The largest family history show in the United Kingdom was held this past weekend in Esher in the outskirts of London, England. Indeed, it was a successful event with the largest crowd ever for this event and the largest crowd of any family history event this year in the United Kingdom. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and even gave one presentation at The Family History Show.
I never heard the final attendance figures but was told the organizers sold more than 1,000 tickets in advance of the show. That’s more than the total attendance of last year’s event. In addition, when I was outside the event hall at opening time, there was a very long line of several hundred people waiting to purchase tickets to gain admission. I am sure more tickets must have been sold during the day. Final attendance must have been 1,500 or more.
The annual show was held at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, a beautiful location for the event. The racecourse has a lot of space for car parking and also is close to Esher railway station served by trains from London Waterloo. As a result, many genealogists found easy access to the event. The Headline Sponsor of the show was TheGenealogist while the DNA sponsor was MyHeritage. The Family History Show events are organised by Discover Your Ancestors Magazine.
A number of the leading genealogy speakers of today also gave presentations, including Military Expert Chris Baker, Social Historian Keith Gregson, Photo Expert Jayne Shrimpton, Census Detective Graham Walter, Online Expert Mark Bayley, and others. You can find a list of all the presentations at https://thefamilyhistoryshow.com/london/free-talks/.
Two large lecture theaters were busy all day with presentations made by a number of experts. The two theaters were at opposite ends of the venue which was excellent for separating the noise of the exhibits hall from the various presenters. The two theaters had excellent acoustics.
Perhaps the busiest of all the events was the (free) Ask the Experts Area that was in operation all day. Attendees were able to sign up for a one-on-one talk with any number of experts who specialize in different aspects of family history research. I was told that most of the experts were fully booked for the entire day before noon time.
Sport and Social Historian Keith Gregson was busy all day offering suggestions and ideas to those who brought various family history mementoes and questions to the show.
The various Archives and the Ministry of Defence stands all were very busy all day.
I believe one of the successes of this event is due to the modest admission charges. Two tickets cost only £7.50 (slightly less than $10 U.S.) Free car parking was available as well as a free minibus to and from the train station. If you are planning a genealogy event in your area, there is a lesson here: to attract a large crowd and to make commercial exhibitors happy, keep your admission price low! Indeed, the vendors I talked with were all smiling near the end of the show as sales reportedly were very good at this event.
Military Historian Chris Baker also was very busy all day giving advice to attendees.
You can view a promotional video made before this year’s show in the video player below as well as at https://youtu.be/ptuTF-af620. This year’s show was similar to last year’s event shown in the video except that there was even more of most everything. Another video of last year’s event is available at https://www.facebook.com/thefamilyhistoryshow/videos/343927616060914/.
I am sure videos of this year’s event will become available online soon after the organizers have a chance to rest and relax bit after the hustle-bustle of this year’s event. They were VERY busy during this year’s show!
All in all, The Family History Show, London was a success. I talked with many of the attendees and found everyone was smiling and obviously enjoying the event. For those of you who were unable to attend in person, I can offer a few of the pictures that I took at the show.
If you were unable to attend this year’s event, fear not. The organizers have already promised next year’s The Family History Show, London will be held in the same location on 24th August 2019. Mark your calendar now!
The MyHeritage DNA stand was crowded all day. DNA was very popular at this show! MyHeritage was one of the sponsors of the show.
Here is a picture of some of the people standing in line to purchase admission tickets shortly before the show opened. The line went around the building and much further back than I was able to capture with the camera.
TheGenealogist.co.uk was the major sponsor and organizer of the show and had several stands that were very busy all day.
Looking for a professional genealogy researcher to find some records for you? Contact the Register of Qualified Genealogists.
Many local family history ]societies throughout the U.K. were represented at this year’s show, including the Hampshire Genealogical Society (below):
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain is a very active group within the country.
The Guild of One-Name Studies is a very different and very serious genealogy society! The Guild is dedicated to promoting the public understanding of one-name studies and the preservation and accessibility of the resultant information.
The show was for both family history and local history.
The above photo will give you a sense of the crowds at this year’s event. I was unable to photograph the entire exhibits hall. This photo shows less than a quarter of the hall and still does not show to two lecture theaters that were busy all day.
A picture of me with Nathan Dylan Goodwin (on the left), a prolific author of crime novels that all have a genealogical twist. Nathan’s works are very popular amongst genealogists. See https://www.nathandylangoodwin.com/ for more information.
What were these men doing? Several of us at the show were scratching our heads over this display. The man on the left is holding a pistol. Why is there a dog involved? Any ideas?
Of course, as a genealogist, I had to visit the local graveyard. You have to love the British churches with graveyards!
The Bear Hotel in Esher – It’s not every day that I stay in a hotel that is celebrating its 187th birthday!