Old photos and their history

Postcard to Miss Pollard, Coventry, from Blackpool

Three women and a young girl are sitting down on a bench. The building behind looks like a cafe or hotel. In the window, we can see the reflection of a man wearing a homburg hat – perhaps the photographer. Between the photographer and the female group are wall railings.

The postcard back gives clues as to who is in the photo. It says:

“20 lime St Blackpool Having good time Mabel Grundy”

It’s addressed to a Miss Pollard. She lived at 6 Stephen Street in Coventry.

Stephen Street

The only two occupants I can find are Sydney and Clara Pollard. Both lived at 6 Stephen Street during the 1911 census.

Sydney Pollard (b1882) worked as a mail carrier for the General Post Office. He’d been born in Coventry.

Many of his family were involved in paper and printing. His dad, Samuel Pollard (b1845) had been a painter and paper hanger. His sister folded pamphlets (previously a bookbinders assistant) and a brother was a lithograph printer.

In 1901, he lived with his widowed mother, Emma Pollard (b1846), at 21 Stephen Street. His father had died in 1894. By this time he’d already started working at the Post Office.

Clara Lillian Ward (b1883) married Sydney in 1907. She’d been born in Wolstan, Warwickshire – a village on the outskirts of Coventry. Her parents were Joseph Ward (b1836, blacksmith) and Mabel Ward (b1843).

Clara and Sydney may have met in Coventry. During 1901, Clara worked in the centre of Coventry as a domestic servant for Thomas F.D. Lloyd’s family. Thomas Lloyd was a photographer and fancy dealer, working from home. The Lloyd family lived at 26 Earl Street.

In 1911, Emma had moved closer to her son. She now resided at 7 Stephen Street. Accompanying her were Sydney’s sister, now listed as a book folder, and one of Sydney’s brothers who worked as a pork butcher.

Sydney’s mother died in 1914.

In 1936, Sydney died, leaving Clara £40. In the 1939 Census, Clara lived alone at Stephen Street. She’s listed as providing first aid as part of the ARP’s (Air Raid Precautions) emergency medical services. Clara passed on in 1951, outliving her husband by fifteen years.

Miss Pollard?

There is a bit of a mystery as to who the letter is addressed to. The word “Miss” has a definite “i”. The initials don’t seem to correspond to Clara’s. Sydney and Clara didn’t have any children. So who is Miss Pollard?

The “Miss” could have been a mistake – written in a hurry. It may have been sent to Clara before her marriage. Or perhaps it was posted to a relative of Sydney’s.

Mabel Grundy

I don’t know who Mabel Grundy was. She may have been a friend or relative from Coventry. Blackpool had boomed as a tourist destination with the arrival of the railways and electricity in the 19th Century. Mabel and those with her could have been on holiday. Whoever she was, we can assume Mabel is one of those in the photo.

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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.

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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.


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Happy Xmas, Family and Dog in Garden

“Wishing you a very Happy Xmas and a Bright new Year from all



This seasons greeting was sent with a photograph of the family. A man and woman sit either side of a girl holding a doll. The two adults are likely husband and wife, with the girl being their daughter. A dog sleeps beneath the man.

If you look closely, you’ll see the woman is wearing a bracelet. It looks like a silver chain bracelet with a heart-shaped padlock. Possibly solid silver.

This may have been a family photograph taken for another occasion. It certainly isn’t festive. Only the girl is raising a smile, the man smokes a cigarette, flowers are in bloom, and there’s no evidence of cold weather. The plant on the bamboo hexagonal table and the woman’s wicker chair gives a more summery vibe.

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Girl with Hair in Ribbons, St Peter’s Street Derby

Sidney Boultwood

This photo of a girl with her hair in ribbons was taken by Sidney Boultwood’s Stickybacks studio at 66 St Peter’s Street in Derby, UK. Like postage stamps, stickybacks were small photographs with a gummed back. The photo dates from the 1910s.

Winifred Thickpenny

Her name is probably Winifred Cooper Thickpenny, born in Derby 1908. The year before her marriage to Frederick Wilding in 1940, she was living in Belper, Derbyshire, with her widowed father William Thickpenny, a foreman born in 1876. She was recorded as being a Railway Clerk. Her mother had been Lilian Thickpenny (1879 -1933).

Information regarding Sidney Boultwood:



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