On this day in 1905

1905 The SS Hilda, a steamship owned by the London and South Western Railway sank, with the loss of 125 lives when she struck ground at the entrance to Saint-Malo harbour.

She had sailed from Southampton at 22:00 on 17 November 1905 on her regular service to Saint-Malo in Brittany with 103 passengers on board. Thick fog caused her master, Captain Gregory, to anchor off Yarmouth, Isle of Wight to await better weather conditions. At 06:00 on 18 November the Hilda resumed her voyage and by 18:00, she was approaching St Malo. Although the lights from the town could be seen, squally snow showers  impaired visibility and her Captain was forced to abandon the attempt to reach port.

There then followed occasions when the visibility improved briefly but then deteriorated. Gregory made several attempts to reach St Malo’s port, each of which he had to abandon. Around 23:00, the visibility improved again and the Hilda made its final attempt to enter the harbour. Sadly, minutes later, the ship struck the Pierre de Portes rocks, that lie to the west of the entrance channel to St Malo’s harbour and broke up.

About 20 or 30 survivors managed to climb the rigging  of the wreck to await rescue. By 09:00 on 19 November, when they were discovered by SS Ada, only six remained.

SS Hilda sinks off Saint Malo this day in 1905
SS Hilda sinks off Saint Malo 19th Nov 1905

Was Twiggy’s ancestor a victim of fashion?

‘Twiggy’, the fashion icon and model from the 1960s and who appeared in a recent BBC Who Do You Think You Are? programme on the TV, had an interesting family story to tell.

Twiggy uncovered the sad truth that her ancestor’s family were torn apart by illness, poverty and crime. Her search took her into the Victorian’s bleakest institutions, the workhouse and the prison, something she had never heard about previously in connection with her family and on to her great-great-grandmother whose life ended in a tragic way, shopping for clothes and being killed in a “bargain sale” stampede.

Twiggy's family history story
Twiggy’s family history story

Twiggy whose real name was Lesley Lawson (formerly Lesley Hornby) appears in a fascinating piece in the Featured Articles on TheGenealogist.

Echoes of the Past 2014

This weekend sees the second family history fair to be held at The Lincolnshire Showground. Echoes of the Past will be on this Sunday 26th October from 10am to 4pm at the EPIC Centre, Lincolnshire Showground. Entry is £4 per person and there is free parking.

There is also a free hourly bus shuttle service to and from Lincoln city centre.

There will be free talks throughout the day including the popular ‘Breaking down brick walls’ talk from Mark Bayley of TheGenealogist. It promises to be another great event, if you live in or near the Lincoln area, it’s well worth attending the event!

There’s more information from the Lincolnshire Echo website who are organising the event.

Echoes of the Past
Echoes of the Past returns to the Lincolnshire Showground this Sunday 26th October.

Billy Connolly next to feature on Who Do you Think You Are?

Tonight on BBC1 at 9pm sees the next episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring legendary comedian and film star, Billy Connolly. With a family history stretching far from his native Scotland via Ireland to India in the mid 1800s, in a time of rebellion and turmoil, it’s a fascinating tale. TheGenealogist has produced a preview to read before the programme  in their Featured Articles pages on their website. 

Here you can read about Billy Connolly and also the other celebrities featured in the excellent series so far which has kept the programme as popular as ever.

Billy Connolly family history
Billy Connolly discovers his Indian heritage in his feature on Who Do You Think You Are?

Bristol & Avon Family History Open Day

This Saturday 27th September is the Bristol & Avon Family History Open Day. It’s on from 10am to 4pm at The University of the West of England in Bristol.  Entry is £2 per person and young people under 16 have free entry.

There’s a number of excellent talks happening throughout the day including the popular ‘Breaking down brick walls’ with Mark Bayley from TheGenealogist, Jacqueline Wadsworth ‘The Effects of World War 1 on home life’ and Clive Burton ‘Bristol at the outbreak of World War 1 and the formation of Bristol’s Own’.

