Tuesday, 17 June 2008

A charabanc excursion in the early 1920s

This large format photograph - it measures 153 x 108 mm - is another from my own family collection.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

My grandparents Dirk Smit (1895-1985) and Hendrika Louisa Schipper (1894-1981), otherwise known, at least to me, as Opa and Oma, were married in Amsterdam in December 1920. She is standing at the right, facing the driver, while he is sitting in the front seat, next to her, wearing a flat cap and with his face partly obscured by the steering wheel and horn. I assume that this photograph was taken some time between then and the birth of their first child in March 1926.

I have no idea what kind of group this was, but presumably they are on an outing somewhere. Charabanc outings were particularly popular in the period between the wars. As the vehicle appears to have solid rubber tyres, I can't believe that the ride would have been particularly comfortable, even on the smoothest of roads.

The Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society web site shows similar vehicles from the post-Great War period, and there are many images of similar charabancs on the net but I have found none that appears identical to this one. Bozi Mohacek, webmaster and vehicle registrar for the SVVS, very promptly responded to my enquiry with an informative analysis of the photo:

We note your comments about Holland but our experts in Holland tell us that the registration could not be Dutch because they only used one letter during this period. Suggestions on the plate included Denmark but they did not start registration until 1924; but even then the registration plate was not of the pattern shown. We can therefore relatively safely assume the registration is British. The registration refers to the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately the year records for the DL plate seem to no longer be available. Details are only available after 1929 by which time DL 6039 had been reached. On the assumption of even distribution of numbers over this period (very unlikely), DL 2362 would have been reached by about 1914/15. The vehicle shown is a Daimler Charabanc and is very much of the WW1 period with solid tyres. Getting the model number may be a little more difficult. Dating the vehicle does not of course help in dating the photo. Vehicles made in 1914/15 would have been put away or lightly used during WW1 and would still be 'as new' and fully usable in the 20s. An item concerning your enquiry will shortly be put up on our website on the Help Page. Hope this proves of interest.
Dik T. Winter's web page describes the system used for number plates in the Netherlands at this time:
In 1905 a new system was introduced. The new registrations consisted of a single letter followed by up to five digits. The letter indicated the province of issue. When this got exhausted a second letter was added, first Z and X next, still with up to five digits. These additional letters were only needed in the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland and in Noord-Holland only very few GX registrations have been issued (the highest GX I know is 140, but there must have been more).
This appears to agree with the SVVS sources that the vehicle could not have been registered in the Netherlands. My own research on the net discovered that the format is very similar to that used in Great Britain at the time. The plates had silver letters on black until the 1960s, when black leters on yellow (rear) and white (front) became optional, and later compulsory. They had two letters followed by three, and later four, numbers. The two letters signify the issuing office, and DL would have been from Portsmouth or the Isle of Wight (Source: UK Registration Letters).

Image © & courtesy of Wickham Parish Council

The charabanc in this image, from the Wickham Parish Council's web site is not the same make or model (actually, it's a little bigger, six doors down each side, instead of five) but it has very similar styling, and the number plate HO 2880 indicates that it was registered in Hampshire, possibly only a short ferry ride away from the Isle of Wight. The Francis Frith collection of old photos includes at least one of a charabanc outing dated 1918 in Seaview on the Isle of Wight.


This postcard image shows another charabanc outing, dated 1930, by an Isle of Wight photographer ...


... while this multi-view postcard illustrates that it was a popular way to visit the island's tourist attractions.

If the identification of the location is correct, then it is likely that my grandparents would have taken a train from Amsterdam to the Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland), where they would have caught a ferry to Harwich on the English coast, then a train to London, and another to Portsmouth ... not a brief excursion! Presumably their luggage was back at the hotel. I knew that my maternal grandparents were adventurous; I have seen photographs that they took all over Holland, and in Belgium, France, Andorra and Norway, but wasn't aware that they had visited England prior to a trip made in July 1962 to stay with their daughter's parents-in-law, i.e. my paternal grandparents, in Chellaston, Derbyshire.

