Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Story of a Down-to-Earth Family Heirloom (Part 3 of 3)

I have outlined in a previous article (Part 1) my research into my gg-grandfather James Miller opening a brickyard in Weston Underwood in the late 1850s, and his son John Miller subsequently operating the village post office for several decades. A second article (Part 2) described exploratory visits that a friend Nigel Aspdin made to the village and the Derby Local Studies Library.

Image © and courtesy of Lynne Tedder

In the mean time, I came across another image sent to me by cousin Lynne Tedder, shown above, depicting our ancestor John Miller with his horse and cart on the road in front of the house, looking in a north-westerly direction down the road towards Mugginton.

Following some further research and discussion, Nigel decided that he needed to return to the area surrounding Weston Underwood, as he had been unsuccessful on the previous visit with locating a possible site for the Miller brickworks. Examination of maps and satellite images had unearthed a couple of possibilities, which could only be effectively investigated further from the ground.

Image © & courtesy of Andrew Knighton

I was keen on having a photograph taken from as close as possible to the position where the previously posted postcard photo (reproduced above) was taken, and Nigel duly obliged.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

I decided to proceed to Weston Underwood first to take the "same shot" of the chapel that you wanted. I did that shot , [above] ...
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
... and then walked over to look at the wall around the chapel site, and I ... went to speak to an elderly lady ... and her husband ... at the 1960s bungalow between the chapel and the Miller stores/cottage. It soon became clear that this couple were to provide the key ...

Originally from Ripley, they had bought the chapel and adjacent land from the Kedleston Estate in about 1965 with a view to building the bungalow in which they now live, sited between the chapel foundations and the Miller stores/cottage. They demolished the chapel in 1965. The chapel was actually brick, with Staffordshire blue tiles. The gate posts were where they are now. A brick wall was alongside the chapel on its south-east side,
[i.e. either side of the previously mentioned gate posts] but was replaced with a stone wall, some of the stone being brought from elsewhere.

They referred to the chapel as "The Reading Room"; presumably that was how the estate referred to it in the sale documentation, or how local residents referred to it. In 1965 it had been used for Parish Council meetings and as a quasi-village hall, with an old piano, snooker table, and a village notice board on the outside.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The chapel was built of J. Miller bricks, and whilst most ended up as hardcore now under their tarmac driveway, they used a few to build some steps in the garden ...
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
... and for historic reasons left a J. Miller named brick on its side displaying the name in the centre of each step.
Image © the Ordnance Survey & courtesy of the Derby Local Studies Library
[She] then walked with me up the village to show me the brickyard. She claims that the "Old Reservoir" in field 408 of the 1898 survey was the reservoir for the brick yard, fed by a pipe from the land above Chilla Carr.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
The reservoir is now dry (or boggy) but quite distinct.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
In field 413 are what appear to be shallow diggings, allegedly of clay. There are no obvious signs of foundations of any buildings or uncovered spoil, but the grass pasture was quite thick after a well watered summer. There is really no other surface evidence of the brickyard other than the deformations in the land surface as indicated on the 1878 survey, and I would suggest that the brickyard was already abandoned by 1878.

In plot 411 to the immediate south of the diggings there is a cottage which was allegedly built for a favoured estate schoolmaster named Shaw. That cottage appears to be there in 1878, and I would suggest that it is of similar age to the cottage already photographed dated 1861. As this cottage is immediately adjacent to the clay workings, it has to remain a possibility that this site may previously have been the site of a kiln.
These were, of course, exciting discoveries, in particular the bricks containing the name of the brickmaker, my great-great-grandfather James Miller. However, there was more to come. A couple of days later Nigel emailed me saying that he had received a phone call from the friendly occupants of the chapel plot:
They have been scraping around in the undergrowth and have found a J. Miller brick for you !! He will keep it until I go out there again. But I am really thinking, would it not be best if it went to the Industrial Museum with a copy of your final research? It could save you a lot of postage !!
Slim chance of that happening, unless a second brick is found. For me, the brick will become a treasured possession - in fact, a taonga (I trust you will all follow the link to see what that means) - and hopefully an heirloom for my children, grandchildren, etc. It's a wonderful outcome to this little excursion of research and, fortuitously, will serve perfectly for my contribution the 55th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Show & Tell, hosted by Creative Gene.

