Arthur Shortland and Frances Milbah Polle

Arthur Shortland was one of 12 children born to Richard and Eliza Shortland.  Further information about Richard and Eliza can be found below.

The information below was give to me by Linden Kilby who is the great great grandson of Arthur Shortland and Frances Polle.

Arthur Shortland  Frances Shortland.

Linden told me:

The details you have provided about Richard Shortland pretty much match with the details of what I know about him. He was in the army and stayed on in Australia. He ran a successful freight operation in Sydney, his company would transport goods by dray from the ships in Circular Quay to the warehouses in the city from what I know.

Eventually, as the younger generations took over, the business was forced to fold. However, the children didn’t do too badly either. I believe one was a judge and another owned a music shop.

My great great grandfather was Arthur Shortland. He was born in Sydney on 10 February 1867 and he was married to Frances Polle who was born on 29 February 1868 in Redfern. They married on 23 April 1900 at St. James Church, Sydney. Arthur died in Turramurra on 21 June 1945 and Frances in Hornsby on 30 August 1955.

The Shortlands were not a close family, so not all that much is known about them. For Frances this would have been a big difference, because the Polles were a very close family. It is known that Arthur was a quiet man whose occupation was a draftsman – he was listed as a Government Official on the Electoral Rolls..

Arthur and Frances had three children, Milbah born in 1901, Arthur born in 1902  and Elma born in 1909. Milbah was the family member who everyone admired, for she won honours at Sydney Girls’ High and completed two University degrees. She matriculated with honours, graduated BA, Dip. Ed. from Sydney University and entered teaching at Cootamundra. Stan and Milbah had five children. In order of birth they were Helen, born 1927, Ruth, born 1928, Stanislaus, born 1930, Patricia, born 1931 and Denis, born 1936.

Arthur and  Frances were reasonably wealthy and when Stan Riley married Milbah, the wedding was held in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.  Milbah was forced to resign from teaching at this time as married women were not employed  in those days. However, during world war two, with most men at the war, women were re-employed. She became a French teacher at Cooks Hill High School (Newcastle), then Wollongong.

At age 80, Milbah became interested in music and because she couldn’t understand the names or lyrics of German Classical songs, learnt German and in one year was conversing and corresponding fluently with German nationals.

At age 82, Milbah was diagnosed with stomach cancer and rather than die a slow, painful death, she starved herself to death. She died peacefully at home with all her children in attendance.

A brilliant woman, who due to the customs of her time who never reached her full potential.

 

Eliza Butts

Eliza Butts was the wife of Richard Shortland who came from England to Australia in 1841. I found myself researching Eliza, as it seemed learning about Richard and Eliza, may lead me to learn more about the story I have been told, that my family is descended from Lieutenant John Shortland but she turned out to be interesting in her own right and I have now amassed quite a bit of information, which is published here.

Richard and Eliza married on 15 November 1847, at age 16 in Armidale, New South Wales and they had 12 children – their marriage certificate records Eliza as being a minor but that she is marrying with the consent of her father. Eliza passed away on 19 March 1910, at age 79 in Sydney.

A search of the My Heritage website found that Eliza was born on 5 December 1830, in Bisley, England, to Jacob Butt and Ann Butt.  I have also learned that Eliza’s father Jacob was a clothier named Robert Butt. Eliza’s mother Ann was also the daughter of a clothier named Moses Smart.

Further information about Jacob can be found on the Wiki Tree website below.

The website explains that after they married, Jacob and Ann lived in France Lynch, just north of Chalford where there were mills. However, in the 1830s the industrial revolution had an impact and over a third of the people were unemployed. Many were starving. The Bisley vestry records show that Jacob occasionally obtained financial assistance to enable his family to survive.

In 1837 the Rev Thomas Keble was involved in raising funds to enable 68 people to emigrate to Australia on The Layton. Jacob, his wife Ann and children were chosen. Sadly there was an outbreak of measles on this journey and some of the children died at sea.

An economic history of Bisley can be found below.

Information about the Rev  Thomas Keble can be found on the National Archives website.

