Monday, 19 March 2007

Never give up Searching

Today I found a copy of a letter I wrote in May 1987. I wrote it to the author of an unpublished book, the handwritten manuscript of which I had been shown by a librarian at the Public Library in Swadlincote. I’d gone into the library to ask if they had anything on the history of Newhall where my Gough family came from. I had noticed that there were no Goughs in the parish registers before the date of 5th November 1789 when my 4x great grandfather Thomas Gough was married. So the question was where did he come from and why? I had found a paragraph in this manuscript which may have answered my question. The author, a Mr. V. A. Shaw had included in his work notes on some of the well-known families of Newhall and this is what he said:-

Another well known family name of Gough, originated from the Forest of Dean coalfield. In the eighteenth century Thomas Gough came to South Derbyshire because it had come to his knowledge that there were valuable seams of coal here practically untouched. He was a prospector for coal. He settled in Newhall and there he employed a gang of men, possibly brought with him, to sink small shafts to prove various seams. Apparently it was the practice of Gough to work the coal from a shaft until they were purchased by local businessmen and others, thus allowing him to prospect further.’

So I had a possible place but I needed to know where Mr. Shaw found his information. He replied that he had found the information in an article in the Burton Chronicle he thought from about 25 years before, about some pieces of Gresley Blue Plate China which had been owned by Thomas Gough. He also enclosed a copy of his manuscript for me to keep, and I was thrilled by this. So began a long search for the article in question.

Years later, once we had a computer, I decided to gradually type up the manuscript as I thought it should be more widely available. I had been in touch with the volunteers at The Magic Attic, in Swadlincote, who after lots of searching had found the article mentioned by Mr. Shaw. The china had been inherited by a Mr. Jabez Gough, former postman, of Newhall who was the great grandson of Thomas Gough. Unfortunately he had died in 1964. I gave my copy of the ‘History of Newhall’ to the Magic Attic plus a typed copy as I thought it should return to the area. I had been told that Mr. Shaw had died only a few weeks before; his book was never published. I still have the brick wall of whereabouts in The Forest of Dean Thomas Gough came from and I don’t suppose I will ever know, but I never give up hope as, after about 15 years of searching the newspaper article was found.

When I first visited the Magic Attic it was housed on the top floor of a smoky, dimly lit Snooker Hall in the town centre. It is now inside the Sharpe’s Pottery complex and is well worth a visit. We returned a few weeks ago to see how they were getting on. Here are a couple of photos.

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