Category Archives: directories

Turn2Us database of hardship grants

I came across Turn2Us  via the Paul Lewis Money blog ( where there is an excellent overview of the service. Turn2Us is part of the Elizabeth Finn Care charity. As well as providing a useful benefits search tool there is a searchable database of over 3000 charities that distribute £288 million in grants to individuals in financial hardship every year. To find potential sources of grants in your location type in your postcode, gender and age. Some of the charities only provide grants for people who have worked for a particular company or in a particular industry, but there are many that offer support to the general population and can help with education costs, living costs or hardship in retirement.

When I typed in my postcode (Reading), age and gender it came up with a list of 72 charities. There were some that were bizarre in their specificity. The Edmund Godson Charity, for example, offers “one-off grants for people in need who wish to emigrate and who currently live in and around Woolwich, Shinfield near Reading, north east Herefordshire and Tenbury in Worcestershire”. I was also intrigued by one that provides grants and annuities for “older women in the UK who are not ‘of the artisan class'”, and was left wondering whether I would qualify.


Those idiosyncrasies aside, there is a wide range of help available here from charities that are little known and not easy to find.

Google axes Google Directory and to close Labs

Yesterday I heard that Google had axed Google Directory (Google Kills Google Directory, Says Web Search Is Faster If you try to access the directory you will see a message telling you that it is no longer available and “We believe that Web Search is the fastest way to find the information you need on the web. If you prefer to browse a directory of the web, visit the Open Directory Project at“.

Google Directory Gone

The directory was not one created by Google but a version of, The Open Directory Project. I began using Dmoz when it started as an alternative to the Yahoo Directory, which Yahoo had stopped updating. I have not used it for several years, though. The quality of an increasing number of the entries was suspect and the number of dead links unacceptable. I have just revisited Dmoz and the quality seems to have deteriorated even further. It is as tedious as ever to navigate and one often ends up with a list of commercial pages advertising companies and services. I did not have much joy with the search option either (powered by AOL Search). Marketing  pages dominated all of my search results. I will not be mourning the passing of Google Directory.

Google does not seem to have made an official announcement about the directory and in the time honoured fashion has simply dropped the service. It has, though, dropped the bombshell that it is to close down Google Labs. (Official Google Blog: More wood behind fewer arrows They will carry on with “in-product experimentation channels like Gmail Labs or Maps Labs. We’ll continue to experiment with new features in each of our products“. Android apps will be available on Android Market. There is further comment at “Google Labs To Be Closed As Larry Page’s Product Streamlining Continues” (

This is something I did not expect at all and I will miss the single point of access to Google’s experiments. Fusion Tables ( has already “graduated” but what is to become of experiments such as the Art Project, Google Correlate, Image Swirl and the Public Data Explorer? Google simply says that updates will appear on the Labs website ( The close down emphasises the importance of not become totally reliant on Google search features and services. Get to know the alternatives – they are sometimes better!

I am now wondering what will be next in the firing line.


Many thanks to Britta Nordström for alerting me to this site.  Business Ukraine ( has a useful collection of directories of companies, products and services in Ukraine as well as links to postal codes and transport timetables. There is also a list of  Directories of the world on-line ( that is mostly yellow pages for countries around the world. The market reviews look interesting but the articles are subscription only.

There are Russian, Ukrainian and English language options for many of the sections but you may have to resort to Google’s translation service for some areas of the site.


China Full Directory Kit discount

If you carry out a lot of research on businesses and industries in China you might be interested in the offer currently available from dataresources. For a limited period they are offering 45% discount on SinoMedia’s China Full Directory Kit, which provides information resources required to do business in China. Originally priced at over £1350 the kit is now £750 (+delivery) .

The China Full Directory Kit includes:

  • China Foreign Enterprise Directory 11th Edition 2010 (CD-ROM)
  • China Enterprise Directory 2010 (Book and CD ROM)
  • Top Global 500 Companies in China 2009-2010 (CD-ROM)
  • China Government Organizations Directory 2009-2010 (Book)
  • China MICE Guide 2010-2011 (Forthcoming) (Book)
  • China Financial Services Directory 2010-2011 (Forthcoming) CD-ROM
  • China Logistics Guide 2010/2011 CD-ROM
  • China IT Directory 2010 CD-ROM
  • China Manufacturing Directory 2010 CD-ROM
  • China Media Directory 2010 CD-ROM
  • China Industrial Zones Directory 2010 CD-ROM

Full details can be found at

Who phoned?

Having just come back from two weeks holiday, one of my first tasks was to check the phone messages on both my land line and my mobile.A handful of callers left messages, several did not and were number ‘withheld’ or ‘International’, and a few rang without leaving a message but are known contacts in the “phone book” so their names were recorded in the log. About half of those who did not leave a message were just logged as a number and some made repeated calls.There is no point in calling most of these numbers back because you usually end up at a switchboard. Even if you do get the individual who rang they have long forgotten the purpose of their call. But I am a curious person and I like to see if I can track down the identity of mystery callers.

I first search the various contact lists on  my computer using Copernic Desktop Search. Sometimes that throws up a long forgotten contact. A straightforward Google search on the number may also work. If those fail I run the geographic numbers through a program on my desktop called CodeLook. This will tell me the area, exchange and telecoms operator but not the identity of the owner of the number. It can be enough, though, to jog my memory about a friend, relative, or customer. The program is part of a subscription service for  members of Magenta Systems’s UK Tariff Comparison web site but there is also a free online version at

There is one type of caller that drives me mad: the call centre. They ring repeatedly, hardly ever leave a message, and often there is no-one at the other end when you do pick up. For these numbers Whocallsme is a godsend. This is a user supplied database of UK phone numbers of:

“telemarketers, non-profit organizations, charities, political surveyors, SCAM artists, and other companies that don’t leave messages, disconnect once you answer, ignore the Do-Not-Call List regulations, and simply interrupt your day.”