Many thanks to Lynne, Nigel, Andrew and the kind couple in Weston Underwood who have made this foray so worthwhile.

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Story of a Down-to-Earth Family Heirloom (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1 of this article, I provided some background to the Miller family of Weston Underwood (Derbyshire, England), together with a couple of old photographs of the house where they lived, and in which they ran a grocer's shop and post office.

After reading the article about John Miller, carrier of Weston Underwood fellow photo-sleuth and Derby resident Nigel Aspdin, who often visits the nearby Kedleston Park, paid a visit to Weston Underwood to see if he could see any evidence of the brickyards and the former post office. Although he hadn't seen my old photos at the time, he made a very good educated guess and hit on the exact building straight away. He found,
a large jumble of buildings or different build, all one property now, I think. There are a few things about this building that attracted my attention. It is called "Stores Cottage" or "Old Stores Cottage," depending upon which gate sign you look at. I note that the roof has been patched with red roofing tiles, on both sides. The blue roofing tiles are what are called, locally, as "hand made Staffordshire blue", but these reds are clearly from somewhere else. Could they have been produced locally? The location of this building is, in my view, a ... likely location for a shop/post office/carriers office etc ... It is by all of the road junctions.
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Coincidentally, Nigel chose almost exactly the same spot for one of his photographs of the building (above).

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

He also took photographs of other houses in the village, including a couple with dates on the gables.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

The dates 1861 and 1862 indicate that the houses were built at a time when James Miller was producing bricks in the village, and it seems likely that the houses were constructed of bricks from his brickyard. The ornate "S" we assume stands for Lord Scarsdale, although we have not yet been able to verify that the coat of arms is an appropriate one.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Nigel also noticed, just around the corner from the "post office," an interesting pair of stone gate posts. It appears that they might once have framed the entrance to a substantial building of some kind. The stone wall on either side of the gate posts appears to have been a later addition.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

This necessitated some further research, and Nigel paid a visit to the Derby Local Studies Library, where he found an 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map of Weston Underwood, dated 1898. A portion of the map is shown above - clicking on the image will bring up a larger image, revealing more of the map. The map shows a building in the "vacant" plot, exactly where one might expect it in line with the stone gate posts, labelled "Meth. Chap. (Wes.)," i.e. Methodist Chapel (Wesleyan). This plan is overlaid on the modern Google Maps satellite image below.

Image © and courtesy of Google Maps & the Ordnance Survey

Kelly's 1899 Trade Directory for Derbyshire shows only a "parish hall, built by Lord Scarsdale in 1879" in Weston Underwood, but the 1887 edition states, "here are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist Chapels."

Image © Andrew Knighton and courtesy of Picture the Past

I found a photograph, almost certainly in postcard format, of the cross-roads in Weston Underwood, including what must be the chapel, on the Picture the Past web site (Ref. DCHQ501676).

In the third, and final, part to this story, I will relate the discoveries made by Nigel on his second visit to the village, after I asked him if he could try to take a photograph from the same viewpoint as the postcard shown above.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Story of a Down-to-Earth Family Heirloom (Part 1 of 3)

I'd like to share with readers the story of a recent investigation into several family photographs which resulted in a rather unexpected, but delightful, discovery. First, I will need to provide a little - okay, perhaps quite a lot of - background material. If you'd rather skip the background, and cut straight to the chase, then feel free to click here.

In a couple of recent blog articles (here and here), I've discussed photographs relating to the Miller family of Weston Underwood in Derbyshire. My great-grandmother Edith Newman Brown née Miller (1872-1956) and my cousin Lynne Tedder's grandfather Frederick Newman Miller (1885-1958) were two of ten surviving children of John & Eliza Miller. John Miller's parents were James Miller (1815-1893) and Mary née Cuckson (1815-1878). James was a drainage contractor who had worked in Nottinghamshire and Cheshire, before settling in Weston Underwood in the late 1850s.

