50 Years Ago: London Transport

Fifty years ago today I started working for London Transport, now, apparently, called “Transport for London”. Bureaucrats will never use two words where three will do.

I had left South Africa six weeks earlier, driving to Bulawayo and then flying to London to avoid a meeting with Detective Sergeant van den Heever of the Johannesburg SB, who, I suspected, wanted to give me a banning order (suspicions that later proved correct, the banning order had been signed by the Minister of Justice, B.J. Vorster, on 11 January 1966) .

I was meant to begin studying at St Chad’s College in Durham in September 1966, and so had about 8 months to wait and support myself in the mean time. The trouble was that I had landed in the UK as a student, and as an alien I needed a work permit, which I didn’t have. Perhaps St Chad helped with his intercessions to get me the job, as 2 March is St Chad’s Day.

Willie Hannan, MP; my mother's cousin.

Willie Hannan, MP; my mother’s cousin.

But there was also earthly help in the form of shameless nepotism, as my mother’s cousin, Willie Hannan, was MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and managed to find out, through his contacts in the Ministry of Labour,  which hoops I would have to jump through to get a work permit. It seemed that the great fear of the Ministry of Labour was that if they employed foreign workers, it would lead to a strike. It helped to be able to point out that London Transport was short of 7000 drivers and conductors, and that if Brit labour was available they would surely have filled those vacancies already.

So, after getting the necessary stamps in my Alien’s Registration Certificate, I presented myself at the training school at Chiswick Works on Wednesday 2 March 1966.

The day at Chiswick started off very much like the JMT training
school, from the days when I had driven buses in Johannesburg. . Even the pattern of the wooden benches seemed familiar. There were lectures on the whats and whys and wherefores of London Transport, and we were issued with rule books and maps and things. Then a guy doing personnel research came along and wanted to know why we were going on the job. Then came a lecture on the Highway Code, and the PSV test, and the lecturer, Powell, adopted the same moralising tone of the JMT instructors, Sonny Lotter, Jackie Schultz, Harry Nye, and Jacob Venter.

After lunch we were issued with uniforms, and allotted to instructors, and after tea my instructor explained the type of bus to me. It was a Leyland, with the same preselector gears as the AEC Mark IIIs we had driven in Joburg. I drove it for a couple of miles, and the instructor said I should pass my test fairly easily.

12 Brancaster Road, Streatham, where I lived while I was working for London Transport.

12 Brancaster Road, Streatham, where I lived while I was working for London Transport.

We left the bus at Camberwell garage, and there were three other blokes with me, only the other three had started on Monday. We arranged to meet the instructor at 8:00 the next morning at Camberwell garage, and I went back home and packed my things, and took them over to my new lodgings at 12 Brancaster Road, Streatham, which was fairly close to Brixton London Transport garage, where I would be working.

I had spent nearly six weeks staying with Canon Eric James, who had taken me in when I arrived in London as a semi-refugee. He was organiser of the “Parish and people” movement, which meant that he was out most of the time, visiting parishes and running courses and things like that. I would have loved to have gone with him to help him, even just by carrying his bags, and so, in a sense, earning my keep, but he never invited me to go, and I couldn’t very well invite myself. My landlady in Streatham was Mrs Emily Williams, from Sierra Leone. The adverisement had said she was an “African landlady”, and after six weeks in Britain I was feeling homesick enough for that to be an attraction, even though Sierra Leone was thousands of miles from South Afirca.

So the day ended wih me starting a new job, and living in a new home, a rather dingy bedsit that smelt of old cabbage, with only two thin blankets on the bed, so I used the London Transport issue greatcoat as well to try to keep warm. The training lasted a fortnight, and until I actually had to take the PSV test I was rather nervous about driving. The bus itself was familiar enough, as I had driven similar buses in Johannesburg, but the traffic patterns were different. The streets were more winding, and behaviour at intersections was different too. While I was driving the instructor, Harry Webb kept talking and asking me all kinds of questions about life in South Africa. At first I found it rather annoying, and thought he should have known better, but then I thought it was perhaps deliberate, and he was trying to see how easily I would be distracted.

