llywela: (family-1952Reg)
2016-07-15 04:13 pm

(no subject)

I really love these photos.

These are some of my great-aunts, my grandmother’s older sisters, who were young women in the 1920s - Alma, Doris, Thelma and Phyllis (pictured twice, who died young of TB meningitis).

They were ordinary girls, the daughters of a dock labourer who raised 12 children to adulthood. They’d each of them left school by the age of 14 and went out to work, because the family needed the money. The jobs they found weren’t easy - they worked in factories and builder’s yards. They had a difficult life.

But somewhere amid the poverty and overcrowding, they got themselves dressed up and found the money to have these photos taken, and they look so beautiful and glamorous in their 1920s fashions. Good for them!
llywela: (greatwards-arthurclara)
2016-02-05 02:59 pm

tracing the past

Granny Green and Granma Bitterly.JPG Granny Green and Granma Bitterly - fixed.JPG

Tucked away in a box at the back of a cupboard, we have a huge collection of old family photos, some of them dating back over a century, which a few years ago I sorted through and scanned electronically. Quite a few of those photos are in poor condition, as we see here, so I’ve been having a go at restoration. What do you think? The results aren’t perfect, but do improve the image!

The caption on the back of this particular photo reads ‘Grannie Green and Granma Bitterly’, which places it somewhere around the turn of the 20th century, I’d say, looking at their approximate ages here.

Grannie Green was my great-grandmother, born Blanche Sara Ludlow in Cardiff in 1880; her mother died when she was 14, and four years later, at the age of 18, she married Samuel Green. He was eight years older than Blanche, and, family legend has it, met her when she was 10 and he was 18 and then waited eight years for her to grow up so he could marry her - the very idea of it seems scandalous today! Blanche and Samuel married in June 1898 and their first child, Alec, was born in December of the same year - definitely something of a shotgun marriage there! They had 12 children, who all survived into adulthood, and the 10th, born in 1918, was my grandmother, Vera. Blanche died of peritonitis in 1931 when Vera was 13 years old, while Samuel lived until 1960 - living with Vera and her husband Arthur after their marriage, despite their growing family. We still have the telegram the family received informing them that Samuel had died in hospital overnight - it arrived just as they were about to set off to visit him. It's so perfunctory: 'regret to inform Samuel Green passed away please call my office'. Damn, that's cold! But you paid by the character for telegrams!

The Bitterly connection is a bit more…complicated to unravel. ‘Granma Bitterly’ would have been Samuel Green’s mother, born Sarah French in Cardiff in December 1850, whose husband Thomas was born Thomas Bitterly in Wolverhampton in 1849 and seems to have changed his name to Green at some point in his youth, possibly about the same time that he moved down to Cardiff - a fresh name for a fresh start? There’s a whiff of scandal about the whole thing - especially since we know that Thomas Green also spent about five years in prison in the late 1870s after being convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm - can’t have been easy for Sarah, left alone to care for three small children in his absence! They went on to have three more after he came home. The family were officially known as Green, listed as such on their marriage certificate and censuses, and none of their children ever used any name but Green, but the caption on the back of this photo implies that Thomas and Sarah also still used the name Bitterly, informally at least! Of course, the full story with all the whys and wherefores of the name change is long since lost to time. We’ll never know what really happened. Sarah died in 1932, outliving her daughter-in-law by one year, while Thomas died in 1934, taking the secrets of his past to the grave with him.
llywela: (me-tot-specs)
2014-12-22 09:36 am

family memories

My grampy Arthur would have turned 100 over the weekend, if he were still with us. He isn't, of course, and hasn't been for 20 years, never made it anywhere near his centenary, but still the occasion got me thinking. Arthur was born in the early months of WWI, the oldest of 11 children. He lived through WWII as a young husband and father, had seven children of his own and fostered an eighth, followed by 17 grandchildren and (to date) 9 great-grandchildren. But what is most striking about his life is how very much the world has changed in those 100 years since he was born, and how few generations can connect us to a past that seems so long ago.

