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.

 

 

 

Barking at beetles

Yesterday our dog Squiffylugs died. She was diagnosed with bone cancer just over a year ago, and we were told that the prognosis was not good, and that we couldn’t expect to have her more than a few weeks. So her death, though sad, was not unexpected, and we had her for another year.

In May, expecting her time to be short, we got a puppy, Pimen, so that when Squiffylugs died her father, Samwise, would still have a canine companion.

Pimen, watching beatles

Pimen, watching beatles

Pimen has grown a bit, and his latest hobby is barking at beetles.

Harassed beetle

Harassed beetle

The beetles crawled out of the compost heap, only to be pawed at and barked at, and eventually our son Simon rescured them and put them over the road, where they would be safer from Pimen at least. This bettle looked patriotic, a bit like the South African flag, or perhaps it supports the ANC.

An artist in the family: our daughter the ikonographer

For the last few years our daughter Julia Bridget Hayes has been an ikonographer living in Athens, Greece. Now she has been interviewed by the Orthodox Arts Journal, and explains in her own words how she came to be an ikonographer, and what her work is like An Interview with Iconographer Julia Bridget Hayes – Orthodox Arts Journal:

Julia Bridget Hayes is a talented iconographer working in Greece. Her work is a truly wonderful example of creativity within tradition. We asked to interview her and to share these images of her work that she might become better known to our readers.

ICXC51

You can see more of her work on her blog here. Like other blogs of family members, it is also listed in the sidebar on the right — if you have a blog that isn’t listed there, please let us know and we will add it.

Since the economic crunch in Greece it has not been easy, as many people cannot afford to buy ikons, so the phrase “starving artist” is no mere cliche, though by using the internet she is able to sell her work all around the world. You can find some of her work here:

You can also help by sharing the link to her interview with other family members and friends on Facebook and other social media sites, so here’s the link to the interview again: An Interview with Iconographer Julia Bridget Hayes – Orthodox Arts Journal.

UK Trip 13 May 2005: Stockton to Cambridge

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

After spending the night in Stockton-on-Tees with Chris and Nina Gwilliam, old friends from Durham University, I woke up about 3:30 am, and went downstairs to write up my diary. Nina came down just after 6:00, and we chatted until Val and Chris got up. It seemed an appropriate place for them to be living, as Chris was a railway enthusiast, and Stockton was the terminus of the first commercial railway line. He made his living painting model railway rolling stock in the authentic livery of various periods. We left just after 9:00.

Chris & Nina Grilliam, Stockton-on-Tees, 13 May 2005

Chris & Nina Gwilliam, Stockton-on-Tees, 13 May 2005

We drove to Leeds to see Pat and Rita Hayes. It was an uneventful drive along main roads and motorways, and the countryside looked much as it did down south, with fields of bright yellow rape seed alternating with pasture. The only difference was that here the roads tended not to be sunken, so one had less of a trapped-in feeling, of driving at the bottom of a furrow.

Patrick Hayes was my second cousin, and had retired after working as a microbiologist and food chemist for Birds Eye foods. He and Rita looked much the same, though 14 years older than when we had last seen them, when they stayed with us in Pretoria in 1991. Pat had had a pacemaker fitted to his heart, and was beginning to suffer from Parkinsons’s disease. Their son Stephen and his wife Cordelia were adopting another child, a girl aged 3, and were hoping to adopt a third. They were enjoying being grandparents as much as if it had been their own biological grandchildren.

Rita & Pat Hayes, Leeds, 13 May 2005

Rita & Pat Hayes, Leeds, 13 May 2005

We had lunch with them, of soup and salad, and left just before 2:00, and drove around a bit looking for the road to Hull, and eventually after getting caught up in quite a bit of traffic found the M62 motorway, and drove east, then turned down the M18 and went as far as Thorne, where the Vause family had lived.

