A House Through Time returned this week to TV



This week it was so good to see the return to BBC TV of the popular house history programme A House Through Time for its third series.

I remember walking that street (Guinea Street) a few years back while I was attending a training session for the company I once worked for at the nearby Hotel Mercure Bristol Holland House.  From watching the first programme in the series it looks like it will be compulsive viewing for me over the next few weeks as David Olusoga takes us through the various eras and the occupants that made it their home.

On a slight tangent… If you are interested in house history then one of the speakers at the forthcoming online Family History Show on June 20th is Gill Blanchard the House Historian and Genealogist whose talk is on Tracing Your House History. Well worth getting a ticket for if you are interested in the subject here.

A House Through Time Series 3

Here, however, is the announcement about the BBC TV programme that aired the first episode this week and can still be seen in catch up in the UK on the iPlayer…

Twenty Twenty’s award-winning history format A House Through Time is returning to BBC Two for a third series in 2020, this time in Bristol.

Using painstaking detective work – genealogical records, contemporary documents, and the help of expert witnesses – David Olusoga will trace the lives of the occupants of a single house, getting to know individual characters and following their stories wherever they lead.

The search for a new house in Bristol has already begun, and with the city’s rich maritime history, connections to the slave trade and industrial and technological heritage, the team expect to find no shortage of drama for series 3.

Commissioning Editor, Simon Young, says: “This series has swiftly become a treasured part of the schedule on BBC Two. It’s a vitally important returning series for us, perfectly reflecting our ambition for history programmes that connect the bigger sweeps of our nation’s story to individual lives lived all over the country. Having visited houses in Liverpool and Newcastle in the first two series, I’m thrilled that David will delve into Bristol’s rich history next.”

Director of Programmes and Executive Producer, Maxine Watson, says: “The series is hugely popular with viewers and shows just how much we want to know what happened to people just like us in the past. It’s truly a series about and for the people and we are absolutely delighted to be coming back with a new series next year.”

A House Through Time is a 4×60’ part series by Twenty Twenty (part of Warner Bros. International TV Production) for BBC Two. The series has been commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Simon Young.

It was created by Twenty Twenty Managing Director Emma Willis, the Executive Producer is Maxine Watson and the Series Producer is Mary Crisp.


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A House Through Time


62 Falkner Street. Image by Rodhullandemu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This week on BBC television, here in Britain, there has been the first episode in a fascinating series following the history of the occupiers of one particular house in Liverpool.

A House Through Time is a 2018 four-part BBC documentary about the history of a house at 62 Falkner Street, Edge Hill, Liverpool, England, presented by David Olusoga 

Using some of the tools that are familiar to family historians Olusoga is able to discover the story of the first three occupants of the house built on green fields in around 1840.

Watching him use some of my favourite resources – historic newspapers, street and trade directories from the time and the staple records of  the census collections – proved to be a case study in doing family history research. It was also good to see contributions from the TV genealogist Laura Berry, whom I once interviewed for my YouTube Channel and who, apart form working on Who Do You Think You Are? series, is also a house historian.


The characters that this episode uncovered were fascinating subjects. From the young customs clerk, living beyond his means with the help of a wealthy father, to the striving servant who managed to climb into middle-class and leave his wife a substantial sum on hisdeath. Perhaps the most interesting, however, was the Cotton Dealer whose life at the house gave way to a spell in debtors prison, before he then acquired a wife and two step-daughters – only to abandon them to the workhouse as he set forth for a new life in the United States.

This former occupier of the house, David Olusoga was able to deduce from the records, was an unsympathetic character. Having lived as a Cotton Dealer in Liverpool and making a living from cotton, picked by slaves, he then became a Coton Dealer again, in America, before joining as a mercenary fighting for the Union Army against the Confederates. Olusoga was seen to be very surprised by this turn of events as he had assumed that a cotton dealer would have had more sympathy with the Southern States and their ownership of slaves.

This TV series promises to be compulsive viewing and I am already looking forward to the next episode. I can’t wait to see how it will use more of the records, that we also work with when looking for our own family stories, to deduce the life tales of the next set of owners of the house in Liverpool.


The most recent episode is available for a short time to viewers in the U.K. here:




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