Friday, 22 May 2015

Sepia Saturday 280: The Pleasures of a First Pipe

Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett and Marilyn Brindley

The Sepia Saturday theme this week appears to be a postcard reproduction of a pen and ink drawing entitled, "The Leap Year: The ladies after a little wine and tobacco join the gentlemen in the drawing room," and the gentlemen, I must say, don't look particular pleased about the situation. My examples, in a somewhat related vein, are of magic lantern slides, a photographic format that was very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but then very quickly overtaken by the motion picture industry.

Image © and courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection
Magic Lantern Slide Projector, c.1900s
Image © and courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection

Originally invented in the 17th century, the magic lantern was employed by conjurers, magicians and illusionists in the late 18th century to trick audiences into believing they had seen supernatural beings, commonly known as phantasmagorias. By the late 1800s, however, they were being used for the more mundane task of projecting images for entertainment purposes, these pictures covering a wide array of genres. The Magic-Lantern is one of web sites that has many examples displayed online, and is well worth a browse. By the 1890s, with the cost of photographic equipment no longer being prohibitive, the lantern slide format was even used for vernacular photography, and I have featured several such examples here on Photo-Sleuth.

Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne
The Pleasures of a first pipe, c. 1890s-1900s
Series of three lantern slides from negatives by W.W. Winter, Derby
Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne

Derby photographer W.W. Winter is best known for his prolific output of fine studio portraits produced during a lengthy career from the late 1860s until his retirement from the business in 1909. The firm still operates today from premises on Midland Road, near Derby's busy railway station, and with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, an archivist, an artist-in-residence and a team of volunteers is currently undertaking a project to rescue and digitize many thousands of glass plate negatives from the cellar.

Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne
No. 1 Lighting Up

Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne
No. 2 In Full Blast

Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne
No. 3 The Final Result
Magic lantern slides by W.W. Winter of Derby
Images © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne

These three lantern slides are not from W.W. Winter's cellar, but rather a serendipitous find on eBay a few years ago. Not only are they the only lantern slides from this studio that I have come across, but the comic subject is somewhat unusual for W.W. Winter. I suspect it was a experiment which was subsequently abandoned as being commercially unsuccessful. Sadly, the third and last in the series is cracked, and partly masked by tape, rather detracting from the image, but at least it has survived.

Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne
W.W. Winter Ltd studio, Midland Road, Derby, 14 Sep 2013
Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne

I was very fortunate to be able to visit the premises of the W.W. Winter studio when in Derby in 2007, and particularly honoured to be given a personal tour by Hubert King, whose association with the firm began as an apprentice when he was a teenager. Hubert's father had started working for W.W. Winter as a photogrephic assistant in 1896, later becoming sole proprietor. At the time of my visit, Hubert was still working part-time for the firm.

Image © Copyright & courtesy of W.W. Winter Ltd
Barbara Ellison, Brett Payne & Hubert King, 14 Sep 2013
In the W.W. Winter Ltd studio, Midland Road, Derby
Image © Copyright & courtesy of W.W. Winter Ltd

The portrait (above) of Hubert with my aunt and me in the studio gallery (although I'm not sure if they still call it that) was kindly taken by one of the studio photographers. The gilt-framed portrait of King Edward VII around which we have been carefully positioned, by the way, was taken by Mr Winter in that same studio well over a century earlier.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Sepia Saturday 279: Looking for the Bonanza

Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett and Marilyn Brindley

In the introduction to last week's edition of Sepia Saturday, Alan Burnett asked whether the meme is becoming old and tired, perhaps prompted by a recent reduction in the number of participants. Personally, I find the stimulus of a fresh sepia image chosen by someone else each week is just what I need to keep me blogging regularly, that is when I'm not too submerged in work or other projects to find the time. Following the theme is not a requirement, which gives me plenty of leeway to sail off on another tack when the mood takes me, or on the odd occasion that I fail to be inspired by the chosen image.

