Friday, 30 September 2011

Sepia Saturday 94: Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.


Only time and the collective judgement of fellow Sepia Saturday contributers will tell, but I may be able to make a claim as the closest follower of Alan's theme this week. I believe this young lady, pictured in an unnamed 4¼" x 3¼" paper print from c.1910-1914, and doing her best to ignore the persistently annoying younger brother still in nappies, is well into her training for a career to be spent astride ponies of the inanimate kind. Judging by her apparent age, she may even be the same curly-headed young Queenslander who later caught the roving eye of that wheeled toy horse in 1937.

Here, however, she is less concerned with pretending any skill at polo or other frivolous pursuits. It is clear that she is determined to ride her steed through the jungle ahead, but is just starting to appreciate the importance of an unexpected photo opportunity. For more of those captured moments presented by a squad of sepia sycophants, check out Sepia Saturday's offerings.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Jonathan Adlington (1839-1884), Music teacher of Derby & Aberdeen

In the 1860s, after the carte de visite format was introduced, the colourisation of photographs became a little easier, and one would hope that the photographic studios would have taken heed of the "less is more" mantra. By the looks of many of these early portraits on albumen-based paper prints it may appear that the lesson was not well appreciated. However, a criticism of these early practitioners may be a little hasty, because the effect that we see now may not be that which was intended. Indeed the appearance may differ radically from how it appeared originally, either due to significant fading of the sepia-toned photographic emulsion or to changes in the original water colour dyes used, both of which effectively enhance the appearance of the added colours.

Image © and courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library
Jonathan Adlington of Derby, July 1863
Hand coloured carte de visite portrait by J. Brennen, Derby
Image © and courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

This carte de visite portrait of young Derby music teacher Jonathan Adlington (1839-1884) by James Brennen, held by the Derby Local Studies Library (by whom permission has been kindly given for reproduction), is typical of early paper prints mounted on card and hand coloured in either water colours or oils. I think this one has been done in water colours (apart from the gold), which look pretty garish now, but the appearance is likely to be different from that originally intended. The young man is bearded, dressed in a frock coat with the top button done up, as was the fashion, dark waistcoat and light coloured peg-top trousers. He is wearing a bright blue tie with gold tie pin, a gold watch chain, and carries a light walking cane and pale blue, soft, low-crowned hat, perhaps something akin to a deerstalker without the ear flaps.

Image © and courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

The reverse has the sitter's name "Jno Adlington" and a date "July 1863" inscribed in pencil, in what appears to be a roughly contemporary hand. Several other Brennen portraits in the DLSL collection have inscription in a similar hand, possibly written by Brennen himself. I suspect they were speculative portraits of local celebrities produced to cash in on the carte de visite craze which swept the country in the early 1860s.

Image © and courtesy of Martin Beek
Choir at Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire
Image © 2008 Martin Beek and courtesy of Flickr

Jonathan Adlington was born in 1839 into the musically talented family of Southwell (Nottinghamshire) tailor William Adlington and his wife Keturah Pope. His father was for some years a member of the choir at Southwell Minster under the tutelage of rector chori Edward Heathcote.

Image courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
Advertisement, The Derby Mercury, 19 December 1849
Image courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning

They moved to Derby in the late 1840s, probably shortly after the death of William's father Jonathan Adlington at Southwell on 2 June 1849. An advertisement which appeared in The Derby Mercury seeking an apprentice was a clear sign that the Adlington children were not destined to follow their father into the rag trade. The census of 30 March 1851 shows all three of the Adlington children - William (14), Jonathan (11) and Sarah Ann (10) - as music scholars, and it occurred to me that their move to Derby may have been motivated partly for musical reasons, for example to be close to a respected music teacher.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
St Peter's Church, Derby, c.1880s
Lithograph published by W.W. Winter
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Whatever the reasons for the move, it seems to have paid off. In January 1850 Master Adlington - probably Jonathan's older brother William, then twelve years old- was reported in the Mercury as "one of the youthful band of choristers belonging to [St Peter's Church Sunday School], presiding at the pianoforte, with great ability," during a church function in the large dining room of the King's Head Inn in the Cornmarket, a popular meeting place for both cultural groups and philosophical clubs.

Image © and courtesy of Russ Hamer
Church of St Paul's, Chester Green, Derby
Image © 2010 Russ Hamer and courtesy of Panoramio

William junior became something of a local sensation, with regular performances in Derby, such as at the opening and consecration of the new church of St Paul's at New Chester (now Chester Green), near Derby in May that year. The Adlingtons appear to have been at the centre of a a minor renaissance of the music scene in Derby. The St Peter's Madrigal Society "gave the second performance to their subscribers and friends" in September 1850, at which "Master W. Adlington presided at the pianoforte, accompanying the glees, songs, &c., in a very efficient style."

