Thursday, 29 May 2008

Novelty photos - a photo booth with a difference

Photo booths were popular for much of the 20th Century. The first such device was invented in the late 19th Century, with Mathew Stiffens filing his patent for an "automatic photography machine" in 1889, only four years after the first commercially viable coin-operated vending machine was brought out by Percival Everett. They mostly produced tintypes, and were a qualified success because they needed frequent repair and changes of chemicals. The first of the reliable self-operated photo booths along the lines of the modern concept, i.e. a small cubicle with a curtain covering the background and entrance, were operated in New York in the mid-1920s.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

This example of a paper print (46.5 x 103 mm) from a photobooth introduces a novelty which I've not seen before, attempting to capture a niche in the market. As well as producing an almost instant photo of the customer, it also captures the date - 10 September 1935 - and the weight of the subject, in this case almost 8 stone 12 pounds. It's not clear how much the snapshot cost, but it couldn't have been much, because the bottom of the print advertises, "Why not have it enlarged? Only 3d."

Further Reading & Browsing.

NY Times Video: The History of the Photo Booth
Photobooth Self-portrait by Andy Warwhol at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Wade's Photobooth Gallery
The Photobooth Blog
Photobooths - Retroland

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

An early tinted ambrotype

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This charming early ambrotype has been more delicately tinted than the previous two examples, producing an engaging portrait of this couple. As with most ambrotypes, it has no photographer's mark, so I have no idea where it was taken or who the subjects are. The only clue is that I purchased it on eBay from a UK seller. From the pose and the style of clothing, I estimate that it was taken in the mid- to late 1850s, perhaps between 1856 and 1860.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Colourised CDV by John Loeffler of Tompkinsville, Staten Island, NY

This vignetted carte de visite of a young child by prolific photographer and publisher J. Loeffler of Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York was taken in the 1860s. Although not a particularly remarkable portrait, an attempt has been made to make it a little more interesting by colouring it in pink (cheeks), yellow (hair) and blue (ribbon, shoes and dress).

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

It is very difficult to provide an accurate date for the portrait based on the photograph alone - my estimate is some time in the mid- to late 1860s, although it could also conceivably have been from the early 1870s. However, the reverse of the card mount enables us to narrow down the estimate considerably, as it has a 3c green George Washington Internal Revenue stamp.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

These stamps were used to indicate that a tax had been paid on the photo. The taxes were levied by the United States Federal Government during the Civil War as a revenue raising exercise, and the system operated between 30 June 1864 and 1 August 1866. As was directed by the authorities, the photographer has "cancelled" the revenue stamp in ink with his initials, "J.L."

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

John Loeffler was a studio photographer and publisher of stereoviews who lived and worked on Staten Island, New York from the early 1860s until the early 1900s. He was born c. 1833 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1854. His sons August and Alexander Loeffler were marine photographers.

A coloured portrait by Lawrence Brothers of Cape Town

Photographers often offered a colouring service, and mostly this colouring would involve the addition of highlights to emphasize certain features, such as the colour of the subject's clothes, their shiny buttons, a wedding ring, their rosy cheeks etc. The advertisements often stated that portraits could be "finished in oils or water colours."

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The carte de visite portrait of an unidentified woman in Cape Town, South Africa, by the studio of Lawrence Brothers of Caledon Street, has been extensively "finished in oils" - so much so, in fact that little can be seen of the original photograph. It does at least succeed in conveying some of the richness of an African landscape.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Michael Stevenson has two images (1 & 2) attributed to the Lawrence Brothers, dated as being from c. 1870, on his web site. However, I believe this portrait was from a little earlier, possibly c. 1861-1865. I'd be keen to hear from anyone who knows anything about this studio, or has examples of their work. Email

Mrs Gray's Cottage, Coxbench, by F.W. Scarratt

A biographical article about Francis William Scarratt on You & Yesterday refers to him as the pioneer of picture postcard publishing in Derby. He certainly was prolific, and his work has a degree of familiarity with the surroundings and people that other publishers of Derby scenes were rarely able to capture. His artistic flair is evident in the subjects he chose as well as the composition of his photographs. The effects of his early training as a wallpaper designer [Source: 1901 Census] also show up later in the ornate framed borders of some of his early postcards.

Mrs. Gray's Cottage, Coxbench, by F.W. Scarratt, Courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Frank Scarratt produced this postcard entitled "Mrs. Gray's Cottage, Coxbench" in the early 1900s. The image was sent to me by Nigel Aspdin, who had first come across it on eBay, although it has also been reproduced in the book, "Yesterday's Derby and its Districts" (by F.W. Scarratt, from "The Rod Jewell Collection," publ. 1995 by Breedon Books, ISBN 1-85983-030-7). Nigel was intrigued by the photograph:
When I first saw it I realised I recognised it. In my grandmother's autograph album her sister Alice Mellor née Slater (who featured in a previous Photo-Sleuth article) had painted this cottage. A scan is attached.
Old Cottages, Coxbench, by A.E. Slater, Feb. 1900 - Courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The watercolour sketch is clearly dated, "Feb 1900," while the PC is supposedly 1908, so my little watercolour pre-dates the post card.

What I now wonder is, why was "Mrs Grays Cottage" of interest for a post card? She must have had some local fame to warrant a post card even after her cottage fell into ruin. Alice painted it in 1900, and Mrs Gray is there in the door. Alice would have gone to Coxbench with her father as at that time he owned the lease on the quarry there.
A search was carried out of the 1901 Census enumerator's sheets for the entire hamlet of Coxbench, which although not very large, extends across the border of both of Holbrook's census sub-districts, and the relevant portions of the 1891 and 1899 editions of Kelly's trade directory for the hamlet. No evidence has been found, from that time period anyway, of a Mrs. Gray living in or near Coxbench. However there was a Mrs. Ellen Grace, an elderly widowed laundress, living in Lee Lane. It is common knowledge that names can be corrupted like this very easily, and I wondered if it was likely that "Mrs. Grace's cottage" became "Mrs. Gray's Cottage" by the time the postcard was published.
I have worked out which is Lee Lane, its SO OBVIOUS, it runs parallel and in the lee of the significant hill that separates it to Holbrook and Duffield to the west, the prevailing wind. I actually got the 1880-90 OS survey map copied this morning, but it has no road names as I expected. However the Scarratt book gives a next clue "just before the Fox and Hounds". I know where it was now, I have looked on site before, the setting seemed to fit but the original cottage has gone or has been re-built to a different design.
Image © Derby Local Studies Library & Courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
1880s Ordnance Survey Map of Coxbench
Image © Derby Local Studies Library & Courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Nigel received confirmation of the identity of "Mrs. Grace" from another source, as well as the story that although it had never been proved "it is highly likely that this lady was the mother of Alice (Grace) the Little Eaton Hermit who lived in a bacon box and of which numerous cards were produced including one by Scarratt in 1907." However, another source "was adamant that Alice Grace had no connection with the Mrs. Grace at the cottage."