Many of my Photo-Sleuth articles are weeks or months in gestation, perhaps searching for that extra bit of information, cosidering the right angle to tackle a particular photograph, or waiting for the right image prompt, so always having images from a couple of weeks ahead to work on at the same time suits me well. My first SS contribution appeared four years ago (SS 64) and my 93 subsequent contributions have been made as and when the opportunity presents itself. I'm very grateful to Alan and Marilyn for the time and effort that they put in to making Sepia Saturday happen. I'd also like to acknowledge the body of fellow Sepians for the inspiring photos they post and thoughtful feedback regularly provided here. Without it, I fear that my blog would have fallen into disrepair long ago.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unmounted paper print, 61 x 89mm
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

On the face of it, these two snapshots might appear a strange purchase for my collection of old photographs. Of unknown provenance, all contextual information apart from the captions handwritten on the backs has gone, leaving us with few clues to the identity of the subjects, even to where they were taken. It wasn't the challenge of sleuthing, though, that attracted me, but rather the content of the first image.

Even without the brief annotation on the back describing it as "The Mill," I recognised it as a three-stamp mill of the type commonly used in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to process gold ore, complete with heavy timber frame, driving wheel, cam shaft with tappets, stamper stems, mortar box with discharge screen, tables and amalgam plates. When I first started work as an exploration geologist in the Midlands of Zimbabwe during the mid-1980s, I came across a few of these antiquated but effective pieces of equipment still being used in remote bush locations, usually by equally aged smallworkers in a forlorn quest for their own bonanza.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Reverse of paper print

The caption identifies the subjects as 'Hamish,' with his back to the camera, 'January,' the mill foreman and presumably one of the two black men standing either side of the tables, and the two children 'A & J.'. The mere fact that January and the other gold mill worker are black doesn't necessarily mean that the photograph was taken in what was then called Southern Rhodesia (it became Zimbabwe after independence in 1980), but the countryside and vegetation depicted in the second of the two snapshots are very familiar to me, and I think it highly likely.

In 1945, after the end of the Second World War, the Southern Rhodesian government set up an ex-serviceman's rehabilitation scheme, whereby returning white soldiers were provided with training in small-scale mining at a former air force training facility at Guinea Fowl, near the town of Gwelo, now called Gweru. (As a sidebar, I might note that black soldiers also returning from the same war got absolutely nothing.) After completion of their training, they were given soft loans to re-open old gold mines closed during the war or start up new operations. With 221 men trained and 279 mines re-opened, the scheme was regarded as successful (Dreschler, 2001), and it seems quite likely that 'Hamish' could have been one of these smallworkers.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unmounted paper print, 83 x 60mm
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The second photo shows 'Joan, Heather & Andrew, on lawn, 1950, May' (resumably from right to left), so it was taken about four years later. Now there are three children, all wearing wide-brimmed hats to ward off the harsh African sun, and playing on a manicured lawn, rather than hanging around the dangerous mill site. The wide variety of toys suggests that Hamish had achieved at least some success at the mine.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Reverse of paper print

The snapshots are both roughly 2¼" x 3¼", equating to the 620 roll film format that was introduced by Kodak in 1931, and rapidly replaced the similarly sized 120-format film which used a slightly larger spool. By the mid-1940s various versions of the Six-20 Brownie box and Six-20 Kodak folding camera were probably the most popular options available to casual amateur photographers. Many of the folding models used an eye-level viewfinder by this time, and it looks to me that these shots were taken from the lower, waist-level view point characteristically employed with the box Brownies. In the first shot, the eyes of the older girl are on a level with Hamish's waist.

Image © and courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
Kodak Six-20 Popular 'Brownie' box camera, 1937-1943
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection

I suspect they were taken with something like the Kodak Six-20 Popular 'Brownie' which was manufactured from 1937 until 1943. It also seems safe to assume that the children's mother was both the photographer and the person who annotated the prints once they had been printed. Presumably Joan, Heather and Andrew were children of the said Hamish, and there is a remote chance that some member of the extended family of Scottish origin (after all, who else would have the name Hamish) will recognise them and get in touch.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Visiting smallworker gold claims, Munyati River, Zimbabwe, 1985
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

You might have thought the scene of such a rudimentary mining operation might have long gone by the 1980s. I don't have photos of the mill - which were indeed very much like the one depicted above - but I do have a snapshot that I took of my sister and a friend visiting Uncle Bob Huntly's smallworking near the Munyati/Umniati River south of Kadoma in 1985. The equipment at the head of the mining shaft consists of nothing more than a bucket suspended on a rope around a hand-operated windlass - not even a ratchet in case the hands slipped. I can't believe it, but I went down there, probably without even a hard hat.