Image © & collection of Rie Payne

That later trip is documented by at least two snapshots, the first of which is in my mother's collection, and shows Oma Smit with Grandma and Grandpa Payne in a churchyard, presumably somewhere in Derbyshire. I have a feeling that it was at Bakewell, but don't know where I got that idea from.

Image © & collection of Barbara Ellison

The second was scanned from my paternal aunt Bunnie's photographic collection last year. The inscription on the reverse reads, "July 1962" in my grandmother's handwriting, and then in my aunt's writing below that, "Mum & Dad with Mr. & Mrs. Smit on a Trent Bus outing to Scotland. Mum wearing hat. Mrs. Smit to her left. Dad top left in front of tree. Mr. Smit - taking photo?

Image © & collection of Barbara Ellison Image © & collection of Barbara Ellison

The charabancs, and presumably much else, had changed considerably since their previous visit to England some four decades earlier!

Many thanks to Nigel for his input on this one.

A large group, possibly on a church outing - Frederick J. Boyes

Jane Porter recently sent me this image of a mounted print by Derbyshire photographer Frederick J. Boyes.

Image © & courtesy of Jane Porter

The photograph is 105 x 60mm with a large mount measuring 205 x 150 mm, the full extent of which is not shown in the image. Jane says, "I found this photo in an old box. My gg-grandfather Walter Baker (born 1859, Heckworthy, Devonshire & died 1950, Derby, Derbyshire) is seated in the front row, third in from the right, with his black hat on his knee." However, she knows nothing more about it.

I estimated that it was possibly taken between 1910 and 1920, and that it could have been a church outing, but I don't have any more bright ideas at the moment. If any reader thinks they can tell us more, please Email me.

P.S. Nigel Aspdin suggests that the building just visible in the background might be a "tin tabernacle."

Amateur photo of a wedding group, 1926

The popularisation of photography after the turn of the century was brought about largely by the introduction of cheap cameras and roll film which could be loaded without the need of a dark room. This enabled the taking of portraits on special occasions without the need to visit a studio.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

One such example from my own family collection is a small and unfortunately rather grainy print, of the wedding party at the marriage of my grandparents, Charles Leslie Lionel Payne (1892-1975) and Ethel Brown (1894-1978), measuring 102 x 61 mm - much the same size as a carte de visite, which had gone out of fashion some two decades earlier, superseded by the postcard. It was presumably taken by a family member or friend with their own camera. The wedding took place on 22 September 1826 at St. Augustine's Church, Normanton, and the photograph was taken, according to my father, in the garden of the Brown family home at 121 Crewe Street, Normanton, Derby.

The group are, from left to right, Charles Vincent Payne (1868-1941) and Amy Payne née Robinson (1867-1932), the groom's parents, Leslie and Ethel Payne, bride and groom, Edith Newman Brown née Miller (1872-1956) and Frederick Montague Brown (1870-1960), parents of the bride. The dog's name is unknown!

Image © & courtesy of Margaret Pugh

For many years, this was the only photograph that we knew of from that day. However, during an exchange of email correspondence in 2001 with a niece of my grandfather's war time friend Canadian Pete MacLaggan, she discovered some Payne photos in an a couple of albums inherited decades earlier from her uncle. Among these was another photo, shown above, of the "happy couple," obviously taken within minutes of the group photo. Of the dozens of photos that I have seen of my grandfather, this is one of the few in which he is smiling.

A 1960s family group by Pat Laurie of Derby

I include this contribution from Nigel Aspdin of Derby partly as an example of the work of a more recent Derby photographer, and partly to illustrate the great changes that have taken place in family photography over the years.


