Family History

The Family History Group normally meets on the 4th Monday of each month in The Sun Inn, Eastwood between 10.00 am – 12.00 pm.  The contact for the group is Diana Pidgeon on 0115 9169343 or email:

We are a small, friendly group of people who share an interest in family history. Members include both those new to tracing their roots and others who are more experienced. The aim of the group is to help each other make progress with their research and to share successes and pitfalls.  Sessions are based around a general theme, to encourage group discussion and sharing and we hope everyone has something to contribute. We also prioritize helping those new to research with assistance to start to build their own trees.

New members are always welcome.

Next meeting is Monday 25th October at The Sun Inn (Dining Room) 10 am. At this meeting our topic will be ‘DNA and its usefulness (or not) in family research’.  There will also be time for general discussion and planning for future meetings.  

Note for members: At the first face-to-face meeting since Covid there were only four of us present and so we did not plan any changes to the group or a program going forward – this will be revisited in October, when hopefully more members will be able to attend.

Visit our gallery

Here are a few suggestions for furthering your interest at home:

The National Archives  have more than 350 free research guides on line that can help you find, access and understand records relevant to your research.  There is also a searchable data base with free access to some records during the closure of the centre.

The free library version of Ancestry is available at home to library members during lockdown.

Time on your hands? Have you thought about offering to transcribe records to be shared on line?  See  for opportunities.

Previous Zoom meetings:

July saw the first meeting and six people took part. We each talked about one of our ancestors and why we found them particularly interesting.

In August we were reduced to four attendees. We each shared something we had inherited and items included medals and hat badges, photos and book, a very old jigsaw and an electric shock machine.

In September we were six in total and we looked at old photographs, some of which had really interesting stories behind them. Although not the same as face to face meetings we agreed to keep pressing on with Zoom.

In October seven members shared certificates, such as birth, marriage and death, and the stories behind them. These included old marriage licences, death certificates and where information contained in them may have been inaccurate.

In November we shared letters, postcards and inscribed books that gave insight into our past. These included a family bible, postcards used as greetings cards and a variety of personal and formal letters.

In December we shared more photographs, discussing what we knew about them and further avenues for research. We looked at dating photos by the fashions of the day and the use of newspaper archives for adding to life stories.

In January 2021 we shared stories about the occupations we had come across in our research. Many had a nautical theme including the detailed life of a sailor on a submarine, a ship caulkin involved in boat building, a fish auctioneer and the sad tale of a boatman whose son drowned at Langley Lock. We heard about the manufacture of pearl buttons and then about tortoiseshell combs and finished with some unusual jobs such as a ‘fear nothing maker’ and ‘feather purifier’.

In February we welcomed one of our members who joined us for his first Zoom call, making eight participants in total. We shared some interesting stories about the fortunes of our ancestors, some of whom became quite wealthy and others who had misfortunes in life.

Six members attended our March Zoom meeting when we heard about some of our criminal ancestors and the severity with which they were punished. This included transportation and a hanging at Derby Jail. One case led us to learn more about the local mine workers pension fund and the 1926 strike.  We also shared some interesting news around free websites and u3a seminars.

In March five members shared an open discussion about their research and how in some cases it had become somewhat impossible to get back beyond the late 1700’s with any degree of certainty, due to a lack of records.

In May we discussed a variety of wills and legal documents and helped one member to understand a reported court case. Thanks to those who attended.

In June members share their research into properties that were of significance to them. It was surprising how much detail we could find from memories, maps, censuses etc to piece together stories of homes and farms from our past.

Our only face-to-face meeting of 2020 took place in January.   At this meeting Bill gave us a presentation on Old Eastwood and district based around his wonderful collection of local photographs. These included pictures directly linked to his ancestry as well as images found on old postcards of the area. We saw many photographs taking us back to the early twentieth century (and before) as well as some from subsequent decades. We saw the condition of the roads in those days, the beginnings of the trams in Eastwood and subsequent trolley buses.  We learned a lot about the many collieries in the area, the train lines and stations associated with them and saw the homes of the wealthy pit owners. We identified buildings remaining and many which have been lost including churches, shops and places of entertainment.  Many thanks to Bill for this interesting session, which entertained and informed us all.

Family History Archive 2019 | Eastwood and District u3a (

Family History Archive 2018 | Eastwood and District u3a (