Breathing new life into an old photograph

I thought i’d try out a photo restoration service to see if it could breathe new life into an old WWI photograph of my Gt Grandfather – here’s the results!

You might remember that during my 2015 Genealogy Resolutions, I aimed to grow my collection of family photographs.

The up-shot of that is that I have about a dozen old original photos that are creased, flaking, distorted, torn – I’m sure I’m not alone in having these. I also have a few that are modern prints of damaged photographs – where I’ve been able to temporarily borrow a photo to copy it.

Each one of these is just that little bit imperfect that it doesn’t quite make the grade when it comes to enlarging, printing or framing.

As the new year chimed in, I received an email out of the blue from Pick Nick Photo Restoration Services, in Kent, here in the UK.

Pick Nick Photo Restoration Services logo

I’d not really prioritised my photo restoration, as I can meander my way around the likes of Photoshop okay-ish and have made some improvements to the lesser-damaged images in the past, but nothing too adventurous. I think I’d mentally filed the more damaged images in my ‘to-do’ file… you know, the one that must be huge and probably has a 10yr waiting list. That one.

Trying out a photo restoration service

So, on the offer of a freebie, I thought that I’d give it a go. Why not? I get a photo repaired and Pick Nick gets a photo to show off in their portfolio. Everyone’s happy.

So, let’s take a look at the original – this is a photograph of my Great Grandfather, Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey. He served as a Private in the First World War, with The Suffolk Regiment, The Royal Munster Regiment, and The Royal Irish Fusiliers, and saw action in Gallipoli.

Pte Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey on horse (before)
BEFORE: My Great Grandfather Pte Ernest Dewey on a horse during the First World War. Photo: Andrew Martin.

…and within a few days, I received an email back from Pick Nick with the photo restoration job done.

Pte Ernest Dewey on horse - after photo restoration by Pick Nick
ABOVE: My Great Grandfather’s WWI photo looks as good as new after Pick Nick’s restoration (the watermark is purely to protect this image online – i have one without).

I’m really impressed at the result. The photo is much crisper and the sepia level is less aggressive, but those creases have been removed, and the missing bits of the photo that have long since flaked away, have been replaced – seamlessly returned to their rightful place about 100 years since the photograph was first taken.

To feed my curiosity (I’m never one to shy away from such nerdery), Pick Nick sent me a video link that shows the photo restoration done in 3 minutes. From my own dabbling experience, I know it would have taken hours rather than the 3 minutes to do – it’s a very tricky art to master!

So, bringing new life to an old photo has inspired me to rummage and find some more photos that could do with a new lease of life in 2016.

For now though, I definitely know who to recommend if I’m looking for someone to restore my old photos in future.

Website launched to commemorate the Lives Of The First World War

IWM and DC Thomson Family History launch Lives Of The First World War website – creating a digital memorial celebrating the bravery of those who contributed to the WW1 effort in the Commonwealth.

Back in February, the Imperial War Museums and DC Thomson Family History, tantalised the audience at Who Do You Think You Are? Live with their collaborative project – Lives Of The First World War.

In the months since, the site has been open to Beta testing, and today finally saw the site go live to the general public at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org.

The idea of the project has been to build upon the records, and create a huge digital memorial that commemorates the lives of those who served in WW1 – whether they survived or lost their life.

I’ve jumped straight in to add my great grandfather, Herbert Martin, who served with the Suffolk Regiment and the Northamptonshire Regiment as a Private, but was sadly crushed to death in a train accident in Boulogne, France, on 17th October 1917.

Lives of the First World War screenshot
I’ve added my great grandfather to Lives Of The First World War.

It’s a sad fact, that I have a lot of other brave people to begin adding, and that this will take some time, but the collaboration is seen as one that will provide an archive that will detail the social history of the 8 million men and women from the Commonwealth who contributed to the First World War effort.

Find out more via the video below:

Interested?

The site is clean and pretty easy to use. It’s also free, up to a point (you pay for access to some archive material), but you can add content yourself. You can also ‘remember’ any of the people listed – which kind of acts as a bookmark for you. The site also carries a message saying that they are aiming to keep updating it to add further features.