The Stamping Ground, Rocky Creek Railway
Working Model by Glen Anthony

I'll close off with this entertaining video of an incredibly accurate working model mine, made by a very clever man in Christchurch, New Zealand. Once you've finished watching that I'm sure the rest of this week's Sepia Saturday participants will keep you entertained a while longer.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Sepia Saturday 278: Ghostly images

Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett and Marilyn Brindley

While I have plenty of damaged and decaying photographs in my collection to fit with Sepia Saturday's image prompt this week, I'm going to instead focus on another "flaw" that occasionally appears on photographic prints and negatives, and in particular has surfaced in two sets of early amateur photographs that I've blogged about recently: A Grand Tour of Europe and Summer Holidays in Derbyshire.

Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne
"Haddon Hall Terrace," August 1903
Unmounted silver gelatin print, 75 x 101mm (rotated)
(Page 3, Kodak album, Summer Holidays)
Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne

Bill Nelson pointed out that one of my 1903 Derbyshire album prints had what appeared to be a "circle with a '3' in it" in the lower right corner (lower left in the rotated image above).

Image © Copyright & collection of Brett Payne
Detail of image on Page 3

Even with some enlargement and enhancement of the image, I couldn't be absolutely sure of what it was.

Image © Copyright & courtesy of Bill Nelson
Ship and tugboat arriving in unidentified harbour, 1904, Ref. #10c
Nitrocellulose negative film, 3¼" x 4¼", 118-format
Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson

However, when Bill sent me a scan of a slightly over-exposed frame from his 1904 Grand Tour negative album it had a very similar, but much clearer, artifact.

Image © Copyright & courtesy of Bill NelsonImage © Copyright & courtesy of Bill Nelson
Detail of image #10c, inverted & normal (with some enhancement)

In this case, the number "5" in a circle is accompanied by a line on each side. Knowing what to look for, I think I can now see similar bars either side of the "circled 3" in the enhanced image of my own print.

Image © Copyright Mike Butkus & courtesy of the Camera Manual Library
Extract from manual for No 3 Folding Pocket Kodak
Courtesy of Mike Butkus' Camera Manual Library

The number in a circle is very similar to the numbers that were printed on the outside of the film's paper backing, which show through the little red window in the back of the camera to indicate when to stop winding on the film (see image above extracted from a No 3 FPK manual). In this case, by contact between the reverse of the backing paper and the side of the nitrocellulose film which has the photographic emulsion, my theory is that some transfer of the ink has taken place while the film was still rolled onto the spool, either before or after exposure.

In the case of my 1903 print, the "circled 3" is dark, and if it was brought through from the original negative - and, from careful examination of the print, I believe that it was - the implication is that it was reversed, and therefore showed lighter than the surrounding emulsion on the negative. The mechanism by which the ghostly "circled 3" was produced cannot have been a physical transfer of ink, and is more likely to have been a chemical alteration of the silver salts in the photographic emulsion by contact with the acidic compounds in the ink, thus bleaching the parts of the negative that were in contact with the ink on the adjacent paper backing.

Image © 2015 Copyright Brett Payne
No 3 Folding Pocket Kodak, Model A, 1900-1901
Tauranga Heritage Collection, Donation of Alf Rendell
Image © 2015 Copyright Brett Payne

The only reservation I have with this explanation is that I would have expected, by comparison with the window on the back of the No 3 FPK that I, quite by coincidence, photographed this week, for the number to have been lower down, closer to the bottom edge of the negative. The position is correct on my 1903 print, but is more centrally placed on Bill's 1904 negative.

Although the No 3 FPK was by far the most popular folding camera of this size, the No 3 Ensign Carbine was another which used 3¼" x 4¼" film (Ensign E18 format), but from what I can tell the window on this model was also located close to the bottom edge. What I'm now searching for to test my theory, but haven't yet found, is some examples of early roll film.

Image © 2015 Copyright Brett Payne
No 3 Folding Pocket Kodak, Model A, 1900-1901
Tauranga Heritage Collection, Donation of Alf Rendell
Image © 2015 Copyright Brett Payne

Since I have the opportunity, I'll share a little more about this recent donation by retired Tauranga commercial photographer Alf Rendell to the Tauranga Heritage Collection. This particular example of a No 3 Folding Pocket Kodak was produced some time between Oct 1900 and Jun 1901, and still has the original red cardboard bellows. The serial number 27421, as is usual on Kodak folding cameras, is engraved on the silver foot which folds out of the base plate and serves as a stand to support the camera when taking photos in the "portrait" position.

