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Volunteer blog – ‘A Man of Many Parts: The Family Man’

In this last blog of the current series Joanna links up the different parts of Winter’s family:

I think it is probably known that Mr Winter married three times. First to Sarah Ball the widow of Emanuel Nicolas Charles who opened the first studio; secondly to Emily Pakeman a sadly short marriage which had lasted barely a year when she died of TB. His third marriage was to Hannah Ruddle by whom he had three children. This marriage lasted 35 years ending with Walter’s death in 1924, Hannah passing away six years later. I intend to leave this part of the story for another time and refer in this piece to the Winter family into which Walter was born.

Walter is descended from an East Anglian family which lived in the area around the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Walter’s grandfather John was an artist in stained glass. He had twelve children and among these and their children there were artists and photographers. Walter’s father Cornelius Jansen Walter Winter was his fourth child. Cornelius was an artist and photographer and Walter worked alongside   him before moving to Derby in 1862. Walter’s mother was Anna Shipston the daughter of a local butcher. Walter was the eldest of the four boys and two girls. Sadly Neville died aged one and Anna passed away shortly after the birth of Ellen.

From family letters we learn of the close relationship with his father throughout his life. The pair sent work to each other to be sold or finished when Walter was established in Derby. Cornelius exhibited at the fine art exhibitions held at Walter’s studio between 1884 and 1890. Walter travelled to Norwich to be at his father’s side when he died. Walter also sent money to him, his brother Holmes and sister Ellen known as Nellie. Walter’s brother Arthur and sister Elizabeth died as young adults. We also know that Holmes and possibly Cornelius and Nellie visited Derby. It was to Nellie that Walter wrote about his intention to ask Hannah Ruddle to marry him and asking her (Nellie’s) opinion! Walter sent Nellie’s daughter Coralie gifts of an almanac and a quarterly diary. One of his prize winning portraits was ‘Coralie’. Unfortunately this has not yet been traced. Holmes also wrote regularly with family news and presumably Walter reciprocated sending him frames to help him with his artistic career. Later, letters written just before Walter’s departure to Canada relate the problems that he (Walter) was experiencing.

One of Walter’s aunts married a photographer in London and their son Arthur was a well-known photographer in Preston. Other aunts, uncles and cousins also found their way to London and it is wondered whether Walter spent time in London with them before settling in Derby. Certainly Hannah Ruddle was born in London and we surmise that the two met there.

This will be the last blog for a while. Hoping all readers have had a better summer than we thought we may have. Keep safe and I will resume our news at a later date.

Volunteer blog – ‘A Man of Many Parts 3’

This week Joanna continues to delve in to Winter’s public life:

This week I will write about two aspects of Walter Winter’s life which illustrate ‘Winter the man’. When doing family history I always try to find out about an ancestor other than a birth, marriage and death as it makes for a fuller and more interesting picture. One does have to be prepared to find skeletons in the cupboard however, and I appreciate that not everybody’s ancestor led as full a public life as Mr Winter!

Mr Winter – the freemason. The United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Register available on the Ancestry website shows that Walter Winter was initiated into the Arboretum Lodge in 1869. The meeting place was at the Arboretum Hotel on Osmaston Road, Derby. Members included William Abney (photographer), Michael Thomas Bass MP., and Thomas Roe, friend and fellow council member. When the Masonic Hall was opened in Gower Street in 1876, Walter is listed as having ‘withdrawn’. There are glass plate negatives and prints of freemasons in their regalia in the Winter’s collection.

Mr Winter – the Volunteer. This information is the result of finding a newspaper article about Mr Winter’s attendance at a dinner given by members of the Litchurch Branch of the Working Men’s Association in 1878, and reported in the Derby Mercury.

Loyal toasts were duly honoured an ‘the Army, Navy and Reserve Forces’ was proposed by Mr W. W. Winter who as an old volunteer expressed his own willingness and that of many others who had passed through the ranks to shoulder the rifle again should the necessity arise.

