors to tell us about. Perhaps you have an illustrious ancestor in your  family.....on the other hand perhaps you have a rogue or scoundrel whom you would hesitate to profess connection to if s/he lived just a couple of generations ago. Too close for comfort! But one from the dim and distant past can often seem more remote and more easily talked about. The person does not need to be renowned or infamous, it could be a very ordinary person but one who holds some fascination for you. If you have a photograph or artefact to accompany your tale so much the better. However, if you cannot think of anyone or prefer to listen to others rather than talk yourself, that is fine : the rest of us need a good audience! A poster is attached – perhaps you can display one locally?
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North Northumberland Branch / REPORT ON FROM BAMBURGH TO OTAGO
« Last post by Vglass on September 21, 2016, 08:07:44 PM »
TALK:  From Bamburgh to Otago – a forgotten Northumbrian by David Lockie

Our speaker for this meeting was David Lockie, a local farmer who enjoys historical research. He shared with us the story of  a man born near Bamburgh, baptised at Warenford Presbyterian Church who travelled to the other side of the world where he distinguished himself in his achievements and yet is scarcely known in his native county.  Whilst visiting his daughter in New Zealand, David was struck by the number of familiar place-names including Tweed, Twizel, Warren and Earnslaw. This set him on the search for  their origins which led him to John Turnbull Thomson.

Northumbrian-born Thomson  was born in 1820, one of 9 children to Alexander Thomson and Janet Turnbull who farmed at Glororum. After  Alexander died from a fall when riding, the children were sent to live with various relatives. John was sent to Abbey St. Bathans and attended Duns Academy, Marshal Academy in Aberdeen and then studied civil engineering at Newcastle. At the tender age of 16 he travelled to Malaysia to survey various estates, where he encountered tigers, snakes and bandits! He was only 20 when he was appointed Surveyor of Singapore.His responsibilities included roads, bridges, hospitals and even an obelisk.

After serious health problems set in by 1851 he returned to the UK where he pursued his studies further and visited Italy, eventually returning to Singapore. Voracious for further challenges he set sail in 1855 for New Zealand, intending to take up  farming in this country which had seen the first immigrants arrive only 7 years earlier. The temptation of an invitation to survey in this new country was too great to refuse and he took up his former profession again in Otago on South Island.

Among his achievements was the laying out of the new town of Invercargill, noted for its extra-wide roads named after Scottish rivers. In total he surveyed millions of acres of land. His meticulous approach is evidenced in his surveying notebooks containing calculations to 7 decimal places!

He often consulted Maori leaders on geographical matters, for example, constructing the Lindis Pass on the Alpine Highway. This was named after Lindisfarne. Although few of his bridges survive, being built of wood, his roads have lasted well. When he ran out of Scottish names he drew on Northumbrian rivers. In 1858 John married Mary Jane Williamson and they went on to have 9 daughters.

When gold was discovered in 1861, miners from far and wide prospected the rivers in Otago. Many did not survive the harsh winters but the gold rush brought people and wealth which remained. In 1873 John decided to retire but it was not long before he was persuaded to embark on a new venture as Surveyor General of New Zealand, taking responsibility for training fledgling surveyors. Returning again to the UK in 1878 he lectured widely  in Northumberland and the Borders. Determining to return to his adopted country, he set himself the task of building a Northumbrian Farmhouse, his only concession to the different climate being the addition of an ornate veranda.

His last challenge was to become a property developer. He sold plots of land at Coldstream, a new township which included Bamborough Street and others of similar names.  He died in 1884 at Lennel, his house in Invercargill.

Northumberland’s loss was Otago’s gain and there is no doubt that this was an exceptionally talented man. He was a polymath, violinist, artist, philosopher, linguist and inventor. Sometimes reputed to be a “dour Scot”, his writing displays a good sense of humour. He is very well-known in New Zealand, as evidenced by display boards in numerous museums and a statue of him in “surveying” action.

