Medina parkrun and my IoW Roots

I recently discovered that my great-grandfather, Frank Plumbley, was born in Newport on the Isle of Wight in 1874. He joined the army at the age of eighteen and was stationed at both Aldershot, Hampshire and Maryhill Barracks, Glasgow.  During his time in Glasgow, he met Jeannie Harrison and they married in 1896. They had two children, Alfred James, born in Farnham, Surrey in 1897 and Jeanie, my grandmother, born at 6 Harrington Street, Maryhill, in 1900.

Frank and his new family were then transferred to Barrackpore, West Bengal, India where, in 1906, he sadly died  My great grandmother later married Alexander Shaw Walker from Auchinleck, Ayrshire and became Mrs. Walker, my grandmother was six years old at the time and was then brought up as Jeanie Walker.

The Plumbley connection was almost lost to history, until I started doing my family research and also had my DNA tested. The results revealed that 20% of my DNA was from the Isle of Wight. The remainder being: 60% Irish, 12% Viking and only 6% Scottish.

I took a trip to the Island to see what if I could discover any more information on my Plumbley forefathers and to get a feel for what life was like for my ancestors.


The research was a bit more difficult than I had imagined but it appears that Frank was born in Newport in 1874 to Emma Plumbley and brought up by his widowed grandmother Edith Plumbley in Freshwater. Frank worked as an Agricultural Labourer and then, at the age of 18, he joined the 28th Battalion and was initially stationed in Aldershot.

Although there were numerous Plumbleys living across the island throughout the nineteenth century, they appear to have almost died out now. Hopefully I’ll discover more about Frank’s family in the future but for now, I loved my time getting to know the island which was home to my ancestors.

Isle of Wight


The people are really friendly, the old thatched cottages are extremely well preserved and the island is a paradise for dog walking and running along the numerous paths and beaches.  Jack and I had a great time and, of course, we took in the local parkrun too.

Isle of Wight

Jack loved Brook Bay Beach

Medina, Isle of Wight, parkrun

It was just as well that I contacted the organisers to confirm the location of the only parkrun on the island, as they advised me that the event was not taking place at the usual place at the Medina Leisure Centre in Newport, or at the alternate course in Ryde, instead it was being held at the Newclose County Cricket Ground near Blackwater, which was only a fifteen minute drive from my holiday cottage in Shanklin.

It was a cold and frosty as we made our way to the event. There was no description of this course on the parkrun website but, presuming that it would be at least partly on the slippery grass, I donned my off road trainers and joined the masses for the pre-run announcements and the 9:00am start.


To ease congestion at the start, volunteers stood at their allocated places holding up signs indicating various race times. I made my way to the 21-minute area and it wasn’t long until Jack and I were making our way along the course with 254 others.

I had no idea what the route was going to be but it started easy enough running around the cricket ground before ascending onto a gravel path. Some of the pebbles must have been sharp and Jack soon opted to run on the adjoining softer grass. 28827657563_9d10de5a57_zWe ran around the cricket ground in the opposite direction before crossing the Sandown to Newport Cycle Path and into a large hilly field. At the top of the hill, the marshal held up a sign congratulating us for making it to the highest point on the course and stating that the rest of the route would be downhill.29612162754_2ce9788242_z

We completed one lap of the field and then ran along a narrow dirt track towards the local herd of lamas. At this point, I could see the leaders running back towards me as I negotiated myself and Jack passed a couple of runners. It was then back to the cricket ground and the gravel path before finishing on the grass at the same point which we had started.30393739515_ebf3337e15_z

I was quite happy to see that I had finished in 29th place with a time of 22:04 on what could be best described as a testing, undulating course over mixed terrain. It was good chatting with some of the other runners after the run but again, I couldn’t stay for coffee and conversation as I had a ferry to catch back to the mainland.  The published results informed me that I had placed 1st MV55, which was a nice bonus, as was a mention in the official report. Many thanks to all  the volunteers and my fellow runners for making myself and Jack feel so welcome.

Best Ever Handicap

It was even better to learn that UK Athletics had graded the event with an SSS of 4.0 and my vSSS as 0.3, which means that my handicap dropped to an all-time low of 7.5.  (for an explanation on this see here) Suffice to say that I’m one happy chappy.

Full Results here

parkrun photographs by Peter Billington

Visit the Island of Wight

I hope to visit the beautiful island again at some point . I’d highly recommend that you do too.

Isle of Wight

Brook Bay

Isle of Wight


You can see more of my photographs of the island here


One thought on “Medina parkrun and my IoW Roots

  1. Just lay here in Cyprus and read about your adventures. Really good stuff on the family side, it must have felt strange being where he lived his life at one stage. Also not forgetting him moving on.

    Park run and remainder of the journey was nice to here about. I look forward to your next adventure.

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