Image © The National Archives & courtesy of

It seems likely that he was initially employed in some capacity by Lord Scarsdale - Alfred Nathaniel Holden Curzon, 4th Baron Scarsdale, of nearby Kedleston Park - who owned all of the land in the hamlet of Weston Underwood at that time. He was probably involved in both draining of land and as a brick manufacturer, since that is how is shown in the 1861 Census (see image above), employing 8 men. James Miller's three sons, aged between seven and twelve, and including my great-grandfather John, were all working in the brick yard. Harrod & Co.'s 1870 Directory of Derbyshire [from Historical Directories] and the 1871 Census [from Ancestry] show James continuing as a brick, tile and pipe maker and land drainer. All three sons were still working in the brickyard, although John was by then married and living his wife Eliza, the local school mistress, in the adjacent village of Mugginton.

The next decade, the 1880s, saw some significant changes for the Millers. James's sons and daughters were growing up and leaving home to get married, and the arrival of grandchildren resulted in a rapid expansion of the extended family. An older daughter Ann Miller had married farmer Edwin Fearn and was living at Ireton Farm, Mugginton. James William Miller (1852-1921) had married Hannah Oakley (1853-1915), a farmer's daughter from Kirk Ireton, had moved into the Mill House, Mugginton, and was now farming on a small scale himself, as well as continuing to work in the brickyard. Third son Tom Cuckson Miller married Lucy Hunt, daughter of a farm worker, and was helping his father out in both the land drainage and brickmaking enterprises.

Image © & courtesy of Lynne Tedder
The Post Office at Weston Underwood, taken from the south
(along what is now Cutlers Lane)
Undated, Image © & courtesy of Lynne Tedder

In the early 1880s, by which time their family had expanded considerably - four daughters and three sons by 1882 - John and Eliza Miller opened a grocery and sub-post office in Weston Underwood. These two photographs (above and below), which were sent to me by cousin Lynne, show the house in which the Millers lived, and in which the grocer's shop and post office was located. It looks a rather large building, but it would have had to house a large family, the shops and possibly a few servants and labourers from the brickyard.

Image © & courtesy of Lynne Tedder
The Post Office at Weston Underwood, taken from the west,
i.e. the south side of the Mugginton road (now Bullhurst Lane),
Undated, Image © & courtesy of Lynne Tedder

It is not clear when the photographs were taken, although I suspect they date from the 1920s or 1930s.

Image © & courtesy of Lynne Tedder

Also sent to me by Lynne was this image of the front of the building, which clearly shows the shop window as well as the signs, "John Miller, Grocer & Provision Dealer" above the door, and "West Underwood Post Office" above the window. Since John Miller's name is still there, I presume it must have been taken prior to his death in 1922. It appears to have been printed in postcard format.

Image © & courtesy of Lynne Tedder

Perhaps a reader more familiar with this era can identify some items in the shop window. I'm afraid all I can make out is the notice which appears to read, "LOST RED & WHITE COW."

Image © & courtesy of Lynne Tedder

Also worth mentioning as being of some curiosity, but probably little relevance, is the parrot in a cage placed by the front gate!

View Larger Map

The house in question is located a short distance to the north-west of the cross-roads in Weston Underwood, as shown in the Google Maps satellite image above.

Image © & collection of Charles Bernard Payne

In my father's collection was this far more recent photograph of the house, which I scanned a decade ago, although it was perhaps taken in the 1970s. While some of the detailing had changed by then, and the original shop entrance appears to have been bricked in, it is obvious that the fabric of the building was largely intact.

In Part 2 I will relate the most recent investigations into the property which formed a central part of the Miller family's lives, from perhaps the late 1850s to the turn of the century, and well into the 1900s.

John & Eliza Miller of Weston Underwood

(p.s. Article #100 of this year!)
I have featured my gg-grandfather John Miller (1849-1922) recently in a photograph showing him in charge of a carriage, probably parked in the Nag's Head Yard, Derby. The following two cartes de visite, images of which were kindly sent to me by my Canadian cousin Lynne Tedder, show John and his wife Eliza Sheales née Newman (1844-1919).

