Monday, 2 May 2011

Derbyshire Photographers: The Carlton Studio (W.H. Smith)

While adding images of two recently acquired postcard portraits from The Carlton Studio of Derby, I've taken the opportunity to update the profile to the new format and add further information regarding the manager/operator and duration of the business.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified young woman and man, c.1909-1911
Postcard portrait by H. Smith, Carlton Studio, 63 London Rd, Derby

Clues from both the reverse of the postcards and the 1911 Census led me on the trail of William Hamilton Smith (born 1876 West Bromwich), who arrived in Derby before 1910, and operated the Carlton Studio in the former premises of A. & G. Taylor for only a brief period of perhaps two or three years, before moving on to fresh pastures by 1912. Nothing is known of his photographic career either before or after his time in Derby, although I hope further evidence and photographs will surface in due course.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified young woman
Postcard portrait by H. Smith, Carlton Studio, 63 London Rd, Derby

The postcard stock is very unevenly cut, suggesting that it may have been purchased from a fairly cheap source, and the design on the reverse is not one that I have seen used by other Derby photographers of that period. The portraits themselves, however, while not of outstanding quality, are quite competent, and the standard of the studio props and painted landscape backdrop suggest to me either that he had already established himself elsewhere and then moved to Derby, or that he may have taken them over from a previous occupant of the studio.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

I've had some difficulty identifying the immediate previous occupants of 63 London Road. Craven (1993) suggests that the Derby branch of the country-wide firm of A. & G. Taylor operated here until 1903, while Adamson gives a slightly later date of 1906. However the latter author shows the Derby & District Photographic Co. also occupied premises at 63 London Road for the period 1899 to 1907. It seems a little unlikely to me that they were both there at the same time, but it is possible. Neither Craven nor Adamson record anyone at this address for the period 1907-1909.

I'm aware of some upheavals in the fortunes of the firm of A. & G. Taylor in the late 1890s and early 1900s, though, and former manager of the Derby branch William Middleton took it over for a brief period in the late 1890s. The 1901 Census shows the address unoccupied on census night, but normally inhabited, so perhaps the the occupation history during this period was rather complicated. More research needs to be done on clarification of the tenure, and of the history of A. & G. Taylor's Derby branch - yet another project to add to the list.


Adamson, Keith I.P. (1997) Professional Photographers in Derbyshire 1843 - 1914, The PhotoHistorian, No. 118 Supplement, September 1997, ISSN 0957-0209. Courtesy of John Bradley.
Craven, Maxwell (ed.) (1993) Keene's Derby, Breedon Books, Derby, pp. 200-202.

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