Canal Art Course at Black Country Living Museum

I was sent a press release about an event you might be interested in if you live in the Black Country.

•    British folk art captures boating life
•    Course teaches age-old canal art tradition

Black Country Living Museum’s Canal Art for Beginners Course looks set to add colour on Saturday 16 November, 2013.  The culture and traditions of the boatman will be making waves as the history of canal art is explored and the traditional style of art and the artist’s technique is emulated.

Canal Art, the traditional means of decorating a canal boat, is the popular name for the traditional paintwork of the narrow boats.  Designs include bunches of roses and medieval castles and would have brightened up everything from a water can, to the washbasin and even the horse’s feed tin. 

Julie Tonkin, a professional narrow boat decorator, canal boat owner and one of the UK’s leading canal artists has been teaching roses and castles painting for many years and has a keen interest in canal culture and customs. She believes that passing the craft on to the next generation is the only way to ensure the tradition survives.

Julie Tonkin pictured with some canal art ‘she prepared earlier’.

Julie Tonkin pictured with some canal art ‘she prepared earlier’.

Julie Tonkin says: “I took up canal art 40 years ago as a hobby, painting narrow boats and traditional items of canal ware. The boatmen wanted their boats to look as nice as their cottages so they painted pictures to depict ‘the boatman’s paradise’. Castle pictures always include a castle, mountains, trees, land, a bridge and a yacht. The roses we paint are only red, white and yellow because the people in the boat yards weren’t accomplished artists. Canal art is very naïve and easy to do for that reason.”

Mel Weatherley, Head of Learning said “Life was very cramped inside the tiny canal boat cabins and the boatmen cheered up the interiors for their wives, making them as homely as possible, without taking up extra precious space, with displays of canal art or lace trim along shelves.”

There is no reason why canal art cannot also brighten up the modern home today – albeit on dry land. 

Courses cost £45 per person and are pre-book only. Please contact the Museum’s Booking Office on 0121 520 8054 or book online.

This is how the Museum describes itself:
Established in 1978, Black Country Living Museum is one of the UK’s leading open-air museums.  Designated by Arts Council England for the quality and national significance of its collections, it is a remarkable place to explore, enjoy and spend time.  Set in 26 acres with over 150 historic buildings and features, and attracting c250,000 visitors each year and almost 8m people since it first opened, it offers a glimpse into 200 years of history like no other.  The Museum (a registered educational charity) records and exemplifies the contribution and impact of the Black Country region since the 18th century to the development of the modern industrialized world.  Black Country folk changed the world, and the Museum tells the story of a very special time and place in history and some of the most hard-working, ingenious and influential people you could imagine.  It offers a visitor experience that few others can match. For more details go to their website.

I have a personal interest in the Museum because one of the cottages there, known as The Tilted Cottage, used to be inhabited by my 3x great grandparents, Benjamin (b.1805) and Mary (nee Timmins, also b. 1805) MEREDITH.  They lived there before the 1871 census until their deaths in 1884 and 1895 respectively and at the 1901 census their daughter Elizabeth lived there with her husband Joseph BRADLEY.  Benjamin was a bricklayer so he may even have built it!

Foster will transcripts

Recently I went to the National Archives in Kew and looked up various wills on the microfilms owned by the Family History Center in Exhibition Road, which is based in Kew while their building is being renovated.

One of the branches of my family tree are Fosters from Darlaston in Staffordshire.  Darlaston seems to have been a bit of a hub for the Foster surname especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries so last year I tried to group the various families together and put a tree on Ancestry.

As part of my efforts I looked up several of the Foster wills and here are some of the details of the ones I found.  If you are interested in having a copy of the transcript of any of these, let me know and I will send it to you.

Humphrey Foster, nailer of Darlaston – will made 1737, probate 1739; Mentions wife Eliz., daughter Martha and son Jose. (presumably Joseph)

witnesses George Plant, George Wilks, Thomas Forshaw?

 

Aaron Foster, chasse forger of Darlaston  – will made 1763, probate 1764; mentions wife Anne, son John

sons in law Walter and Thomas Lunn, daughters in law (?) Elizabeth widow of William Ford, Anne wife of John Platt, Mary wife of James Taylor

Other people mentioned – Joseph Dangerfield, Matthias Bayley

witnesses Squire Foster, Richard Spink and Samuel Spink

 

John Foster, farmer of Darlaston – will made 1811, probate 1822.  Mentions nieces Mary and Nancy Foster, daughters of brother Josiah Foster; sister Sarah, nephew Moses Horton, niece Mary Horton (children of sister Sarah).  By the time probate was granted, his niece Mary was Mary Adams, wife of Charles Adams, gentleman.

witnesses : John Hughes Glazier Darlaston, John Sansom Shoemaker Darlaston

 

Nancy Foster, spinster, Darlaston, will made 1819, probate 1823.  This is the Nancy Foster mentioned in the above will made by John Foster as she mentions his legacy in a codicil.  Mentions friends Edward Crowther and Stephen Falkinor or Halkinor Crowther, both of Wednesbury, Gentlemen, her sister Mary wife of Charles Adams (see above),

witnesses: Jas Hunt Surry Street Strand, E.M. Hunt Clerk to Messrs Crowther Sols Wednesbury, ? Horton of Darlaston Shoemaker

 

Job Foster, gunlock forger of Darlaston – will made 1820, probate 1822; mentions wife Eleanor, sons Stephen, Job, Moses, daughter Hannah, son in law Thomas Butler

witnesses Stephen Foster, Joseph Woodward, D Slater

If anyone is researching any Foster families from Darlaston do let me know – I would love to swap information!