Cloth-lined bellows were fitted as standard from June 1901 onwards, since the older versions tended to tear, and from 1910 they were supplied with black instead of red bellows. Many older cameras were later retro-fitted with black bellows, and it is rare to find an old model still with the original red bellows in such good condition.

Image courtesy of Duke University Advertising Ephemera Collection
Eastman Kodak Co. advertisement for the No. 3 FPK
From Munsey's magazine, c.1901
Courtesy Duke University Advertising Ephemera Collection, Item K0560

George Eastman wanted "a camera in every household," and in the 15 years after the first Kodak was produced in 1888 managed to amass over 60 different models. The first in the series of Folding Pocket Kodaks was brought out in 1897, using the then brand new technology of daylight loading film. The No 3 FPK was introduced in April 1900 and rapidly became the most popular of the range, particularly in the United Kingdom, possibly since the negative size was identical to the already popular quarter-plate format used in many glass-plate cameras. Between 1900 and 1915, when production of this camera ceased, about half a million cameras were sold. The camera was produced with a wide variety of lens and shutter options, and went through a number of developments until production ceased with the Model H in 1914, it being replaced by the No 3 Autographic Kodak.

The construction of this camera "set the pattern for the design of popular roll-film cameras for the next fifty years." (Coe, Cameras, 1978) A smaller version, the No 0 Folding Pocket Kodak, eventually morphed into the Vest Pocket Kodak, the soldier's camera which became so popular during the Great War.

References

Standard Film and Plate Sizes, on Early Photography

Coe, Brian (1988) Kodak Cameras: the First Hundred Years, East Sussex, United Kingdom: Hove Foto Books, 298p.

Gustavson, Todd (2009) Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital, New York: Sterling, 360pp.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Sepia Saturday 277: A Day at The (Boat) Races

Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett and Marilyn Brindley

I'm not really one for team sports, either as a spectator or participant, but I find I am able to rise to Sepia Saturday's image prompt on this particular occasion. In Bill Nelson's 1904 Grand Tour album which I featured here a couple of weeks ago, there is a sequence of photographs of boat races on the River Thames at Oxford.

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
One team pulls past the spectator barges, Ref. #09c
Nitrocellulose negative film, 3¼" x 4¼", 118-format
Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson

If it is the famous University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, which seems very likely, that traditionally takes place on the last weekend of March or the first week of April, the most recent of which was only two weeks ago - Oxford won by 20 seconds. In 1904, however, it took place on Saturday 26th March and Cambridge won by 4½ to 6 lengths (The Boat Race 1904).

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Spectators watch two crews pass the Club House, Ref. #01b
Nitrocellulose negative film, 3¼" x 4¼", 118-format
Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson

Traditionally the teams are known as the "light blues" (Cambridge) and the "dark blues" (Oxford), from the colour of their jerseys, but it doesn't look, on the face of it, as though either of these two teams are wearing dark blue. The main race is preceded by a race involving the two reserve crews, called Isis and Goldie for Oxford and Cambridge respectively, and it is possible that these photographs include both the reserve and main race.

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Rowers receive some coaching, Ref. #18a
Nitrocellulose negative film, 3¼" x 4¼", 118-format
Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson

Listed at number 7 (from the bow) in the main race in the Cambridge boat was New Zealand-born Harold Gillies, considered the father of plastic surgery for his pioneering work on facial reconstructive surgery during the Great War.

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Spectators take to the water, Ref. #13a
Nitrocellulose negative film, 3¼" x 4¼", 118-format
Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson

Once the race was over, it appears that our photographer, along with many spectators, took to the water, recording the ongoing frivolities.

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Barges overflow with spectators, Ref. #01a
Nitrocellulose negative film, 3¼" x 4¼", 118-format
Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson

I can well imagine that the day did not end without one or more of them getting a little damp. However, it is one of the younger spectators on the roof of the barge, at top left, in whom I am particularly interested.