Image Courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
Alice Grace in her bacon box at Coxbench Quarry
Image courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The story of colourful local character Alice Grace has been told many times, including a BBC article, Old Alice in the Bacon Box, the Little Eaton Hermit, a thread entitled "Granny's sayings & Bacon Box Alice" on the DerysGen Mailing List, and in a booklet by Jane Brown (Source: Derby Local Studies Library, courtesy of Nigel Aspdin). Rosemary Lockie has images of another two postcards (1 & 2), both dated 1906, and brief story on her web site.

This story intrigued me, as I have my own connection to a GRACE family of this area. My great-great-grandmother Emma Robinson née Bacon (1842-1900) was from Dale Abbey. A niece Hannah Bacon (1856-1947) - son of her brother Matthew Bacon (1830-1885) who had moved to Holbrook - married Henry Grace (1849-1902), a quarryman from Coxbench.

Using GRO birth, marriage and death indexes and census records, I've managed to prove that Alice Grace (d. 1927), otherwise known as "Bacon Box Alice," was born at Morley in 1853, daughter of William Grace (b. 1808) and his second wife Anne Seed, not in 1867 as stated in some reports. She was, in turn, grand-daughter of Joseph Grace (born c. 1788 Horsley) & Hannah Wathall of Horsley, and thus a first cousin of my relative Henry Grace through his father Samuel Grace (born 1817), who was also a son of Joseph & Hannah Grace.

Now to "Mrs. Grace" who occupied the cottage photographed by Scarratt and painted by Alice Slater. From an examination of the 1901 Census and contemporary trade directories, she was almost certainly Ellen Grace, widow of quarry labourer William Grace (1826-1872) who was, in turn, a son of Samuel Grace (1790-1865) and Elizabeth Handford of Horsley. Samuel was a son of William Grace and Sarah Whetton, also of Horsley, who were married there in 1776.

It is tempting to assume that Joseph Grace, grandfather of both Alice and Henry Grace, was a son of William Grace & Sarah Whetton. However, I have found no evidence of this using the IGI (International Genealogical Index), and it is evident that there were several other GRACE couples producing children in Horsley at around this time.

I have little doubt that the GRACE lines would link up eventually, but to research them further, the parish registers for Horsley would need to be consulted. For the moment, I think we will have to accept that while there is no close relationship between Alice Grace of the Bacon Box and Mrs Grace of the Lee Lane Cottage, they were almost certainly related through a common GRACE ancestor in the early to mid-1700s.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Locating Derby's first photographic studio in Victoria Street

While researching the career of early Derby photographer Thomas Roberts, featured in a previous Photo-Sleuth article, I was keen to find out whether the building which housed his first studio still existed. Roberts had taken over the premises used for the same purpose a few months earlier by Derby's pioneer daguerreotypist John Johnson, advertised as being the "rooms adjoining the Athenaeum," in Victoria Street. Derby resident and keen fellow photo-sleuther, Nigel Aspdin, offered to go and photograph the area for me.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
The northern side of Victoria Street, Derby, April 2008
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Although the weather did its best to thwart Nigel's attempts, as it started to hail while he was taking the first shots, he did a great job. The white walled building on the right hand side of the photo is the Athenaeum, referred to in Roberts' advert. To the immediate right of the Athenaeum (not shown in this photo) is the building housing the Royal Hotel, which was already in existence by 1843. The phrases "next the Athenaeum" and "adjoining the Athenaeum" used in Roberts' adverts must therefore mean immediately to the left of the Athenaeum building.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
The entrance to the Derby Tramways Office, April 2008
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The brick building to the left of the Athenaeum, in the centre of the photograph, is currently occupied, at least on the ground floor, by a Post Office. It was built as the Victoria Street Tramways Office in 1904, to a design by Alexander MacPherson "in the Tudor style made popular during the Arts and Crafts movement," and served as the central terminus for the Derby Tramways Company for three decades. [Source: Wikepedia]

Image © and courtesy of Ann Hunt

I am very grateful to Ann Hunt for this rather nice image of a coloured postcard of Victoria Street, Derby, produced from a photograph which was taken looking in an easterly direction towards the intersection with St. Peter's Street. The newly built Tramways Office (the postcard has a postmark dated 17 April 1907) and the Athenaeum are on the left. The postcard also features several horse drawn carts and carriages, two of Derby's electrified trams and even a motor car.

As the current Tramways building only appeared on this spot in 1904, I deduced that if I could find a photograph of this part of town prior to the turn of the century, it might show the building which housed Thomas Roberts' old photographic studio. However, further investigations revealed a far more complicated story.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
Culverting over the old Markeaton Brook, on Victoria Street at the site of the old St Peter's Bridge, during road renovations in July 2004
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

In 1839, soon after that portion of the Markeaton Brook between St Peter's Bridge and St James' Lane had been culverted over to form a wide street, Brookside (see photo above), the Derby Athenaeum Company erected a building over some 245 feet of street frontage towards the Cornmarket and Brookside. The stated intention at the time was to include "a Post Office, an Hotel, & an Edifice for various Public Objects, to be called The Athenaeum." [The Derby Mercury, dated 15 Nov 1837] In fact, the Derby Town and County Museum and Natural History Society were moved into the building in late 1840, into "a room ... extending nearly the whole length of the building." [The Derby Mercury, dated 13 Feb 1839 & 9 Dec 1840] Brookside was subsequently renamed Victoria Street, for obvious reasons, in August 1839 [The Derby Mercury, dated 21 Aug 1839].

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
The Athenaeum, Royal Hotel & Post Office, and The Derby & Derbyshire Banking Company
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The print of the engraving depicted in the image shown above, which currently graces the wall of the Aspdin home, unfortunately appears to be undated. However, it is probably a fairly accurate depiction of how the Athenaeum and Royal Hotel looked soon after they were built. Both are still clearly recognisable in a more recent photograph by Andy Savage.

