Old photos and their history

Beau Rivage Bar. Mexican holiday?

I assume this to be a holiday snap.

The man is wearing a Mexican charro outfit. He looks to be wearing a crown or a flower in his hair. The woman seems to have a wire structure protruding from her head, or the wind is blowing her hair up. They could be local musical performers.

The sign says “Beau Rivage Bar“.

Does anyone recognise the building behind the couple? Do you remember a Beau Rivage Bar in Mexico?

Juvenile Jazz Band Taking a Cigarette Break, c1960s

A group of teenagers snapped wearing their juvenile jazz band uniforms. On the far left is a group of younger children not in uniform. The haircuts and clothing date the photo to around the 1960s.

The teenagers are holding cigarettes. At the time, those over 16 could smoke in public. There is, however, another possibility. They could be holding candy cigarettes, pretending to smoke for the camera.

Juvenile Jazz Bands

Elizabeth Bird’s Jazz Bands of North East England has been my main source on juvenile jazz bands for this post. Bird’s 1976 study provides an oral history of the phenomenon.

You can find another introduction to jazz bands with this 1960 feature from Pathé News:


These children’s marching bands emerged in the mining towns of the North of England and the Midlands. They began around 1920 before dying out just before the second world war. 1952 saw their revival and growing popularity.

They were based on military bands, with close formation marching, discipline, and flamboyant uniforms. The uniform in the photo is a pleated skirt (trousers for the boy), a cloak, gloves, and a hat in the style of a military bearskin. Unlike their pre-war jazz band counterparts, these uniforms were more likely to have been bought than hand-made.

Membership was roughly between the ages of 8 and 18. While pre-war bands were mixed, post-war bands were largely dominated by girls.

Common instruments in the bands were drums and trumpet-like kazoos. The girl at the front of the photo is wearing a snare drum harness (minus the drum) and the boy is holding one of her sticks (the other is tucked neatly by her chest). Kazoos had the benefit of being cheap. They could also be played with little training.

Contrary to their name, they did not specialise in jazz music. Most music played were hymn tunes, marches, and popular songs from the hit parade.

The bands would march in military formation. Each band led by a majorette twirling a long drum major’s mace.

Were you a member of a juvenile jazz band? If you were, please share your memories in the comments below.

Details of the journal article:

Bird, E. 1976, ‘Jazz Bands of North East England: The evolution of a working class cultural activity’, Oral History, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 31-55

Wikipedia entry:


For photos of the bands in action:



Freemason Picnic and the Founder of Liverpool Football Club, 1877

Two oval photos likely depicting William Wilson and John Houlding of the Everton Lodge no. 823. On the back of Houlding’s card, there is a declaration that features a monogram formed from his initials. On the back of the other card is a list of the year’s officers.

Everton Lodge 823

The lodge had originally started in 1860 as no. 1125. It was based at Clarence Hotel, Everton (a district of Liverpool). By 1886 it had changed to no. 823 and moved to the Masonic Hall on Hope Street in Liverpool City Centre.

John Houlding

John Houlding (wikipedia)

The man in the photo on the right looks very much like John Houlding. He share’s Houlding’s distinctive eyes, facial hair, and combed back hair.

John Houlding, nicknamed ‘King John’, was, among other things, a self-made businessman, brewer, Conservative councillor on Liverpool City Council, and Lord Mayor of Liverpool (1897-98). Born in Liverpool in 1833, he died at the age of 92 in 1902. He would’ve been nearing 44 years old at the time of the picnic.

He had a strong commitment to Freemasonry in Liverpool. As well as Everton Lodge he also attended Hammer Lodge no. 1395. In 1887 he founded Anfield Lodge no. 2215. He became Provincial Senior Grand Warden in West Lancashire and then Senior Grand Deacon in 1897.


The picnic, as the back of the card proclaims, is in honour of John Houlding’s installation. An installation ceremony occurs every year in a Masonic lodge. It is an important event where the new Worshipful Master appoints officers. It was reported by The Liverpool Mercury on the 19th July 1877. The article says the installation happened on the afternoon of the day before, dating it to the 18th.

West Derby Board of Guardians

Also reported by The Liverpool Mercury in their local news section was a meeting of the West Derby Board of Guardians.

