When Ian Newton saw that there was a first informal meeting of Alnwick Family History Society last week, he felt he just had to attend.
But he and his wife Judy needed to book a plane first, as they live in Sydney, Australia.
Ian had been intending for many years to discover the story of his ancestor George Newton.
He knew that George had a substantial business in central Alnwick in the 1840s and wanted more than anything to see exactly where he had worked.
“People have been so helpful since we arrived in Alnwick,” Ian told the Gazette.
“We walked straight into the family history meeting full of 20-plus people.
“Pretty soon every one of them was sharing knowledge about the area and suggestions to help.”
Ian’s ancestor was an officer freeman and cordwainer, who had a shop in Narrowgate.
Records are not definitive as to exactly where, but it looks likely that his premises were those now occupied by Specially for You.
Ian was delighted to talk to the current occupier, Margaret High, and especially to see that handicraft is still carried on within the premises 150 years later.
Chairman of the new Alnwick branch of the Family History Society, Dudley George, said: “Ian and Judy’s presence made our first meeting even more memorable.
“The branch will begin to hold formal events and help sessions from March 2014 when Bailiffgate Museum reopens, but I doubt we will ever have anyone come quite so far again.
“We are really pleased that we were able to make such a long journey worthwhile.”
Ian is pictured above at the meeting with Marjorie Brown, chairman of Alnwick Local History Society and now a member of the Family History Society, discussing the information she had uncovered about George Newton and his activities.
For more information on the new society, or to be invited to its first evening meeting, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, ring 01665 604502 or visit the family history section of the Bailiffgate Museum website at www.bailiff gatemuseum.co.uk