My grandmother Lily Vause had married Percy Hayes in Johannesburg in 1904, and both she and her father Richard Wyatt Vause, had been born in Natal, so we knew of no living relatives on the Vause side of the family in England that we could visit. We did know that my great great grandfather, Richard Vause, had been born in Hull, but his ancestors had come from the Isle of Axholme in north-western Lincolnshire, and that was where we were headed. If there were no living relatives, we hoped to see some traces of dead ones. Actually the family moved around a lot, and so we said that they came from Humberside, though using that term seemed to get some English people riled up, and they insisted that there was no such place. People came from Yorkshire, or Lincolnshire, but never from a horrible artificial entity called Humberside. Nevertheless, the Vause family had lived, at various times, in Fishlake and Thorne in Yorkshire, and Crowle and Epworth in Lincolnshire, and “Humberside” seemed to cover them all. A useful resource for Isle of Axholme ancestry is the Red1st site.

We could not find the church at Thorne, and the traffic was quite heavy, so we drove on to Crowle, and looked at St Oswald’s churchyard. All the tombstones had been laid flat on the ground in a corner of the churchyard, and were hard to read, partly because one had to stand on them to read them, and partly because they seemed to get more worn and more mossy. We found a couple of Brunyee stones, but no Vause. The church itself was locked with a big padlock.

St Oswald's Church, Crowle, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005

St Oswald’s Church, Crowle, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005

We drove through Belton without seeing the church, but found the church at Epworth, St Andrew’s, and took some photos of Hill graves, though they were probably not related (an earlier Richard Vause had married an Elizabeth Hill). There seemed to be a lot of Maw families, but no Vause.

St Andrew's Church, Epworth, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005.

St Andrew’s Church, Epworth, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005.

The church is also of some interest in the history of Methodism. Samuel Wesley was the rector here, and his sons, John and Charles Wesley, were the founders of Methodism. John Wesley, like his contemporary St Cosmas the Aetolian, became an itinerant preacher.

We went to the town square and took some photos, and bought a copy of the local newspaper, but the woman who worked in the office was a Geordie from Newcastle.

Epworth, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire 5 May 2005.

Epworth, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire 5 May 2005.

From there we drove back to the A1 going south, and went as fast as we could to Harston, near Cambridge, where we stayed with Fr Michael and Jeanne Harper, the Dean of the Antiochian Deaner in the UK. We showed them photos of our work in South Africa, and Fr Michael showed us photos of the work of the Church in Britain, which seems, like America, to have problems of jusisdictionalism, and that seems to be preventing more English people from becoming Orthodox. The Russian jusrisdiction had been largely English-speaking until the end of the Soviet Union, since when thousands of Russian immigrants had flooded the church, and it was becoming more Slavonic. Fr Michael was involved in producing a course called The Way, which was similar to the Anglican “Alpha Course”, and was keen that we should launch it in South Africa. It seemed similar to the “Life in the Spirit” seminars we had had 30 years ago, though a bit more structured. Just before we went to bed Fr Michael showed us a chapel in a shed in his garden, and it showed what could be done with a small temporary space.

Continued at UK trip 14 May 2005: cathedral & monastery | Khanya.

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

Cornwall to Morgannwg: 6 May 2005

Continued from: 5 May 2005, Cornwall

We woke up about 5:30 at the Trewint B&B near Blisland, Cornwall, where we had spent the last two nights, and packed our things. We watched the news on TV. More election results were out, and it seemed that the Liberal Democrats had made gains at the expense of Labour, which seemed satisfactory to me, as it might send a message to Tony Blair that his war mongering was unacceptable.It looked as though Cornwall, in particular, was a Tory and Labout-free zone.

 

Ytewing B&B at Waterloo, near Blisland, Cornwall

Trewint B&B at Waterloo, near Blisland, Cornwall

We had breakfast at 7:30, and left Trewint at about 8:15, driving up to St Breward again, and then across the moors to Camelford, and down to the church at Lanteglos, and took a couple of photos of the outside, but did not go in and take pictures in the churchyard or inside the church, as we only knew of one family member who had been born there, my great granduncle Richard John Tilley Greenaway, younger brother of my great grandmother Elizabeth Greenaway, who married William Matthew Growdon. Richard was born and baptised at Lanteglos-by-Camelford in 1847, but as the family seemed to move around a lot at that time, his siblings were all born elsewhere.