Boards of Guardians were established by the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. They were given the task of administering the local implementation of the law, which included management of the workhouses. The amendment aimed to reform government support to the poor. This particular board governed the Liverpool suburb of West Derby.

The meeting on the 18th was attended, among others, by John Houlding. He dedicated a large portion of his life to the board and became vice-chairman. He must’ve had a busy day, attending both a board meeting discussing workhouse statistics and celebrating his Masonic installation on the same day.

Everton FC and Liverpool FC

We cannot go further without mentioning John Houlding’s main claim to fame – founding Liverpool FC.

The origins of Liverpool Football Club lie in Everton FC. Houlding had been President of Everton. He had brought Everton to Anfield in 1884 and then bought the grounds in 1885. Due to a disagreement over rent, the Everton board left Houlding and Anfield in 1892 (there were other grievances, such as Houlding’s insistence that the only ales sold at the stadium should be his own, but the main issue was rent).

Left with a stadium but no team, Houlding decided to create his own. On the 26th January 1892, a new team were born. They were named Everton Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company plc. This was quickly changed to Liverpool FC after the Football League put its foot down on the absurdity of having two teams with the same name.

Officers installed

Here is a list of the names and ranks that appear on both the back of the card and in The Liverpool Mercury:

  • J. Houlding, WM (Worshipful Master)
  • W. Wilson, IMP (Immediate Past Master)
  • H. Ashmore, SW (Senior Warden)
  • J.S. Cuthbert, JW (Junior Warden)
  • W.J. Lunt, PM Treasurer (Past Master Treasurer)
  • P.W. Oglesby, Secretary
  • R. Webster, SD (Senior Deacon)
  • J. Boyle, JD (Junior Deacon)
  • T.H. Carefull, IG (Inner Guard)
  • J. Beesley, SS (Senior Steward)
  • J. Hunter, JS (Junior Steward)
  • W. Boulton, PMDC (Past Master Director of Ceremonies)
  • R Brough, Organist

The picnic

The picnic celebrated Houlding’s installation the day before. Hawarden in Wales is quite close to Liverpool and it would’ve been a short hop across the border. The photo cards were perhaps souvenirs of the day. One landmark that may have overlooked their festivities would have been the large 18th Century gothic-style Hawarden Castle.

The Prime Minister connection

William Gladstone, British Prime Minister and fellow Liverpudlian, would later live in Hawarden Castle. Though not a Mason himself, he did have family within the fraternity. Gladstone’s brother, Robertson Gladstone, was, like Houlding, a Freemason and also served as Mayor of Liverpool (1842-43).

William Wilson

So what of the Past Master William Wilson? I have had no luck finding him. All I know is that during the installation on the 18th he received gifts for his time as Worshipful Master. These, according to The Liverpool Mercury, were a PM’s jewel (an elaborate and symbol-rich medal), a clock, and some bronze figures.

Thomas H Careful

As well as the Past Master, I’ve had difficulty discovering who the other men listed on the card were. Their forenames are not given and often several others in Liverpool had the same name. I, however, found who T.H. Carefull had likely been.

In the 1881 Census, Thomas H Carefull is recorded at 56 Windsor Street, West Derby, Liverpool. Born 1843, he lived with his wife Catherine, their two sons and two daughters, and three lodgers. He worked as a steam tug agent.

Both Carefull’s and Houlding’s fortunes were tied to Liverpool’s importance as a trading port for the Empire. The city had boomed under Queen Victoria. And with wealth and industrialisation came poverty and squalor. With both having such personal investment in the continuing success of Liverpool it can be seen why such men would band together in societies that promoted assistance to those unfortunately at the very bottom.

Newspaper coverage of the installation:

(1877) ‘Local News’, The Liverpool Mercury, 19 July, p.6.

Photo of John Houlding:

http://By Unknown – http://www.lfchistory.net/redcorner_articles_view.asp?article_id=2022, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9752361








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.

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.

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.

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.




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.


Edwardian Pram Holding Three Children

Initially a postcard, it seems the image was too small. It has been therefore trimmed and transformed into an attractive little photograph with a white border and rounded corners.