This is the earliest photo I have of Arthur: here he's a toddler during WWI, pictured with his parents Alf and Edith and his baby brother Kenneth.

Arthur as a young man (back row, second from right) with his parents and nine surviving siblings (Kenneth, Ivy, Cyril, Phillip, Robert, Stanley, Marjorie, Marion and Georgie)

Arthur pictured on his wedding day, with my nanna Vera, and with his two oldest daughters: Joan, who I was named after (in turn named after Arthur's little sister who died as a toddler, which makes me Joan III) and baby Hazel, who died of meningitis at the age of three
Arthur3 Arthur4

Arthur (far right) with his brothers Stanley, Phillip and Cyril, in uniform during WWII
1940s - Stanley, Philip, Cyril, Arthur Browning - 202 Railway St

This is Arthur as I knew him, the grampy of my childhood:

And here he is (far left) with his surviving siblings (Stan, Ken, Ivy, Georgie, Cyril, Marion and Marj) at a party in 1993, two years before he died
1993-01-30 - Browning siblings - Arthur, Stan, Ken, Ivy, George, Cyril, Marion, Marjorie - Marj and George Piddock's ruby wedding

He was a bit of a grumpy old sod, really, a man who'd worked hard all his life and took no nonsense from anyone, but he loved his family and I remember him fondly.
llywela: (flower-poppy)
2014-05-09 10:46 pm

lives of the first world war - alf

A while back I read an article about a project the Imperial War Museum was running, preparatory for the centenary of the First World War - a project to pull together life stories for all those millions of servicemen (and women) who were involved in the war. And I suppose I must have registered an interest, because the next thing I knew I'd been emailed an invitation to register for the beta version of the website, Lives of the First World War. So I did and started work on a few life stories, my ancestors who took part in the war - two great-great-grandfathers and a great-grandfather; of the three, two came back alive, which for a war that claimed so many lives was not bad going.

The Lives of the First World War website is being launched to the public on Monday, and it's got me thinking about the life stories I've been able to trace - largely thanks to the huge amount of genealogy work my mum has already done, to say nothing of the fantastic family archive we're lucky enough to have. So I've decided to try writing up those three life stories.

This is the first: my great-grandfather Henry Alfred Clement Browning, known more generally as Alf.

Life story behind the cut )
llywela: (flower-daisy2)
2014-04-28 09:49 pm

random pic

Pictured in 1934 - my great-granddad Arthur with his four kids (l-r Betty, Grace, Norman and George), enjoying a day at the seaside and proud as punch of the bucket-and-spade sculpture they've made. I love this photo.
llywela: (FS-facepull)
2013-11-11 12:00 pm

armistice day

Today marks another Armistice Day, a day of memorial for the dead of the Great War, and every other war before and since. Thinking today about the futility and the brutality of war, I can't help remembering this postcard my great-great-grandfather George sent home to his son Arthur in 1918.
P034b P034a
'Dear Arthur', he writes. 'Just a card to thank you for kind and welcome letter also tracts which I was pleased to know you were still home + well trust this wicked war will soon end as nearly 4 years of it only 2 more months I have been away 4 years I do hope it will as one gets fed up keep on thinking every year is the last but our hopes get blighted...' [and it continues on another card]

He wasn't exactly the world's greatest penman, but you can feel his exhaustion and despondency in those lines. George did eventually make it home safe and well, after a long and hard four years. Another great-great-grandfather, John, was not so lucky. He was wounded in the final days of the conflict and died of his injuries three months after the ceasefire, leaving his widow to raise nine children alone.

And I am thinking about my granddad's little brother, Bobby, who ran off to join the merchant navy in 1941 only for his ship to be shelled. He was 17 years old - his youth a poignant reminder of how wasteful war is.
Robert Browning died  in 1941 age 17
llywela: (family-1952Reg)
2013-11-07 04:21 pm

another one bites the dust

Today I went to the funeral of my great-aunt.

