GUIDES OUT ON TOUR: ANCESTRY TOURS
One of the greatest pleasures as a tour guide is to take someone down a very personal tour down memory lane.
In recent years there has been great interest in discovering your own history by building a family tree through genealogy sites such as www.ancestry.com or www.myheritage.com.
This is a fascinating journey through decades or even centuries and stretching across the globe.
Finding out about the daily lives, the struggles, joys and the tragedies of your forefathers can help put a new perspective on one’s own life.
Newcastle Tour Company can help build a bespoke day trip or multi-day tour for guests wanting to explore their past.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN ANCESTRY TOUR?
Newcastle Tour Company’s sister brand Ancestry Concierge caters to guests who are looking to find out more about places connected to their family’s history.
How does this work? We take time talking to you and finding out about your family history and looking at research you may have already done.
We are the ears and eyes on the ground and can use our local knowledge to enhance the experience and connect the pieces.
We can help with research within the region and local archives. We then combine all the information and curate your personal journey.
SOUNDS A BIT ABSTRACT? WELL, HERE IS THE STORY OF ONE CANADIAN GUEST WHO CAME TO EXPLORE HIS GEORDIE ROOTS
We were approached by a Canadian guest, who had already spent much time and effort researching his family tree.
Late in his life, it was an endeavour that unexpectedly took him back to the Tyneside area of the North-East of England.
Several months before a planned vacation on an Around-Britain-Cruise we started exchanging emails with information our guest had already uncovered.
We then started to curate a day trip to locations of personal significance to his story.
ANNA UNGERWAS THE GUIDE FOR THE DAY. ANNA, HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THIS TOUR?
Our guest Bob had already extensively researched his family tree and had put together a Family History, an impressive 130 (!) page document tracing back 5 generations of his father’s family tree all the way back to the 1700s.
So, on this occasion, my first research began with having a good read of it! I then discussed with Bob which locations he would be most interested in seeing on the day.
One of biggest challenges was to find churches, streets, homes, pubs or other edifices that were still original and authentic. The other challenge was to map out a route that would provide the most points of reference in the relatively short period of time.
After determining the route, I went on a recce to see all the places for myself. I then carried out my own research to be able to provide Bob with the stories relevant to the specific suburbs, its bygone trades, old photographs, and maps for the day.
This is how the day panned out…
A CHAUFFERED TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Blessed with extraordinary hot and sunny weather I greeted Bob and his wife at the Port of Tyne and took the opportunity of the short journey into the city of Newcastle to paint a picture of the region and how it would have looked like in the time of his forefathers.
The short stop at the Quayside set the scene of the long-gone trades of coal and shipbuilding and how much the area had changed over the last decades.
The next stop was one of Newcastle’s four old parish churches, Saint John the Baptist where Bob’s 4th great-grandparents had married in 1807.
I took along some books with old photographs to help show how the church would have looked like in the 19th century and it was special to think that the happily married couple would have stood outside these same church doors over 200 years ago!
FINDING TRACES OF FORMER FAMILY HOMES
The family had lived in the areas of Swalwell and Dunston on the Gateshead side during the 1800s and 1900s.
Various family members had been employed as iron moulders at the Dunston Iron Works or, for example, as caretakers in a local school. As these suburbs had undergone huge development in the 21st century with the building of the A1 motorway and the development of the Metrocentre shopping mall complex, it was particularly satisfying to still find streets, houses and edifices that were still standing and relatively unchanged through time.
On several stops and short walks, we were able to find former dwellings such as the row of typical Tyneside flats on Seymour Street where the family lived in the 19th century and the caretaker’s house where the family lived before moving to Cullercoats the early 20th century.
Old photographs and maps helped to see the changes and as a bonus passing-by neighbours and locals stopped to chat and share their memories of the area.
I had originally hoped to take Bob and his wife to the Tudor Rose, a local pub in Dunston. Just a stone’s throw from his family homes and formerly known as the Anchor Inn, his ancestors are bound to have had a pint or two in there in the past. As they don’t serve lunch there, we strolled past instead and followed the Tyne upriver to have lunch with a magnificent view of the Dunston Staiths (https://www.dunstonstaiths.org.uk), a listed wooden coal staiths, an edifice his forefathers would have been equally familiar with.
On my recce I had found the local artisan café provided laminated detailed maps of how the area had changed over decades and it helped to visualize the dramatic changes his forefathers would have seen happening in their lifetimes.
LAST NORTH-EAST HOME BEFORE CROSSING THE POND TO A NEW LIFE
The last stop of the day took us to Cullercoats Bay, where the last registered address of the family home was on the stunning Beverley Terrace directly overlooking the picturesque harbour before every family member had emigrated to Canada in the early 1920s.
We enjoyed an ice-cream overlooking the sunny bay reminiscing on all the day’s sights and memories.
Before returning to port to say our goodbyes, I presented Bob and his wife with two books of old photographs of the two areas that we had seen most of on the day to take away as a keepsake.
WHAT DID BOB MAKE OF HIS DAY? THIS IS WHAT HE WROTE ON TRIPADVISOR:
We had a magical day exploring and finding where my ancestors lived in the Newcastle area before they immigrated to Canada in the early part of the 20th century.
Our guide, Anna, couldn’t have done more to make the trip a success and we couldn’t have met a kinder, friendlier person. She had investigated places we wanted to visit before we arrived and was also thoroughly versed in the history of the area.
We originally corresponded with Alex who organized the private tour with Anna and we can’t say enough about his prompt responses and the ease it was all put together.
Without hesitation we highly recommend this company.
Read the full review on Tripadvisor.
DO YOU WANT TO FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY’S PAST?
Have you undertaken some archive digging and discovered that your family once originated from this remote corner of England?
If you would like us to help you put together a personal tour uncovering the places of your family’s past, contact us on https://ancestryconcierge.com/contact-us/.