Image © and courtesy of Lynne Tedder Image © and courtesy of Lynne Tedder

I have already provided some biographical notes about John Miller in my previous article. Eliza was born on 29 July 1844 at Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk, daughter of farmer William Salmon Newman (1819-1895) and Elizabeth Knights Sheals (1816-1894). At the age of 16, Eliza was working as a pupil teacher, the family having moved to Heath Farm, Great Rollright, Oxfordshire. On 21 December 1869 Eliza married John Miller at All Saints Church, Mugginton, Derbyshire, and their first child, a daughter Hannah "Minnie/Min" Mary Elizabeth Miller (1870-1956), was born in late 1870 at Weston Underwood. In April 1871, Eliza was working as a school mistress, presumably at the National School in the nearby village of Mugginton. Wright's 1874 Directory of South Derbyshire again shows "Mrs. Eliza Miller" as mistress of the national school, built in 1840 for 20 boys, while Herbert Shaw was master. Her husband John was described in the same census as a brickmaker and member of the yeomanry cavalry.

Ten years later, the 1881 Census describes him as a brick and pipe manufacturer, while Eliza is still working as a school mistress. It was shortly after this date that they opened a grocery and post office in the village of Weston Underwood, and presumably Eliza stopped teaching. The 1887 edition of Kelly's trade directory, presumably compiled late the previous year, does not list Eliza as a teacher. Early the following year, Eliza had their eleventh child (and sixth son), a fifth daughter having died young in 1884. By 1891, the three eldest daughters had all left home, and were working as domestic servants in Derby.

According to notes attached to the image of Eliza by my cousin, she is wearing furs sent from Canada by her sons Fred and Archie. John and Eliza had ten children who survived to adulthood, including sons Frederick Newman Miller (1885-1958) and Bertram Archibald Miller (1886-1979), who emigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada. According to a record in the 1911 Census for Battlefield, Saskatchewan, taken on 1 June, Fred arrived there in 1906 (presumably arriving after 24 June, as he does not appear in the census of that date), and it is likely that Archie followed him shortly after 1911. The style of dress and hat worn by Eliza Miller is appropriate for the 1900s, and I estimate that it was taken between 1906 and 1910. This is a fairly late date for the use of the carte de visite format, but not unheard of, and the corners are square, which became common for both cdvs and cabinet cards after the very late 1890s.

The card mounts bear the photographer's name and address, Levi Yeomans of 119 Crewe Street, Derby. Levi Yeomans was born in Derby in 1865, son of a railway labourer John Yeomans (1820-1872) and his wife Mary née Wildgoose (1823-1899), who was a midwife. After his father's death in 1872, he lived with his mother on Canal Street, and worked as a railway clerk. He married Emma Crispin at Derby in early 1894, and in 1898 they moved to a house on 119 Crewe Street in New Normanton. The 1901 Census still shows him working as a railway clerk, and the 1912 edition of Kelly's trade directory doesn't list him at all, so it is not clear exactly when and for how long he was taking photographs. I suspect that it was only for a short period in the late 1900s and early 1910s. If any reader has photographs taken by Yeomans, which might help to expand on the information that I currently have for this photographer, please get in touch. [Email]

It is interesting to note that John & Eliza Miller's second daughter (and my great-grandparents) Edith "Edie" Newman Miller (1872-1956) and her husband Frederick "Fred" Montague Brown (1870-1960) moved to a house at 121 Crewe Street - next door to Levi Yeomans - between the census in March 1901 and August 1904, when their fourth child was born. The Browns lived in Crewe Street until they moved in with the daughter and son-in-law, my grandparents, at the latter's house in Glenwood Road, Chellaston in the 1950s. It seems very likely that John and Eliza sat for their portraits while on visit to the Brown residence, perhaps even in their daughter's house, and then, since the photographs are now in the possession of Fred's grand-daughter Lynne, sent the cartes de visite to their son Fred in Canada.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Child with a doll, by Laurence Studios

This mounted print is a recent addition to my collection, purchased not merely for the charming subject matter, but also because it is from Laurence Studios, which had a branch in Derby, but is not yet included in my list of Derbyshire Photographers.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The print measures 5¼" x 6¾" (134 x 171 mm) and is mounted on thick buff-coloured card with bevelled edges. It shows an unidentified young child, aged about two years old, standing on a chair and holding a doll. I don't have much experience in dating portraits from this era, but I estimate it was taken between the wars, in the 1920s or 1930s.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

On the reverse of the mount is provided the name of the photographer (Laurence Studios), as well as the addresses of the Head Office and works (158-164 Mount Road, Leicester) and fourteen branches in Leicester, Leeds, Bradford, Liverpool, Bristol, Burslem, Nottingham, Kettering, Norwich, Birmingham, Derby and Coventry.

