Archive for April 2017

My Grandpa Geake, a moving history

Category: Cine Films and Videos

One hundred years ago on 25th April 1917, my Grandpa Geake (William Hellyer Geake), known as Bill, was born in a blizzard in South Wales. Hopefully the snow was outside!

Grandpa was the fifth of eleven children and the family lived at Gilfach Goch, a few miles from Pontypridd. After leaving school at 14, he went to work in the coal mines and I was told the story of the roof collapsing one day. Grandpa escaped in one direction and a friend of his went in another and the friend was sadly killed.

When Grandpa was 15, most of the family returned to Tavistock in Devon, in the area where their ancestors had lived for generations. Grandpa worked as a milkman for the Co-op before World War Two broke out.

He enlisted in the Royal Marines on 1st January 1941 and served in Egypt, Palestine, India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Belgium. After the war, Grandpa became a founder member of the Tavistock Royal Marines' Association and he also belonged to the Royal British Legion.

He had various jobs, one of which was as a postman, and afterwards Grandpa had his own greengrocery round which he ran for 15 years. This is how I first remember him. It was hard graft in all weathers covering some remote areas including Princetown on Dartmoor. Towards the end of his career, he became the Greengrocery Manager in Key Markets which was a local supermarket in Tavistock.

Grandpa Geake married my Gran in 1938 in St Eustachius Church, Tavistock, where he was a bell ringer and the bells were rung as the couple left the Church. They began married life living at No. 19 Bannawell Street and, within a few years, they moved to their council house at 4 Crelake Park which was to be their home for the rest of Grandpa's life and even longer for Gran. They had two daughters and in 1988 they reached another milestone when they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

There was a small number of allotments a few yards from the bottom of their house and Grandpa had one of them but I always had the impression it was serious stuff so I wasn't allowed to misbehave or interfere, especially with any of the neighbouring allotments.

Grandpa took up bowling in his retirement, belonging to the Tavistock Sir Francis Drake Bowling Club. This hobby was the catalyst for other family members to get involved with bowls which they still enjoy today. I also remember how Grandpa spent a lot of time in his shed in the garden, a shed he inherited from his Aunt Lil (Lily Sarah Thompson, nee Hellyer). He was handy with his hands and he used to make all kinds of items out of wood. I think it was also an excuse to have some time to himself.

All four of my grandparents got on with each other like a house on fire. My brothers and I were the only grandchildren for both sets of grandparents and so many happy memories include family get-togethers where we were the centre of attention.

Grandpa was not blessed with good health and developed Type I diabetes at a fairly early age. He passed away on 18th June 1994 in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, aged 77.

Grandpa enjoyed gadgets and he took many cine films and bought a video camcorder in the early 1990's. He painstakingly transferred the cine films onto video (for which I shall be eternally grateful) and I have since converted them to DVD and Mpeg format. Here is a compilation of some of the scenes when Grandpa himself appeared in the footage.

This video can also be viewed on my YouTube channel at and in my website video gallery.

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

Photo of Harvey's gt-gt-grandmother, Maria Bunstone Thomas, nee Guy

Category: Ancestors Corner

Maria Thomas, nee GuyA member of Harvey's family recently sent us some information regarding the family history as well as some photographs.

One of the photos was of Harvey's 2 x great-grandmother, Maria Bunstone Thomas (nee Guy). She was apparently posing for the newspaper for what they supposed was her 100th birthday, but she was actually 99.

Click here to view the complete image.

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]