Bertram Ryan, popularly known as Bert, was my grandma Elsie’s brother. From the cards and letters I’ve seen sent to her by him, he seemed to adore his sister. There was just a year in age between them. Bert signed up, as soon as he could by all accounts, with the navy and fought in World War II.
On his travels he met Ruth, originally from Melbourne but then living in New Zealand to help look after her family. They married when she was 23 and Bert brought her back to England during the war. Originally Ruth lived in London, though when the London home was bombed out, she moved to Waterloo near Liverpool, where she had an aunty and uncle. Again the home fell under attack from bombs and Ruth then moved to Northowram in Halifax to stay with Bert’s family. Ruth gave birth to a daughter, Judith, when she was 25. When Ruth was 27, in 1942, she received a telegram letting her know that Bert was missing presumed dead. On November 10th, his ship the HMS Martin had been torpedoed off the coast of Algiers, North Africa.
These are the facts. Entwined and entangled within them are sadder stories of how families misunderstand one another, with grey areas, different perspectives which coloured and clouded the thoughts of generations. Perhaps one day I will pick out more facts to piece together some of the other stories within stories which can be told. Suffice to say, I’m honoured and warmed that this blog has brought me closer to family I might never have had the chance to spend time with otherwise, before it was too late.
In the meantime, as the keeper of family things, these medals came to me and helped me learn more about my great uncle Bert, who died aged just 27. Love to you Bert and Ruth, I hope you are now reunited have both found peace at last.
I was struggling to read a surname on my grandmother’s (Lily Entwistle, nee Pope) birth certificate. It was the maiden name of her mother. Probably family members already knew it but I needed it pretty swiftly so turned to the web. I know twitter has it’s skeptics, but it’s been invaluable for me. It’s helped me with research, meet people at conferences, given me new contracts, and helped me recruit people for work I’ve been managing (for starters).
So, as a shot in the dark I posted a picture of the writing I was struggling with - above. Within two minutes two people gave me the same interpretation, which enabled me to Google that name along with some other details I already knew, and hey presto! Up came some local parish records from St Bartholomew’s church in Great Harwood.
So Lily’s mother; my Great Grandmother; was Ellen Jane Curtis. Not only that, the records gave her, and her husband’s addresses and occupation at the time of their marriage, and the names, addresses and occupations of both of their fathers. So I’m delighted with that breakthrough.
Here’s the information I found, for your interest:
Marriage: 23 Dec 1899 St Bartholomew, Great Harwood, Lancashire, England
William Thomas Pope - 19 Labourer Bachelor of 5 Grange St Clayton le Moors
Ellen Jane Curtis - 19 Winder Spinster of 13 Cross Gate
Groom’s Father: Peter Pope, Labourer
Bride’s Father: Joseph Curtis, Drawer in
Witness: William Curtis; Elizabeth Wilkinson
Register: Marriages 1897 - 1900, Page 68, Entry 136
The information, and much more of this sort, was found on Lancashire Online Parish Records. What an amazing website it is.
The Inaugural Nelson Gramophone Society
Quick apologies for a very quiet blog of late. I am still collecting documents, objects, stories etc. The only delay is due to lack of time, and lack of images to go with the many excellent stories that have come in. If you have a story to send me, please do - if you have an image that would go with it - even better! Mum (Janet Ryan) sent me an article she wrote about her dad, Arthur Mulligan, something of a local character, much known, loved and respected by all accounts. I’ll come back to that another time but it reminded me of something else I’d come across about his role in setting up Nelson’s Gramophone Society…
* “Although the present society dates its foundation from October 1950 there had been an earlier gramophone society in Nelson of which little is known apart from the fact that, like its successor, it met in the Borough Café. We don’t know when that society started but we do know when it ended. The advent of the wireless as a new source of music in the home (and of the cinema as another challenger in the entertainment field) caused its membership to dwindle to a point where the society was no longer viable and, towards the end of 1925, the founders conceded defeat, held a final meeting and disbanded.
For the next 25 years there was no gramophone society in Nelson. By 1950, however, radio was no longer a novelty and interest in music on record had revived, boosted by the release in June that year of the first LPs from Decca. Alec Croasdale’s record shop (which stood on the corner of Every St. and Pendle St.) was a favourite hang-out for record enthusiasts and three of these were the founders of the new Nelson Gramophone Society. Their names were Edgar Kay (who had been a member of the old society), Alan Robinson and Arthur Mulligan; names which may be familiar to many older residents of Nelson and district.
Lily / Grandma talked to me about these certificates one time.
She could talk for England but I never saw it that way, I could have listened to her for England too. One of the many occasions I wish I’d been able to record it as I don’t remember nearly enough of what she said. Other than she saved up to go to these classes. And she went every week in the evening for three years. I can’t help but notice the years on these. She just finished her 3rd year in time. A couple of years later and WWII would have halted it all in its tracks and her life could have turned out very differently.
I know how proud she was of her sewing skills and rightly so, though she would have never said they were anything special. It was more the gift of making things for other people she was proud of, the contribution to family.
It was the thread (no pun intended) that ran through her life. Her work in textiles was something she shared with Grandad over the years. I know she worked as a pattern cutter for Marks & Spencer for a while. And her love of sewing was also her way of thrifting and making presents for generations upon generations of her friends and family.
Sadly it was also one of the things that frustrated her most as she became older, that her eyes weren’t good enough to sew when she wanted to, nor her fingers steady enough to thread a needle…
It was also the thing that bound me to her inseparably. My first memory of craft is sitting with her teaching me to sew a small felt teddy bear when I was maybe 5 or 6. I remember her words “it should be just as neat on the back as the front” and use them as my bible even today.
There is a poem written by a friend of mine that she says I can have to give to Grandma. You can read it *here*