Lost picture of grandad at Ilford dairy shop in 1911 unlocks man’s family history

Hugh Peskett points to his grandfather Ernest Peskett in a photo taken in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, an

Hugh Peskett points to his grandfather Ernest Peskett in a photo taken in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, and on display at the show - Credit: Archant

A professional genealogist who tracked the ancestry of president Ronald Reagan to Ireland has come face-to-face with an unknown photo showing his own family’s history in Ilford.

Hugh Peskett, 80, has spent his life tracking historical and legal documents.

But it took a visit to an exhibition event for TV programme Who Do You Think You Are? for Hugh to be confronted with a photo of his grandfather at his dairy shop in Cranbrook Road.

Hugh encountered the picture at the stand of website TheGenealogist, showing his grandfather Ernest Peskett and other staff outside the Peskett and Son shop.

Hugh said: “It was a lot of excitement, to see my family history.

“A lot of my family photos were lost, but I remembered what he looked like.

“He died eight years before I was born. I knew quite a bit about him. The business was very successful.”

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Alongside his grandfather wearing a bow tie, the deliverymen and workers of the business sport moustaches and flat caps while proudly standing together.

Peskett and Son was set up by Hugh’s great-grandfather George Peskett (1839-1910) in the 1890s. His grandfather took it over before it moved to larger premises in Romford and was bought out by United Dairies before the Second World War.

Hugh spotted the photo at the exhibition for the popular TV show, which helps famous people uncover their family stories, last month. Mark Bayley, head of TheGenealogist’s online division, said: “He was very shocked and surprised.” Research by the website’s staff traced the shop to 6, Cranbrook Road in 1911, and they gave Hugh a copy of the photo to keep.

Hugh, who lives in Winchester, moved from Ilford aged seven but remembered visiting the dairy in its Romford home.

On his work into Reagan, he said: “A lot of people had tried and hadn’t found out it. I could track the exact location where his ancestors came from.”