Newspapers ablaze with minor family insights Passing educational references, and an indepth story

After some time without, getting access to the British Newspaper Archive – part of a (half price) FindMyPast Pro subscription – raises the dilemma of where to start researching. Perhaps firstly with those individuals in the tree most likely to appear in the news, and then close relatives to see if any notices, in the absence of news items, might add another angle.

The approach has already led to shining some contrasting light on youthful grandparents plus an interesting incident not of any great relevance to the family tree.

Setting the road on fire

Firstly, that one with little relevance. From The Essex Chronicle, Friday 13th July 1923:

Big Motor Lorry Blaze in Chelmsford

The driver of this four ton lorry, carrying “350 two-gallon tins and six 50-gallon steel barrels of national benzole mixture” from Fulham to Ipswich, was Reginald Hambling, recently appearing in ‘Rogue elements in Uncle Arthur’s past‘ as the co-respondent in great uncle’s divorce case of 1934/5. Somehow the load ignited, causing “the biggest blaze seen in Chelmsford for a very long time”. Click on the image above to get a larger, hopefully readable, version (you may need to ‘maximise’ the page).

This photograph of the destroyed lorry was in the middle of the article {3}:

“The wrecked lorry after the fire”

No doubt that this is the same Reginald Hambling who is recorded as a heavy lorry driver in the 1939 register, by then in Felixstowe.

Another road incident

Granddad Levi “Len” Watkins had a reputation of not being as careful a car driver as he might be, even in his old age. This makes the small chance that the following cutting isn’t about him miniscule.

From Western Mail, 29th October 1929

The Watkins family was indeed living in Neath at the time, and a motorcycle would have been a good choice to get around for Levi’s job as an insurance agent. He’d have been 35.

Girly swots and techie boys

I was hoping for something connected with granddad, and schoolmaster, Sydney C Howes’s known peace leanings to turn up. Instead, here’s a couple of illustrations on his own education.

Examination results from 1905: second class passes in both Mathematics and Geometric Drawing at the Norwich Technical Institute {2}. Sydney was born in December 1888. No doubt his son would have got firsts, but fair enough perhaps considering Sydney’s own father was “just” a painter/decorator.

Norwich Mercury, 30th August 1905

The next cutting adds to the picture – in 1900 he won a scholarship/exhibition of £8, funded by the Anguish Boys’ Charity {1}.

I thought that gran would probably be his equal and could gain a scholarship too. I was right:

Extracted from Norfolk News 25th July 1903

A ‘Duke Street Elementary School for Girls’ scholarship for Emily E Neal, from St Augustines Girls school, age 12. The article this was extracted from is worth a read too, as it gives some insight into the awards system. In particular the sentence “Considering the fact that there are few scholarships for which the girls are eligible, they are to be complimented on their position in the list.”

More to come …

Of course there’s more than just these items in the electronic newspaper archives. Another newly discovered one deserves it own Cutlock piece, hopefully soon.


  1. The charity was named after Thomas Anguish (1536 to 1617), a merchant of Norwich and Mayor of the city in 1611, who left money in his will to set it up. Now the Norwich Charitable Trusts.
  2. I already had found school register entries on FindMyPast giving exam results for S. Howes at Norwich Pupil Teacher Centre School – January 1907: London Matrix Exam: Failed (Chem.); April 1907 Passed Prelim Certif Exam Part II (Hist, Maths, Science, French).
  3. Processing images separately from text is a good idea even now!

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