So That's Where I Get It From

June 27, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Silent movies; film studios and old photos

While I have been trying to rearrange all my genealogical paperwork, documents, nic-nacs and all sorts I came across some old photos that have been in my collection for over 40 years. 

And seeing these photos again after having them tucked away for such a long time, made me feel nostalgic and sentimental so I thought they might be interesting for today’s Sentimental Sunday post.

When I was about 20 (very late 1960s) I started work at Associated British Productions Limited in Boreham Wood in Hertfordshire.  This particular film studio, along with the one at nearby Elstree was what would have been the English equivalent of Hollywood except on a much much smaller scale.

I had always been interested in film-making from a very young age and very much wanted to work in film studios.  At school I was told not to be so silly and one of the few options they suggested for me for a future career was to get married!!

I eventually managed to get this dream (to me) job at Associated British Productions and on my first day in my new office I was told I could clear out the desk and throw away anything I did not want!  I set about rummaging in the six or so deep drawers and in the bottom one, tucked away at the back, there was this crumpled package in an old brown envelope.

On opening this package I immediately became aware that it was many photos that had been taken during the making of very old films at the Studio.  I had a word with my boss and he said to just throw them away, they were not needed and obviously so old they would not be any good for anything!!  I really did not want to throw them away.  My great interest in history made me aware that this was definitely not something to throw away.  I checked with my boss that maybe it’s best not to throw them away, so what should I do with them.  He told me again, just throw them away or if you like them, keep them!  So I kept them.

They are backstage photos of a number of films dating from 1929 to about 1936.  These films were silent movies and one was actually the very first British talkie, Blackmail, which was directed by a very young Alfred Hitchcock.

What I love about them is that they show the early days of how films were made.  The cameras are great!!  Have a look at these:

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

I don’t know the name of the film that was being made in the photo above – there is no title written on the back as in the later photos I show.

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

 This is a silent movie called His Wife’s Mother made in 1931. 

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

 This photo and the next few are just a sample of those 104 pics in this collection!

original photograph in my private collection – copyright 2010

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

 and some of the film stars of the day

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

This is Betty Balfour (1903 – 1977) an English film actress and known at the time as “the British Mary Pickford”.

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

This is Lester Mathews (1900 – 1975) in Fires of Fate.  He made 180 appearances in films and television.

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

This film is Romance of Seville and I would think that these three people were maybe the main stars.  Their names are not shown on the reverse so I cannot name them.  This silent movie was made about 1929.

And if you have managed to get this far, here are a couple of pics of me at the same studio – photos taken on a lunch break with work mates on the back lot. Photos circa 1970 – 1974 (I can’t remember exactly when)!!

This first one is me pretending to be in a film star pose!!!!!

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

and this next one is me with my friends Pauline and Linda popping out from behind me!  You can see we had a lot of fun on our lunch breaks, roaming around the studio.

original photograph in my private collection - copyright 2010

Finding the silent movie photos reminded me so much of my first day at my exciting new place of excitement.  I worked there a number of years and can honestly say that I never took a sneaky day off sick.  I loved the job and the place so very much, it was always interesting and I met so very many interesting people, not just the film stars!

June 15, 2010

Something of Interest: Widdow Ghost demanded her Will

Filed under: SOMETHING OF INTEREST — Tags: , , — rootsresearcher @ 10:07 pm

My dear late Dad had a wonderful collection of old documents, a couple of which I have shown on this blog under Sentimental Sunday.  Whilst completing my personal Challenge last week, I found tucked away in amongst my genealogical bits and pieces one of Dad’s framed items.

This particular item is in fact two things, original parchment papers that are concerning a couple of different, unrelated (as far as I know) people somewhere in Buckinghamshire and are not connected to my family.

I show the whole framed “picture” here but the smaller extra parchment I will show again separately to make it clearer.

Widdow Ghost demanded her Will

original photograph taken by me and original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

The first parchment piece says:  May 17th 1721: Widdow Ghost demanded her Will Lodg’d in my hands & I gave it her.

The second smaller parchment piece is shown separately here

original photograph taken by me and original document in my private collection - copyright 2010

This smaller piece is even older and I transcribe here what I can make out, but there are a few parts that I just can’t decipher now!!

