The Toy Wheelbarrow

When I was very young my parents gave me a toy wheelbarrow, probably around 1959. Although there are no markings on it, it was almost certainly made by Lines Brothers, with whom I have a family connection. Three of the Lines Brothers were my Great Uncles (three Lines make a triangle, hence the name Tri-ang, which was also used as a brand name. The fourth brother was my Grandfather, George Edward Lines, who did not, initially, follow his brothers into the toy business, but, after fighting in the First World War, went into farming. He did then go to work with his father, Joseph Lines (of G&J Lines, rocking horse makers) and then went on to work for Tri-ang.

My parents were both keen gardeners, and I, and my siblings, enjoyed being in the garden, and the toy wheelbarrow followed us from Balerno, where we lived when I was born, to Juniper Green, and when my parents retired and moved to High Ham in Somerset the wheelbarrow went with them. There my nieces and nephews could play with it in the garden when they were of an age appropriate to its small size. As they outgrew it the wheelbarrow stayed in the garden room in High Ham, until the time came for my siblings and I to clear the house. I had fond memories associated with the wheelbarrow, so took it to Oxford.

Although in good condition for a toy which had been much played with over nearly sixty years, the plywood base was starting to delaminate, so I removed the old base.

I cut a new plywood base, and gave it a few coats of interior varnish to seal it, and then a couple of coats of yacht varnish, and then screwed the base onto the top.

A small step ladder was just the right size to support the legs as the top was attached.

Replacing the base is not the first repair. The legs are different, and I suspect one was replaced by my father, Roger Lines.


I am writing this at Christmas, when we are hearing a lot about Joseph, the carpenter, and working with wood has good associations for me.

My father was a Research Forester, but he did not just grow trees, he enjoyed working with wood. He built the bunk bed my brother and I slept in, the frame which held the swing in the garden and so on. In our house in Edinburgh my father had a workshop, which always smelled of a mixture of wood shavings and a complex mix of varnish, oil and paint.

My Grandfather also had a workshop, with a massive workbench, which had been the family Morrison Shelter during the Second World War.

My grandfathers workbench, with garden produce.

My Great Great Uncle George Lines (of G&J Lines) was a real carpenter, which is where their rocking horse business originated.


We may have reached, at least in our wealthy western society, the age of ‘peak stuff‘, and the appeal of having new things purely for their novelty seems to be running out.

As I am now much too large to use a wheelbarrow of this size, after a trip into the garden to meet its big brother, I donated the wheelbarrow to friends with young children who will be able to enjoy it properly.

As in the film Toy Story I am sure the wheelbarrow will be much happier being played with.

Toy Story has a particular resonance with me as I have been a user and developer of the Debian distribution of Linux for a long time, and Debian releases are named after characters in Toy Story. This connection between the real world of wooden toys and the more abstract world of computers and the internet reminds me, in turn of the James Burke TV series Connections. Although I did not start the post by saying ‘this is a blog post, written on a computer’ it was, thus referring back to where I started seems appropriate.

The Box Model Beam Engine

One of my ancestors made a Model Beam Engine, which is now housed at the Lawrence House Museum in Launceston.

According to my mother’s notes (which are on the rear of the black and white picture, the Beam Engine was made by my Great Great Great Grandfather, John Box (born in 1878)

Although according to an article in “Cornish and Devon Post and Western Counties Advertiser, on Saturday, April 4, 1896” (reproduced in my post on ‘The Box Family of Marhamchurch Foundry‘) it was his son, William Braund Box, my Great, Great Grandfather, who made the Beam Engine. The article and Beam Engine get a mention in the article ‘The Northumberland Foundry‘ on the Launceston Then web site.

Margaret Box, who lent the Beam Engine to the museum, among her many adventures, was a nurse in Salonica at Serbia the tail end of the First World War, and her letters are transcribed in a series of posts indexed at ‘Margaret Box, nursing in Salonica and Serbia‘.

Roger Lines – Banks and Bicycles

Roger Lines, my father, went on to travel the world as a Research Forester, but this letter finds him in January 1953, right at the start of his career. The previous letter in my possession, written by him at the end of his first week in the office has him about to move into 27, Dalrymple Crescent, and this letter is written from there.

27, Dalrymple Crescent

29th Jan

Dear M&D,

I have been able to make enquiries in the Scottish Banks. They have no bank charges in the accepted sense, but charge 6d per cheque. With a current account you have to pay at least £2 per year, however few cheques you draw, but you can draw 40 per year without paying anything above £2. If I had £100 the bank charge would be less that £2. This has to be thought out however on a parallel with the Savings Certificate scheme whereby £100 means £3 per year interest. Thus the Lloyds system is fantastically expensive if you draw few cheques (as I would). According to your letter they first of all want to charge £2-7-0 per 50 cheques and then they expect you to have £100 in a credit account so that altogether they are getting £5-7-0 per year for doing practically nothing. Perhaps you would like to confront them with this.

