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 – ‘Midland Road’

This weeks post from Joanna gives us an insight to the growth of Derby on what would have originally been the Castlefields estate.

Looking at maps and plans has always been a big part of my research, ‘the where’ aspect helps to fit another piece into the jigsaw of the history of the Winter’s business.

The part of Derby known as Litchurch was originally its own place and mentioned in the Domesday Book. Records show that by 1841 there were only 855 persons recorded. By 1877 this had risen to nearly 70,000 due to the selling of the Castlefields estate, the subsequent development of the area and the coming of the railway. The Litchurch Local Board was set up in 1860. Mr Winter became a member of this, playing an active role in the management of the area. The area was finally integrated into Derby under the Local Government Act of 1877. Mr Winter was then elected to the Council as member for the Litchurch Ward.

The coming of the railway triggered the development of the area. This major railway junction made travel to and from Derby to the north, south, east and west much easier. It also brought about the Railway Village built to house railway workers, and manufacturing industries on a big scale. Streets were laid out and the boom years began. Into this major expansion came Monsieur E. N. Charles. The buildings in Station Road, as Midland Road was then known, were under construction at the time of the 1851 Census but are clearly marked on the 1852 map commissioned by the Board of Health. It is here that M. Charles had his premises. These buildings on the north side of Midland Road today between London Road and Carrington Street are the original buildings. The same 1852 Board of Health map shows no building at all on the south side, the site of the present Winter’s premises, between London Road and the Midland Hotel (opened 1843). It is marked as pasture land in the owned by J. Cuff, manager of the hotel at the time.  Development on this side began with the corner of London Road towards the end of the 1850s.

The premises housing the original studio remained as part of the Winter’s business into the 20th Century. The photograph of the framing room on display in an upstairs room at the present studio is actually the front upstairs room of these premises. The roofline and chimney of the present studio can be seen through the window. The framer is Mr Samuel Wain who worked at W.W. Winter’s from 1889 to 1914. 

 I hope to continue with the story of the development of Midland Road next time.

If Joanna’s research has whet your appetite for more land history there is an interesting article in Country Image Magazine about the history of the Castlefields, now known as Castleward in Derby.

A Surprise Visit!

We had a fabulous Heritage Open Days weekend – it is such a pleasure introducing people to the history of Winters, and learning about your own experiences of having photographs taken in the studio. This year though, we had the most brilliant surprise – a visit from a great-grandchild of W W Winter himself! Sam popped over from the other side of the world and spent a few days here with us at the studio. He was kind enough to send us the following tribute after his departure…

The Magic of Winters

There are times in the journey of life when it seems that we are on a river that flows gently and sweetly through a land of forest and undulating grasslands. But rivers, as does life, have times of chaos, danger, heartache and pain before the current sweeps through into areas of peace, areas of rest – sections of a river where we can ease onto a grassy bank and recover and reflect on the journey that we have just undertaken. Some of those places have a certain magic about them. A peace that soothes the wounds of life and gives glimpses of a heritage that is both greater than you, and yet is you.

My past nine months have been filled with heartache, unfulfilled hopes and deep loss. On impulse, I directed myself from Australia to W.W. Winters Ltd in Derby. A place, I hoped, would help me find peace and purpose in my life; because for me, Winters Ltd was not only a journey into my past, but thanks to the beautiful people that make up Winters Ltd today, an anchor for my future.

There is a magic to Winters, and I cannot say for sure that it is sourced from the people who are Winters now, or whether it is the amazing building itself which is filled with history, lost rooms and unexplained and non-aligned joining’s and filled in archways. Or, perhaps, it lies in the 152 years of images that line the rooms and corridors and speak of a time long past yet also of today.

I have no sense of loss whatsoever from my great-grandfather W.W. Winter selling the business in 1910 to Messer’s Shepherd and King. Rather I am filled with appreciation for the current owners and staff both for their skill in photography and running the business, and for their passion in realising W.W. Winters as an integral part of not just Derby’s, but England’s history.

