Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission (Kwanglim Room)
49 City Road

See Wesley’s Chapel for more information about the venue.

The Chapel is just a short walk from Old Street Underground Station.

Underground stations: Old Street (due to building works at Old Street, please use subway 3) (Northern Line City Branch)
Moorgate (Northern, Circle and Metropolitan Lines).
Buses: 21, 43, 55, 76, 141, 205, 214, 243, 271
Railway Stations: Old Street, Moorgate, Liverpool Street, City Thames Link, Farringdon

Contact: Moira Shaw
Email: londonbranch@ndfhs.org.uk

Meetings three times per year (usually March, July and November). Room opens at 1pm for informal chat with talk beginning at 1:20pm until 3:45pm

New members are always welcome.

If you would like to join us, please get in touch and let us know using the Branch’s e mail address above.


Branch Meetings

Date Subject of Talk Speaker
6th July 2024 The Building of Durham Viaduct David Butler


Reports of Meetings

March 2024

Six members were pleased to welcome our speaker, Dr Winifred Stokes, and two members of her family.

In her talk, “Fat Cows and Railway Lines”, Dr Stokes demonstrated very clearly how the development and route of the first railway line connecting Stockton and Darlington was influenced by the transport needs of individuals dependent upon exploiting products derived from agriculture. This was set in the context of the period of intense agricultural improvement, particularly in animal husbandry, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when the Napoleonic Wars created a more pressing need to improve the nation’s food security. Dr Stokes introduced us to a number of individuals: those who were prominent in newly-established local agricultural societies, successful pioneers in selective breeding, and those who recorded the extent and impact of developments, such as land surveyors and journalists, as well as the sponsor of this line who influenced its circuitous route for the advantages it brought to his business. We gained a clear picture of the close interconnectedness of agriculture, agriculturalists and railway development which was also key in the development of mining and other industry. We greatly enjoyed this return visit from Dr Stokes who is extremely knowledgeable and who creates a relaxed rapport with her audience.

We finished our meeting with some information updates and a discussion about future meetings.

November 2023

On the 4 November, 7 members and a guest gathered together to enjoy a lively, absorbing and extremely informative presentation by Kim Bibby Wilson. Kim’s theme was ‘Aspects of Northumbrian Life and Heritage’. Commencing with the concept of Northumbrian identity, Kim went on to explain the ancient roots of the Northumbrian language and dialect and she introduced us to a range of Northumbrian poetry, prose and song by local poets, writers and musicians. We learned about musical, dance and other traditions which have been kept alive by individuals, families and communities across the region, from the countryside to the coast. Having demonstrated the intricate working of the Northumbrian pipes, Kim played beautifully for us and her daughter Meg impressed us with her clog dancing. It was a rare privilege to be able to enjoy their performances at such close quarters and we were all keen to learn more.

Kim’s visit stimulated an interesting discussion about identity and belonging which felt very relevant to our enthusiasm for family history.

Our next meeting will be held on 9 March 2024 when Dr Winifred Stokes will make a return visit to speak about the links between agriculture and industrial development in the North-East.

July 2023

Our summer meeting held on 8th July was attended by fifteen people. Six of our own Branch members were pleased to be joined by nine guests, the majority of whom were members of the London Group of Midland Ancestors who had also met in the venue during the morning. Our speaker was David Butler who was making a very welcome return visit to present his talk, “Trouble at the Gates: The Trials and Tribulations of Tollgate Keepers“.

This was a very enjoyable and detailed presentation which illustrated admirably a multitude of situations in which the collectors of road users’ tolls found themselves. David made excellent use of maps, particularly tithe maps, and he drew on accounts from name-rich sources such as Court records and newspaper articles. Most of the records came from Co. Durham but we knew that similar situations would have played out across the country.

Branch members held a brief AGM after the talk, thereby re-establishing our pre-pandemic routines. We now look forward to gathering together at our next meeting (on 4 November) and to Kim Bibby-Wilson’s presentation on “Northumbrian Life”, which will feature Northumbrian pipes and clog dancing.

Last updated 29th March 2024