Changing the time on Britain’s most prestigious clocks

This weekend sees the beginning of British Summer Time (BST), which was first established by the Summer Time Act of 1916 and we move forward to GMT +1. As every British household gets set to change the multitude of clocks around the house, we spare a thought for those tasked with winding forward some of the most prestigious clocks around Britain.

 Big Ben

The world’s most famous clock is the responsibility of the Clockmakers at the Palace of Westminster  – who have 2000 clocks to change throughout the Place and parliamentary buildings! Changing the time on Big Ben is not a simple process. It involves careful precision and split-second timing from the Clockmakers.

Take a look at the process here and watch this fascinating video…

Royal Liver Building Liverpool 

The clocks at the top of the Royal Liver building, Great George, are the largest clock faces in Britain. There are four of them positioned on the 295 feet high clock tower overlooking the River Mersey – with huge dials of 25 feet in diameter and 14-foot long minute hands! They are the world’s 16th largest clockfaces and were put in motion on 22nd June 1911, the precise moment that King George was crowned!

Britains Oldest Clock

The oldest still fully-functioning clock in Britain is the clock on the north transept of Wells Cathedral in Somerset. An astronomical clock, it dates back to between 1386 and 1392.

The Eastgate Tower Clock 

Situated in the Roman walled city of Chester and built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, this impressive clock is built into the walkway along Chester Walls, above the city’s Eastgate entrance.  It is said to be the most photographed clock in Britain, after Big Ben.

Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, University of Birmingham 

Otherwise know as “Old Joe”, this is the tallest freestanding clock tower in the World at 100 metres! Built to commemorate Joseph Chamberlain, the first Chancellor of the University, it was completed in 1908.

More famous clocks from around the World…

Philadelphia City Hall in Philadelphia, US held the title of the tallest building in the world from 1901 to 1908 and has four clocks which are 8 meters in diameter.

Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, Mecca, Saudi Arabia is the tallest clock tower and largest clock face in the World!

The Prague Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic attracts many tourists, who watch the famous moving figures of the beautiful clock. I watched this myself in a snowy January many years ago and it is lovely to see. Hard to believe that the clock was first installed in the year 1410!

Rathaus-Glockenspiel, Munich, Germany is a famous tourist attraction, built in 1908. It has 48 Bells and 32 life-sized figures who re-enact two stories from the 16th Century.

The Savious Tower, Moscow, Russia in Red Square was designed in 1491 and installed in 1625 and is part of the Kremlin walls.

Back to everyone in the UK… remember to put your clocks forward and enjoy the extra hours of sunshine!

Two new features for St Patrick’s Day

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, we are pleased to announce two new features.

Our infographic, designed to help you share your research in a fun and exciting way with your family, can now be created in the national colours of Ireland.

So if Irish Infographicyou have a bit of Irish blood and want a fun way of showing your family members their Irish heritage, click here to create yours. It’s free to create and shows you statistics such as the average number of children per family, the most common surnames, the ratio of men to women and the average age of marriage.

We are also delighted to have launched a timeline of Irish History. The timeline shows the story of Ireland through it’s legal, political and religious events and we are grateful to the Irish Family History Centre in Dublin for their help in pulling the content together.

The Irish Family History Centre are an award-winning history and heritage company, who as part of the EPIC Ireland experience, showcase the unique global journey of the Irish people. Their experts help people research their Irish ancestry and they provide an interesting way for visitors to discover their family story and Irish heritage.

As a Twile user you can overlay this new Irish History timeline onto your own family history timeline, to see the lives of your Irish ancestors in the context of what was happening in the country around them. Your ancestors milestones will be alongside events such as the Confederate Wars and the Great Famine.

We hope that you enjoy these new features…happy St Patrick’s Day!

Related articles

Have you got a little bit of Irish in you? Take the Findmypast Quiz 

10 things you need to know when starting Irish Genealogy Research (Fiona Fitzsimons of the Irish Family History Centre explains everything you need to know)

 

 

“Name That Baby” competition to teach children about family history

Here’s an update on the project we’re running at a local school, to help introduce children to their family history.

In this week’s lesson we held a ‘name that baby’ competition. The children brought in old photos of themselves as babies so their classmates could guess who was who.

Children playing name that babyParticular focus was given to their nose, eyes and ears as they made their decisions and they were reminded that personal facial features are often similar to parents and grandparents – I asked them all to think about who they looked like most in their family and some interesting discussions began.