Image © Derby Museums & Art Gallery

This photograph of a "horse bus in Victoria Street about 1880, with the Athenaeum Club behind and the porch of the Royal Hotel on the right" by an unidentified photographer, was reproduced in Harry Butterton's Victorian Derby: A Portrait of Life in a 19th-century Manufacturing Town (publ. 2006, Breedon Books, ISBN 978-1859835333). If this photograph really was taken c. 1880, and unfortunately there are few clues to help date it, then we can say that the 1904 Tramways Office was preceded by a similar multi-storey brick building. The engraving shown above, almost certainly produced before the turn of the century, and perhaps substantially before then, clearly depicts a three-storey building immediately to the left of the Athenaeum, which must have preceded the 1904 Tramways office.

Image © Derby Local Studies Library & courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

An Ordnance Survey map of this part of Derby, a portion of which is included in the image above, shows the buildings extant in 1881. The building situated on the corner of Victoria Street and St James' Street, marked as the "General Post Office," was built in 1869, shortly after the widening of what was then called St James' Lane had taken place in 1867 and 1868 [The Derby Mercury, dated 1 Jan 1868 & 7 Apr 1869]. To the right of the GPO is the Post Office Hotel & Restaurant, which was built c. 1875, to replace an older building housing the Spotted Horse Inn. Immediately to the right of the hotel is an alley leading to an internal yard. Between the alley and the Athenaeum are the two buildings which must have preceded the 1904 Tramways Office.

Image © and courtesy of the Derbyshire Family History Society
Victoria Street, Derby (North Side), 1891
Image from Kelly's 1891 Trade Directory
© and courtesy of the Derbyshire Family History Society

Clues to the identities of these two buildings can be found in contemporary trade directory listings. The extract shown above is from the 1891 edition of Kelly's, while that shown below is from an edition a decade earlier.

Image © and courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
Victoria Street, Derby (North Side), 1881
Image from Kelly's 1881 Trade Directory
© and courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories

In 1881 the left-hand building was occupied by John Thomas Sarsfield, a cork cutter, but by 1891 the Derby Tramways Company Limited had taken it over, and were using it as a manager's office and waiting room. Samuel Whitaker (later S.W. & Sons), an accountant, was at number 4, the building on the right, and he was secretary of the Derbyshire Permanent Building, Investment & Land Society.

Image © and courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
Victoria Street, Derby (North Side), 1874
Image from Wright's 1874 Trade Directory
© and courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories

The listing for Victoria street in Wright's 1874 trade directory shows Mr. Whitaker and the Derbyshire Building Society at number 4, while another cork cutter, Mrs. Jemima Willisford, was living at 4A, presumably the left-hand building.

Image © Derby Museums & Art Gallery
Victoria Street, looking east, taken by Richard Keene in 1870
Image © Derby Museums & Art Gallery Ref. DBYMU.L138, in Keene's Derby, edited by Maxwell Craven

This photograph looking eastwards down Victoria Street, with the Athenaeum building on the left, was taken by Richard Keene, and appears in Maxwell Craven's excellent book, "Keene's Derby" (publ. 1993 by Breedon Books, ISBN 1-873626-60-6). Craven dates the photograph as having been taken prior to the demolition of Thorntree House, shown in the centre of the photo, in 1870. The existence of the single-storey offices of the Derbyshire Building Society, immediately to the left of the Athenaeum, lets us pinpoint the date of the photograph even more accurately. The Society, although it had been created in 1859, only moved to the offices at 4 Victoria Street from 14 Irongate in early 1870, as shown in an advertisement in The Derby Mercury dated 23 March 1870.

Harrod & Co.'s 1870 Directory of Derbyshire (Historical Directories), probably compiled in late 1869, shows a solicitor Charles Thomas Reynolds Dewe, Esq. at number 4 Victoria Street. He presumably used the offices which would be taken over by Whitaker the following year. Similar listings in Harrison's 1860 and White's 1857 directories show that Dewe had occupied the premises for at least 13 years. Searching through advertisements in The Derby Mercury show that he moved there from Irongate in 1846 or early 1847.

This portion of an 1852 map of Derby shows the layout of Victoria Street prior to the redevelopment of St James' Lane in the mid-1860s. While the topography of St James' Lane and the western end of Victoria Street are substantially different from that shown in the later 1881 map, the buildings at 4 and 4A do not appear to be significantly different, apart from the absence of a building at the back of 4A, in the yard to the right of the alley. The photographs taken by Keene in 1870 and an unidentified photographer c. 1880 (see above), however, suggests that single-storey building had been replaced by the 1880s.

Samuel Bagshaw's 1846 History, Gazetteer and Directory of Derbyshire shows a dentist, Henry Jordan, operating from number 4 Victoria street. It appears from adverts in The Derby Mercury that he was at this address from at least May 1845, initially sharing the premises with J.T. Hassall, Dispensing Chemist & Star Life Assurance Officer, who had been there since at least late October 1844. It seems likely, therefore, that Roberts shared the rooms with Hassall and Jordan.

Image © Derby Museums & Art Gallery
Detail of 1870 photograph of Victoria Street by Richard Keene (see above)

Was the building occupied by The Derbyshire Permanent Building Investment and Land Society (the name is almost visible on the lower sign, to the right of the door) at number 4 Victoria Street in 1870 is the same one that was used for Derby's first photographic studio? Unless evidence can be found that some building took place on this site between 1844 and 1870, it seems likely. I would appreciate hearing from any readers who might be able to add to the story. (Email)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Thomas Roberts (1804-1885), one of Derby's first photographers

The American daguerreotypist John Johnson (1831-1871) briefly operated a studio in Victoria Street, Derby for a few weeks during the summer of 1843, under license from the patent holder Richard Beard [Source: A Faithful Likeness - The First Photographic Portrait Studios in the British Isles, 1841 to 1855, by Bernard & Pauline Heathcote, self publ. 2002]. However, it was Derby stationer and bookseller Thomas Roberts (1804-1885) who appears to have made the first attempt at operating a permanent photographic studio in the town. Roberts was born in Derby in 1804 and, after his marriage there in 1829, worked there as a printer. He and his wife Harriet had six children between then and 1844. The census of June 1841 [Source: Indexed census enumerators' images from Ancestry] shows him living in St James' Lane, Derby St Peter, and still described as a printer.

After Johnson had moved on to Blackpool by September 1843, the first contemporary evidence of a photographer working in Derby is an advertisement which appeared in The Derby Mercury [Source: The British Library, courtesy of Gale Databases] on 28 February 1844.

Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale Databases

This announced that "proprietors of [the] photographic establishment, Victoria Street, Derby," unfortunately unnamed, would be "reducing the prices of their portraits, so as to place them within the reach of all ..." and included a list of these prices. It seems likely, however, that this was Thomas Roberts, as a very similar advertisement appeared in The Derby Mercury just over three months later on 5 June 1844, with prices further reduced, and this time providing his name.

Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale Databases

It seems likely from the wording of the February 1844 advert that it had already been open for some months, perhaps even since Johnson's departure. This is supported by a claim on a mid-1860s carte de visite (see below) produced by Roberts of an 1843 date of establishment of the business.

View Larger Map

He did not take the portraits in his bookshop, which was situated at number 3 St James' Lane, but set up a studio in the same premises around the corner that had been occupied by Johnson in the summer of 1843. When he advertised again in The Derby Mercury on 25 September and 30 October 1844, he boasted that he was now "the sole proprietor of the patent for the taking of photographic likenesses in Derbyshire," and had "taken the rooms next the Athenaeum, Victoria Street, Derby ... near the Royal Hotel." The exact location of the studio will be dealt with in a susequent article.

Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale Databases

In May the following year, Roberts was still taking portraits of the "nobility, clergy, gentry, and the public in general." His advert in The Derby Mercury on 28 May 1845, however, appears to give mixed messages.

Image © The Magic Attic and courtesy of Clyde Dissington

He has a rather nice engraving of a photographer with a distinguished client in his stylishly furnished studio, and states that he had recently renovated his rooms, "with the latest improvements, and in a style not to be surpassed by any in the kingdom." However, the statement that the studio would be "open for a short time only" suggests that he might have been reconsidering the viability of the business.

Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale Databases

Indeed, a few months later on 10 September 1845, Roberts inserted what is likely to have been his last advertisement for his daguerreotype studio in The Derby Mercury.

Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale Databases

He stated that he would be "declining the photographic business," but would continue taking portraits at the Mechanics' Institution, Wardwick for a further fortnight until the 29th September. He would obviously relinquish his lease on the rooms on Victoria street from 13 September, but intended to "continue to carry on his newspaper, periodical, and bookselling business as usual, in St. James' Lane, Corn-market," which he obviously found far more remunerative.

This was a common experience of early daguerreotypists, who obtained licenses from Richard Beard (the sole patentee of the daguerreotype process in England and Wales) under conditions which would often prove financially disastrous. The agreements usually involved a high initial payment to Beard, followed by the remission to him of a large proportion of the proceeds of the business. Beard himself had made huge profits from a chain of studios in London, where there was a ready supply of wealthy clientele. [Source: Richard Beard (1801-1885) in A History of Photography by Robert Leggatt] The licensees, however, found it far more difficult to find as many customers in the provinces, particularly under such restrictive financial arrangements.

In the case of Edward Holland, who purchased a license to use the daguerreotype process in certain specific parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire, including Buxton and Bakewell, in November 1842, the financial arrangements amounted to a license fee of £500 and 15% of all his takings from the sale of daguerreotype portraits. As a result, Holland was forced to abandon his photographic career in July 1843, before he had even reached Derbyshire. [Source: The First Derby Daguerrotypists, 1842-1844 by David Simkin] Although there is no direct evidence to support this, it seems likely that Roberts experienced similar difficulties, hence preferring to concentrate on his bookselling business.

The patent rights of Beard's British Patent No 8194 expired on 14th August 1853. At around the same time the wet collodion process, invented by Frederick Scott Archer (1813-1857) in 1848, but popularised in the early 1850s, and most importantly patent-free, resulted in an explosion of photographic activity all over the United Kingdom, including Derbyshire. A number of photographers, including James Brennan, Edmund Stowe, Richard Smith, William Seville, James Wilson and E.N. Charles, established themselves in Derby in 1854 and 1855. Kelly & Co.'s Post Office Directory of Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire for 1855 (from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories), presumably compiled in late 1854, shows only Brennen and Stowe working as photographists in Derby.

Thomas Roberts is listed as a bookseller & news agent at 3 St. James' Lane in the same directory, so it is likely that he only returned to the photographic trade in 1855 or 1856. Certainly by 1857, when Francis White & Co.'s History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derby (transcribed and presented online by Neil Wilson) was compiled, in addition to his newsagency in St James' Lane, he was operating as a photographic artist in Oake's Yard (between Green Lane and St Peter's Street), presumably offering ambrotype portraits. Harrison's 1860 trade directory and the census of 7 April 1861 once again describe Roberts, still living at 3 St James' Lane, merely as a printer, compositor and newsagent/newsvendor, so it is not clear how long the Oake's Yard studio remained in operation.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This carte de visite portrait of a young man was taken by Thomas Roberts at studio premises in Albert Street, probably in the mid- to late 1860s. The first documentary record of this address being occupied by Roberts is Harrod & Co.'s 1870 Postal & Commercial Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland & Staffordshire (Historical Directories), which also lists his newsagency in premises at "Morledge Bridge." In 1867 and 1868, the entire length of St James' Lane was demolished and redeveloped, which is almost certainly the reason for Roberts' move. It is also likely that the newly built shops on the broad thoroughfare which was now called St James' Street attracted a higher rent than that which Roberts had paid previously.

The census of 2 April 1871, also showing him living on the Morledge (next to the Old Boat Inn), is the only one in which he describes himself only as a photographer - the natural assumption is that this was now his primary means of income, but this may not have been the case. Three years later, C.N. Wright's 1874 Directory of South Derbyshire included entries for him as a newsagent on the Morledge, and as a photographer at his Albert Street premises, on the southern side of the road between the Derby Co-operative Society Stores and the Prince's Street corner, and with a new stall at the Market Hall, selling books and stationery.

Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale Databases

By early January 1876, however, Thomas Roberts had decided to quit the portrait business for good, and instructed auction house Messrs. J. & W. Heathcote to dispose of the studio and all of its contents [Source: Advertisement in The Derby Mercury, dated 12 January 1876].
Albert-street, Derby. To photographers, gardeners, and others. Messrs. J. and W. Heathcote have received instructions from Mr. Roberts, to sell by auction, upon the premises adjoining the Co-operative Stores, Albert-street, Derby, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 1876, at 11 o'clock precisely, a photographic studio, well adapted for a Greenhouse. It contains 10 frames, glazed with 21 oz. glass, 6ft. by 3 ft. 4 in., and 6 frames 3 ft. 6 in. by 3 ft. 3 in., besides various other lights, with wood floor, and part sides, measuring 26 ft. long by 10 ft. wide. Also several Photographic Instruments, including multum in parvo, pedestal vase, full plate lense, half plate ditto., quarter plate ditto, with camera complete, rolling machine 17 in. with polished plate, stove piping, and other effects. The whole to be sold without reseve, the land being wanted for building purposes immediately. Auction Offices, Albert-street, Derby.
The description of the studio suggests that it had originally been purpose-built, but it was advertised as also being suitable for use as a greenhouse! It is not known what became of the studio, but there doesn't appear to have been another one in Albert Street until the 20th Century.

The census of 3 April 1881 shows Roberts living with his family at the premises of the newsagent's shop, situated on the north-eastern side of the Morledge, at Tenant Street Bridge. He is described, once again, merely as a newsagent. The 1881 edition of Kelly's trade directory (published on microfiche by the Derbyshire Family History Society) confirms that he was running the news agency from the shop on the east side of the Morledge, as well as listing him as a bookseller & stationer at Market Hall.

Thomas Roberts died at Derby on 2 December 1885. His widow Harriet continued the bookselling business at the Market Hall stall, helped by a grand-daughter, while her two daughters Elizabeth and Jane ran the newsagents shop at Morledge until at least 1895. Harriet died in Derby in 1900.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

John Stringfellow of Chesterfield and Sheffield

John Stringfellow was born at Ecclesfield, near Sheffield, Yorkshire, in 1833, one of five children of James Stringfellow (1797-1828) and his wife Hannah. John Stringfellow's father died in July 1837 when he was only four, and he and his siblings grew up living with their mother in Attercliffe cum Darnall, near Sheffield. He married Elizabeth Wade Bartram Houlden (b. 1840 Sheffield) at St Phillip, Sheffield on 4 September 1866, and they had three children (a son and twin daughters) between then and 1872. His uncle, and namesake, John Stringfellow (1799-1883) developed a remarkable ability in designing and building light steam engines, and later - with William S. Henson and others - achieved some considerable fame as an aeronautical engineer and his work on the Aerial Steam Carriage.

In his teens he worked as an attorney's clerk, and is shown as such in the 1851 Census (30 March; PRO Ref. HO107/2342/461/1/3), when he was living with his mother and two siblings at Glass House, Attercliffe cum Darnall. It seems likely, however, that he took up photography in the early 1850s, and operated a travelling studio. Adamson (1997) states that John Stringfellow was "formerly of Lyme Regis, Somerset [in] March 1858," and "already a widely travelled itinerant [when he] came to Chesterfield in December 1858." He was briefly in partnership with George Edgar, another itinerant photographer who originally came from Sheffield, in December 1858 and early 1859 at Saltergate, but when Edgar moved on, Stringfellow remained in Chesterfield.

Image © & courtesy of Christine Hibbert
Advertisement from Harrison & Harrod's 1860 Trade Directory
Image © & courtesy of Christine Hibbert

Harrison & Harrod's Trade Directory for 1860, presumably compiled in late 1859, contains an advertisement (shown above) inserted by Stringfellow in which he publicized his availablity to take photographic portraits, including stereoscopic images, still at Saltergate. The 1861 Census (7 April; PRO Ref. RG9/2527/108/24/148), shows John Stringfellow lodging at the Spread Eagle Inn, Beetwell Street, Chesterfield. Both he and fellow lodger Paul Turner are described as "photographist jour.[neymen]."

Adamson (1883 & 1997) states that Stringfellow was working in Chesterfield for at least another year, and infers that between 1862 and 1867 he moved to Sheffield.

Image © The British Library & courtesy of Gale Databases

It seems likely that this was around July 1864, when Stringfellow was ordered, in the County Court at Derby, to be prosecuted for bankruptcy in the County Court at Chesterfield [Source: The Derby Mercury, dated 20 July 1864]. John's first child Henry, who died in infancy, was born at Nether Hallam in early 1867, as were two further sons, John Henry in early 1868 and Percy Edward in August 1870. Percy Edward died in mid-1871.

The first records of him working in Sheffield are for 1867 and 1868, when he operated a studio in Alma Street. By early 1871 (2 April; PRO Ref. RG10/4664/94/34/175) the family was living at 77 Prospect Street, Nether Hallam, and in that year Stringfellow was working from premises at 13a Fargate, taking over from photographer George Washington Unwin, who moved to Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. Adamson next shows Stringfellow at 5 Chapel Walk from 1877, although it is not clear where he was working in the intervening period. Since his predecessor at this address, James Thomas, had apparently moved on by the end of 1871, it is probable that Stringfellow took over the premises at that time, and that trade directory and other listings for the period 1872-1876 have merely not yet been discovered. By 1881 (Census, 3 April; PRO Ref. RG11/4626/94/38) the family had moved their residence to 79 Fulton Road.

Image © & collection of Brett PayneImage © & collection of Brett Payne

The carte de visite portrait of a young family shown above is an example from the Chapel Walk, Fargate studio. From the woman's clothing and the square corners I estimate it was taken some time between 1873 and 1876.

On 17 Feb 1882 the Sheffield newspapers reported that John Stringfellow had died "suddenly on the Midland Railway" at the age of 48, and he was buried at Sheffield Fulwood Christ Church on 22 Feb 1882. His widow and their three children continued living in Fulton Road until at least 1891 (5 April; PRO Ref. RG12/3798/67/36/241). Elizabeth Stringfellow was "living on her own means." Anderson (1983) shows her operating the studio at Chapel Walk in 1887, although he also lists the same premises as continuing under her late husband's name until 1889. It is possible that their surviving son John Henry Stringfellow helped to run the business for a while, although by 1891 he was working as a brass finisher.


Adamson, Keith I.P., MSc, ARPS, (Jun 1983) Professional Photographers in Sheffield & Rotherham 1843-1900, Royal Photographic Society Historical group
Adamson, Keith I.P., MSc, FRPS, (Sep 1997) Professional Photographers in Derbyshire 1843-1914, Supplement No. 118 to The PhotoHistorian, ISSN 0957-0209
1841-1901 Census indexed images, from Ancestry
International Genealogical Index (IGI) on FamilySearch
GRO Birth, Marriage & Death Indexes from FreeBMD
The Derby Mercury newspaper, various dates

Monday, 12 May 2008

Another WW II military group by W.W. Winter

RFJ of Scotland recently sent me a scan of another W.W. Winter military group photograph, shown below. Although the photograph was from a family collection, he knows of no connection with Derby, so the identity of the subjects and the origin of the photo are something of a mystery. Investigations with both the Derby Local Studies Library and W.W. Winter Ltd. drew blanks.

