A review of our February meeting

If December's talk was a bus ride around Woolton, then this one on 8th February could best be described as a brisk ramble across the fields and stiles of nineteenth-century Gateacre. Adrian Wood - now a Wirral resident - admitted that he does not know present-day Gateacre particularly well; instead he sees it through the eyes of his great-great-grandfather Richard Wood (a sawyer living at Gorsey Cop Cottage), his great-grandfather James Wood (a coachman living in Nook Lane), and his grandfather Alexander Bibby Wood (who was recorded by the 1841 Census at the age of just two months!).
Mr Wood speculated on the middle name Bibby (which he shares) being a token of respect to John Bibby - of Garden Lodge - his great-grandfather's landlord. He came well prepared, handing out photocopies of maps from 1840, 1849 and 1890 as well as transcripts of the Census enumerator's returns. Almost, but not quite, prepared enough: for his talk attracted a record audience of almost 70 members and friends. On the maps he pointed out some familiar names - Belle Vale, Netherly (sic), etc. - and the series of large houses - Gorsey Cop (now Grange Manor), Lee Hall, Throstle Nest, etc. - most of which have long since been demolished. Some places he had found in the Census and other records, but had been unable to find on a map. Where was Rainbow Lane? Or Orchard Farm? Or Pear Tree Farm?
Mr Wood also posed - and answered - a number of questions about life in Gateacre 150 years ago. He touched on the weather, religion, transport, education and general living conditions. After Mr Wood's talk, many of us will look at the streets of Gateacre through new eyes - and others will be encouraged to research their own family histories using the sources of information he so comprehensively and enthusiastically identified.


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