Yes, another one. This is the third since Christmas - they seem to go in waves. And I have - or used to have - a lot of them. My four grandparents had no less than 25 siblings between them, so when you add in the spouses...yeah, that's a lot of great-uncles and great-aunts. Every time we bury one, I think surely there can't be many left, and then I do a headcount and realise...yeah, still quite a few to go.

So today we buried Aunty Eileen, my maternal grandfather's youngest sister, aged 75. It was a nice service. Her husband John cried all the way through, which made me very emotional because...well honestly, I defy anyone to watch an 80-year-old man weeping for the wife he'd loved for the best part of 60 years and not have a tear in their eye!

I always like to write up a bit of a tribute after these things, for the genealogical tag of my journal, so this is Eileen:
1952 - Eileen Tarr2

Eileen was the youngest of three children born to my great-grandparents Billy and Beattie, the other two being Phyllis and my granddad Reg (pictured in this icon). When Eileen was 15 her 20-year-old neighbour John told her he wanted to marry her someday and she said no...only to change her mind a few years later; they were married 55 years. After their marriage, Eileen and John lived with Eileen's parents Billy and Beattie in their house on Ferry Road, Cardiff.

This is John outside the house on Ferry Road - with my great-granddad's 'chimney sweep' sign up behind him. After my great-grandparents died, Eileen and John bought the house and still lived there until fairly recently.
1960 - 29 Ferry Rd - John Richards

Phyllis and her husband Brian also lived in the house on Ferry Road, so when my Mum lost her mother and her dad took her back home to live with his parents...well, it was a bit of a squash in that house for a few years there. My poor Mum had to share a room with her dad, with a curtain strung up down the middle of it to give them a bit of privacy! At least until Phyllis and her family moved out. None of them had any money, but they did have a lot of love - a real, old-fashioned Grangetown family.

Here's Eileen with her mother Beattie and with my 9-year-old Mum shortly after she lost her mother and moved to Ferry Road to live with them.
1960 - 29 Ferry Rd - Eileen Richards, Beattie Tarr 1960 - 29 Ferry Rd - Eileen Richards, Gina Tarr 1960 - 29 Ferry Rd - Eileen Richards

Eileen went out to work, so her mother looked after the children - with my mum generally lumbered with babysitting duties in the evenings. Eileen liked a drink, in spite of being on barbituates for epilepsy, and she loved parties and dancing and friendship and fun. She had three children and a whole stack of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loved her family immensely, feisty and fierce. Her funeral today came on the 12th anniversary of her sister Phyllis's death, much to the sorrow of Phyl's three children.

And that's another one lost to cancer. My granddad, both of his sisters, both of their parents, plus every one of their uncles and aunts not lost to the war...it doesn't bode well, really.

RIP, Aunty Eileen.
llywela: (me-tot-specs)
2013-06-29 09:32 pm

old photos

With the prospect of moving lurking large on the horizon, I've started going through my cupboards, sorting through boxes and bags of stuff that I've not touched in years. And in one of those old folders, I found this:
It's a picture of my great-grandparents, Edith and Alf, that I didn't even know I had - the best picture of them I've ever seen, as well, even if it is only a photocopy. How did I not realise I had it? Now that I've found it again, I remember exactly where it came from. Years and years ago, before Mum and I did all our family tree research, there was a big family party for my great-aunt Ivy's 80th birthday. All her surviving siblings came, and one of them brought copies of a few old family photos and was dishing them out left, right and centre. Great-uncle Phillip, I think. Or it might have been Cyril, but I think it was Phillip. So he gave this to me, probably the only time I ever met him, and I put it away without realising what it was. Well, I've found it again now and am very grateful to him!

He also gave me this:
That's Alf and Edith again a bit earlier, in the late 1930s with their 10 surviving children - there are multiple versions of this photo shoot floating around the family, but I love this one because all the kids look so happy and smiley. Also because g-u Phillip wrote all the names on it for me, and put his oldest sister Ivy down as 'Ive', which is cute!

