Archive for August, 2015

The Uttoxeter text and pictures have at last gone to the printers, with instructions about which picture should go where in the text that I hope won’t prove too baffling. Whether we can make the hoped-for launch date of 30 October remains to be seen, but if not then, some other time before Christmas should be feasible.

The Slough & Windsor Railway Society are going to include my appeal for racing-related stories in their next newsletter to members.

I have made contact with potentially another very useful source of information on Windsor, and I am now waiting to hear if they will be willing to discuss it.

A visit to the National Archives the other day for what could have been a ten-minute piece of work turned out to be an all-dayer. I was trying to find the outcome of a 19th century Chancery case involving Windsor. It took me until lunchtime to read the documents I had ordered in advance and make notes. Copious notes. A new story in Windsor’s history had emerged, but the outcome was not clear, which led to me having a crash course from the kind staff there on how I might be able to find out more. It seems Chancery cases were often settled out of court and there’d be no formal record of that. I found that my case dragged on and on, hence more ledgers were ploughed through, reference numbers were noted, documents were ordered, and notes were taken. There was no resolution apparent then, so it was back to the ledgers … and so on, until closing time. You’ll have to read the book to find out what the story was, and the conclusion to the case … if any.

Read Full Post »

Branching out

In the last few weeks I’ve been concentrating on the history of the two families most associated with the management of Windsor racecourse up to 1988. It’s meant going back to the Ancestry and Findmypast websites, electoral rolls and – to my surprise – old phone books, which I’ve just discovered have been digitised. To find a descendant with information and a book of cuttings or photos would be ideal. That sort of detective work takes time and, as ever, there’s no guarantee of success. How much easier it becomes when you are looking for someone with a not-too-common name. Or when you learn somebody has some middle names, which can reduce the extent of one’s search considerably.

I tried to phone one potential descendant and as I only ever got through to a fax machine – a rarity these days – I have now resorted to the other old-fashioned method of communication, writing a letter.

In Windsor the other day I enquired at the two local stations if any local railway history buffs were present who might know any racing-related stories. I was directed towards staff at Slough and made the brief journey there on the branch line. Pulling in to the station, the train passed by a railway carriage-like building proclaiming itself to be the meeting place for the Slough & Windsor Railway Society. While I learned a few things from the staff at Slough station – including that there is a stuffed dog in a display case on platform five – I am hopeful that by contacting the Society I will learn more.

I’ve incorporated a couple of new stories into the Uttoxeter text. It has been virtually unchanged for the best part of a year while I wait for the racecourse to supply me with a few more pictures and details of the printers. I had been hoping for the launch to be at the end of October and while that is still possible the likelihood of deferring it again looks increasingly likely.

Read Full Post »

Going, going, gone

I like to get a feel for the area around the racecourses I write about, so a few weeks ago I walked round Clewer, which is on the outskirts of the town of Windsor. With the river on one side, the racecourse on another and only one road leading into it from one of the two main roads on the others, Clewer has a quiet village-like aura. Apart from enabling me to understand the geography, I hoped it would lead me to information from local people and I am now following some lines of enquiry, as the police would say. I was also alerted to a short cut to the Eton side of the river, where I walked the Thames Path as far as a point opposite the six-furlong start.

Auctions have been the recurring theme in the last fortnight. I won the bidding for a Windsor racecard from 1898, though I had to go higher than I would have liked. I’ve got one from the 1920s and another from the early 1960s, which is the extent of my collection of Windsor memorabilia at the moment.

Last year I obtained some 1901 photos of Bath at an auction, some of which were racing scenes. I have donated them all to the local studies library and in return they have given me excellent digital images of the racing pictures. I handed them in en route to Bath races, when luckily for me the forecast rain came and went before racing began.

I’ve also put up some unwanted books of mine for auction. Some of these were obtained as part of a job lot I won at yet another auction three or four years ago. I didn’t need them then, and as time has passed I have to admit that I still don’t have any use for them.  I hope they will find a more appreciative owner.

Read Full Post »