Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Gallery - Old

I love old photos. A while back I made a montage of the women in my family. Six generations of women starting with my Great Grandmother, my Nan, my Mum, Me, my Daughter and my Granddaughter.



My Great Grandparents (on my Mum's side) were from East London. She was from a well to do family and she worked for members of the Royal family as a nanny. He was a cheeky cockney working as Grenadier Guard (you know the ones who guard the palace with the big black furry hats). From opposite sides of the track they fell in love and married against her Mothers wishes.

During the 2nd world war my Great Grandmother was killed during the Blitz, protecting her children in an air raid shelter. She was only 56 years old. My Nan (age 13) and her older Sisters were all rescued, but along with their Mum they lost all their neighbours and Friends. The blitz haunted my Nan for the rest of her life.

These old photos are so precious and they make it possible for me and my children to feel some kind of connection to the family who walked before us. The family we never met.



This next photo is my ultimate favourite 'old' photo. I even have it as a large canvas on my wall. It is my Grandad (Mums Dad) and he was the greatest person in the whole world, ever. Grandad was a big, rosy cheeked Irish greengrocer who lived for his family, especially his tribe of Grandchildren. This photo was taken in one of his East End shops and as I am the eldest I'm lucky enough to remember it well.

I loved being at the shop, it was such a wonderful place to be. The smell of the fresh fruit & veg, the dusty potatoes, the immaculate rows of tinned beans, sardines and sweetcorn. Nan polishing apples, making tea, weighing out veg while Grandad chatted & laughed with his many loyal customers, (over) filling brown paper bags of veg. The memories of Granddad's shop are so bright and vivid and this old photo transports me back in time.


Grandad was raised in a big old house (below) on a farm in Southern Ireland. Being the eldest Son, Grandad was all set to inherit the farm from his father. However, he fell in love with my Londoner Nan and was disinherited. Why? Because she was Catholic and he protestant. Back then mixing the two religions was almost unheard of.

The house is still very much in the family and my Great Uncle raised his own family there. Grandad was very fond of his time on the farm and growing up in this house. He would tell me stories of his time there and how much he loved the old place. Its fascinating to look at this house and imagine my Great Grandparents living & working there and Granddad as a child  running around its big old rooms. My favourite old story that he would often tell me, still with his very strong Irish accent, is how he would catch salmon from the river with his bare hands. I would sit in awe of him, my Grandad was the original Bear Grylls and I adored him.




19 comments:

  1. Love the photos and the history of your family, also love the new-look blog. x x

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  2. I always enjoy your posts about your family and its past Mama. Your daughter is the spitting image of you!
    Your great grandparents sound like such a wonderful pair of people and I love your great grandmothers hair style. Such a shame she died like that so young, leaving such young children.
    Your grandad in his shop looks a right character and very chipper!
    I enjoyed reading this and seeing your photos xx

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  3. Lovely photos to treasure. I've been saying this all over the place today, but I can't urge you strongly enough to sit any surviving wonderful elders down and extract their stories from them. They hold in their heads such an important part of your family history, and your legacy! I deeply regret not asking the questions about the lives of my mum and grandparents before I lost them. It's the very reason I created SaveEveryStep.com. Wonderful family memories you have right there!

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  4. what wonderful photographs. I love the one in the old shop.

    Herding Cats

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  5. Fantastic post. Such gorgeous photographs, and a really fascinating family history! :) xx

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  6. Fantastic pictures and I enjoyed hearing about your family :)

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  7. This was a brilliant post - writing and photos; so beautifully written and those pictures are fantastic. What a story and legacy. I adored my grand dad too - he really was a gentle man!

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  8. What a lovely post - especially the generations of women pictured. My husband is doing our family tree at the minute and we're collecting old pictures of family members. It's fascinating to learn about where we came from - and something good to pass on to your own children.

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  9. Wow, what a marvellous trip down memory lane, I feel like you have welcomed us into your family and what a huge piece of english history they have to tell too. Wonderful post with just lovely photos.

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  10. Love the photos and your family history story. Also love the new blog look x

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  11. What amazing photos and amazing stories behind them. Thanks for sharing them and thanks for your comment on my blog.

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  12. Both my grandfathers were amazing, and I loved them dearly! My Grandpa (maternal) was an aeronautical engineer, was on the Spitfire and Concorde design teams, and could make anything! My Grandad Alf (paternal) a Merchant Seaman, was a very handsome, sartorially elegant and charming man. Both were fantastic gardeners, you'd have had lots in common with them both; Grandpa could grow anything and everything from asparagus to watercress, and Grandad had the knack with flowers, especially roses and fuchsias. Love the gallery of the girls, such strong genes!

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  13. What a fantastic record and clear memories you have! Makes me want to dig around more about my own family.

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  14. Wow gorgeous. Love your line of pics across the top - good looking genes you've got there!

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  15. What lovely photos - your family is blessed with looks. What I really love is the story - a unique and special slice of history!

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  16. Love old photos, wish I had more of my family x

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  17. What fantastic pictures and with such interesting history.

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