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Blog: A Family History Adventure

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I spent most of Saturday in SHEFFIELD, not for ROCK nor even for BOOKS this time, but rather for FAMILY HISTORY.

For LO! it was my mum's 70th birthday and so a select group of family had gathered to go and look at the place where my Grandad was born. The idea to do this had come about because for years my mother has "occasionally" mentioned that she'd like to know where he was actually born - we know he came from Sheffield, and that the family moved to Donington a few years later, but that was about it.

THUS I got my Detective's Raincoat on and set about some SECRET interweb research. Luckily for me my Grandad was born on Christmas Day, so it was PEASY to track him down in the records office and I was able to get a copy of his birth certificate, which showed where he was born and also where his father lived a couple of months later. These were two different addresses, so we assume either they moved, or my Great Grandmother went to stay somewhere else for the birth. I looked up BOTH places on Google Streetview and found that there was NOTHING there anymore! Both addresses were in the SLUMS which were knocked down long long ago, but it looks as if Sheffield has still not got around to putting anything else there yet. There's a couple of new flats going up nearby, but otherwise it is abandoned factories and car parks. My ROOTS are basically an indie band video from the 1980s!

The original plan was just for me and my little brother to take The Parents to have a look, but this developed to included several COUSINS. Mr CM Smith (PARENT) had said a few weeks ago "They can all enjoy your tour!" which was a little bit ALARMING to me because, as mentioned above, the "tour" was basically looking at two car parks. HOWEVER, The Markings Of My Bays came to my rescue by doing some of her own research, and discovering a chap called BIG RON who did historical walks, so she got him BOOKED for the afternoon and all was set.

Things started well with me and the aforesaid baby brother, The Artist Thomas Smith, travelling up on the train, but then quickly went wonky when we received urgent messages to call my Mum's phone - Chris does not have a mobile phone or email address since he retired because, he claims, he "doesn't need one". This has made it SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT to conduct SECRET DISCUSSIONS about our arrangements, and SUFFICE TO SAY there have been decisions made since the weekend about what he's getting for Christmas!

It turned out that there had been a mix-up with the hotel Chris had booked us all into, and that we were all staying in the OTHER Premier Inn at the other side of the city from the one we'd thought. There then followed half an hour of HECTIC calls and arrangements, notably involving my AUNTIE who hadn't been able to come but was in PRIME POSITION to be communications hub, contacting various travelling cousins. It was a BIT OF A PANIC!

After that though all was BLOODY GRATE. We strode out to meet Big Ron who took us on a short walk with a LOT of talk. Crikey o'Reilly but he could talk! We learnt MUCH about the history of Sheffield and also EVERYTHING else, and he provided a FAB pack of pictures, maps and newspaper cuttings for Mum to read later. I tell you what, if you ever need somebody to explain some Sheffield history to you I would DEFINITELY recommend Ron!

It was VERY chilly so after about an hour we retired to a nearby pub, which rather wonderfully happened to be The Grapes. where The Validators played SEVERAL shows some years ago. It is a LOVELY pub, and the evening gently moved into Generalised CHit Chat which would continue back at The Premier Inn (which did us a LOVELY tea) and afterwards. It was BRILL!

ALAS I fear there must have been something a bit dodgy in the Yorkshire air that night, as the next morning on the train back both myself AND my sibling felt DECIDEDLY unwell. I'm sure I felt AMAZING at approx 11:30pm when I refused another whisky and loudly announced I had to go to bed, so that must be the only explanation!

posted 5/12/2017 by MJ Hibbett

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