This is another photograph in my series “Pictures From Nowhere“, which features photographs that have somehow come into my possession through fair means or foul. All I know about this particular orphan image is a date (which someone has kindly pencilled on the reverse) – 23 July 1946. It shows a splendid group gathered outside “Ryton House”, whatever or wherever that is. If anyone recognises any long lost relatives, please let me know and I will pop them in the post.
Category Archives: Pictures From Nowhere
So what do we know about this photograph? We don’t know who these two are, that’s for sure: they appear in album of someone else’s photographs, someone else’s memories. We do know, however, that it was taken in the quintessential English holiday resort of Torquay. And we have a date – 1928: the entire album is devoted to a tour of South Devon in that year. And they seem to be having a good time.
This is a scan of a quarter-plate glass negative which must date from the end of the nineteenth or early twentieth century. The seven featured subjects are an interesting collection: they could be the staff of a draper’s shop or a saloon bar. There is something vaguely H G Wells about them – that might be a young Mr Polly at the back on the left … or an old Mr Polly in the front centre. As with any good novel, the question we must ask when we first meet the main characters is – “what’s in store for them?”
If Distillery No. 2 – opened in 1881 – was a young Islay distillery, the third in my series is positively neonatal. Kilchoman Farm Distillery only began production in 2005 and its first single malt whisky didn’t go on sale until September 2009. New it may be, but it is a bit of a gem: surrounded by fields of growing barley, continuing to use the traditional floor-malting process, and distilling, maturing and bottling on the island itself. As far as I can remember, the product was a bit of a gem as well, but for some reason my memories of the visit became a little hazy.
Portrait Of An Unknown Woman : This is a late Victorian, or more likely Edwardian, studio portrait of an unknown woman. It is small – about two inches in diameter – and surrounded by a substantial cardboard mount which itself has been cut back. The sitter seems to have a mark or blemish just below her lips which does not appear to be a fault on the print itself.
This is such a busy photograph: a summer day on the English coast ninety years or so ago. It looks as though it has been taken from a raised height – a pier or a tower or some such. The camera couldn’t quite cope with the wide-angle of the shot, and the edges blur into insignificance.
If we focus down into just one part of the image, it gets even busier. Kids playing, kids paddling, kids messing about – parents watching proprietorially. There is an entire world on view – between the blurred edges of time.
This is Harry Elk. We know that because someone has kindly written his name under his photograph. A date would have been nice, an address would have been better, perhaps even over generous. A quick check of census records results in nobody of that name with a date of birth around the turn of the twentieth century. Whoever he was, Harry was a thoughtful chap who deserves a second look a century later.