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
The Athenaeum (at left), Royal Hotel & Post Office, Victoria Street/Cornmarket, Derby, c.1850s
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

At a Christmas concert held in the Athaenaeum that same year, "Master Adlington was also encored in the song, 'Why do summer roses fade,' which he sang with considerable effect, accompanying himself on the pianoforte ... A fantasia on the piano by Master Adlington was remarkable for its brilliancy of execution."

William Adlington senior had become the choir master at St Peter's, and no doubt played a significant role in the training and advancement of his son, although by then it appears that he was shortly to study under John Cramer of Loughborough.

Image © and courtesy of Derby Museum & Art Gallery
Lecture Hall, Mechanics’ Institution, Derby, 1839
Hand Coloured Lithograph Print, from a drawing by Samuel Rayner
Image © and courtesy of Derby Museum & Art Gallery

Numerous concerts were held throughout 1851, culminating in a "Grand Miscellaneous Concert" at the Lecture Hall, Derby:
Master W. Adlington's performance of Hummel's Rondo Brilliant, in A, opera 59, on the piano forte, was played with a spirit, taste, and cleverness which would have done credit to any player. This youth is only fourteen years of age, and from the abilities displayed in the performance of this piece, there could be but one opinion, that in all probability he is likely to become a first class performer. The subject, although long, was executed by Master Adlington in a manner which was appreciated in a high degree by his patrons, as was shown by the warmth and unanimity of their applause.
Jonathan Adlington received instruction under William Wolfgang Woodward (1821-1882), professor of music in Derby, and conductor of the Derby Choral Society, and by September 1856 had become the organist at St Peter's Church, aged only 17. That year a new vehicle for the promotion of music in the town was formed, the Derby Vocal Union, under the direction of William Adlington, and with Jonathan "presiding at the pianoforte." Unfortunately, at their inaugural concert Jonathan was taken ill, and his place had to be taken by his older brother.

Image courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
Advertisement, The Derby Mercury, 5 November 1856
Image courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning

At this stage William Adlington senior must have grown confident enough in both his abilities and in the local demand, since he appears to have become a music teacher. His first advertisement offering vocal elementary instruction appeared in the Derby Mercury on 5 November 1856. White's trade directory for 1857 shows him still working as a draper, but by the census of 7 April 1861 he described himself only as a "professor of music, singing."

Jonathan, then 21 and still living at home, was a "professor of music, organ & pianoforte," having announced 18 months earlier "his intention of commencing a popular elementary class for singing, at the Mechanics' Institution. As a teacher of singing, Mr. Adlington is as widely known as he is highly appreciated, and possesses not only the talent required to conduct such a desirable instruction, but also aptitude and the peculiar advantages of temper and judgement." (The Derby Mercury, 14 September 1859)

Image © and courtesy of Derby Local Studies LibraryImage © and courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

Readers will perhaps not be surprised to learn that the Adlington residence in the late 1850s and early 1860s was at 14 Wilmot Street, immediately next door to the premises which studio photographer James Brennen occupied at number 12 from around 1860 until c.1865. Sadly, these buildings no longer exist, much of Wilmot Road having disappeared to make way for the new A601 ring road. Jonathan's older brother William had the previous year "received the degree of associate of the Royal Academy of Music," while Jonathan himself was widening his repertoire, with the direction of a concert for the Trinity Church Working Mens Association and instructing music to the Diocesan Institution for Training Schoolmistresses. He had also become a member of The Derbyshire Provincial Grand Lodge of Freemasons, and of The Derwent Rowing Club - clearly a young, but up and coming, man-about-town.

Image © 2007 Colin Smith and courtesy of
St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen
© 2007 Colin Smith and courtesy of
Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

In the early 1860s William Adlington junior had taken up an appointment as a music teacher in Aberdeen, and by August 1866 Jonathan too had moved to Aberdeen. Apart from having a large private practice offering singing, organ and pianoforte lessons, he was organist at St Andrew's Cathedral, became music master to the Normal College and pianoforte teacher at the Aberdeen Church of Scotland Training College, and was appointed Director of Music to the of the Provincial Grand Lodge at the Aberdeen Masonic Hall. He was "organist of the Choral Union under Mr Latter for a period ... frequently play[ing] at the Saturday evening entertainments," and was also a composer, publishing several songs and duets.

In late June 1877, however, he resigned his numerous positions and moved to Edinburgh where he took over an "influential" teaching practice recently vacated by his older brother William. Their parents had moved to Aberdeen in the early 1870s, perhaps after the marriage if their younger sister Sarah Ann to Alexander Gowan Gillespie at Edinburgh in July 1873, and then to Edinburgh in the early 1880s.

John Adlington, as he appears to have been known after his move to Scotland, died at his father's home in Edinburgh on 10 March 1884, at the relatively young age of 44. An obituary in the Aberdeen Journal included the following:
Mr Adlington had the winning faculty of endearing himself to his friends, and, modest of his accomplishments, he always carried his honours in such a way as to merit the esteem of those with whom he came in contact. In his professional life he well maintained the musical reputation of his family. Many in Aberdeen will grieve to hear of the early death of one who gave so much promise as a musician, and will sympathise with the relatives in the loss they have sustained ...


