Monday, 18 August 2008

Derby Studio Premises: Victoria Chambers, 36 Victoria Street (1863-1912)

In February 1863 the photographic firm of John Burton & Sons from Leicester, who had already opened a branch in Birmingham the previous year, announced in the Derby Mercury that they had opened a new gallery on the premises of Messrs' E. Clulow & Sons at 36 Victoria Street.

Image © & courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories

This advertisement appeared in Wright's 1864 Midland Directory (courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories), by which time they had added further branches in Nottingham and Burton-upon-Trent. The Derby studio remained in operation until soon after September 1867.

This 1860 view shows the south side of Victoria Street (formerly known as Brookside, being along the Markeaton Brook prior to its culverting over), with number 36 towards the left hand end, close to the intersection with St Peter's Street.

Image © and Courtesy of W.W. Winter Ltd.

Over the next 45 years a succession of photographers had studios at this address, presumably above Clulow's bookshop. The photograph shown above was taken by Derby photographer W.W. Winter around 1885 and shows Edward Clulow Junior's premises at 36 Victoria Street to the left, with Edward Johnson, clockmaker (at number ) in the middle, and Martin & Son (at number ) on the right. The top floor of number 26 has a row of large windows that would be appropriate for a photographic studio, as plenty of daylight was needed to reduce exposure times. I suspect, therefore that a studio had been located on that floor ever since the tenure of J. Burton & Sons.

The photograph above was reproduced in The Winter's Collection of Derby by Maxwell Craven & Angela Leeson, published by Breedon Books in 1992 (ISBN 1873626207). I am very grateful to Angela Leeson and W.W. Winter Ltd. for their kind permission to reproduce images from the book on this web site. High quality prints of these photographs are available for purchase directly from W.W. Winter Ltd.

Image © and Courtesy of David Simkin Image © and collection of Brett Payne

After the Burtons had departed, the next photographer to use what became known as Victoria Chambers was Clement Rogers (1836-1899), who operated a studio there from c.1870 until late 1874, before selling out to J.W. Price and moving to St. Leonards-on-Sea in Sussex. Price was already operating branch studios in Babington Lane (Derby) and Ivanhoe Road (Leicester), although the latter appears to have closed at about the time he moved in above Clulows. Price occupied the premises in Victoria Chambers until about 1879 or 1880. By November 1880, he was using card mounts with "39 Babington Lane" overprinted on top of "Victoria Chambers."

Image © & courtesy of Chris Underhill

There was then something of a hiatus on the photographic front, before Harry J. Watson's tenure commenced in 1887 or 1888. In 1881, according to Kelly's trade directory, a dentist named Alfred Murphy was plying his trade upstairs. At the time that Winter's photograph was taken - Maxwell Craven suggests in his text that it was c.1885 - the signs show that upper floors were being used by the "Employers' Liability Assurance Corporation Ltd." and a "Subscription Library." Solicitor Tom. George Taylor occupied offices on the second or third floor by 1887, and remained there until at least 1891, as did Watson. However, between then and 1895, H.J. Watson moved out and opened a new studio at at 130 Burton Road, and the upper floors were occupied by an accountant, a stock & share broker, a colliery agent and a solicitor.

The next photographers to occupy the studio were Layton & Lamb, who Craven records as occupying Victoria Chambers in 1898. Leonard Norman, who may previously have worked at one of the other studios in Derby, then took over. He is listed at this address, along with Edward Clulow and accountant Frederick Basford, in the 1899 edition of Kelly's directory, and Adamson (1997) stated that he was also there in 1900, but the census shows that he had moved on to Ipswich in Suffolk by April 1901.

Image © and Courtesy of W.W. Winter Ltd.

In 1903 the Derby Stereoscopic Company, managed by Frank Birch moved into the studio, and remained there until at least 1912, although by this time Edward Clulow had moved elsewhere, and were replaced as ground floor tenants by Stewarts' Ltd., who were clothiers. The image above, taken by W.W. Winter Ltd. shortly before the First World War, has been reproduced with permission from The Winter's Collection of Derby: Volume Two, also published by Breedon Books (ISBN 1 85983 055 2). The advertisement visible in the first floor window of number 36 reads, "HIGH CLASS ARTIFICIAL TEETH - ADVICE FREE - MACDONALD LTD" - this firm was listed in the 1912 directory, along with Stewarts on the ground floor (unfortunately hidden from view in the photograph by the electric tram), Miss Elizabeth Bostyn, art needlework depository on the second floor, and The Derby Stereoscopic Co. on the top floor. The large glass windows are still clearly visible.

The buildings were demolished in 1932, and replaced by a much grander building occupied by Burton Montague Ltd., tailors, as shown on the left in the two postcard views (above and below) from the 1930s.

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