More cousins & friends in Cape Town

Continue from Visiting more old friends in and around Cape Town

Saturday 29 August 2015

We finally packed up and left the Sun 1 Hotel at the Cape Town Foreshore, and went to spend a night with Jean & Paul Gray, Val’s cousins whom we had not met face to face before, only on Facebook and by e-mail.

But first we went to see another old school friend of Val from Escombe, Cheryl Verrijt and her husband Theo. There wasn’t quite such a long time of not seeing them as with some of our other friends, as they had lived in Eshowe when we lived in Melmoth, and we had also seen them on a previous visit to Cape Town in 2003.

While waiting for them we observed life in and around the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, a large shopping centre built next to Cape Town docks.

Cape Town docks, 29 Aug 2015

Cape Town docks, 29 Aug 2015

It was interesting interesting to see how modern life encourages new outdoor activities.

New outdoor activities: smoking and cell phones

New outdoor activities: smoking and cell phones

And there are also more traditional outdoor activities, like this little girl and her father eating fish and chips, with the gulls waiting around in the hope of titbits, and whenever they got too close the little girl would jump up and shriek and wave her arms to chase them away.

When ze seagulls follow ze trawlair, it is because zey sink fish with be thrown into ze sea (Eric Cantona)

When ze seagulls follow ze trawlair, it is because zey sink fish with be thrown into ze sea (Eric Cantona)

There seemed to be a fair amount of activity of small craft docking and moving away, including this one

Cape Town docks

Cape Town docks

.When Theo & Cheryl Verrijt arrived from an exhibition they had been attending nearby we had lunch at the San Marco restaurant.

Cheryl Verrijt, Val Hayes, Theo Verrijt, Cape Town, 29 Aug 2013

Cheryl Verrijt, Val Hayes, Theo Verrijt, Cape Town, 29 Aug 2013

We then went back to Paul and Jean Gray and talked about the family history. Jean is a cousin on the Stewardson side of the family, and we had recently discovered several new generations of Stewardsons going back to Duffied in Derbyshire, England. It was quite a breakthrough, because we had known of Val’s great great great grandparents, Mr & Mrs Stewardson, we did not know their first names or where they had come from. There were references to them in books and journals about Namibia in the 1840s and 1850s, but they were always referred to as “Stewardson” and “Mrs Stewardson”. One frustrated author, writing a historical novel of their times, made up names for them, Ian and Norah, which got misleaqdingly incorporated into some serious historical publications, but we eventualy discovered that they were Francis Stewardson and Frances Morris, and they were married in Donisthorpe, on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire in England, in 1838.

The Stewardsons went to Damaraland in the 1840s, and were involved in the beef cattle trade (some members of the Morris family were butchers in Cape Town, and at one time they had a contract to supply beef to the British garrison on St Helena).

The Stewardsons’ daughter Kate married first to Fred Green, Val’s great great grandfather, and then, after Fred Green’s death, to George Robb, from whom Jean Mary Gray is descended.

Val Hayes, Jean Mary Gray, Paul Gray, 29 August 2015

Val Hayes, Jean Mary Gray, Paul Gray, 29 August 2015

Though Val and Jean are the same age, they are half second cousins once removed, since Kate Stewardson was Val’s great great grandmother, and Jeans great grandmother. Kate had 16 children, of whom only four survived to adulthood.

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

Meeting Vause cousins at Robertson

Continued from Kamieskroon to Robertson

Sunday 23 August 2015

We attended the Divine Liturgy (in Afrikaans) at Bedehuis Bethanië, and said goodbye to Fr Zacharias van Wyk and Macrina Walker.

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië -- the Last Homely House

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië — the Last Homely House

Then we drove in to Robertson, 6 km away, to have lunch with Sandy Struckmeyer and her parents. Wyatt and Evelyn Vause, and her daughter Kerry, and Ludwig.