The most interesting thing in the training was driving on the skid pan, with the first demonstration being an uncontrolled skid, where the double-decker bus spun around a couple of times, rocking quite alarmingly, and the difference when one corrected the skid. Similarly there was emergency braking, and seeing how much more quickly the bus stopped when one pumped the brake bedal. Fifty years ago vehicles were not fitted with ABS mechanisms, which do that automatically.

After passing our test we went to our various garages. We had visited them all in training, and I was pleased that Brixton seemed to be one of the better ones, with good food in the staff canteen. Some of the menus were unfamiliar — I once saw rice on the menu and asked for some, and they asked if I wanted custord on it. It turned out that it was rice pudding.

Staff canteen at Brixton LT Garage

Staff canteen at Brixton LT Garage

The first few days at the garage I had to learn the routes, so just rode around on the buses seeing where they went.

Steve Hayes, with PSV licence N81127, issued by the Public Carriage Office by the police.

Steve Hayes, with PSV licence N81127, issued by the Public Carriage Office by the police.

The most common routes were the 109 route, from the Embankment to Purley, and 95A, from Cannon Street Station to Tooting Broadway. There were a couple of Sundays-only routes, the longest being the 133 from Croydon to Hendon, and it was easy to get lost, because it was so seldom that one had a job that included that route.

I once got lost in my early days. We did Job 25 on Route 95, and I got lost on the way to Cannon Street — at least I missed a turning and it was too late to go back, so I could only go on. I thought I could go round the block, but not a chance. In London there are no blocks. And we ended up driving past St Pauls, down Ludgate Hill, and over Blackfriars Bridge, miles off course. It was then too late to bother going back to look for Cannon Street, so we went on our way back to Tooting Broadway. When we came off after the first half I thought I had better tell an inspector at the garage, in case they wondered what had happened. But he didn’t seem at all worried, and said as long as the coppers didn’t get me there was nothing to worry about. It struck me that the coppers had a lot of say about everything in connection with buses, it was almost like a police state After our break we did a half trip to Tooting, and I couldn’t see to read my time card, and the conductress rang the bell at the garage, and we nearly went on to Cannon Street again. we took over our last bus, and finished at 10:30 without any further incidencts.

 

Steve Hayes and Lascelles Wood

Steve Hayes and Lascelles Wood

At first we had two kinds of buses, the RT type, which was similar to the AEC Mark III buses we had driven in Johannesburg, and the RTW, which were similar, but a little bit wider. After a couple of months these were replaced by the newer Routemaster buses, and the RTWs were sold to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The Routemasters were used on the 95A route.

Routemaster bus at Brixton Garage.

Routemaster bus at Brixton Garage.

The Routemaster bus had an automatic gearbox, but it was controlled by speed, which made it unpleasant to drive late at night, when there was little traffic, as one had to drive slowly, and it kept changing down into third gear even wehn it wasn’t necessary. Another thing that took some getting used to was the British practice of driving at night without headlights. People only used headlights on rural roads, where there were no streetlights. The most difficult thing was pulling away from a bus stop with cars coming up from behind, and they were often difficult to see if there were lots of shop lights and others.

RT bus at Purley terminus.

RT bus at Purley terminus.

One of the perks of working for London Transport was a free bus pass, which was good for the red central buses, the green country buses and the Underground. I used mine to explore London, and visit widely scattered friends who lived in different parts of London. Willie Hannan was the only relative I knew of in London, and he usually went back to Scotland for the weekends..

Brixton LT bus garage

Brixton LT bus garage

One of the interesting things I discovered was that one of the inspectors at Cannon Street Station, the town terminus of the 95A route, was a worker priest, and after work he organised Bible studies and such things.