The Butt family appear to have been assisted immigrants. Assisted immigrants were able to travel to Australia through the financial assistance of the government, organisations, or wealthy individuals.

Jacob, Anne and their family were among the first group of 13 families (68 people) to leave Bisley in England and travel to Australia, arriving in January 1838 aboard The Layton. I have located information about the family on the WikiTree website below.

The website explains that the barque Layton left Bristol on 8 September 1837, and arrived in Sydney in January 1838. It was carrying 122 emigrants and 110 children. An outbreak of measles caused the deaths of 70 children.

A copy of the passenger shipping records can be found below.

The arrival of the ship in Australia was reported in the Sydney Gazette.

Pam Taylor (nee Shortland)

Pam Shortland is the daughter of Percy Douglas Shortland. Percy was born in 1880 and married Edith Ramsay in 1919. The couple had three children, Pam, John and Judith. Percy died in 1954 and is buried in Rookwood cemetery, Sydney.

Pam’s grandparents were John Shortland and Louisa Douglass who were married in Richmond, New South Wales in 1878. John is thought to have been the fourth son of Richard Shortland who came to Australia from England in 1841 and married Eliza Butts.

Pam told me:

‘Eliza Butts came from England when the spinning industry went bankrupt and proceeded to have I am told 12 children. Richard must have worked hard because he succeeded in buying up many houses and hotels which he left to his children although the girls seem to have been provided with money. The story I heard was John raised his family on the rent he collected from his houses. Richard died in 1887 or there abouts. The family talked about these aunts and uncles but I can’t remember meeting them.’

‘After a fair amount of research I haven’t been able to go much further except to discover Richard’s father was the eldest of the family and he joined the army when his father died at quite a young age leaving a number of dependant children. His father was also called Richard and Richard’s wife was Mary. I cannot recall her surname.’

Stories about both Richard and Eliza can be found on this website.

Faber family pedigree

While searching for information about Henry Grey Faber  I found images online showing the sword of Captain H G Faber, described as ‘The sword of Captain H G Faber of the 5th Battalion, who departed for France in 1915. He was present at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, The Somme 1916, Arras and Passchendaele in 1917. Became a Major in 1918. Blade of 32 1/4 inches engraved with Family Crest and H.G.F., Royal Arms, Crowned ER VII, foliage and retailer – Samuel Brothers, and back edge with – London Made and numbered 1115. Plated hilt with Crowned ER VII and wire bound fishskin grip complete. Sword bag marked with H.G. Faber, Norton-On-Tees, 10th Oct 1906.’

The seller of the sword explained the reference to 1897 is the pattern of the sword, which is when this style of sword and hilt started to be used and is still used today. The images of the sword on this website, are used with the permission of Jemswords. I have also located an image on the My Family Silver website, which shows the same crest that appears on the sword . Written under the image it says ‘Hamilton S., Esquire, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.S., of St. George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, London, S.W.’

These finds led to me contacting the College of Arms to learn more and Christopher Vane, Chester Herald at the College of Arms, explained as follows.

‘Arms belong to lines of descent and not surnames. Two branches of the same family may have quite different arms while others branches may not be entitled to arms at all.
At all times significant numbers of people have just assumed “arms” irregularly and without lawful authority. This may be a matter of regret to the heralds but it is a fact of life. The heralds have always had difficulty controlling the irregular use of arms. Such irregular use of arms is often of historical interest. In practice where “arms” are just assumed it is not uncommon for a family to assume “arms” which are similar or even identical to the arms of another family with the same or a similar surname.

We have at the College of Arms an extensive pedigree for the Faber family which was recorded in 1902 by Hamilton S. Faber, the man whom you mentioned in your email of 28th February. He was the first cousin of Henry Grey Faber’s father.

There were two branches of the Faber family with different coats of arms and crests. The arms to which Henry Grey Faber was entitled were granted in 1928. They were granted on the application of Hamilton S. Faber’s widowed mother to the descendants of her late husband’s father, Thomas Henry Faber. Henry Grey Faber was the grandson of Thomas Henry Faber and thus he became entitled to the arms by descent.

