I’d never really been terribly interested in family history until I lived in New Zealand for nine months in 2001/02. There I became familiar with the term ‘whakapapa’, and longed to learn more about my own blood-line.
“Papa” is anything broad, flat and hard such as a flat rock, a slab or a board. “Whakapapa” is to place in layers, lay one upon another. Hence the term Whakapapa is used to describe both the recitation in proper order of genealogies, and also to name the genealogies. The visualisation is of building layer by layer upon the past towards the present, and on into the future.
Quoted from http://maaori.com/whakapapa/whakpap2.htm
Returning homeless and jobless to England in July 2002 and not one to sit on my laurels, I embraced this as a tremendous opportunity to delve into my past whilst living with my parents.
Using images, documents, old letters, in fact anything I could lay my hands on in my parents possession, and most importantly talking and listening to mum and dad, I began to weave the (her)story of ‘me’ and my three sisters.
Before I immigrated back to New Zealand in January 2005, I gave each member of the family a folder containing the written information I’d found out.
It was a beginning. But it didn’t dig any deeper than the first names of my great grandparents on each side, with scant knowledge of them at that.
My mother and father are only children . Actually that’s a lie. My father had a brother, Inglis. Or that’s what we’d always been told was his name!
Caring for my father recently, I had precious time to talk with them, and go through some more previously unknown documents. It turned out that my uncle, who died 12 years before my father’s birth, was actually called Thomas Inglis Walsh – the same name as my great grandfather, who was a Wesleyan Minister.
I’d known for a while that my father was born in Huddersfield, and was looking forward to visiting the city to see if I could discover anything about the past. My grandfather, William Dixon Walsh, owned an engineering firm, and was, by all accounts, quite a wealthy man until the great depression of 1926. My dad was six years old when they moved to Sunderland as a consequence of this.
Salendine Nook and Lindley
I found a couple of documents belonging to my grandfather with addresses on. One had only a house name, others a road and number. Both were in the divinely sounding ‘Salendine Nook’ area.
So Barry and I caught a bus there on Sunday to see what we could discover.
We found the house, and I was even brave enough (after some hesitation I might add!) to knock on the door! A lovely young man answered. He said he’d only been renting for a few months, but would pass my details on to his landlady to see if she had any information about previous owners.
Unlikely – but you never know!
The same bus we’d caught continued to Lindley, so we walked back to the bus stop and continued a couple of miles with our ‘all day traveller’ ticket.
I was pretty sure he’d been a Methodist Preacher. We found Lindley Methodist Church quite easily (though we were told it was actually one of three in the area!), and took advantage of the open door to the adjacent community centre.
The helpful lady inside said they had a service commencing shortly, but we were very welcome to pop in and take a look around. She’d not heard of Thomas Inglis – but it was a very long time ago!
I subsequently spoke with a woman inside the church, who said someone had recently completed a 200 year-old history of Methodist churches in the area. She took my details and promised to contact the author and be in touch if she had anything to share.
In the meantime, I asked if it was okay to take photos inside the church – she was more than happy. She told me they’d removed the old pews (how terribly sad), but the pulpit and balcony would be the same as they had always been.
Walking to the front of the church, I stopped, looked up, and the strangest thing happened. I felt a presence, and I knew without a doubt that my great-grandfather had stood at that pulpit. I had to stop myself from sobbing, emotion bubbled up inside me.
Knowing so little about this reverential man, I’d wanted to find his grave. So we left the congregation to their service and wandered around the grounds. Barry and I have this fascination with graveyards. I’ve spoken of it previously. I guess it’s about seeing the end result of life, and recognising how fortunate we are to be alive, healthy, and grasping opportunities.
Most of the graves looked unkempt and uncared for. The dates were from this century, last century or even the one before, which was the right period, so my hopes rose.
After about ten minutes of wandering I stumbled upon a large stone. The first two inscriptions were of previous Reverends whose children had died in infancy. These graves always touch me the most.
As I read down, I suddenly spotted the names I’d been searching for and called to Barry “I’ve found it!”.
Not only my great grandfather, but amazingly my great grandmother was also lying there.
And then, the ‘Pièce de résistance‘ was spotted by Barry’s sharp photographer’s eyesight.
