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The Hayloft Stable


Young People

Memoirs and Biography

Tales from Teesdale, Grassholm and Greena:

My Story and Journey


About this book:

  • ISBN: 190 452 4338 (paperback)

  • Published 2005

  • Price £12.00 (including post and packing)

  • 117 pages

  • Illustrated with 73 photographs

About the Book:

This inspiring book follows the author, who comes from Middlesbrough, as she traces her family history. She started the research to help her recover from illness. The trail led across several northern counties, taking the author to Teesdale and Stainmore where she found relatives she didn't know she had, some as far away as Canada. The research proves so therapeutic that the author recovers from her illness. The book is full of local family history including the Aldersons, Watsons and the Cleasbys. The book is illustrated with more than 70 photographs of people and places.

It must be an emotional moment for any child. To proudly show the work of more than a decade to a loving parent who has supported you throughout. For Wendy Cleasby it was doubly so.

The draft manuscript was tightly clasped in her hand when she took it to her father's bedside. She had been caring for him for so long - and researching her book on their family history had been a source of strength for them as he battled cancer.

'I laid his hand on the pages, told him I loved him and said thank you,' says Wendy. 'He passed away in my arms.'

It was the culmination of an extremely difficult period in the life of Wendy, who had been caring for members of her family since she waas a child. Work and health problems had contributed to a severe depression which left her totally debilitated. At one low point she couldn't even spell her own name....

But by the time her father died she had already begun to recover. The time she spent researching her family tree, which her father had always encouraged, kept Wendy absorbed and occupied during difficult times...

Wendy started off as many people do with just a handful of memories, photographs and reminiscences, passed down through generations. Then it was working off details from headstones, picking up snippets of comments from elderly relatives, and eventually, searching the vast array of information from the archives and census returns.

She has had to overcome shyness to knock on remote farmhouse doors in the middle of unfamiliar countryside to find information from strangers, even asking to be let into the houses fof her forefathers to take photographs...

In one search she discovered a watch that had apparently been trapped in the door of Stephenson's Rocket on its inaugural journey. In another, the shocking revelation that a distant relative, Mary Ann Cotton, had been hanged for murder in Durham jail in 1873.

It's been a tough ride. 'At times when I was hunting through graveyards looking for names I didn't know what side of the stones I wanted to be on,' she says.

But by putting flesh on the bones of her ancestors Wendy has begun to re-build herself again. And in discovering the past she has been able to face the future.

'Now I can say 'this is who I am am and this is where I came from'' she sayds. 'And I can be proud of that.' Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, July 2005

Research Therapy
A woman has published the story of how researching her ancestors has helped overcome depression. Wendy Cleasby's book details how she began looking into the stories of her ancestors from rural County Durham.
Mrs Cleasby, from Middlesbrough, began researching her family background in the early 1980s after her aunt left her some old photographs. But her research began in earnest when depression forced her to give up her job at a Littlewoods warehouse.
She said: 'I really wanted to find out more about myself. With the depression, I lost myself because I was on that much medication, I did not know who I was any more.'
Eventually a friend suggested she put down all the information she had in a book. As she traced her family - the Watsons, Aldersons and Cleasbys - back to rural Teesdale, Mrs Cleasby said the more she learned about her family, the more she was able to cope with her illness.
Northern Echo, January 2006





Many apologies - this book is now out of print



Copyright © Hayloft Publishing Ltd