GBLA book Peter Valdner

Calling Great Bitter Lake stamp enthusiasts!

Compiling a catalogue of stamps issued some 50 years ago is a challenge. Issued in small quantities, usually fewer than 200, some of them fade if exposed to light. The Great Bitter Lake Association Stamp Catalogue, published in 2020 by Peter Valdner, was a breakthrough in the study of the unique stamps produced by seafarers …

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Eight Years Stuck on the Suez Canal

Shortly after being freed from the banks of the Suez Canal on 29th March, the Ever Given was impounded with its crew still aboard. But it’s not the first time a cargo ship has been prevented from leaving the waterway. My article published in Delayed Gratification magazine in March 2021.   https://www.slow-journalism.com/delayed-gratification-magazine/eight-years-stuck-on-the-suez-canal

The Ever Given

The Suez Canal: from the 1967 war to the Ever Given

On 23 March, strong gusts of wind drove the giant Ever Given completely off course as it passed through the Suez Canal. A sandstorm created poor visibility, affecting navigation. The vessel ran aground, its vast bulk horizontally wedged across the narrow waterway. The 400-m long, 224,000-tonne Ever Given is one of the largest container ships …

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Black seafarers

Charles Henry Goff: from Baltimore to the East End

When I was young, I quizzed my granny Bea Senker about her childhood in the East End. An enthusiastic socialist, I hoped to hear heroic stories of my forefathers joining the mass protests to stop Oswald Mosley’s fascist Blackshirts at the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. Servants Instead, granny told me that her parents …

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First beigel shop (Flickr)

A sense of community

I’ve recently discovered that some of my forefathers came from the shtetl of Sadowne, in Poland. A great-great aunt, Sarah Appelbaum, was apparently a midwife and teacher in Sadowne, helping to maintain the health and morals of the community. Jewish shtetl society was hierarchical. At the peak were a few wealthy estate managers and successful …

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The trauma of forced migration

Prominent in a white blouse and a protective hand on a relative’s knee is my great-grandmother Rosa Fischer. This family wedding photo probably dates to the 1930s. Originally from Russia, Rosa’s parents were Naphtali and Bella Fisher. I haven’t yet found out anything about her background or journey to the UK. Pogroms Whatever happened to …

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