I was keen to hear that there is an educational side to this site, and that the project is keen to see this site used as a school’s resource – in a bid to ensure that the service and bravery of our ancestors, is remembered for another 100 years.

Day Two: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

Day Two of the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.

After a late night at the annual FindMyPast dinner, i creaked out of bed and headed across a beautifully sunny (but assuringly still Winter) Hyde Park for the second of three days at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014. I’m quite enjoying this ‘commute’!

Sunshine beams into Olympia for day two.
Sunshine beams into Olympia for day two.

I got to Olympia just a few minutes after opening, but there was no queue. A small queue remained at the cloakroom and the workshop ticket desk, but both were fast moving.

I went straight into my pre-planned session with Cassie Mercer from Inside History magazine, on ‘How to get your ancestor’s names in print’.

Her talk covered how to approach family history for magazines and newspapers, how to pitch to editors, and how to get writing.

She highlighted that when writing, you should always think about the reader. The audience. Who are they? Will they want to read this? She also advised that when writing an article, you should start with your best anecdote, and end on one too.

Do mention the War

After Cassie’s talk finished, I then spent time exploring the stands over in the new Military History section on the upper floor.

Audrey Collins at The National Archives stand at Who Do a You Think You Are? Live 2014
Audrey Collins talks ‘Discovery’ at The National Archives stand at Who Do a You Think You Are? Live 2014

Here I found The National Archives (with Audrey Collins talking about on-site ‘Discovery’), and the exciting looking Lives Of WW1 from the Imperial War Museum.

Lives of WW1 talk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Lives of WW1 talk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

I was fortunate to attend the Keynote from Lives Of The First World War with Melanie Donnelly and Luke Smith, expertly compared by Else Churchill and her roaming mics. They were able to explain the initial test conducted in 2011 on Flickr, and the subsequent development of the project to the now, 2-day old, showcased product.

It’s yet to be publicly launched – they quoted May 2014. It certainly looks like a great resource for creating what is essentially a memorial Facebook-style profile of people who lived and died in the First World War, complete with photos, audio, video, documents, stories, and community.

Eric Knowles at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Eric Knowles at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

Was pleased to spot the legendary Eric Knowles again, deep in conversation with a hopeful heirloom keeper.

I’m now off for a ‘tweet up’ at the Hand and Flower pub opposite the event venue…. so I best leave that out of today’s blog post!!

Remembrance 2012

Remembrance Sunday 2012 – Remembering the bravery of those who have served in, and gave their lives to war.

Remembrance Sunday has arrived again, and like so many others here in the UK, i have bought a poppy and will be observing the two minute silence at 11am.

There are seldom few days where I don’t spare my ancestors a thought, especially those who served and gave their life in the ugliness of war with a bravery far beyond anything I can comprehend.

The Martin Family (c. 1916)
ABOVE: Herbert (my Great Grandfather) would have been 32/33 in this photo, which was taken in 1916. Within 12 months, he had been killed in a train accident in France, leaving 31yr old Daisy with her 4 young sons.

Death Card for Herbert Martin (1884-1917)

Support The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal

Remembrance 2011

Remembrance 2011 – remembering the brave and heroic who fought and who were lost in war.

I get completely tongue-tied when it comes to writing about war and Remembrance. So instead, here’s some photographs of a few of my relatives. Some of whom made it, others who weren’t so lucky.

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey - 1st World War

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)

Albert Martin (1899-1918)

Owen Newman (1919-1944)

Herbert Martin (1884-1917)

Herbert Martin's gravestone

Owen Yarrow (1882-1917)

Owen Yarrow

Remembrance: Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey

Remembrance: Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991).

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)
Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)

Ernest lied about his age in order to sign up to the Suffolk Yeomanry

Ernest was a year younger than was permitted – a scenario which was actually quite common amongst men who were keen to fight for their country.

He fought in the First World War and travelled to France and Egypt whilst part of the Yeomanry.