I had set homework in the previous lesson for the children to write a story about a family member. As our discussions moved on, they added this information to the Twile timeline – again, they all had wonderful stories to tell.  One story in particular was very moving so we asked the child to tell the rest of the class what she had learnt:

‘My 2 x great grandparents from Belfast, Ireland met during the sectarian troubles. My 2 x great grandad was Protestant and my grandma was Catholic. They were in love but were unable to be together because it wasn’t allowed and they would have been in a lot of trouble if they were found out. During the civil conflict they decided to move away to England where they could be married. They did get married and raised their children in England, which is why I live here today.’

The time flies by when I am in the school and it is so great to see how much fun the children are having. Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to discovering more family stories and some of the children are even making videos.

Introducing children to Family History at Riverside School

As part of our ongoing mission to make family history more engaging for the younger generations, we’re working with another Yorkshire school to introduce family history into the curriculum.

Last year I was delighted to go into a local school and speak to the children about family history. We had such a lot of fun and it was great to see the children so enthusiastic, enjoying conversations with their family about their ancestors and starting to record their own lives on Twile.

I recently accepted an invitation to go in to another school, working with the history teacher at Riverside School in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK. A group of excited 9 and 10 year old students greeted me and I have the pleasure of going along each week for six weeks .

In the first week, in order to introduce the children to family history, their teacher Mrs Patrick and I had a discussion with the class to get their thoughts on ‘What is family’, ‘Why is it important’, ‘What is an ancestor’.  She then asked the children to recall happy family stories relating to the Christmas holidays, where they were likely to have family gatherings.  Many mentioned seeing grandparents, aunts and uncles and discussed who was related to who and on which side of the family (maternal/paternal).

We then introduced the concept of the family tree, showing them the Twile version and asked the children to think about how their family was connected and draw their own trees.

As the children began this work, questions began to be asked such as ‘I don’t know my grandparents real names – they are just granny and grandpa’, ‘I don’t know if my uncle is my mum or dad’s brother’, ‘I don’t know my mum’s date of birth’ – We asked the children to write these questions down and take them home to find out more from their parents.

In the second week, the children came along to the class with more information about their family, ready to put it into Twile.

After showing the children how to log in, they set to work adding their family tree findings online.  The children got to work enthusiastically and found Twile easy to use.  By the end of the first part of the session the children had added their immediate family members and began adding aunts/uncles and their cousins.

The children took photos of themselves using the iPads and imported their photos onto the ‘profile’ on their trees.

We watched two videos: the first to illustrate how the family tree is pieced together. The second was the first part of Who Do You Think You Are – JK Rowling:

At the end of the 15 minutes, the children were asking to watch more – they were completely enthralled in the journey that JK Rowling was being taken on. They couldn’t believe it when she learnt that the grandfather she thought she knew about was the wrong person!

We had a class discussion following the videos – the children were keen to tell me their own stories learnt from the last session about their history – stories were told about soldiers in the war and an ancestor that had sailed on the ‘Mayflower’ from the UK to America in the 1600s!! I was quite taken by the enthusiasm the children displayed and clearly the parents’ involvement in helping the children learn – children had also found out the names of their grandparents and now knew the dates of birth of their parents. One child in particular discovered they had a well-known ancestor – Edward Jenner – who discovered the vaccine for small pox!

After the second session, the children were asked to choose a family member and write a story about them – find out their name, date of birth, what relation they are, what their occupation is/was and something interesting about them. They will bring a photo if possible, ready to ‘create a story’ about that person in next week’s lesson.

Their excitement was contagious and I can’t wait to go back next week!

Now everyone can view Twile timelines of World History

To help in our mission of engaging the wider family in family history, we’ve just opened up our streams of world events to everyone, whether they use Twile or not.  This means that anyone can view a Twile timeline of World War 1 or a timeline of big inventions, for example, even if they don’t yet use Twile to record their family story.

There’s a quote attributed to author James Patterson that will explain how we think these public streams can help:

“There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.”

Family historians often struggle to engage their family members in their research.  Are they really not interested in where they came from and how their ancestors lived their lives?  Or are they simply reading the wrong book?

We hope that by encouraging people to explore world history events on a timeline we’ll be able to help them take the next step and start recording their own lives and those of their parents, grandparents and children.  Every memory and photo they add to their family timeline will be something preserved that could otherwise be lost forever.