There is a magic to Winter’s – and I am blessed because of it.

Thank you.

Sam

Hubert Weston King 1931 – 2018

OBITUARY

Hubert Weston King was born on 23rd January, 1931 in Normanton, Derby, the eldest son of Howard and Jesse King. Educated at the Diocesan School in Friargate, Derby, Hubert left school at the age of 14 to join the family firm of W W Winter Ltd, photographers, of Midland Road, Derby as an apprentice under the direction of his uncle, Austin King, and his grandfather W H King, the then managing director.

In his youth, Hubert always thought that he would like to become an engineer. Unfortunately, he suffered from severe asthma and his grandfather said that taking on engineering job would ‘finish him’ and it was agreed that Hubert should join the family firm. Hubert said quite recently that his asthma had disappeared quickly after he started work at Winter’s, mainly, he thought, because the environment at the firm was so cold in the winters.

Hubert was fortunate to be taught by his grand­father W H King who passed on to Hubert much of the knowledge and experience he had accumulated since the 1890s. This tuition took place over many years as Hubert’s grandfather didn’t retire until 1947.

One of Hubert’s first jobs was to wash developed photographic prints to remove all traces of chemicals. This was done with bare hands in cold running water. In those days, making prints was carried out in daylight in all weathers in an open area at the very top of the building. Hubert said that frequently a lot of ice had to be broken before any work could be done.

Hubert’s early years at Winter’s coincided with a successful time for Derby County Football Club. The company had been the official photographers for many years and when the Rams won the FA Cup in 1946, they asked Winter’s to photograph the team with the trophy. It must have been a tremendous honour for the fifteen year old Hubert to be given the task of carrying the Cup on to the pitch to be photographed.

Hubert was taught all aspects of photography by his grandfather, his uncle and the other staff at the firm, who were consummate portraitists and commercial photographers and who had built up the business to encompass a wide range of industrial and commercial clients. Having mastered the art of daylight printing, Hubert was then taught the skills of print retouching (in the comparative warmth of the retouching room).

In 1949 Hubert started a four-year City and Guilds evening course at Nottingham College of Arts and Crafts. Unlike the other students, Hubert already had a wide knowledge of the practical side of photography and this gave him a special rapport with the tutor, a Mr. Harry Beaumont, who taught him the theory and understanding of more advanced photographic applications. Towards the end of the course, Hubert had to prepare a portfolio which included some studio photography.

Following his qualification, Hubert joined the team at Winter’s full-time and practised his craft there right up until a few years ago. He worked extensively with Mr Charles (Charlie) Barson, for whom he had an enormous regard and with whom he developed a close and lifelong friendship. Hubert had many stories about their working together on locations including what today would be considered very dangerous commissions. At one time, the pair climbed up the cooling towers at one of the newly built Trent valley power stations—Health and Safety was a lot more lax then. With another colleague, Hubert took a trip in a cable car very high above the ground and took shots by hanging on at the open door of the cable car in order to produce the required shots.

Hubert was a member of the British Institute of Professional Photography from 1968 until his death. He was treasurer and president of the East Midlands Region of the Institute and had received awards in full recognition of his service.

Following his uncle Austin King’s retirement in 1975, Hubert became Winter’s managing director.

Hubert’s tenure at Winter’s saw huge changes in photography. When he started, the equipment was bulky and heavy, there was no electric flash and negatives were large and made of glass. The technology at the time presented many limitations. As the years went by, film cameras were introduced and electric lighting allowed photography to take place out of daylight hours. Digital photography was the next revolution, giving skilled photographers like Hubert opportunities to acquire many new and different techniques. Hubert immediately embraced all aspects of digital working, realising that so many of the old time-consuming aspects of photography could now be superseded, with better results, by the use of computers. He always pointed out though that what counts most in all photography is the person behind the camera.

Hubert remained at Winter’s for the whole of his working life, retiring only in 2016 due to failing health. He died on 25th December 2018 after a short illness.

