Getting Back On Track

A couple of posts back I mentioned that I had a couple of works in the pipes, or rather stuck in the pipes, clogging everything up and starting to fester. Well, I grabbed the mental draining rods and battered away at the pipes and one particularly smelly lump of imagination landed on the floor with a splat and I’ve decided to wash it off, give it a good polish and finish it off. I’m about two thirds of the way through it and am going to let it stew in my head for a while before cracking on.

In the meanwhile I’ve decided what I’m going to do for my next Writers of The Future entry and will get on with that while the novel above ferments and bubbles in the back of my head. I’ve already written over 4k words.

All this will of course mean coming up with a routine. I find I work better in everything I do with some simple structuring to the day. At the moment (thanks to this horrible virus that’s trying to do us all in) I’m furloughed from work but continue to get up at the same time and attempt to do similar things, just as my son continues to follow his school timetable as best as possible. Only now, instead of working, I can concentrate on writing, though I’ll be taking time for the gardening too (those vegetables don’t grow themselves).

I plan to write something every day and get myself back into the swing of things. One day a week I’ll put my efforts into writing up my genealogy findings. I’ll also try to blog more (you have been warned).

Self Publishing

Why self publish? That’s the thing you need to be asking yourself. Is it because you want full control over the publishing of your work? Do you want to make a fortune but not have to share? Maybe you’ve just had one form rejection email too many and you just want to see your work in print?

Well, and this is all just my experience, self publishing is not the easy route the likes of Smashwords and Amazon will lead you to believe. Simple it may be, so simple that just about anyone can do it, and therein lies the main problem with it. There is so much self published work out there that it’s hard to be seen, never mind stand out. You can be the best thing since Tolkein and make King and Feist look like a pair of would-be chancers. Unfortunately your highly polished masterpiece, just a few seconds after submitting to whatever platform you decided to go with, will be buried under a pile of slush that quickly, within minutes, will be a mountain. Every day a mountain of slush hits the internet and vanity publishing sites and the few tiny specks of brilliance it contains is locke away in the dark and eventually, once people get sick of downloading and deleting rubbish, permanently marred by it.

The only way for your work to stand out in such circumstances is to be highly active on social media, promote your work to death even as you are writing it, develop a following, garner rave reviews and then, maybe, you will sell some self published books.

Personally I went into self publishing as a last resort. I have quite a list of self published books (link at the top, go on have a look, buy some), many of which did the rounds of being sent to umpteen agents, all of which were rejected relentlessly. Most have got good reviews, a couple really good reviews, but none of them have sold well. I think this is because I don’t have a social media following. I don’t Tweet, I don’t do Facebook or Instagram. In fact I’m pretty much a social-mediaphobe, which is a bit odd, especially taking into account the fact that I’m a software developer by profession.

For someone like me, billy-no-online-mates, self publishing has not really worked, and the books I have self published will never get a look in at being published for real, they’re damaged goods now, already sullied and spoiled.

The next piece I finish will be submitted ruthlessly, and I will not give in this time. Mostly because I want to see my work in print and partly because I know, and again this is just me, that there is no real value in self publishing and it will make sure that the work will never see the light of day for real.

For you though the self publishing world might be different. It’s certainly easy enough to do, it’s just not so easy to make it work.

Back Again.

It’s been a while, I know, but I’m back again. I vanished for a while after the WW1 Project finished. I found myself wandering, inside my head anyway (anyone who knows me will know why this happens now and then), stuck on the genealogy and thoroughly blocked in the writing department. On the gardening side, well, I live in England and it’s rained almost solid for close to half a year now, so there’s not been much tell.

And, well, now this horrible Covid 19 thing has come along to muck things up, I find I have an awful lot of time on my hands. Though not for long, I hope.