Lascelles Wood and Steve Hayes, with Revd Inspector Tom Field (in cap) at Cannon Street Station.

Lascelles Wood and Steve Hayes, with Revd Inspector Tom Field (in cap) at Cannon Street Station.

On my first free Sunday I went to Mass at St Leonard’s Church, down the road. It was all rather strange. The church itself was rather old, and similar in some ways to the old Maritzburg Cathedral, with fancy woodwork and choir screen and the rest of the trimmings. However there was a nave altar, and the priest celebrated facing the people, and the altar was left bare until the offertory. They also used ordinary bread, and not wafers. However the place still managed to convey the impression of deadness, as if the heart of the people was not in it, any more than when it was done the other way. I noticed my landlady’s son singing in the choir, and said hello to them, but had not had much contact with the family, being out most of the time.

My landlady's daughter Joyce (on scooter) and son (on right). Joyce was in her final year at school, and was hoping to go to university to read history when she finished.

My landlady’s daughter Joyce (on scooter) and son (on right). Joyce was in her final year at school, and was hoping to go to university to read history when she finished.

I worked my last shift on London Transport on 20 September 1966, and hired a car to take all my goods to Durham. I was not aware that there was a thing called British Road Services that would have taken my trunk door to door for 5 bob (25p). I don’t think such a thing would be possible today.

 

 

 

Clarens, and home again

Continued from Oviston to Clarens

6-7 September, 2015

We spent the last weekend of our holiday with my cousin Peter Badcock Walters and his wife Toni in Clarens in the eastern Free State. We had breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

And looked at Peter’s art on display at his gallery. This one was of their granddaughter Leah, when she was about 5 years old, about 15 years ago.

Leah Reid

Leah Reid

The gallery is a new venture, and also has a restaurant attached.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Some of the exhibition was devoted to his earlier book, Images of War.

Images of War

Images of War

On Monday 7 September we left, and that was effectively the end of our holiday. Once one leave Clarens, the scenery is monotonous. Bethlehem is the last place where one can stock up on food and drink, as the other towns along the way, Reitz, Frankfort, Villiers and Balfour, are not geared to catering for travellers. Villiers and Balfour used to be on the main road but now it by-passes them, and their prosperity has visibly declined.

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

And as on our last journey this way four years ago, we were struck by the crumbling transport infrastructure — abandoned railways lead to heavy goods going by road, with a consequent deterioration of the roads.

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

And perhaps the picture also symbolises the end of the line for such touring holidays for us too. It’s probably the last such journey we shall ever take, unless we win the Lotto or something.

It took nearly 6 hours to travel the 374 km between Clarens and where we live in Kilner Park, Pretoria, though that was partly due to getting a bit lost in Springs in the evening rush hour, where the signposting isn’t too good.

We saw most of the things we wanted to see — the Aughrabies Falls, spring flowers in Namaqualand, and the roads that ancestors had travelled on 150 years ago. We spenmt five days in the Cape Archives doing family history ressearch, and though we didn’t quite finish looking at everything on our list, we did see most of the important stuff.

We visited all the friends and relatives we wanted to see, or at least those who wanted to see us, many of them for the last time, as we’re unlikely to be back there again. And some, like Jean and Paul Gray, we met for the first time.

At most of the places we stayed, we left our surplus books via BookCrossing, and we managed to get some of our cousins, at least, to be quite enthused by the idea of exchanging books in that way. BookCrossing doesn’t seem to have caught on much in South Africa, at least not as much as in other places, and of the 25 books that we have “released into the wild”, we’ve only had news of one being found. Still, we live in hope.

Our puppy Pimen had grown, but was pleased to see us.

Pimen welcomed us home

Pimen welcomed us home

He also delighted in barking when a group of men with orange legs went past.