Three children are sitting upright in the pram. One is chewing a rattle. Beside them sits a smartly dressed girl with ribbons in her hair and a teddy bear in her arms. The last child sits grinning to the far left of the pushchair.

This design of Edwardian perambulator evolved from earlier French wickerwork bassinet prams. These allowed the child to lie flat. Earlier prams had been for older children to be pushed while sitting upright. They had been based on carriages used to transport the sick and physically disabled.

Note the different sized wheels. There are two wheels at the front with two larger overlapping wheels at the back. This allowed greater manoeuvrability for the pusher.

Carriage-style suspension kept the innocent cherubs content when travelling along the cobblestone paving. If you look closely you’ll see a belt strapped to the bottom of this particular pram. I’m unsure whether it was a feature or a cheap repair by the owner.


A Brief History of Portrait Postcards

You may have come across portrait postcards whilst rummaging amongst dusty boxes of ancient family photos. You may have seen them at car boots or antique shops. They range from the professionally staged studio photos to the obviously amateur snaps. The private nature of these portraits can jar with today’s association of postcards with mass production and saucy seaside snaps.

This article gives a brief introductory history to the early 20th Century rise and fall of the portrait postcard in Britain. So, whether you’re new to them or not, I hope it will at least give you a better appreciation of these valuable private artefacts.

Early postcards

Postcards had been sold by the British Post Office since 1870. These were uninspiring blank cards on which you wrote the address on the front and your message on the back. If you wanted to send a picture, you often had to draw it yourself.

It was not until 1894 that picture postcards became widely available. A drawback of these was that the picture restricted the size of your message. As well as limited space, your tiny scrawlings could look untidy which detracted from the decorative image. The divided back in 1902 resolved these problems by allowing senders to write the message and address on the same side, meaning the picture expanded to fill the other side.

The postcard boom

The broad range and attractiveness of early picture postcards made them the ideal inexpensive gift or souvenir. They soon became collectable and some were posted just to be added to a friend’s collection.

They were also a quick and simple way to send messages. At the standard 1/2d for inland postage (prices increased after 1918), people took advantage of an affordable and reliable postal service. Increased literacy of the population meant anyone could send and read them, and proper grammar and spelling were not needed. It’s often said the postcard was the Twitter of its day.

All these factors led to postcards becoming a cultural phenomenon in Edwardian Britain.

Real photo postcards

Portrait postcards came with the introduction of the real photo postcard. The first was posted in 1899. They were photographic negatives developed onto a postcard backing. Most were black and white, though some were hand-coloured using water-based or oil-based paints.

Real photo postcards captured many aspects of life such as holidays, movie stars, architecture, local streets, and important historical events. One of the major 20th Century events captured was the first world war, with postcards being sent to and from the front.

The real photo postcard coincided with advances in technology that democratized photography. Kodak led the field with their simple “you push the button, we do the rest” cameras and their low-cost Brownie. Studio photographers began losing business as photography entered the hands of the people.

The amateur could make their own postcards. In 1902, Velox photo paper with a pre-printed postcard backing was first sold. Then in 1903, Kodak introduced a folding camera that took postcard-sized photos. Between 1906 and 1910, Kodak offered a service to produce postcards from any photo taken.

The real photo postcard and the portrait postcard it had given birth to began losing popularity in the 1930s. Alternatives, such as the more colourful photochrome cards, were entering the market. Increased availability of the telephone also diminished the need to send short messages through the post.

Social history and portrait postcards

Portrait postcards are part of our personal and collective photographic historical archive. Unlike the broader subjects of commercial postcards, they provide an intimate look at the ordinary person who lived in the past. From changing fashions, jobs, and relationships, we get up close and personal.

If you are lucky, these postcards were posted. The name and address of the receiver provide vital clues to identification (occasionally the sender’s details are present). A message may have been written, connecting us to the sender. Censuses and other records can be used with the information to flesh out the people behind the portrait.

A common problem is that they have not been posted and printing information on the back was too expensive. This means we don’t know the photographer, the subject, not even the date. If they are a family member, you may be able to put names to faces. A rough date can be guessed by looking at what they are wearing.

If you own any portrait postcards yourself, whether handed down or bought, then please share your stories. You can either post comments below this post or contact me about submitting your own post.