Old photos and their history

Baby, c1950s

A photo of either a newborn baby being shown to members of the family or a christening. The baby is wearing what looks to be a christening gown. Most denominations of Christianity perform infant baptism and it’s a common subject in old family photos. Their clothing dates this to around the 1950s.

Please follow and like us:

Loreen McCaig, Young Girl on Snowy Day, 1944

An old picture of a smiling girl wearing a tartan dress and stockings. She’s standing on a path cleared of the snow that surrounds her. Her shoes are clean so she may have been indoors and stepped outside to pose for the photo. The message on the back holds many clues to her identity.

‘This was taking in march

I will 12 years old on

July 23/1944

Loreen McCaig

I will soon Be as

Big as mother’

The faulty grammar, misspellings, and capitalisation of the letter B are child-like. The use of the pronoun “I” means they are writing about themselves. So we can assume the photo of the girl is of Loreen McCaig and that she wrote the message on the back.

We know she was born on the 23rd of July 1932 because she gives us the date of her next birthday. The date format of 7/23/1944 suggests she may have lived in the US or Canada. The photo was likely taken in March 1944. She was 11 years old at the time.

Her name and exact date of birth makes searching records easier. I, however, cannot find a Loreen McCaig or L McCaig born 23/7/1932. If anyone does then please let us know.

Please follow and like us:

Ilford Print Wallet, Chemist Edmund R Pear

An Ilford print wallet featuring black and white images of a pelican and village scene. The Ilford company used the advertising slogan “Faces & Places” after WW2. The absence of a sunburst symbol dates this wallet before 1965. So we can date the wallet to between 1945 and 1965.


Founded by Alfred Harman in 1879, no history of photography in Britain and the world is complete without mentioning Ilford. The UK-based company produced photographic plates, film, and a number of cameras. The Selochrome, advertised inside the wallet, was the name of their popular roll film. They manufactured Selochrome from the mid-1930s to the late 1960s. The name had been derived from the Selo Company, which Ilford took over in 1925.


The buyer may forever remain unknown unless I own some of their photos. They paid two shillings and nine pence for their developed snaps.

Edmund R Pear

The print wallet is stamped with the name of Edmund R Pear, Chemist and Druggist.


Edmund (b1904) is recorded as living at 215 Valley Road, Nottingham. He lived with his wife Gertrude A Pear (b1904). She worked as a qualified chemist assistant. Grace F Woodhead also lived at the address, although I’m unsure as to her connection to Edmund and Gertrude.

Places of work

Kelly’s Directory of 1953 (p.879) bases Edmund at 215 and 557 Valley Road, and 412 Broxtowe Lane. He opened one of the Valley Road shops in 1937.

Throughout 1949, an advertisement mentioned him as a chemist stocking the Stanwood Treatment for an unwanted smoking habit. As far as I know, the Stanwood Treatment had been a lozenge that made smoking unpleasant.

“After two or three days tobacco definitely loses its attraction; safe, reliable and proven efficient, 5/-” (Nottingham Evening Post, 1949, p.4).

Breaking the law

The Nottingham Journal of the 19th July 1940 reported that Edmund R Pear had been one of several traders brought before Nottingham Summons Court. He was fined twenty shillings for contravention of the Shops (Sunday Trading Restriction) Act of 1936. That’s the cost of four Stanwood Treatments.

Evicting the Taylors

On 15 March 1945, The Nottingham Evening Post announced that Edmund appeared again in court, though this time as plaintiff. He’d brought an action against Edna Winifred Wilson Taylor. He wanted her out of his property.

Edmund previously employed her husband, William Wilson Taylor, as manager of his pharmacy at 412 Broxtowe Lane. She worked part-time as an assistant. The couple lived in several rooms above the shop. On William’s conscription into the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in 1942, it had been agreed Edna could stay in the property if she worked full time.

Sometime in January 1945, Edmund terminated her employment. He wanted a qualified chemist as manager. He gave Edna notice to leave and offered to store her furniture. She refused.

The judge at Nottingham County Court said that a man was entitled to his civilian job when returning from military service. The issue was whether William’s employment ended when the new contract with Mrs Taylor began. The court adjourned with the conclusion that action had to be brought against Mr Taylor. I currently have no information on what happened next.

The newspaper gave 25 Rowland Avenue as Edmund Pear’s address.

The mystery of the tenants

Did Edna Winifred Wilson Taylor and William Wilson Taylor exist?

When we look at 412 Broxtowe Lane in the 1939 census we find a Clifford Taylor (pharmaceutical chemist, b1899) and a Dorothy A Taylor (b1899). It’s more likely that they were the tenants facing eviction in 1945. Is this an instance of sloppy journalism? Were the newspapers competent reporters all serving in the armed forces?

For an extensive resource on the history of Ilford, go to:


Also, their official website:


For information on the life and times of Edmund R Pear, see:

Kelly’s Directories Ltd, 1953. Kelly’s Directory of the City of Nottingham and the Urban District of West Bridgford.

(1937) ‘Public Notices’, The Nottingham Evening Post, 28 October, p.2.

(1940) ‘Nottingham Sunday Trading Offences’, The Nottingham Journal, 19 July, p.4.