Anyway, while I’m furloughed, I’ve caught up with the gardening, parked the genealogy (I really have hit so many walls that I think I’ve done as much as I can), and decided to try to get the writing back on track. I’m going to try to get two things going at once, perhaps three. I have two ongoing novels, both of which have stalled, and a plot and a lot of world building in progress. I’ll need to decide which one to put the effort into, and I’ll do that while I’m trying to put together an entry for Writers of The Future.

Along with that I intend to write up what I found in my genealogical exploits. I actually made a start on that a while ago but, like a lot of other things, it’s been sat bubbling away on the back burner.

So, in the coming days, expect some posts about gardening, writing and perhaps the odd, stir-crazy rant along with whatever practical notions I come up with whilst cooped up like one of my own chickens (at least they get to run around outside all day).

Nice to be back.

The Lost Streets of Beverley

The Lost Streets of Beverley, a book by David Sherman, has been a great help in a lot of my research. I got my copy from Ebay and I’m not really sure where else it might be available, but it basically lists and describes all of the streets and yards that have vanished over the years in Beverley.

It is a real help when looking at census returns as many of the terraces given as addresses are now actually incorporated into modern day streets and a lot of the yards, where our ancestors were packed in like sardines, have simply vanished. This book really helps put these people on the map, quite literally, and I can now walk down the street armed with the knowledge of what was there before as well as what I can see now.

Douglas Arthur Baxter Clark

You’d think with a name like Douglas Arthur Baxter Clark, this life would be easy to research, but no. Post-war there was no sign of him, though I did find a death index for Bridlington in 1974. I think it was probably him but couldn’t verify it one way or the other. Anyway, this is what I could find and verify.

Douglas Arthur Baxter Clark

Douglas Arthur Baxter Clark was born on the 20th of May 1897 in Beverley, the eighth child of Thomas and Sarah (nee Baxter) Clark. Thomas was a boot and shoe maker originally from Norfolk and married Sarah Baxter of Beverley in 1877. The family lived first in Well Lane before moving to Slee Lane (now known as Sloe Lane), Victoria Terrace, Cartwright Lane and then, in 1911, to Barton House, 28 New Walk, which Sarah ran as a boarding house.

In 1914 Douglas was one of the several members of the Beverley branch of the Church Lad’s Brigade to enlist, along with their commanding officer Neville Hobson, in the East Yorkshire Regiment on the 21st of August 1914. For some reason though Douglas ended up as Private 241759 in the 2/5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. At the time the family was living at 55 Wilbert Lane and Douglas was employed as a furnace boy on the railways. In 1918, after suffering from trench fever, shattered nerves and discharging ears, he was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry as private 376892, having served in France.

Douglas was discharged on the 21st of February 1919 and was awarded the Victory and British War medals.

Just a Quick Catch Up

I’ve been a little busy again lately, what with all the rain recently, the allotment has needed quite a bit of attention, but I’ve still been researching and hitting the library shelves. I’ve also been doing a bit of writing.

I’ll have something to post on the research front shortly, having just finished another life for the Treasure House WW1 Lives project, but for now a small addendum to my last post. I finally got those death certificates from the General Register Office and can say that my great grandfather died of stomach cancer and its attendant complications and that my great grandmother died of tuberculosis, which her second husband, and great grandfather’s brother, also died of, having caught it during WW1. And that pretty much wraps that particular branch of the tree up, until I discover something else anyway.

The writing I’ve been involving myself in is my great love, fantasy fiction, though I don’t do the grand Tolkienesque stuff, mine is less serious. If you only read this blog for the genealogy and historical research then you might not be interested (though I enjoy both), but you can get a taste for it by taking a look at Tales From Under The Bridge or The Long Way Home, two of my many self published books, a collection of short stories and a novel, respectively. The link goes to a Smashwords shop, but there is no obligation to buy, you can read a lengthy sample for free. You can see a full list of my books by following the link in the main menu above.

I am currently working on a novel which involves the world of the trolls, fairies, goblins and other odd creatures that dwell within many of my books.