At the bottom of the grave, covered in grass, was my Uncle’s name. Barry pulled out the grass and revealed the inscriptions. This time I really was moved to tears …
How very special. If I hadn’t been here in England, living on a narrowboat and travelling to places I’ve not been to before, I doubt I’d ever have discovered this piece of my family history. Thank you Barry for bring me back, for this and so many other reasons.
It’s ignited in me a renewed passion to find out more, and document information for the generations to come.
It became a little complex, our visit to Hebden Bridge, without intention.
My daughters and I had tried to find a ‘free’ weekend to get together in Brighton, and when we booked the first weekend of July I had no idea we’d be in Hebden Bridge at the same time and I’d miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of witnessing the Tour de France speeding by!
Then we received a few emails from the amazingly organised Dianna Monahan, our IWA contact there, outlining some of the other events around the boat gathering time.
Initially excited by the prospect of being a part of the mosaic workshop below …
Melanie and Winston are looking for 4-5 boaters to take part in the mural making workshop. Participants will make a mosaic piece of artwork that they can take home, in the hope that the artwork will travel around the canal network with them. The workshop will take place on Thursday 3rd July from 11am – 4pm with a break for lunch. During the workshop we will discuss the gathered words, design the artwork, learn how to score and cut glass, snip mosaic tiles and create the finished mosaic pieces! The pieces will be grouted the following day.
… I wasn’t sure until I worked out train times whether I could. Fortunately the stars aligned and there was still a place remaining when I called the adorable Melanie from Crafts Afloat to express my interest. It meant taking out a whole day from exploring the area, but it was definitely worthwhile.
Winston Plowes is a local poet, and he came along for the first half hour and shared his vision of gaining wondrous words about living on the canals and rivers of England and Wales by involving us in ‘target poetry’.
“…an award winning poet resident on the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge, Calderdale. Amongst other things, his work is inspired by his interaction with the local landscape, by his fourteen-year-old daughter and the darker realities often found in the deserted corners of life.”
We each had a piece of blank paper which we were told to imagine as our ‘target’, with our hands delivering arrows to it. Then we drew a circle in the centre of the page, closed our eyes, and gave some thought to words and images we associate with our watery lifestyle. He hoped we’d find around 20 words, and also encouraged us to draw a few pictures. Turning the page around meant words would be jumbled, and may even be on top of each other.
That was fine – no such thing as mistakes in this exercise!
Once we’d exhausted our word ‘limit’, we could take a look at our inventions. You’ll see mine below – quite a mess I’m sure you’ll agree! ‘Freedom‘ was the core of my page.
Winston then did an off-the-cuff talk about the words we’d written, and how they could be woven into a story of our lives, and Melanie cleverly showed us how to incorporate these into a glass and tile mosaic we could take away with us and treasure.
Though I managed to squeeze the workshop in before I left for my lovely weekend in Brighton, it meant I missed putting the finishing touches in. Thankfully Melanie grouted my mosaic the following day – and delivered it to Barry.
We’ve yet to find the perfect spot for my work of art, but it’ll definitely hold pride of place somewhere on board Areandare soon.
Blogging once again hasn’t been the top of my priority list for a few days as we’ve had some fabulous friends from New Zealand staying with us.
My intention is to get up to date over the coming week – Barry’s photos are too good not to publish albeit some time after events!
We’d been recommended by Diana (our IWA event organiser) to visit the nearby village of Heptonstall, towering high on the hill above Hebden Bridge. “Catch a bus there and walk back“, she suggested – and a good one it was too.
Heptonstall had originally been the main settlement in the area, with Hebden Bridge being literally the main bridge across the river in the valley below. Today Hebden Bridge is the larger of the two, but Heptonstall retains it’s charm as I’m sure you’ll agree when you see the images below.
Incredibly, the foundation stone of Heptonstall’s octagonal Methodist chapel, the oldest still in continued use, was laid following a visit by John Wesley in 1764 – five years before Captain Cook was making his first landing in Gisborne, Barry’s home town!
We walked back down to Hebden in order to appreciate the incredible view. Unfortunately the steep incline took its toll on my fairly new walking sandals, and half-way down the front strap split! So it became a rather precarious stumble instead of a joyful trek! Luckily I kept the receipt …
Le Tour de France/Yorkshire
On Thursday 3rd July, I’d booked onto a mosaic day with Mel from Crafts Afloat, along with the crew of NB Bisous. I’ve done a mosaic course previously in New Zealand and loved it, so grasped the opportunity to make a piece for our boat. More about that in a separate blog, as it’s worth it’s own story.
