With nothing more than his violin and a suitcase my grandfather boarded the Orient Line SS Orvieto in England and set sail to Fremantle, Australia. He was in search of a new life and looking for a new adventure as there was no work for him as an aircraft draughtsman. To make a living he had been playing his beloved violin in a picture palace orchestra.
When I lived in England I wanted to find my roots, meet my family I had never known. Was I expecting them to take me in? Give me a roof over my head? Or maybe just a cuppa tea and a biscuit? Would I be able to find them?
I turned up at London Metropolitan Archives asking for help, searching records and looking for answers. Did I think they would just give me all the information I needed about my living relatives? I don’t know what I was thinking.
Turns out you need to dedicate hours upon hours to research your family and finding your living relatives can be near on impossible when you don’t know their married name. All you have is a few old letters to say that your long lost cousin married a man name Alfred and had two children.
Over the years I have dedicated time listening to family stories, sorting fact from fiction, looking at old family letters, records and gathering all the information I can. Searching online records looking at the census, birth, death and marriage certificates. Documenting all my findings and keeping records.
The 1901 census gave me the address of where my grandfather grew up in Wales. Naturally I made the journey to view the building on Clifton Street, Cardiff where his father owned the local grocery store. It was a indefinable feeling walking the streets that he would have played in as a child. Wondering what life would have been like back then. The street is full of shop houses so I imagine it would have been a hype of activity in the early 1900’s.
I never had any luck finding my living relatives but who knows they might be reading this and ask me over for a cuppa after all. If you are reading this and want to invite me over I am quite partial to chocolate biscuits!!
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