Northumberland and Durham Family History Society, north Northumberland branch

A First World War postcard.
A First World War postcard.

Following the annual general meeting, members of the north Northumberland branch of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society had a session on picture postcards.

We had a wide range of postcards to look at. Some had been in our families for well over 100 years, others had been acquired because of links with towns and villages of interest.

There were some very ordinary postcards of local views sent by friends of a members’ grandmother, including one titled A Black Diamond from Ashington, holding a small piece of coal. Others revealed through mundane messages the importance of the railway in those times.

A collection of elaborately embroidered cards from the First World War was shown, significant because one of them provided the first news that a brother had joined up to fight in the First World War and was about to ‘leave for the trenches’.

Beautiful pictures created from feathers were perhaps the most unusual. They had been sent in the late 19th century by a relative who had lived in Mexico. The owner had investigated the significance of some of the pictures.

Some of the postcards comprised photographs of relatives, including the family group by the banks of the Tweed and a lady with a mystery man looking very happy in a Brussels club shortly after VE Day in 1945.

There were cards showing a Berwick fishmonger’s shop in the 1890s and views of the town taken from Scotsgate over the years.

A particularly poignant card depicted a French mother and child reading a letter from a soldier far from home – was this sent home to a wife back in England during the First World War?

Postcards of home towns have a special appeal especially when they commemorate a distinguished person originating from there, in this case, the village of Denholm and James Murray, the renowned lexicographer.

An ironic note was provided by the card sent by a Clerk whose poor handwriting was almost illegible!

The meeting concluded with a short discussion on topics for future sessions. These included newspapers, deaths and funerals and ways of recording family history research for future descendants.

We have finished meetings now for the summer months and our next meeting will be on Saturday, September 19, at 10am in Bell View, Belford, when the speaker will be Linda Bankier, from Berwick Record Office, on The Flodden Transcription Project.