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunive Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunice Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

We had lunch in the yard, where the weather was a bit warmer than earlier in the day. Sandy is my third cousin, and our common ancestors were our great great grandparents were Richard Vause of Hull (1822-1876) and Matilda Park of Bath (1828-1881). The Vause family came from the Isle of Axholme in north-west Lincolnshire, while Matilda Park’s family was originally from Northern Ireland. How they met and married in Bath is something of a mystery, and within a couple of weeks of their marriage in 1852 they were on their way to Natal on The Lady of the Lake.

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

They went to Tugela Drift, where they opened a store in partnership with J.R.M. Watson, and Richard Vause named the place Colenso after the controversial Anglican Bishop of Natal. The business failed, and Watson moved to Ladysmith, and the Vause family moved to Pietermaritzburg, and later to Durban, where Richard Vause founded the Natal Mercury newspaper in partnership with John Robinson, and was later mayor of Durban. The Watson family touched ours again later, when Frederick William Beningfield (Val’s 1st cousin 4 times removed) eloped to the Free State with J.R.M. Watson’s daughter Theresa, while another skelm relative, Alfred Dawson Francis, alias Alfred Francis Dawson, eloped with, or had an affair with Watson’s wife.

Wyatt Vause

Wyatt Vause

Richard Vause and Matilda Park had several children, and I am descended from their son Richard Wyatt Vause (also known as Wyatt Vause) while Wyatt Vause of Robertson is descended from their son Robert Vause, who was a farmer at Ixopo in the Natal Midlands.

Wyatt had five vintage cars, including a 1947 Studebaker, which I had known in my youth as the “back to front car” because you couldn’t tell whether they were coming or going. He had a Renault, which had belonged to a man who had been murdered on a farm in the district, and said he had been a Spitfire pilot during
WWII, based in Malta, and had survived all that, only to be murdered at home. He also had a Morris 1100, and I remembered when they had been one of the latest things in 1963, but they are now more than 50 years old. Wyatt told me a bit about the family too.

He said two of his elder brothers, Michael and Brian, had died, and that his eldest brother Trevor was now 90 years old. Michael had died of cancer after his son Philip had been killed in a car crash about 20 years ago. He showed us a couple of family photos inside the house, ane of which showed his uncle Frederick, who had died falling off a wagon at the age of about 3 or so.

Approaching Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Approaching Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

We left Robertson about 3 pm, and drove to Cape Town over the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, which gives good views over the Paarl Valley. We booked in at the Sun 1 Hotel on the Foreshore, which is convenient for access to the archives, where we were planning to spend much of the coming week doing family history research.

Paarl valley from Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Paarl valley from Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

 

 

Cape Holiday 2015: a lonely Falkenberg grave

We left for our holiday in the Cape, and intended to travel down the N14 to Springbok, along almost its whole length, but a couple of months ago we had had a phone call from Ikey van Wyk, who said he had discovered the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on his farm. We stopped for breakfast at a Wimpy in Ventersdorp, and then drove down to Klerksdorp to join the N12. The road was quite fascinating, as there were lots of unusual trees. They looked like gum trees, but of a kind we had not seen before, with small shoots sticking out in clumps at odd angles.

Tree we saw between Ventersdorp & Klerksdorp

Tree we saw between Ventersdorp & Klerksdorp

After Klerksdorp the country was completely different, mostly bushveld, the only variety being smaller and larger trees. This was Falkenberg country, at least the branch of the Falkenberg family that we were following up at this stage of our trip. The “stamvader” of the South African Falkenbergs was Christian Falkenberg, who came from Brandenbergb in Prussia in 1858 with his wife Dorothea (born Lüthow) and son Friedrich, then aged about 3. Dorothea died in Stutterheim about a year after their arrival.

A few years later Christian Falkenberg, who was a shopkeeper at Tylden in the Eastern Cape, married Jessie Schultz, Val\s great great grandmother. Young Friedrich would then have been about 10, and he seems to have left home as a teenager and gone to try his luck on the diamond fields. He married twice — to Dorothea Louisa Ferreira and Sarah Whitaker Holt, and the family\s marriages took place in the towns we passed through down the N12 — Bloemhof and Christiana, where Friedrich was a diamond digger in the alluvial diggings in those places.