19th Century British Library Newspapers, courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
The Aberdeen Weekly Journal
The Caledonian Mercury
The Derby Mercury
The Nottinghamshire Guardian & Midland Advertiser

1841-1911 UK Census Collection, The National Archives of the UK, courtesy of Ancestry

International Genealogical Index (IGI), from FamilySearch

Descendants of John Jaffray

White, Francis (1857) History, Gazetteer and Directory of the Country of Derby, Francis White & Co., Derby, transcript courtesy of Neil Wilson

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sepia Saturday 93: Collodion positives, early coloured portraits in Derby

For want of a photograph of a sleeping man for this week's Sepia Saturday contribution I'm going to choose the theme of early photography and the negative influence of Talbot, by continuing with another in what will be a series of posts on hand coloured portraits.

Image © Brett Payne
Early Derby photographers, 1854-1864

The development of commercial photography was in the doldrums throughout England in the early 1850s, largely due to Henry Fox Talbot's fierce protection of his calotype patents and his contention that Frederick Scott Archer's collodion process was merely an extension of his own discoveries. When his court case against Laroche was thrown out in December 1854, the way was clear for portrait studios to produce collodion positives on glass, and there was indeed a very rapid uptake of the by then four year-old technology. In the United States it was patented in that same year by Boston photographer Ambrose Cutting as the ambrotype.

Although Marcus Guttenberg had visited Derby briefly in 1852 (Adamson, 1997), the town's first permanent photographer of the 1850s appears to have been James Brennen who is reported to have "[taken] up Daguerreotype and turned out portraits as good as could be found at the time" in 1854 (Keene, 1886, in Birks, 1934), or perhaps even slightly earlier in 1853 (Craven, 1993). It seems likely, however, that he would have adopted the collodion positive process by early 1855, when both he and Edmund Stowe were listed in a trade directory as "photographic artists" (Kelly, 1955).

Image © British Library Newspapers and courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
William Seville's advert in The Derby Mercury, 15 August 1855
Image © British Library Newspapers and courtesy of Gale

Later that year four more photographers - James Wilson, William Seville, Richard Smith and E.N. Charles - had opened their doors. Seville appears to have been the first to have advertised the new "collodion portraits" in the local newspaper in August 1855. Although some practitioners did not stay the course, either moving elsewhere (Seville and B.W. Botham) or into other fields (George B. Coggan and Frederick Parkes), by the end of the decade, even before the advent of the hugely popular carte de visite, the town could boast of having nine active photographic portrait studios. Thomas Roberts, Derby's first resident daguerreotypist, had returned to the fold in 1856 (White, 1857), and newcomers included John Westmoreland, James Mills and his son, also named James, Arthur Neville, William Pearson, John Thornhill and George S. Bristow (Anon, 1860).

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
Either Christina or Elizabeth Slater of Derby, c.1854-1858
Collodion positive portrait on glass by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

This delicately coloured portrait of a young girl on glass belongs to Nigel Aspdin, and he believes it to be one of two sisters Christina or Elizabeth Slater of Derby. Christina and Elizabeth, then aged five and three, are shown living with their parents John and Ann Slater and two younger brothers in Fowler Street, Derby in the 1851 Census. I'd say this young girl is about seven or eight years old, which fits fairly well with my estimated date for the portrait of between 1854 and 1858, based on the clothing, hair and sitting styles. Unfortunately the sisters are too close in age for me to be able to deduce which is shown in the portrait without further information.

Deconstructed cased collodion positive portrait
Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Nigel also sent me this photograph of the collodion positive which he had taken apart. Although I thought it would be instructive to include this image so that readers could get an idea of how such portraits were usually mounted in a case, I'm definitely not recommending that others try this with their own. Without professional knowledge and extreme care, it may result in significant, irreparable damage, particularly to the delicate photographic emulsion.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
Digitally reconstructed underexposed collodion negative

Trade magazines of the time, such as The Photographic News, were full of practical advice to both professionals and amateurs, including the correct amount of exposure to give a plate which was intended for a collodion positive image. This resulted in something along the lines of what I have reconstructed digitially (above), which could then be hand coloured. After colouring, the glass plate was backed with either black varnish or felt, protected behind another layer of thin glass, and then mounted behind a brass matt or finisher with a pinchbeck surround (also known as a preserver), inside a wooden, papier mache or thermoplastic case.

