Wednesday, January 06, 2016

All We Need Is The Memory

Normally you have no idea who is featured in the old photographs you buy in second-hand shops and on-line auctions, and often that is part of the fascination of them - the anonymity provides the blankest of canvases for your imagination. But in this case we know precisely who the two young children in this photograph are - they are the young cousins of Mary Emma Clayton of Norfolk Road in Sheffield.

We know this because the original photograph was converted into a postcard which Mary sent to her friend Francis Mills who was in the Royal Hospital Annex at Fulwood in Sheffield. The card was sent in 1912 - although I suspect the beach photograph predates that by a decade - and at the time the Fulwood Annex was a convalescence unit for the main Royal Infirmary. We used to live quite close to Fulwood and by then it was very much part of the city of Sheffield as against being "out in the country".

We will never know if Francis recovered and moved back into the city or got to ride a donkey on Morecambe sands. But we don't need to know - all we need is the memory.


  1. We do indeed...and the donkeys of course.

  2. I hope Francis got better soon. He might have been amused by their expressions of fierce concentration! Perhaps it only seemed to be out in the country by comparison with the rest of Sheffield at the time!

  3. You wonder why the little guy on the left is so serious?

  4. I rode a donkey at Blackpool in the 40's. Photographs are the pilot light of memory.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...