Roger Vaughan, in his list of Bristol Photographers 1852-1972, shows the firm at 25 Bridge Street in Bristol from 1926 until 1939, with additional premises at 126 Gloucester Road in 1937 and 1938, and has a nice example (also shown above) of a postcard view of a young female university graduate from the 1930s. Another web site by Paul Townsend, devoted to the changing face of Bristol over the years, shows the position of the premises occupied by Laurence Studios in Bridge Street before they were destroyed during the blitz.

The company Laurence (Portraits) Ltd. (registration number 219950) was registered in 1927 [Source: entry in The National Archives Catalogue]. A 1930 listing for Laurence (Portraits) Ltd at 158 Mount road, Leicester has been found in the British Phone Directories on Ancestry.

Brian David Williams, in his transcribed diaries "All the days of my life," includes a photograph of his father, taken by Laurence Studios in 1927, presumably taken at one of the two Birmingham studios.

Post Script

By kind courtesy of Michael Pritchard, who sent me details from Gillian Jones's Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840-1940, and Sandy Barrie, who sent details from a collection of trade directory entries, I now have a much better idea of dates of operation of some of these branches, as follows:

203 Corporation St., Birmingham: 1928-35
483 Coventry Road, Small Heath, Birmingham: 1928-35
25 Bridge Street, Bristol: 1926-1938
121 Friargate, Derby: 1928
Piccadilly Buildings, Kettering: 1928-1932
Granby Studio, 118 Granby Street, Leicester: 1932
(Head Office and Works) 158-164 Mount Road, Leicester: 1928
103 Byrom Street, Liverpool: 1927-1932
4 Redwell Street, Norwich: 1929
Exchange Walk, Nottingham: 1928

Sandy also provided the information that there was a branch in Wolverhampton in 1932. Since, this branch is not listed on the reverse of the mount, he estimated the date of the photograph to be between 1929 and 1931.

Thank you, also, to Birte Koch of Album 1900 for suggesting an approximate date and pointing out that the furniture and backdrop in my portrait of the child appear identical to those in Roger Vaughan's portrait of the scholar. She adds:
This was not an expensive doll. It looks somewhat unshaped. The legs were probably done in felt, stuffed with wood shavings.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

What's in a View - Derby & the Derwent from Exeter Bridge

Those readers familiar with the Derby townscape will be well aware of how it has changed over the years, often not for the better, a matter frequently discussed by Maxwell Craven and others in articles in The Derby Evening Telegraph's Bygones section and on the You & Yesterday web site. I was fortunate enough recently to win on eBay a rather nice early print of one of the most well known, enduring of Derby views and, in the course of sharing it with Photo-Sleuth readers, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to show how this view has changed over the course of the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The photograph was taken from the Exeter Bridge, Derby in a north-westerly direction up the Derwent River towards the old Silk Mill. It is a 127 x 171 mm (5" x 6¾") print mounted with several others on both sides of an album page, now removed from the album. This particular photograph is annotated in black ink, "The Derwent from Exeter Bridge Derby," but another has the date, "1884-12-30" written underneath. I was unsure whether the photographs were taken by the album owner on that date, or merely purchased then - I suspected the latter, as it is an excellent view, but more of that later. However, the date appears to be fairly close to when the photo was taken. At left is the tower of All Saints, Derby's Cathedral, in the centre the spire of St Alkmund's church and the tower of the Roman Catholic church, and at right the old silk mill built by George Socorold in the early 1700s.