Image © British Library Newspapers and courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
B.W. Botham's advert in The Derby Mercury, 15 August 1855
Image © British Library Newspapers and courtesy of Gale

In 1858 and 1859, the The Photographic News published a series of articles containing detailed instructions on colouring collodion positives, extracts from which will serve to illustrate the process:
Photographic powder colours ... furnish the only suitable and simple means of colouring collodion positives on glass. They are applied in the form of impalpable powder, with a dry pencil, to the collodion film. They should, if properly prepared, be brilliant in colour, transparent, and, as far as possible, permanent; they should, at the same time, "bite" well, or adhere readily to the surface of the plain or varnished wet collodion film. Brushes ... For general use camel's hair is more suitable than sable ... for fine lines a few small sables will be desirable ... they should be agitated in a glass of clean water, and brought to a point by drawing them through the lips ... An India-rubber bottle, with tube attached, to blow away superlfuous colour, will be required ... Some colour on the collodion film, and leave it so; others colour thus, and then finish with varnishing; whilst others varnish first, and colour on the varnished film ... A coating of some black varnish is usually applied to the reverse side of the plate to produce the shadows. This is rarely the best method for coloured pictures ... We prefer, for this purpose, a backing of deep maroon velvet, which warms the shadows, and harmonises with the ... tints used in portraiture.
From what I can tell, this portrait only has a single colour added, decorating the girls dress a pale blue. It is a little blotchy, but does not give an unpleasing effect. The portrait itself, even though the photographer has not succeeeded in putting his subject completely at ease, is well composed and in focus, and I think demonstrates at least a moderate degree of skill. Sadly, it's not yet possible to determine who this photographer was. As further examples of portraits from the 1850s are unearthed, however, a more detailed understanding of the photographic community active at that time may bring new clues.


Adamson, Keith A. (1997) Professional Photographers in Derbyshire 1843-1914, Supplement to The PhotoHistorian, No. 118, September 1997, Royal Photographic Society, ISSN 0957-0209.

Anon (1858-1859) Lessons on Colouring Photographs, The Photographic News, Google Books.
Vol. 1, No. 12, 26 November, 1858, p. 138.
Vol. 1, No. 14, 10 December, 1858, p. 162.
Vol. 1, No. 15, 17 December, 1858, pp. 174-175.
Vol. 1, No. 16, 24 December, 1858, p. 186.
Vol. 1, No. 17, 31 December, 1858, pp. 199-200.
Vol. 1, No. 18, 7 January, 1859, pp. 208-209.
Vol. 1, No. 19, 14 January, 1859, p. 222.
Vol. 1, No. 20, 21 January, 1859, p. 234.
Vol. 1, No. 21, 28 January, 1859, pp. 245-246.
Vol. 1, No. 22, 4 February, 1859, pp. 258.
Vol. 1, No. 23, 11 February, 1859, p. 269.
Vol. 1, No. 24, 18 February, 1859, p. 281.
Vol. 1, No. 25, 25 February, 1859, pp. 292-293.
Vol. 1, No. 26, 4 March, 1859, pp. 302-303.

Anon (1860) Directory & Gazetteer of Derbyshire, London, England: Harrison, Harrod & Co.

Anon (1861) Census of Derby, Derbyshire, England, RG9-2505, London, England: National Archives.

Birks, Frank Elliott (1934) History of the Derby Photographic Society 1884-1934.

Craven, Maxwell (ed.) (1993) Keene's Derby, Breedon Books, Derby, pp. 200-202.

Kelly (1855) The Post Office Directory of Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, Digital Library of Historical Directories, University of Leicester.

Rosenblum, Naomi (1984) A World History of Photography, New York: Abbeville Press, pp. 194-196.

White, Francis & Co. (1857), History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derby, with the town of Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, Sheffield, England: Francis White & Co.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fancy dress or the height of fashion?

Image © and courtesy of Robert Silverwood
Elizabeth Adshead of Belper, c.1883-1886
Cabinet card by J. Schmidt of Belper
Image © and courtesy of Robert Silverwood

While compiling a new profile for Belper photographer Jacob Schmidt this week, including a large number of new examples of his work, I rediscovered this striking image of a cabinet card sent to me some years ago by Robert Silverwood. It depicts his relative Elizabeth Adshead (1849 - 1917) and, at the time he sent it to me, Robert was of the view that she may have been garbed in some type of fancy dress costume. The cabinet card is of particular interest because it has been hand-coloured. Whether the clothes actually were those colours is now uncertain, but it seems quite possible that they would have been represented in as realistic a fashion as possible. Unfortunately, the retouching has also given the subject's face a rosy-tinted appearance which does not help with estimating an age.

Jacob Schmidt arrived in Belper in the early to mid-1880s, and must have established his reputation quickly. This much is clear from the fact that a good number of examples of his work have survived, in spite of his death in 1893, after only a decade in the town.

Since Schmidt did not change his card mount designs frequently during this period, it is not easy to date the portrait with much accuracy from the card design alone, but other examples of this mount are probably from the mid- to late 1880s. The use of a very crudely painted classical "column" as part of the backdrop (at the left hand side), however, suggests to me that perhaps this may have been a fairly early work, and I estimate it was taken c.1883-1886.