His obituary in the Derby Daily Telegraph in 1925 mentions that Walter joined the Norfolk Volunteer Force as a young man in Great Yarmouth in 1859. The Volunteer Force was created in 1859 in response to the threat of war from Europe. It called for rifle and artillery corps to be set up. East Anglia and its ports were seen as being particularly vulnerable, and Great Yarmouth was fortified with twelve guns at the time. Volunteers were expected to attend twenty four times a year for drill and exercise. Over the years the Volunteer Force became increasingly integrated into the British Army and became the Territorial Force in 1908. Although not as a Volunteer, Walter Winter enrolled as a special constable at the time of the Fenian Rising in 1866-7, which sought to bring about the separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom.

Next time I will take a look at family matters.

Volunteer blog – ‘A Man of Many Parts 2’

In this weeks blog Joanna talks us through Winter’s ‘other’ career in local politics which spanned 35 years:

Local politics played a big part in Walter Winter’s life. His expanding business gave him an opportunity to meet and serve a wide range of prominent Derby citizens. He was a churchman and like many men of the time and he saw it as part of his duty to do the best for his fellow man and the community in which he lived.

The local newspapers of the time reported in detail all local government issues and it has been possible to build up a chronological picture of Walter Winter’s political career.

In 1875 WWW was elected to the Litchurch Local Board. Litchurch at that time had its own Local Board set up in 1860 as a self-governing body for that area. It later became integrated back into Derby under a Local Government Reform Act. He went on to represent this area on the local board and the Derby Council as a local and independent candidate eight times, six of them unopposed. The newspapers reported his regular attendance at many meetings only missing them because of illness for which he apologised to the ratepayers of Litchurch through the newspapers and thanking them for their kindness and good wishes. As well as full council meetings he attended the estates committee, the special drainage committee and school board meetings. In 1903 he was elected JP (justice of the peace), and in March 1904 his dedication to council work was rewarded when he was elected an alderman in recognition of his many years of service.  He was one of the few to be elected alderman without first serving as mayor. He served on the council right up to his departure to Canada in April 1910.

 

Volunteer blog – ‘A Man of Many Parts 1’

This week Joanna starts to look at different aspects of Winter’s life:

The following quotation appears in the Winter Scrapbook which was found at the premises by volunteers sometime in the past 5 years. The scrapbook is a collection of newspaper cuttings about Walter Winter and the business. Unfortunately many of them are not credited to the newspaper in which they appeared. Walter Winter was a man of many parts; this cutting from the scrapbook sums up Mr Winter well, ‘trade, commerce, religion and philanthropy have all claimed his attention, as has the welfare of his fellow citizens’. His contribution to trade and commerce has been covered so I will now look at other aspects of his life.

W. W. Winter the churchman.

Walter had strong connections to the church from his early days. The Winter family had connections to both the Church of England and the nonconformist church. Family baptisms took place in church and chapel. He attended Holy Trinity Church on London Road being married there to Sarah Charles on 17 May 1864. He was received into that church on 27 February 1875 his name appearing in the baptism register. He had a long association with this church up until the time he emigrated to Canada in 1910 being churchwarden for many years. Accounts in local newspapers report his attendance at meetings, outings, bazaars, men’s bible classes, and Sunday school. Letters to his family show a deep belief in God and knowledge of the Bible as is shown by his use of quotations. This was particularly so at the time of his illnesses and financial difficulties.  During the early 1900s he became involved in the Kensit Crusade which was against ritualism in the Church of England. John Kensit founded the Protestant Truth Society to oppose the influence of the Oxford Movement which sought the reintroduction of ‘catholic’ or Roman Catholic thought and practice to the Church of England. On moving to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, he was appointed a lay preacher in 1912.  He extended the existing Mission Room in Happy Valley and built a meeting room, school room and reading room known as the Trinity Mission Hall. In 1915 he was ordained deacon in the Reformed Episcopal Church and presbyter in 1917. 

Next time I will look at Mr Winter’s role as local politician.