Image © and courtesy Derby Museum & Art Gallery and Breedon Books

This painting of the Derwent from Exeter Bridge by Robert Bradley shown above is reproduced in Goodey's Derby by Sarah Allard & Nicola Rippon (publ. 2003 by Breedon Books, ISBN 1 85983 379 9, but unfortunately out of print). The caption states that, although nominally dated 1838, it could not have been painted prior to 1845-6, when the spire was added to the tower of St Alkmund's church. On the far left can be seen Exeter House, which was built for the Earl of Exeter, briefly occupied by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and later owned by the Bingham and Strutt families; it was demolished in 1854.

Image © and courtesy of Maxwell Craven & the Derby Museum

The earliest photograph that I have found of this view up the Derwent is a calotype attributed to W. Stretch (Ref. DBYMU.L1988) in Maxwell Craven's Keene's Derby (publ. 1993 by Breedon Books, ISBN 1 873626 60 6). It is dated 1855, and was therefore taken shortly after the demolition of Exeter House, although only the foot of the garden of this property is included.

The photographer is on the east (or left) bank of the Derwent, roughly in the position shown on the 1852 map of Derby included below, drawn up in the same year as the Exeter Bridge was constructed, replacing a smaller wooden footbridge. The photographer's position and approximate field of view is depicted on the map with a red dot and lines (click on the image to view a more detailed version). On the right hand side of the photo (east bank) the area is largely undeveloped, with market gardens on the banks as shown on the map.

Image © and courtesy of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society
Portion of a Facsimile Edition of a Map of the Borough of Derby with Portions of Darley, Litchurch, and Little Chester
(publ. 1980 by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society)

Image © and courtesy of Maxwell Craven & the Derby Museum

The next photograph, dated c. 1865 by Craven (also from Keene's Derby) has some significant differences from that of a decade earlier, including a builder's yard (accessed off Burghley Street) appearing in the former Exeter House garden, modifications to the roof and gable ends of the multi-storey building in the middle, and cottages appearing in Silk Mill Lane. Unfortunately, the haze obscures the spires of St Alkmund's and the St Mary's Roman Catholic Church.

Image © and courtesy of Maxwell Craven & the Derby Museum

Keene's June 1874 photograph, again from Keene's Derby, is also hazy, presumably due to growing factory pollution, but the spire of St Alkmund's and tower of St Mary's are both visible once again. The builder's yard on the left has gone.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The 1884 photograph is included again here, to show it in the proper time sequence. The gardens on the east bank have been replaced by the timber yard of W. & J. Lowe. The multi-storey building to the right of the tower of the cathedral now has a sign on the gable end - enlargement of this portion of the photograph enables part of the name of the company to be deciphered.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Kelly's 1891 Trade Directory confirms that "James & George Haywood, iron & steel warehouse" were situated between number 4 and "Eastwood & Co., tanners" at 6 Full Street. It is worth noting that in this view there is a single large chimney to the right of the Silk Mill Tower.

I found this black-and-white postcard view, published at an unknown date, which appears to be exactly the same image as my print of 1884. It is inscribed, "R. KEENE LTD." in the bottom right hand corner, implying that my print was probably also taken by Keene. To be honest, I am not surprised. Keene was an excellent photographer, always able to capture landscapes in the best light, and this particular one, in my view, is the best of the lot!

Image © and courtesy Derby Museum & Art Gallery and Breedon Books

W.F. Austin painted this view of the Derwent and the old Silk Mill (from Goodey's Derby) in about 1889, five years after the previous photograph. Although done from a slightly different position and angle, the view is little changed, apart from a little artistic license perhaps resulting in a tidying up of the timber merchant's premises, and some vegetation removed from around the Silk Mill.

Image © and courtesy of Maxwell Craven & the Derby Museum

According to Maxwell Craven, this view was taken by Richard Keene on 1 June 1891, and there are now some big differences. The Silk Mill Doubling Shop (the large building to the left of the Silk Mill Tower) has completely gone, and just to the left of where it was, in front of the St Alkmund's & St Mary church towers, there are now two large chimneys. The Haywood sign has also gone, replaced by one for "EASTWOOD'S TANNERY." Also, there is a new building in the former Exeter House garden, on the extreme left of the view.