Ephraim Hopkins

It has been a while since I updated this blog but I suppose that the ancestors aren’t going anywhere so I might as well take my time documenting them!

Since I wrote my first blog post about William Hopkins I think I have discovered what happened to his brother Ephraim. I searched in the Find My Past Worldwide Army Index for 1861 and found an Ephraim Hopkins who was a private in the 94th foot regiment stationed at Mean Meer, East Indies. I couldn’t find any more about him including any army records so I went to the National Archives in Kew and looked up the Muster Rolls for the regiment. I discovered that he had joined up in the late 1850s. He seems to have embarked for India almost immediately and he seems to have spent about 5 or 6 years there until, sadly, the last entry I found was: 9 April 1865 Died at Chundegurh en route to Kussowlie. Disease ‘bronchitis chi?’ or sri. (or chr for chronic?)

I ran out of time while I was trying to trace him forwards in the records to see if there was confirmation that he joined up in Stoke on Trent so I don’t have definite proof that it was our Ephraim Hopkins. However, the only other Ephraim I can find either in birth registrations or in the censuses of the right age lived in Worthing and that one died in 1858. But next time I am at TNA I will look up the relevant muster rolls to see if I can find him immediately he enlisted, and also try and find his enlistment papers but probably the fact that he died in India explains why I couldn’t find his army records on FMP, as they are records of soldiers who were discharged to pension. But at least it probably ties up another loose end. I wonder how long it took for William to discover his fate?

UPDATE: on my next visit to Kew I looked up the previous muster rolls for the regiment but could not see any entries for him under new recruits, so I don’t know exactly where he joined up or any more information – does anyone have any idea where I can go from here or whether there are likely to be any more records of him in any archives?

Walsall 100

Since I visited Walsall Local History Centre a few months ago to try and sort out all my Taylors and Fosters (and subsequently Birds) in Walsall and Darlaston, I have been following Walsall Council’s Twitter feed.   A lot of their tweets aren’t really relevant, although they had an interesting 24 hours which they called #Walsall24 (the hashtag on Twitter denotes a collection of tweets which people have tagged with the same ‘title’ so you can follow all of a conversation at once on one topic).  In this, the Council tweeted over a 24 hour period telling us what was happening right there and then in the Council (it was over the winter so I can’t now remember what it was, but do remember I found it an interesting insight into the various activities of the local Council over one particular time period.

Over the next week they, in partnership with various other Walsall bodies like the Local History Centre and the Police, are tweeting under the hashtag #Walsall100 .  This is what they describe it as (from their webpage):

A pioneering online experiment is set to be staged to help lift the lid on the life of Walsall town centre.

Businesses are set join forces with Walsall Council, Walsall Police and other partners as part of the week long initiative.

The campaign, known as Walsall Town Centre 100, will help tell the story of a thriving and changing town centre.

The event will be launched on Tuesday 17 May 2011 and run until Monday 23 May 2011.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other internet tools will be used.

Councillor Mike Bird, Walsall Council Leader, said: “Walsall is a historic town centre that is a great place to shop, work, live and do business.

“One of it’s names is the town of 100 trades and this is where Walsall 100 comes from. 

It sounds interesting:  one of my ancestors, Elizabeth Taylor, was running a pub in Green Lane called the Bull’s Head in the 1861 census and several members of her family were miners, and another branch of the family, the Lunns, were locksmiths and hinge makers there.  So hopefully by following this Twitter feed I will find out more about the history of the town.

I do think that this is a great imaginative use of a council’s Twitter feed and wish more councils would use Twitter.

A few Hopkins photos

After he read my blog posts about William and Hannah Hopkins, my brother Dave kindly sent me a few photos that I didn’t know existed.

This one is my great grandmother Minnie Hopkins in the doorway of one of the greengrocers’ shops.  Dave said it was the Market Street, Fenton shop, but I think it might be the one in Church Street (now Christchurch Street) because my mother told me she remembered the arcades outside it, and if you look carefully you can see them reflected in the shop windows, along with some of the buildings opposite.

Minnie Hopkins outside Fenton greengrocers shop

The following photo is one of the shops in London Road, Stoke, and I think it must be the one at 7 London Road because it says C Hopkins on the window, which would be William and Hannah’s son Charles who was at 7 London Road in the 1901 census.  

greengrocers in London Road, Stoke owned by Hopkins family

It is really nice to see photos of the shops – this is the sort of thing which brings family history to life!