It is a print, measuring roughly 120 x 162 mm, mounted on embossed card with a flimsy cover, and signed "PAT LAURIE, DERBY" at the lower right of the mount. The reverse of the mount has a stamp, "Photo by: Pat Laurie, 124 Osmaston Rd. Derby" and a handwritten, "No. 1." I believe it was taken in the mid- to late 1960s. Although very carefully and professionally arranged, the grouping is far less formally presented than was common with Victorian and Edwardian portraits. The setting is the family's own home and, while some thought has been given to the background, it has not been specially created for the purpose of the portrait.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Photographer R.B. Berry of Mosesgate

Kathryn Nauta kindly sent me a whole series of fourteen family portraits taken at the studio of R.B. Berry, of Mosesgate, featured in a recent Photo-Sleuth article. I have decided to post a selection of them, because they may assist others in dating other portraits by this studio.

Richard Brown Berry (1845-1897) was born at Chorley, Lancashire, son of a cotton spinner Luke Berry and his wife Margaret Brown. He married Mary Ann Ball in 1867, and settled in Chorley. They were living at 17 Chapel Street in 1871 with their two sons, and he was described as an "artist & photographer." When their third son was born, in late 1874, they were living in Bolton, but moved again by late 1876, when a fourth and last son was born in Liverpool. The 1881 Census shows yet another move, this time to Farnworth, where they were living at 41 Bridgman Street. It seems likely that the studio near the railway station at Mosesgate was opened around this time.

By the time of the next census in 1891, they were living at numbers 11 & 13 Bolton Road, Farnsworth, which appears to be the location of the studio. The oldest son, Luke Berry, was a "teacher of music," but second son Herbert Berry, then aged twenty, was working as a photographer. Richard Berry died in 1897, and Luke and Herbert continued to operate the studio, at least until 1901.

Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta

Kathryn's sequence of family portraits illustrate much of the Berry studio's time in Mosesgate. The earliest of these is a carte de visite of a young man on a card mount left over from the stay in Blackpool, but it is very unlikely to have been taken there. I suspect that it was taken some time between 1878 and 1883, soon after the move to Farnsworth.

Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta

These two cabinet cards are probably from the early to mid-1880s, say between 1880 and 1884, by which time R.B. Perry was obviously working from premises at Mosesgate. They show a head-and-shoulders portrait of a middle-aged woman (above left) and a three-quarter length seated portrait of a bearded young man (above right), perhaps in his mid-twenties, possibly mother and son.

Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta

This carte de visite of a young boy (above left) and cabinet card of an elderly man (above right), possibly his grandfather, were probably taken between 1884 and 1888.

Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta

These two images are from a series of five cartes de visite of two boys, two girls and a baby of unknown sex, aged between one and nine years old, probably siblings. I estimate that they were taken between 1887 and 1890.

Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta

A further two cabinet cards, probably taken shortly after the previous sequence, say between 1888 and 1891, show the whole family excluding the oldest son (above left) and the young mother (above right), who appears to be in her late twenties or early thirties.

Although, from a comparison of the clothes that she is wearing and her hair style, it can be deduced that these two portraits were taken on the same day, it is worthy of note that the card mounts are slightly different. Both have the studio name printed in gold ink at the base of the front of the card mount, but one states, "R.B. Berry & Co., Mosesgate," while the other has been amended to read, "R.B. Berry & Sons, Mosesgate." It seems that the family visited the studio at a time soon after Richard Berry had brought his sons into the business.

Image © & courtesy of Kathryn Nauta

The last cabinet card shows a young child, possibly a girl (although it's often difficult to tell with photos of very young children) aged about three or four. It was probably taken in the early to mid-1890s, between 1891 and 1894, and is possibly of the youngest child featured in the family group photo above. The mount also has the name, "R.B. Berry & Sons."

Many thanks to Kathryn for these images.

Another portrait from the Cape Town studio of W. Lawrence

Having come across my previous article featuring a colourised carte de visite from the studio of Lawrence Brothers of Cape Town (South Africa), Joanne Savile recently sent me another portrait from this studio.

