When we family history researcher’s begin on the family tree research we are usually told to start by gathering what we know about our relatives. Once we have done this we then need to go and talk to the older members of our family to see what they remember and to gather any stories that may be relevant to our task.
This week I’ve been visiting my parents, cousins of various degrees and also my sister and family. It was on the occasion of a big family celebration which involved a party in a hotel. On such gatherings as these I am always on the look out for more memories of the past, that my older relatives can provide me with.
What was different this time was that some of my younger cousins were asking me for my memories of our relations who have passed on! Nonetheless, I was also keeping an ear open for any juicy snippets of information from the older folk that I could pick up and investigate further.
One such story was a recollection by my dad of visiting his grandfather at Paignton Harbour some time in the 1930s. It has to be before 1935 as great-grandfather Sidney Thorne died in March of that year aged 70 but I have no precise date.
The story is that Sidney, a carpenter/joiner, was working on the building of a boat in Paignton harbour and my dad was told it was a lifeboat.
My research shows that the nearest RNLI lifeboat station was at Brixham, a nearby fishing port that served all of the Torbay area. This station had a lifeboat from 1922 – 1930 that was replaced by one called the George Shee, a Barnett Class boat built in Cowes in the Isle of Wight in 1930 and it remained there until 1958
So at first sight this story looks as if it may be wrong.
But what if the boat was being repaired or it was not a RNLI lifeboat? There certainly were some boat-builders operating in this Devon harbour and so I have an interesting new line to investigate.
What this story does do is bring a bit more colour to the life of my great-grandfather’s life which until I was told the story I was unaware of. Family history is all about telling the story of our ancestors moving past the dry old statistics of their birth, marriage and death dates.
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