Friday, November 6, 2015

T. G. Green & Co Ltd, pottery and Sherwood Foresters

I am writing this post simply to publish some photographs  which readers interested in T.G. Green and Co. Ltd and the Sherwood Foresters regiment, specifically the 5th Battalion, will enjoy.

In September each year, in England, we have Heritage Open Days which were established in 1994 as England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days. One of the key requirements is to offer free access to all properties taking part in the European Heritage Days.

This year Sharpes Pottery Museum in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, had organised a talk on the history of the pottery works of T. G. Green & Co Ltd in adjoining Church Gresley, which is now a sad and derelict site, followed by a walk around the perimeter of the site. So along I went.

The reason is that I had in my possession a number of ashtrays made by the company in the 1950s and 60s with Sherwood Forester colours and badges. My father Lt. Col Geoffrey S. Aspdin was the last commanding officer of the 5th Battalion. He had taken over command from Lt. Col. Henry W.King in the late 1950s. Col. King was a director of T.G.Green. 

Col.King obviously had them made for gifts etc. I decided that the time had come to return them to the local pottery museum in Swadlincote, from whence they came, so now I have now done so.

Below I publish some photographs of Col. King when he was commanding the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. To the keen Sherwood Forester reader, note the green rectangular back patch, one on the first ashtray above, irrefutably associating that ashtray as made for the 5th Battalion specifically, and also appearing as worn (by some) as a tradition on the back of their jacket as in the last photo below.

Lt Col Henry W King and ex Colour Sergeant Holland

Lt Col Henry W King and Lt General Chatteris R.M.

Lt Colonel Henry W King, standing third from left. Major Geoffrey S. Aspdin, my father, standing left, Major Nicklin, seated left, Lt Colonel Brian Duncan Shaw, seated right.

Col. King was also a personal friend of my father and in the 1960s and early 1970s they used to shoot together at a rough shoot they organised in the land around Staunton Harold Hall on the Derbyshire Leicestershire border near Melbourne. As a child I would invariably be there as a beater. Col. King was a charming man, always interested in what I was up to and full of good advice and encouragement.


Friday, May 15, 2015


This photo is the Sepia Saturday prompt this week. We bloggers try to follow the theme, in some vague way, as a seed in our thoughts. Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.

The only big hopper I have in my photos:

You should have heard Alice scream when she spotted it on the rail next to her !!

Embalse De Beznar, south of Granada, in western foothills of Sierra Nevada, October 2007.

Sorry...too busy with OCD over my tomato seedlings to write more, but look forward to reading other Sepians posts later this evening.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter to all Sepians !!

This photo is the Sepia Saturday prompt this week. We bloggers try to follow the theme, in some vague way, as a seed in our thoughts. Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. Click here to learn more.

I do keep an eye on Sepia Saturday now and again, one day I may find time to make more frequent contributions.

Meanwhile, as a tiny contribution, Here are my great aunts Muriel and Constance Dean in October 1898. And in case you wondered why they are dressed so well, I also include a photo of her father John Dean outside his shop in St. Peter's Street, Derby.

Muriel and Constance Dean, October 1898.

John Dean, right, with his shop staff, St Peter's Street, Derby, circa 1904.

John Dean's shop in St Peter's Street, Derby, circa 1898, then trading as Hurd and Dean.

John Dean advertised his shop on the Derby electric trams (1904 onwards). This tram in Osmaston Road, Derby.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

‘Bernard’ in the Lancashire Fusiliers, 1915. Horner, Ellison, Richmond, Vores, Hawksey, Gill, Hartley

This officer is a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1915. I do not know who it is, but it is likely that he was a family friend or cousin/nephew etc. of my ancestors.  The photo was in my grandmother’s collection, and my grandmother and her parents came from Manchester, where they were connected with family names Wright, Gould, Atherton and of course others for whom I do not have family names.

I have this good quality photo, but no other knowledge of him was ever passed to me from my grandmother or mother. It suggests, but not conclusively, that he may have died in 1914-18.

Research I have carried out show that the following Lancashire Fusilier Lieutenants had the given name ‘Bernard’, and there is a reasonable possibility that this Bernard is one of them. 3 of them have strong Manchester connections from their birth registration districts.