North Cornwall coast at Tintagel, 6 May 2005

North Cornwall coast at Tintagel, 6 May 2005

We went on to Tintagel, where William Matthew Growdon’s mother, Christiana Dyer, had lived with her first husband, John Pope. Her two eldest children, Thomas and Philippa Pope, were born there in 1838 and 1840, but seem to have disappeared, as we could find no record of their subsequent marriage or death.

"King Arthur's Castle" hotel at Titagel, Cornwall. 5 May 2005

“King Arthur’s Castle” hotel at Tintagel, Cornwall. 5 May 2005

At Tintagel there was a large block of a hotel, calling itself King Arthur’s Castle, a rather kitsch Disneyland type of thing, with an “Excali-Bar”. We drove to the church, a little outside the village, and found a couple of Sandercocks buried there, and took photos of the church and of the island from the cliffs.

UKtrip59Those Sandercocks were probably not related, as  ours seemed to have lived mostly in Cardinham, on the south side of Bodmin Moor, and the ones on north-eastern Cornwall seemed to be entirely separate.

Tintgel village, from the churchyard. 6 May 2005

Tintagel village, from the churchyard. 6 May 2005

Then we headed east along the north coast, driving through Devon, and stopped at Barnstaple, where we found an interesting market, where we bought some batteries, and a newspaper at the newsagents,
and some roast beef rolls with horseradish sauce.

Market in Barnstaple, Devon

Market in Barnstaple, Devon

We drove through Exmoor forest and stopped for a picnic lunch at the side of the road, eating the beef rolls we had bought in Barnstaple.

Exmoor Forest, Somerset. 6 May 2005

Exmoor Forest, Somerset. 6 May 2005

.We joined the M5 at Taunton, and stopped at the Gordano Services centre for petrol. My great grandparents William Allen Hayes and Mary Barber Stooke had been married at Easton-in-Gordano, and some other members of the Hayes family had been buried there, but we did not go off the motorway to have a look since they did not seem to have lived there very long. We drove on and crossed the Severn Bridge to south Wales.

Crossing the Severn into South Wales 6 May 2005

Crossing the Severn into South Wales 6 May 2005

There were now two bridges, and we took the eastern one, which I had walked across in 1968, after visiting my college friend Chris Gwilliam at Chepstow when on a “seeing people” hitchhiking tour during the college vacation.

We tried to get off the M4 and go to Whitchurch, which we reached by a rather roundabout route, and looked for somewhere to stay near there, and there didn’t seem to be anywhere suitable, so we drove up to Caerphilly, with lots of roadworks on the way through the rush-hour traffic. We saw the castle there, and settled for a hotel on the edge of town, one of a chain similar to the Formula I hotels in South Africa. It was bland and boring, and looked like any such hotel anywhere in the world, but at least there was a table where one could put the computer. In spite of their name, laptop computers don’t really work very well on laps, and tend to slide off onto the floor. At the Trewint B&B we had managed to balance it on a bedside pedestal, after moving all the fluffy toys and dolls onto the bed.

We tried to phone my cousin Simon Hayes, who lived in Cardiff, but at first got no response, and left a voice mail message for him, and he phoned back a bit later to say he was driving home from work. He commuted each day to work in Bristol.

My cousin Simon Hayes outside his house in Cardiff. 6 May 2005

My cousin Simon Hayes outside his house in Cardiff. 6 May 2005

We drove over the hill to Cardiff to meet Simon and his wife Gill, and their younger daughter Jessica, aged 7. Their elder daughter, Sophia, aged 10, had gone to a Guide vigil.

Gill, Jessica and Simon Hayes. Cardiff, 6 May 2005.

Gill, Jessica and Simon Hayes. Cardiff, 6 May 2005.

We had supper with them, and spent a very pleasant evening chatting about family history, and politics and various other things. Simon was the son of my second cousin Roger Hayes, who had been a marine engineer. We drove back to the hotel in Caerphilly, and went to bed about midnight.

Simon & Steve Hayes, Cardiff 6 May 2005.