Men with orange legs

Men with orange legs

 

Ghwarriespoort to the Gariep Dam

Continued from Hermanus to Keurfontein

Friday 4 September 2015

We woke up in chilly Keurfontein, at Ghwarriespoort, and continued our journey North and East along the N9. Keurfontein, the place where we stayed, was selfcatering accommodation rather than a B&B, but that was OK — it was was a fast day, so we had baked beans on toast for breakfast.

Keurfontein

Keurfontein

About 50 km up the road we passed the Grootrivier Dam — the road goes over the dam wall. Four years ago it had been dry, and we expected that after the rain of the last few days it might have had some water in it, but there was none, and the river was the merest trickle. A bit further on we saw puddles at the side of the road, so there had been rain, but obviously it had not affected the river. Perhaps the “Groot” name was irony.

Grootrivier Dam -- as empty as it was four years ago

Grootrivier Dam — as empty as it was four years ago

We bypassed Aberdeen, and reached Graaf Reinet at 11:43, 197 km from Keurfontein. We dropped in to visit my cousin Ailsa Grobler, and this time she was at home. Last time we had visited (in 2011) she was away visiting her son Bruce, who works as a chef in Dubai. Interestingly enough another cousin on the Hannan side of the family, Ceri Duff Henderson, lives in Dubai, where she is a diving instructor.

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

There was a bonus on this visit, as Ailsa’s other son Gavin, who lives in Cape Town, was there as well. We had coffee with them and chatted for a while. Nick and Ailsa run the Villa Reinet Guest House in Graaff Reinet, and we stayed there on our trip in 2011, though only Nick was at home then. We can also recommend it as a very good place to stay, and not just because it is run by our cousins.

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Our Hannan great grandparents, William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane, lived in Glasgow, and four of their children emigrated to southern Africa, including Ailsa’s grandfather Stanley Livingstone Hannan and my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, who married George Growdon.

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

We left Graaff Reinet about 12:45, and crossed the Lootsberg Pass at 1:20 pm, 262 km from Keurfontein, and probably, at 1781 metres (5843 feet), one of the highest places on our route this day. In some places we followed the railway line, which on our previous visit had looked neglected and disused, but this time looked as if it could be in use again. The road was wide and smooth, and seemed to go almost effortlessly over the hills. Last time we had been here 4 years ago we had travelled this section in the dark. At Middelburg, which we reached at 1:48 pm, 306 km from Keurfontein, they were working on the road, and there were a couple of stop/go sections, but they did not hold us up for long. The road clearly needed working on, as it was narrow, bumpy and much patched, They had completed the sections from Noupoort to Colesberg, which were wide and smooth.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole's Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole’s Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Henry Green, the brother of Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green, was resident magistrate and civil commissioner in Colesberg in the 1860s, so we visited the town museum to see if we could find out where he had lived at that time, and it appeared that the drosdy (magistrate’s residence) was next to the Anglican Church, where most of Henry Green’s children by his second wife, Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, were baptised. The drostdy is now a restaurant, but it wasn’t open when we passed through. The Anglican church next door has services once a month, when the rector of Middelburg visits.

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant. Henery Green apparently lived here when he was resident magistrate in the 1860s.

We then followed the southern shore of the Gariep Dam to Oviston. The Gariep Dam is the biggest dam in South Africa, used for water storage, power generation and irrigation. It is on the Orange (Gariep) River, which we had seen further downstream earlier in our journey when we crossed it from north to south at Kakamas, and saw it at the Aughrabies falls.

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

We went to Oviston, on the southern shore, where we spent the night at the Aan Die Water guest house.

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

 

 

 

 

In and around Cape Town, family and friends

Continued from In and around Cape Town

In Cape Town our days followed a regular pattern: breakfast at the hotel, research in the archives, and then visiting friends and family — at least those who had said they wanted to see us.

Breakfast at the Sun 1 hotel -- austere by adequate

Breakfast at the Sun 1 hotel — austere by adequate

On Wednesday 26th August we drove down to Simonstown, following the Old Cape Road.

