stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a compass (101travel)
10 St Mary's Road - Under Construction

On the 4th, I returned from a somewhat frustrating morning's walk around Harrogate to continue my search for significant sites in family history in Leeds.

10 St Mary's Road was the house my great-grandparents lived in when they were first married. ('After the Wreck of the Empress,' says my father - they crossed the Channel on the first night of their honeymoon, in a paddle steamer which damaged both paddle boxes on the twin piers at the French end of the voyage. When I was a little girl, I used to create working models of this event with sardines and chunks of cucumber; despite this visual aid, I can remember very few of the details.) I'm not sure whether they were the first people to live in the house, but going by the picture above it seems likely.

Anyhow, it has a proper address, and therefore was very easy to find - though a long walk from Headingley station. No matter; while it was very grey, it didn't actually rain, and I got some decent pictures. Leaving aside the deterioration in my guide picture, it's very obviously the same house:

10 St Mary's Road - front

St Mary's Road - sign

10 St Mary's Road - side

10 St Mary's Road - gate

10 St Mary's Road - rear

I did start out towards Harehills, but it was looking greyer and greyer, and my feet hurt, and anyway, I thought that, with three sites visited and two photographed, I'd done more than enough to call this goal -

- complete
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a compass (101travel)
153 Sunbridge Road

My great-great-grandfather was in wool. Quite a lot of Yorkshire was, and did very nicely out of it, thank you. There's a reason for the dead sheep in Leeds' coat of arms (it's actually a fleece). While the family lived in Leeds, the works were in Bradford, and I made that my first stop.

To aid me in my search I had the address, the picture above, and the following helpful text message from my father:

Robt Jowitt&Sons, 153SunbridgeRd, Bradford BD1 2PA, on left leaving city, offices 1st, entrance to yard next, mill buildings behind, some lower. Foto coming :-)

So, really, it ought to be pretty easy so long as I could find Sunbridge Road. I decided to go to the National Media Museum first, and look for the works later. The museum closed in two hours. The works had closed years ago. Happily, I saw Sunbridge Road as I walked to the museum:

Sunbridge Road - sign

Emerging two hours later, I started at about number 29 and followed the road out of the city. Having once seen the old photo, the building was instantly recognisable, even though the trolleybuses are long gone.

153 Sunbridge Road

The name is still over the door...

153 Sunbridge Road - sign

Actually, that's a window, but you take my point. But the actual door is shuttered...

153 Sunbridge Road - door

... and the yard is empty...

153 Sunbridge Road - Side

... though the chimney still stands...

153 Sunbridge Road - Chimney

It felt very bleak, all abandoned like that. (The plan, I am reliably informed, was to sell the office off for conversion to luxury flats, but then the recession happened.) It didn't help that the sun was stubbornly lighting up the other side of the street. It felt, too, as if the part of me that is descended from these Quaker Yorkshire wool-merchants didn't recognise it as home. (But then, was I expecting it to?) As if it was all to do with some other Jowitts entirely.

I'm glad to have seen it, and I'm glad to have seen it now, while it's in good, recognisable shape. Whatever happens in the future, be it conversion to flats or descent into dereliction, will change it, and the name will come down. I'm glad to have seen it while it's still, in some little way, mine.

2 April 2011
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a compass (101travel)
Melcombe, Harrogate

I write this looking out over Leeds - well, looking out over parts of Wade Lane if I peer over my right shoulder. I have some complimentary hotel tea and biscuits, and my legs have just about recovered from all the walking I did yesterday.

I'd intended to save the write-up for when I got home and had uploaded all my photos, but since I have net access and illustration here, and the next few days are likely to be as busy as the last few, I thought I might as well update you on at least part of my Yorkshire expedition.

"Melcombe", St James' Park, Harrogate, was my great-grandparents' second married home (more on their first married home later). They moved there in 1906, continuing on a path of upward social mobility that took them out of Leeds and eventually down south and out of the scope of this journey. (My great-grandmother grew up in Dorset, and I don't think she ever really felt at home in Yorkshire.) But Harrogate is quite posh enough in itself.

I thought, naively, perhaps, that Melcombe would be pretty easy to find. After all, the works in Bradford had turned out to be right under my nose (another story, again). The problem was, the picture above, together with some very vague memories from my father, was all I had as a guide. On leaving the train in Harrogate and purchasing a street atlas in the bookshop, I discovered that there is no such street as St James' Park.

