I found this old business card stuck at the end of one of Uncle Frank's photo albums. At first I was attracted by the claim "Including - The Washing Up Machine which Sterilisers all Utensils after Use", which appears to be a somewhat bizarre tag-line for a restaurant. I was then intrigued by a couple couple of addresses for what I would guess are boarding houses in the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth. Finally, my attention was monopolised by the two signatures on the front of the card which appeared to be the work of Harry Korris and Robbie Vincent. Given two such names - which at some point were meaningful enough to get signed on a business card - who could resist the temptation to Google them and discover who they were. Not me, that's for sure.
Harry Korris (1891-1971) was a British comedian and actor, best known for playing the part of Mr Lovejoy, the theatre manager in the long-running BBC comedy programme, Happidrome. The show was so popular, in 1943 it was turned into a film of the same name. Robbie Vincent (1895-1968) also starred in Happidrome, where he played the bellboy, Enoch. The third permanent member of the show was Cecil Fredericks (1903-1958) who played the stage manager, Ramsbottom. Together the three of them performed their most famous song We Three. You can see their performance on a classic clip available on YouTube. Quite where Cecil Fredericks was that night when Uncle Frank was dining in Del Monico Restaurant in Great Yarmouth is a mystery. Perhaps he was ill - fallen victim to a bug caught off a contaminated kitchen utensil.
I was out walking the other morning and I came across Lieutenant Colonel Edward Akroyd standing around outside All Soul's Church on Haley Hill, Halifax. Not that I am criticising him, he had every right to stand around outside the church; he built it after all. And he did deserve a rest: whilst you can probably count the number of Victorian manufacturers who positively benefited both the lives of their workers and their town on the bobbin-hooks of one power loom, Edward Akroyd would be amongst that number. He established two model villages for his workers, built a school for their children, created a bank to help them save - The Yorkshire Penny Bank which still exists today - and founded a Working Men's College (the first outside London). When he died in 1887, his fellow townspeople contributed to this fine statue with its four reliefs telling the story of his life. From such a spot he has been standing around for some 125 years.
This old photograph seems to have acquired blobs of colour over the decades, like a velvet jacket picking up cat hairs. Leaving aside the brown blobs and the blue lines, you can focus on the family by the front gate: a mother and four children. My guess is that the photograph dates from either the very end of the nineteenth century or the beginning of the twentieth - the golden age of gate-standing photos.
Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a goat under the watchful eye of a chap with a funny hat. The connection with my featured image - a photograph of my brother and I on a beach under the watchful eye of Auntie Annie who seems to have some kind of turban on her head - is so obvious it needs no further explanation.
The location is, I believe, Bridlington - those buildings in the background have the look of Marine Drive on North Beach. The date will be the summer of 1950 when I was two years old. My mother will be somewhere around and my father was the one probably taking the photograph. There are sixty-seven years between that young child in the photograph and the oldish man posting it today. That is a lifetime.
The man in this photograph seems slightly out of proportion to the cottage he is standing outside. Now it might be that the man is tall, but few of his generation were: disease and diet worked together to prevent mankind getting too big for their collective boots. It is more likely that the cottage was small. You can still occasionally see some of these eighteenth century cottages around and you wonder how on earth people fitted in them. The man is small, the cottage is small, but his cap could keep the rain off one of those colossal stone heads of Easter Island
As some people have already commented, the houses in some of these old photographs are as attractive as the people standing around them. This print was badly faded and, originally, the house faded into what was probably a London smog. A little creative Photoshopping brings it back in all its finery.
Whilst standing around today we have a long list of questions. Home on leave or just about to set off on a tour of duty? Dark days of war or a relatively more peaceful post-war world? And most of all, who are they and how did they find their way into the box that contains family photographs?
This is a scan of a negative from a small batch I bought the other day. All the other negatives in the lot feature rather grand ladies at tea in country houses and hotels. This one seems to feature a little old man at the door of a large old barn. There is a story behind it. It's just not been written yet.
I am taking a short break from my "Standing Around" series in order to bring you someone who is "sitting around", and - more importantly - sitting in a rowing boat under a bridge. The bridge is important because it is my slightly laboured link to this week's Sepia Saturday theme image, which shows a picture of Taft Bridge in Washington DC. It must be admitted that Taft Bridge is a far grander structure than the bridge over Stanley Park Boating Lake in Blackpool, but a bridge is a bridge wherever it may be. My bridge forms part of a photograph taken by my Uncle Frank, and, because it is a Frank "The Cataloguer" Fieldhouse photo, I can tell you it was taken in Stanley Park, Blackpool in 1940. The importance of the date is clearly indicated by the next photograph in the album: Uncle Frank had swung the camera so that the lens was pointing to the sky and way up above you can just make out a warplane on patrol. He captioned that particular shot "Just A Reminder", and the two photographs together should, if nothing else, remind us of the importance of bridges.
Bridges join people and places together and allow relaxed passage for all. I always used to think that one of the great achievements of my postwar generation was that we had successfully constructed bridges following the madness of twentieth century wars. But as I watch some of those bridges being demolished and insularity coming to the forefront, I find myself questioning the value of this legacy.