Image courtesy of Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper's Bazaar 1867-1898 by Stella Blum
Spring Styles, from Harper's Bazaar, 10 February 1883
Image courtesy of Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper's Bazaar 1867-1898 by Stella Blum

As I've made clear before on Photo-Sleuth my knowledge of fashions is fairly limited, and I tend to rely on several well-thumbed books and web sites. One of these is Stella Blum's collection of Harper's Bazaar engravings, from which the above 1883 illustration has been extracted. Although perhaps made from somewhat different materials, Elizabeth Adshead's dress shows many similarities with the outift depicted on the right, including a high collar, short sleeves with flounces immediately below the elbows, and an overskirt gathered back at the sides, towards the prominent bustle at the back. The blue skirt looks as though it may be a fine wool weave.

The headgear is the only notable difference: she is wearing what is commonly referred to as a mob cap, rather than the more fashionable straw bonnet trimmed with ostrich feathers worn by the Harper's ladies. Although most popular in Georgian England, the mob cap was still used by servants and nurses during Victorian times.

Although I am hesitant to question Robert's identification of the subject as Elizabeth Adshead, she would have been in her mid-30s at the time I estimate this portrait was taken, and it is my feeling that this woman is a little older than that. However, her looks are masked somewhat by the hand colouring, so I can't be sure. What do you think, both about her age and the clothing? If you are familiar with fashions in the 1880s, I'd appreciate your comments.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Derby Photographers: Leonard Norman

I have previously written about the photographic studio on the top floor of 36 Victoria Street, Derby, the building known to Victorian Derbeians as Clulow's bookstore. After being first used as a branch studio in the early to mid-1860s by the Leicester firm of John Burton & Sons, it was subsequently occupied by a succession of photographers: Clement Rogers from c.1870 to 1874, J.W. Price (1874-c.1880), Harry J. Watson (c.1887-c.1893) and Layton & Lamb (1898).

Image  and courtesy of Robert Silverwood
Unidentified young woman, c.1899-1900
Cabinet card by Leonard Norman, 36 Victoria Street, Derby

In late 1898 or early 1899 Leonard Norman took over the studio
and was in business there for the compilation of the 1899 edition of Kelly's trade directory. He was born in Litchurch, Derby in 1864, one of seven children of engine smith William Gilford Norman. Adamson (1997) shows Norman operating in Victoria Street as a photographer in 1900, but by April 1901 he had moved on. The census found him boarding in Ipswich, Suffolk, employed as a photographer. Details of his movements after this date are unclear, although there is a listing of a Leonard Norman, photographer at 63 Abbey Street, Nuneaton, Warwickshire in 1912.

With such a brief period of operation in Derby his output there must have been very limited, perhaps a few thousand at most. I am fortunate, therefore, to have been sent this image of a fine cabinet portrait of an unidentified young woman from Norman's studio by Robert Silverwood.

Image  and courtesy of Robert Silverwood

The reverse of the card mount has only the words Norman and Derby printed across the diagonal in a "signature style." This simplified type of design became increasingly popular towards the end of the 1890s, perhaps a reaction to the classical excesses of the 1880s and early 1890s, with their fluted columns, Grecian vases, toga clad maidens, naked cherubs and other "artistic" motifs (see Roger Vaughan's 1890s CDV backs).

Image  and courtesy of Ian Ward

Norman's card design is very similar to that used in the mid-1890s by former 36 Victoria Street occupant Harry J. Watson, shown above. It is so similar, in fact, that I wonder whether Leonard Norman was previously an assistant of Watson's prior to opening his own studio, either in Victoria Street in the late 1880s/early 1890s or in Burton Road in the mid-1890s.

Presumably Leonard Norman settled in Ipswich, because he died at Henham, Crofton Road in that town on 13 April 1937. His son John White Norman was also described as a photographer at the time.

Many thanks to Robert Silverwood for the use of these images.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Sepia Saturday 92: All aboard the Bournemouth Queen for the Isle of Wight

When in 1914 Uncle Hallam and Aunt Sarah Payne handed over the family grocery and off-licence at 83 St James' Road, Derby to his younger brother Fred and retired to live Dale Cottage, Ingleby, they were only in the mid-forties. Hallam's mother had died in February that year, his father seven years earlier, and he had inherited a number of residential properties in Derby, from which he must have received a reaonable income.

What did they do to occupy themselves, apart from collecting - and presumably reading - the piles of newspapers and books which filled much of their house? Well, the photographic record suggests that they regularly spent at least a part of their summers visiting various seaside resorts. In Sidewalk Photographers I presented a series of "walking pictures" taken of them with various other family members in Great Yarmouth (1931, 1937 and 1938) and Bournemouth (1932 and 1933).

