I’ve enjoyed family history for over twenty years. I’ve researched our family tree back to the eighteenth century. I became a Murray when I married Michael but was previously a Buckle. I’m the end of the line for my branch of the Buckles.
Originating in the village of Pickhill a few miles north of York, in 1850 my ancestors relocated to Harthill on the Yorkshire / Nottinghamshire border. In 1898 the Buckles moved again to Royston, Yorkshire.
My next family name is Ashworth and this is a story about some family history treasure which was almost lost forever.
My uncle Jack Ashworth was the end of the line for our Ashworth family. When he died his house was sold along with most of the contents. The new owner was clearing out the loft and came upon a couple of cardboard boxes filled with old photographs and cine films.
Thankfully he didn’t dump the photos and films but returned them to the vendor.
One day my husband Michael recalled that the aforementioned uncle had made a short home movie at our wedding in the mid-nineteen seventies. He wondered what had become of the film and if there was anyway we could view it.
In a phone call with my auntie I remembered to ask her about Michael’s request. She contacted the family and discovered that they’d had the films returned to them. A couple of weeks later they very kindly left the box of films at her house along with a box of photos.
Although she couldn’t do anything with the films, my aunt was thrilled with the photos. There’s over a hundred photos of her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins going back to the 1920s and even a little bit before. She’s gone through all the photos and, where she knows them, written the names of the people on the reverse.
And then her son brought the two cardboard boxes over to our house for us to borrow for a while. And what a treasure trove they proved to be.
First, the box containing the cine films.
• Agfa Family cine camera
• Agfa Family cine film viewer
• 4 boxes of film reels each holding about 200 ft of film
• Splicing kit
• INSTRUCTION BOOKLET
The boxes of films and the film reels are labelled and have been sorted in groups for transfer to video cassette. Unfortunately the video cassettes haven’t survived the house sale. Which is a shame as
a) it would have taken my uncle quite a while to sort them out
b) it would be much easier to get video cassettes transferred onto DVD or a memory stick.
However, fortunately the instruction booklet for the cine film viewer is in the cardboard box and, even more fortunately, despite being at least thirty years old, the viewer still works.
So I spent the best part of three days working out how to use the viewer and then looking at all the films to try and find some film of our wedding.
And I did!
The film is in colour and has no soundtrack. The colour quality is excellent and the film is sharp and bright. Many of the guests have passed on. It was more than forty years ago, don’t forget. I wondered how I would feel looking at moving images of close relatives and friends, some who’d died far too young.
In fact, it was wonderful. Like every wedding it was a happy occasion and to see so many of our recent ancestors laughing and chatting was a real pleasure.
And that wasn’t the end of the discoveries.
There was another film which had my sister and myself aged about eight and ten respectively and then a couple of years older. There was my other sister’s christening in the early 1960s and my grandad Buckle who was born in 1881. And lots more. My mum and dad who both died in their mid-fifties in a happier time before ill health took over. And my grandmother smiling and laughing and looking with great tenderness at her baby grandchildren.
I sent the films in the post to a photo studio to be transferred to DVD. I googled and picked a company which judging from the reviews would do a good job. And they did.
And the box containing the photos…
These photos are all of my Ashworth and Barratt ancestors.
My grandad was Horace Ashworth (1905 – 1984) and my grandmother was Minnie Barratt (1906 – 1991).
There are photos of both sets of their parents:
• John Thomas Ashworth (1871 – 1931)
• Emma Jane Gooding (1871 – 1957)
• Thomas Barratt (1881 – 1949)
• Harriet James (1881 – 1947)
and some of their siblings, aunts and uncles and other family members too. Plus a good few photos of individuals unfamiliar to my auntie who’s done a good job naming lots of the photos.
There’s also an envelope containing the family history researches of Cousin Clifford Ashworth. He was my grandad’s nephew and I was aware that in the 1970s / 80s he’d collected considerable family history information and shared it with my grandfather. I’d never seen it or ever thought I would but it’s all there and I’m still going through it in detail and comparing it with my own researches. Cousin Clifford died in 1989 and didn’t have the benefit of on-line data so it will be interesting to see what he discovered.
But, already there’s the most amazing find…
About four years ago I was contacted by a distant relative who’d inherited lots of old photos. The information with the photos suggested that his Great Grandfather and mine were brothers. He very kindly sent copies of all the photos including this one:
My distant relative was able to identify his great grandfather back row right in the first photo and back row left in the second photo. Knowing that my great grandfather was older I guessed he would be the taller man in the back row of each photo. And I guessed that my grandad (Horace Ashworth) was the little boy in the middle of the front row of the second photo.
And now I know
because not only did Cousin Clifford send my grandparents a copy of the second photo
he annotated it!
And that, I think you’ll agree, is just Family History perfection!
And yes, my guesses were correct.
My great grandfather John Tomas Ashworth is Number 4 and my grandad is Number 26.
There was hours of scanning to get copies of all the photos and match them into my family history files. But what a labour of love it was.
And how fantastic that the new owner of my uncle’s loft recognised family history treasure and saved it for us.
Thanks for reading my blog today. You might also like Cabbage and Semolina, my memories of a 1950s childhood.
For over thirty years Cathy Murray worked in British primary education as a class teacher and then as head teacher of four different schools.