Volunteer blog – ‘Development of the Area’

Joanna takes us through the continued urban growth and development of Midland Road, Derby.

This week I am looking at the area on the south side of Midland Road where the W. W. Winter premises are situated. This has been an area of much change since the development of the 1850s. Again maps, both commercial and those produced alongside planning applications have been helpful. Together with Directories of the area it has been possible to build a picture of life in the area over the years.

The development probably in 1854 seems to have started at the London Road end with premises on the corner, now Philatelic Auctions. The Winter’s studio sits between this and a building c.1857 containing two shops and a vehicular entrance leading to a yard. The plots between this and Lower Carrington Street were occupied by yards relating to building supplies and services, to be replaced over the years by shops.

A tramway depot and stables occupied the corner of Lower Carrington Street and Midland Rd for a short time. The 1880 OS map shows the tramlines running into it. This was followed by the Post Office building and a row of shops including John Hopley Dodd’s furniture emporium.  The shops and old PO building were demolished in the 1960s along with the yard used by W. W. Winter’s and replaced with the concrete building seen today.

The W. W. Winter premises date from 1867 the only reference for this being the date in the decoration above the side entrance. More about this next time. 

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.

Volunteer blog – ‘Both Sides of the Law’

Read on for some tantalizing findings from Joanna’s research regarding Winter’s business and the law. We can see how research brings history to life!

Having spent a lot of time during the present lockdown sorting out my W. W. Winter notes, I have come across several items of interest. Searching through the newspaper archives always results in finding more than the matter that you are focusing on. Usually I jot down the reference and an outline of the subject to go back to it later. These unrelated notes have now been revisited and filed appropriately.

The Derby Mercury, Derby Daily Telegraph and other provincial newspapers have been an invaluable resource for information about Winter’s, some articles appearing in newspapers as far away as Aberdeen and Cardiff. This week I am writing about the business’s experiences with both sides of the law.

In an 1857 edition of the Nottinghamshire Guardian it was reported that Mr E. N. Charles, W. W. Winter’s predecessor had appeared before the magistrates charged with taking photographs on a Sunday it not being a necessity. The case was dismissed with a caution as it was ‘his man’ who took the photographs not Mr Charles himself.

As reported by the Derby Mercury 2 November 1880 Mr Winter appeared in court charged with breaching the law by erecting a building without notice to the Sanitary Authorities. This building had been a temporary structure for use on Arboretum Day. He was fined 10 shillings (50p) plus costs.

W. W. Winter’s also had its share of shoplifting and fraud.

In the Derby Mercury 26 November 1879 it was reported that a charge was made against a Mr Luger of stealing 6 books and 13 paper bags valued at 13 shillings (65p). The case was sent to trial outcome unknown.

The Derby Daily Telegraph 13 November 1884 reported that three boys had been charged with stealing a mouth organ from Winter’s and 80 cigars from Mr Sander’s shop. They each received 6 strokes of the birch. 

A further incident caused Mr Winter to place a notice in the 9 July 1904 edition of the Derby Daily Telegraph to the effect that Mr W. Anderson was not authorised to collect money in his (W.W.W.) name.

Volunteer blog – ‘Researching Images’

This week Joanna talks about some of the processes of researching the images for the Trust:

Hope everyone is coping with the lockdown. Thank goodness for the internet which enables me to carry on with research. Also I have been through my Winter’s notes and put things in some sort of order, tied up some loose ends and reminded myself of things I had forgotten.

Apart from cleaning, sorting and recording, one of the most interesting things that I do is finding out about the stories behind the prints and negatives. I have always been interested in the development of Derby and family history, so having the opportunity to look at old photographs I was in seventh heaven. A quote from the Derbyshire Post of July 1885 sums it up in better words than I can. The words were written by a reporter who was making a tour of the Winter’s premises after a major building programme after the fire of 1883.

‘’….the plate when printed goes to a negative room to be added to the 50,000 other plates there. Here they are ticketed and laid aside till fate requires them. If each one could tell the tale of why it came to be there, many an interesting history could be told; tales of happiness, woe, love or disappointment….’’