Lieutenant Bernard Horner   (Died March 5 1917) 
Second Lieutenant John Bernard Rowland Ellison
Second Lieutenant Cecil Bernard Richmond
Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Bernard Vores   (Died June 4 1915)
Lieutenant Bernard Richard Hawksey   (Died September 28 1918)
Second Lieutenant Maurice Bernard Gill 

I have posted this on line in the outside hope that one day you may chance across this post when researching one of these men. If you do please contact me. My email is or you will easily track me down with a search of ‘aspdin’ and ‘derby’

Many thanks.


**Update 1 May 30 2014

 After information received today, I have to add the following to the list:

Second Lieutenant (later Captain) Bernard Harold Hartley (Died November 4, 1916)

I have discovered that we share the same ancestry which goes back to Robert Harlow of Ashbourne, (c.1779-1828), my great-great-great-grandfather, probably the great-great-grandfather of Bernard Harold Hartley. His mother was born Eleanor Kinch Harlow, circa 1866.

In view of this link, and other links that now fall into place, in particular photographs in my grandmother's album of a house named 'Ashleigh' at 134 Stockport Road, Marple, where census returns show Bernard to have been resident at the 1901 census, it seems it is almost certain that this is the Bernard in the photograph, and explains why the photograph of Bernard was in my grandmother's papers, as they were distant cousins. I also have other miscellaneous material relating to the Harlow family retained by my grandmother.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lieutenant Vivian Donald Berry Collins

Lieutenant Vivian Donald Berry Collins   

What we do know about you

You were a friend of my family, my ancestors the Slater family of 19, Vernon Street, Derby, and the Smith family of Highfield Road, Derby. We have your photograph in a family album, the album of Charles Sydney Smith, but we no longer know anything of your family.

You were a lieutenant in the 2nd or 13th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters in March 1915, and you were killed on May 9th 1915 when leading an attack near Richebourg. You remain in France with no known grave, and are commemorated at Le Touret Memorial. You were 30 at the time. You were the son of William Andrew and Emma Collins.

We know you were at one time in the King Edwards Own Gurka Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles). We are not sure if this was an attachment made in 1915 from the Sherwood Foresters, or if you had joined The Sirmoor Rifles before your return from the Indian sub-continent in 1914-15.

Before the war you were a member of The Survey of India. In 1911 you surveyed the Siachen Glacier and Mountains Of East Karakoram and Teram Kangri , and you also wrote a paper “The Triangulation up the Hunza River and Gorge"

Your Derby friend Major Charles Sydney Smith MC, Sherwood Foresters and Machine Gun Corps, survived the great war but died of influenza in November 1918. His only son Victor Sydney Smith was born in July 1919. His younger brother ( Lt. in 1915) Frank Wooley Smith OBE, DFC, Sherwood Foresters and Royal Flying Corps, survived the war and served in WW2 in The Assam Light Horse, on the Ledo Road  and related airlift operations. His elder brother, Private Joseph Arthur (alias “Pete”) Smith, joined the Canadian Engineers, 259th Battalion, in Ontario in 1918, and served in the Canadian Siberian Expedition.

If any descendant or family member or researcher reads this post and knows anything about this special friend of my ancestors, please get in touch with me.

Nigel S. Aspdin
19 Vernon Street
Derby DE1 1FT
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1332-345342 *
Mobile Tel: +44 (0)7751-278376 *
* Please use voicemail if unavailable


Monday, April 7, 2014

Alan Lindsay Bull (1918-1992) RAAF

This post is being updated with relevant developments, last update January 9th 2015, see end.
Originally from Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia.

41 Squadron RAF, June-August 1941.

Sergeant Alan Lindsay Bull. RAAF.
41 Squadron. RAF. Photo July 27th 1941.

What is this post?

This post is written just to catch the attention of any family of Alan Bull, in the hope they may be interested in contacting me if Alan was their father or grandfather, uncle, or just a friend. However although I have been told that he did marry, a June Harding (elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Harding. Bairnsdale) in 1946, I do not know the extent of his descendants, if any.

Why am I interested?

I know from my late mother's papers that Alan was shot down over France in August 1941, and from there he corresponded with my  mother whilst he was a prisoner. They had been friends for a short time in 1941 when they were both posted at the same RAF base in England. I have photographs and other material that would almost certainly interest Alan Bull's descendants and which they may have never seen.