Old Cape Road, over the cloud-covered hills

Old Cape Road, over the cloud-covered hills

Simonstown is an interesting place in that most of the buildings on the main street are rather old, and therefore more interesting than the bland modern ones found in most towns.

Simonstown main street

Simonstown main street

Simonstown looks like a very pleasant place, but has mainly been a naval base, famed for its harbour.

Simonstown Harbour

Simonstown Harbour

But places that sell take-away food, or at least the big chains like Steers, KFC, Nandos et al, like to have their own building designs, so were not visible in Simonstown. We were quite hungry, after having worked right through in the archives from breakfast, so we ended up buying chips in Fish Hoek, which has less interesting architecture.

Fish Hoek main street

Fish Hoek main street

We then went to visit my cousin Brenda Coetzee in Muizenberg. The building where she lives had an interesting feature, a storefront church. I have often read about such things, but this was my first time to actually see one.

Storefront church in Muizenberg

Storefront church in Muizenberg

Brenda is my second cousin on the Hannan side of the family, whom I knew quite well when we were younger, and she lived in Johannesburrg. She stayed with my mother when her parents were being divorced. But after that they moved to Cape Town and we lost touch until a couple of years ago, and the advent of Facebook, which makes it easier to keep in touch.

John Verster, Steve Hayes & Brenda Coetzee, Muizenberg, 26 August, 2015

John Verster, Steve Hayes & Brenda Coetzee, Muizenberg, 26 August, 2015

Brenda’s mother was Peggy Sharp who married Ted Gascoigne, and they used to live in Jan Smuts Avenue in Parktown and they had lots of apricot trees in their garden. I recall once eating so many apricots that I got sick, and thought that that was the famed apricot sickness. At the age of 8 or 9 the most impressive thing for me was that Ted Gascoigne drove a Willys Jeep station wagon, the first station wagon I had ever seen. It looked something like this:

Willys Jeep station wagon

Willys Jeep station wagon similar to the one owned by Uncle Ted

Ria Mcfarlane Hannan Reddick 03/11/1921 – 15/06/2015

I was saddened to read this on Facebook this morning:

Ria Mcfarlane Hannan Reddick
03/11/1921 – 15/06/2015
Our lovely Mum, Grandma & Great Grandma sadly passed away yesterday. She was the last of a very special generation & will be greatly missed by us all.

posted by my second cousin, Fiona Hannan Reddick Smyth.

Ria was my mother’s first cousin, and I only met her twice, but both were memorable occasions.

The first time I met her was in 1966 when I scarpered from South Africa to the UK to avoid the attentions of the Security Police (you can read more of the story of that here), passing through Ian Smith’s UDI Rhodesia on the way. I met Ria’s brother, Willie Hannan, who was then MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and he helped me find my way through the tangled bureaucracy to get a job to support myself while waiting to study st Durham University.

Ria had been living in Rhodesia but when Smith made his UDI she wanted out, and returned to Scotland, and I went with Willie to meet her at the airport. UDI caused great divisions in the family. Another Hannan cousin in Rhodesia, Betty Stewart, had met Ria there, and wrote to my mother referring to their cousin Willie as a “one-man-one-vote bastard and a sick leftist”. So when I first went to the House of Commons to meet him I pictured a wild-eyed revolutionary, a sort of Che Guevara figure, and was rather disappointed to find that he was very mild and rather conservative, and his main concern was not Rhodesia but getting Britain to join the European Union, which he thought would encourage international peace and understanding.

Here’s what I wrote in my diary on the day I went with him to meet Ria at the airport, 4 February 1966:

I went by train and underground to the West London Air Terminal, where I met Willie Hannan. His sister Ria was flying in from Rhodesia with her two children, and were returning to settle again in Scotland. Her plane was due to arrive at 12:20, and then she was going up to Glasgow with Willie at 3:00. On the way to the airport on the bus Willie told me about his family, and how he had met Tommy (Mum’s brother, who died 2 and a half years ago) when he was in the merchant navy during the war, and he said I looked like him. He also told me of his father, who during the First World War was a pacifist and  a socialist, and had spent two years in jail. I told him that Mum had said that my pacifism runs in the family, but did not enquire about the nature of the socialist Sunday School she had said her uncle (Willie’s father) had sent his children to.

