Shoemaker or veteran

The photo on this page was given to me by my relative Keith Shortland. The man and woman make a striking couple but neither of us know who they are, the only clue is the name and address of the photographer which appears in the bottom right of the photo – B G Brock, 23 Wellingboro Road, Northampton.

The sheriff of Northampton

Northampton is known for shoe making and I know some of my ancestors were shoe makers in Northamptonshire (one is recorded as being a journeyman shoemaker meaning he traveled around the country to work).

A search of the National Archives has found two entries which reference the photographer.

In February 2018, Paul Boniface who was researching Victorian and Edwardian photographers in Northamptonshire got in touch and advised:

Benjamin George Brock ran a studio at 237 Wellingborough Road, Northampton between 1903 and 1907. In 1901 the census shows him as a lodger at 235 Wellingborough Road – occupation photographer and on 1 March 1903 he married Ida Blanche Allen. The 1911 census shows him living at 25 Beaconsfield Terrace, Northampton – occupation Foreign Correspondent.

The photo is a studio photo and the style of dress is in keeping with early Edwardian attire. Paul thought the emblem on the gentleman’s jacket was a flower (maybe a dahlia) and advised that a journeyman is the stage after an apprenticeship –  there was five to seven years worked as an apprentice and then three years as a journeyman.

If you check the size of the photo it will also give you an indication of the date. 2.5″ x 4″ (CdV) would point to the early years of Benjamin and 4″ x 6.5″ would be the latter say 1905-7.

Shoemaker or veteran, I don’t have the answers right now – whether I can learn more about the people on the photograph remains to be seen but I intend to try.

The railway man

The photo below was sent to me by my relative Keith Shortland – Keith is the great grandson of Ernest Shortland and I am the great grand daughter of Ernest’s sister Louisa Jane.  Our family comes from Northamptonshire but we are aware of Shortland’s in other places too.

Railway man

Neither of us know anything about the man in the photo but there are a number of clues that in time may help us discover who he is.

The man is wearing a uniform and his hat and jacket both read ‘L&NW’.  I have learned this is the uniform of the London and North Western Railway (L&NWR). It has been possible to date the photo as 1922 or earlier. This is because L&NWR was absorbed into the London Midland and Scottish railway (LMS) on 1 January 1922.

The chevrons on the man’s jacket are interesting too but looking at photos online, these don’t appear to have been part of the standard uniform and to date I have been unable to find out anything about these.

On his waistcoat the man appears to be wearing a pocket watch and I have found photos of pocket watches online, with L&NWR showing on the watch face. These were made by John Walker of London and I wondered if this is the same watch the man in the photo is wearing and whether the watch could have been a long service award.  I contacted Simon Turner at G.W. Railwayana Auctions about the pocket watches that are displayed on his website. Simon advised ‘none were given out as awards, some members of staff provided their own and some were issued official company marked watches ie. Guards.’

I have also learned that leaving the bottom waistcoat button undone was custom, because of Prince/King Edward being quite rotund and being unable to do it up, so everyone else followed suit and this is still the norm today.

The photo was taken by Pollard Graham and gives addresses in Derby, Wigan and Leigh.  A history of this photographer can be found below.

The company appears to have started business in Derby in 1878. The Photo-Sleuth website states that a portrait business was operated from premises at Rodney Chambers, Corn Market in August 1890 and that from 1903 until 1910, Pollard Graham also operated in other Midland towns, including Peterborough, Burnley, Leigh and Wigan. All photos from these branches were styled ‘Pollard Graham,’ with no suffix’ (as is the photo shown on this website), so it would seem likely that the photo was taken during this period, although Pollard Graham, continued to take portraits at Rodney Chambers, Corn Market from 1926 until his death in 1932.