Image © and courtesy of Joanne Savile

Joanne asked:
I have a photo with "W. Lawrence, Photographer, Caledon Street Cape Town" on the back which looks pretty early too. I think it is my gg-grandmother Mary Black who emigrated there in 1858 and married in Capetown January 1860. She left South Africa 1869/70 and died in 1884. I'm guessing this might be an engagement /pre-wedding photo. What do you reckon? If I'm correct she would have been 18/19 yrs old at the time.
Image © and courtesy of Joanne Savile

Unfortunately dating photos is rarely as cut and dried as we might wish. The hair style, with just the lobes of her ears showing, is typical of the early to mid-1860s, perhaps between 1860 and 1865. You can just see the outline of a hair net which, although commonly worn by women, often doesn't show up well in photographs of the period. The clothing is also characteristic of this time, with rounded shoulders, the sleeves widening considerably downwards from just above the elbows, a lace collar, and a cameo brooch at her neck.

However, there are a number of things which lead me to think that this particular photographic print was perhaps produced slightly later. As cartes de visite were only introduced by studio photographers in 1860/1861, it seems rather unlikely that this particular example could have been taken on or before your gg-grandmother's marriage in January 1860. Also the style of the CDV, i.e. a vignetted cameo half-length portrait, would be a little unusual for the early 1860s, and I think it more likely to have been produced in the late 1860s. The design on the reverse of the card mount suggests it was not much later than the late 1860s.

This disparity between the apparent date of the portrait and the date of the photographic print suggests, at least to me, that it may have been a later copy of a photographic portrait taken in the early 1860s, perhaps even on or around the date of your gg-grandmother's marriage. The vignetting, i.e. the fading at the edges, could also have been done at the time of making the copy. If this is the case, then it is a good copy - many copies, particularly from that era, show a marked loss of definition and contrast compared with the original. Also it is worthwhile noting that the original may well have been an ambrotype photograph, rather than a CDV, particularly in light of your view that it may have been taken c. 1860.

Joane subsequently sent me some more information about her gg-grandmother, as well as a scan of another photograph of her, taken some time later after she had returned to live in England.

Image © and courtesy of Joanne SavileImage © and courtesy of Joanne Savile

"Mary was born on 14 September 1841 at Corrie Common, Hutton & Corrie, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the eldest child of Peter Black and Catherine. She emigrated with her family to South Africa in 1858 where she worked as domestic servant to Rev Mr Douglas in Cape Town. She married a fellow Scot, John Cramond on 3 January 1860 at the Scottish Church in Cape Town. Mary and John had four children in South Africa: John (1863), Catherine (1866) Mary (1867) and Janet (1869). Her father and sister died in 1866 and were buried in St. John's Cemetery, Wynberg, Cape Town, along with Mary's younger sister, Isabella."

"Most of the family left South Africa for Cleator, Cumberland, England around 1870. They probably chose Cleator as John Black (Mary's brother) was settled there already, working as an engineman at the local iron ore mines. Mary's other two brothers and husband all found work at the iron ore mines as engine fitters/mechanical engineers. Mary had her fifth child Alexander at Leconsfield Street, Cleator on the 19 January 1871. She went on to have another eight children, all in Cleator, before dying at the birth of her 13th child Robert in August 1884, aged 42. Her children generally fared well and most of them kept in touch with each other. One went back to South Africa, six emigrated to New York, two to Australia, two remained in Cleator, Cumberland, one daughter died in childbirth in Scotland, and a son died aged 8, three years after Mary."

The photographer Joseph Warwick was originally a coal miner who moved from Lambly in Northumberland to Carlisle around 1882. He operated a studio at 46 Sheffield Street until at least the early 1890s, although he was also a book deliverer (1891) and life assurance agent (1901). The later portrait shown above was probably taken shortly before Mary died, between 1882 and 1884.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

A large group by John Burton & Sons

This is another contribution from Nigel Aspdin from one of his Hewitt family albums.