The arms were thus granted sometime after the sword was manufactured. The crest could have been engraved on the sword at a later date. Alternatively it may be that the relevant branch of the Faber family had been using the arms informally prior to the grant in 1928: see paragraph 2 above.

The arms and crest so granted in 1928 can be blazoned as follows: coat of arms Or a Rose Gules barbed and seeded proper on a Chief Azure two Mullets Argent and crest Issuant out of a Coronet composed of three Roses Or a dexter Cubit Arm in armour the hand proper grasping a Rose Gules barbed seeded and slipped and encircling the wrist a Wreath of Oak also proper fructed Gold.

There was another branch of the family, which had rather different arms. This branch of the family included two peers, the first and last Lord Faber and the first and last Lord Wittenham. The pedigree recorded at the College of Arms is headed by William Faber of Leeds (d.1775). He had a son, Rev. Thomas Faber (1729-1821), Vicar of Calverley, Yorkshire, who is shown as having four sons. Henry Grey Faber was descended from the third son, Thomas Henry Faber of Bishop Auckland. This Thomas Henry Faber was the father of the Thomas Henry Faber to whom I referred earlier. Lords Faber and Wittenham were descended from Rev. Thomas Faber’s second son, Charles David Faber.

Pedigrees for the family can be found in the 1952 and 1972 editions of Burke’s Landed Gentry, but I think that these entries will still be in copyright. Your great aunt appears in the entry in the 1972 edition.

Frederick William Faber (1814-1863), the hymn writer, was the fourth son of the elder Thomas Henry Faber.’

More photos

 

Hamilton S Faber

I learned about Hamilton S Faber when researching the Faber family arms.  I was advised by the College of Arms that they hold an extensive pedigree for the Faber family which was recorded in 1902 by Hamilton S. Faber and that he was the first cousin of Henry Grey Faber’s father.

They also advised that there were two branches of the Faber family with different coats of arms and crests. The arms to which Henry Grey Faber was entitled were granted in 1928 on the application of Hamilton S. Faber’s widowed mother, to the descendants of her late husband’s father, Thomas Henry Faber. As Henry Grey Faber was the grandson of Thomas Henry Faber, he became entitled to the arms by descent.

The information I have learned about Hamilton S and his family can be found below.

1881: Hamilton Stanley Faber, aged 2, is recorded at living at 1, Esplanade, Teignmouth East, Newton Abbot, Devon, England, with his parents Edward G Faber (a wine merchant), Edith  M Faber, Edward G Faber, Ernest M Faber and Evelyn A Faber.  Also, a governess and two nurses.

1901: Hamilton S Faber, aged 22, is a medical student, living at 95, Fordwych Road, Hampstead, London & Middlesex, England, living with parents Edward G Faber (retired from owning ironworks), Edith M Faber and Ernest W Faber aged 24 (member of the London Stock Exchange).

1911: Hamilton Stanley Faber, aged 32, is working as Doctor Mp Mrcs Lrcp and living at 28 Chichele Road Cricklewood NW, Willesden, Middlesex, England with his mother Edith Maria  Faber (now a widow), Edward Jocy Faber and Ernest Waddington Faber. Also two servants.

1939: Hamilton S Faber is working as a medical practioner and living at 25 Chichele Road , Willesden M.B., Middlesex, England with Jean (Caslow) Faber and three others.

Edward G Faber

Hamilton’s father Edward G Faber was born in 1836 and can be found on 1841 census.

1841: Edward, aged 5 (born in Durham 1836), is recorded as living at High Street, Stockton, Durham, England with parents Thomas Henry Faber aged 35 (born 1806) and Eleanor Faber aged 36 (born 1805 in Durham). Also siblings Ann, Eleanor, Frank, Edward, Elizabeth and Mary.

Thomas Henry Faber and Eleanor Faber (nee Grey)

I believe that Thomas Henry Faber married Eleanor Grey in 1827 in Stockton, although there are two similar entries.  The first one shows a Eleanor Grey married Thomas Henry Faber on 26 April 1827 in Stockton, Durham and the second ones shows Eleanor Grey married Thomas Henry Weber of Stockton-on-Tees, Durham on 26 April 1827.