TFUTB_Thumb TheLongWayHome_Thumb

Breaking Down Walls/A Confusing Mess

We all get to that point in our family history where we hit a wall. The documents aren’t there and the ideas just dry up. I’ve had this on a few branches lately. One branch (whose surname will not be mentioned as it’s not really that far back in time and quite a few of that branch are still alive), that of my maternal great grandmother, Alice, in Bridlington, was a particular mess. She married twice and, after the death of her second husband, Robert, had a relationship with his brother Arthur, my great grandfather. My grandmother was brought up in care, the workhouse to be blunt, after her father Arthur died, but I had no idea why, on her marriage certificate it had the Base Hospital in Beverley as her address. I assumed, perhaps naively, that she might have been a nurse. Then I discovered that the Base Hospital was also the workhouse. She didn’t work there, she’d been an inmate. I had no idea about my great grandparents’ deaths either as there were no monumental inscriptions, no burial records and for some reason I couldn’t find the death indexes either.

Well, over the past year or so, since I last looked at them, something must have been changed or updated online as yesterday I found the indexes. So I ordered the certificates and then, in the library I discovered the cemetery registrations for them all, great grandparents and two of their children, who I had no idea existed, and her second husband Robert, confusingly my second great uncle.

I ended up with a tale that was quite sad really. Alice’s first husband, William, who she had a daughter with, died in 1919 of Spanish flu. She married again in 1921 to Robert, but he was a WW1 veteran invalided out with gun shot wounds and the TB that finally killed him in 1924. They too had a child. In 1926 she had another child called Arthur R. who died at the age of five weeks and is buried with her and Robert, only the father of this child was my great grandfather Arthur, her husband’s brother. She then went on to have two daughters with Arthur, my grandmother being one of them.

Alice died in December 1929 and was buried just a week after an unnamed child whose sex was not even recorded, aged just 6 hours old, of the same address (and surname obviously) as Alice. It could only be Arthur’s child. I don’t know the cause of Alice’s death yet, but I can hazard a guess that it was something to do with childbirth.

After Alice’s death, Arthur vanished for records, only to turn up in Goole in 1939, working on the railways. The surviving kids were looked after for a while by one of their elder half-siblings (I know this from a conversation with a relative on Ancestry), then subsequently handed over to the parish and put in the workhouse orphanage. No wonder my grandmother left her father’s name off her marriage certificate. Though it could be argued that he might have been devastated at the loss of my great grandmother and his child or that he was simply not able to look after the children himself and that, after all, they might well have been better off in care. I’ll never know, but the fact that that unnamed child, also Arthur’s, was buried alone and without even a service, doesn’t speak well of him really.

In any case, he died in 1944, back in Bridlington again and was buried in the same church yard as Alice and Robert and his own son Arthur R, but not in the same grave that they all shared.

I’ve yet to update my Ancestry tree with all this (which I do find to be a chore at times), but I wonder how many of those living relatives knew about Arthur R and his unnamed and pretty much forgotten sibling.

Neville Hobson M.C. J.P.

This life has taken me an age to research and write up, and computer failure didn’t help matters. Neville Hobson was one of the biggest names in Beverley at one time and a quick search in Find My Past’s newspapers returned 1500 results. Normally most wouldn’t be relevant, but about 90% of these were actually him. I was able to dismiss many of them as being just a mention of his name, such as council meetings, legal adverts etc, but I still downloaded more than sixty that were relevant to him as a person.

It is the first time I’ve had to write a timeline just for the newspaper snippets I’ve found, then there were all the other usual documents. Anyway, this is, at last, the story of Neville Hobson:

The name of Neville Hobson is well recognised in Beverley. His association with our town was so close that it earned him the name of “Mr. Beverley”.

Neville Hobson was born on the 13th of April 1886, the third child of Charles William and Louisa Elizabeth (nee Brigham) Hobson. Charles William was a solicitor and the son of Frederick Hobson, a gentleman of Beverley. Louisa was the daughter of William Brigham, a Beverley merchant. The couple had seven children altogether, Dora and Osric, Eva, Fred, Phyllis, Victor and Neville himself. Dora’s twin brother Osric died aged just five weeks.