Image © and collection of RFJ

The group appears to be army and of roughly Second World War vintage. The two commissioned officers with swagger sticks seated in the middle of the front row are a Lieutenant (left) and a Captain (right).

Image © and collection of RFJ Image © and collection of RFJ

Enlargements of their cap badges unfortunately do not reveal a great deal, although it does not seem likely that they are Sherwood Foresters, the local Derbyshire regiment.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Hand-coloured portrait by W.W. Winter of Derby

Hand-colouring of photographic portraits was a practice which used from the earliest daguerreotypes in the 1840s, continued after the introduction of ambrotypes in the 1850s, and appears to have reached its heydey with the cartes de visite of the 1860s. Thereafter the number of coloured portraits, as a proportion of total photos produced, seems to have declined through the 1870s and 1880s, although many studios still offered the service, and there were periodic brief resurgences of popularity.

In the 1900s, after the introduction of the postcard format, and the popularisation of coloured "real photographic postcards" - as opposed to printed postcards - of pretty young women and angelic children, there was a flurry of popularity of colourised portraits, which was repeated in a variety of formats during the inter-war period. I hope to feature a number of types of these from throughout the period described on Photo-Sleuth in due course.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

It was probably during one of these resurgences that the cabinet card portrait of the elderly gentleman shown above was produced by W.W. Winter. The card format is of a style (Type XX) used by this studio from 1886 to 1888, and so can be fairly accurately dated to that period. I have seen only one other hand-coloured portrait by this studio, and that was produced in the early 1890s (Type XXIII). Studios would employ artists, often young women, specifically to hand colour the portraits after they had been printed. Sometimes a customer would order both coloured and uncoloured versions.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

The reverse of this cabinet card shows a number of medals awarded to W.W. Winter for photographs submitted to competitions, which he used to good effect in emphasizing his expertise. His first cartes de visite featuring medals appeared c. 1884 (two), and he continued with the medal count over the next two decades until c. 1905, when the tally reached 65. His was a successful studio, with many customers, and a high turnover of card mount stocks meant that he could refresh his card designs frequently. As a result it has been possible to identify well over thirty distinct card type designs over a forty year period between 1865 and 1905.

Novelty photos - Powered flight

Coastal towns were a big draw to photographers catering to the needs of the tourist trade, particularly in summer months. The profusion of studios and itinerant artists often resulted in some considerable competition, with many novelties and special offers being used to attract customers from their rivals. Rapid advances in the development of powered flight in the first decade of the 20th Century were popularised by the press and provided the inevitable spinoffs in the tourist photography trade. Postcard photographs were a format particularly suited to seaside destinations, as they were cheap and easy to produce, and appealed to those on holiday wanting to report back to those left at home.

This postcard portrait, unfortunately with no photographer's details, has a rudimentary "aeroplane in the clouds" board cut-out backdrop, in which a young man in flat cap poses, complete with cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. His "rabbit in the headlights" expression doesn't give him a very comfortable look. The design is an interesting variation on the older and far more common rowboat prop used by seaside photographers since the 1880s. The clothes which the young man is wearing, combined with the apparent early design of "flying machine," suggest to me a date of between 1905 and 1910.

The divided back of the design on the reverse only tells us that it was after about 1902, when British postcards first appeared with divided backs. The text, "This space, as well as the back, may now be used for communication, but for inland only," suggests a date of between 1902 and 1906, after one could send side-by-side message and address cards to other countries. [Source: Family Photographs 1860-1945, by Robert Pols, publ. 2002 by the Public Record Office, ISBN 1-903365-20-1] It measures 88 x 138 mm, which approximates to the "standard size" of post cards (89 x 140 mm) introduced in November 1899.

St. Chad's Church Schools, Derby, 1895

This class photograph at St. Chad's Church School, Derby in 1895 was another fairly recent eBay purchase. I added it a few months ago to my profile and portfolio of the Derby and Nottingham studio of Gervase Gibson & Sons, but have decided it could do with an airing here as well.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

The photograph measures 200 x 135 mm and is mounted on thick buff coloured (probably off-white originally) card with rounded corners measuring 216 x 164 mm. The name of the school, location and year, "St. Chad's Church Schools, Derby, 1895," are printed in a bold Gothic-style typeface above the photographic print, and the name and location of the studio in a simple, small, italic typeface below the print. It seems likely that Gibson & Sons, who had only recently opened a branch at 30 St Peter's Street in Derby that year, were commissioned to take portraits of the entire school. Perhaps they offered very favourable rates to introduce themselves to the Derby clientele.

The photograph and front of the mount have nothing which indicates who any of the people might be. There is a small "x" handwritten in blue ink (perhaps ball point) on the photograph, directly below the feet of a boy seated in the front row, fourth from the right - presumably a family member of a previous owner of the photo - but no clue as to his identity. The reverse of the mount is likewise blank, but appears to have been previously glued into an album.

According to Kelly's 1895 trade directory, St Chad's School in Gordon Road, Normanton, Derby was a mixed school erected in 1888 for 450 boys and girls, and 230 infants. By 1895 it had an average attendance of 600. Thomas George Seymour (b. 1865-) was master, while Mrs. Ada Sarah Atherley (b. 1860) was the infants' mistress. The 37 boys shown in this photo only include a small proportion of the total boys in the school at that time (presumably about 300, if we assume that the school was roughly half boys and half girls). Unfortunately there is no indication which class or classes are represented. It is possible that the gentleman standing at left is Mr. Seymour, and that the lady on the right is Mrs. Atherley, although there were undoubtedly other teachers at the school. The 1901 Census shows several other members of the teaching profession living within two or three blocks of the school, any of whom could be in the photo.

