Sunday, 19 October 2008

Johnson & Farnsworth of Long Eaton

In the late 1880s and early 1890s William Johnson and Arthur Farnsworth, both originally from York, worked together as the partnership of Johnson & Farnsworth for a brief period - perhaps three or four years - in Long Eaton, Derbyshire. Kelly's Trade Directory of Derbyshire for 1891, presumably compiled in late 1890, shows Johnson (by himself) with premises on the High Street, while on census night (5 April 1891) the pair were lodging at 1 Stanley Terrace.

Image © & courtesy of John BradleyImage © & courtesy of John Bradley

This vignetted, head-and-shoulders carte de visite portrait of an unidentified young man - courtesy of John Bradley - was taken by Johnson & Farnsworth at Long Eaton, probably between 1890 and 1892. There are few clues in the actual portrait, but the design on the reverse of the card mount is similar to one described by Roger Vaughan (in Dating CDV photographs from the designs on the back, 2003) as Marion's "Bamboo & Fan" design, used mostly from 1888 until 1892.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

This large format print (110 x 140 mm) has been mounted on a printed card mount measuring 156 x 200 mm. It shows a large double-storey brick house with two chimneys, a low wall topped with ornate iron railings and gate, fronting onto a pavement and street.

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

There are two figures in the photograph. A woman of indeterminate age, wearing a bonnet and white apron, stands in the wooden trellis-framed porch, while an elderly man with long white beard and hat stands at the far right of the front garden, his right foot up on the low front wall, and with his right elbow leaning on the higher end wall. He may be holding the bowl end of a pipe in his mouth.

It has occurred to me that the building may have been newly built, and the photographer was commissioned to capture what was to the owners a proud moment for them. I have also wondered whether this building still exists, and whether it would be possible to identify it. If so, then it may also be possible to deduce who the people are likely to be, as I estimate that it was taken between c. 1888 and 1890.

In early 1892 Arthur Farnsworth was married at Wharfedale, West Riding of Yorkshire, and he had three children in Shipley, Yorkshire between 1893 and 1900. By the time of the census in April 1901, Arthur was working as a railway carriage painter in the Borough of York. It seems likely, therefore, that his foray into Derbyshire was brief, and that his career as a photographer probably did not last much later than late 1891.

William Johnson was also married in 1892, and a daughter was born at Wakefield in 1894. It appears that he did not work as a photographer much after 1892 either. Certainly by 1899 he had returned to Long Eaton and was a partner in a lace manufacturing business, Marshall & Johnson. The 1901 Census shows him him with wife, daughter and a domestic servant, living at 128 Derby Road; the trade directory identifies this as Westfield House. The Marshall half of the business was probably Joseph Marshall (born c. 1871 in Mansfield, Notts) who was living at 134 Derby Road in 1901, three doors down from William Johnson.


  1. the house shown is in fact on Stanley street in long eaton and was a lodging house right up until 1990's It was till then owned by a mrs jowett, I lived there for some time in the 80's

  2. Thank you. Armed with this information, I went for a wander on Google StreetView, but was unable to identify the house with any certainty. There appear to be a number of house of similar construction in the area.


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