Simon & Steve Hayes, Cardiff 6 May 2005.

Continued at Wales and Ellwood cousins.

UK Trip 3 May 2005: Hayes family in Somerset

Continued from UK trip 2 May 2005: Heathrow to Bath | Khanya

We woke up at at Pickford House, Beckington, at 5:00 am, to the sound of birds singing, and the sun rising over the Somerset fields. Went down to breakfast at 7:30, and then set off for Bristol to fetch my second cousin Mary Jane Conway. We drove through Norton St Philip, to miss the Bath traffic, but the road was still pretty busy, and signposting got less adequate the closer we got to the centre of Bristol, so we ended up going around under the Clifton suspension bridge, which was a nice thing to see anyway, but had difficulty finding the area where Jane Conway’s house was. We stopped to ask at an estate agent’s, and when we eventually found it there was nowhere to park, so Val went in and brought Jane out, and then we went off to Kelston, travelling through Bitton, where our great great grandparents James Andrew Hayes and Catherine Chaffey were married in 1846, but didn’t see the church, which was off the road. But at least we got a picture of what the village looked like.

We found Upper Lodge, Kelston, without difficulty, and Josephine Tsegaye, our 5th cousin, was there with her sister Catharine Stokes, and we chatted to them about the family history, and I got Catharine’s information up to date, as well as the details of her children.

Hayes cousins: Josdephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes, Stephen Hayes. Kelston, Somerset 3 May 2005

Hayes cousins: Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes, Stephen Hayes. Kelston, Somerset 3 May 2005

They had a Liberal Democrat poster outside their gate. There was to be a general election, but the political campaigning seemed more subdued than in South Africa, with most of the posters being smaller. We had seen mostly Liberal Democrat ones, and a few Conservative ones, but very few Labour. In South African cities election posters were tied to every lamp post, but here they were tied to people’s fences, so one could guess the political affiliation of the residents.

Looking at the family history: Steve Hayes, Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes. 3 May 2005

Looking at the family history: Steve Hayes, Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes. 3 May 2005

After lunch we took Jane Conway to Winscombe, Somerset, where our great great great grandparents Simon Hayes and Rachel Allen were married in 1814, and took photos of the church, and got copies of the parish magazine.

The road to Winscombe, at the foot of the Mendip Hills in Somerset 3 May 2015

The road to Winscombe, at the foot of the Mendip Hills in Somerset 3 May 2015

The church of St James was quite a way from the centre of the village.Simon and Rachel Hayes had four sons, one of whom died young. The other three moved to Bristol where they were builders and carpenters.

St James's Church, Winscombe, Somerset. 5 May 2005

St James’s Church, Winscombe, Somerset. 3 May 2005

We then went to Axbridge, to see where our great grandfather William Allen Hayes had spent the latter part of his life as landlord of the Red Lion pub, and my grandfather Percy Hayes had grown up. William Allen Hayes had married Mary Barber Stooke, and was first a builder in Bristol before moving to Axbridge to run the pub.

The building that was formerly the Red Lion pub in Axbridge High Street, though when we saw it in 2005 it was no longer a pub but a private house.

The building that was formerly the Red Lion pub in Axbridge High Street, though when we saw it in 2005 it was no longer a pub but a private house.

The Red Lion is no longer a pub, but a private house. Nevertheless, Jane, bold as brass, knocked on the
door and asked if we could have a look inside. It was now owned by an American couple, David and Juliet Maclay. David’s family were from Boston, and he does historical restorations, and offered us a cup of tea and showed us the library he had built upstairs, which was very kind of him to do for complete strangers. He also had an interesting icon of Ronald Reagan making a speech, with Henry Kissinger and others floating round his head like demons to tempt him, and side panels showing American atrocities in various parts of the world.

Icon of former  US President Ronald Reagan in the old Red Lion pub in Axbridge 3 May 2005.

Icon of former US President Ronald Reagan in the old Red Lion pub in Axbridge 3 May 2005.

We went to the square, and took some photos of the church, and a woman was coming to lock it just as we got there, but let us look at it. She said she locked it because she was the one who lived closest.