I have also located a baptism entry for a Eleanor Grey in Bishop-Wearmouth, Durham on 14 December 1806, to parents James Grey and Ann Hudson Grey and a second baptism entry for the same date and place but showing the mother as Ann Hudson.

1851: Eleanor, aged 46, is living at High Street, Stockton, Durham, England with daughters Elizabeth, Mary, Emma and Caroline and is described as a Widow – her occupation is given as Annuitant

More photos

The Faber family

My great aunt Dorothy (my grandmother’s sister) married Henry Grey Faber in 1960. Dorothy was his second wife.  Although Henry and his family are not a direct ancestors, I was interested to learn more about the family, as I have a very clear memory of being told by my great aunt that the family appeared in Burke’s Peerage and I wanted to learn more about this.

Henry Grey Faber and 5th Durham Light Infantry

Henry served in the 5th Durham Light Infantry. He appears to have started army life in the Volunteer Forces in 1905 before becoming a Colonel in later life. I have been fortunate to learn much about his time in the army and have a number of wonderful photos too.

Jo Faulkner who worked for a time at Preston Hall Museum in Stockton on Tees advised me that ‘Colonel Faber was a senior officer in the Durham Light Infantry. Colonel G O Spence who is also in the photograph was a prolific collector of arms and armor and bequeathed his collection to Stockton Council, it is in the Preston Hall Museum collection. I also remember that Colonel Faber donated a few objects, one of them being a Georgian sedan chair. I did look after the collections at this museum but no longer work there so I am unable to check the details for you. After WW1 Spence lived in a house built at Far End Farm near Yarm and Faber lived at Worsall Grove, which was just a little further along the road towards Worsall, so I think they remained friends. My great grandparents lived on the neighbouring farm ‘Morley Carr’. My great uncle (born 1931) says that when he was a small boy at Worsall school Colonel Faber would have all the children doing drill outside. Yes, I believe Faber was a partner in a solicitors practice, I’ve come across his name in local history studies from time to time.’

Christopher Young at Preston Park Museum and Grounds also provided help and very generously allowed me to display the photos he sent on this website.  The following photos are used with his permission.

The document below shows Henry’s  official posting as an Officer and appears to have been signed by the King.

Official posting as an officer

Henry can be seen in the photo below, taken at Windsor in 1909.  He would have been 22 at the time.

Photo showing presentation of colours at Windsor 19 June 1909.

Further information about Presentation of Colours can be found below.

I subsequently learned that The Royal Collection Trust displays a painting on its website by Jean Baptiste Édouard Detaille of the above event. The painting marked the culmination of significant army reforms that had been taking place, instigated by the Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane (1856-1928). They grew out of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907, which saw the abolition of existing Volunteers and Yeomanry and the establishment of a Territorial Force of fourteen infantry divisions, fourteen cavalry brigades all financed by local organisations, but liable for service under War Office command. The reforms were an attempt to prepare England for a possible attack by Germany and the King played active part in the discussions.

The painting depicts a moment, towards the end of the ceremony, when the two hundred newly blessed colours were drooped in salutation as the National Anthem was played. The King then stepped forward into the square and gracefully acknowledged the homage of his Territorial Army.

The painting and further information about this can be found on The Royal Collection Trust website below.

Henry is also pictured on the front row of the photo below, second from the right, which shows Officers of the 5th Battalion of The Durham Light Infantry, taken on the eve of the battalion’s departure for France in April 1915.

Officers of the 5th Battalion of The Durham Light Infantry.

I first came across the photo on the Flickr page of Steve Heimerle who also has an interest in the 5th Battalion.

Interestingly, on the ground, far right, a second man, Second-Lieutenant E W Faber is named. I believe Henry and Edward were cousins, sharing a grandfather, also called Henry Grey Faber. On checking the 1901 census on the Find My Past website, I located an Edward W Faber, aged 6, born in Eaglescliife, Durham in 1895 – he is recorded as being the son of Charles (a solicitor born in Stockton) and Edith Faber.  On the 1911 census, I again located a Edward W Faber, aged 16 living with Charles and Edith and a brother, aged nine called Charles, with the middle name of Grey, the same as Henry.

