The idea for creating a website for the history of the Reffell family came about during a discussion in a pub in Hammersmith, which given the preponderance of breweries and public houses in the family seems somewhat appropriate.
This website was put together by Bernie and Oonagh Reffell using photographs from their own collection, with family trees and other information from John Reffell. It went live on the Internet in late 2001 and existed until the late summer of 2005 using the web address of www.reffell.info The index page from the original website can be seen from the picture on the right, and dates from around November 2001. As can be seen, there were already sections for articles about the family, a number of family trees with photographs, links to other sites of interest and a message board facility.
The original website was very well received and led to much interest in the history of the Reffell family, with many new contacts from all around the world being made. Many thanks go to Bernie and Oonagh for all the time and effort that they put into the website in its early stages.
After the first version of the website disappeared from the Internet, with Bernie's agreement John took over the website using a new web address at www.reffell.org.uk and this was launched on 28 May 2006.
For that first year the website was in a violet and blue colour scheme, as can be seen in the picture on the left.
The website grew very quickly with many new articles being written and photographs added. However by the beginning of 2007 it was apparent that there were two problems with the website as it was then; firstly the content had grown so much that there was not enough navigational space with the existing vertical menus, and secondly various incompatibility problems had arisen with Internet Explorer's rendition of the site.
Therefore the format was redesigned and the entire site re coded into XHTML during April 2007. This proved to have been a very good move, as apart from resolving all the previous problems, the site became much more flexible and adaptable to future expansion. After some trials the colour scheme of 'chocolate, pears and cream' was arrived at and this was the website design for 2007 and most of 2008.
On the second anniversary in 2008, the website was transferred to a new set of PHP-enabled servers with one.com in Denmark, as a result most of the web pages were dynamically converted with the suffix of .php. This allowed development of an improved range of services.
A number of 'mini-sites' have been created to cater in more detail for some aspects
of the extended Reffell family, linked into the main site as appropriate. The first of these went online
in June 2008 and details the historic research of Thomas Rattle from Canada into The
Rattle Families. The next mini website was for the JT
Reffell French School in Sierra Leone, which went online on 27 April 2009, a very special day in Sierra Leone history.
A new mini website went online on the first day of 2010 with a new
& essentially visual approach to profile the Reffells Bexley Brewery Limited in the style of the brewery's own 1930s advertising. This is based around a character that they created called 'Uncle Reff' who often spoke in rhymes, or 'Reffellising' as he called it.
The image on the left is how the website looked in late 2010/early 2011 and it stayed like this over the next few years. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the website, a new mini website coded appropriately enough in HTML5 went online to detail the Reffell Family of a Hundred Years Ago, using data from the newly released 1911 censuses.
Regular design changes take place with the aim of keeping the website looking fresh and interesting. The latest incarnation of the website dates from a complete redesign, incorporating new developments in technology such as HTML5 and CSS3, and dates from May 2013.