Volunteer blog – ‘Slowing Down’

Last week’s blog covered an peak era for Walter William Winter. This week Joanna brings news of Winter’s work at the very end of the nineteenth century.

Further to last week’s blog, my research has continued to see if there were more than the sixty plus medals won by W. W. Winter in the twenty years between 1884 and 1894.

The end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries were increasingly difficult ones for Walter Winter with periods of ill health and a decline in business brought about with the availability of inexpensive cameras and increasing ease of home photography. The time also had its highs; photographing King Edward VII during his visit to Rangemore and also Princess Mary wife of the future George V and her family. Walter was also elected Alderman, a fitting reward for his long service to the local council. Trawling the newspaper archives it is noticed that he and his wife enjoyed an active social life attending council, society and church events. Many of his portraits were presented to Council and society representatives. He also continued to exhibit his portraits in Derby as a non-competitive entrant alongside other well-known Derby photographers C. B. Keene, C. Dereske and F. Birch. One surmises if this was a decision on Winter’s part not to exhibit outside Derby due to expense and time. Winter also continued to experiment showing a rough proof of a flashlight photograph of members of the group taken by himself at a meeting of the Derby Photographic Society in May 1900.

Now as a man approaching 60 maybe the time had come to slow down. Walter became increasingly involved with the church and the religious movements the Kensit Crusade and the Irish Church Mission. He also as churchwarden oversaw the rebuilding of Trinity Church, London Road. In 1904 William Henry King who had joined the business in 1896 was appointed head operator and manager.

Volunteer blog – ‘What’s in a Name’

This week Joanna talks about some of the information that can be found on artefacts, i.e. the prints in our collection.

When I am cataloguing prints I always turn them over to see what is written or printed on the back – usually it is the Winter’s business stamp, sometimes there is a name, date, title, negative number or random number (which in the future might mean something as we discover more). All these things are recorded. Cabinet cards which are photographs mounted on cardboard 8×6 inches (203x153mm) are printed with the photographer’s name on the front and designs on the back. When Mr Winter started winning medals in the 1880s the number of medals won, numbering over sixty, and the venues where the exhibitions took place were recorded. These ranged from across the UK to Europe, USA, and India .There is evidence that Mr Winter won his first award, a certificate for superior productions in photography in 1866 in Nottingham, his first medal came in 1884 at the Bedford Fine Art Exhibition with a print entitled ‘Meditation’. The top prize was a gold medal or a 1st silver medal followed by bronze medals and certificates. There were classes for professionals and amateurs. Classes included portraiture and landscapes, and single exhibits or groups.

During the last few weeks Angela and I have been trawling the newspaper archives and internet to find the names of the prints, exhibitions and details of the exhibits.  The aim is to hopefully find the prints/plates relating to the exhibits. Names of prints include Miss Gibbs, Miss Beresford and her sister and Viola, but others have names which had me thinking ‘what’s in a name.’  There is ‘Amid the Bracken’, and Blushing Sixteen’ – some clues there! Then there is ‘Contemplation’, ‘A Quiet Moment’, ‘Undecided’, ‘A Reverie’, ‘Just Off’, and ‘The First Pipe’ reported as being ‘a juvenile act in 3 parts’. One wonders if this is about underage smoking! Two of the award winners  ‘My Mammy’  and ‘Does Granny like Butter’ were registered for copyright and are in the National Archives so we can recognise them. Some are described in newspapers; ’The Undecided Voter’ is a portrait of a man sitting reading a paper and scratching his head.  ‘The Poet and His Victim’, sometimes exhibited as ‘The Village Rhymester’, portrays two well-known Derby personalities George Miles (an insurance agent) and Samuel Borrey. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph gives an excellent description of the photograph. They are pictured in a snug room with a decanter of Madeira on the table and a pervading incense of tobacco. A man is reading to an elderly listener, Mr Borrey, asleep in a chair.

Mr Winter became renowned for his portraiture as is evident from the number of awards and accolades he received. Hopefully it will be possible to match the awards to the subjects as more plates are cleaned and catalogued.

