The latest 1939 Register update that has been released on TheGenealogist allows us to see hundreds of thousands of new individuals that had previously been redacted, but which are now opened in accordance with the 100 year rule. This now means we can search for many more of our ancestors in this record set and see where they lived.
As these records are linked with TheGenealogist’s unique georeferenced mapping tool, Map Explorer™, means that family historians can now explore the neighbourhood where more of their forebears lived as WW2 broke. Map Explorer™ will often be able to show the location of properties from 1939 in more detail than some of the other websites featuring these records. TheGenealogist’s maps in many cases show the actual building, or at least the thoroughfare or parish where our ancestors lived and so are a great tool for the family historian to use.
The Attenboroughs of Leicester
In this tranche of 1939 Register records is the famous film actor, director and producer, Richard “Dickie” Attenborough, who can be found aged 16 as a schoolboy living at College House in University Road. This had been the house of his father, Frederick Attenborough (at the time the Principle of University College Leicester) and his wife Mary who was a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council.
Like his two brothers, Richard Attenborough was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester where he would have been a pupil at the time that this record was compiled. It would not be long after this survey was taken, however, before he would join the Royal Air Force to serve throughout the Second World War. After initial pilot training, he was seconded to the newly formed Royal Air Force Film Production Unit at Pinewood Studios, under the command of Flight Lieutenant John Boulting where he appeared with Edward G. Robinson in the propaganda film Journey Together (1945). Volunteering to fly with the Film Unit saw Attenborough undertake further training, where he unfortunately sustained permanent ear damage, but qualified as a sergeant and flew on several operations over war torn Europe filming from the rear gunner’s position recording the outcome of RAF Bomber Command sorties.
Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough (29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014), was the eldest of three Attenborough brothers that includes Sir David, the famous naturalist whose TV programmes have been enthralling us for decades and the late John, a car executive. On 30 July 1993, Richard Attenborough was created a life peer as Baron Attenborough, of Richmond upon Thames in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. He had already received a CBE in the 1967 Birthday Honours and had been made a Knight Bachelor in the 1976 New Year Honours. In his life Lord Attenborough gained many other awards from places as far away as India and South Africa and as near as France.
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With his connection to Leicester it was fitting that one award that he received on 13 July 2006 was from the university in that city. Richard, along with his brother David, were both awarded the titles of Distinguished Honorary Fellows of the University of Leicester “in recognition of a record of continuing distinguished service to the university”.
College House, a childhood home
Using the 1939 Register on TheGenealogist we can clearly see the house in which the Attenborough brothers grew up. It had been built to the side of the old Counties Lunatic Asylum for Leicestershire and Rutland, an institution whose buildings became the new college in that city and admitted its first students in 1921. By 1927 the institution had become University College, Leicester with students sitting examinations for external degrees awarded by the University of London; 30 years later the college was granted its Royal Charter and the status of a university with the right to award its own degrees.
The Attenborough brothers’ father became the head of University College in 1932 and was there until his retirement from ill health in 1951. He is credited with having paved the way for the college to become the university in its own right and which still has its campus there today.
We can use the Map Explorer to select the georeferenced 1937-1961 OS map, which equates to about the time that the 1939 Register survey was carried out, and see that University College is marked clearly on this plan. Switching to a modern map, we can then note that the house is still marked today and by its side is a new building bearing the name Attenborough Tower.
Lastly, by switching to view the georeferenced 1893-1900 OS map, we are able to see the outline of the Counties Lunatic Asylum that had been the original buildings on the site before their conversion into a college.
With the latest update of 389,620 new records to the 1939 Register, users of TheGenealogist will be able to search for their ancestors, whose date of birth was 100 years ago or more, and then use the powerful mapping tools provided by its Map Explorer™ to see the location of their forebears’ house in its neighbourhood.
Look out for an article about the middle and only surviving member of the Attenborough siblings, Sir David, which is due to be published in the upcoming 11th edition of the critically acclaimed annual printed magazine Discover Your Ancestors Bookazine.