Parish church in Axbridge, Somerset. 3 May 2005

Parish church in Axbridge, Somerset. 3 May 2005

We drove up the Cheddar Gorge, and took some photos there as well, and then took Jane home. It was interesting to see the Cheddar Gorge, as that was where my grandfather had grown up, and we have some photos in an old family album that show it.

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset 3 May 2005

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset 3 May 2005

It was after 7:00 pm, so the traffic was not too bad, and we drove in through Bedminster where the Hayes family had lived in the second half of the 19th century. On the way Jane Conway commented about the election, and said how horrified Mummy would have been that there was a Labour
government, and at the thought of the Tories not being elected. We found that rather strange and wondered how many other people of her age (77) would take their political opinions from their parents so unquestioningly. There was still no parking outside Jane’s house, however, so we said goodbye
to her at the gate, and drove back to Josephine’s house via Bitton and Kelston again.

Josephine’s father, Crofton Hayes, had also been in the building trade, and had had a firm of shopfitters. He had a large house near Kelston, and two of his daughters lived in the attached lodges, though the main house had been sold after he died.

Upper Lodge, Cleeve Hill, Kelston, Bath, home of Josephine and Ezra Tsegaye. 3 May 2005

Upper Lodge, Cleeve Hill, Kelston, Bath, home of Josephine and Ezra Tsegaye. 3 May 2005

We were hoping to meet Josephine’s sister Lydia Curtis, whom she said had most of the historical information on the family, but by the time we got there it was too late to go to see them, so we chatted to Josephine instead, and she told stories about some members of the family. We were also sorry not to meet Josephine’s husband Ezra, who had been ill. He was originally from Ethiopia.

We drove back to Beckington quite late that night, and were beginning to be quite familiar with that road.

Continued at UK Trip 4 May 2005: Somerset, Devon & Cornwall.

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

UK Trip May 2005

Ten years ago, on 1 May 2005, Val and I set off on a holiday trip to the UK. We didn’t have this blog then, but I’m in the habit of rereading my diary for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 years ago, so I thought I’d make a kind of blog record here, as a reminder. I’ll put most of the family bits in this blog, some some of the parts where we visited friends I might put in one of our other blogs, but will have links so that anyone interested in following them in order can do so.

Because of our interest in family history, we hoped to visit relations, some of whom we had never met before, and also some of the places our ancestors had come from. We also hoped to visit old friends.

Val had visited the UK in 1971, and I had gone there for postgraduate study at St Chad’s College, Durham, from 1966-1968. It was over 30 years since either of us had been there, so there were many changes, some expected, and some not.

“Come receive the light”. Paschal Nocturns at St Nicholas, Brixton, 1 May 2005

Index to all posts on our UK trip here UK Holiday May 2005
We left on Easter Sunday, so the day began in church, or rather outside the church, with the reading of of the resurrection Gospel and the Paschal greeting, at the Church of St Nicholas of Japan in Brixton, Johannesburg. We took some members of our Mamelodi congregation to the service as well.

The Paschal Liturgy was done in great haste, and Fr Mircea did not have the Easter Kiss before the Homily of St John Chrysostom (which he got me to read, and I read it from Hapgood’s translation, which is quite powerful). But we did have it at the end, and we did not have the Romanian bread and wine ceremony.

We took Johanna Ramohlale and her friend to the hostel at the medical school, and got home about 4:30 am. Went to lunch at the Dros, and all had lamb shanks and ice cream. Then came home and packed, and Jethro took Simon to work, and then took us to the airport, and dropped us off there.

We went through check-in and immigration, and then tried to change money
into pounds, but everywhere we tried had run out. We took South African Airways Flight SA234 to London, which left at 20:05, and had seats right next to the galley. Dinner was beef potjiekos and rice. In-flight films I watched were Ladies in Lavender, about two elderly sisters in Cornwall who found a Polish violinist on the beach, and the Lemony Snicket film about a family of orphans who are trying to resist a wicked uncle trying to deprive them of their inheritance. I slept through part of it, but don’t think I missed much.

Continued here.

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