At the airport we found the plane with Ria, a South African Airways Boeing, would be late, and we sat having tea and sandwiches, and I told Willie something about the Liberal Party and its policies, and a little of the way in which our activities were hampered by Special Branch intimidation and so on. He said he was not a religious man himself, and I said I wouldn’t have expected it. “Oh, why do you say that?” he asked. “Because so few people are,” I replied. He said he admired John “Honest to God” Robinson, and thought he might be able to accept those views. I then told him how issues in South Africa were sufficiently clearcut to enable one to make a political speech using biblical texts, but that here it was make a political speech using biblical texts, but that here it was not so.

When the plane with Ria arrived at about 1:20 we had to go over to another building for them to get the plane to Glasgow (there are 3 terminal buildings at Heathrow — one internal, one European, and one intercontinental) and there we had tea and talked about Rhodesia. Ria said that she had had a Rhodesian passport and citizenship, and felt that she could not stay after UDI, so had got a British passport on the 9th of November, two days before Smith went mad. Two of Willie’s parliamentary colleagues joined us while we were waiting, and Ria showed us a letter she had had to get from the government giving her permission to resign from her job with Shell Oil. Then Willie and Ria and the children left. The kids were quite sweet — a boy of about 15, called Carson, and Heather, about 12. Both had dark hair, like their mother.

I stayed talking to the other MPs, and showed them my letter instructing me to call at the magistrate’s office for my warning. They wanted to make a copy of it to show round the House, and I resolved to try to get them a copy of a real banning order, which would be of far more interest and value. One of them, the Lancashire whip of the Labour Party, when he heard that I was an ordinand, wanted to know whether my political views arose from my Christian convictions, and was interested in my use of the Bible as a political textbook, or, more accurately, text book. Later, when the two of us were alone together, he said that he himself was a Christian, and seemed quite keen that we should meet again and talk.

I really would like to have known what went on at the Socialist Sunday School, but I got the impression that Willie was rather embarrassed by all that, and had indeed been embarrassed when his father was arrested and jailed as a conscientious objector, and preferred not to talk about it, while I was quite proud to have a great uncle who was a conscientious objector.

Ria’s eldest daughter, Fiona, had stayed in Rhodesia, mainly because she had a boyfriend there, and only returned to Scotland a few months later when she broke up with him, so I did not meet her then.

Hannan family in Glasgow, 6 May 1967

Hannan family in Glasgow, 6 May 1967

Fifteen months later my mother came for a holiday in Europe and the UK and we went to Glasgow to meet the Hannan cousins, and that was when I met Ria for the second time, at a kind of family reunion.

Ella Hayes and Ria Reddick, Glasgow, 6 May 1967

Cousins: Ella Hayes and Ria Reddick, Glasgow, 6 May 1967

We gathered at the house of Willie’s sister Ella (Annabella Buchanan, born Hannan), and there was a whole family reunion there, as two others of his sisters, Ria, who had been in Rhodesia, mother of Carson and Heather, and Tilda, whose daughter Ives Duff and grandson Alastair were also there. Their mother Hannah, who was my mother’s aunt by marriage was there — it was her husband, Tom Hannan, who was twe socialist who had refused to fight in the First World War and gone to jail for it. We talked most of the evening after having supper.

We tried to see Ria when we visited the UK in 2005, but on the day we called to see her she had gone out on a bus trip, so we missed her, and were sad to do so. As Fiona said, she was one of the last of her generation, and I knew her for all too short a time.