Image © Ordnance Survey and courtesy of Alan Godfrey maps
Portion of Old Ordnance Survey Map of Derby (North) Second Edition 1901
(Surveyed in 1881 & Revised in 1899) Derbyshire Sheet 50.8
Reduced from the original & Reprinted by Alan Godfrey Maps

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

The view in the above photograph was taken by W.W. Winter, and is featured in The Winter's Collection of Derby: Volume Two by Maxwell Craven & Angela Rippon (publ. 1996 by Breedon Books, ISBN 1 85983 055 2). Unfortunately, no date is given, but it is very similar to the view in Keene's 1891 photograph (see above). I believe it was probably taken in the mid- to late 1890s.

The post mark on the reverse of this black-and-white postcard view is unfortunately not very clear - it possibly reads 17 AUG [19]20 - but the stamp used (a 1d George V red definitive) suggests a date of between 1918 and 1921. Due to post-War inflation, the postage rates for postcards were increased from ½d to 1d in June 1918, and from 1d to 1½d in June 1921. [Source: Postage rates for postcards sent within the UK, by Peter Stubbs] However, the view is so similar to the previous photograph taken by W.W. Winter Ltd. that I believe it may be the same image. The ripples of water in the river are so similar that I think the old view may have been republished as a postcard three decades later, with the EASTWOOD'S TANNERY signs retouched out.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This colourised postcard view, titled "Derby from the River," is very similar, although not identical, to the Winter photo. It was produced by postcard publisher Hartmann (Ref. 2535.10), and carries a franking mark clearly dated "AU 24 05" i.e. 24 August 1905. It may have been printed from a Winter or Keene photograph taken in the 1890s. The vegetation appears considerably more luscious than in previous views, but this may just be the result of the colourising.

Image © and courtesy of the Shardlow Heritage Centre

A rather gaudily colourised postcard from the Reliable Series (Ref. 289/6), published by W.R. & S. Ltd, Edinburgh [Source: Edinphoto] is postmarked 6 June 1908 (Courtesy of Shardlow Heritage Centre). Presumably it was taken in the early 1900s.

Another colourised postcard, entitled "Derby from River," was posted in Derby in July 1916. The publisher is merely identified on the reverse with a "W" inside a diamond. The most significant changes in the view are that the buildings in the former Exeter House garden have completely changed, and the larger (or closer) of the two chimneys in front of the church towers has gone. In addition, the tannery signs have disappeared.

Image © and collection of Nigel Aspdin

Several decades later ... the site of the former Exeter House is occupied by the now empty and boarded up old Derby Magistrate Courts, the back of which can be seen at the left of this photo, very kindly taken for me in June this year by Nigel Aspdin. The tower of All Saints is just visible. Immediately to the right of the Magistrates' Court, and mostly obscured by it, is the back of the derelict old Police Station, which also awaits redevelopment. All of the chimneys have now gone!

Image © and courtesy of BBC

This artist's impression (Courtesy of a BBC article, Changing Derbyshire) is unfortunately looking in the opposite direction, with Cathedral Green on the right. However, it is obvious that the projected development and new footbridge over the Derwent will result in another very different view.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Dating of card mounts from overprints - Richard Keene Junior of Derby & Burton-onTrent

Richard Keene (1825-1894) was probably Derby's most renowned Victorian photographer, taking a leading and pioneering role in the development of photography in the region. Keene's Derby by Maxwell Craven (publ. 1993 by Breedon Books, ISBN 1 873626 60 6) describes his career as a landscape and portrait photographer in some detail. Two of his sons also became photographers: Richard Keene Junior (1852-1899) had studios in both Derby and Burton-on-Trent, while Charles Barrow Keene (1863-1937) continued the Derby business, which included printing, publishing and bookselling, after his father's death.

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

Although he was in London working in an accountant's office in 1871, Richard Keene Jnr. opened the Midland Studio in Siddals Road, Derby in the mid-1870s. The business is not listed in Wright's 1874 trade directory, so he presumably started after that it compiled. Adamson (1997) shows him as operating at 49 Siddals Road in 1876, which appears to have been on the south side, somewhere between Liversage and John streets. A carte de visite taken at the Siddals Road premises is shown above. It has square corners suggesting a date of 1875-1876. The style of clothing worn by the subject is simlar to that in a portrait on Roger Vaughan's web site, dated as roughly 1875.