Finding those photos tonight reminded me of that party, celebrating Ivy's 80th birthday with eight of her nine siblings still alive to see it. We lost Ivy just this spring, of course, at the grand old age of 93, and today the youngest sister, Marion, is the only one left, so it's nice to look back on this picture of them all, young and smiling with their lives ahead of them.
llywela: (flower - trolius)
2013-05-14 08:18 pm

holiday picspam the fifth

I know, I know, these holiday picspams are going on forever! What can I say? We packed a lot into a week and I like taking photos and showing them off!

One of the places we went during our week in Norfolk was Bressingham, the home of Blooms, which is a nationwide garden centre chain. Heh, I visited the Cardiff branch just last weekend, in fact! Bressingham is the home of the original garden centre, though, established by Alan Bloom, with his sons Robert and Adrian continuing to build up the family business after him. But the thing about Blooms of Bressingham is that it isn't just a garden centre. There's the garden centre, sure...but then there's also the gardens of Bressingham Hall, which are stunning, and there is also a steam museum - and it is also the home of the Official Dad's Army Collection!

Piccies behind the cut )
llywela: (greatwards-arthurclara)
2013-05-13 08:32 pm

holiday picspam the fourth

One of the things that we did on our holidays in Norfolk the other week was spend a day on the ancestry trail, because my mum's grandfather came from Norfolk and retained strong links with the family back there for the rest of his life.

I'm going to put it all behind a cut, though, as it isn't really interesting to anyone except me. )
llywela: (flower-poppy)
2013-05-10 12:13 pm


Battle of the Atlantic commemorated

It's really poignant to see news articles this week remembering the merchant seamen killed during the war. I wish my granddad had lived to see it - he always felt that his little brother's death was forgotten by the country. My great-uncle Bobby was just 17 years old when he joined the merchant navy in 1941, and was killed only a few weeks later when his ship was shelled by a submarine and set on fire, making it impossible to launch the life boats. Bobby escaped on a raft, but died of his injuries and was buried at sea.

Browning-possRobert BobbyBrowning
llywela: (greatwards-arthurclara)
2013-04-23 08:56 pm

victoriana? edwardiana? how to date, this is the question

Sorry for so many ancient photos lately, but does anyone out there know anything about the history of clothes? I'm trying to figure out exactly who these two are:
Cooper - parents_of_edith Browning-unknown3
But the identification is woolly (my aunt thinks she remembers who her mum told her they were, 40 years ago, but we aren't sure if their clothes are right for their dates) and it would help if we could identify an approximate date based on their clothes. Any ideas?

There are a couple more pictures that might possibly be him, that aren't much help.
Browning-unknown5 Browning-unknown6 Browning-unknown8

And I'm not sure if this is her again or not

I don't think many of my f-list are terribly active on LJ any more, but if anyone does happen to have any ideas about when these pictures might have been taken, based on the clothes, please do speak up!
llywela: (me-tot-specs)
2013-04-22 02:55 pm

family trees

My Dad's cousin Kay has been sorting through all her mum's stuff since she died just before Christmas (that was my great-aunt Marj), and she's started scanning a bunch of old photos and posting them on Facebook for the family - much as I did with Lel's photo collection a couple of years ago. Marj's dad Alf lived with her in his old age, so she ended up with all the old family photos from that side of the family, which means the pictures Kay is putting up now are of a branch of the family I'd not seen many photos of before now - including my own grampy as a toddler, the youngest picture I've ever seen of him.
Browning-possAlfred, Edith, Arthur, Kenneth
My gramp is the little dwt standing in front of his father - looking at the ages of the children, it must have been sometime in 1917 - my grampy Arthur would have been two years old in Dec 1916 and his brother Kenneth was born in Sept 1916; they are pictured with their parents, Alf and Edith, who'd have been only 23 and 21 years old at the time. I've always thought I mostly took after my nanna Vera's side of the family, but looking at Edith here...well, I can see myself, put it that way!