He was a hugely practical man and there is so much in the building at Winter’s studios in Midland Road today which exists as a testament to his ingenuity and skills. This involved much use of his circular saw in the cellar! He wouldn’t hesitate to build a new photographic background, put in a stud wall, build a new work bench and so on. Problem-solving was his forte.

Hubert was always passionate about Winter’s and the company’s historic significance to Derby and the wider photographic world. It was important to him that Winter’s should continue after his death and he was fully supportive of the Winter’s Heritage Trust which was set up in 2017 to preserve, protect and archive the collection of photographic plates, artefacts and memorabilia at the studio. Hubert’s family, colleagues and friends will ensure that his legacy continues, and that Winter’s continues to thrive and retain its place in the history of photography.

Volunteer Blog

We are lucky to have a number of volunteers working with the Heritage Trust – an invaluable resource to any charity. Here is a snapshot from one of our current volunteers, Nick, to give you an idea of what goes on in the background:

I’ve been interested in photography for as long as I can remember so when I was given the opportunity to volunteer at W.W.Winter at Midland Road in Derby I jumped at the chance. Having just retired I wanted something to keep my mind active but also to be involved in something useful. I persuaded my wife, Sue, to join me in this little challenge and together we attended an enrolment evening at Winters where we were led through a portal into the past, a history of photography in Derby. Well, my appetite was well and truly whetted and I couldn’t wait to get started. Sue and I attended a further brief session at Midland Road along with several other like-minded friends of the W.W.Winter Heritage Trust where we were shown how to clean, sort, scan and log glass plate negatives; it’s a mammoth task.

Archive image of vehicles from W W Winter
One of the old images from W W Winter of old tractors, scanned and archived by Nick and Sue

There are thousands of glass negatives dating back to the early years of W. W. Winter. So far Sue and I have helped to catalogue hundreds of glass plates, mainly from the 40’s/50’s. There are a lot of weddings and domestic events to catalogue but every now and again a commercial gem appears. Sue and I have just scanned several glass slides of machinery and vehicles involved in a land drainage scheme near Ashbourne in 1956; a little mundane you may think but the vehicles and machinery of are of interest to me, so the research of a particular area or event, or even the company involved, sit side by side with the photographs as some documentation still exists.

From the same image, a Land Rover, a van, and a truck

At the moment my wife and I spend one morning per week at Midland Road and I can honestly say it’s an enjoyable and interesting experience cleaning, scanning and logging glass negatives which were last looked at over 60 years ago. My wife enjoys seeing the clothes worn during the period, my interest is the vehicles so we both derive pleasure from the experience whilst offering our time.

As a retired fireman I’m hoping that one day I’ll come across old firefighting equipment or fire stations lost and forgotten both Borough, City and hopefully private brigades.

 

Dr Michael Pritchard – Derby, The Royal Photographic Society and the History of Photography

The Trust was delighted to host a highly information and equally enjoyable talk from Dr Michael Pritchard of The Royal Photographic Society. His talk covers the history of photography through the lens of Derby’s involvement.

The talked was filmed by Dr Mark Hall (senior lecturer in commercial photography at Derby University). We are grateful to both Michael and Mark for allowing us to share the video on our blog.

If you like what you see, please consider becoming a member of The W W Winter Heritage Trust, or a heritage volunteer, to ensure the conservation of our archive continues. Contact us on friends@wwwinter.co.uk or phone W W Winter Photographers on +44 1332 345224.

Please note this talk is copyrighted to Dr Michael Pritchard – please contact us if you would like to host the talk on your own platform.

https://derby.cloud.panopto.eu/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?tid=b8ed8f4b-7268-4358-8563-a9b401815351

Dr Michael Pritchard Talk 12 December 2018
Dr Michael Pritchard of The Royal Photographic Society gives a talk for The W W Winter Heritage Trust on Wednesday 12 December 2018 at Derby University. Image thanks to Dr Mark Hall.