Sunday, 28 September 2014

Busy, busy, busy!

Firstly, apologies for the break in blogging.  I knew I'd be taking a few weeks off because I went on holiday.  But what I didn't know was that something would happen while I was away that would throw my family history research well and truly into the spoltlight, bringing forward a mountain of information to sift through, some new friends, and even new relatives!

The catalyst for this was a devastating fire at a factory in Leicester, which one of my great great grandfathers had built for him in 1911.  The building has not belonged to any of the family for decades, but it still had my great great grandfather's name across the door way, albeit boarded over.  And going to see it was on my to do list. 

But while I was away, it went up in flames, and was so badly damaged that the ruins had to be taken down immediately.  It was a real shame, but I thought that there was an opportunity for a phoenix to arise from the flames, and so I contacted the local newspaper, the Leicester Mercury.

A combination of the fire being a huge story (many were evacuated from their homes) and it being the summer "silly season" meant that the story of mine and my cousin Sam's quest to find out more about that branch of the family made a full page, plus a follow-up story, and several contacted us as a result.One was relatives we didn't know existed - a great grandson of the original factory owner, and we have been exchanging emails, photos and stories with them.

Another was Jennifer Harris from the Thurmaston Heritage Group who, despite being busy, has been enormously helpful.  My great great grandfather lived in Thurmaston for some time, and various other members of our family tree are from there too.  Jennifer has given me so much information on my family tree, cleared up some questions, helped solve a mystery - I suspect that what she doesn't know about Thurmaston isn't worth knowing! 

I've also been in touch with experts in Leicester's footwear history (my great great grandfather was a wholesale boot and shoe manufacturer), a lovely old lady whose father worked as the general manager at the factory, and various other people.

And, on top of all this, my cousin Sam has also made contact with another family member we didn't know of, who lives in Australia.

So - there has been a LOT of information to process, and I am still working my way through it all.  I cannot believe how much more I know about my family than I did just a couple of months ago, it truly is amazing.  And now it is time to start sharing some of their stories with you again.  Watch this space, I'll be back in a day or two :)

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