For comparison, this is the family again about 20 years later, in the late 1930s - by which time it had grown exponentially! Edith was notorious around Splott, where the family lived, for always having one in the pram, one on her hip and another one on the way!
1930s - Browning - Alf, Edith and children -Stanley, Kenneth, Cyril, Ivy, Robert, Arthur, Philip, Marion, George, Marjorie

I'd always known that my great-grandfather Alf served in the First World War - he was gassed and was never quite the same after, so the stories go. I'd never seen any pictures of him in uniform before - but Kay has scanned quite a few.
Browning-possAlfred1 Browning-possAlfred3

There aren't any younger pictures of Alf, but there is one of his parents, Thomas and Lavinia, taken probably sometime in the 1880s or 90s, when the family was still living in Bristol (they'd moved to Cardiff by 1901)
Browning-possThomas and Lavinia1 - 1890s

And there is also a rather sweet photo of my great-grandmother Edith as a child - she was born in 1896 and looks to be maybe 6 years old here, or thereabouts?

I'm now interested to see what else Kay turns up!
llywela: (flower-riverside)
2013-04-11 07:43 pm

and another one bites the dust :(

I just heard that my Aunty Ivy died - my great-aunt, that is. She was my granddad's oldest sister - 93 years old and riddled with dementia these last few years, bless her heart, but a real powerhouse in her day, the oldest daughter in a family of 10 children - clockwise from left that's Stanley, Kenneth, Cyril, Ivy, Robert, my granddad Arthur, Philip, Marjorie, Georgie and Marion with their parents Alf and Edith
1930s - Browning - Alf, Edith and children -Stanley, Kenneth, Cyril, Ivy, Robert, Arthur, Philip, Marion, George, Marjorie
Bobby was killed in the war and Philip also died young, but in 1993 eight of the ten siblings were still alive - this photo taken at a family gathering captures the last time they were all together in one place - here's my granddad Arthur with Stan, Ken, Ivy, Georgie and Cyril with Marion and Marjorie in front.
1993-01-30 - Browning siblings - Arthur, Stan, Ken, Ivy, George, Cyril, Marion, Marjorie - Marj and George Piddock's ruby wedding
Now Auntie Mai, the youngest sister, is the only one left. She'll be crushed - it's less than four months since we lost Marj.

Rest in peace, Ivy
1930s - Browning - Ivy Ivy Browning1 Ivy Browning2
1946-02-02  - Collins - Ivy Albert Collins - Ivy, Linda and Albert Ivy and Linda Collins
1989-12-20 - Collins - Albert Ivy Ivy
llywela: (greatwards-arthurclara)
2013-04-08 08:39 pm


There's a for sale sign in my garden today. Times, they are a-changing. And so I find myself reminiscing about the past, and for that reason I'm going to have a 'dear photograph' moment - but for a different house.
Continued behind the cut )
llywela: (greatwards-arthurclara)
2013-03-01 08:39 am

Postcards from the Past

So my parents have finally started sorting through all the cupboards full of stuff they left behind when they moved out of the house I'm currently living in, and one of the things they've unearthed is my Mum's old postcard collection that she's had ever since she was a girl. A lot of the cards she collected are just random cards from the 1950s-60s, blank, given to her by folk who knew she collected them – but there are also older cards, sent among the family and then kept, some dating back almost to the turn of the 20th century and a large stack dating from the First World War! Now, I always knew we had old family postcards, but they'd been tucked away in a biscuit tin in the attic for years, so it's only now I've really been able to look through them properly for the first time – which means of course, being me, that I've also scanned them and had a go at transcribing the text.

Continued behind the cut to spare your f-lists )

In Other News, Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, pawb
llywela: (family-1952Reg)
2013-01-21 12:33 pm

ancestry and heirlooms

Over the weekend, my parents started sorting through some of the stuff they'd left in cupboards in the house where I currently live, ready for when they put the house on the market. At the back of one of the cupboards, they found a box containing a bunch of commemorative coins - including a couple of very special ones that Mum had almost forgotten she had. I certainly never knew they existed.

