A Travellerspoint blog

Day 29 - Newman, Oldman or Holdman?

The town of John Newman Holdman

overcast 16 °C
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Today is the start of my family research and in this particular instance, my mother’s side of the family. So this post would most likely be of interest to my Newman relatives.

Left London early to catch the train to Swindon and pick up the car. Got a fright when they wanted £66 for the train fare. Apparently they have time based fares, so peak hour cost more. Decided t wait 30 minutes and pay half the cost. Picked up the car and soon I was used to the English driving style and headed out to Minchinhampton.

My great great great grandfather John Newman Holdman was living here between 1798 and 1822, when he was eventually transported to Australia for stealing a roll of cloth.

Just like the show “Who do you think you area”” I had arranged to meet a local historian, Di Wall, to show me around the town and fill me in on a bit of history. Well Di went above and beyond the call of duty and did so further research on the family for me. She provided me with books on the history of the town and she had extracts from church records that she passed onto me. (Bubsy, I will send these home from here on Friday – keep an eye out for it).

So things of note that she found / told me:
1. John’s father (John Holdman) could write and it is possible that he was in the military. So the story of John (Jnr) being born in St Domingo (Haiti) may be more a story of his father serving there at the time, but John (Jnr) was more likely to be born here in Minchinhampton. He was definitely baptised here, but her was about 6 years old at the time.
2. Di seems to think that they lived in Watledge (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday/dblock/GB-384000-198000/page/16) which was a small hamlet of buildings occupied by weavers just north of Nailsworth. I don’t recall what her reasoning’s were, but it may help explain the references to Nailsworth Parish on his convict records (notwithstanding that Nailsworth Parish did not exist until 1890). But he may have related to Nailsworth more than Minchinhampton because it was much closer and accessible.
3. The eastern part of the church would have existed at the time of John. The western half of the church was constructed in the 1840’s. The christening (whatever) was the original and would have been used for John’s christening.
4. The actual township of Minchinhampton was quiet small at that time and was mainly focused on the cross road and Friday Street. The agricultural (wool) areas came right up to the town houses.
5. She could not find any further information on John Holdman (Snr) before or after his birth. So she seems to think he was not from this town.
6. Sarah Newman most likely lived in the Alm Building in West End (which is a castle shape building in one of the photos). This was a house owned by the church and whould have been used to house people of limited means. At the time of the 1841 Sarah Newman was listed as a pauper (or some other term), so it is highly likely that she lived here. Now the same building sells for £500K

Spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the town and I travelled out to Watledge taking lots of photos.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in England Comments (1)

Day 27 & 28 - Nothing to see here - move along

overcast 18 °C
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Doing the tourist thing for the past 2 days. Nothing much to report, other than they have some serious jewels in that Tower of London.

Posted by Neileeann 11:49 Archived in England Comments (1)

Day 26 - A homage to Ebenezer Howard

The Garden City revisited

sunny 23 °C
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Well I may be a retired town planner, but sometimes you still can't take the town planner out of the man.

I needed a rest day today and so I decided to pay a homage to Ebenezer Howard, who was a famous town planner at the beginning of the 20th century and created what was call “The Garden City” movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_city_movement). He created two “garden cities” just north of London, so I took a trip to the closest one – Welwyn Garden City.

Welwyn GC is located approximately 35 km north of London, which would in Brisbane terms place it about Beenleigh. However the footprint of London is much smaller than Brisbane, so this is “city” surrounded by green agricultural belt and would be a commuter town. Unlike Beenleigh it is very much a middle class English suburban estate.

Being a Sunday, Welwyn has the gentle hum of suburban life. Hedges were being clipped, lawns mowed, mothers and fathers out for quiet strolls with their children in prams and on bikes, younger people going for a run. Sunday Church service had just ended and people were still milling around the front talking and passing pleasantries. Spirits renewed it was off to cook the Sunday roast and settle in or the afternoon just enjoying the sun. The sun shines gently on these green fields of England.

Continuing my walk I wandered down a close and the locals were setting up for a communal lunch, whereby all the residents of the close would bring out tables, chairs and food and share it, while “bringing the community together”. I suspect no one in that close was under 65 years old and I started talking to a few old fellows. I suspect that if I was pushy enought I could have invited myself to lunch. But I had a vision of having a cup of tea and tete a tete with the victor and suddenly someone kneels over and all of a sudden I am in the middle of a Midsomer Murder episode.

So I moved on and went off in search a suitable dark and dingy English pub for my tradition Sunday roast. Do you think I could fine one? So I had to settle for a more modern brassiere run by Romanians. Very nice meal washed down with a Cornish ale.

One thing I did notice was they speak with a different accent up here – English. I still can’t believe how little English I hear spoken in central London.

So after paying my respects to Ebenezer I caught the train back to London. 40 mins and back into the hectic world that is London.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in England Tagged town planning garden_city welwyn_garden_city ebenezer_howard Comments (2)

Day 25 - Royalty and Democracy

semi-overcast 19 °C
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A tiring day, but ultimately a good day.

