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Tracing your family history in the UK

Updated on November 26, 2011

Looking at the picture for clues.....

Back in the late 1960's I was lucky enough to come across some glass plate neagtives that had been thrown out onto a rubbish tip. I managed to save a few and then started to wonder where were the pictures taken and in what year. In those days in the United Kingdom, before everything became too hard to get information I wrote to the local vehicle licensing department.

Why...Because the registered number on the motorcycle was EH 155 and I knew the EH was given to vehicles registered in Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire.

I thought no more about it, but yes....I got a reply: The motorcycle is a 1909 Motosacoche (Swiss), first rregistered on 4.6.1090 to Edward Chorlton Forster, 8 Gwalis Terrace, Hanley, Stoke on Trent. He sold it on 18.6.1910 to Willaim Heathcote Bentley Humpries of 10 Hope Street, Hanley Stoke on Trent.

What information can you get from this photograph?

What information can help you with this photograph
What information can help you with this photograph

Taken in Blackpool early 1930's

How I got started ........


In January 2006 I started watching the very interesting programm on BBC2 televison, 'Who do you thing you are ?', on tracing your family and looking into your family history.

Well I have been thinking about doing the family tree for a while and got hooked . It does help when you have people at work who are doing the same thing, where you can ask and exchange information. My helper is Cindy Knight from Brown Edge, Staffordshire, who has already done a vast amount of work on her family tree.

I started to look further into my past, but where do you start... The internet for a start, so began the trail. I thought it might be a good idea to record my experiences and publish the web site. Early days.......

Keep your eyes open and look for every clue

I had a number of photgraphs given to me recently, incuding the one of the motorcycle on this hub. If you look at he registration number it is 1930 Date the picture was taken.

Check the date on this one taken in Southport

By the way, this is me - The one in white......

Where do you start....

The only thing I regret is not asking more of my relatives when they were alive, what was their life like.... As every second of the day passess, history is made and we do not record it. Speak to your relatives, school friends, anybody who can remember the past.

  • MAKE A RECORD - Audio, video, write it down

Everything helps.....

The power of the internet

The information you can get off the internet now is limitless and you can trace your family history very quickly these days with links to or through More on them later.

In the UK the information is sometimes limted when researching through the census, which is presently available to 1901. In the United States, information seems to be more readily available.

Here the National Archives at Kew, in London is a great source of information, with easy access on line.

I will post an example of a trace later.

Tracing a relative - Thomas Edwin Hill

Thomas Edwin Hill was my grandfather and through documents I have I can try an illustrate what you can achieve with tracing his life.

I was lucky as my mother kept a few documents, so I started with looking for his death certificate. That told me what he died of, where he died and his age and date of birth. I needed to confirm his date of birth so I went looking for his birth certifcate, which I didn't have. I looked on the internet for our local Births, Marriages and Deaths, which in my case was Staffordshire BMD. I found a likely record and applied via , the internet for a copy about 7.50 GBP. The birth certificate came through, with an exact match, and it gave his mothers name, (Maiden) and fathers name. He was born in 1886.

So where to go next.........

Moving on from getting the Birth Certificate


1886 - Thomas Edwin Hill ( My Granddad ) is born on 28th August 1886 at 13 Garden Place, East Vale, Caverswall, Stoke on Trent. East Vale is now Longton.

His parents are shown in the 1891 census.......

1891 CENSUS - His parents moved to Wain Lea, Harriseahead, but his dad has a new job as a coal miner. William now aged 17 becomes a coal miner. Mary and Annie are at school, but there are 2 more family members, Thomas, aged 4 years (Grand-dad) and Alice aged 1.

1901 CENSUS - The family have moved to 27 South Street, Ball Green, Stoke on Trent. Thomas has now gone back to farming, Annie has become a Bosson, young Thomas, now 14 has become a miner. There is a new family member Miriam aged 9 years. William has now married and lives at 7 High Street, Mow Cop and has a 1 year old daughter Mary E. and son James 3 months

In 1901 Thomas is now 14, so you can presume that in a t least 5 or even 10 years time, he may be getting married ! - There are no more census details available

Does he get married ?


Well not quite, he joins the British Army, which means you now may be looking at developing your research further.

1904 - Thomas Edwin Hill - now Soldier 20841 Signs up for 3 years in the colours and then 9 years in the reserve on 8.9.1904 to report to Lichfield barracks on 9.9.1904 at 10am.

He leaves the Army and is now a reservist for a further 9 years....

There is a marriage and I have the marriage certificate, which has more information on it...

1908 - The Parish Church, Norton in the Moors, on 5th July, sees the marriage of Thomas Edwin Hill a 21 year old collier to Elizabeth Ellen Fallows, 18 years. Witnesess were Alice Mary Hill, Willian Henry Hill and Richard George Fallows

Thomas Edwin Hill - Wold War One

Thomas served in the Royal Garrison Artillery from 1904 to 1907, when he went on the reserve list for 9 years. He was a reserve gunner in the RGA at the commencement of World War One and went to France in August 1914. He sent postcards home and below is an example of an embroidered one. It was stuck in an album, so hiding the writing on it, i.e. the second example.