This is the first one, front and back:
P1070252 P1070253
It's a commemorative medal dating to July 1907, struck to commemorate the opening of the Queen Alexandra Dock in Cardiff, which was celebrated by a royal visit from Queen Alexandra herself, accompanied by King Edward VII and Princess Victoria. It was originally presented to my Great-Great-Grandfather Samuel Tarr, one of the labourers who helped to build the dock.

Queen Alexandra Dock is still there today - it is the only working dock left in Cardiff, and sits close to the area now known as Porth Teigr, the home of the new BBC film studios and the Doctor Who Experience, which was built on top of the old dry dock, where Samuel's son, my Great-Grampy Billy, spent his whole working life.

With the QA Dock coin is another, larger commemorative plaque struck in bronze - this one a memorial plaque that was given to the families of servicemen killed in action in World War I, accompanied by a very bald, typewritten message from the Palace, acknowledging the sacrifice of a loved one. The name on the plaque is George Tarr - that was Samuel's youngest brother. He was just 19 years old when he was killed, somewhere in France in May 1918.
P1070255 P1070251

There aren't any photographs of Samuel, so here's a picture of his son, my Great-Grampy Billy, with his own son, my Granddad Reg (also pictured in this icon) - that's the line these objects have come down through to Mum, and then me.
Billy-Reg Tarr
llywela: (greatwards-arthurclara)
2012-12-16 08:30 am

family stories

Once upon a time there was a family, Alf and Edith B and their ten children: Arthur, Kenneth, Ivy, Cyril, Philip, Robert, Stanley, Marjorie, Marion and Georgie. My granddad Arthur was the oldest of those ten children.

As of last week, only the three girls were still with us: Ivy, Marjorie and Marion. Then on Friday night we lost Marjorie. She was 83.
1950s - Marjorie Browning - Howells Store, Christmas Grotto Margie

More musings on Marj and the family behind the cut )

In other news, my Auntie Lel is back in intensive care with some kind of bug or infection - it isn't clear yet exactly what's wrong, but she's had severe nausea and her oxygen sats dropped very low. So we're all just waiting for news again, there.
llywela: (flower-poppy)
2012-11-11 09:03 am


Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday have fallen on the same day this year. So today I am remembering my great-great-grandfather John Melean, who was wounded in the final weeks of the Great War in 1918 and died of those wounds in hospital in Southampton in February 1919, leaving behind a widow and 9 young children.

And I am remembering my great-great-grandfather Alf Browning, who survived the Great War and came home and fathered a long family - but, having been gassed, was never quite the same again, right up to the day he died.
1936 - Browning - Alf, Joan

And I am remembering my great-great-grandfather George Ward, who was fortunate enough to survive intact but never forgot his experiences.

I am also remembering my great-uncle Bobby Browning (son of Alf, mentioned above), who ran away to join the Merchant Navy in 1941 when he was just 17 years old, and was drowned just a few weeks later when his ship was torpedoed.
Robert Browning died  in 1941 age 17 1941-02 - Robert Browning - deatharticle

And his brothers, including my grandfather, who all served in the Forces in some capacity or other
1940s - Stanley, Philip, Cyril, Arthur Browning - 202 Railway St

And so many millions of other soldiers down the ages, who either lost their lives or survived scarred in some way, whether mentally or physically, because man simply cannot seem to live in peace with man.

Lest we forget.
llywela: (DW-11Tardis)
2012-08-10 04:18 pm


This is my great-grampy, Billy T - picture taken in 1943 when he was stationed in North Africa during the war, the only time in his life that he ever travelled abroad.

This is the shiny new Doctor Who Experience, which opened last month about 3 miles down the road from my house. Fast work - this time last year they hadn't even started building it yet.

So what do the two have in common? Answer and picspam behind the cut )