Source – Portsmouth Evening News – Friday 11 September 1931
Accessed via British Newspaper Archives
Back in April this press release hit the genealogical and local history arena. Every major town in England and Wales now has an historical map on-line, free of charge. Fantastic news.
A quick search for Walnut Tree Close within the search frame was done. It showed this map, which I have appropriated so that I can pretty much pin point the location that was my childhood home, and that of my late Mum and my Grandparents. Effectively a family connection from 1912 – 1996. It is this connection, and in the case of my Grandmother a connection that started in 1912 at her birth until her death in 1995, a total of 83 years. I would say beat that, but perhaps someone can!
The map shown here is the Ordnance Survey Map 1945 – 1947. This shows the location of the road within the town, neatly sandwiched between the River Wey and the railway. Although this excerpt shows current landmarks, for example the Odeon (cinema) which was never in that location and has only been there in the last twenty years. The Crown Court was built there in the 1980’s and I watched the building of the building from the other side of the river. The land it was built on was in fact the old laundry, located not surprisingly in Laundry Road. It was at the laundry that my Grandmother contributed to the war effort from about 1940.
As I have mentioned previously there were nine known casualties of those whose family is linked to Walnut Tree Close. At this moment I have identified all nine and am currently working my way through their military records.
I have though created a Walnut Tree Close Community over at the Lives of the First World War site. Currently I have managed to locate six of the nine, and need to complete the task. I also want to establish if there were other recruits from the road who successfully made it home.
Yesterday I came across this fabulous site Britain from Above 1919 – 1953. What a marvellous resource for all local and family historians. A quick search for Guildford revealed over 100 photographs and included this one from 1928.
Someone has commented that they are not sure the details are correct. I have nothing to compare to, but quite certain this Walnut Tree Close before the road was opened and the traffic chaos of today existed.
When I was in the local library last week I spotted this anthology, recently published called “The Library Book” Each chapter is about twenty pages or so from a well know and respected writer, sharing their personal views or memories about books.
The chapter written by Alan Bennett, which commences at page 25 talks about his parents and their regular outings to the public library in Leeds. Alan Bennett talks about the fact that his father left Leeds in 1944 to relocate with his family to Guildford.
The second paragraph on page 30 reads
“……..The butcher for whom my dad worked also ran a horsemeat business, the meat strictly for non-human consumption and accordingly painted bright green. In his cattle truck Mr Banks would go out into the Surrey countryside to collect carcasses and sometimes, by dint of hanging around the lorry, I got to go with him, I would watch as the bloated cow or horse was winched on board and then we would drive to the slaughterhouse in Walnut Tree Close just by Guildford Station……..”
There was a slaughter house in Walnut Tree Close when I was growing up. At the time of this I can not recall it’s name, but seem to recall it had a dark red paint on the cracked and worn window frames. As to the reference to Mr Banks, I may just have to look in local directories for the 1940’s and see what information that yields.
The Library Book published Profile Books 2012 – ISBN 978 1 78125 005 1
The February Society for One-Place Studies hangout is scheduled for 8pm GMT on Friday 28th February, so this Friday! The discussion topic is Learn and Do.
We shall have a discussion about the latest book about One-Place Studies written by Janet Few and much more!
The Society has a G+ Community and you can visit the Society blog and website for more information.
You can watch the hangout live here or via the Society YouTube Channel
I recently had the opportunity to read a review copy of the latest book by Janet Few.
There are so few books dedicated to the subject of One Place Studies therefore this is a very welcomed addition to the genealogical and local history arena.
The book has been thoroughly researched and whilst is heavily slanted at such studies in the United Kingdom, those who are pursuing studies, or contemplating studies outside of the United Kingdom would without a doubt benefit from reading this book. In my personal opinion it is an absolute guide for those interested in the places of our ancestors or of a community.
The book itself is divided into three distinct sections, over 12 chapters. Setting the scene, sources and the final section is pulling the data all together. Starting with the definition of a One Place Study, choosing the boundaries of a study and considers the options if the study has been previously undertaken or already exists.
We then move onto chapter two; the reconstruction of the community or place, looking at maps and locations. Understanding the boundaries, looking at buildings, farms, fields and streets.Chapter three centres around the population of your place of interest, analysing the population and social structure and collating biographical information of key individuals.
