Arthur John William Jackson (b:1927) and Patricia Jackson (b:1932 ne Green)

Married 29th August 1953

Isn’t it heart warming looking at photos of parents when they were young or when they were married!

Following on with my series of blog posts on my family history and how it has influenced my writing, we have reached Mum and Dad.

They were both brought up in the Southampton area and were married at Weston Road Church, Woolston. As a family we made regular visits to see Grandma Green there while growing up, and so the whole area was extremely familiar to me. Being a family of walkers, you get to know a place far better that way. Thus, it wasn’t difficult to make it the main setting for my second novel Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home.

Over the years my parents have shared many memories of their childhood and adolescent days and I’m sure all of this has coloured my writing too.

Arthur Jackson (my dad) didn’t work at Supermarine, like his father (Arthur Walter Jackson) and sister. He joined the RAF right at the end of WW2, but he did remember seeing the prototype Spitfire fly overhead, before he was evacuated to Bournemouth.

Mum and Dad also shared my Great Grandmother Harriet’s love of dancing and, legend has it, that she could turn on a sixpence.

On this trip here, we shared my parents’ last voyage on their favourite P&O ship the Oriana, chosen because it had a good dance floor; our last port of call was (fittingly) Guernsey.

Here are Mum and Dad on deck waving their flags, just as we passed Sark and Herm, two of the smaller Channel Islands.

…and so The Channel Islands, particularly Guernsey and Alderney are in my blood and my family heritage and childhood memories are also of holidays in Wooston, Southampton.

As it happens, when I began writing the first draft of Riduna, my parents decided that they would have a go at writing too. There’s was a sort of prequel to Riduna, set at the time of Elizabeth Quesnel and John Taylor.

I started working on their little book with Dad when they were both showing signs of dementia. He had been frustrated that he couldn’t write conversation. In the end he did not have the patience anymore to focus on it and so, since they passed away, I have spent some time working on their story. It is now at proof readers, but then I hope to work with someone from Alderney Museum to check it for historical authenticity. I won’t say accuracy because, although inspired by our family history, it remains fiction. I’ll keep you posted.

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Filed under Ancasta, Channel Islands, Family History, Inspiration, Southampton, Supermarine, Woolston

How our Family History was Researched

A comment on my last post from my niece prompted me describe how our family history search was carried out, predominantly by our parents.

Firstly it was started in the days before internet searches.

Research on Alderney

Dad wrote down all he knew of his Grandmother Harriet Jane, alongside lots of questions and we headed on a family holiday to Alderney and then on to Guernsey. Here are a couple of key questions:

Who were Harriet’s parents? (my Great Grandmother)

Where did she live?

What happened to them? Dad knew that they had died but how?

There were three ways we could find out information:

  • Visiting a dear lady on Alderney who was in her 80’s, but worked with families who were researching their family trees. All she asked was a donation for the museum and for us to send her any information we gleaned.
  • Visiting the museum where the potter Peter Arnold (and curator I believe) allowed us to search all the old acetates of any records the island possessed on a machine where you carefully turned the handle and looked into a viewer.
  • Looking around the graveyard for possible relatives.

As I have said in a previous post, records on Alderney are not complete due to the evacuation and occupation in WW2.

Most which are available, of course, can now be accessed on-line.

(Meanwhile I researched life on Alderney in the Victorian Age for my novel)

Research on Guernsey

Here there is a Records Office and the Priaulx Library, both mines of information, not to mention Trinity Church where my Great Grandmother Harriet was married. Our parents went back to work on their searches. Family History is absorbing but time consuming.

After our trip together

Subsequently …

A few days was not enough, although we had an enjoyable time together. After that Mum and Dad made another trip to both islands on their own and I too visited Guernsey on my own for my research, which was now diverging from the truth into fiction. I travelled to Guernsey, in the opposite of the journey made by Harriet and her young family, on the slow ferry from Portsmouth, when you are still passing The Isle of Wight after an hour at sea!

As Mum and Dad went on to do more detailed research, uncovering much of what I have described in the previous few posts, they also went on to access records on the internet too, as soon as it was available.

It was a wonderful topic of discussion when we met and they distributed much of it to all the family, although it was poignant but also a delight to find all the original documentation and notes in their things when they had passed away.

Next post …

The Family in Wooston


Filed under Alderney, Channel Islands, Family History, Research, Riduna

Arthur Walter Jackson and Daisy Clara Colmer 1897-1981

My grandpa Arthur Jackson was born on 30th November 1896 on the island of Guernsey.

Here he is on the 1901 Guernsey census at the age of four, just before the family moved to Wooston Southampton.

The reason for the move was that work had literally dried up for his father, who was a painter of gold leaf at the various military establishments on Guernsey, because by this time the buildings were complete.

Arthur Walter married Daisy Colmer in Woolston 1925.

I remember Grandpa singing ‘Daisy Daisy’ many times when I was growing up.

Here’s Nat King Cole’s version. What memories it evokes hearing in sung once more!

Below is the family tree Dad drew up, with Grandpa and Grandma Jackson at its heart.

Grandpa was in the Navy during WW1 and visited Port Said once, where his brother was in hospital and subsequently died. He was later in the Battle of Jutland.

He worked at Supermarine in Southampton after WW1 in the drawing office/ library, where he looked after all of the drawings and worked alongside RJ Mitchel.

A family story goes that Grandpa was walking home for lunch during WW2 and his friend pushed him to the ground just as Supermarine was bombed. If he hadn’t been saved, then I wouldn’t be here now.

Another story was the everything was recycled and reused in those days. The drawings of prototypes of aeroplanes (eg the Spitfire) were drawn on starched linen. Grandpa used to rescue those thrown in the bin, take them home and Grandma J washed them. I’m told that our mum then used them for my sister Christine as nappies!

This is how I remember Grandma and Grandpa Jackson, living at Whilestone Way, Swindon, where they settled after the war with the move of Supermarine after it was bombed.

It is the story of the birth of Supermarine that I tell in my second novel, Ancasta, Guide me Swiftly Home, the sequel to Riduna.


Filed under Author Diana Jackson, Early Flight, Family History, Southampton, Supermarine, Woolston