It is interesting to note, as an aside, that Keene claimed to be the "inventor of the new dry process." Nothing further is known about the process, although it is worth acknowledging the role that his father played "in encouraging the career of Sir William Abney, a major second-generation pioneer of photography," who made important discoveries in the field of chemistry and colour photography (Craven, 1992).

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

Keene apparently did not last very long in Siddals Road, because the electoral register for 1877 (nominally dated 1 October) shows him at Derwent Street East. The second cdv has a similar mount which is overprinted with the Derwent Street address, indicating that he had moved, and was using up old card stock. There are, however, some differences in the card mount, indicating that he was in the earlier location at least long enough to have a second batch of card mounts printed. The corners are rounded instead of square, and a simpler font has been used for the words, "PHOTOGRAPHER & ENAMELLER."

Note the broad sash around the child's waist, which probably went all the way around the back of the chair. This was one of several tricks commonly used by Victorian photographers to ensure that children didn't move during the lengthy exposure times necessary to ensure a good picture. Other early methods included having the children seated on their mother's lap, firmly in their arms. In some portraits it is just possible to make out a mother, disguised or hidden behind a blanket, sheet or curtain. Getting the child to maintain that smile for any length of time would have been a trickier prospect, I'm sure.

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

The third carte de visite is a half-length seated portrait of an unidentified young woman on a newly designed, slightly more elaborate card mount with the Derwent Street address, again with the "Midland Studio" title. He still described himself as a "photographer and enameller," but also as the "sole inventor of the new dry process."

The low negative number (632) on the reverse of the portrait taken shortly after his move to Derwent Street suggests that he had not seen a large number of customers at his previous locale. Examination of negative numbers from card mounts of other, more successful Derby photographers from the same period, e.g. W.W. Winter in the perhaps more convenient Midland Road, shows thousands of portraits per year, rather than hundreds.

Although there had been rapid redevelopment in shops and other businesses of what used to be private gardens along Derwent Road East in the 1860s and 1780s, as a result of the rebuilding of the Exeter Bridge, and the resultant increase in traffic, Keene was sadly still unable to make his studio pay. In January 1878 his creditors met to discuss arrangements for liquidation of his assets. He was declared bankrupt in March, and his entire "stock-in-trade" and his portrait gallery in Derwent Street were auctioned off at the end of April. A dividend in the liquidated estate was declared in October.

Image © & courtesy of Paul Clarke Image © & courtesy of Paul Clarke

Keene then moved to Burton-on-Trent, where he had set up in business at 56 High Street by the time the 1880 edition of Kelly's Directory of Staffordshire was compiled. [Source: GENUKI Staffordshire Photographers Index by Mike Harbach] The fourth cdv in the sequence is a half-length portrait of an unidentified young woman leaning on the back of a chair. The rounded shoulders, corseted boddice with embroidery and buttons down the front, a high frilly collar, brooch at her neck, with her hair tightly drawn back from a centre-parting and braids tied up at the back, all suggest to me a date of between 1878 and 1880.

This estimate is borne out by an examination of the reverse of the photograph, which reveals that it is a Derwent Street mount, overprinted in red ink with the words, "REMOVED TO 56, HIGH STREET, BURTON-ON-TRENT." Another low negative number (873) further supports the interpretation, from the use of the overprinted card, that he had only recently moved to Burton.

Image © & courtesy of Samantha Smith Image © & courtesy of Samantha Smith

I'm happy to report that by the time the fifth portrait in this series was taken, probably in the mid- to late 1880s, Keene had reached negative number 3144, which showed at least a moderate degree of success. The design on the reverse of the card mount is of a type referred to generically by Roger Vaughan as "Bamboo and Fan"; after being originally designed by Marion & Co. c. 1884, it was wideley copied and adpated by other publishers, and this particular design is by A.A.C. I estimate this portrait was taken between 1884 and 1888.

Many thanks to Samantha Smith and Paul Clarke for images of photographs used in this article.
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