- Mary Byrne, School Teacher, 4 Mount Carmel Street
- Joseph B. Ashcroft, School Master, 6 Mount Carmel Street
- Agnes Wakefield, School Teacher, 11 Mount Carmel Street
- Mabel E. Head, High School Mistress, 17 Mount Carmel Street
- Gertrude Moore, School Teacher, 17 Mount Carmel Street
- Agnes M. Braine, School Teacher, 17 Mount Carmel Street
- Thomas G. Seymour, School Master, 20 Mount Carmel Street
- Alice Ridley, Teacher in Elementary School, 26 Mount Carmel Street
- Catherine S. Brown, School Mistress, 5 Breedon Hill Road
- Sarah E. Brown, Assistant School Mistress, 5 Breedon Hill Road
- Mary L. Cox, Pupil Teacher, 25 Breedon Hill Road
- William Creswell, Instructor of Pupil Teachers, 41 Breedon Hill Road
- Sarah Julia Fowke, School Teacher, 51 Breedon Hill Road
- James W. Hougham, School Master, 59 Breedon Hill Road
- Emma J. Smith, School Mistress, 4 Breedon Hill Road
- Sarah L. Allen, School Teacher, 4 Breedon Hill Road
- Millicent Platts, School Mistress, 16 St Chad's Road
- Mary L. Thompson, School Mistress, 20 St Chad's Road
- Arthur C. Townsend, School Master, 22 St Chad's Road
- Gertrude M. Hubbard, School Teacher, 38 St Chad's Road
- Daisy S. Eggleston, Pupil Teacher, 52 St Chad's Road

Many Victorian school enrolment registers have survived and deposited in the Derbyshire County Records Office at Matlock. It would be interesting to know whether those for St Chad's are among them. The boys look to be aged between about 6 and 10 years, and were therefore born between c. 1885 and 1889.

View Larger Map

From the GoogleMaps satellite image of Gordon Road, it appears that the school still exists, and that the class portrait was probably taken against the right hand end of the south-west facade of the building.

Friday, 9 May 2008

George White of Chesterfield & Blackpool

In an earlier post I featured the following advertisement, in the form of a handbill for Chesterfield daguerreotypist G. White, sent to me by Mike Spencer.

Image © Derby County Record Office & Courtesy of Mike Spencer
Handbill advertising the services of G. White, Daguerreotypist of Rose Hill, Chesterfield
Image © Derby County Record Office & Courtesy of Mike Spencer

At the time, I was unable to find out anything more about Mr. White. He isn't included on any other lists of Derbyshire photographers that I have seen. However, as a result of a recent discovery, and successful purchase, on eBay, I was able to identify him, and can now divulge what happened to him after his presumably brief sojourn in Chesterfield.

Image © & Collection of Brett Payne

The carte de visite is of an unidentified, elegantly dressed elderly gentleman, seated in a studio, with his left hand resting on a book, which has in turn been placed on a table. There is another item on the table, possibly made of cloth. The studio setting is a fairly plain one, typical of the early to mid-1860s.

Image © & Collection of Brett Payne

The card mount is completely blank on the reverse, but the photographer's details have been blind stamped at the base of the card front, as shown in the image above.


With the information that a photographer of this name was working in Blackpool within a decade of the presumed date of publication of the handbill, i.e. the mid-1850s, I was able to undertake a search of the census records. After a few dead ends, I found him in all four censuses from 1841 until 1871. In none of these was he described as a photographer, but I am confident it is the right person as he is shown variously as an artist or engraver, and many early photographers came to that profession through being artists.

George White was born around 1810, in either Chesterfield or Winster (he never was quite sure, according to census records). He married Ann Melbourne (dau of Belper nail manufacturer, William Melbourne) at North Wingfield in September 1834, and by the census of June 1841, they were living at a house in Chapel Avenue, Poulton le Fylde, Bispham, Lancashire. George was working as an artist, and a James White, aged 15 - possibly a nephew - is listed as an artist's apprentice. According to Bernard & Pauline Heathcote (A Faithful Likeness, publ. 2002, ISBN 0-9541934-0-7, courtesy of Ian Leith), who trawled contemporary newspapers between 1841 and 1855 for advertisements, George started work as a profile artist in 1834, either becoming a daguerreotype photographer or employing one by 1849. He also operated briefly at Preston in 1850.

Within the next few years they moved to Layton-with-Warbreck, near Blackpool, where their only son Frederick George was born in 1850. The census of April the following year shows Ann living at 1 Queen's Terrace, Layton with Warbreck, Blackpool, with their son and a nurse, but George was lodging in the parish of Church, west of Accrington. He now described himself as an engraver.

After the expiry of Beard's daguerreotype patent in August 1853 and the development of Archer's "patent free" wet collodion process, when there was a great expansion of photographic activity in England, White possibly took up the photographic business as a sideline to his art. Initially at least, he is likely to have operated mainly in the summer months, and visited areas where there were not photographers already well established. Oliver Sarony (from Scarborough) and Horatio Harrop (of Manchester) were early visiting photographers to Chesterfield, in May 1852 and 1854 respectively, while Henry Morton opened the town's first permanent studio in July 1854. Others known to have worked there in the 1850s included Andrew & James McMunn (1856), Henry Slack (October 1856), John Stringfellow and George Edgar (1858) and Hugh Boughen (1859). [Source: Professional Photographers in Derbyshire 1843-1914, by Keith I.P. Adamson, publ. Sep 1997 as Supplement No. 118 to The PhotoHistorian, by The Royal Photographic Society Historical Group, ISSN 0957-0209] No advertisements have been found for George White in Chesterfield newspapers, but it seems likely that he visited that town, albeit briefly, in the mid-1850s.

By 1861, George was back with his wife and son in the house at Queen's Terrace, and working as an "artist" once more. The carte de visite shown above is probably from the early to mid-1860s, but doesn't include an address, so it is not clear whether he had permanent premises by that time. Gillian Jones (in Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840-1940, publ. 2004 by PhotoResearch, ISBN 0-952311-5-6, courtesy of Michael Pritchard) lists him at 1 Queen's Terrace, Adelaide Street, Blackpool from 1849 to 1869, and then at 33 Adelaide Street, Blackpool in 1869. It is possible these are actually the same location.

It appears that George White retired around 1869; that is certainly how he described himself to the 1871 Census enumerator. George died in 1880, and census night in the subsequent year found his widow Ann living with their married son, still in Adelaide Street. Frederick George White, now married, stated his profession to be, "Income from houses, &c" and Ann is shown as an annuitant. Either George had done well from his art/photographic business or, more likely, Frederick had inherited property from his maternal grandfather.

RAF Volunteer Reserve at Derby, 1939 (Update)

Some great strides have been made on researching the background of the RAF Voluteer Reserve group photograph by Derby studio W.W. Winter, featured in an earlier post.