If you have ancestors in the Somerset, Gloucestershire or Avon areas, or live nearby, why not visit the Bristol & Avon Family History Open Day? 

There’s more details at the Bristol Family History Society website.

Another special offer for family historians

If you’ve got an old selection of slides and negatives that have been passed down through the generations,  it’s often a hassle having to get out those bulky slide projectors or back-lit panels. However, with the Slide, Negative & Film Scanner you can view these old gems quickly and easily.

Simply connect via a USB cable to transfer images to your computer. These stand alone scanners store your pictures on a memory card which can then be transferred to your computer by a USB lead.

There’s also some good offers to be had at the moment too. S&N Genealogy Supplies have a special offer this weekend on the ‘Slide, Negative and Film Scanner Premium Bundle’. You can save over £245 with this current special offer. The Premium Bundle contains everything you need to digitise your slides, negatives and films. Visit their ‘Offer of the Week’ page to find out more.

Slide & Negative film scanner
Special offer this week on the Slide, Negative & Film scanner from S&N

New records released by The National Archives reveals a highly successful ‘agent provocatrice’ in The Second World War

The National Archives this week announced the release of more than 3,300 Security Service records available online to view. Within these new records is a fascinating file on the use of an ‘agent provocatrice’ by The Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Second World War Operations.

The SOE used this ‘agent provocatrice’, known as ‘Fifi’ but real name Marie Christine Chilver, as part of the training programme for SOE students before they were sent out into enemy territory. Students would use the skills they learned at SOE’s security training school at Beaulieu to carry out secret training activities all over Britain. The trainers would lay traps, either police interrogations or the temptation to part with secret information to a pretty young lady. Fifi played her part in these training schemes and managed to trip up many of the SOE trainees.

The release of this file (HS 9/307/3) reveals Fifi’s identity and her special talent for character assessment which enabled her to extract information from up and coming trainee secret agents. The file contains Fifi’s reports on trainee agents and handwritten correspondence from her relating to SOE training operations.

There’s more details on the new records and the role of Fifi and the Special Operations Executive in The National Archives blog.

 

 

Martin Shaw discovers more about his family history tonight

The latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are? continues tonight on BBC1 at 9pm with Martin Shaw,  star of The Professionals, Judge John Deed and Inspector George Gently. Martin’s family roots have strong Birmingham connections in the thriving brass industry of the 1800s. If you’d like to know more, TheGenealogist has looked into his family history in their ‘Featured Article’ section.    

It promises to be an interesting episode tonight. There’s a grandfather who suddenly disappears and also some of Martin’s ancestors were involved in the gun manufacturing industry in the 1800s, a coincidence given the ‘expert shot’ that Martin Shaw played in his acting role in The Professionals, that of former Detective Constable Raymond Doyle!

What are your thoughts on the series so far?

Martin Shaw
Martin Shaw discovers his family history on Who Do You Think You Are? tonight

Offer of the week from S&N Genealogy

For those family historians looking for a bargain this weekend, S&N Genealogy Supplies have another special offer running.

Buy any three directories, Army or Navy Lists and  the cheapest one is free.

If you’d like more information visit their special offers page to find out more.

Mary Berry to feature on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ tonight

As the ever popular series of Who Do You Think You Are? continues, tonight at 9pm on BBC1 sees the spotlight focus on award winning cook, writer and broadcaster, Mary Berry. The style of the series has received mixed reviews this year but may revert back to the usual style tonight as Mary has a number of interesting ancestors in her family tree.

Her ancestors also appear to have had the same hard working, determined ethic that she is so renowned for. From a corset maker (also called Mary Berry) who worked and raised a family single handed, to her ancestor Robert Houghton who ran a bakery in Norwich, providing bread for the local workhouse , there’s a number of interesting tales in her family history.

It promises to be a good programme, will you be watching?

If you’d like a taster of Mary’s family history, TheGenealogist has a featured article available to view.

Mary Berry on Who Do You Think You Are?
Mary Berry discovers some baking history in her family tree