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison
Passengers aboard the Bournemouth Queen, 15 September 1923
Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

This snapshot was also taken by a professional, but is not a "walkie." Here the photographer has opted to capture his tourist clientele en masse, conveniently gathered together on the top aft deck of an excursion boat. The boat appears to be tied up on the western side of the Bournemouth Pier, the characteristic Dorset cliffs being visible in the background, and possibly the Bournemouth beach huts and amusement arcade at the foot of the cliff. In some respects, it could be considered the same genre of commercial portrait to that of a charabanc outing that my Dutch grandparents had on the Isle of Wight, also in the early 1920s.

Image © Martin Parr and courtesy of Google Books
Mobile sales tent for Bailey's postcards
Image © Martin Parr, Photography: a critical introduction, Liz Wells
Courtesy of Google Books

Provided the excursion was long enough, as soon as the boat departed the photographer would have time to nip into his dark room, possibly even a small booth on or close to the pier, develop the negative and have a couple of dozen postcard prints of each on display and for sale by the time the boat returned.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

The negative was inscribed in black ink - reversed to white on the print, of course - with "Queen 15.9.23" at the lower left, the latter being the date of the photograph, 15th September 1923, and the number "1999" on the funnel, presumably a negative number. An enlargement of the lifebelt hanging over the railings shows that the boat was the Bournemouth Queen registered at Southampton.

Image © and courtesy of Alwyn Ladell
Red Funnel Steamers postcard of Bournemouth Queen
Image © and courtesy of Alwyn Ladell

According to Ian Boyle's comprehensive web site Simplon Postcards, devoted to passenger ships, the Bournemouth Queen was a paddle steamer of the Red Funnel Line serving as an excursion ship out of Bournemouth for most of its lengthy career, which included service in both world wars, before being finally scrapped in 1957. There was another Bournemouth Queen based in Poole who also operated on the Bournemouth-Isle of Wight run from 1968 to 1973.

Image © and courtesy of Ian Boyle/Simplon Postcards
Bournemouth Queen advertising signboard
Image courtesy of Ian Boyle/Simplon Postcards

This photograph of the later ship taking on passengers shows a signboard on the gangway advertising daily trips to the Isle of Wight departing from Bournemouth at 10.15 a.m. and returning at 6 pm, with the opportunity to spend 4½ hours ashore, and coach tours of the island available if booked in advance. Granted this was several decades later, but it indicates that there would have been plenty of time for photo developing and printing before the customers returned.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

The back of the postcard reveals the photographer to be "Bailey, 228 A Christchurch Rd., Bournemouth." Alwyn Ladell tells me that Ernest Benjamin Bailey operated first from 240/242 Old Christchurch Road, then later at Glen Fern Chambers/Glen Fern Studios in Bournemouth, and the range of dates that I've seen on similar postcards extends from 1914 to 1940. The negative number clearly visible on most examples could be used to order copies at a later date. This might suggest that negative numbers could therefore be used to establish a date sequence, and thus lead to an estimation of the number of photographs he was taking.

Image © Brett Payne
Analysis of postcard negative numbers, Bailey of Bournemouth, 1914-1938 © Brett Payne

However, after a preliminary analysis of the numerous examples of Bailey's postcards available on the net - a selection can be seen on Alwyn Ladell's Flickr photostream - there doesn't appear to be a single sequence of negative numbers, and it's possible he started a new series each season.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

My aunt has inscribed the reverse of the postcard in blue pen, with the suggestion that her father (CLLP) is seated 5th from left in the front row, and "Sarah & Hallam also CVP right of funnel ... three rows behind," CVP being CLLP's father and Hallam's older brother. I've had a good look at a higher resolution image of the postcard and, while Sarah and Hallam (shown above) are unmistakeable, I don't think either CLLP or CVP are on that boat.

Image © and courtesy of
Passengers aboard the Bournemouth Queen, 16 August 1923
Image © and courtesy of "Billy Voak, The Pagham Wanderer"

This postcard, also by Bailey and taken only a few weeks before Uncle Hallam and Aunt Sarah were in Bournemouth, shows the same vessel but is a far more interesting view of passengers on the foredeck. Apart from the wonderful detail of the excursionists sporting a fine array of hats, clothing and accessories, there is a magnificent view of the holidaymakers arrayed in their deckchairs or promenading past the beach huts and amusement arcades on Bournemouth beach, a few ankle deep in the water, some even preparing to board a smaller pleasure boat. What a different feel it has to the one showing Uncle Hallam and Aunt Sarah, where all are dressed in heavy overcoats, the sun does not appear to be showing its face, and there is no action in the background to liven things up.

Image © and courtesy of Scott Henderson/Striderv
Passengers disembarking from Bournemouth Queen, 25 April 1935
Postcard by Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth
Image © and courtesy of Scott Henderson/Striderv

Sometimes he would photograph the passengers disembarking from the steamer, presumably on their return from the Isle of Wight. Perhaps they were given tickets by an assistant, printed with the negative number, and told they could return the next day for the prints.