Durham County Record Office hold information about both Henry, Edward and the Durham Light Infantry,  including:

  • a copy letter from Second Lieutenant H. [sic] Faber, The Cottage, Eaglescliffe, describing how he was wounded in Belgium and how his life was saved by a cigarette case
  • a newspaper cutting concerning a silver cigarette box and hair brushes, formerly belonging to Lieutenant Faber of The Durham Light Infantry
  • notes compiled by the son of Lieutenant E W Faber, concerning his late father’s military career, and his connection with Corporal Pennock, and Colonel H Faber.
  • letter from ‘Hal’ [Lieutenant-Colonel H.G. Faber] to his mother describing a trip to Windsor, Berkshire, June 1909
  • battalion orders by Major H.G. Faber, officer commanding the 13th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, 2 November
  • newspaper cutting concerning the annual sports day of the 5th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, at Hipswell Camp, Catterick, Yorkshire, 1922
  • group photograph of officers of the 5th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, in service dress, at Ripon Summer Camp, Yorkshire, 1924

The above information can be found on the Durham County Record Office website.

The photo below is dated 1919 (Henry is thought to appear on the top row, fourth from the right). Again the photo is used with permission of  Preston Park Museum and Grounds, who also guided me to references of H G Faber and E W Faber which appear in a book about the Durham Light Infantry.

Henry Grey Faber and the 5th battalion 1919.

Further information

Further information about the Durham Light Infantry and about Durham during the war can be found below.

More photos

 

Joseph Charles Abram and Lucy Thompson

Lucy Thompson was the first wife of my great grandfather Joseph Charles Abram.  Lucy and Joseph, a Corporal in the Army Service Corps residing in Aldershot, married on 16 April 1906 in Northampton.

Lucy’s life was short – born in Northampton in 1880, Lucy was the daughter of William and Harriett. She died in Farnham, Surrey in 1907. After Lucy’s death, Joseph re-married. His second wife was my great grandmother, Millicent May Bowers.

I have been able to trace Lucy on census returns. On the 1881 census, Lucy can be found aged one, living with her parents and sisters Emily, Annie and Alice.  Living in the same house is Lucy Munns (described as mother in law).* In 1891, Lucy, aged 11,  can again be found living with her parents and sisters at Great Russell Street.  Her father William is now recorded as working as a Gentleman’s Gardener. Finally, in 1901, Lucy, aged 21, is no longer at home with her parents but is working as a servant for a widow, Elizabeth Peach, at 25 Margaret Street, Northampton.

I have been able to find William and Harriet on the 1901 census. William is recorded as a market gardener and Harriet a greengrocer shopkeeper. The are still living at Great Russell Street. In 1911, William, now 72, is still recorded as a market gardener, living at Burns Street with Harriett.

I am interested to learn more about Lucy and her family, as she has been described to me as ‘a dark skinned lady’ and I have discovered that Northamptonshire has a significant black history, with people of Asian, African and Caribbean origin, residing in the county over many centuries.

* I have located a Lucy Munns on the 1851 and 1861 census returns. She is recorded as having been born in Riseley in Bedfordshire and is married to George Munns.  The couple have a daughter called Harriett.

Do the right thing

I have thought about writing this post for a long time now but coming across a tweet by Sophie Morgan on Twitter, in January 2019,  has  finally got me around to writing it, in the hope that I can raise some awareness and understanding.

Accessibility is a topic I feel passionately about. 20 years ago I was diagnosed, along with my father, with a form of muscular dystrophy called centronuclear myopathy. The condition is slowly progressive and 20 years on, I can still stand and walk and manage stairs (albeit in my own sweet way) however for 20 years the disease has been slowly chipping away at my ability to do things.

There are days when my legs feel like lead, I am constantly tired, I experience severe back pain when I stand for any length of time without support and stairs are really not my friend. Standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs, feels like standing at the foot of a very large mountain. A stair rail (combined with a lot of will power) means currently I am able to put my weight through my arms, rather than through my legs but even so, sometimes I simply lose momentum, getting stranded midway and land up dragging myself up the remaining steps. At home, I could get a second hand rail or a stair lift but I am conscious when out and about, these are not things I would have access too and I don’t want to come to rely on them.