December ye 4, 1660

…(?)  of Mr. King Minister of Bourton ye sume of Seaven Shillings and XXX pense(?)   …(?)  …(?)  in  (And this next line I can’t make out at all!  But it ends with)  0 – 7 – 0  

                                                        Yours(?)  Rob Beauley(?)

I seem to remember many many years ago when my Dad first had this, and my eyes could obviously read this sort of thing easier, that it was either an IOU or repaying an IOU by Rob Beauley(?).  Of course, all those years ago I did not think of making a transcription then and was not thinking that many years later my eyesight would change as I got older!!

If anyone reading this can make out what is said on this piece of parchment, please let me know so that I can keep a proper record of it.  :-)

June 14, 2010

Follow-Up on my cousin getting back to her 25 x great grandfather!!

Filed under: General, SOMETHING OF INTEREST — Tags: — rootsresearcher @ 4:57 pm

It’s just about a week since I posted here with a lot of excitement about my cousin Maureen discovering her 25 x great grandfather and that she was now in the realms of the Crusades and whatever else was going on waaaaaaaaay back then!  I’m really envious too, as it would be so good to research your ancestors back in those times, and I think I will start having some difficulty getting back to even the 1400s with my ancestors.

Well, yesterday cousin Maureen emailed me again.  This time it was to tell me of her Eureka moment!!  And my goodness, what a Eureka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! moment it must have been for her!!  She had told me last week that she was obtaining a particular book through the Inter-Library loan service which detailed this particular family line she was tracing on her maternal side.  The line is that of Corfield.  I thought it was wonderful that there was a book Maureen could obtain that would enlighten her more on this particular branch of her family, and I know myself when I have started to delve into older books, the information is usually fairly spot on as people had been able to access records that were extant then but now are no longer in existance or if they are, probably completely unreadable.

Well, about cousin Maureen’s Eureka moment!  She managed to see the book at the library last Friday – I think it has taken her almost the whole weekend to come back down to earth!! ;-)   She has now gone back to her 28 x great grandfather and believe it or not, according to this book, that gentleman is King William I.

But her 22 x great grandfather is King Edward I and it is through his wife (cousin Maureen’s 22 x great grandmother) that this Corfield line goes back even further.  In Maureen’s own words:  “… it was mind blowing …”  and her 22 x great grandmother’s family go back such a long way, taking in El Cid.  (I never realised he was a real person – showing my ignorance here – but I know this is the time of chariots and such) and Maureen’s family also go back to the Kings of Portugal and more and go on back to 827 BC.  Cousin Maureen said “Surely something must not be right.  I just can’t take it all in”.

So, although a completely wonderful Eureka moment for her, cousin Maureen is a bit doubtful about all this.  I have suggested again that she really should start a blog about how she follows all this and what she discovers with her research.  I haven’t heard back from her yet, but won’t this all be so wonderful to research even if some or all turns out to not be true.  But then again, would someone writing such a book make all that up?  And if it is all true, where would cousin Maureen start with all this research?  She has to prove it for herself however long it takes.

I love history so would relish getting stuck into this particular research, so whatever the end result, if cousin Maureen does follow it all through she is in for a very interesting time.  (Should I start practising curtseying do you think)? ;-)

June 13, 2010

1911 Census for England & Wales: Free for a limited time!!

Filed under: General, SOMETHING OF INTEREST — Tags: — rootsresearcher @ 11:10 am

I found out last night via an email from Peter Calver of Lost Cousins that findmypast.co.uk are giving free access to the 1911 Census at each time that England plays a match in the World Cup.  So last night for three hours we could have free access (I was too late to add a post here to let everyone know about this) and the next time will be at the (UK) time of 7pm – 10pm on Friday 18th June.  Then England has a third match on Wednesday 23rd June and the free access to the 1911 Census will then be from the (UK) time of 2.30pm for three hours.  Whether there will be any more free 1911 Census sessions after that will depend on whether England qualifies for the next rounds in the World Cup.  But if they continue through the World Cup it looks like we will have this free access each time they play!  Of course, all those of you in other countries will have to work out what the UK time equivalent would be for your parts of the world.