Image © and courtesy of David Gregory/Postcards of the Past
Coloured Postcard view of Bournemouth Pier from the West Cliff, n.d.
Image © and courtesy of David Gregory/Postcards of the Past

This early postcard view from the West Cliff by an unknown publisher - possibly James Valentine or Photochrom - shows the popular beach and the pier, and a paddle steamer moored beside the latter.

Image © and courtesy of Doreen Smith
Postcard photo, Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth, 1939
Image © and courtesy of Doreen Smith

As shown by the photograph above of an exuberant group of swimmers at the beach, and another of more sedate beachgoers occupying deckchairs below, Bailey did not restrict himself to the pier, and when there were no excursion boats to be serviced he no doubt touted for business along the waterfront.

Image © and courtesy of David Vickers/Reminiscene
Postcard photo, Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth, n.d.
Image © and courtesy of David Vickers/Reminiscene

Image © and courtesy of Dorset Coast Digital Archive
Pier Approach, Bournemouth, 20 August 1935
Postcard view by Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth
Image © and courtesy of Dorset Coast Digital Archive

A further postcard by Bailey of the Pier Approach, Bournemouth is of a different genre, which indicates that he also produced more general views, and probably had them on sale along with his specific excursion oriented group shots at the tent shown earlier.

Don't forget to head over to Sepia Saturday to be entertained by more photographs, perhaps along a similar theme to either this one or Alan Burnett's image of a London & North Western Railway Co. office in Waterford, Ireland.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Derby Photographers: Pollard Graham

Barker Pollard Graham, like many photographers of his day, went through several "boom and bust" cycles during his lengthy career. Some of these phases of activity were in the form of partnerships, often with local businessmen who would have provided financial backing to his various schemes. It's difficult, perhaps impossible, to assess now how much his failures were due to poor business sense, and how much to unfortunate turns of events - most likely a bit of both.

Image © and courtesy of Ron CosensImage © and courtesy of Ron Cosens
Carte de visite portrait of John Hunter, junior, September 1880
by Pollard Graham of New Road, Belper & North End, Wirksworth
Images © and courtesy of Ron Cosens

His first venture appears to have been started around 1878 - I don't yet have a firm date - working as a photographer and gelatine dry plate manufacturer at New Road in Belper, but also operating in Wirksworth. Reports of financial difficulties in mid-1881 assert that he traded as "Pollard Graham & Co." Although I have yet to see any other evidence for use of this name at this early stage, I suspect that the "& Co." referred to his brother-in-law Michael Charnock, also a photographer, who was living him on census night in April 1881. In February 1886 there is another report of court proceedings between the "Derby Photographic Dry Plate Company" and "Pollard Graham & Co." but no details of location or are given. To my knowledge the suffix "& Co." never appeared on any of his card mounts or trade directory entries during this period.

Image © and courtesy of Ron CosensImage © and courtesy of Ron Cosens
Carte de visite portrait of unidentified woman, c.1886-7
by Pollard Graham of New Road, Belper & The Zoological Gardens, Southport
Images © and courtesy of Ron Cosens

Around 1886-1887 Graham replaced his Wirksworth sideline with one at The Zoological Gardens, Southport, as shown only by the addresses on several carte de visites. It seems probable that his visits to Southport were merely seasonal, catering to the zoo's summer visitors, and he is unlikely to have occupied permanent premises there.

In early 1887, together with several Derby businessmen, he registered "Pollard Graham and Company, Limited" in the business of gelatine bromide photographic dry plate manufacturers. In that year he was operating from premises in Agard Street, Derby. Again it appears that the business did not thrive, and three years later, in March 1890, the "stock in trade and working plant" of Pollard Graham & Co., Ltd., Agard Street, Derby was offered for sale. A liquidation notice for Pollard Graham & Co., Ltd., Derwent Dry Plate Works, Agard Street, which had been operating since 1886, appeared in June 1890. As I've not seen any card mounts with the Agard Street address, I'm not sure whether he ever operated a studio from there.

Image © and courtesy of Lies Ligthard
Carte de visite portrait of unidentified woman, c.1891-3
by Pollard Graham of Rodney Chambers, Corn Market, Derby
Image © and courtesy of Lies Ligthard

The portrait business, however, continued, and it is clear from mentions in the local newspaper that he was taking portraits from premises at Rodney Chambers, Corn Market in August 1890. By March 1891 it is likely that his son James Charnock Graham was working for him. This studio appears to have then remained open, possibly continuously, until his death in 1932. I have no clear, unequivocal evidence for it, but I suspect that the portrait studio operated outside the framework of both of these early "Pollard Graham & Co" businesses, which appear to have been formed specifically for the commercial manufacture of dry plates, presumably for supply to local studios.

Image © and collection of Brett PayneImage © and collection of Brett Payne
Carte de visite portrait of unidentified woman, c.1895-7
by Pollard Graham of Derby & Burton on Trent
Images © and collection of Brett Payne

Pollard Graham's next venture was to open a branch studio in the nearby brewing town of Burton-upon-Trent, probably some time between 1893 and 1895. The entries in trade directories for 1896 and 1900 show him with the addresses 12 and 113a Station Street respectively. I believe this branch remained open until around 1900, but again I don't have a firm date for its closure. It is complicated by the firm possibly using card mounts with both "Burton & Derby" and "Derby" addresses simultaneously during this period.

