The Internet, Godmanchester in Miniature in Australia and the "Other" Godmanchester, in Quebec !! (From 1999)
Note - this article is taken from The Bridge, and written for all people - obviously you're reading on the WWW so bear with me. This is turning somewhat historic already!
Whether you love, hate or ignore it, the world wide web (WWW) and associated media are here to stay. Since October 1998 I have been developing a web site on Godmanchester including material from the Community Association, listing of Affiliated Groups and articles from previous editions of "The Bridge". I am still new to the game and do not profess to be anything other than a novice, but in this time I have received some interesting e-mails from around the world, learnt that The Causeway is replicated in miniature in Australia and "discovered" another Godmanchester, in Quebec!
Even if you do not have a PC or access to the internet (go to the library), read on, I hope this article will give you an idea of how the new technology is enabling people to learn more of Godmanchester and for us in turn to learn a few things about the world elsewhere. Indeed, this new technology may offer leads for us to discover some hidden history!
Time marches on since Keith Douglas' "Bridge Magazine" article last year, and today you will find that there are several local groups with web sites, the Town Council can be contacted by e-mail and even one of our local businesses, Thelma's, can take orders for flowers on-line. Regularly, more people in Godmanchester are coming on-line and you may be interested in some of the possibilities that lie ahead.
I should point out that I am not involved in the IT business other than using the PC daily for work. My own interest started because I was brought up in the "bad old days" before Windows, when you struggled with lack of memory (the computer, not mine - well, I was younger then!) and programming was something one had to do in order to collect data from dataloggers, format for import to a spreadsheet etc in order to do one's real job (Corrosion R&D in those days). Times changed and I found that the new Windows applications did these jobs much more easily, but they removed much of the creativity. The chance to develop your own web site brings back that opportunity to "express yourself" and, with time on your side, you can do as much, or as little, as you feel able in creating a site for the world to see.
Making the web local...
One issue which becomes readily apparent once your site is ready for uploading to the WWW, is the problem of registering with the search engines so people can actually find it! There are ways and means to help improve your "hit rate", but to help overcome this problem, a "community" is developing of sites hosted by people in Godmanchester which contain reciprocal links to each other - in other words, find one of them and you will see that they have listed local links to other sites about the town and the people here.
If you, or your club / society, have a web site, let me know and we can reciprocate in linking our sites so that our Community can more easily find information about Godmanchester and the activities taking place here.
The visitors from around the world and that Godmanchester in Quebec...
I have received several e-mails from Australia from people like Jean Cowan, Elizabeth Jobson, Janice Childs and P J Grimes- all of whom have links back here to Godmanchester. Apparently "The Causeway" is even replicated at a model village in Cockington Green near Canberra! People in the USA have visited the site and left messages eg Duane Rockey, who was born in Godmanchester in 1959 but left for the USA in 1976.
Through the web it is therefore possible for people to show their children where they themselves grew up on the other side of the world, to keep in touch with their "home town" or to find contacts again after many years away from the area. It is also useful for people intending to move in to a new area.
One such family, having found the web site, e-mailed a question regarding the flood plain by the Community School and I advised contact with the District Council. The latter confirmed no flooding has occurred there since 1947; the family hope to move in soon and to meet with the rest of the community on Gala Day.
So, what can we learn of the world elsewhere by using the world wide web?
Many people are interested in their family history and there are numerous genealogy related sites to be found throughout the world. Search on the term "Godmanchester" and you'll find quite a few web sites relating to previous inhabitants of the town and their descendants.
However, I am intrigued by one particular fact which I stumbled upon through searching the web, of which it seems people here in Godmanchester are unaware. We take for granted that in the New World, places like Boston, Bristol, Birmingham etc were named after the towns and cities from which the settlers originated.
However, did you know that in Quebec the communities of Godmanchester, Huntingdon and Hinchingbrooke can all be found together? Even more intriguing is the fact, of course, that these are now in the centre of the region inhabited by French Canadians. Godmanchester, Qc, is apparently an agricultural area around the city of Huntingdon.
I have managed to contact Dr Gerard L J Loranger, via his own web site and he has promised to pass on our details to the Mayor of Godmanchester, Qc - so perhaps we will be able to find out the history of who originally migrated from England to Canada, and what became of them when the French arrived?
If you are aware of any history on people who may have emigrated to Canada and established the townships in Quebec, please let me know so that we can update the rest of Godmanchester next year! (See the update from 2000)
I believe that there are many similar stories to be found and the possibilities are endless for contact with people elsewhere in the world with whom we have lost contact over the years, or those with common interests or heritage. If you have any interesting stories, please, let me know.
So, we reach the end of my ramblings many thanks for your perseverance. I hope you agree that there are indeed some interesting things to be found using the Internet, and even within Godmanchester it will make it easier to keep abreast of activities and the history of the town.
I look forward to hearing from you all in the coming months - Stuart Bond, Editor
© 1999 Godmanchester Community Association
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