Unlike so many of his comrades, he survived the First World War and went on to live until he was 94 years old.

Due to his work with the Yeomanry, he married after an 11 year courtship to Susan Jane Moden of Ely.

Remembrance: Albert Martin

Remembrance of Albert Martin (1899-1918) who died in a hospital in Germany.

Albert Martin (1899-1918)
Albert Martin (1899-1918)

Albert Martin (65727) enlisted as a Private for the 1st/5th Batallion of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

He went to fight in the First World War but was sadly taken prisoner during the German’s third offensive that swept through Fismes, France on 27th May 1918.

Records from the Comité International de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) revealed that he was captured the following day at Fismes.

He is recorded as present at a Prisoner of War (POW) camp in Dülmen, coming from Laon on 19th July 1918. He then appears at the POW camp at Münster II on 20th August 1918.

He died 10 days later in the “Res.Laz.Abtl.Krankenhaus” (hospital) at Homberg, Germany.

He was buried in an English cemetery in the same place “Feld” 21, Nr.64.5″

Remembrance: Herbert Martin

Remembrance of Private Herbert Martin, 1884-1917.

Herbert Martin (1884-1917)
Herbert Martin (1884-1917)

Herbert Martin (40572) enlisted as a Private of the 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment.

He was tragically killed on his way home towards the end of the First World War in a train accident in France.

His name is featured on the Little Downham war memorial and was until recently also on a stone in the cemetery, along with his sister Emma and her husband John William Goodge.

Herbert is named in the Cambridge Regiment’s instalment in St. George’s Chapel in Ely Cathedral, where it lists the names of the brave who died during the two world wars.

Remembrance: Owen Yarrow

A series of images of brave soldiers who fought in the First and Second World Wars.

Owen Yarrow (1882-1917)
Owen Yarrow (1882-1917)

Owen worked as a Postman and had to carry mail to the front lines during the 1st World War.

It was during the battle at Cumbrai, France, that he was sadly killed. None of his personal possessions were recovered.

He served with the 5th Suffolk Regiment and the 1st Battalion Post Office Rifles.

Surname Saturday: GIDDINGS

Surname Saturday – it’s the turn of the Giddings family from Fleet, Lincolnshire and later from March, Cambridgeshire.

My Giddings ancestry from Lincolnshire and later from Cambridgeshire provides me with one of my favourite photographs in my collection.

Elizabeth Giddings (1831-19??)

At some point between October 1791 and December 1793 my 5x Great Grandparents Thomas Giddings and his wife Rebecca (née Watson) left the village of Fleet on the border of Lincolnshire and brought their family of at most 3 children to March, Cambridgeshire.

By 1798 the couple had grown the family to 5 children with the youngest, Daniel Watson Giddings (my Gt x4 grandfather) having been born that year.

The Giddings family appear to have been Baptists, attending The Providence Baptist Church in March – this is certainly the place of many of their appearances in parish records.

Illegitimacy

In 1852, my Gt x3 Grandmother Elizabeth Giddings (pictured) gave birth to my Gt x2 Grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Giddings. This must have been a real test for both Elizabeth and Sarah as illegitimacy was heavily frowned upon during this period and both mother and child would have bore the weight of the ‘disgust’ of the community they lived in. Elizabeth would have been encouraged to marry. Despite this, Elizabeth remained unmarried for another 10 years, finally marrying a Charles Lincoln from Potton, Bedfordshire in 1862. Together they had a daughter, Jane.

Tragedy

Sarah Elizabeth married my Gt x2 Grandfather James Martin from Little Downham, Cambridgeshire and the couple settled down to rear a family of 13 children. Sarah must have been as tough as her mother, as she saw six of her children plus a son-in-law and daughter-in-law all go to the grave in her lifetime. One son died as an infant, another was killed when he fell from a horse as a working child. She then lost a daughter and son-in law, and two sons as a result of the First World War. I’m unsure of the cause of death for one of her daughters and her daughter-in-law. All in all, Sarah and her family suffered terrible losses.

Sarah died just five years after her mother in 1925, aged 72 years at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.