Mary Lavender Wallis (married name Aspdin) 1920-2010

Letter from Alan Bull in POW camp

Update. January 7th 2015

I was contacted by Andrew Brockett, of Neutral Bay, NSW, Australia, who is a collector of postal history, an interest that I share with him but do not pursue so enthusiastically nowadays. He had acquired a cover for his collection some time ago, a returned letter, and had only just got round to trying to research it. He was lucky. As soon as he Googled Alan Bull he found this post and so got in touch with me and I have been able to share with him all my material. He has kindly allowed me to post the cover in this blog, and you will see that it is from a letter posted on June 18 1941 by a Bairnsdale resident now established to be Alan's contemporary Albert Richard Kyle (b.1917) from Bairnsdale VIC, to Alan Bull in England. It never got to him as Alan had been shot down over France in August 1941. By the time it arrived in England he was a POW in Stalag IIIE in Kirchhain. The letter was returned to sender at 335 Main Street Bairnsdale, arriving back in late December 1941.

Letter cover from NR (or NA) Kyle of Bairnsdale NSW, sent to Alan Bull June 18 1941 and returned to sender

Letter cover from NR (or NA) Kyle of Bairnsdale NSW, sent to Alan Bull June 18 1941 and returned to sender

Albert Richard Kyle, the writer of the letter to Alan Bull,
from his WWII army attestation papers. January 1942.
Courtesy of National Archives of Australia

Update. January 9th 2015

Matters are moving along nicely, perhaps as someone kindly posted my search on a local Facebook page.  

What I must say at this stage is that Tim Bull M.P. is not connected, I had established that some time ago, and I should have mentioned it as I think he will be getting quite bored now with people sending him the link and obvious question. It does say one good thing about the local MP, at least he responds and does respond quickly to constituents!

The best progress is an email this morning  from Robyn Smith in Seymour VIC. I am not sure how she came to see my blog,but she writes to tell me that she is Alan Bull's niece (by marriage), and that Alan had a daughter and two grandsons. Now that sounds like the connection may be made, and I am excited that I may hear from them soon.

Photo received by my mother from Alan's mother Alice Bull, say  in 1942,
 showing her  with her daughter Evelyn* and son Alan, probably about 1938-9.
(* married name Alice Evelyn Birkensleigh d.April 18th 2004 ,
 late of  Maroochydore)


I am very grateful for assistance I have received so far from Steve Brew, historian of 41 Squadron and author of Blood, Sweat and Courage, 41 Squadron RAF, 1939-1942 and Blood Sweat and Valour covering 1942-1945 His great uncle Sergeant Pilot William A Brew was a close friend of Alan Bull, a fellow 41 Squadron pilot, also shot down, a fellow POW, a fellow escaper and fellow survivor. As Blood Sweat and Courage was actually published last, in December 2014, it includes a photograph of Alan Bull sent by me to the author.

I am also grateful to Andrew Brockett for allowing me to post the interesting returned letter cover from his collection, and many other email correspondents, Alan's cousins nephews and nieces etc, in Australia,  now too many to mention.

Contact me

Please contact me by email preferably at

Nigel S. Aspdin
19 Vernon Street
Derby DE1 1FT
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1332-345342 *
Mobile Tel: +44 (0)7751-278376 *
* Please use voicemail if unavailable


Other search words connected to Alan Bull:
This colourless text below is intentionally left to be indexed by search engine web crawlers:

BIRKENSLEIGH - Alice Evelyn (Evelyn) on 18th April 2004, late of
Maroochydore. In her 85th Year. Beloved Wife of Bickley (Dec'd). Loved
Mother and Mother-in-Law of Alan and Sandra, and Max. Much loved Grandma
to Adrian, Tanya, Kylie, Natalie, Andrea, Ryan and Rhys. Senior G.G. to
Lachlan, Tyler and Noah. Fondly remembered by Jenni Phillips. Family and
Friends of Evelyn are invited to attend Her Funeral Service to be held
in the West Chapel of Northern Suburbs Crematorium on Friday 23rd April
2004 at 11.45am. T.J. ANDREWS FUNERAL SERVICES 180 Pacific Highway,
Hornsby Phone (02) 9477 3272
Publication Date: 21/04/04

SGT A.L. BULL (AUS. 400219)


POW. Stalag III. Stalag IIIe. Stalag IIIE. Stalag 3e. Stalag Luft III. Sagan. Żagań 

Searches of the internet suggest that Alan's father was named Robert Bull, living in
Chisholm, Victoria in 1949, Higgins Victoria 1963-1972.

