I’m looking forward to heading north to Aberdeen tomorrow. Mostly because of the Fictional First World War conference, but also because it is where my father’s family comes from. My grandfather (also George Simmers) was born there in 1868, at 191, Gallowgate. This picture, of another house in the street, probably gives an idea of what Gallowgate looked like at the time:
I should think that this view of the street is from the 1930s:
Google Street View suggests that the place now looks very different, but I’ll take a look if I can.
My great-grandfather, Jonathan Simmers, was a policeman. The address we have for him is St Nicholas, Aberdeen – now a shopping centre. George, my grandfather left school young and joined the Army.
I don’t know that he ever went back to Aberdeen. I vaguely remember my father joking that there was a branch of the family there that we didn’t speak to. I googled ‘Simmers Aberdeen’ and found several people there with my surname, including one who was the worthy organiser of the local food bank, and one who was a football hooligan.
This will be my own first visit to Aberdeen – unless you count Christmas 1944. My father was in the navy and had 48 hours leave in Aberdeen. My mother, who had never been north of London in her life, took the slow dark wartime train up there to see him. Nine months later I was born. So you can see why Aberdeen holds a significant place in my imagination.