I have today opened an account with the Edinburgh Trustee Savings bank so I won’t be short of ready money again. Whilst on financial matters, you wouldn’t care to be Dependents would you ? There is Civil Service scheme whereby aged parents can be helped out of a contributory pension scheme.

It isn’t one of these “something-for-nothing” schemes though. There is a more or less compulsory scheme for Widows and Children through which means a deduction of 1 1/2 % from salary which you pay even before you have a wife let alone a widow. I shall have to propose by saying “Will you join my Widows and Children’s scheme ?”

Can someone with great strength (Jennifer) and mechanical aptitude (Daddy) get my bike down from the attic and see what Tim has pinched from it and whether the tyres still hold up. I know the electrics don’t work but only I think there aren’t any lamp. It would certainly be very useful up here, especially at lunch time but I don’t know how much it would cost to send it up. Could you find out and let me have a report on its condition ? (This sounds like one of my Memos to foresters)

The glasses don’t fit very well so I am having them bent a bit by a local optician. When I’ve done this I’ll send this pair down to have the lenses changed.

Much love


p.s. What was in the Sunday Express ?

In the meantime will banks are sorted out I will get John Spears to pay a cheque that he owes me into your account.



As far as I am aware, my father did not use the Widows and Orphans scheme as part of his proposal to my mother, indeed I do not think they had met at that stage, although my mother was already friends with my Aunt, Jennifer, of the great strength – as they had met at Froebel College in about 1946.

I believe my parents first met at Lockley Lodge, near the Dale Fort field study centre in Pembrokeshire, although I am not sure exactly when – it had to have been after this letter in January 1953 and November 1955, when my father announced his intention to propose. It was his work for the Forestry Commission which took him to Pembrokeshire to study wind blow, and being in the area he went to his sister, Jennifer. She was staying at the Lockley Lodge with my mother, and Eleanor Grey – a friend of the Lockley family. Lockley Lodge is now the owned by The Wildlife Trust of West and South Wales, and is the place where you buy boat tickets to get to the island of Skomer, but in those days was probably owned by Ronald Lockley, a pioneering naturalist, who farmed on the island of Skokholm, and wrote many books – including ‘The private life of the rabbit’, used by Richard Adams to provide background for Watership Down.

My father and my mother went for a walk around the Deer Park at Wooltack point and discovered their common interests in nature. My father lured my mother to Scotland with a promise of ‘A buzzard on very telegraph pole’, which caused our car journeys round Scotland to be enlivened by shouts of ‘There it is’ when we spotted a buzzard on a telegraph pole.

Family Mysteries

My main incentive for posting about Family History is the collection of letters and other documents which I inherited am am attempting to curate. I am filling in the gaps by Internet research, but there are some things I have not been able to find. I am listing them on this page so I can find them easily to research at suitable opportunities.


General Webster

Reputed to have been ‘a friend and admirer of General John Burgoyne’ (1722-1792), he was reputed to have named his son William Burgoyne Webster, He was a military man who traveled around a lot.

Having William Lawrence Burgoyne Webster (1867-1869) in the family lends credence to this, but I can’t find the son,


Was the Harriet G. Wilson (niece) staying with Percival J Webster (1865-1904) in the 1901 Census related to Martha Ellenor Frances Enstone Wilson (abt 1873- ?) – who married Arthur Reuben Webster (1858-1936) on 17 Feb 1901 – his second marriage

When did Bessie Manning (1844- ?) (Arthur Reuben Websters first wife – married 14 May 1882), who had been married to Adolphus Hamilton (1846-1880), die – it must have been after 1891 (when she is in the Census with Arthur) and before 1901 (when he is a widower)


When did Joseph May (1837- ? ) die. It would be some time after 1891, when he is aged 65 and appears in the census. Also what is his exact, or even better approximation for birth date.

When did Emma May (Born 5 Jan 1852) die, and where was she in the 1871, 1881 and 1901 Censuses (she is with her parents, aged 9 in 1861, and at 4 Chipstead Street in 1911, and Fulham Hospital in 1939.


Is Jane Alexander Bryson who married Sir Arthur Hulin Gosling (Director General of the Forestry Commission and KBE in the 1955 Birthday Honours) in 1931 and died in 1969 related to the Brysons in the family tree ?

How many Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh were nominated by William Thompson

Research Electric Light in Leith (in relation to William Alexander Bryson)


Who was the William Langdon (and his son) who were owners of the Foundry at Marahamchurch. (John Brimmel married an Ann Langdon in 1852).

When did Mr Langdon (the son) sell the Foundry – was it 1856 ?

Who are the C and W Hillman (longstanding employees) who bought the Foundry in 1912.

Where are Henry and Edward Box (owners of the Foundry up to 1886) in the 1881 Census (and the 1891 Census)

Who was living at the Foundry from 1891 onwards ? (or even 1887 onwards).