Chapter four commences the section focusing on sources. In this chapter locating sources is fully explained.
Chapter five features the time period of after 1900 and is a very comprehensive chapter. Looking at the Census material of the twentieth century, photographs and pictures, in addition to other forms of media, oral history and looks at the fascinating subject of child mortality and the effect that had on the community and its sustainability. Also explored is the 1910 Inland Revenue Valuation Survey and whilst that is a source that solely covers England and Wales, it does provide as a potential research idea for areas outside of England and Wales. Does anything exist for your location in your part of the world? This chapter also includes directories, community minutes and of course the effects of the First World War. Those that served, named on a memorial, Rolls of Honour, Voters Lists. Land Registry and the National Farm Survey from the 1940’s.
Chapter six looks at the nineteenth century and again is a comprehensive chapter. Starting at understanding the Census material that covers this period, household structure and how the community and society dealt with any disabilities. Tithe Maps are an important feature in this chapter as is understanding the roles that religion and the church played in the life of a community. This chapter also looks at cemeteries and crematoriums, Education and school, newspapers and parish magazines.
Chapter seven looks at the eighteenth century in a very comprehensive manner, covering Manorial records, land taxes, early military records & militia, apprentices, gravestones and documentation that was traditionally retained by the parish in the Parish Chest.
Chapter eight covers the seventeenth century. Here featured are Protestation Oath Rolls, Hearth Tax, Compton Census, Poll taxes and Surname Survey.
Chapter nine features the period before 1600 and therefore covers the Doomsday Survey, early taxes, Chancery courts, wills and Parish Records. Chapter ten features the issue around today’s census.
Chapter eleven and twelve cover the last section and the issue of pulling together all the data available into a workable archive and project. Chapter eleven looks at linking people, and covers migration both into and from your place of study, trades and occupations; residential histories and families within the area that are of importance to your place, and perhaps remain in the location and standing for generations.
The final chapter features around the topic of publishing your study, whether that is through a book or website. It also looks at the aspect of funding for a study and the importance of the future of your study.
The final pages are given over to examples of some studies, a comprehensive bibliography, magazines and journals, Societies and addresses, courses and an index.
At the end of each chapter there is further reading and of course many website addresses are presented so that you can explore as you read. There is also projects that can be undertaken as you read. I particularly like this idea, as it enables you to look at your place and community, layer by layer, by person and surname and understand how the individuals were in relation to their community.
This is a good grounding for those undertaking One Place Studies anywhere. The resources are obviously aimed at those within England and Wales, but that itself can give rise to contemplation of what similar records exist in your location where ever you or your study are in the world. I personally recommend this thoroughly researched and comprehensive guide to anyone who has an interest in understanding the places in which their ancestors lived.
Putting Your Ancestors in their Place ~ A Guide to One Place Studies by Janet Few is published by Family History Partnership in February 2014 and was launched at Who Do You Think You Are Live in London this weekend. Janet gave a talk to accompany her book and you can purchase signed copies from the author.
Copies are also available from the author direct and from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA). Currently the book is so new there are no copies available via Amazon at the moment because the official launch was so recent!
ISBN – 9781906280437. Author’s website
The next hangout for the Society for One-Place Studies is scheduled for Friday, 31st January 2014 at 8pm GMT. The subject for discussion is “A Shared Endeavour – Honouring the World War I Centenary”
You can watch the hangout live here or via the Society YouTube Channel
The Society has launched a collective World War One Project, in which members can delve into the depths of their studies and explore how the First World War affected their community, the men (and women) who supported the war effort, those that returned and those that did not.
I have over the last few weeks tentatively started to gather the facts and information that relate to Walnut Tree Close and over the coming months I shall share those developments here and via the website.
Colbrook’s ice factory was part of the selection of businesses owned by the family. The family moved from Sussex to the Guildford area where they opened a butcher’s shop in the High Street. By the late 1860’s they had opened a butcher’s shop in North Street and an ice factory. By about 1930 a further ice factory was owned and located in Walnut Tree Close.
For a very long time I have felt that there should be a more formal structure for those who are engaged in a One-Place Study to have a formal group. I was delighted when in the Spring of this year I was approached by a fellow genealogist and asked if I would be interested in working with a few others to create a Society based upon, and incorporating a free listing site that had already existed.