So, being ambulatory, I have questioned for a long time whether I should should write about building accessibility, after all, I do not use a wheelchair but inaccessible buildings affect me hugely too and I know from first hand experience that ramps, stair rails, lifts and escalators can be the difference between me being independent or not.

When I talk about building accessibility, first and foremost,  I am referring to whether someone in a wheelchair or with a level of impaired mobility, is able to access a  public building, whether that be a shop, office, restaurant or entertainment venue, because that is how I experience accessibility or the lack of it. However, there are a wide variety of disabilities that must be considered when addressing access for all, including sensory impairments (e.g. visual and/or hearing), mental illnesses (e.g depression, stress, anxiety, phobias, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia), learning disabilities (e.g. autistic impairments, dyslexia, down syndrome), mobility and dexterity impairments, communication impairments, physical coordination impairments and memory/concentration impairments. There is not a one size fits all accessibility solution.

In order for me to access a building that is situated either up or down stairs, I only need there to be a stair rail but for someone in a wheelchair, steps are a total barrier. For the building to be accessible to us both, I would expect there to be a ramp, or a working lift (the word ‘working’ is key, because having a working lift going up but a broken lift or no lift going down doesn’t count and if like me, you are able to use an escalator, the same goes for these too – it is only common sense that if someone needs to use an escalator to go up, then they will need an escalator to go down too. I would expect this help to be found at the main entrance too, not out of sight, so the  building has to be accessed in some obscure manner.  Having a lift or the ‘accessible entrance’ hidden away at the back of a store doesn’t count either.

The law states that buildings should be accessible. The Equality Act, which was passed in 2010, is structured around nine ‘protected characteristics’, one of which is disability, and it prohibits discrimination, harassment and victimisation against all those who fall within these groups. The Act defines a disabled person as ‘Someone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.’

Whilst the accessible design of buildings is regulated by Building Regulations law, The Equality Act requires ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be made when providing access to goods, facilities, services and premises.  (Ref: Designing Buildings)

Reasonable adjustments might include changing a physical feature of a building,  providing an extra aid or service, or widening aisles so a wheelchair can get through. (Ref: Citizens Advice Bureau)  Reasonable adjustments are not having a member of staff bring products out of the shop for a customer to view, nor does it mean a member of staff shopping for the customer or that the customer is manhandled on and off the premises … and doing absolutely nothing at all, is absolutely not a reasonable adjustment either. Making a building accessible, means that as far as is reasonably possible, the ‘disabled’ customer has the same experience as any other customer, allowing them to retain their dignity and independence.

Let me give you some examples of situations I have experienced. On picking up a prescription for my dad from the local chemist one time, I was asked by the woman behind the counter how my dad was. I explained that he was sat outside because he was no longer able to manage the step and the heavy door. ‘Awww’ came the response. I took a deep breath and walked away. My dad did not need sympathy, what he needed was for the owner of the property to stop breaking the law and make reasonable adjustments to their property, so that my dad could retain his independence and continue going in for as long as possible.

My home is the city of Chester – built by the Romans, the city boasts the most complete city walls, Tudor style buildings, the oldest racecourse, the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, a one thousand year old Cathedral and the Rows galleries, 700 year old two tiered shopping galleries, providing two high streets in one, meaning their are many steps. The city is charming but while it is possible to cite examples of accessible practice, it most certainly is not accessible (the chemist it should be stated is not situated in the old part of the city) and I feel for those who are tasked with making it so but worry that the owners of buildings in the city, think because of its heritage, they do not even have to try to make reasonable adjustments. For example, how difficult would it be to extend an existing handrail on steps leading down into a major department store, so that it is level with the first step, rather than starting several steps down, or to place a hand rail on the steps at the entrance leading up into a women’s clothing chain store.

Recently a new sandwich shop opened in the city. As a new business at street level which opened in 2018, I would have expected the building to be accessible. I thought I would pop in for a sandwich but on getting to the door, I found there were a number of steps that led down into the shop and no handrail. I stood outside looking in but didn’t trust my legs to support me down the steps, so I walked away. The shop lost my trade and possibly a regular customer.