Image © & courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The carte de visite is by John Burton & Sons of Leicester, Derby, Birmingham & Burton-on-Trent. It shows a large group of unidentified adults, seated and standing in the garden of a large house. The portrait demonstrates one of the big disadvantages in the use of cartes de visite for large group portraits, i.e. that the physical limitations of the format meant it was often difficult to see much detail of the individual subjects.

Image © & courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The reverse of the card mount includes the words, "Sole Photographer to the Shakspere [sic] Tercentenary Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon 1864."


The firm of Burton & Sons advertised their "commodious gallery adjoining the pavilion" in the Birmingham Daily Post on 5 April 1864 (see image above, © British Library & courtesy of Gale CENGAGE database). The three hundredth anniversary of the birthday of William Shakespeare was celebrated at Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 April 1864. The brewer Edward Fordham Flower built a "special pavilion in which a banquet, a fancy dress ball, concerts, and performances of the plays took place." Burton & Sons obviously took advantage of the occasion by offering for sale a recently published "Series of Shakespearean Views," as well as taking the usual "carte de visite and other portraits."

The firm of John Burton & Sons had originally started in Leicester, possibly as early as 1858, and opened a branch studio under the name "John Burton, Sons & Co." or "Burton & Compy." in mid-1862. The branch remained in business until at least June 1865, and partnership between John Burton, his sons Alfred Henry Burton, Walter John Burton, and Oliver Burton and one Thomas Thorpe, was officially dissolved in May 1866 (Source: Birmingham Daily Post, 3 Jul 1862, 22 Jun 1865 & 7 May 1866).

Although not actually taken in Birmingham, the mention of the Birmingham premises on the card mount suggests that the photo was taken during, or shortly after, the period that it was open. Combined with the mention of the Shakespeare Tercentenary, this indicates a date of c. 1864-1866. The clothing and hair styles on the subjects more or less agrees with this date range. Some of the women appear to be dressed as bride and bridesmaids, although the picture is not clear enough to see which are which.

A large group outing, location unknown

The three cartes de visite displayed in this post have been sent to me by Nigel Aspdin, and were contained within an album formerly owned by family member Charles Richard Hewitt (1864-1934), a mining engineer from Derby. The photo album was given to Charlie in 1885 as a twenty-first birthday present, by his younger brothers and sisters, but contains a number of photographs clearly taken earlier than this, including the ones shown below. All three include large groups standing and seated in front of a high stone wall, which may be part of a castle or other old building.

Image © & courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The first photo shows nineteen girls and young women and four boys, ranging in age from about four to perhaps their mid- to late teens.

Image © & courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The second shows forty-four boys sitting, kneeling or standing, with a similar range of ages, and a young man, perhaps aged about thirty, seated at the far right.

Image © & courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The third photograph shows 28 adults (including 21 women and seven men) and twelve children.

Several people appear in more than one photograph. None have yet been clearly identified as a member of the Hewitt family, although there are several possibilities. All are wearing bonnets, bowlers, straw boaters, caps or other hats. The card mount has no printing or inscriptions on either the front or reverse, and therefore provides no clues as to who the subjects are or where the portraits were taken. It seems likely to me that the outing consists of a group of families, possibly related, but not necessarily so, who encountered a travelling or itinerant photographer while on a visit to some local historic building or ruin. If the stone walls can be identified as being from a particular location, then this will help in understanding more about the nature the outing.

It also seems reasonable to assume that at least some are members of the Hewitt family. From the clothing worn by the adult women in the party, I believe that photographs were probably taken in the early to mid-1880s, perhaps between 1881 and 1886. At this time, the Hewitts were living in Derby, having moved there from Alfreton in around 1866. From an examination and analysis of the other photographs in this album, it minght be possible to identify members of the groups shown in these three CDVs, using higher resolution scans of the original.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Harold Victor Payne (1898-1921) of Derby & friends

The introduction of the postcard as a relatively inexpensive format for photographic portraits soon after the turn of the century appears to have been accompanied, at least by some photographers, with a relaxation of the stiff, formal poses previously expected in studio portraits. This was particularly the case in group portraits, with gatherings of friends who wanted to preserve their leisure antics with some kind of a permanent record. I have featured a couple of such postcards in a previous article, "The Boys' Day Out."