Image © and collection of Brett PayneImage © and collection of Brett Payne
Carte de visite portrait of unidentified woman, c.1905-7
by Pollard Graham of Burnley, Leigh, Peterboro' & Derby
Images © and collection of Brett Payne

From 1903 until 1910, Pollard Graham also operated several other branches, of varying duration, in other Midland towns. According to my research, these were in Peterborough, Burnley, Leigh and Wigan, and all examples that I have seen from these branches were styled "Pollard Graham," with no suffix.

Image © and courtesy of Diane Lilley
Large format mounted portrait of Lily May Campbell, c.1910
by Pollard Graham & Co. of Burslem, Longton, Coventry & Northampton
Image © and courtesy of Diane Lilley

Some time prior to March 1915, when the partnership was dissolved, Pollard Graham went into a collaboration with Albert Hutchinson. This firm was styled, "Pollard Graham & Co." and at the time of dissolution was operating "in the trade or business of Photographers" at Friar-gate, Derby. From what I can tell, all of the card mounts with "Pollard Graham & Co." printed on them can be ascribed to this pre-war period of operation, when they had branches in Burslem, Longton, Coventry, Northampton, Rotherham, Luton and Lincoln. From an analysis of the photographs which have the "& Co." suffix - sadly, none are dated - and various trade directory entries, I believe that the partnership between Hutchinson and Graham probably corresponds to the use of the "& Co." title, and commenced around 1910. I have not seen any photograph with "Pollard Graham & Co." printed on it, or a trade directory entry for "Pollard Graham & Co." prior to 1910 or after 1915.

Image © and collection of Brett PayneImage © and collection of Brett Payne
Postcard portrait of unidentified man, c.1914
by Pollard Graham of 108A Friargate, Derby
Images © and collection of Brett Payne

The Great War seems to have had a significant impact on Pollard Graham's business. Apparently all of the branch studios were closed around 1914-1915, with only the "Head Office and Works" remaining open until around 1920. It is not clear what happened to the studio at Rodney Chambers, Corn Market during the War, because it the address is not shown on extant postcard backs from 1915-1920. It may have been closed temporarily until business picked up again in peace time.

Image © and courtesy of Caroline DeanImage © and courtesy of Caroline Dean
Postcard portrait of Caroline Sadler, c.1921-5
by Pollard Graham of Derby & Northampton
Images © and courtesy of Caroline Dean

In about 1920, perhaps sensing business was indeed rejuvenating, he opened a new branch in Northampton.

Image © and courtesy of Rob JenningsImage © and courtesy of Rob Jennings
Postcard portrait of unidentified man, c.1925-6
by Pollard Graham of Derby, Northampton, Kettering & Wellingborough
Images © and courtesy of Rob Jennings

Around 1925, he went into a short-lived partnership with his son James, and they opened more branches, successively, in Kettering and Wellingborough. Postcards and card mounts bear the name "Pollard Graham & Son" and "Pollard Graham & Son's Studios," respectively. This would not last long, however. The partnership was dissolved in October 1926, Pollard Graham keeping the Corn Market studio, and his son retaining the others.

Image © and courtesy of Graham RobinsonImage © and courtesy of Graham Robinson
Postcard portrait of Ada Mary Oxspring, c.1928-32
by Pollard Graham of Rodney Chambers, Corn Market, Derby
Images © and courtesy of Graham Robinson

From late 1926 until his death in 1932, Pollard Graham continued to take portraits at Rodney Chambers, Corn Market.

Acknowledgements I would like to thank all of those who have kindly contributed both images and information over a period of some years for my revised profile of the Derby photographer Pollard Graham - without them, this study would be very patchy.
Nigel Aspdin, Hilary Booth, Betty Bowler, Boz, Kerrie Brailsford, Pat Cahill, Grace-Ellen Capier, John Copley, Brian Coxon, Helen Cullum, Joss Davis, Caroline Dean, Sophie Dickerson, Chris Elmore, Jack Fletcher, John Frearson, Helen Frost, Gillian Fynes, Angela Galloway, Brian Goodhead, Angus Graham, Clive Greatorex, Carole Haywood, John Hoddinott, Martin Jackson, Rob Jennings, Kim Klump, Lies Ligthart, Diane Lilley, Dorothy Livesey, Marilyn McMillan, Cynthia Maddock, Barry Muir, Sarah Nash, Margaret Page, Graham Pare, Fran Powles, Alan Radford, Kevin Rhodes, Graham Robinson, David Roughley, Robert Silverwood, Derek Smith, Valerie Stern, Lynne Tedder and Andrew Wryobek.
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