As part of heritage Open Days 2019 we did own research on the theme of people power. Heritage Open Days offered the following inspiration:
PEOPLE POWER | Walter William Winter
On 27th May 1910 after nearly fifty years of working as a photographer in Derby, Walter William Winter travelled on the S. S. Corsican with his wife, Hannah, and two children (Walter Francis and Annie Marjorie) to begin a new life in Canada. Over those fifty years Winter made a name for himself, not only as a photographer, but as an active member of his community. Searching through the various Derby publications from the British Newspaper Archives from 1863 to 1910 gives us some idea of the civic duty and social conscience that wove its way through his life.
In 1860, as a teenager in Great Yarmouth, a young Walter joined the Volunteer 2nd Norfolks.
On 12 May 1859 the Secretary of State for War, Jonathan Peel issued a circular letter to lieutenants of counties in England, Wales and Scotland, authorising the formation of volunteer rifle corps (VRC, a.k.a. corps of rifle volunteers and rifle volunteer corps), and of artillery corps in defended coastal towns.
The 1st Norfolk Artillery Volunteer Corps (AVC) was formed at Great Yarmouth on 29 September 1859, with further batteries being added on 23 February and 4 June 1860, and 26 December 1862.
An obituary also mentions that he became a special constable during the Fenian Rising and other newspaper articles suggest he was interested in the volunteer rifle corps in Derby. These interests give way, however, to a civilian approach.
A Citizen of Derby
By 1863 Winter had been in Derby for around a year. While he appears on the 1861 census in Great Yarmouth, he is soon mentioned in an announcement in a Derby newspaper dated April 6 1863:
Madame Charles in respectfully returning her sincere thanks to the Nobility, Gentry, and Clergy of Derby and its vicinity, for the kind patronage and long support bestowed upon her late Husband, begs to announce that she has happily secured the further services of Mr W. W. Winter, who has so very successfully practised as Artist to Mons. Charles, and with whose Professional assistance it is her intention to carry on the Photographic Business as heretofore, when she hopes to merit a continuance of their kind support.
We can only speculate as to what brought him to Derby – although the burgeoning Midland Railway must have created a hub of opportunities – but he settled quickly into life here. His job working for Monsieur Charles on Midland Road, Derby, landed him right at the centre of an intense period of growth for the local area.
[The Midland Railway] was formed on 10 May 1844 by the merger of the Midland Counties Railway, the North Midland Railway, and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway, the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway joined two years later. These met at the Tri-Junct station at Derby, where the MR established its locomotive and later its carriage and wagon works.
Such was the rapid expansion of the population around The Midland Railway that the township of Litchurch was formed in 1860 (not to be confused with the current Litchurch Ward area of Derby), and Litchurch became a civil parish in 1866.
Being so close to the station and rail works, E. N. Charles’ choice of site had set the young Winter up to be right at the centre of this burgeoning population of rail workers.
Throughout his career, Winter attended public events with his camera. In 1865 he photographed the Florence Nightingale Lifeboat. The lifeboat was paid for by the people of Derby and gifted to Sunderland. Copies of the photograph were presented to Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
In 1872, The Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra visited Derby, arriving by Royal Train at the Midland Road train station. Their procession would have taken them directly past Winter’s studio on Midland Road and he is recorded as paying a subscription towards the decoration of the town for the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to the sum of 10s6d.
The visit drew large crowds and the subscription was an opportunity for Winter to both support the town and raise his profile. By 1875 adverts appeared in a Derby newspaper describing the studio as ‘The Alexandra Rooms’, suggesting that Winter had begun taking photographs of or for the royal family by this time. It could, however, have been a clever marketing tool – Princess Alexandra was a keen amateur photographer herself; but we know from our photographic records that Winter was definitely selected to take royal photography, including royal groups at Chatsworth. By 1883 he was advertising his business as ‘Patronised by Her Majesty the Queen’.
Local Board Representative
By April 1875 Walter William Winter had been voted on to the Litchurch Local Board as the representative for Park Ward.
Today the legacy of Litchurch exists only in street names and a street sign on the corner of Normanton Road and Grove Street. The current ward is unrelated to the township. The area was reabsorbed into the borough of Derby in the late 1870’s, and later further erased when much of its housing was destroyed to make way for the expansion of the Derby Royal Infirmary in the 1970s.
Litchurch covered a triangular area south from the railway junction. We can clearly see its boundaries from the street addresses given in “Poll Book for the Southern Division of the County of Derby, Shewing how Each Person Voted at the Contested Election, July 22, 1865.”
Highlighted – street names recorded as part of Litchurch in 1865
There were three wards of Litchurch (Arboretum Ward, Litchurch Ward, and Park Ward) and we speculate that Park Ward covered the area of Winter’s business on Midland Road (off which branches Park Road).
LITCHURCH, a village and a township in Derby-St. Peter parish, Derbyshire. The village stands on the S border of the township, 1½ mile ESE of Derby; is a new and rapidly increasing place; and has several large ironworks and foundries. The township is all suburban to Derby; contains the town’s railway station, and its arboretum; and has acquired great recent increase of population, in connexion with the railway traffic, and from other causes. Real property, £1,013,340; of which £996,643, are on the Midland railway. Pop. in 1851,1,720; in 1861, 6,560. Houses, 1,350. The Derby workhouse is here; and, at the census of 1861, had 222 inmates.
