Musings on York

It's funny how a meeting of like-minded people can kick your backside into gear and get you all motivated in a topic again. Such has been my experience in the past week having attended the first Register of Qualified Genealogists conference in York on October 16th.

The conference was titled 'The Way Ahead: Future Challenges for Genealogy' and I attended various talks on better collaboration between genealogists and historians, the future of archives, how to continually develop as professional genealogists and, of course, DNA testing. I left with an even greater sense that specialisation in the profession is going to become ever more common and that there is some great research going on in the wider community. As a genealogist with a keen interest in social history, I was particularly happy to see several examples of research being carried out in academia utilising the skills of genealogists.

It was also, of course, a great chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. I also grabbed a copy of the second book by Kathryn Burtinshaw and John Burt, who were also there presenting. Criminal insanity seems like a great topic to be reading this Hallowe'en week!**

Given that I am interested in history in general, I'm embarrassed to say that I had never visited York before. Knowing that there would be plenty to interest me in the city I opted to stay for a couple of extra days . We hit the main sites in our three days exploring, covering way too much history to detail here, but suffice to say that I will be searching for a well-written history of York in the future (if anyone has recommendations - email me!)

The most poignant aspect of my trip was a visit to the Railway Museum. The railway is a constant in my family history throughout the 20th century. My maternal grandfather was a tool fitter at the St. Rollox Locomotive Works in Springburn, Glasgow; his brother, a blacksmith in the same works. My maternal grandmother's brother was an electrician who worked on many lines and stations across central Scotland. Their father ('Pop') was first a steam train fireman, then a driver on the railway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The free talk at the museum on how the steam locomotives worked and the skills required by the driver and his fireman was fabulous - and for the first time in my life I got a real sense of what Pop's working life was like

Special callout to Alan Sharp and White Rose Tours who gave us an excellent introduction to the city and a tour through 2000 years of history - if you find yourself in York, I could not recommend a better tour guide. There was a multitude of great independent coffee shops/cafes, in particular Bar Hashery, Brew & Brownie and Rae & Webb The food and drink in Ambiente and Bistro Guy were top notch.

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