We passed through Jan Kempdorp, and saw the Vaal-Harts Irrigation Scheme, with notices advertising its 75th anniversary. It was one of the things we remembered learning about in school geography lessons. We found Matopi Farm, about 20 km our of Jan Kempdorp on the way to Delport’s Hoop, and Ikey van Wyk ki9ndly took us to see the grave. It was a single grave on the farm, surrounded by an iron railing, and the gravestone was in good condition and quite legible.

Ikey van Wyk showing us the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on Matopi Farm, near Jan Kempdorp

Ikey van Wyk showing us the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on Matopi Farm, near Jan Kempdorp

It seemed that Sarah Falkenberg had had another child we did not know about, who died in infancy. I tried to take a photo of the grave on my cell phone for Billion Graves, and, as usual, the program crashed. I put my phone back in my pocket, or so I thought, and took some photos with a camera, and we went on our way, back to the N14, and on to Kuruman. But when we got there, my phone was gone. I asked Ikey if I had dropped it in his bakkie when he took us to the grave, but apparently not, so I must have dropped it by the grave somewhere. R300.00 reward for its safe return!

At Kuruman we stayed at ther Azalea Guest House, and went out for supper. The only place open seemed to be the Spur, and it so happened that they were offering two hamburgers for the price of one that nighyt, and since we had ordered two Appletizers, they gave us a free glass.

 

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

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

UK trip 9 May 2005: Gobowen to Whitehaven

Continued from UK trip 8 May 2005: Davies family at Gobowen | Khanya

We spent the light with John and Shirley Davies at Gobowen, near Oswestry. I woke up at about 2:00 am, and caught up with writing my diary and made family history notes. Later at breakfast Shirley told us more about their lives since I had last seen them 35 years before.

After breakfast Shirley did some spinning, and it was the first time I had ever seen a spinning wheel in action. I’d only ever seen them used as decorations before, starting with the people who bought our old house in Westville, and made it into the homes and gardens pages of one of the Natal papers, which featured a picture of a spinning wheel.

I’d also read about spinning wheels in Grimm’s fairy tales, and still had no idea of how they worked, and pictured someone with a fat thumb pressing raw wool on to the big wheel and somehow manipulating it into thread. The name of their house, Nyddfa, means “place of spinning”. The house was interesting — a compact single storey, with a nice back garden; no TV, but a computer, which Shirley worked on often. She said, “What did you do when you woke up early before you had a computer?” and I was at a loss to tell her. She wakes up before John, as I do, and John, she said, sleeps nearly 12 hours a night now. But as I get older I wake up earlier, and find the computer provides plenty to occupy me with in the early hours
of the morning. They had good furniture, and everything is neat and clean and comfortable, with ornaments, and such a contrast to their life in South Africa, where the furniture was makeshift, and
everything simple, the garden a jungle, especially at 11 Queens Road Parktown. Shirley said she hated living there, because she felt boxed in, but it held good memories for me, because that was where they lived when I knew them best.

Shirley Davis spinning at Nyddfa, Gobowen. 9 May 2005

Shirley Davis spinning at Nyddfa, Gobowen. 9 May 2005

We left just after lunch, at 1:30, heading north, and re-entered Wales, going in to Wrexham to cash a travellers cheque at the Nat West Bank, and then going on to the M6 motorway and driving as fast as the traffic and speed limit would allow. We stopped at one of the services places after we had passed the Liverpool-Manchester conurbation to buy sweets and a Coke and a Sunday paper, the Independent. While my Cottam ancestors had lived in Manchester and in the Lancashire area, we did not have time to go and look for the places where they had lived, and so stuck to the motorway through the urban areas.