On this occasion, Whocallsme identified two of the repeat callers. The first was a British Gas call centre. They repeatedly phone me trying to persuade me to change my gas supply to them (I already have my electricity supplied by them). Asking them to cease and desist has no effect whatsoever so they will now be added to the automatic “Choose to refuse” list on my land line. The second was a mobile number and turned out to be Orange. I have a four month old dispute with their billing department so that number was definitely worth pursuing and following up.

All this might seem like a lot of effort to track down who phoned you but it can be worth it if only to identify and filter out the junk callers.

UK Mobile Phone Directory

Update: February 4th, 2010. This directory is no longer available

UK mobile phone numbers are now available in an online directory at, which claims to have 15m numbers in its database. 118 800 obtains the numbers from market research companies who contact individuals and ask if they would be prepared to allow their numbers to be used for commercial purposes, from online businesses who ask customers to opt in their numbers during the course of online transactions, and from brokers who buy and sell lists of phone numbers. To search for a number you just type the name and location of the person into the 118800 website. You may be asked to supply further address details to confirm the identity of the person you wish to contact. 118800 then texts the person you wish to contact asking them if they are prepared to accept the call. The service costs £1.

There have been serious concerns raised about this service and its potential use by spammers, and also about the accuracy of the data. See the BBC web site at and also 118 800: First UK mobile phone directory doesn’t connect with us – Crave at CNET UK

If you wish to be ex-directory, go to then click on ‘Ex Directory’ at top right hand side of the page. You will be asked for your mobile number and to type in letters from a CAPTCHA (those horrible distorted letters and numbers that take at least three attempts before you get it right). You should then receive a text message from 118 800 with a number that you have to type into the 118 800 web site to complete your opt-out. The FAQ says that it can take up to 4 weeks to make you ex-directory (why so long?)

Thanks to Bert Washington, membership secretary of CLSIG (Commercial Legal and Scientific Information Group), for circulating a reminder about the directory.

UK Historical Directories and Newspapers

Someone has just contacted me via Facebook asking how they could track down a company in London. Not a difficult piece of research you might say but the time period was the 1890s!

One resource that immediately sprang to mind was the Historical Directories at This is a digital library, maintained by the University of Leicester, of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. It does not attempt to publish every directory available between 1750 and 1919 but what they do have makes fascinating reading.

I first reviewed it in July 2004 and my initial interest was on the business side as I am sometimes asked how to find information on small, local companies going back 50 to 100 years. I quickly discovered, though, that for my own location (Caversham in Berkshire) the Kelly’s directories for 1914 and 1915 included residential listings. I ended up spending hours researching who had lived in my house, who the neighbours had been and their occupations.

There are several search options including a keywords option that lets you search by any combination of location, decade, key name (directory name e.g. Kelly), your own keywords, and with fuzzy logic on or off (off is the default). For my own searches I found it easier to identify directories in my location and then search them individually, but one of the alternative search options may suit you better. For Berkshire I found Kelly’s, Slater’s and Webster’s directories and there is a “Post Office”  directory for Berkshire, Northamptonshire,  Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Huntingdonshire for 1854!

Historical Directories

For each directory there is a Fact File containing bibliographic information and links to the main chapter headings. When you view the pages that match your search criteria your search terms are highlighted.

The site also supports seriously advanced search options (see for details). For a phrase just type in the words next to one another, for example Star Road. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a person their name may appear as surname, middle name(s), first name. For this type of search there is a “within” operator, for example George w/3 Bloggs will look for George within three words of Bloggs in any order. The wildcard is a question mark (?) and replaces a single character. The asterisk replaces 0 or more characters. Wildcards can be used at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a word.

For information on who was hitting the headlines in your town in the 1890s you could try the recently launched British Newspapers 1800-1900 at This covers two million pages of 49 local and national 19th century newspapers. There is a basic search option on the home page but the advanced search enable you to search by keyword, publication date(s), place of publication, section (e.g. people, business), publication frequency and language (English or Welsh).

The problems start with the publications that are covered – only 49. Nothing in Berkshire so this is a non-starter for my own local search. Note also that you have to pay to view most of the articles. A 24 hour pass costs £6.99 and allows you to view up to 100 articles. A seven day pass costs £9.99 and gives you 200 article views.

I could not find out what the buzz was in Reading and Caverhsam in the 1800s from the British Library newspaper archive  (perhaps there wasn’t any!),  but what do the directories have to say? According to the 1854 Post Office directory:

“BERKSHIRE, sometimes called Barkshire, and for shortness Berks or Barks, is a southern inland shire, on the south or left bank of the navigable Thames, which forms its northern boundmark, and in the valley of which it lies, approaching within twenty miles of London, and in the middle between the mouth of the Thames at the North Sea and the Bristol Channel. The shire is of very irregular shape…”

And who did live in my house in 1914/1915? Number 88 Star Road, or number 6 Webb’s Cottages as it then was, was home to Charles Herbert and his wife Mary who was a shopkeeper. Neighbours included a wheelwright, carpenter, window cleaner, builder, two pub landlords and an insurance agent. Apart from the wheelwright, not very different from today’s residents!