That was in March and in September, after many months of hard work we launched the Society. We are now just 3 months old and already have been joined by others working on studies. The studies are across the globe and so are our members. Some members are living outside their study area which adds an additional dimension to the study.
Last month we started a monthly Google hangout. This enables members (and non members) across the globe to interact and get involved. Not just in the Society, but also the concept and the delivery of a One-Place Study.
The December hangout discussion was Choosing your Place – It was a very interesting and useful discussion and I think it is fair to say we all came away with other ideas to create, or enhance our studies.
The Society for One-Name Studies has a website where you can see details of registered studies (you do not have to have an established study to join) and how to join the Society.
As I am going through and uploading the material to the Walnut Tree Close (Guildford) website, I thought I would share the following story and picture.
In September 1968 the River Wey in Guildford burst its banks. My Mum says they heard a noise one Sunday evening and she went to the door to look out. She told her Dad there was water in the road, and the response was, as one might expect, “Don’t be ridiculous!” My Grandfather then went to the back door and sure enough the water was just coming in the door.
The family then worked steadily trying to get what they could upstairs, but essentially it was really too late for some items. On the Monday morning, Mum and her Dad went into Guildford to get some wellington boots, by that point it was inpassible in some parts of town, but they did get the wellingtons and some bread and other essentials. By Lunchtime on Monday the water was well and truly inside the properties and the lower section of Guildford closed off, and the water continued to rise rapidly.
There was at the time an Army barracks in Guildford and they helped to evacuate those worse affected. My Grandparents elected to stay in their home. By Tuesday morning the water had all gone, but a dreadful smell and clean up now existed.
My Mum at the time worked at the department store in Guildford, Plummer Rodis, which was situated also along the banks of the River and the store was also flooded. Mum recalls the Managing Director, a Mr Brown, coming to talk to the staff, thanking them for all their hard work during, what would have been a challenging clean up operation and costly to the business, regardless, as a way of thanking the staff he paid them all an extra week’s wages. A far cry from working for a large business today.
Mum always says that my Grandmother was totally oblivious. On the Monday evening, Gran said she felt like a cup of tea. Anyway, Gran toddled off downstairs and it was a few minutes before my Grandfather realised that she had gone downstairs. They heard a small bang then a bit of an expletive and then eventually Gran came back up the stairs with a teapot and a set of cups and saucers. She had turned the gas on and made the tea, completely oblivious that she could have completely blown the house and them to pieces.
When I asked how high the water had come into the house, the response was the water had started to climb the stairs and had made it past the first three. It might have been a dreadful experience, but not totally unexpected given how close the house was to the river. The reason for the flood, was not due to excessive rain. but there was a problems with the locks which controlled the volume of water.
This photo was taken by Allan Edwards, whose mother in law lived across the road from my Grandparents. I have looked at this photograph lots of times as it shows the house,the first on the right where my Grandparents lived, but it was only recently that I realised that the top window is open and has my Grandparents looking out and the bottom window has my Mum peeping outside.
This forms part of my Guildford and District Collection
I finally got the structure for the study on-line organised. Whilst that appears a reasonably small task. I am fairly fussy and like things “just so”, which meant that the location of the on-line material was important as was the structure.
The material is going to be steadily placed on-line at the website over the course of 2014. It was back in 1984 when I first captured a snippet of details about the road, and of course I had no idea back then, that thirty years later I would still be researching the location. That hopefully gives you an idea of how much data I have to process to place on-line. It will not be a quick job and that is why the blog will be useful, you will at least know I am still here and not buried under a pile of papers!
What will be shared here will be snippets of information – both historical and current and other bits of news and relevant details about the road, the wider area of Guildford and about One-Place Studies and or history in general.
What is to many Guildfordians quite simply a road; a means to an end – linking central Guildford and the railway station to the A3, for some, both currently and historically it was their home and for some a work location.
Of course, Walnut Tree Close was not always the heavily traffic driven location it is today. At one time it was simply the location of a series of workers cottages in a fairly central location, sandwiched between the River Wey and the railway. At the end of Walnut Tree Close now is the bypass and links to the A3, but there once was a meadow, with grazing cows and bluebells.
Whilst the same place, it was a very different time and that is the point of the study. To capture the details, no matter how small, of the people, the social conditions and their homes before those details are lost forever.