When researching a print or plate it is mainly a matter of looking for clues – who, when, what, why, hence the importance of looking at all the information that you can gather from the print/negative and the bag that it might be in however intelligible it may seem at first. The negative number will give an approximate date; names are usually written on the negative and often on the bag. Prints often have the negative number written on the back, then it is a case of what you know personally or what you can find in a book or on the internet. The recent find of the name of the rower Orlando Meakin is a good example. The name on the bag was easily read as ‘Meakin’ the initial was a squiggle. Looking through newspaper articles and finding an O. Meakin rowing in the approximate year. The ancestry website led to an Orlando Meakin. And then, the researcher’s dream, a newspaper article of his obituary filled in the details. It is like a big newspaper puzzle, trying to relate one piece of information to another and hoping it will fall into place. I hasten to add that it is not always as successful as that one, luckily the name was unusual.

Volunteer blog – ‘Working with Artefacts’

Our next instalment from Joanna on the experience of volunteering as well as her insights and knowledge of W W Winter:

Last week I wrote about cleaning and archiving glass plate negatives; another part of my time at Winter’s has been tidying, sorting and cleaning artefacts. Winter’s is full of rooms, cubby holes, and roof spaces, and the cellar. When I first came to Winter’s I found it hard to work out which roof space belonged to which bit and which room was where in relation to the others! When the new post office block was built in the 1960s Winter’s buildings were sadly curtailed. There is information about the ‘lost rooms’ on the wall at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the retouching room. Articles from these rooms were pushed into what space remained and many of the plate negatives ended up in a pile of broken glass in the cellar.

Helped by Louisa’s lovely Mum I set about cleaning, sorting and listing many of the artefacts that had been found. These could be letters, documents, boxes of paints, pencils, brushes, bottles, cases for carrying equipment …….the list is endless, also the larger items, props, furniture and photographic equipment.  We did wonder why there was a pair of black nylon stockings – apparently they made excellent light filters – and a cream maker (! ) we haven’t worked that one out yet. Armed with the natural hair brushes and e-cloths we attempted to remove years of grime and restore some order in this wonderful place

 

Volunteer blog – ‘Aspects of Volunteering’

This period of social isolating in the UK has meant that the incredible efforts of our volunteers have had to be paused. We have invited them to share with you some of their experiences which hopefully will give you an insight into the experience of volunteering at Winter’s. We’re really missing our little heritage family and look forward to things returning to normal; but in the meantime, please enjoy our heritage blog posts!

We (Malcolm and Joanna) have been volunteers at Winter’s for over four years now. He came because of his interest in photography and me because ”we would like to find out about the history of the place and the families who owned and worked at the business.”

Armed with green then blue rubber gloves and natural fibre brushes we have cleaned what seems like hundreds of glass plate negatives – who knew tar sprayers came in so many varieties (with and without chimneys, with metal rimmed wheels, wheels with tyres, big wheels, small wheels). And the negative numbers … Negative numbers presumably started at 1 when the business started and continued in a consecutive manner until a new system was introduced in 1959 , using the last two year numbers as a prefix hence 631234 was photographed in 1963! All the information is entered into a computer and the glass negatives scanned.

Then there is the print collection, and the equipment, as well as open days, exhibitions and projects……….More about some of those next time.

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

Volunteer Blog

More from one of our brilliant volunteers – does anyone recognise themselves from the photos?

Where are they now? – Nick Allen

I’m one of the volunteers here at the W.W.Winter photographic studio on Midland Road, Derby. My wife and I are part of a small team of volunteers helping to clean, scan and catalogue thousands of glass plate negatives which are part of the W.W.Winter Trust.
In just over 6 months we’ve collated almost 7 boxes of glass sides dating from the late 1940’s up through the 50’s, that’s about 1500 separate images. Most of the images have been of weddings and portraits but every so often you find a rare gem amongst the general photography.
Whilst scanning today we came across a series of head and shoulders portraits taken in the studio in 1948, which we believe were of a dance troop. All were photographs of females including young girls and adults, all similarly dressed as if for a musical show. The glass negatives had been masked off and we believe they may have been publicity photographs or taken for a show programme. We also believe the dance school was based in the Friar Gate area and we’d love to hear from anyone who may recognise someone from the photographs shown! Contact us on friends@wwwinter.co.uk

Scans from the masked off negatives from The W W Winter heritage Archive
Scans from the masked off negatives from The W W Winter Heritage Archive

 

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.