On the actual day when the cyclists of Le Tour de France/Yorkshire whizzed through (Sunday 6th July), I was in Brighton with my daughters and grandsons for the weekend. It was sad to miss such a thrilling event, but it was just how the timing worked out.
Barry stayed on board and enjoyed chatting with lots of people, some of whom even bought a few products from him – not as many as we’d hoped for, but you never know what will come from the event in the future. we’d wanted to come this way anyway, so Le Tour was fortuitous for us.
It was reported following the event that there’d been a crowd of around 8,000 people. Sadly, due to the way they directed the foot traffic, many of these walked past the trading boats on their hurried way to watch ‘Le Tour‘ on the big screen in Calder Homes Park, but were subsequently moved in a different direction to exit, so hardly anyone showed an interest in Home Brew, Fudge or Antiques.
The photo below gives a great view of this anomaly:
Heather and Tony on ‘The Fudge Boat’, had arrived a week or so early in order to make their fudge for the event that held so much promise – around 1,000 bags with limited shelf life, so the lack of passing trade was painfully felt by them and did put a dampener on the weekend. They decided to stay on the following weekend for a choir gathering, in the hope they’d attract some sweet toothed choristers.
We’ll catch up with them again in September and discover how they fared …
Friends and firsts
Our next posts will include a few friendly faces who’ve visited in the past couple of weeks. They’ll also see us descending the deepest lock on the system, and attempting to negotiate the shortest lock on the system in our 60 foot long narrowboat – will we make it? Many people we spoke to beforehand said it wouldn’t be possible and we’d be crazy to attempt it.
But you and I know Barry and his ‘can do kiwi’ attitude can achieve miraculous things.
So you’ll need to come back and read it to find out if we ‘could’ do …
The final leg of our journey to Hebden Bridge was on Tuesday 1st July, when we travelled the four and a half miles and ten locks from our overnight mooring at Todmorden.
Here’s Barry’s pictorial view of the pleasures of the passage …
Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North, a humorous book that discusses the modern reality of the North of England (as opposed to the popular myths)
… and had wanted to visit for many years.
It didn’t disappoint in any way.
Actually that’s not strictly true, but it’s nothing to do with the beauty and uniqueness of the town - but I’ll reveal what soured our experience slightly in the next post.
There’s a few more photos on this post – Barry must’ve seen so much worth keeping for posterity!
And so we finish this post in the tantalising town of Todmorden - the county boundary of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
If you’ve never visited this area, we’d recommend you make some time to do so as it’s so different to the usual rat race towns. It embodies a community spirit of co-operativeness and slowness, with ‘Incredible Edible‘ gardens everywhere that anyone can pick from – even from the front of the Police Station.
If only all places could use these open spirited examples and live so happily.
As previously promised, I’ve persuaded Barry to choose a selection of his favourite images taken during our journey along the Rochdale Canal from Littleborough to Hebden Bridge, which we made from 28th June to 1st July.
Littleborough to Summit
What a talented husband I have. Of course photographers have the skill to make images look amazing, but this really was a delightful journey especially after the many challenges we’d experienced in the previous days.
We finally arrived at our destination of Hebden Bridge on Tuesday 1st July. What a delightful part of Britain it is. Our initial impressions were extremely favourable, especially in the light of all the extra effort of the long and tiring days which we now knew were worthwhile.
We’d also seen some terrific sights along the way, and met lots of interesting and friendly people, so despite the many and varied challenges, it’s been fun and fascinating!
Our new friend Phil stopped a few locks before the valley spot, preferring the solitude.
This time we were confident we had a reserved mooring, thanks to Diana and her organisational skills. There’s just three trading boats along the stretch by the town centre, opposite a Thai restaurant – us, Antiques Afloat and the Fudge Boat. Small but beautiful we hope! We’re not sure how good trading will be, but we knew we wanted to visit this amazing part of Britain and the boat gathering and once-in-a-lifetime passing of the famous cycle race, coincided with it.
Catching up with Tony and Heather over a couple of drinks on Tuesday evening, we discovered they’d missed New Islington completely, and had a horrendous journey from Dunham all the way to The Rose of Lancaster on their journey here! Crikey, it’s a good job they’re early starters!
