Travels with my G-G-Aunt
Travels with my (great-great) Aunt
by Helen Baggott
On 15th May we were most happy to welcome back, over Zoom, the author Helen Baggott. She is recognised by national newspapers as the "postcard detective" for her investigations into the family backgrounds of senders and recipients of postcards in her private collection.
This time, she was speaking to us about the "Golden Era" of postcards, around a hundred years ago. Postage of a postcard was an affordable ½d against the letter rate of one penny, and equated to today's Messenger, WhatsApp, texts and Facebook for sending short messages. Travel was inaccessible to most, so it was the moneyed people who sent travel postcards, though even they wouldn't have had the suitable clothing for climbing glaciers! The human character doesn't change, so working-class people took steamer trips to the Isle of Man, whilst even poor emigrants visited home for holidays, so that grandparents could see their overseas-born grandchildren.
|All images on this webpage are © Helen Baggott, and reproduced here with her kind permission|
|Helen Baggott||Arrival of Steamers, Douglas, IOM|
Postcards can also remind us of interesting events, such as one that Helen showed us of the "SS Montrose". It was on this liner that Dr Crippen was arrested, after drawing attention to himself by using the high-class restaurant, accompanied by his lover unconvincingly disguised as a boy. Captain Henry Kendall covered the beard on a "wanted" poster with chalk to confirm his suspicions about his passenger, before arranging a wireless telegram to London. Incidentally, the Captain was later a reluctant survivor of the collision off the St Lawrence River of RMS "Empress of Ireland" (appearing on another postcard). The loss of life was comparable to that of the Titanic.
|Moonlight Scene of the Forum, Rome||Aeroplane flying around the Eiffel Tower|
The advent of motor vehicles and powered flight led to the 'doctoring' of postcard images to keep them up to date, so people also shown there might seem oblivious to overflying aircraft, when they would still have been a great novelty.
Then as now, the Canary Islands were a popular destination, and Helen showed us a postcard of the Hotel Metropole (below), which is associated with Agatha Christie. There was a major fire there in 1911, but it was quickly rebuilt and then advertised with "junk mail" postcards extolling its prompt revival. Reid's Palace in Madeira was, and still is, a popular destination too, with many famous guests over the years.
|Santa Cruz de Tenerife||Hotel Metropole, Las Palmas|
Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo housed officers during both World Wars, and between the wars Lord Carnarvon (of the Tutankhamun excavations) frequently stayed there, whilst it also features in the novel and film of "The English Patient".
Helen has written for "This England" magazine, and a new article is in the Summer issue now available.
You can also visit her website at http://www.helenbaggott.co.uk/.
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This new talk explores the holidays of our ancestors — climbing pyramids, sliding down glaciers, cruising the Med... Illustrated with postcards sent home from holidays, just how far did our ancestors travel for their holidays?
|The Last Boat from Southsea||Ascent of Great Pyramid|
Helen has written for magazines including Discover your Ancestors, Who Do You Think You Are?, Picture Postcard Monthly, Dorset Life and The Card Scene, and has also contributed to Family Tree Magazine’s blog. Her work has been recognised by national newspapers as a ‘postcard detective’ in newspapers and an ‘heirloom detective’ in The Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine.
Helen entertained us in October 2021 with her ‘Posted in the Past’ talk,
and we are delighted to welcome her back again.
This will be a hybrid in-person and Zoom meeting held at the Fromus Centre —
details above right.
Under our new arrangements,
all Members will automatically receive the Zoom link by blind-copied email,
an hour or two before the talk.
Non-members can no longer take part in our meetings over Zoom.
In-person attendees can just turn up —
at £1.00 for members, £3.00 for visitors, including tea/biscuits.