Volunteer blog – ‘Winter the Artist’

This weeks blog describes the studio as a hub for art of all types!

More from the newspapers: Winter the Artist

Walter Winter styled himself as an artist in photography. One only has to look at the hand coloured photographic portraits he produced to realise that he was extremely skilled in this field. Walter Winter came from a line of East Anglian artists. His grandfather John Winter was an artist and painter of glass and his father Cornelius and brother Holmes both worked as artists. One wonders what might have been if Walter hadn’t turned to photography.

The 1861 Census has Walter living in Great Yarmouth with his father and described as an ornamental painter. Cornelius is described as an artist and painter of animals and portraits. He is known to have been a photographer being described as such in White’s Directory of Norfolk for 1854. This was not unusual, many artists turned to photography, and early directories listed artist and photographers under the same heading before separating the two in the late 1860s. Walter and his father retained close links when he moved to Derby. From correspondence we know Cornelius visited the town and they passed work to and from each other – photographs for finishing and works of art for sale. The transactions are listed in a small notebook found at the Winter’s premises.

Newspaper articles reveal that Walter dealt in fine art and antiquities, particularly china, holding sales at auction rooms in Derby and Leicester. The business had its own fine art department, and after the premises were remodelled following the fire an annual art exhibitions. Newspapers reported the event and described the exhibits. As well as the traditional oil and watercolour, there were paintings on silvered glass, china and terracotta. Needlework was also a feature. Exhibitors numbering up to 350 professional and amateur artists came from the UK and abroad. Prizes and medals were awarded. A recently discovered print shows the medal awarded in 1892 to an Ada Parnham. One wonders if readers know of any other medals still in existence – if so Winter’s would be delighted to hear about them! The Fine Art Department came to an end in 1896 when Walter Winter announced its closure and the sale of many items. The space was needed to provide a showroom for specimens of Art Photographic Portraiture.

Walter Winter’s early training as an artist is reflected in the superb quality of his photography which came to be acknowledged in the UK and abroad by the number of medals he won. He was as he advertised…..an artist in photography.

Volunteer blog – ‘Work Outing’

This is one of my favourite Winter’s stories. Imagine everyone in their Victorian clothes trecking around Dovedale!

A trip to Dovedale.

I thought readers would be interested in this time of lockdown and limited travel to read about Winter’s annual employees’ outing to Dovedale. I have found two references to these in local newspapers, 1884 and 1885, the years after the fire that I wrote about last week. The outings both took place on Whit Monday which falls in the second half of May, and traditionally was a day for outings. As well as a description of the day the reports name three of the employees and we learn that there was a manager, senior artist and a manager of the fine art department.

The day began early, the staff and a few friends leaving Midland Road soon after 7 o’clock in three brakes provided by Mr Freeman cab proprietor of Curzon Street. Brakes were wagonettes drawn by 4 horses in this case, the passengers sitting facing each other. The party numbered over 30. The party stopped at Ashbourne to visit the church, and arrived at their destination just before midday. It is known that Mr Winter regularly visited Ashbourne before the studio was built. An advertisement dated 1864 shows that he visited the town weekly on Tuesdays and on Saturdays by appointment. He rented a room in St John Street for the purpose of the photography. Prints and plates in the collection show that he photographed scenes in Ashbourne and Dovedale.

On arrival at the Peveril Hotel in Thorpe, the party sat down to lunch. The newspaper article reports ‘a capital repast’ provided by Mr Poyser the owner. Mr Poyser was the local vet in Ashbourne in the years when Mr Winter was working regularly in the town. After the meal there were speeches and thanks from Mr Jarvis, Mr Wills and Mr Bowland. It was mentioned that Mr Winter had paid all costs of the 1885 trip in thanks to the staff for their commitment and hard work.  Mr Winter replied that he was indebted to them and spoke of the medals they had won for the firm in the past year and hoping for further success in the future.

After the meal some of the party visited Dovedale and Ilam Hall. After a ‘meat tea’ games including football were played before the return journey was made. The party arrived back in Derby between 9 and 10 pm ‘having spent a very enjoyable day’.

