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.

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