Should We Learn From History?

What Has History Taught Us?

I am certain we should look back to enable us to our history in order to look forward, learning from the mistakes made long ago.

Being able to observe the past we can learn so much, not only about ourselves and our historical backgrounds but to learn lessons from those mistakes made by others whether in life or in business.

I had a passion for history which started when I was eleven and was attending West Central School in Carshalton, that was from 1955 to 1958.

I never thought much about the subject after I left school aged 15 in the December of 1958.

History was always present in my early working life as a messenger for a shipping company in the City of London.

Each day, my routine was visiting the foreign banks along Bishopsgate and Grace Church Street paying in cheques that had arrived in the post.

I then visited the shipping offices along Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street with bills of lading for import and export followed by visiting customs in Billingsgate Fish Market getting shipments cleared.

I then visited the shipping offices along Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street with bills of lading for import and export followed by visiting customs in Billingsgate Fish Market getting shipments cleared.

History was all around me.


Wandering around London as a fifteen year old was magical, in those days people wore uniforms, most male workers had bowler hats and pinstripe trousers.  

When I walked through the old Stock Exchange in Throgmorton Avenue, the members were wearing top hats and I always remember the man on his bicycle with a long pole switching off the gas lamps there.

After I had finished my round, I would dawdle back to the office and on occasion would pay sixpence and go up the monument which commemorated the start in Pudding Lane, of the great fire of London in 1666.

Once back in the office in the afternoon I had the boring task of doing the filing, hated it.

Moving On

I worked for the electricity company on cable jointing in the early 1960s.

Then becoming a field service engineer starting with a franking machine company and had a small area covering the county of Surrey. 

From franking machines, I applied for a job with Smith’s Industries, in those days well known in the aviation and automotive industry.

Smith’s made the early altimeters when aviation was starting and speedometers with the advent of the motor car.

I joined their industrial and scientific division in 1972 and was one of 3 engineers that covered England and Wales for their scientific instruments.

I loved this freedom to travel far and wide in my job and had the opportunity to visit places I had never been to before, loving the history of this country while doing my work.

Family History, Genealogy.


It was in 1985 when my cousin a school teacher died in his early 30s, his mother my Aunt Doris, had been researching our family history unbeknown to me.

Following his tragic death, she lost interest in following her research and asked me if I would like to take up her research, to which I immediately agreed.

In those days there was no internet to do your research. 

You had to visit records centres, libraries, and in those days the Morman’s had huge amounts of old records available on micro film at their various centres.

It was always a great achievement going back to find your earliest ancestors and discover facts about the way they lived their lives.

Family Discoveries.

My paternal Great Grandparents were German immigrants who came to London in the late 1880s.

On my maternal side, I have a Sicilian GGG Grandmother who was married to my GGG grandfather, a bosun in the Royal Navy, they met when he was serving in Malta in 1843.

The internet companies with billions of ancient documents available, has given us the ability to share our research and find living distant relatives.

It’s great being able to converse with them on line via messaging and Skype, it’s a real joy to meet them and find out about them and their history and family life.

Only two weeks ago I found descendants from my father’s German ancestors living in New York, are now friends on Face Book.

Most of my ancestors were from agriculture or in the case of those from way back in Kent worked in Chatham Dock Yard where Nelson’s Flag Ship Victory was built. 

My Cornish ancestors were connected to the Royal Navy, some were running the Torpoint Ferry when it started in the late 1700s.

Fascinating stuff.

Since my own children are in their 40s and have their own children, I have delved into the history of their partners to give my grandchildren a full set of ancestry details.

My son in law, in particular, has a great history on his mother’s side with connections to the City of London Guilds.

The Cloth Makers Company, the founder of the Times Financial Page, his family married into other trade families who were Spanish merchants from the Basque region in the late 1700s.

There were connections to the descendants of Sampson Lloyd the founder of Lloyds Bank.

Rather like royalty, the wealthy upper class business owners also married their children into other similar families.

My conclusions


History has it’s place in society today, we should always look back to enable us to look forward so that we don’t make the same mistakes made previously.

I certainly made mistakes throughout my business life, getting into debt and almost losing my home on a couple of occasions, but you get through these difficult times, if you learn where it was you went wrong.

A classic example in history, Hitler made the same mistake as Napoleon, invading Russia and being defeated by its severe winters.  That was a huge benefit to this country as Hitler had abandoned his plan, “Operation Sea Lion” to invade Britain in 1942 and went east to Russia.


Even in business we can learn from the past. A classic book was written almost a hundred years ago by Napoleon Hill titled “Think and Grow Rich”.

This book is so relevant today and a lot can be learned from it, I thoroughly recommend anyone in business to read it.


Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Ken “The Sage Grandad”
Ken & Karen, the father-daughter dynamic duo, here to help you.

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Ken Hart

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