Saturday, 16 March 2013

In touch with history

Sometimes when researching my family tree names, places or events crop up that are familiar from my knowledge of history. Once such popped up last night when I found the record of my great, grandfather Charles Downs Band's voyage to Cape Town in 1891:

The name of the ship he sailed on was Dunottar Castle which was a familiar sounding vessel. I therefore had to look it up on Wikipedia and found quite a lot of information. She had an interesting career from breaking the record for voyages to South Africa and war service in both the Boer and First World Wars. Such a shame she then came to an unnecessary end in 1915.

I'm not sure what he was doing going out in 1891 but I know he died whilst helping to build the new Rissik Street Post Office in Johannesburg in 1896. This building is currently being renovated after decades of neglect thanks to its importance as a historical building:

Photo by Steamhunter
Such a shame Charles never got to see the finished building. I wonder what other buildings he helped construct in his role as a stone mason? Most definitely a long way from his home town of Glossop in Derbyshire and his wife and 9 children. 

I do wonder if I'll ever be able to find out more about this end part of his life...

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