Today there was the “Colonel’s Review” which is in reality a dress rehearsal for the trooping of the colours, which occurs next Saturday. It did not have all the fancy carriages, but enough men on horseback in uniform to get a few different demographics excited. It is hard not to get impressed and carried away with all the pomp and ceremony. Then add in the band music and it you are really caught up into it and I have 140 photos to prove it. We took up our position at 9:45 and the parade started at 10:00. Thought we got duded as most of the parade occurred on the other side of the square. However the parade went down The Mall, did a show at the Horse Guard Parade Ground and returned to Buck Palace. So it was a long wait, but by 12:00 they came back and went right pass us and we had an up close and personal review. By 12:30 it was all over, but tired from standing up and being crushed at the same time.

Afterwards we walked through St James Park, which was a very nice oasis in large city and made our way towards Westminster.

We wandered around many of the old city area, seeing many of the famous buildings.

At 16:00 we had a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. So we got to see both houses and many of the other major rooms in the Houses. As a staunch democrat it was awe inspiring tour to be at the heart of where many of our democratic principals were established and fought for (and slowly being eroded).

Well I thought that was me for the night, I could go back to the local pub and watch the European Championship League Final on TV and have a few ales at the same time.

Well Lee-ann had other ideas and she wanted to go to see a show. So off to Piccadilly Circus we trotted and it was here that I started to melt down. I had been on my feet for some 8 hrs, little food and I was a tired, hungry and cranny little puppy. We went to one of the knock off ticket joints and pick up tickets for Beautiful - The Carol King Story. (http://beautifulmusical.co.uk/?gclid=CI32zNiD_cUCFdLLtAodNkIAPw) From there we walked even more passed Coventry Gardens, Leister Square until we reached our theatre. The tickets were duds, but because it wasn’t sold out, once the lights went down we relocated and it was much better. Well the show was fabulous and she and her husband wrote many famous songs that were performed by other bands (which was the way back then), until she finally produced her famous album Tapestry. So Bubsy, get out the album, crank it up and listen to it once more.

All in all a good day, but very tiring with all the standing, walking and moving between tube stops and interchanges with the constant throngs of people.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Day 24 – Half time

Still married

sunny 23 °C
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Well it is the half way mark in the trip and after some bumpy days and experiences the team is still holding up. Another 24 days to go, but the travelling should get a bit easier in the second half, with the breeze at our backs and a go-forward in terms of car. Time will tell if injuries and bad moves will end in tears.

My only family history task in London is to visit Woolwich. Woolwich is the place where the convict hulks were moored in the Thames prior to joining their main ship for sailing to Australia. So it was for John Newman Holdman who was held here for five months on his way to Australia for a working holiday. It was no picnic while they waited and they were sent out from 6am to 5pm most days to dredge the river by crude hand winching, all on a measly meal allowance of basically gruel. As it was, many convicts didn’t get pass Woolwich with an estimated 50% dying while on board these hulks. By all reports, eventually getting onboard the convict boats was like winning the lottery.

So my intention was to get out here and take a few happy shots and then head elsewhere. However the London Underground doesn’t have the speed of the Paris Metro and the trip took about 1.25 hours to get there with a couple of changes tossed in for good measure.

There is no dedicated memorial to the role that Woolwich played in Australian history, but it was also the place where there was historical ship building and armoury on this site. So there was an existing museum that dealt with that side of the history. Nearby was the Greenwich Heritage Centre (http://www.greenwichheritage.org/site/index.php) that had some research material and the staff there keep piling books in front of me to read on its history and the prison hulk ships. So that consumed another 3 hours. For the Newman family researchers, not a lot more to be found here and I photographed some pages with a bit more colour and movement stuff that I will share upon my return.

Afterwards, I needed a haircut, as it was getting unruly. Looked for the cheapest place I could find. That was a side alley Nigeria barber where I was the only honky in the place and not a word of English was spoken, apart from £5 please. Woolwich is a heavily migrant population with mainly African colonial nationalities, but there is a lot of urban renew occurring down by the Thames with the proverbial can’t swing a cat in apartments selling for £350K.

Because the metro took so long I decided to catch the bus back as far as possible and then train it from there. It was long after getting moving, I realised that we went past the past where the British soldier Lee Rigby was killed a few years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Lee_Rigby). So that brought that particular episode home to me very quickly. Earlier I saw an old fashion English butcher operating in a sea of African shops and I wondered what he thought as his neighbourhood has been totally transformed over the past 30 years.

Anyway, I was originally intending to head off to Portobello Markets and then the British Museum. But time was getting away from me and I chose the British Museum. I never visited it the last time and always thought it should be something I should see. However I don’t have the appreciation for this as ancient history is not my thing. While there were stacks of, what I am sure very important artefacts, it was just not that interesting for me, especially after the 500th stone carving or statue of a roman emperor.

Later in the evening we went to Holland Park for a meal. Very nice area and lots of money. Had a meal in the pub and after just saying to Lee-ann that I haven’t seen the heavily drinking culture that I saw 30 years ago, a fight broke out and glasses were smashed. Luckily someone with a cool head stepped in and pushed the main offended down the road to cool off for a while.

Anyway, enough for today and tomorrow it is a day of royalty and democracy.

Posted by Neileeann 00:04 Archived in England Comments (0)

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