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Photo journal of my Trip to the British Isles
in Search of my Heritage- the Russell Family of Coal Miners
Most photos taken by Robert Kramp in July 1996
||Fig T-1. I took the train on a Brit Rail pass from Gatwick Airport
to London and then on to Durham City. Here, I arrive at top of Claypath
St. ready to crash into Bed and Breakfast- grateful to be relieved of my
back pack. But wait! I will have to take several pounds of books and papers
back to the states yet. By in large, I got around just fine on public transportation.
The buses were a little more plentiful and a little more on schedule in
Durham County than in Scotland.
||Fig. T-2. Couldn't rest long at B&B, too much to discover. At the
bottom of Claypath, I entered the old Market square. The Tourist office,
Town Hall, Guildhall, Old Tavern, and St. Nicholas Church surround a square
dominated by equestrian statue of the 3rd Marquis of Londonderry. I'm looking
at many beautiful hanging baskets containing geraniums in several shades
from red to purple. I sit on a bench and eat my first plate of fried Haddock
The Marquis of Londonderry (1778-1854) immigrated to northern England
from Ireland and was present at the battle of Waterloo during the war with
Napoleon. In Durham, he became a baron in the coal industry establishing
the coal shipping port at Seaham Harbor on the North Sea. The Marquis was
a controversial figure to the townspeople, many of whom were descended
from pit men who worked in the coal mines. When the miners went on strike,
the Marquis tried to influence the shop keepers and grocers not to sell
their goods to the strikers in order to break them. The Marquis was a short
man; so, when the town was erecting his statue, the former miners and their
descendants jested, "Is that a horse he's riding, or maybe a pony, or perhaps
some kind of dog".
||Fig T-3. Durham Cathedral (far towers) and the castle (top, left) as
viewed from Millburngate Bridge over the River Weir (rhymes with beer).
Castle is now used as dormitory for University of Durham. The Framwellgate
bridge, in view, leads through the old town to Market Square.
||Fig T-4. On Day 2, I took a guided, walking tour of the old City of
Durham. Here, we stand on the left bank of the River Weir next to the corn
mill, and admire the Cathedral towers above. Directly across from us is
the 15th century fulling (textile) mill. Both mills were owned by the Priory
of the Cathedral. The so-called Prince Bishops of Durham had commerce,
money, power, and an army to keep the Scots at bay across the northern
||Fig. T-5. Durham County is rich in folklore and history. This relief
high up on outside walls of the Cathedral commemorates story of the maiden
and the dunn (or brown) cow. Reportedly, the priests carrying around the
coffin of St. Cuthbert asked such a maiden for directions. The coffin,
which had been carried around for centuries, all of a sudden would not
budge. The monks built a church on the spot which became known as Durham
named after the dunn cow. Then there is the story of the Saxons in which
Durham is named after a place they called "Dun Holm" meaning "hill island".
As a fellow genealogist, your know you can't believe everything written
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||Fig T-6. And on a wall on the inside of the Cathedral- a bit of American
history. Plaque states, "Remember in these cloisters which were finished
in his day, JOHN WASHINGTON, of Washington in this County, Prior of this
Cathedral Church, 1416-1446, whose family has won an everlasting name in
lands to him unknown."
Yes, it refers to the ancestor of our own first president, George Washington.
||Fig T-7. In 1997, I found this antique postcard in a New York shop,
of all places, depicting Durham cathedral at a distance. It shows how the
cathedral dominated the landscape for miles around. Inscription at bottom
of card reads: "Durham from Pelaw Wood". One can not take too many photos
of this landmark.