So I knew what the house ought to look like, and I knew that it had to be near The Stray, which is a park in the centre of Harrogate. So I was looking for a big, turn of the century, probably grey stone building near a park.

Harrogate consists almost entirely of big grey stone houses and parks.

After wandering around fruitlessly for about forty minutes, humming 'New every morning', phoning my father for what I hoped would be more detailed remembrances ('north east across the Stray, and you may have to cross the railway line'), and finding (but being unable to get into) the church they attended (remind me to tell you some stories of the Reverend Guy some time) I did what I should have done in the first place, and went to the library.

There I found, in the excellent Local History section, a 1908 copy of "Robinson's Harrogate Directory". This not only lists Reverend Douglas S. Guy as Rector of Christ Church, The Stray, but also includes "Robert Jowitt, Melcombe, Cavendish Avenue, St James' Park".

Cavendish Avenue, you will be pleased to hear, is in the A-Z.

Sadly, Melcombe is no longer on Cavendish Avenue. I walked the length of it twice, and everything was either too new or too big. Or both. And it was coming on to rain, so I went back to the station and had a baked potato for lunch.

And that, dear reader, is why I don't have a current photo of "Melcombe", and that's why you're getting this post today.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a compass (101travel)
17 March 2011

It took me three years to work up the nerve, but: on Thursday, when our musical director was handing out solo verses in the responsorial psalm, I asked for one. And I got it. And, on Sunday morning, I sang it. I actually have no recollection of what it sounded like, but various parties assure me that it was OK.

In the sanctuary I come to you
To behold your glory and might
To know your love is better than life itself
Therefore my lips will praise your name.


I rather suspect that the remaining three will be considerably less terrifying.

On Sunday I also gave my father a ring, and got some advice from him as to what I should go and look at when I'm in Leeds. (When am I in Leeds? This weekend. I'm going up on Saturday, have Sunday and Monday to do what I like with, and then have a course on Tuesday and Wednesday, going home on Wednesday night. I can do quite a lot in that time.)

It turns out that most of the interesting stuff (houses my ancestors lived in, and so forth) is in Leeds, not Bradford, though I should be able to go to Bradford and find what used to be the works pretty easily. I could also, if I have the time, go to Harrogate and see if I can find 'Melcombe', my great-grandparents' house.

I hadn't realised how terrifyingly wealthy my great-great-grandfather must have been. He seems to have owned a lot of the city at one time (Harehills, the park) and then given it to the city. This gives me a reasonable chance to get a proper look at some of it.

I may find a church to mystery-worship on Sunday morning. I'll certainly take a train over to York at Sunday lunchtime and meet up with a very dear friend. It will be a busy few days, but, in between panicking about how ill-prepared I am, I'm really looking forward to it.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
21 February 2011

Work seems to be going out of its way to make my 101 in 1001 easier. In just over a month I'll be on a training course in Leeds. It's a two-day course, on a Tuesday and a Wednesday - and they're happy for me to take the Monday as annual leave. So I'll be going up on the Saturday.

Location, location, location. Leeds is pretty close to Bradford, and Bradford is the Old Country. Back in the nineteenth century, when my ancestors were nouveau riche wool merchants, that's where they were based. I know a little about their history there, and I'll be phoning my father next week to find out more.

Quite apart from my own curiosity about my roots, there are quite a few awesome people concentrated in that particular bit of Yorkshire, and I hope to meet up with at least some of them. I have heard a rumour, for example, that the elusive Lord Hobbs is around there somewhere. Even if he manages to elude me, he's likely to recommend somewhere to go to Evensong. [personal profile] matgb and [personal profile] miss_s_b are in Brighouse.

Another person who lives in Leeds and whom I've never met is Ms Alex - who taught me everything I know about making a success of 101 in 1001. While I'm on the subject, I heartily reccomend that you go and have a look at her 101 blog. Come to think of it, most of what I know about Leeds I learned from her, too.

Next steps: do some research into family history; find a place to stay on Saturday and Sunday nights; work out something resembling an itinerary. Simple. Or perhaps not simple, but definitely fun.

I'm really looking forward to this trip. Could you tell?
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
What's this about? Why do I want to do it?

I know I'm a snotty southerner, but I've got Yorkshire blood in me somewhere. Back in the nineteenth century, my family were wool merchants in Bradford. I'd like to learn more about that, and have a wander around.


How will I know I've done this?

I'll have spent at least a day in Bradford/Leeds. I'll have found at least one site with a family association, and I'll be able to explain my connection.


I'll record this in a post in this journal.

August 2013

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