Image © and collection Barbara Ellison

This rather battered postcard shows my grandfather's younger brother, Harold Victor Payne (1898-1921), seated in the centre of the front row in a uniform, perhaps supposed to be that of a policeman or soldier. Five other men are also in costume, two as clowns, and the three standing at the back wearing a tam-o-shanter, top hat and glengarry cap, from left to right. It can be identified as a studio portrait by the fact that a painted backdrop has been used, although there is no photographer identified - the reverse is a standard, generic printed postcard.

Harold Victor was born and grew up in New Normanton, where his parents Charles Vincent and Amy Payne had around 1903 moved into a house built by his grandfather Henry Payne at 139 St James' Road, known as "The Hollies." This photograph appears to have been taken when he was about 18 or 19, and therefore c. 1916-1917. I assume that he would have enlisted in the British Army soon after he had turned eighteen, as were all able-bodied young men. Unfortunately, his service records appear not to have survived.

Image © and collection Brett Payne

I have another postcard photo of him taken at Derby by E.M. Treble, in which he is dressed in a civilian suit, and which is inscribed on the reverse "HV Payne July 1918." Presumably, since he was already twenty years old by then, he was home on leave from the army.


Perhaps it was taken shortly before he departed for France, where he served with the Tank Corps? The medal card shown above gives his name, regimental number, rank, unit, and the medals to which he was entitled (Source: British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, from Ancestry; Original data from the Army Medal Office, in the care of The Western Front Association).

Image © and collection Barbara Ellison

The image shown above is of a postcard from Harold addressed to his mother, dated 22 November 1919, and obviously sent when he was in Cologne awaiting demobilization. Also written on the reverse is "Pte H Payne 315778 B.A.O.R." The B.A.O.R. is an acronym for British Army of the Rhine, which occupied Germany after the Great War. Harold is again seated in the middle of the front row, having a cigarette lit for him. Members of the Great War Forum have identified the clothing as "hospital blues," which indicates that the group were all convalescing at the time.

Image © and collection Barbara Ellison

Indeed, another photograph (shown above), presumably from the same sequence, shows Harold, this time seated on the left, indoors with two friends, one of whom has his head bandaged.

Image © and collection Barbara Ellison

Image © and collection Barbara Ellison

Andre Hallam has again done an excellent job of colourising the postcards which have featured in this article, producing two most evocative group portraits. We have gone to some effort to ensure that the colours used are as close as possible to the original colours of the uniforms and hospital clothing of the time. I am very grateful to various members of The Great War Forum (Mike Morrison, Grant, Jon & Peter) for their assistance. If you are interested in how we got there, visit this forum thread, although I should point out that you will have to register on the site to be able to see the images.

Thomas Frost, photographer of St Peter's Street, Derby

David Lamb recently sent me this portrait of the family of Reuben and Ellen Holmes of Derby, taken at the studio of Thomas Frost of 26½ St Peter's Street, Derby.

Image © & courtesy of David Lamb

Standing at the back are: John William (1879-1948) and Ernest Reuben Holmes (1881-1967). Seated are: John's wife Selina Holmes née Bull (1876-1937), who is holding their daughter Florence May, born at Derby on 22 May 1900 (d. 1956). Next are Reuben Holmes (1855-1929) and his wife, Ellen Holmes née Alton (1856-1937). Seated at the extreme right is Ethel Holmes (1887-1975), and at the front is Arthur Holmes (1891-1948). This entire family left Derby c. 1903 and moved to Toronto.