It is not known for how many years the annual outings continued at Winter’s. To date only these two accounts have been found.

Volunteer blog – ‘1883’

This week Joanna’s blog really emphasizes the roller coaster nature of life. Winter’s starts the 1880 as a thriving business but soon experiences a huge setback:

The year of 1883 became a nightmare for Walter Winter. By this time his business was well established. The 1881 Census showed Walter and his wife Sarah were living at 2 Midland Road (the original studio) and that he was an employer of 10 men and 7 women. He had opened a department in the shop next door but one, for the sale of American Gem Portraits and the area was developing as a major thoroughfare with the coming of the horse trams in 1880.

On 4 June 1883 a fire broke out in the workroom – the top room of the building standing across the end of the yard. The Derby Mercury reported the details. Between one and two o’clock a quantity of carbon had been placed in the sun to dry and had spontaneously caught fire. A passing policeman saw the smoke and raised the alarm at the studio and the local police station across the road in Bloomfield Street and the central police office. The fire spread rapidly to the 3 storey premises to the right hand side of the yard. The staff together with the local police fought the fire with a hand hose until the arrival of the local Litchurch and Midland Fire Brigade together with the Central Fire Brigade. The Chief Constable was in attendance and the fire engine from the Midland Station was brought in. The fire was fought from the yard and from the London Road stone yard which backed onto the premises. The end of the 3 storey building was gutted. Hoses were laid across the street and traffic was severely disrupted.

Fortunately there were no casualties. The blacksmith’s shop at the far end of the yard belonging to Mr Charles Thompson was severely damaged. Mr Joseph Smith’s water bottling plant was damaged but most of the contents were saved. Damage amounting to some £500 (£42,500 today) occurred but it was reported that this was covered by insurance. By August Mr Winter had submitted a planning application to rebuild part of the premises followed by another application in 1887. Mr Thompson moved his business to London Road, and the bottling plant resumed business in the same place.

Sadly in September of that same year Sarah Winter died from the cancer she had been suffering from for some time. She was buried alongside her first husband Emmanuel Nicolas Charles in Nottingham Road Cemetery.

In spite of this the ‘phoenix rose from the ashes’. The premises were improved, business expanded, medals were won. Winter’s was on the ‘up’.

 

Volunteer blog – ‘The Yard’

This week Joanna talks us through the changes in the footprint of the premises.

Volunteers and visitors who see the extent of the premises often say that understanding the layout of the Victorian building in relation to that they see today is bewildering. The fact is that a major part of Walter Winter’s photographic empire was demolished by the building of the 20th Century Post Office. The area known as the ‘Lost Rooms’ was on 3 sides of the yard which was accessed by a staircase at the end of the upstairs corridor, and through the vehicular entrance between the shops in the adjoining building, namely the Yard.

Businesses in the yard mentioned in early directories include a blacksmith, stone yard, an unnamed beer house and a folding chair manufacturer predate that building, which was described as newly built in a newspaper advertisement of 1862. Over the years Mr Winter expanded his business into the second and third storeys round three sides of the yard. The blacksmith and a water bottling plant were operating on the ground floor at least until 1883. The beer house remained such into the early years of the 20th Century when it became a restaurant, a café and eventually a hairdresser.  The building is now the shop known as ‘Mr Booze’. The present nail bar was part of the Winter’s business, being a separate department for American Gem Portraits in the 1880s. Gem Portraits were an inexpensive and popular process – an early almost instant photograph used for portraits. The new department didn’t remain long as an 1886 directories show that it was the premises of Abraham Calvert a fishmonger. There is a print in the Winter collection of the backyard which shows barrels labelled ‘A.C.’ presumably containing herrings. It must have been very smelly!  Further small shops followed up to the present day. The buildings round the yard were lost in the 1960s redevelopment, many of the contents being relocated to what you know as Winter’s today, or sadly destroyed.

The next blog will relate the story of the fire and the heyday of the studio.