At various times in my Family History researches I’ve found these websites interesting and useful.
The History of the Workhouse
Probably most family history researchers have found one or more of their ancestors ending their days in the workhouse. To find out more about life in the workhouse then a visit to The Workhouse – the story of an institution is a must.
It’s a massive website filled with information about every conceivable aspect of workhouse life but I’ve found that the most useful part is the directory of workhouse addresses with links to the pages of individual workhouses.
This is the link to the directory part of the site: http://www.workhouses.org.uk/addresses/
then just use the A-Z to search for the town you want and click its link.
If you think your ancestor might have been involved in a railway accident there may be some information at the Railway Archives website.
In 1947, my mother kept a diary and one day she recorded: “Mr Eaton was killed today on the Railway”. Her father worked on the railway so Mr Eaton’s death must have been particularly significant. The Railways Archive website has 32 accidents listed for 1947 but none of them seem as though they would have involved the Mr. Eaton mentioned in Doreen’s diary. Further scrutiny of the accidents recorded for 1947 show there were a staggering 111 fatalities and over 800 injuries. The worst accidents of 1947 were at Gidea Park (7 fatalities and 45 injured); Doncaster (18 fatalities and 118 injured); Burton Agnes (12 fatalities and 32 injured); South Croydon (32 fatalities and 183 injured); and Goswick (28 fatalities and 90 injured).
The causes of these terrible railway disasters were:
Goswick: excessive speed and human error resulting in derailment and the train splitting
South Croydon: signaller error resulting in derailment
Burton Agnes: collision with a road vehicle
Doncaster: signaller error resulting in rear collision and derailment
Gidea Park: fog, excessive speed and human error resulting in rear collision and derailment.
Reading these appalling statistics made me re-appraise what might have happened to Mr Eaton. I’d assumed he’d been killed while working for the Railway: now I’m not so sure.
Interestingly, sixty years later, in 2007, 54 accidents were reported on the railway in which there were 6 fatalities (5 were caused by collision with a road vehicle) and in the majority of cases there were no injuries at all.
The Railways Archive is easily and freely searchable and might provide you with interesting background for your family’s story.
Hansard is the edited verbatim report of the proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the British Parliament. It is a fantastic resource for adding detail to your family story. When I was researching the background to I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety: The Diary of a Petty Officer in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II I was trying to find out about the Mobile Naval Air Bases (MONABs) that were set up to provide back-up for the British Pacific Fleet in 1945 and I found a fascinating reference in Hansard.
I also found a report in Hansard about a school that features in my family story which was most interesting.
Go to the Historic Hansard search page and enter the person or place you’re interested in. You’ll go to a page where you can narrow your search down or follow up on some of the suggestions. Well worth a visit!
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