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Girl holds a No 1 Brownie box camera
Detail of negative #01a

The teenage girl with long hair wearing a straw hat is carrying a box camera and, after a lengthy comparison of this image with those illustrated in Brian Coe's Kodak Cameras: The First Hundred Years, I've decided that it is almost certainly a No 1 Brownie box camera.

Image courtesy of the Digitized Kodak Catalog Project
No 1 Brownie camera, from 1903 Kodak Catalogue
Image courtesy of the Digitized Kodak Catalog Project

First introduced in October 1901 as a successor to the original model Brownie (1900), it sold for the grand sum of one dollar, produced 2¼" x 2¼" square prints from 117-format roll film, and was an immediate success. It isinteresting to note that of the hundreds of spectators visible in these photographs, the only one carrying a claerly identifiable camera was a young girl.


Image © and courtesy of the National Media Museum Collection

Packaging for the No 1 Brownie camera
Image © and courtesy of the National Media Museum Collection

Anyone could now afford a camera, but Eastman Kodak marketed the camera specifically towards children, inserting advertisements in popular magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and The Youth's Companion which showed even very young children using them. Even the Brownie name was based on the characters in a popular series of children's books by Canadian illustrator Palmer Cox.

Image © and courtesy of George Eastman House collection
Group in a rowing boat by unidentified photographer
2¼" x 2¼" mounted print, taken c. 1905, probably with a No 1 Brownie
Image © George Eastman House collection

This 2¼" x 2¼" print mounted on white card embossed with a decorative frame, fortuitously picturing a large group in a rowing boat, is from the George Eastman House collection and was probably taken with a No. 1 Brownie. I haven't been able to find many such examples online, and would appreciate hearing from readers who may have similar mounted prints in their own collections.

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Oxford, Boys running, Ref. #01c
Nitrocellulose negative film, 3¼" x 4¼", 118-format
Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson

Another negative in this sequence shows a number of male figures running, although their attire doesn't suggest that they are in a race, more as if they are in a hurry to get somewhere, perhaps to get a good position to watch the start of "The Boat Race." However, it was a dark shape in the background that caught my eye.

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Detail of negative #01c

It appears to be a figure standing on a platform, next to some sort of contraption, perhaps mounted on a tripod. Could this have been a camera of some sort? Upon searching the other boat race images, I discovered that the figure/contraption/platform appeared in front of the club house in the second view as well. This time, the figure is standing behind and partly hidden by the contraption, possibly with his head under a black cloth (below).

Image © and courtesy of Bill Nelson
Detail of negative #01b

My next discovery was even more exciting. While searching the web for material relating to "The Boat Race," I came across a synopsis of a short documentary film in the IMDb entitled simply, "The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race," made in 1904 by the Charles Urban Trading Company. Charles Urban was a pioneering Anglo-American film producer who specialised in documentaries, travel and scientific films. Many of them have been "rediscovered" and are now available to view online, but sadly I haven't yet found the 1904 Boat Race.

I emailed Luke McKernan, author of Charles Urban: Pioneering the Non-fiction Film in Britain and America, 1897-1925, asking his view on the expanded images and received this informative response:

There were at least three films made of the 1904 Boat Race, by the Charles Urban Trading Company, by the Warwick Trading Company, and by the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company. Urban's film was, according to a catalogue record, filmed from the bow of the Sportsman (presumably a vessel following the race), though they would have had cameramen positioned elsewhere as well.

The blow-ups in the photographs are puzzling, because neither looks like a conventional cine camera, being much too bulky. It almost looks like a photographer's black hood, and there is an outside possibility I suppose that it could be a still camera. However, my thought on seeing the photos is that they show a camera employed by the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company, who employed 70mm film (unlike the 35mm used by Urban and Warwick) with bulky, electrically-driven cameras. An advertisement for the film states "We have secured negatives of the crews leaving Boat House, and made arrangements to take the finish of the race today". I had thought that they had ceased using 70mm by 1903, but this could be a last-gasp effort with the format.

I thought about the possibility of a still camera being used too, thinking the dark shape could be a photographer's hood, but considered the chances of something that size being used outdoors in 1904 was pretty unlikely. For the moment the identity of the cameraman, if that's what it is, will remain a mystery, but I'm very grateful to Luke McKernan for his help.