I noticed a change there from when I had lived in the UK in the 1960s. Then I had been struck by how orderly and polite British drivers had been compared to South African ones, who tended to be aggressive. Back then British motorists would flash their headlamps to say “After you,” while South African motorists would flash their headlamps to say “Get out of my way.” Now it was the other way round.

I recalled a visit from Val’s second cousins a couple of years previously, John and Maxine Wincott. I took them on a tour of Tshwane, and John was amazed at the behavious of drivers at four-way stop steets and places where the road narrowed, how they filtered in, taking it in turns. On the busy motorway junctions in the Liverpool-Manchester area, however, if anyone tried to filter in from an acceleration lane there would be angry light flashings and sometimes hooting from other vehicles. I wondered if it was a change in culture brought about by Maggie Thatcher.

We turned off the motorway to drive to Windermere, where I had once visited the home of a college friend, Craufurd Murray, in 1967. Then it had been cold and overcast, and the lake had looked grim and grey and cheerless. Now it looked a bit brighter.

Lake Windermere, Cumbria, 9 May 2005

Lake Windermere, Cumbria, 9 May 2005

We drove round the northern end of Lake Windermere, through Ambleside, and then over the Wrynose and Hardknott passes, which were reminiscient of the mountains of Lesotho, though of course they were much lower and closer to the sea.

The Wrnose Pass, looking back East towards Windermere. 9 May 2005.

The Wrynose Pass in the Cumbrian fells, looking back East towards Windermere. 9 May 2005.

The roads were narrow and winding, and we saw lots of sheep. The young lambs were black, and the older sheep brown with white faces. Seeing them reminded me of Rebecca West’s book Black lamb and grey falcon, describing travels in the Balkans in the 1930s, and indeed the Cumberland fells looked a lot like the mountains of Albania too. The Hardknott Pass was even steeper than the Wrynose Pass, but we were going downhill over the steepest bits, down into Eskdale.

skdale, Cumbria, from the Hardknott Pass. 9 May 2005.

Eskdale, Cumbria, from the Hardknott Pass. 9 May 2005.

We drove in to Whitehaven, where Val’s Pearson and Ellwood ancestors had come from (see The Pearson and Ellwood families of Whitehaven | Hayes & Greene family history). We looked for somewhere to stay,
and also for a loo, but could not easily find either.

We went to see Nora Pearson, the widow of Val’s mother’s double-first cousin John Pearson (and the mother of Maxine Wincott, mentioned earlier), and had coffee with her, and showed her photos of the
family. She had been ill, and was only now able to walk around again. She had a cat which she kept a prisoner and would not allow to go outside, though she had a fairly big garden and lived in a quiet cul-de-sac. We had corresponded with her for about 30 years about the family history, but this was the first time we had actually met her face to face.

Val Hayes and Nora Pearson, Whitehyaven, 9 May 2005

Val Hayes and Nora Pearson, Whitehyaven, 9 May 2005

We phoned one of the bed and breakfast places on our list, at Lowca, and went out to stay there, and returned to Whitehaven for supper in a Chinese restaurant, one of the few open and serving food as it was after 9:30 pm. We were the only ones there, and an excessively polite and smiley waiter persuaded me to try Chinese beer, which wasn’t bad. We had eggs foo yong which was good, and sweet and sour pork, but that was not up to our benchmark of the Phoenix restaurant in Point Road in Durban, which was the standard by which we evaluated all Chinese restaurants.

We looked at books on old Whitehaven that the people in the B&B place had lent us, and there was one on Lowca Engineering, which had made steam locomotives, where Ernest Pearson (Nora’s father-in-law)  had worked. He was originally an acetylene welder at Lowca Engineering Works, near Whitehaven. He served in the 1914-1918 War in the Royal Flying Corps at Halton, Bucks and at Blandford, Devon. About 1923 the Lowca Engineering Works closed down, and he went to work for his brother-in-law’s company, John Ellwood & Co, as a plumber and electrician, and remained there for the rest of his working life.

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