Neville started his life as a social figure in the town at an early age, the age of two to be precise, when he and his siblings and cousins attended the 1898 Beverley Assembly Rooms children’s night in fancy dress. All six of the Hobson children were there and, along with their cousins, were dressed as a clown, Jack Tar, autumn, a fairy, battledore and shuttlecock, Little Red Riding Hood and Bo Peep. Neville was attired as an Irishman.

In 1900, Neville had his first taste of the magistrates court. He was only fourteen years old when a man of twenty, Aaron Revell, assaulted him on the Westwood, in order to steal his football. Revell was fined 10s for conduct the magistrate condemned as “unworthy of a British lad”.

Neville was educated at Beverley Grammar School and later at Bridlington Grammar School. In 1904 he passed the Intermediate exam of the Incorporated Law Society whilst articled to Dr. Aske of Woodhouse, Aske and Ferens of Hull.

In 1908 he was invited to head a branch of the Church Lad’s Brigade (C.L.B) in Beverley. He was still actively involved with the C.L.B right up until his death and received much praise and recognition, with the Brigade regularly reported on in the local press.

Only one incident has marred his record with the C.L.B, the accidental shooting of a member in 1913. The Brigade was on a route march and passing through Flemingate when a carbine, carried by one of the lads, accidentally discharged and shot another member in the leg. It was not discovered how or why the rifle had been loaded with a single “dum-dum” bullet, even after an investigation by Neville Hobson and Mr. Moore, the chief constable.

Despite this one terrible accident it is perhaps this one single organisation that he is most well remembered for, and many old members kept in touch with him their whole lives, though Neville Hobson had very many more feathers in his cap.

He was an avid and varied sportsman. He was the captain of Beverley Town Football Club and a lawn tennis and table tennis champion. He played bridge and chess, cricket and bowls, excelling in all of them. In 1911 he played for the Champions of the North football tem against the South of England. In 1940, whilst playing cricket at Blackmill for the C.L.B against a mixed team of amateurs and soldiers, he was hit on the forehead by the ball and knocked unconscious. He was indisposed for about a week, but the C.L.B won the match.

Throughout his life Neville Hobson was an intricate part of the workings of local government with his expertise being recognised nationally. He was throughout his life a member of many boards and committees. He was the Clerk of the County Council, was given the Freedom of Beverley in 1958 and, in 1966, made Mayor of Beverley, despite not being a councillor. He was a member of the National Advisory Council on Physical Fitness for England and Wales and in 1937 was sworn in as a magistrate and in the same year was installed as a diocesan lay reader by the Archbishop of York, Dr. Temple. In 1938 he was appointed, by the Minister of Health, to serve on the Departmental Committee to consider unfairness regarding allegations made about the application of rates and valuations. Later that year the Minister of Health appointed him a member of the Railway Assessment Authority, to evaluate the undertakings of main line companies and the London Passenger Transport Board, for rating purposes. In 1940 he was made a member of the Royal Sanitary Inspectors Examination Joint Board and was a member of the Executive Council of Rural District Councils’ Association, which he would go on to be made vice-chairman and eventually chairman of. He was a member of the Royal Sanitary Institute and the vice-president on the Beverley Branch of the British Legion. During the Second World War he was the Food Executive Officer and was appointed chairman of the Beverley Retail Milk Delivery Scheme.

In later years he was to advise locally and nationally on road maintenance and the business of setting and collecting rates, even writing a paper on how to evacuate the civil population in 1939.

When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Neville Hobson joined the 5th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment as private 1880 the very same month under Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, along with twelve other C.L.B members, after a request from Captain Pearce of the Beverley Territorials, leaving the Reverend F.W. Piggot, assistant chaplain, in charge of the C.L.B.