UK trip 11 May 2005: Girvan to Edinburgh

Continued from UK trip 10 May 2005: Whitehaven to Girvan | Notes from underground

We left Girvan after breakfast, and drove to Maybole, where the McCartneys had come from. My maternal great great grandparents were Thomas Hannan and Janet McCartney, who were married in Maybole and lived in Girvan, so we wondered if there might be some McCartney graves in Maybole cemetery, but did not see any.

Maybole, Aryshire

Maybole, Aryshire

We looked at the old cemetery there, where there was a plaque saying that the parish church had been founded in the 11th century, and there was a ruined church across the road. It was interesting to see the different styles of inscription, though some, particularly the sandstone ones, were badly weathered. The 18th century and earlier ones had large writing, and sometimes Celtic designs on the back, while the early 19th century ones were smaller, with some parts in italic. About the mid-19th century the favoured style switched to sans serif, and sometimes later inscriptions on the same tombstone were in a diffferent style. There were lots of broken bottles in the cemetery too.

Maybole Cemetery

Maybole Cemetery

We by-passed Ayr, and stopped at Kilmarnock to change traveller’s cheques, and bought a couple of CD WORM discs to back up some of the pictures we had taken. In some of the pedestrian streets there were strange statues buried in the streets, and we took photos of them.

In the streets of Kilmarnock. 11 May 2005

In the streets of Kilmarnock. 11 May 2005

Kilmarnock was quite a pleasant town, and the biggest town we had seen in Scotland so far.

In the streets of Kilmarnock

In the streets of Kilmarnock

From there there was a new motorway to Glasgow, which we covered quite quickly, and drove through Maryhill and Bearsden to Milngavie to see Ria Reddick. She was my mother’s cousin, and the only one of that generation of the Hannan family who was still alive, as far as we knew. She was out, however, and a woman in charge of the subsidised housing where she lived said she had gone on a bus trip, so we left a note for her with our cell phone number (see here for more on the Hannan family). We drove on to Edinburgh through Falkirk, and went to John and Maxine Wincott’s place in Fairmilehead, but they were out, and then to Maxine’s sister Zania’s house, but they were out too, so we went for a drive around the town, though it was peak hour traffic.

M4034S-4211

M4034S-4211

But we managed to catch glimpses of the castle and Holyrood House, which was at least more than I had seen on my previous visit in 1967, when I had changed trains at night at Waverley station at night. We got stuck in very heavy traffic waiting to cross the Forth Bridge, and went back to the bypass road to try to find a way out of town, and went east to Dunbar, and were about to book into a bed and breakfast place when Zania rang, and so we went back to her place for coffee. Zania McKenzie and Maxine Wincott are sisters, daughter of Nora Pearson, whom we had seen in Whitehaven two days before. They are Val’s double second cousins, being related on both the Ellwood and Pearson sides of the family, making them genetically equivalent to first cousins.

Cousins: Maxine & John Wincott, Val Hayes, Ian & Zania McKenzie. Edinburgh, 11 May 2005

Cousins: Maxine & John Wincott, Val Hayes, Ian & Zania McKenzie. Edinburgh, 11 May 2005

We spent the night with John and Maxine Wincott, and walked up to a local restaurant for supper, and I drank a local beer recommended by John, and then some Newcastle brown ale, and had spaghetti and meatballs for supper, as they didn’t have any fasting food on the menu. Afterwards we went back to the house, and looked at some of our family photos, and some that Maxine and Zania had. Zania’s husband, Ian McKenzie, joined us.

Continued at UK trip 12 May 2005: Edinburgh to Stockton-on-Tees | Khanya

Index to all posts on our UK trip here UK Holiday May 2005

Hannan cousins in Fish Hoek

Nearly 40 years ago we went on holiday to the Western Cape. Val and I had been married for a year, and we had just started our family history research, so we visited whatever relatives we could find and badgered them with questions about the family history.