Again, in Chester, a hairdresser I had been going to had a large number of steps to be navigated. Steps led up into the building from street level but in the time I went to the hairdresser, the hand rail was never screwed tightly to the wall and shook as I held onto it, so I never felt safe. Once inside the building, it was necessary to navigate a grand staircase with a wide wooden bannister on one side which I struggled to get my hand around and a dado rail on the other – stairs led to a half landing and then there were further stairs. I persevered for some time, not wanting to choose my hairdresser on the basis of whether or not there were stairs to negotiate but eventually I gave up.

I attended a building on the opposite site of the road for a job interview and phoned ahead, advising I had mobility issues and that a stair rail was crucial if I needed to go up and down stairs. Oh yes, I was told, there was a handrail on either side of the staircase but on getting to the interview, I was confronted again with a wide wooden bannister and a dado rail. Dado rails really don’t count as stair rails but are better than no rail at all I suppose, which was the experience I encountered at a recruitment agency in the city, where I struggled up and down the steep staircase trying to hold onto the wall, while the recruiter watched.

Concert, cinema  and theatre venues can be a nightmare too. And whilst I have sympathy with old theatres, there really isn’t any excuse for the stairs it is necessary to navigate at modern concert venues in our big cities, which are quite terrifying. Credit where credit is due, the Storyhouse theatre in Chester, situated in an art decco building dating back to 1936, is a very good example of what can be achieved and the O2 in London was an excellent experience too – here I was whisked away to my seat, meaning I didn’t have to queue, by a member of staff who didn’t make me feel in the least uncomfortable or like I was being a nuisance.  However, having to trek half way around a concert venue to get to your seat or being told at the end of the show that you have to wait for everyone else to leave before you can, was not a good experience.

Writing from a personal experience, since the Equality Act came into force, I have seen  little in the way of change and that makes me very sad, but why would a business go the the expense of making costly changes if the law  does not get enforced and businesses are not fined? Businesses have had since 2010 to make changes and have not done so. If real change is to take place and the law is to be more than just lip service, this needs to change.

For the record, when you get diagnosed with a medical condition that leaves you with legs that can sometimes be a little wobbly and unreliable or altogether no use whatsoever, you don’t suddenly stop enjoying doing all the things you have enjoyed up to that point. If you enjoyed shopping, eating out, going to concerts, theatre and the cinema and getting your hair done prior to your diagnosis,  you still going to want to do those things after it. Why should you not be able too? And even if the law did not state that buildings should be accessible, isn’t it simply the right thing to do?

Further reading

The above is very much a personal perspective and only scratches the surface of the accessibility issue.  Further selected related reading can be found below.  If you have this far, please take the time to learn more and help spread the word.

Tayler Brothers

The photo below was given to me by Keith Shortland.  The two children pictured are believed to be Keith’s cousins, Gillian and Marion. Their mother and father were Ken and Marion Stephens, who ran a hairdressers in the Radford area of Coventry. Keith also told me that Ken’s sister, Maude Stephens, was one of the few ladies running a men’s hairdresser in Southam.

Two children

A hand written note on the photo indicates the photo was taken by Tayler Brothers of Coventry. Information about the Tayler Brothers studio and the Tayler Brothers project which archived photos to tell stories of Coventry’s past can be found on the Photomining website below.

Mark Cook from Photomining told me:

‘Tayler Brothers ran a photographic studio in Primrose Hill Street, Hillfields, Coventry, from just before the first world war until the 1970s. The Studio was on what is now Sidney Stringer Academy, just past the junction with Vine Street. Tayler Brothers were commercial photographers, and did not keep a record of their past work. The photograph you have looks like it could be from the 1950s, from the clothes, shoes etc.’

The number 32037 appears on the reverse of the photo. Mark Cook also advised Photomining ‘have a photo numbered in the 28 thousands that we think is late 40s and one that is in the 40 thousands that we think is late 50s’ so believe that the photo above lies between these dates.