We enjoyed this very interesting talk and felt fortunate to have the opportunity to learn something of a man born just a few miles from our venue in Belford. We were amazed that such a distinguished Northumbrian is little-known in his native county. It was a stimulating beginning to our new season of talks.

Our next meeting will take place at Bell View, Belford on Saturday 15 October at 9.45 for 10 am on the topic of  Ancestors I would/would not like to meet. Expect more amazing stories!
Everyone welcome.
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South Tyneside Branch / NDFHS South Tyneside Branch - September 2016 Meeting
« Last post by Pat Pierpoint on September 12, 2016, 11:43:39 PM »
The next meeting of NDFHS South Tyneside Branch will be held on Wednesday 21st September 2016 at 1.30 pm at St. Hilda's Visitor Centre, Market Place, South Shields.  This will take the form of a family history members' forum, with help available for those just starting out on their family history research.   So, if you're a beginner or are in need some help with your research, please come along.
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Durham - Belmont Branch / NDFHS Durham-Belmont Branch - September 2016 Meeting
« Last post by Pat Pierpoint on September 12, 2016, 11:38:27 PM »
The next meeting of NDFHS Durham Belmont Branch will be held at Belmont Community Centre, Gilesgate, Durham, at 1.00 pm on Wednesday 21st September 2016, and will feature a talk by Norman Welch on "Ancestors' Migrations".  Please come along if you can.
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Tynedale Branch / Report of Sept 2016 Tynedale branch meeting
« Last post by Susanne on September 10, 2016, 06:47:45 PM »
Today’s Meeting  (11 members and 2 guests present)    Members Forum 
              Organising my research – methods; tips;  what works  - or doesn’t!
This was a wide-ranging forum.  It started by discussing the pros and cons of paper versus computers and different ways of using computers.   Some resources have to be on paper eg certificates (which should ideally be kept flat in acid free material) but it is worth also having scanned/photo’d back-ups, kept in a separate location.  Some people still use card indexes and a way of keeping track of the contents is important eg using consecutive accession numbers along with a name index means they stay in order in the box and can be found quickly. Various schemes of numbering according to generation were described.  Experts can customise their own spreadsheets eg use hyperlinks etc.  Some shops can print out such trees on long paper.  Family history software and the media they are kept on (CDs, USBs, cloud etc) can change over time so it is important to keep revisiting these and checking backups.  The information available online also changes over time – sometimes providing many more leads but sometimes vanishing.  It was agreed that it is essential to try to remember to record the origin of all the information found so that it can be revisited eg parish records, censuses but also sites like findagrave or newspapers.   Photographs, we agreed, should have information written on the back, always in soft pencil.  Old B&W photos have often been stored badly and end up curled and liable to crack if flattened.   One way to remedy this is to create a humid atmosphere in a large plastic box, with a plastic mesh (eg sink protector) held on pegs above an inch of water. The photos are placed picture downward (don’t get them wet) and left for several hours.  The flat, damp photos are then dried off in layers of kitchen roll under a weight eg heavy book.  If they are then put in a suitable album they should stay flat.  Otherwise they will curl up again.  This works best for matt photos.  Other topics covered were contacts with other people.  This can create problems – always check dates etc for yourself and be wary who you share information with.  You may find cousins who will share equally with you – or you may find your tree online and claimed as their own work.  Finally, there was a very useful discussion on using the Archives down at Kew.  Tea and chat went on after 8.30 pm
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North Northumberland Branch / FROM BAMBURGH TO OTAGO - a forgotten Northumbrian
« Last post by Vglass on August 05, 2016, 09:46:56 AM »
Our new season opens with a talk by local farmer David Lockie title "From Bamburgh to Otago - a forgotten Northumbrian". Venue is Bell View, 33 West St, Belford. Talk starts at 10 am and we always meet from 9.45 for a coffee! Do come along, new members are always welcome. Some of our group have Northumbrian ancestors but many do not so if you are new to the area you'll find lots of general interest at our meetings!

Belford is about 35 mins by car from Morpeth, 20 mins from Alnwick and Berwick, 35 mins from Coldstream.
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