You have to register especially for the free sessions first and it’s best to get that done well before you start a three hour free research session when England play.

So, it was with great anticipation that I accessed findmypast.co.uk last night for the free three hour session.  I had already made a quick list of which ancestors I particularly wanted to check and had a secondary list of those I would like to check afterwards.

I suppose that it is wrong to complain when this was free, but …  it took me over half an hour to even get past login!!  Most of the time I kept getting messages such as “The page can’t be displayed” or “Error” messages!  I realised it would be really busy and therefore a bit slower than normal, but time was ticking away in the free research period and so I was eager to get going.  I finally completed the login process and so was ready to search for my first ancestor.

Easy enough, this was my great grandfather and there are very few with the same name as him.  I knew he was in London, so just wanted to check there rather than everywhere in the UK.  I knew his birth year, so that was no problem, but I added the from/to bit for about 3 years just in case he put a different age to what it should have been, as he was an elderly gentleman by this time.

It took a really long time to get from my search query to a list of one name (his) for me to click on to look at the original record.  “Page cannot be displayed”!!  It took a really long time for me to get back to my search query and to do the search again.  I clicked on his name, only to get “Page cannot be displayed”!!  I kept trying and I can say that I finally got my free access to the original record an hour after I managed to login for the 3 hour free session!

So by now we were half way through the 3 hour free period and I only had one ancestor found.  I continued and despite it being sooooooooo very slooooooooooooow in the total 3 hour free period I managed to see the original Census record for a total of four ancestors and saved them to my computer as well.  I had no difficulty finding any of them, so the delay was just the amount of people that also must have been trying to use this free research period.

As I said, I suppose it is wrong to complain as this was free, but I did rather expect to find quite a few more ancestors than four in three hours and so I must wait now for the 18th June when hopefully I can find a few more “particular” ancestors in the Census.

I will certainly be trying again, and will try to learn to have more patience by the time 18th June comes!  And while I am not really into football, I hope England make it through to the Final, then I might be able to get all the ancestors’ Census details that are on my list!!  (Oh dear, I hope that doesn’t sound too selfish)?  Best of luck to those of you who also try to access the 1911 Census.

June 6, 2010

Getting back to a 25 x great grandfather! Not me, but a cousin.

Filed under: General, SOMETHING OF INTEREST — Tags: , , — rootsresearcher @ 10:56 pm

I heard from my cousin Maureen this evening.  I am absolutely delighted for her as she appears to be going into new realms of family history research.  She has managed to take her maternal side of the family waaaaaaay back to a 25 x great grandfather!  Isn’t that wonderful!  I don’t think I have come across anyone managing to get back that far.

Maureen tells me that that family came from Normandy and that one of them actually fought in the first Crusade.

So, she has some very interesting history to delve into there and I wonder how much further back she will be able to go.  Where do you start delving into Normandy and the Crusades!!  I have suggested to Maureen that maybe she should start a blog into her research on her 25 x great grandfather and let us know what she discovers.  I am thrilled for her, this is so exciting.

May 24, 2010

Something of interest: Recorded in the Domesday Book

Filed under: SOMETHING OF INTEREST — Tags: , — rootsresearcher @ 11:16 pm

My brother Alan went a-wandering for me to Bletsoe in Bedfordshire yesterday.  This was to take pics of the church and gravestones there as it wasn’t too far away from him, regarding my discovery that “Digby” Daniel Read eventually moved to this place and had a family there. (See Eureka Moments regarding “Digby” in the menu to the right).

Alan took various photos and this one interested me greatly, as I have not seen it before anywhere:

Original photograph taken by my brother copyright 2010 A. K. Read

As this plaque shows, the Community of Bletsoe was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.  I have not heard of the National Domesday Committee who placed this plaque at St. Mary’s, Bletsoe but think this is a wonderfully interesting idea for those places that are mentioned in the Domesday Book and are still extant.  Apart from churches and castles and Stonehenge etc., we don’t have many buildings or places that age – 900 years old!!

I hope I will start to see more of these plaques appearing in the ancient towns and villages – I somehow don’t think the buildings and places we build these days will last nearly so long!!

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