John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales 1870-72
In 1876 Winter was recorded as attending the Litchurch Board of Health monthly meeting and he continued to have links with local health services; an 1892 newspaper article lists him as a ‘house visitor’ for the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. A house visitor was involved with the management and government of the hospital. He also made financial donations to the hospital.
In 1883, following two years serving as Mayor of Derby, Sir Abraham Woodiwiss was elevated to the Aldermanic Bench leaving a vacant seat on Litchurch Ward (by this time part of Derby). The local newspaper reveals that there was some posturing over who should stand for the seat between F. Strutt and W. W. Winter but eventually Winter, having had the previous experience on the Litchurch Local Board, stood unopposed.
Winter retained his position on the council until 1903 when he himself was elevated to the Aldermanic Bench. Three years later, in 1906, he also became a magistrate for Derby.
In 1884 the Derby Daily Telegraph listed nominations for the forthcoming election for the Board of Guardians for the Derby Union. The Boards administered workhouses and were elected by owners and occupiers of land liable to pay the poor rate (a tax used to provide poor relief). Under the heading ‘Township of Litchurch’, there is a listing for ‘W. W. Winter, Arboretum Street, photographer’. Arboretum Street was in fact the site of the workhouse at the time, which can still be seen today as the workhouse building was taken over by Royal Crown Derby Porcelain works.
By 1878 Winter’s continuing work with the church is documented in his membership of two associations: Secretary of The Working Mens Branch of the Derby Auxiliary of The Church Association; and member of Trinity Church Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).
Trinity Church featured heavily in Winter’s life and he conducted Bible classes, carried out the role of churchwarden, and was a member of the Trinitarian Bible Society. Other newspaper references list him as chairing lectures for the Protestant Alliance outside of Derby.
In his role as Alderman, he advocates for the suspension of trams on Sundays (although retaining the same wages for tram drivers). A newspaper obituary also records him declining an invitation to photograph King Edward VII at Chatsworth on a Sunday.
Our legacy from Walter William Winter is in his photographs and studio but his business ventures stretched further.
Alongside photography and picture framing he also sold fancy goods and held substantial art exhibitions and auctions, and seems to also have owned or let rooms to a café. It was possible to learn the trade alongside him – his staff wages books show that a few of his staff gained promotions with increased wages, and others went on to practice through their own businesses. There are many adverts in the local press in 1887 for Frederick J. Boyes photographer (late with W. W. Winter) on Osmaston Street where Boyes is clearly trading on Winter’s reputation.
There was a charming article in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal on 6 June 1884 which described a ‘Trip to Dovedale of Mr W. W. Winter’s Firm.’ The staff plus a few friends made up a group of forty three! They travelled into the Peak District by horse drawn carriages. The party stopped for lunch at the Peveril of the Peak Hotel. Winter was reported as congratulating his staff on their assiduity which had culminated in being awarded a medal and first-class diploma for the excellence of their work. He went on to win over sixty medals for his photography (some internationally) and it is nice to think that the achievement was shared amongst his staff.
In 1893 there was a review of the Derby Photographic Society Exhibition (at the School of Art) in the Derby Mercury. There were 366 photographs on view and the paper reported:
Mr W. W. Winter was very prominent with some capital portraits—platinotypes—including “Maggie,” “Jackey the Sweep,” “Kathleen,” “Mabel,” “Old and Rare,” &c. All of them showed a wonderful attention to detail, and were splendidly finished.
He maintains a royal connection and on 19 January 1900 his Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal advert includes the following:
Mr Winter has the pleasure of announcing his having been honoured with special sittings by Her Royal highness the Duchess of York.
In 1904 Winter was the president for the Derby Chamber of Trade. A note in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal stated it was, “In no sense […] a rival to the Chamber of Commerce. The duties of the two bodies are quite distinct, but at the same time, […] there are matters in which the two bodies can work together. […] The president (Mr. Ald. Winter) referred to the question of municipal telephones, and pointed out the importance upon advocating at every possible occasion the adoption of such as scheme.” In light of this it is interesting to note that the original phone number for W. W. Winter was 24.
By 1910 Winter was 67 years of age but still had two teenage children. It is not clear what brought about his final decision to retire but there were mentions of his son’s health so perhaps this was the catalyst for the move. He sold his business to Messrs. Sheppard and King. In April 1910 there was a flurry of Derby newspaper articles reporting on new appointments to replace Winter on various committees including the borough development committee, the estates committee, the special drainage committee, and as manager of Canal Street School on the education committee.
He was thanked heartily for his civic service, and also by his church who threw him a farewell party
The shipping manifest lists W. W. Winter as ‘Farmer’, and he and his family probably worked a plot of land alongside more established earlier pioneer families in Happy Valley, Metchosin (British Columbia).
His lasting dedication was to his faith and he built Trinity Mission Hall in Metchosin and became ordained in to the ministry of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
The Gospel Magazine – March 1925