By November 1914 Neville was a Sergeant Major and being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant attached to the King’s Rifle Regiment. Two years later, in June 1916 he was made a Captain and transferred to the 2/19th Battalion of the London Regiment and went to France just before the Battle of the Somme. After France he saw service in the Balkans, Egypt and Palestine, where he was promoted to the staff of the 60th Division.

During General Allenby’s campaign in Palestine Neville acted as Forward Reconnaissance Officer, being one of the first to enter the Holy City of Jerusalem, crossing the Jordan with the leading battalion. He was later mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Military Cross, along with both the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

After the war, on the 4th of February 1919 he married Sarah Kathleen “Kate” Darneley, second daughter of Mr and Mrs E.M. Darneley of Hull, at St Stephen’s Church in Hull. Together they had three children; Paul in 1921, Janice in 1922 and, in 1924, Christopher Neville, known as “Kit”.

Neville Hobson became a prolific writer, publishing eight books including legal references and inspirational pieces, some of which are still available today. He travelled the country giving lantern lectures on his war years and talks on local government.

1933 saw the death of Neville’s father. He had been a solicitor, Clerk to East Riding Visitor Committee, Clerk to Skirlaugh Rural District Council and Clerk to the Commissioners of Taxes for four of the East Riding divisions and Superintendent Registrar.

Two years later, on Valentine’s Day 1935, Neville’s mother collapsed and passed away at the age of 75 at Bridlington Train Station whilst her daughter Dora went to the booking office for tickets. She was buried in Queensgate and a service was held at St Mary’s church.

When war once again descended upon Europe in 1939, Christopher Neville Hobson followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the army as a Lieutenant. In 1944 he was wounded whilst in action on the Western Front. He was returned to England suffering from shrapnel wounds in the leg and shoulder but recovered and went on to live a long life, passing away at the age of 86 in 2011, after being awarded an M.B.E is 2008 after a lifetime’s work with the C.L.B. He too, like his father, was a solicitor.

In 1943, one of Neville’s employees, George Hunt, was killed in action in the Middle East. He was 32 and had been in the army for three years, a Corporal in the Queen’s Bays Regiment.

Neville’s wife, Kate, passed away in 1965 and such was the respect in the town for Neville “MR. Beverley” Hobson that, when he himself passed away at the Nuffield Nursing Home in Hull on the 2nd of July 1975 at the age of 89, the flags of Beverley Minster and St Mary’s church, where he had been an active member all of his long life, were flown at half mast for the whole of the week. The Beverley Guardian gave over most of it’s front page to his obituary the following week and the entire back page was filled with tributes to this remarkable man.

I don’t normally do politics, especially online but…..

I’ve just got back from voting in the local elections. I always vote, I feel that I should. There has been too much sacrifice in the past to keep this country a free democracy and give me the right to vote for me to not bother.

This time was different though. There were two ballots, one parish council and one county council. Both were filled with candidates from the big political parties, Conservative, Labour and Lib. Dem. Thankfully there were some independents running for the parish council, one in particular who seemed worth my vote, so he got it. As for the county council, for the first time ever, I spoiled my ballot. It felt painful to do it, but after the last few years, regardless of how anyone feels about Brexit and leaving the EU, none of these main parties deserve my vote.

As I said before, a lot of sacrifice has been made by previous generations to keep this country free and democratic, but I’m not sure that the current situation we have is quite what they had in mind. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do think that it’s high time elected officials were held to account on their promises, and that they act with the wants of their electorate in mind. Perhaps political parties should be binned altogether, I just don’t know.

I do know that there are a lot of people who feel the same though and their answer is to just not vote at all. Well, if you are such a person I say this to you, get out and vote. If there’s no one you want to vote for just write NONE in big letters across the ballot. It won’t count in the vote, but it will count in the turnout.

What message does it send not voting? They still win, they still get a seat and your voice is not heard. If you spoil your ballot how does it look then? At the last local elections the turnout was dismal. If everyone voted and two thirds spoiled their ballot, then someone would finally notice.

If there is someone you agree with on the ballot though, vote for them.