Alex Hannan, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

Alex Hannan, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

My maternal grandmother was Janet Hannan who had married George Growdon, and we visited Growdon relatives in the Eastern Cape and Hannan cousins in the Western Cape. We called to see Alex and Una Hannan in Fish Hoek. Alex was my mother’s first cousin, the son of my mother’s uncle David McFarlane Hannan, who lived in Rhodesia. I had only met Alex once before, about 10 years earlier, when I scarpered to England to avoid a meeting with Detective Sergeant van den Heever of the Security Police, and while I was changing planes at Salisbury airport (now Harare), some of the family came to see me.

This time we found their house in Fish Hoek, and managed to chat for longer, and stayed for tea. Alex’s wife Una was known locally as the Bird Lady — she took in sick and injured birds and nursed them back to health, and they had quite large aviary.

In his youth Alex had been a boxer and represented South Africa in the 1936 Olympic Games. His elder son Clyde has promised to tell us more about that.

While we were having tea there was a huge hail storm, and the whole garden was covered with hailstones about a foot deep, so that it looked almost like snow. Hail seemed to feature quite a lot in visits to Hannan cousins — more of that below.

My beautiful pictureTheir younger son Stanley was also visiting, with his wife Norma and two-year-old daughter Debbie, so we were glad to meet them as well. Stan was thinking of becoming a Baptist minister, and later he did, and I saw him a few times after that in Johannesburg. He and his family later moved to the USA.

We then went up the hill, still in Fish Hoek, to see Chris and Ivy Vlok. Ivy Sharp was the daughter of my mother’s auntie Em, and I knew them somewhat better. I’d first met them when I was about four years old, and they were living in Berea in Johannesburg. My mother and I went up from Durban on the train, and it was my first long-distance train journey, or at least the first one that I could recall. Ivy and Chris had two sons, Arthur and Terence. Arthur was about my age, and Terence was younger, and I don’t think he was born on that first visit.  Arthur is now a grandfather, living in Fish Hoek, and we visited him and his wife Jean, and their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren a couple of years ago — picture here.

On that first visit Ivy’s half sister Nellie was also there, and she took me into the centre of Joburg on the tram one day. I can’t remember why, or what we did in town, but I do recall that on the way back there was the father and mother of all hail storms while the tram was climbing up Twist Street. The hailstones jammed the points where the tram had to turn into Kotze Street and the conductor had to get out in the downpour and clear it with a metal lever before the tram could turn. My mother later told me that Nellie was a kleptomaniac, and rather strange and mysterious. She married twice and divorced twice, and had no children, and nobody seems to know what happened to her. Her first marriage was to Edward “Scotty” Davis, and her second was to Ernest Edward Turner, but she was divorced from him when I met her.

Chris Vlok was in the army, and it was war time on that visit. Later we visited them again in Lyttelton, it must have been soon after the war, where they lived in long bungalows in the barracks. I would then have been about 5 or 6 years old, and my memory was that the Sunday newspapers were different, and had different comics. In the Sunday Tribune in Natal we had Brick Bradford, who travelled around in a “time top” that looked a bit like the rubber bulbs that mens’ hairdressers used to squirt talcum powder down the necks of their customers — a kind of predecessor of Dr Who, perhaps. There was also Rusty Riley, who lived on a ranch with lots of horses. But the Transvaal papers had the Katzenjammer Kids and Moon Mullins and Kitty Higgins and Jiggs and Maggie. One of the neighbours in the bungalow was a girl called Bridget, and she had a bicycle, and that was where I first learned to ride a bicycle.

Ivy and Chris Vlok, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

Ivy and Chris Vlok, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

Later the Vloks moved to Roberts Heights, later known as Voortrekkerhoogte, and now as Thaba Tshwane. Chris Vlok was an electronics fundi and taught people in the military about radar and such things. We used to visit them quite a lot there when we lived at Sunningdale, just outside Johannesburg. In the 1960s they were transferred to Simonstown, where Chris Vlok did the same with the navy, and when we visited them in 1975 he was semi retired, but still looked after the library of books on electronics.

Ivy & Chris Vlok

Ivy & Chris Vlok