(1945) ‘Important Issues Involved: Aspley possession case adjourned’, The Nottingham Evening Post, 15 March, p.4.

(1949) ‘Miscellaneous Sales and Wants’, The Nottingham Evening Post, 24 November, p.4.

Please follow and like us:

Joseph Noble Perks, Cabinet Card of a Family, Swadlincote

A family portrait cabinet card embossed with “J Perks, Swadlincote” in gold lettering. The clothing and hairstyles suggest the early Edwardian era. Two adults, we can assume are the parents, pose with two girls and a boy. A studio backdrop of an opulent indoor scene lies behind them.

Joseph Noble Perks

Joseph was born in 1877 in the village of Woodville, Swadlincote. He was born to John and Annie Perks. Woodville is currently part of South Derbyshire but at the time had been within the boundaries of Burton-on-Trent and Staffordshire.


At 3 years old, Joseph lived with his parents and siblings at 194 Burton Road in Overseal, Swadlincote. He had an older brother and younger sister, Benjamin and Annie. His dad was a pipeworks engineer.


Swadlincote had been the site of pipe yards. They made clay pipes that were sold throughout the world. This wide commercial reach was enabled by Swadlincote’s connection to the Victorian and Edwardian railway.

Joseph’s family appear to have moved from Yorkshire so his dad could work at the pipeworks.

1901 census

At 23, Joseph still lived with his parents, though they moved to 219 Occupation Lane in Woodville, Swadlincote. He now had two sisters, Annie and Nellie, and a new brother called Charles. His eldest brother Benjamin had moved out. Nellie was a school teacher and Charles, at the age of 14, was an apprentice fitter.

Joseph was now listed as a photographer


Joseph married Evelyn Grace Warren in 1909. She was born in 1884 in Newhall. The town of Newhall is also part of Swadlincote.

In 1901, Evelyn lived with her parents and two brothers at 186 High Street, Newhall, Swadlincote. She worked as a dressmaker.

1911 census

By 1911, Joseph – now 33 – had settled down with Evelyn at 26 Church Street, Church Gresley, Swadlincote. He worked from home, self-employed as a photographer and picture frame maker.

RAF and knitting

There is a record of Joseph being a member of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1918. At the same time, Evelyn served in the Swadlincote division of the British Red Cross. Her duties included knitting, needlework, war hospital supplies, and home worker.

1939 census

The last available census has Evelyn and Joseph living at 68 James Street, Midway, Swadlincote. They have constantly moved during their lives, though they cannot yet escape the gravitational pull of Swadlincote. Joseph was still a photographer. They lived with their two grown-up children, Noel Perks (certificated assistant teacher) and Iris Perks (shorthand typist). Noel was an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) warden who either was a trainee or trained others in first aid. Joseph also had ARP duties.

If you would like to add to the story of the Perks family then please add your comments below or contact me directly.




Please follow and like us:

Theresa Walpole, Birmingham, 1876.

T. Pope produced this carte de visite in 1876. Pope had been active as a photographer at 36 New Street, Birmingham, between 1876-1879. I’d be grateful for any further information regarding this person.

Theresa Walpole

The card is named and dated “Theresa Walpole, Aug 26th 1876”. If we assume she lived in Birmingham, then we discover a Theresa Walpole, born in Birmingham 1856 to Thomas and Betsy Walpole.

1871, 1881, and 1891

There are three census records for Theresa: 1871, 1881, and 1891.

During 1871 and 1881 she lived with her mother and father and four younger siblings. In 1881 these were Thomas (50) (father, tailor), Betsy (51) (mother), twins Thomas (21) (jeweller) and Elizabeth (21) (tailoress), Eleanor (18) (bag liner), and her youngest sister Annie (17) (electroplate packer).

In 1881, at the age of 25, Theresa worked as a cocoa flaker. Her family had lived at 14 Clement Street in Birmingham. After her father’s death in 1886, she and her mother moved to 1 Knightstone Terrace, Coralie Street. At this time in her life, she became a Bible woman. I cannot find any further records after this year.


She rests herself on a plush chair. Her position is relaxed, though this is more due to the need at the time to steady oneself during the long exposure of the camera. She is around 20 years of age.

Apart from a curtain draped over the chair, there is no decoration. A neutral background had been fashionable at the time. Later on, studio portraits would have elaborately decorated backdrops that displayed both indoor and outdoor scenery.

The faded monochrome does little justice to her clothes. Availability of improved dyes in the 1870s saw great splashes of colour in fabrics. We can only now guess what colours she wore in this picture.

There is a chain dropping from between her buttons. This is likely for a pocket watch discretely tucked inside her outfit.

We find a sticker on the back of the carte de visite. “Yes, if you profit by experience and avoid former errors.” This sounds like a quote from the Bible or a moral from Aesop’s fables. “Theresa advice” looks to have been scribbled in pencil. Was this advice from Theresa or given to Theresa?

As always I am keen for any further information, whether about Theresa or anyone else. Please reply using either the comment section or email myself directly.

Coralie Street in Birmingham no longer exists, but memories of it are available at:


The address of T. Pope comes from:


A useful resource on carte de visite and antique photos in general:

Robert Pols. Looking at Old Photographs: Their dating and interpretation. 1999.


Please follow and like us: