We knew our first destination in UK would be Liverpool. This was not a family historical destination… this was for the Beatles… enough said. I did not want to drive into Liverpool on our first night as an international driver. We decided to find a hotel on the outskirts of Liverpool and train in for our visits. Bookings.com suggested the Campanile in Runcorn. It was very inexpensive - read cheap. So we booked.
Some days later we made a fascinating family discovery. Brand new knowledge which had not surfaced ever before. The birth place of our grandfather was Runcorn. No Way!
Australians would find it interesting purely because it has its own special bridge, built like the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This bridge was built by the same company as Sydney’s - Dormann Long of Middlesborough. Middlesborough is my home town, the place we are here to rediscover. Wheels turn within wheels.
Our walk around Runcorn began looking at the canal boats lined up on the water. Our heritage tour was rewarded instantly. If we ever were thinking this was a crazy idea, such thoughts evaporated instantly. There on the river was a long blue boat emblazoned with “The King Family” Our mother was a King. It is Alfred King that was born here in the late 1890s. So, from the lettering on a skinny canal boat we knew that we were doing the right thing. Chasing to see the highlights of growing up as kids of the 50s and 60s in the north of England.
From the boats we walked into the main street of Runcorn and discovered a picturesque book shop where we thought to purchase a local map. The proprietors were a delight. They understood what we were about. One of them had written a history of Runcorn and knew all about the town. We chatted with them about Ten Pound Tourists migrating to Australia in the 50s and 60s. She actually suggested that there are days when they see more Australians in the book shop than locals as we, in our 60s, return to visit our heritage.
They had maps. They had maps of the town in 1866. They had picture books of the town then and now. And they had a couple of Australian heritage tourists enraptured with the tales of this hidden village of north west of England.
Note: My mother’s family name was not King. The security nut in me just could not bring myself to enter my mother’s maiden name into a public document. Mother’s maiden name being one of those most common security questions. You can never be too careful.