We arrived in London after an eight-hour flight from Atlanta. Neither my husband nor I had slept much, but that did not matter. There was a lot to do on this particular trip—some sightseeing, some research, and the ceremony honoring my Irish-inventor ancestor, Louis Brennan. I had mapped out the itinerary for each day, and my husband–being a very good sport–agreed to accompany me on my mission to locate the Kingsway Hotel, where Dad’s family had stayed on their way to the Soviet Union.
The first stop was a local history library, which turned out to be a rather lengthy walk from our hotel, not the easy stroll which I had assured my weary spouse it would be. Nevertheless, armed with a map and a lot of determination, we plotted our route and set out. Thank goodness he has a very good sense of direction and was somehow able to get us there.
The woman I had been corresponding with was working that day and was able to locate a photograph of the hotel taken two years prior to Dad’s stay in 1931. According to our map, 64 Guilford Street, the site where the hotel had been located, was a short walk away. Had it not, we both would have been quite unhappy.
Walking the same streets I knew Dad had walked as a young boy preparing to begin a new life in a foreign country was both exciting and sad for me. Seeing how far the hotel had been from all the sites they visited made me rethink his family’s five-day stay in London. Knowing they were there during the end of December, and learning that the Underground (the London rail system) existed at that time, I now think they may have ridden the train during their stay, which must have been fun for Dad. I was pleasantly surprised to see how nice that area is and imagine what it must have been like for the family to walk those same streets. It was very different from the small New Jersey town they had left behind.
I took a picture of what it looked like today, and compared it to the photograph from the library and am quite confident it is the same building. Next stop on my research of Dad was to be a trip to Southampton.