The 1901 Census, enumerated on 31 March that year, shows Reuben and Ellen Holmes living at 57 Bridge Street, Derby, with their three younger children Ernest, Ethel and Arthur, aged nineteen, thirteen and ten, respectively. Their eldest son John William Holmes, by then aged 21, was living with his wife Selina and their ten month-old daughter Florence May at 25 Milton Street, Derby. Neither are very far from the centre of Derby, where Frost's St Peter's Street studio was located, but they may well have taken a tram to get there, so as to avoid getting their clothes dirty. The baby looks to me to be about nine or ten months old and I estimate, therefore, that the Holmes family visited the studio in about March 1901, at almost exactly the time the census was done. If the family emigrated to Canada not long after this date, then the photograph may even have been taken in preparation for that event. I have come across quite a few instances of this, presumably done in order to leave some sort of permanent, and personal, mementoes or keepsakes with family that they were leaving behind.

According to Maxwell Craven (in Keene's Derby, published in 1993 by Breedon Books, Derby, pp. 200-202, ISBN 1 873626 60 6, courtesy of Sonia Addis-Smith), Thomas Frost trained with photographers Gervase Gibson & Son (of Derby & Nottingham) before setting up his own studio at 26½ St. Peter's St. These premises had previously been occupied by William B. Pearson until shortly before his death in 1885, but Frost only appears to have taken them over in 1899 or 1900. Gibson & Son's studio premises in Derby were situated at 30 St Peter's Street; the studio was certainly operating by 1895 (Source: Professional Photographers in Derbyshire 1843-1914, by Keith I.P. Adamson, publ. as Supplement No. 118 to The PhotoHistorian, September 1997), and possibly as early as 1893.

Image © & courtesy of Jane Porter

The Gibson & Son carte de visite above, of that approximate date, shows the addresses "8 Peck Lane, Nottingham" - which closed in 1895 - and "30 St Peter's Street, Derby," making it clear that the Derby studio had opened prior to the closure of the Peck Lane premises. Derby Electoral Registers (obtained on microfilm through the LDS church FHC network) for the years 1898-1900 show John Gibson - one of Gervase Gibson's three sons - with a studio in St. Peter's Street, while he lived first at Colyear Street, then in Drury Lane, suggesting that he was probably running the studio.

Thomas Frost was originally from Nottingham, but he arrived in Derby around 1896, after a brief sojourn in the United States. He was certainly living in Derby in the late 1890s (Source: Birth registrations of three children between late 1897 and early 1901, FreeBMD), but is not listed in Kelly's 1899 trade directory (Historical Directories), so was probably working for Gibson & Son at the time of the directory's compilation, c. late 1898. Adamson (1997) states that the studio of "Gibson & Son" at number 30 closed in 1900. The directory, and Adamson (1997), show that photographer William Milton was at 26½ St Peter's Street from 1898 until 1900.

Image © the British Library & courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Database

It is around this time that we find the first mention of Thomas Frost working on his own behalf. On 28 February 1900 an article in The Derby Mercury (Courtesy of the British Library & Gale CENGAGE Database) mentions Thomas Frost, photographer of St. Peter's Street, as the "master" of a "traveller on commission." Then, on 31 March the following year, the census shows Frost living at 1 Sacheverel Street, Derby, and describes himself as a "portrait photographer (employer)." His younger brother, Robert Ernest Frost, who was living at 60 Randolph Rd, Normanton, described himself as a "photographers agent," and it seems likely that he was employed by Thomas at this time, perhaps as a replacement for the unreliable agent, Charles Bridge.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Frost probably worked from these premises until 1902, but in 1903 he appears to have moved to another studio at number 92 St. Peter's Street, where is listed by Adamson (1997). However, it is known that Frederick Beeston, who had previously worked as a photographic assistant in Nottingham, probably also for Gibson & Son, had the studio briefly around 1903, using some of Frost's card mounts with his name pasted on, as in the cabinet card shown above. "Gibson & Sons" then took over number 92 St. Peter's Street, and operated it from 1903 until at least 1907.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

St James' Board School, New Normanton, Derby

Regular Photo-Sleuth readers will perhaps have noticed my penchant for school photographs. This is another example from my own family's collection. It actually belongs to my aunt, but I'm sure she won't mind my reproducing it here.

