I have been interested in family history since the late 1970s, and in 1984, after failing to get EMAP, one of Britain’s largest publishing houses, to start a national magazine for our hobby, my wife Mary and I decided to have a go ourselves. We knew nothing about the intricacies of the publishing trade and therefore required help from someone who knew their way around. The someone we turned to was Ralph Braybrook, who has died, aged 77.
Ralph was a native of Stamford in Lincolnshire and began his career on the Stamford Mercury. He eventually left East Anglia for the West Midlands where he worked for a number of years on the Birmingham Evening Post.
His next move was to edit the magazine Midlands Power for the Central Electricity Generating Board. Later he joined the Department of Technology at the time of the Wilson government, to become a press officer working with its minister, Tony Benn.
After a stint on a number of London-based magazines Ralph moved back to East Anglia and lived in Ramsey, working as a freelance for local newspapers and magazines.
Although literally up to his neck in work, he nevertheless somehow found the time to edit Family Tree Magazine for our first two and a half years. It was Ralph’s knowledge and experience that helped the publication to get so well established in such a short time.
Ralph had a marvellous sense of humour and although not a family historian, in 1994, some years after he had left us, he went to Salt Lake City on one of our tours. Afterwards he wrote an article on his visit (Volume 11, No 2, December 1994). This contained his very wry observation of the family historians who spent practically all of the two weeks in the Family History Library.
…The fact that these people find attacking the hidden wealth of the library a preference over visiting the big stores, eating the masses of reasonably-priced food available, or even browsing around the wonderful museums with their host of magnificent artefacts, comes as quite a shock to the system.
They remind me of the tough little pit ponies that used to work the mines in the mountains nearby, because they come up only infrequently for a breath of air; a good night’s sleep, some food, or to perform necessary bodily functions. It seems that they find their endeavours below ground so rewarding that they provide sustenance enough for both body and soul…
Comments that none of us could disagree with.