Monday, September 26, 2016

The Pre-WW1 Convalescent Homes in Hertfordshire

The Hertfordshire Convalescent Home at St. Leonards-on-Sea
I have created a new Subject Page on Hertfordshire Convalescent Homes and significantly updated the page on the Countywide establishment opened in 1880 at St Leonards-on-Sea. The plan shows that while the men and women patients shares the dining room other facilities were strictly segregated.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Did Harry Andrée, a St Albans Photographer, photograph Queen Victoria?

Harry Curt Ernest Andrée was a German who ran the "Alma Road Studio," St Albans, between about 1896 and 1900 - allowing his St Albans photographs to be dated within a couple of years. He later became a photographer in Ireland, before returning to England.


The information I have so far collected on him raises two questions:

  • In 1891 he described himself as an engineer but when he arrived in St Albans, circa 1896, he was a photographer whose patrons included Her Majesty Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of Westminster. The big question is what had he done before coming to St Albans to acquire such significant patrons?
  • At about the time he left St Albans another photographer Montiville Evans started working in Alma Road. Did he take over Lane's studio?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A woman turns to butchery during the First World War

This picture appeared in the press (source unknown) in 1916.

I am sure that there were dozens of other women in Hertfordshire just like her, wielding a meat cleaver to keep the family business running.

It would be wonderful if anyone could identify her - but I suspect this will just be another example of a portrait without a name.

A reminder - are all your precious family pictures clearly labelled so that future generations know who they are. There are millions of photographs from this period which show people who have been dehumanized by having become nameless. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Another sexist comic card published in St Albans circa 1908

 This is another example of one of the rather strange and often sexist "comic" post cards published around 1908 by the Crown Publishing Company.  These cards take a very different view of women to the suffragette inspired cards that were also circulating at the time.

A typical card by Karaktus
One series of 30 cards is by an unknown artist who signed himself Karaktus (I am still trying to identify Nos 19 and 21). Some of the unsigned cards may have been by an artist who signed himself "F S" (said by some to be someone I haven't traced called Fred Stone). "F S" cards were published by the London View Company. often in a special "F S Comic Series" until 1908  - when the LVC company closed down.

Any help in identifying the artists Karaktus and "F S" - or further cards by the Crown Publishing Company would be appreciated.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Update on the Sandridge Rifle Range

Alan has provided an update on the current state of the former rifle range at Sandridge.
I have recently had a walk in the woods where the Sandridge rifle range was situated. There are two visible brick lined target frame pits up by the remnants of the stop butts. One pit is relatively clear, the other is practically filled in with soil and leaves. The two target pits are a distance of, roughly, 50 yards apart. The pit that is clearer looks about 20 yds. long by 4 yds. by 10 foot deep. It is difficult to say how long the partially buried target pit might be but the stop butt earthworks which serviced this part of the range were not very high and less complete than the other one. From the cleaner target pit is was possible to walk back along the line of the range and find the remnants of three firing point positions that would have been about 100 / 200 / 300 yds. from the target frames. There is also some brick work debris remains and a metal drain cover at the 300 yd firing point. Nothing longer than the 300yds point seems to remain visible. The area outside the woods is agricultural with a recent tree plantation in the area that would have had the longer distance firing points.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Post Cards with Hidden Messages

Over the years I have collected a variety of post cards carrying some kind of hidden or coded message [See HERE for details]
The above card, showing Berkhamsted School, carried the message:
A small portion of the "River Spey" was picked up this morning, close to the "April Flight" & is at present in safe custody. Will transfer it to yours in a day of so. Hope you got home safely. Yours ever J.B.
where "River Spey" and "April Flights" seem to have some hidden meaning.- can anyone suggest what the message may be about. Are the words anagrams - or do they represent something everyone would have known about when the card was posted in 1904

Friday, September 16, 2016

The RFA attend a Church Parade at Abbots Langley

This photograph (recovered from a very faded state) shows soldiers standing in line in the main street at Abbots Langley. The photo was taken by someone called Calvert and most of his pictures have faded badly over the years. Does anyone know who he was?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Capability Brown and the Ashridge Estate (1761-68)

Interesting historical records can turn up anywhere - and more and more are ending up on specialist web sites. The above account book entry relates to the Duke of Bridgewater's account when Capability Brown was laying out the Ashridge Estate. You may read the account book on the Royal Horticultural Society's web site


If you have found some interesting historical documents about Hertfordshire on an unexpected web site why not share the information by commenting below.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Watford Club perform "Les Cloches de Cornville" at St Albans

Having recently posted a picture of a Watford Choir taken by a local photographer, William Coles, in 1923 I was interested to see from the following news item that another Watford Photographer, Frederick Downer, was singing in opera in 1895:
 St. Albans - County Hall.  -  On Wednesday and Thursday, January 30 and 31, the Watford Club gave performances of Les Cloches de Corneville. The Co. were fortunate In having the services of so capable a comedian as Mr. Harry Buck, who took the part of Gobo in excellent style, being very droll. To this gentleman was also entrusted the duties of stage-manager, and he discharged this part of his work in a first-class manner. Mr. Fred Downer as the Marquis de Corncville looked and sang and spoke his lines remarkably well. He was heard to special advantage in the duets with Germaine, in the charming person of Miss Haig. This young lady took the palm of the evening among the lady performers, her acting being good, and she is possessed of a very sweet voice. Miss Buck as Serpolette was also extremely commendable. Praise must be given to Mr. A. J. Cook for his clever portrayal of the miser Gaspard. In the Ghost scene he was excellent. Mr. Richardson as the Bailie slightly overacted his part; otherwise he was good. Grenloheau was looked after in good style by Mr. R. W. Burge, although his acting did not come up to the level of his singing. The Co. all worked hard, and the choruses were given with plenty of go, and in good time. The splendid costumes and wigs used were supplied by Clarkson. The scenery, painted bv Messrs. Downer, Cottam, and Healy, was very good, especially the third scene in act one, painted b\ the latter gentleman, the Market Place in Corneville. A prettier set has seldom been been on these boards. Mr. J. F Gravcs acted as accompanist, and Mr. A. Cottam as musica d 'rector. A special train was run back to Watford each night.
Can you identify any of the other people involved?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dating the early photographs of William Coles of Watford

CDV back circa 1889
William Coles (1853-1938)

In 1881 William Coles was an assistant chemist working for Theophilus John Piggot, photographer, at Leighton Buzzard. By the late 1880s he was trading as a photographer in Queens Road, Watford, and was still trading there in 1926. For a short time around 1890 he also had a studio on the Broadway, Chesham, and by 1899 had a studio in Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, which continued for about 10 years. His carte de visite and cabinet cards usually have a negative number and the time line below suggests dates for various backs. Later backs say "by special appointment of Princess Eulalia of Spain - possibly after the Princess's visit to Watford in 1899. As a result if is possible to assign approximate dates on his Victorian photographs from the negative numbers and printing on the back.

Cabinet back circa 1900
Unknown Mother & Child
Unfortunately few of the wonderful portraits are identified - but perhaps, if your ancestors came from the Watford area you may be able to suggest a name.

He was also selling views of many local towns and villages by the early 1890s, and was producing a wide range of view post cards in the 1900s - some of which may have been from earlier negatives. He also produced a number of post cards of news events, which are normally dated.