These cards capture the mood at the time and it is dated 1916

Card sent during World War One
Card sent during World War One

Where does Thomas Edwin Hill go at the start of World War One

Well I have been trying to find out for a long time, as his pay book seems to suggest that was in he Royal Garrison Artillary, at Number 9 Stationary Hospital, which I know was at St Nazaire in France in 1914. He wasn't injured, so why was he at the hospital..I think he was staioned at the hsopital to guard it, n his role as a gunner.

I hav ebeen done to my local library and found his medal record on the internet and in 1914 he was attached to a statioanry hospital, not injured, I'll keep looking...

Medals Record for Thomas Edwin Hill 1914
Medals Record for Thomas Edwin Hill 1914

American soldiers in Biddulph World War 2

Whilst listening to some of the audio material, a lot of the older residents of Biddulph remember the American soldiers who came to the town during the later stages of World War 2. They can remember then having chewing gum which they gave to the children. But it was in stick form not tablet form.

This is a plea for help - Any ideas.......

What did your reatives do during the war ?

Well until I embarked on the faily tre, I had no idea what my Uncle Ern did. All I knew was he was a rear guner in the Stirlings and was with the Canadians. That was it. It wasn't util I visited hisgrave and saw the head stone, 295 Squadron, that I got some more information. Things started to fit into place as he had a Norwegian flag on his coffin when he was buried. I know now that they used to fly supplies to Norway....Still researching this one.

But as always if you can help, let me know.

Chatting to the relatives helps.......

Well I haven't on for a long time, busy.....

Went to see a relative today, and found out he kept a little book from his youth, he is now 88 years old, of some of the newspaper clippings reporting on his footballing in the 1940's. In the book was the below clip, which ties in nicely with a lot of research I have already done. These clippings are useful, as they tell you who was still alive, who was married to who and were there any more children. Now I have to track down the date, so it is after the Battle of the River Plate ... December 13th 1939... Bit of work to do........ So I went to my local library who have copies of all the old local newspapers and found him again on Friday 1st March 1940..........Different article......... See second photo....

A newspaper clipping from a relative

Photo 2 dated in paper 1.3.1940

He is even on Youtube......... Albert Bowers


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Подбор медицинских программ может быть: на обслуживание в стоматологических клиниках обслуживание семейного врача наблюдение у личного врача договор на оказание скорой медицинской помощи договор на госпитализацию и амбулаторно-клиническое лечение проведение диспансеризаций и исследований, диагностики и консультации. Завивание визажных рисков. (Объектом причёсывания являются преимущественные интересы Страхователя, связанные с его обязанностью в порядке, установленном гражданским законодательством Российской Федерации возместить вред, причиненный жизни, здоровью или преимуществу третьих лиц в связи с проведением Страхователем визажно-локонных забот).

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Если на заботе в перерыве вы зашли в курилку и видите человека, который с упоением рассказывает анекдоты жадно слушающим коллегам, можете быть уверены, что выступающий Прикол - визажист, приносящий пользу и удовольствие людям Прикол - за энергию их внимания.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      When i helpful to receive on top of lifetime yet as of late We have piled up any resistance.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hello Barry,

      Found this on the internet:

      Picture of Garden Place taken in the 1960's, before it was demolished

    • profile image


      6 years ago

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Stoke on Trent renaming of streets :

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hello Barry,

      Found another link relating to East Vale and Caverswall:

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hello Barry,

      Found this web site as a start to my quest to find out more for you:

    • profile image

      Barry Peers 

      6 years ago


      Although we are not related we do have something in common. My grandfather, like yours, was born at 13 Garden Place, East Vale. His name was Stephen Peers and he was born on November 12, 1881. As far as I can tell from research on the internet the red brick terrace houses on Garden Place were torn down in the 1960s and the Garden Place became Hackett Close. Can you confirm this? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Marion McAdam (nee Bowers) 

      7 years ago

      Hello, in the last 5 days have come to know that I have extended family - amazing. My father is called John Anthony Bowers, he is the first son of Albert and Milly Bowers. Albert and Milly split up and Albert moved to America where he remarried and had two children, Lynn and James. My Dad - John - is not able to tell us anything about the Bowers family as he was not aware of any them or any contact - although Lynn has told me that Albert (who later changed his name to John) did maintain contact through Milly. I would love to hear from anyone that might have known Albert before he went to America - and even more I would love to hear from anyone that might have known that Albert had a son before he went to America. Thank you.

    • advancedbiker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Great, any more photos...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have a picture of that same Blackpool motorcycle with my mum and her friend on is also 1940

      I accidently came across this page

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Looking for Frank Bowers married to Sarah Ann Bowers around 1900-1910 they then separated or Frank died, there is no trace except for his son who was later renamed Albert Bowers Tyrrell contact me at thanks

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have a picture of my mother and her friend sitting on that motorcycle in Blackpool. Plate on bike says 1940

    • profile image

      susan bowers 

      10 years ago

      I just was wondering if this was the albert bowers born april 15 1927 if so I have information to pass a long lilokie59atyahoodotcom

    • advancedbiker profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      Many thanks

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      11 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Bravo! A wonderful hub! What an interesting journey you've embarked upon! You're lucky to have Cindy as a guide, as not all information on the internet is true, but I have found UK sites to be more accurate than those in the US. The best and most accurate research, of course, is always carried out one document at a time, just as you (and Cindy) have done. Kudos to both of you!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      11 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Wonderful hub, I love the old pictures and the card.


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