Peter Kirk and Peter Felix of the Derbyshire Historical Aviation Society have confirmed that the DHAS was involved in setting up the Alan Feary display at the Derby Industrial Museum about 25 years ago by providing the models and artefacts on display. Peter Felix believes he has a copy of the same photograph and is looking for it - if he's anything like me, it's probably stored somewhere "safe." Peter Kirk has made some observations about the photograph, which are very welcome - he guessed correctly that I am by no means an "aviation man."

On Image 1 there are five pilots, hence the ‘wings’ and probably the adjutant is the wingless one. Further, I’m pretty sure the sergeant pilot on the left is Feary, but will have to confirm or otherwise. One of the others might be the CFI (chief flying instructor) Roy Harben who wrote the classic manual on flying instruction. The [ranks of the] four officers are from left to right Flight Lieutenant, Flight Lieutenant, Wing Commander and Flight Lieutenant.

All the personnel are RAF; all NCOs and other ranks all wear a rearward-facing (don’t know why!) eagle on a black patch on their upper sleeves; those with three stripes are sergeants; those with the lower black patch (a two-blade propeller) are Leading Aircraftmen; those with no patch are Aircraftmen 1st Class and 2nd Class. Surprisingly I can’t see a single two-striper (corporal) in the whole bunch! A number of these may have been trainee pilots. The civvies may be civvy employees or new recruits.

The HQ of the VR during the War was at Broadway and we think that is where the photo was taken – I’ll try to get a bit more detail as it is something we have not really looked at, our attention being taken mainly by the airfield at Burnaston which was licensed from September 1938.
An almost certain identification of the location of the photograph has come from Nigel Aspdin, after a visit to the Derby Local Studies Library ...

I [copied] a page from a book "Derbyshire Fighter Aces of WW2" by B. M. Marsden ... He was one of the pair that set up the display at the Industrial Museum ... It does say that they "studied ... at the RAFVR centre at Highfields." ... Then with the mention of Broadway - If Peter Kirk is correct I think it could only be Highfield or The Leylands. Broadway was a section of Derby Ring Road, a new road set out in the 1930s, but which passed (probably partly through the grounds of) The Leylands. That too has been developed, in the 1950s, but as an area of retirement homes, and the whole building estate is now listed (Leylands Conservation Area) ... One way or another I think we are getting quite close to the answer of the location.
... where he found the houses referred to on a contemporary Ordnance Survey map ...

Image © Derby Local Studies Library and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
Ordnance Survey Map of area around Highfield & Leyland houses, 1938
Image © Derby Local Studies Library and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

What I had forgotten (or never knew) is that Highfields is a large house north of Leylands. I have always known it as St Philomena's Convent, which is what it was (or still is maybe) although in the last 4 years pretty well all the park around the house has been intensively developed with housing. So you will see the houses Leylands and Highfields, adjacent on the attached OS maps ... I am putting my cash on Highfields now, the entrance is indeed off Broadway.
... and some energetic cycling in pursuit of a big enough lawn, hedge of the right colour, trees of suitable size, etc. The following arrived a few hours later:

I think I won my bet. I am pretty sure its Highfields. The camera would have been on the door step or east of the door step of the house, facing SSE to SSW approx. I am not sure that a photographer would choose to shoot into the southern light, but I guess Winters knew how to cope with sun etc.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

You will see from my stitched panorama (above, click on image to see larger version), taken from approximately where Winter's man may have stood, that there is a well trimmed laurel hedge. This I think accords with the taller shaggier hedge in the group photo. I think that at some stage the lawn could have stretched further to the left than it does now.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

There is the steel stump of a flag pole base, of M.O.D. quality, and the top of the old pole someone appears to have found and leant up in the wood. If the pole was there at the time of the group photo it would have laid flat parallel with the rows of chairs etc.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

As for the trees in the background I really cannot claim to positively identify any particular tree. There is quite a lot of sycamore which will be post war self set trees. But as you know I have been obsessed with the tiny bit of cedar that just appears in the group photo as a horizontal branch. I felt that it was quite distinctive. It is indeed there, and is one tree that is not likely to have changed radically in the 70 years. It is hard to spot on my photo, but if you take one good step to the left of Jesus in the yew bush you are in front of a trunk of a sycamore, and if you take one more step you are in the front of the cedar trunk, which is set further back in the wood. Some of the other trees in the wood are tall yews, and I see tall yews in the group photo. The Highfields site has many Scots Pine elsewhere, and I think I do see Scots Pine in the group photo, albeit none still in that particular area now. The whole feel and depth of the wood feels right to me.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
SSW facade of Highfield House
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

You remember that Frank Scarratt usually got his bike in his photos? I now think he actually did it by mistake.
Many thanks to Peter Kirk and Peter Felix for their investigations, and to Nigel Aspdin, for going the extra mile on this one. We are still hoping to identify at least some of the individuals in this picture, and I will report on any further progress in due course.

Post Script - a response from Peter Kirk:

The location is indeed Highfield. We confirmed this after PF found his picture, upon which we had noted the location some years ago ... Intriguingly, Pete’s photo is different to yours. Although the background trees are identical, the group is not! There are slightly fewer people on it, and seated centrally from left to right are Feary (it is him), the supposed adjutant, and two other unidentified sergeant pilots, one of whom is on your photo.

Regrettably, we have so far only been able to identify one other man – Sidney Bradley, a wireless operator/air gunner who was killed on 19 Nov 1940 when his Hudson crashed in bad weather returning from an anti-submarine patrol. In your pic he is the tall man with the moustache fourth from left in the back row of your pic section 5. In ours, he is seventh from the left on the back row.

Peter also has an enlargement of Bradley which we’d assumed came from his picture but on close examination it didn’t, and what’s more I can’t positively tie it up with yours either ... it appears that although the two long leafy fronds behind his lef shoulder look the same on each, the rest of the foliage doesn’t match. Hence I am 99% certain that there is yet another version of the photo.
Peter Felix's photo is shown below (at right) next to an enlargement of the relevant section of my photo for comparative purposes.

Images © and collections of Brett Payne and Peter Felix
Sidney Bradley, an RAF wireless operator/air gunner (d. 1940)

I've changed my mind several times along the way, but I've eventually decided that I think they are different prints made from the same original negative. There are just too many similarities in the vegetation behind Sidney Bradley for it to be a second photograph. I think the differences that are apparent may have been produced by (a) differences in the exposure times of the prints, and/or (b) specks of dirt on the negative when the second print was made. If the print was made a good time afterwards, the negative may have suffered a little in storage.
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