We decided we all deserved a good night out to celebrate our achievement. Initially we walked to a pub called /The Old Gate’, but it looked like one of those dreadful chain pubs, full of youngsters lol! So we carried on to The Fox and Goose and had one of the best nights out for a long time. Such friendly people, and we discovered that it’s a ‘co-operative pub’, owned by local people, with the aim of preventing it becoming a chain pub.
Fabulous! During the evening a ‘Hurdy Gurdy’ band began playing, much to our amusement, and we were soon in the room with them having a fine old time- Barry and I even had a go on the rare instrument that I didn’t even realise existed!
Diana had provided us with a wonderful ‘welcome pack’, filled with lots of freebies and local information. And to our delight we’d been told beforehand that we featured in the local magazine ‘Valley Life’.
On Thursday I’d booked for a mosaic workshop aboard ‘Craft Afloat‘. That was probably a little foolish, as it did mean a bit of a rush around on Wednesday to check out Hemptonstall and Hebden Bridge, as I’m off for the weekend from Thursday evening.
But I’ll be back on Tuesday next week to do some more meandering.
Sadly the previous three posts have contained only a couple of Barry’s photography. They’re mostly from my iPhone, to put pictures with the stories, but not nearly as eloquently as Barry’s images will do at some point in the future when I get a collection from him!
He’s also a lone trader on the boat this weekend. As I said previously, I’m leaving him once again to spend four days with my daughters and grandsons – we’re off to the seaside in Brighton to have heaps of fun.
I think I need a clone – to be with Barry, my dad and mum (they’re struggling bless them but the sisters are all doing their share), and my daughters and grandsons. At some point I’ll also have a chance to do some face painting and glitter tattoos. In fact, we’ve got a festival booked for 25th and 26th July at Standedge tunnel just for me. Lovely.
On Sunday we moved further up the Rochdale to a place called ‘Summit’ – oddly enough it’s at the summit of the locks! There were still a few hurdles to cross en route, but the scenery was definitely improving.
Summit was a fabulous spot for sitting out on the bank and watching the world go by – though only the natural world really, there’s not a lot happening on the canals in these parts. We did have a little explore, and walked around Summit, which didn’t take long. All we could discover was a long and fairly busy road lined with houses, and the obligatory British Pub. What more could you ask for Barry may say? So we popped in for a pint.
The World Cup was on the TV, and we got chatting with a man and his ten year-old son, who asked what it was like living on a boat. He was horrified to discover we live without a TV, unable to comprehend how anyone could survive without said box. A short while after leaving the pub and settling back in our overnight canal side spot, we saw them walking across the bridge for a visit. He must’ve been fascinated to see how it could be possible bless him (the son, not the father – he was understandably more interested in the home brew possibilities!).
On Monday we set off for Todmorden, and soon came across a boater waiting in a lock for us. Our new companion was Phil, in his late 70s, who’d lived on boats since 1976 and been travelling since retirement. He was one of the jolliest, nicest people we’ve ever met, with such a sunny, optimistic disposition. His faithful dog was called Megan, who happily jumped off at locks, and then back on again shortly after when Phil nudged the boat to the side.
We’d read and heard about Grandma Pollards in Walsden and its famous fish and chips shop, so we stopped for lunch there on the way …
That night, Monday, we moored up at terrific Todmorden. A very pleasant place. Barry had a couple of parcels to drop off at the UPS collection point he’d researched. Shops around the country have taken this on to earn extra money – which is extremely beneficial for our mobile Home Brew Boat business.
Talking of parcels, Barry had ordered some stands for his greetings cards and we’d arranged for them to be delivered to a friend of mine who lives in Todmorden. We’d received a phone call from the courier, saying he couldn’t access the house as it was up a steep hill. Barry was trying to get an address in Hebden Bridge sorted, and said we were on the canal travelling there.
Sitting in the lock, a man walked by and said “This may sound silly, but are you The Home Brew Boat?” to Phil, who said “I’m not, but he is!“. Hilarious. He’d driven past the canal, seen the boats, and stopped on the off chance that it was us.
We had a short visit to Todmorden, staying overnight and visiting a Weatherspoons (I know, sacrilege but cheap!) for a pint, and then went to Lidls to do a big shop Tuesday morning in readiness for my next departure on Thursday evening. I’m going to Whitchurch, then Brighton for the weekend with my daughters and grandsons. It was the only weekend we could all be available.
So sadly I shall be missing Le Tour de Yorkshire/France as they whizz past Barry’s mooring on Sunday. Ah well, I can’t be everywhere!