My father, George Turner was born in Oldham, England on August 13th, 1902 to James and Sarah Ann (Dellow) Turner. Going through my mother’s old paperwork, after she passed, I found a Vaccination document showing that my father George was born on #2 Hornby Street in Oldham, England. For a good period of time I had in the back of my mind that I would like to visit Oldham. That was more a wish than a item for a bucketlist. Then came an email from Robert Genest, my sister Joyce’s first husband and father of her four children. Bob said he had completed research on the Turner family which he completed to give that information to his children. He graciously asked me if I would like a copy which he sent along. The document was thorough and came at a time when my wife Mary and I were talking about a possible trip to England in the very near future. Visiting Oldham, for me, quickly became a bucket list item. I looked at Hornby Street though Google earth which provided a sense on what the homestead looked like. Finally we decided and planned a vacation to London.
So it was decided. August 5th would be our departure date for London. We tried our best to get a sense of how to travel to Oldham. At best we knew we wold have to go to Lancaster then to Oldham. We looked at renting a car, taking a train or bus but found that the number of train stations in London combined with the lack of specific route to get to the right station etc. led us to say that Oldham would be a “hopeful trip” that we would try to work out after arriving. The biggest obstacle was the thought that it would take two days to go to Oldham and back from London. Soon after arriving our first few days were busy getting acclimated to the area when Ann, a friend traveling with us, began talking about a pub she remembered when she stayed in London 20 + years past. We found ourselves in an area that was familiar to her and she led the way to a charming square, in the midst of London that one would not find unless you knew it or just happened on it.
So, there we were, Ann, Lee, Mary and myself sitting in an old historic pub when Lee (friend) got into a conversation with this “chap” near him. I could hear him ask if he knew where Oldham was, expalining what the interest was in that town. “Oh yes,” he replied saying that he use to play Rugby against Oldham many a time. The conversation grew from there and the gentleman emphatically said it was easily possible to go to Oldham in a days time then providing the details of the trip. You take the Underground to Auston then the train to Lancaster/Piccadilly. So that is what we did and the route was exactly as explained to us. After getting off the train in Lancaster/Piccadilly the best way to Oldham turned out to be a local tram that left from the train station. So there we were on the tram when Lee, once again, asked a woman sitting near him if she was going to Oldham, which she was. “Would you know where Hornby Street would be located, he asked?” She did not but a man sitting across him looked up the street on his cell phone and began talking about where it was. By this time a third woman was in the conversation cabitsing back and forth. That trio came up with the specific location of Hornby Street. The first woman said to get off at the next stop, which was not in our trip plan, asking how we planned to get to Hornby Street? We had no idea at this point so she suggested a taxi then used her cell to call one arranging to have the taxi meet us at the tram stop. She got off the tram with us, walking us down a stairway to the sidewalk which when we arrived a taxi was pulling up. We thanked her for her kindness and got into the cab, telling the driver, a man from Bangladesh where and why we wanted to find #2 Hornby Street, Oldham. Five minutes later we pulled up to Hornby street. We were there. OMG! Being there brought tears to my eyes. The area looked nothing like what I saw through Google maps as I now see the streets were distorted by the recording process Google uses. Old brick like homes attached like row houses would be in the States. The area was quite run down and I imagined 100 years ago it was shinny and quite nice. Nonetheless the front of the homes were kept clean, the stately doors nicely painted and cars parked up and down the narrow street in from of their respective home I surmised. The back of the home was enclosed by a solid wood fence, most that seen better days and an alley that allowed for trash disposal pick up and was quite messy itself.
Lee, in all his helpfulness is technically challanged with some things. One of those being taking images with a digital camera. After explaining how I would like the picture to be composed he gave it his best shot, then again then again when the Taxi driver said “I don’t think he knows what he is doing?” We all laughed and passed the camera along to Mr. Bangladesh. After taking a few photographs the driver took us to the city of Oldham, a short distance away and left us near the outgoing Tram station. We thanked him for his kindness and photography assitance then we set off to check out the town. My father’s name was George and I somehow thought he was named for King George. More likely than not, his father’s father was George as my father’s father was James, so am I. Nonetheless the first business that caught my eye was a liquor store on, yes, George Street. A short while later, while looking for lunch, we happened on an old pub and yes its name was Georges’ Pub. Across the street from there was an old factory that had been converted into a mall. We went inside and it was quite modern and expansive.
We ended up eating at a small restaurant were many a school kid filled the room. Good food and enjoyable people watching. After lunch we moseyed to the tram station and returned to Lancaster / Piccadilly then onward to London. We arrived back in our neighborhood, Bayqueen Underground Station by 4:pm heading to our hotel for a well needed and deserved “nap”. Such fun.
To follow are some images that were taken on the trip….This was personally for me an awesome trip.