Mother: Alice Evelyn Bull,

Bairnsdale High School

(Hey guys at Bairnsdale Secondary will be the first to have found this post on a search; send the link to your history teacher and friends and make it a project to track Alan Bull's descendants !!)
East Bairnsdale

Royal Australian Air Force

R.A.A.F.   RAAF.
Steve Brew
41 Sqn RAF
41 Squadron RAF


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Congratulations to Sepia Saturday 200th edition

Congratulations to Sepia Saturday 200th edition, and a special thank you to all those administrators who keep it running so smoothly.

I am sorry I have been away for the summer. I bought 3 packets of tomato seeds and got 33 seeds. With love and care each seed produced a beautiful plant, but the sheer attention to these plants has kept me in the garden and away from any blogging. Today as I write the clocks have gone back, a storm is brewing in the Atlantic, and the last tomato has to be picked. So maybe I will be back blogging soon....who knows?

It was hard to chose my favourite blog, so I just chose the one with the most comments, and it has some of my favourite sepia family photos. It also starts with the tones of the coming winter, and include some of my sillier ideas !!

I recognised him immediately. Being trained in observation from an early age as a Cub Scout was only part of it. What really made me jump was the connection with an inheritance from my grandmother, Granny Aspdin, (yes, the wife of my cycling bank clerk of a grandfather about whom I wrote last week). The inheritance is the only first edition book I have on my shelf, and were it not in less than mint condition I dare say it would be worth a bob or two.
My treasured first edition.

The book is very well known, and I will be surprised if I am the only one this week to have recognised Jerzy Fröwn, discretely standing there. His subtle choice of black on a snowy day is reflective of his early days training in the Czech navy, and quite possibly explains why he was fatally shot. [See 3rd line of page 2].

It was an unfortunate start to de-coding the message from Q his cell had received the day before, S370HSSV-0773H. He he never did realise he was reading it upside down.

But............... I know readers really want to know about my Granny Aspdin and English winters, so here she is in the 1930s in an era when we had genuine weather in Derby, and when water froze, those awful days before we finally succeeded in our quest to warm Earth sufficiently to stop us East-Midlanders having anything more than mud, fog  and grey skies in winter.

The nee Slater girls, Granny-Evelyn Aspdin right and
 sister Beatrix Smith left. The Mundy Paddling Pool,
 Markeaton Park, Derby, circa 1930, and today, below.

Granny Aspdin had married my grandfather Bertie Aspdin in 1914.

The "going away"....

....Vernon Street, Derby, 1914....woops !

 They must have had the wedding reception here at home, the family home where I now live, as photo evidence shows it did not entirely go without a hitch when they came to leave. Granny had a good life and lived into her 80s, but she always seemed jinxed on such occasions by unreliable transport. I remember that after the church funeral in 1966 all my family climbed into the big black limousine provided by the undertakers, only to find that the battery was flat. With my father telling me to get out and help push ( I refused out of embarrassment as a 16 year old) all the mourners put their shoulders behind the limo' for a jump start. A smooth purr later from the Rolls Royce engine and off we went, following Granny in the hearse to the crematorium.

(Photo 1904)  Granny Aspdin's father William Slater had built the house in
1895 for his family, below....

William Slater's children, Beatrix, the youngest and Evelyn (lower seated),
 with Alice, William and Harry. Can you recognise Evelyn and Beatrix
 on the skating photo?  Circa 1891

My great-grandfather William Slater with skating daughters Evelyn
(left) and Beatrix, outside the kitchen door. Circa 1899

Me with my daughters, Alice  (left) and Fiona, same pose,same place,
 just over 100 years later ! 2003.

Oh!...its Alice's 20th birthday Tuesday, I think I will post this early, she's away at University and I need to send her a card, this post can be her card, that will save a couple of quid.

 Happy Birthday AL !!
 Love Daddy xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The End


I scanned an image from page 2 of the book for you.