Blog: Fragments of history

Christmas unveiled, and family tragedy from past with resonance for present

Fragments of history

news cutting
news clipping
Letter of condolence
Letter of condolence.

Yes, it’s only May but we’re already planning for Christmas. And rediscovered documents of a family tragedy from the past that has resonance with the present.

May 5th 2017

We have our Christmas package all ready for you to book. This proved very successful and popular last year so do book early. (Full details can be found by clicking here).

We are also enormously proud to announce that eight of the Palé team have passed level 2 WSET, three of them with Merit. Congratulations to all who passed, it was a tough exam. Alan is feeling just a little smug as he got the top marks in the group … damn it!! I think I may have mentioned before that we Harpers are just a touch competitive winking emoji.

Last week I mentioned unpacking. We found a box yesterday, a full record of a piece of tragic family history.

I didn’t know either of my grandfathers, one disappeared, the other died before I was born. I knew a small piece about my maternal grandfather, he was from Durham mining stock and he was run over by a train on Christmas Eve 1955 when my mum was just 17. As a result, Mum was always anxious on Christmas Eve, never fully at peace until she knew all those she loved had safely arrived home.

This box revealed so much more. I spent the afternoon poring over newspaper articles, offers of condolence, and finally an offer of compensation. It’s raised more questions than I can answer, my mum isn’t here to ask, my dad doesn’t remember, I wish somewhere it had all been written down.

On Christmas Eve 1955, my grandfather was at work at the Fulham gas works at Imperial Wharf. He was a tractor driver, working filling freight carriages with coal for the gas works. As he crossed the railway line on his next trip two full carriages broke free of the shunting engine and crushed him beneath the tractor. The shunters broke the rules; they hadn’t applied a brake. My Grandmother received £4138 10 shillings 7d in compensation. It was a spine-tingling and emotional moment when I found out where the gas works were. Three years ago, Alan and I bought a flat at Imperial Wharf Fulham … although the sidings are long gone our flat overlooks the place of the accident.

This history is only about my grandfather, it’s within living memory and yet so much of it is already lost. I know many families make sure that family history is recorded and more senior family members record their memoirs. It’s one of the reasons I have written this blog, who knows, in two or three generations time our descendants may want to know how Palé happened, or may want to understand Alan’s role in the development of the mobile phone industry. It would be wonderful if we all kept a diary or a journal as they did in the olden days, so when our now becomes their olden days, our children’s children’s children will understand what Great Grandfather did.

Have a wonderful weekend.


By |2018-10-10T12:32:10+00:00May 5th, 2017|Christmas, General, History, Uncategorized|