The rest of the Sepia Saturday team will likewise be featuring team sports and similar topics this week, and I suggest you you head over there to visit them before you get too carried away watching film clips on YouTube.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Sepia Saturday 276: Barr Brothers and Portland Studios, Nottingham

Sepia Saturday by Marilyn Brindley & Alan Burnett

Inspired by Marilyn's recent post of a newspaper article on Sepia Saturday's Facebook page about the dilemma of whether or not to save photos of unknown relatives, my contribution this week presents a series of cabinet portraits that have been "saved" from the skip, and may yet be identified, thanks to the habits of an early 20th century photographer.

Although certainly not unique (see W.W. Winter and Pollard Graham, both of Derby), it is rare to find a photographer who meticulously recorded the negative number and surname of every customer on the back of each portrait print that he supplied, but the Barr Brothers seemed to have just done that - at least with all 7 examples in my collection.

William Banister Barr was born in 1877, one of eight children of a Liverpool ironmonger. In early 1897 he briefly tried his hand as an apprentice merchant seaman aboard the ship Irby out of Liverpool. He later joined up as a gunner with the Royal Horse Artillery, but by March 1901 was a patient at the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich, adjacent to the artillery barracks, presumably recuperating from some illness, as it appears unlikely he served with the unit in the Anglo-Boer War.

Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne
Cabinet card by Barr Bros, Portland Studio, Nottingham & Cardiff, c.1905
inscribed "15786 Dalby" - taken c. 1905-1907
Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne

In the 1911 census, only two male children with the surname Dalby and appropriate ages are recorded as living in the town of Nottingham:
- William Hector Dalby, aged 13, son of Frank John Birch Dalby, a builder's foreman
- Samuel Dalby, aged 10, son of Edward Dalby, a builder's labourer
Could one of these two be him, I wonder?

In early 1904 he was working as a photographer, with premises at 1 Portland Road, Nottingham. By the time the above cabinet portrait of a young boy in a smart velvet suit was taken around 1905-1907, slightly let down by the studio's scruffy pot plant and rustic chair, it appears his younger brother Harold Cowper Barr (1879-1958) had joined him in the business. The card mount lists a branch studio at 47 Queen Street, Cardiff, which was operating in a building known as City Chambers for several years between 1907 and 1911. Harold was living in Cardiff in April 1911, and had presumably operated the southern arm of the business for some years.

Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne
Cabinet card by Portland Studios, Leicester & Nottingham
inscribed "26794 Gregory" - taken c. 1906-1907
Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne

Unfortunately Gregory was just too common a surname in Leicester and Nottingham (at least 13 of approximately the right age) for me to come up with any decent candidates for this woman.

In July 1905, when William was married at Fairfield, Lancashire, he was living in Birmingham and had studio premises in 52 New Street. He moved to 213 Moseley Road, Aston in 1906 and his first two sons were born there in 1906 and 1907. Within a couple of years, the "Barr Brothers" name was dropped from card mounts, and it simply became known as the Portland Studio, although the stylised ornate "B" monogram remained and they continued the use of their surname in trade listings. In 1908 William moved again, occupying a studio at 46, Imperial Buildings, Dale End.

Some time between 1904 and c.1908 they also briefly operated a studio at 68 Craven Park Road, Harlesden, London N.W.

Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne
Cabinet card by Portland Studios, Leicester & Nottingham
inscribed "32708 Tomlinson" - taken c. 1907-1908
Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne

There were even more candidates for Ms. Tomlinson, so all I can hope for is that someone, someday, will recognise her.

In 1908 a trade directory listed "Barr Bros" with premises at 20 Granby Street, Leicester, but despite the number of examples using the address in my collection it could not have lasted for very long, since by 1909 a photographer named Harry Clare was operating from that address. Of course it is conceivable that Harry Clare had previously been working for the Barr Brothers.

Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne
Cabinet card by Portland Studios, Leicester & Nottingham
inscribed "34562 Widdowson" - taken c. 1907-1908
Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne

The Widdowsons were likewise prolific in Nottinghams and Leicester, making any identification of this slightly older woman difficult, if not impossible, without further information.

The Barr Brothers had established a branch studio at 83a Bold Street, Liverpool as early as 1908, mosing to 103 Smithdown Road the following year. The Nottingham studio appears to have closed in 1908 or early 1909, and by 1910 listings for the Cardiff studio showed the head office of the business, presumably under the hand of William, as being located in Liverpool. William's third son was born at Hoylake, Cheshire in July that year, and by April 1911 the family was living at 107 Smithdown Road, Liverpool. William Barr described himself as a "master photographer" and an employer.

Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne
Cabinet card by Portland Studios, Leicester & Nottingham
inscribed "34683 Tomlinson" - taken c. 1907-1908
Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne

A second portrait of Ms. Tomlinson, a few months after the first, and this time it is full length.

Barr Bros. disappear from sight for the next few years, but the existence of branches in Belfast (109 Donegall Street) and London (132 Dalston Lane, N.E.) is suggested by the addresses on cabinet card mounts deduced to be from the pre-War period. I have also seen a postcard portrait of a merchant seaman, probably pre-War, that is blind stamped, "Portland Studio, 250 High St, S. Tottenham."

Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne
Cabinet card by Portland Studios, Leicester & Nottingham
inscribed "34772 Ellis" - taken c. 1907-1908
Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne

Young Mr Ellis could be any one of a number of candidates.

William Barr enlisted in the army in June 1916, and was called up for service for months later, at which time he gave his occupation as "photographer." Almost forty years of age, he spent the war in England with various units and was finally demobilised in March 1919.

Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne
Cabinet card by Portland Studios, Leicester & Nottingham
inscribed "35159 Pack (or Park)" - taken c. 1908-1909
Image © copyright and collection Brett Payne

I found a James Park, aged 21, working as a shoe hand in the Lasting Department of a factory in Leicester, in the 1911 census.

I have no firm evidence that William Barr returned to the photographic profession after the war. He died at Liverpool in 1949.

A list of studios known to have been operated by the Barr Brothers, not necessarily complete, so if you have any further information, please email me.

1904William Banister Barr, 1 Portland Road, Nottingham
c.1905-1908Barr Brothers, 1 Portland Road, Nottingham (Portland Studio)
1905-1906William Banister Barr, 52 New Street, Birmingham
1905William Banister Barr, 17 Lawrence Hill, Bristol
c. 1906-1907Barr Brothers, 68 Craven Park Road, Harlesden, London N.W.
1906-1907William Banister Barr, 213 Moseley Road, Aston, Birmingham
c. 1907-1909Barr Brothers, 109 Donegall Street, Belfast
c. 1907-1909Barr Brothers, 138 Dalston Lane, London N.E.
1907-1911Barr Brothers, City Chambers, 47 Queen Street, Cardiff (Queen Studio)
1908William Banister Barr, 46 Imperial Buildings, Dale End, Birmingham
1908Barr Brothers, 20 Granby Street, Leicester
1908Barr Brothers, 83a Bold Street, Liverpool
1909-1918Barr Brothers, 103 Smithdown Road, Liverpool
1910Barr Brothers, 39 (or 33) High Street, Merthyr Tydfil
1910Barr Brothers, Market St, Llanelly
1910Barr Brothers, 29 High Street, Newport
1910-1914Barr Brothers, 79 Taff St, Pontypridd
c.1912-1914Barr Brothers, 250 High Street, S. Tottenham
1913Barr Brothers, Regent Street, Wrexham (Queen Studios)
1913Barr Brothers, 88a Church Street, St Helens

References

Alderman, Mari (2006) Victorian Professional Photographers in Wales, 1850-1925, publ. online by GENUKI

Aston, C.E. John, Hallett, Michael & McKenna, Joseph (1987) Professional Photographers in Birmingham, 1842-1914, Supplement No. 116 to The PhotoHistorian, publ. Royal Photographic Society Historical Group.

Heathcote, Bernard & Heathcote, Pauline (n.d.) Pioneers of Photography in Nottinghamshire, 1841-1910, publ. by Nottinghamshire County Council.

Heathcote, Bernard V. & Heathcote, Pauline F. (n.d.) Leicester Photographic Studios in Victorian & Edwardian Times, publ. Royal Photographic Society Historical Group.

Hicks, Gareth (2003) Glamorgan Photographers (database), publ. online by GENUKI

Holland, Paul (n.d.) Chester & North East Wales Photographers, personal web site.

Jones, Gillian (2004) Lancashire Professional Photographers, 1840-1940, publ. by PhotoResearch.

Vaughan, Roger (2003) Bristol Photographers, 1852-1972, personal web site.
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