This boy's parents may have scrimped a little on Christmas presents by putting off buying him a new suit, but they spared nothing in acceding to his demands for the latest in locomotory accessories. I exaggerate a little, of course, since most of the several hundred Google images of "antique horse tricycles" are full-bodied models, close cousins to the fancy rocking horse featured in a previous Photo-Sleuth article, and far more elaborate than this pared down version. Judging by the number of horse tricycles that seem to have survived, they were not that uncommon. Sadly, the identity of the proud young lad, caught in the moment before he escapes down the driveway to show it off to his friends, is unknown.
The photographer's name, on the other hand, is clearly displayed on both the front and reverse of the card mount. By the time he took this photograph, perhaps in the mid- to late 1880s, Frederick William Broadhead (c1846-1925) was a well established Leicester photographer, although the bulk of his commissions were conventional studio-based portraits, rather than outdoors shots. This example was clearly taken outdoors, but whether outside the studio premises or in the boy's own garden is unknown. It is perhaps a useful reminder that we should always examine the background to such outdoors photographs in our family collections for clues as to their location.
"View of Castle Cornet St Peters Port Guernsey Taken from the Hights" by F.D. Broadhead, oil on panel, c.1870
Image © and courtesy of Christies
Broadhead's father Frederick Dodson Broadhead (c1812-1878) was a portrait and landscape artist, and the son also occasionally advertised as an artist. Although he was born in Kennington in London, Frederick William's family moved frequently, so that by the time he started work aged 14 as a lithographer in Litchurch, Derby, they had already lived in London, Bath and Nottingham, where his father presumably found commissions.
The Broadhead family moved again in the late 1860s to Leicester. Frederick junior was working as a photographer by November 1869, when he announced his removal to "more convenient premises [at] 14 Welford road." Cartes de visite were advertised from 6s per dozen, and portraits in oil from one guinea upwards. It is not clear whether the portraits were photographs finished in oils or miniature oil paintings, although I suspect the latter, as an article in the Leicester Chronicle in 1876 reported his having painted "a pair of life-size bust portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Thornton."
According to a newspaper article in 1879, F.W. Broadhead was one of the early practitioners in the use of artificial light in studio photography.
Leicester Chronicle & Leicestershire Mercury, 11 January 1879.
Mr. Broadhead, of 65 Welford road, has secured a patent luxograph, by means of which portraits can be taken at night, and by which daylight and the sun's rays are not rendered indispensable accessories to the production of a good picture. The process is apparently very simple; the principle upon which it is worked being the concentration of the rays emitted from a series of carefully arranged reflectors directly upon the sitter. The light is produced by the ignition of chemical powders, and is of pale blue colour. Although for an instant its brilliancy is rather dazzling, it softens down into a soft mellow hue, void of all garishness, and rather pleasant to the eyes than otherwise. By this artificial means a portrait can be taken in from seven to twqelve seconds, and even this period is decreased to about five seconds when it has to be taken on a ferrotype plate. At present there are only two or three machines in use throughout the kingdom, but when its properties are well known they cannot fail to be highly appreciated.
Barker & Co.'s Directory for Leicestershire & Rutland, 1875
Trade directories, census, Royal Photographic Society registrations, newspaper entries and advertisements provide a detailed record of his studio addresses during the thirty years he was in business:
1869: 84 Humberstone Rd
Nov 1870-1875: 74 Welford Rd
1876-1877: 72 & 74 Welford Rd
1877-1885: 65 Welford Rd
1884-1892: 55 Welford Rd
1888: 24 Gallowtree Gate
1892: 44 London Rd
1895-1896: Stanley Chambers, 30 Gallowtree Gate
1898: Stockdale Terrace, 19 London Road
1900: 55 Chestnut St & 102 Welford Rd
Directory entries and designs on the reverse of his card mounts demonstrate that he also operated periodically in the nearby towns of Loughborough and Market Harborough, although the evidence for his presence in these places is more patchy. It appears that he may merely have visited periodically, as an 1883 trade directory entry indicates weekly attendance:
Broadhead Fdk. Wm., artist and photographer, High street (attend Tu.), Market Harborough
Leicester Chronicle & Leicestershire Mercury, 10 June 1882
In addition to opportunistic shots of Royal processions and general views of the town and local tourist spots, Broadhead was not averse to seeking other photographic commissions away from his studio premises:
Leicester Chronicle & Leicestershire Mercury, 16 August 1879.
The Leicestershire Volunteers in Camp ... at Willesley Park ... Mr. F.W. Broadhead, Welford-road, Leicester, camped out with the volunteers all the week, and took a great variety of views of the camp, and of the men when on parade, by an instantaneous process, and he appeared to do a "roaring" trade under his "special appointment as a photographer to the camp.
Wright's Directory of Leicestershire, 1887-88
Leicester Chronicle & Leicestershire Mercury, 8 July 1882.
The Australian Cricketers. Mr. F.W. Broadhead, photographer, of Welford-road, has produced a pair of excellent group portraits of the Australian and Leicestershire teams who took part in the match lately played on the Aylestone-road Ground. The work has been carefully executed in variou-sized photographs, and give a life-like representation of the players ... No doubt a large number of these photographs well be secured in commemmoration of Leicestershire having played so well against the antipodeans.
He also gave evidence regarding photographic matters to the Leicester courts on several occasions.
Leicester Chronicle & Leicestershire Mercury, 12 April 1884.
Charge against a photographer ... according to the evidence of Mr. Broadhead, photographer, it was impossible for Daniels to have taken the photo from the condition of the camera and under the circumstances detailed by Mrs. Glover and the groom who attended prisoner. Mr Broadhead, however, admitted that the camera would take a negative, but it would not be passable .... Frederick William Broadhead, photographer, said that he had tested the lenses in question, and found that the lens produced perfectly fitted Professor Colton's apparatus.
Records of the Copyright Office, Stationers' Company:
Photograph of the Mayor & Council of Leicester, consisting of 50 persons including the Mayor". Copyright owner and author of work: Frederick William Broadhead, 35 Welford Road, Leicester. Form completed 12 November 1892. Registration stamp: 14 November 1892.
Wright's Directory of Leicestershire, 1889-90
In 1889 he celebrated his twentieth year in business. He appears to have retired not long after moving to Coalville a decade later. Frederick W. Broadhead died in 1925 at Farnham, Surrey, aged 78. He was married twice, and had two sons and two daughters with his first wife Sarah Ann Fisher, who died in 1898. His second wife Leah Reeves died in 1935.
This is my contribution to this week's Sepia Saturday. For more in a similar vein, head off there for a browse - I won't say quick, because you're likely to be there for a while!
Heathcote, B.V. & P.F. (1982) Leicester Photographic Studios in Victorian & Edwardian Times, Royal Photographic Society, The Photohistorian supplement.