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Does this show Sterrey?, Lydney area?.

Sterrey

Alan wrote: "... My family are originally from the Forest of Dean (Sterrey), however I recently came across this photo which none of my living relatives have any clue who they are? If anyone can help, please feel free to comment".

Peter Essex added: "This ... photo from Alan Sterrey has got several of us thinking. ... here are the family's views/speculation, drawing on my cousin and his wife , my wife, our son ****, and his wife. I'm also copying this to my sister in case she can pitch in with anything.

1. We don't firmly recognise anyone in the photo, and we can't state its location, but...

2. Some feel that the man far left in the middle row has some facial resemblance to Alan's grandfather, Bert Sterrey, and/or Bert's father Arthur ("Art".) Art and Bert both worked at Lydney Docks. However, Art was born 1886 and Bert 1908, so that these resemblances make it hard to date the photo if either of them be right.

3. The man next to him has considerable resemblance to my youngest son, of whom my father (son of a Lydney Sterrey) used to say "He's a Sterrey," although I'm not sure to what extent this referred to his mannerisms or lifestyle or to what extent it was reckoned to be physical.

4. The boy with the "flat hat" and dog, centre front row, has a small resemblance to our son. But the uncanny resemblance to our son (to a "spooky" extent, according to his wife) is to the tall youth at the left of the back row in the Bullo Pill c. 1920 photo (but earlier in Ian Pope's opinion) ... . The uncanniness has extra weight because my grandfather William Frank Essex, born 1887, is known to have worked on the railway at Bullo Pill soon after he had run away from home in Cheltenham on a date unknown but very roughly 1900. Everybody looking at the Bullo Pill photo goes "That's ****!" (born ****), including his daughter, who pointed out "Daddy." The history is not entirely clear, since my understanding was that my grandfather was a "platelayer" on the "Great Western" and that he may have worked on the Severn & Wye. However, there is just a possible link between the youth in the Bullo Pill photo and the boy in the photo you've had from Alan.

5. Somewhat fancifully, the dog in the possession of the boy in Alan's photo is reminiscent of the dog sat between my grandfather legs in the front row of the "bottomless well" wedding photo of 1913.

6. The people in the photo are done up to the nines (as we say in London), that is to say, they are largely smartly dressed, wearing what you'd call Sunday best. I've been on a long trawl through sungreen and would say in Forest terms that bow ties were virtually unheard of in daytime outside Alan's photo unless you were a musician or at a formal dinner - I think in my trawl I only saw them being worn apart from that by Viscount Bledisloe and an old-time Vicar of Woolaston/Alvington. Curiously also, two of them in Alan's photo look to be wearing boaters, and there's what looks like another boater on the ground to the right of the gate, with just possibly another darker hat on the ground in front of it.

7. There appears to be a notice affixed to the far side of the gate. This suggests that the photo was taken within grounds to which the public were not admitted.

8. The gate and fencing do not look like railway work.

9. Not only is the party "done up to the nines" but also they have gone to quite a bit of trouble to pose. The front row are sitting on what might be a railway sleeper on bricks, whilst the second row are sat on what looks like a fairly freshly sawn plank which you might imagine was brought there just for the purpose.

10. The ground in the background behind the gate looks unusually flat for the Forest.

11. The short man in the back row, far right, has some facial resemblance to Sidney Essex, ****'s father, son of a Sterrey. We conclude that Alan's mystery photo is even more of a mystery if it has no Sterrey connections, but we remain at a loss to say with any firmness what those connections might be.

Bertie Jones added (February 2011): "... I'm sure you have, but just wanted to check you knew of the excellent if not definitive Sterrey Family History website?. ... Re point 10 (above) - the ground being too flat, I humbly believe this is not true. I can think of several areas in the Forest which are much flatter than this. In fact looking through the trees behind the gate, I think can be seen a sloping wooded skyline perhaps across a wide Forest valley?".

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