Right now we have the following streams that you can explore:

And we are working on many, many more.

Can you help?
We’re looking for people who can help us put together streams on specific topics that would make good timelines.  Are you an expert on the American War of Independence or the history of London or the life of Ghandi?  Please get in touch by sending us an email to help@twile.com – you could have your own stream on a Twile timeline!

We’re also looking for suggestions on what streams we should add next – please let us have your ideas.

Add streams to your family timeline
If you already have a Twile timeline, you can add any of our streams of world history to help give context to your family story:

  1. Log into Twile: www.twile.com/timeline
  2. Click the ‘In View’ button at the top of the timeline
  3. Move the sliders on the right hand side of the page to activate any of our streams
  4. Click ‘Done’
  5. You should now see your chosen content on the same timeline as your family history

Privacy

By the way – although we’re opening up access to our streams of world history, everything you add to your own Twile timeline is still totally private and secure – nothing you share on Twile will ever be made available to anyone outside of your family.  If you’d like to know more about our approach to privacy at Twile, I’d suggest this article we wrote a while back: Twile Privacy

New timeline of the American Revolutionary War: Boston Tea Party

Today is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which seems a fitting time to launch our timeline of the American Revolutionary War.  You can now overlay the events of the war onto your own family history timeline.

On this day in 1773, Samuel Adams and the “Sons of Liberty” boarded three ships in Boston Harbour and threw 342 chests of tea overboard. It was a reaction to the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament earlier in the year, which colonists believe violated their rights.   This event and the British reaction to it were significant in the escalation of the American Revolution (The War of Independence).

The financial cost of the “Tea Party” was significant, with more than £9,000 (present day value around £1 million) of tea dumped into Boston Harbour.

You can see the Boston Tea Party and all other events from the American Revolutionary War on our timeline at: https://twile.com/timeline/americanrevolutionarywar

Add the American Revolutionary War to your Twile timeline: 

  • Click the ‘In View’ button at the top of your Twile timeline
  • Move the slider on the right hand side of the window
  • Click ‘Done’

 

London’s Shoreditch: History in the architecture

How often do you stop to appreciate the history of the towns and cities you walk through?  I recently had the opportunity to join a spontaneous guided tour of Shoreditch, an area in the East End of London, by none other than Findmypast‘s Myko Clelland.

When I walked through Shoreditch from the Underground station that morning, I paid little attention to the architecture around us – but Myko showed me that the area has quite a story to tell.

For example, “The Theatre”, an Elizabethan playhouse built in 1576 by James Burbage, was the first built for the sole purpose of theatrical productions. The theatre’s history includes William Shakespeare, who was employed as an actor and playwright. After a dispute with the landlord, the theatre was dismantled and the timbers used in the construction of the Globe Theatre on Bankside.

I walked through Spitalfields market – the origins of which date back to 1638, when King Charles I gave licence for flesh, fowl and roots to be sold in what was known then as “Spittle Fields”. In the late 17th Century, streets were laid out for Irish and Huguenot silk weavers and Spitalfields’ historic association with the silk industry was established.

We saw the Ten Bells pub, notable for its association with two victims of Jack the 220px-st_leonards_shoreditchRipper in the late 1800s and we went inside St. Leonard’s Church, which occupies the site of a church at least as old as the thirteenth century. It is the resting place of many actors from the Tudor period and is mentioned in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons – “When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch”.

What struck me in particular was the new buildings sandwiched between identical looking older buildings. This, Myko explained, was the result of bombing during World War 2, especially the Blitz. The Blitz (Blitzkrieg), meaning ‘lightening war’, was the name used by the British press to describe the heavy air raids carried out over Britain in 1940 and 1941. Whole houses gone in an instant.

We saw the world’s oldest council estate – the Boundary Estate (pictured at the top of this article) which has stood since 1890. Architecturally unique, the estate trialled a new form of philanthropy – flattening the ‘Old Nichol slum’ and replacing it with beautiful red brick homes.

In less than an hour I gained renewed appreciation for the architecture of London and was motivated to learn more about my own hometown. I’d encourage everyone to do the same.

Do you have any interesting stories about the area you live in?  Add a comment to this article – we’d love to hear from you.

Feature Image from London Metropolitan Archives