Image © and collection of Barbara Ellison

The large format photograph appears to have been trimmed, perhaps to fit in an album, and now measures 153 x 110 mm. It depicts a group of 32 boys and two young women teachers arranged in front of a large brick building.

Image © and collection of Barbara Ellison

There is an "X" inked on the photograph above a boy in the back row (third from the right), and a note on the back, written by my aunt, states that "X = Dad C.L.L.P." i.e. my grandfather Charles Leslie Lionel Payne (1892-1975). One of the boys seated on the ground in the front row is holding what appears to be a slate, and it is possible that this originally had the school and class number or name written on it.

Image © and collection of Barbara Ellison

I've tried to enhance the image of the slate, but nothing is visible now - perhaps there never was anything written there. However, an additional note on the reverse by my aunt, "School Group St. James," identifies it as St James' Board School, which was situated on the corner of St James' Road and Hastings Street in New Normanton, close to where my grandfather's family lived in the 1890s and early 1900s. My father wrote the following notes in December 2001 (the notes in square brackets thus [] are mine):
My father [i.e. CLLP] always talked about having been a pupil "at Abbey Street," and it’s probable that he went there from the Hastings Street school which Slater – in his house numbering diagram – calls "St James’ Board Schools (erected 1880)." When did he move up? – When he was 10, before the Abbey Street institution became the D.M.S.S.? [which was in 1903 or 1904]
All of the boys look to be of approximately the same age, which I would guess is about seven years old. My grandfather was born on 9 April 1892, so if my estimate is correct within a year either way, then the photo would have been taken c. 1898-1900. The styles of clothing worn by the two young women teachers in the photograph are about right for this period.

St James was built by the Derby School Board in 1879 and 1880 at a cost of just under £12,000 and initially catered for 750 children (Source: The Derby Mercury, dated 20 March 1878 and 23 Feb 1881). The school's first boys' head master was James Edward Kaye, while the girls' mistress was Miss Edith Wright, and Miss Elinor Crighton was the infants' mistress. T. Bulmer's 1895 History, Topography and Directory of Derbyshire (from an extract in Bulmer's Derby 1895, reprinted by Derbyshire County Council in 1988, ISBN 0 903463 26 1) shows Mr. Kaye and Miss Crighton still in the same positions, while Miss. Mary A. Harsley had become head mistress of the senior girls, and Miss Harriet G. Martin, the head mistress of junior mixed.

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

In that year (1895), according to Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire for 1899 (see extract above, courtesy of the University of Leicester's Historical Directories) the school was enlarged so that by 1899 it had an average attendance of 1864 children, comprising "442 senior boys, 370 senior girls, 357 junior boys, 255 junior girls & 430 infants." The only senior staff change in the previous four years was that Miss Eliza Hall had replaced Miss Crighton as the infants' mistress.


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The original Derby Board School buildings were recently demolished and replaced with a brand new school (see satellite image above). However, I was very lucky that a few years ago Derby resident Paul Slater very kindly took some photographs of the St James' Road Board School for me. I am very grateful to Paul for these and have reproduced them below.

Image © and courtesy of Paul Slater
St James' Road Board School, corner of Hastings Street & St James' Road, Normanton, Derby, January 2000
Photograph & Image © and courtesy of Paul Slater


Image © and courtesy of Paul Slater
St James' Road Board School, corner of St James' Road & Dover Street, Normanton, Derby, January 2000
Photograph & Image © and courtesy of Paul Slater


Image © and courtesy of Paul Slater
St James' Road Board School, St James' Road, Normanton, Derby, January 2000
Photograph & Image © and courtesy of Paul Slater
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