1930s School Girls

1930s School Girls

photos from the Pete Grafton Collection

This is a story of three comfortably off British schoolgirls in the 1930s  – an incomplete story, a story of guesses and detection, as all photos are. “The camera doesn’t lie” is often not true. The camera captures a bit of reality in a split second. There are other ‘truths’ either side of that split second when a shutter is pressed that could emerge.  The subject matter – the “reality” – may be consciously selective, such as was in National Socialist Germany and Communist countries.  Or it may reflect the editorial policy of a newspaper or magazine.  Or the emotional/ideological bent of the freelance photographer in presenting a so-called “reality”.  Mostly, the amateur photograph of family and friends is free of the above distortions/slants of truth, but one has still to be careful in making strong assumptions in interpretating what one is looking at.

Photo negative Contact Sheet, from 1930s Schoolgirls.

Being comfortably off only means economically, not whether individual members of the family and friends are comfortably off emotionally. What can be said about the family of the three (possibly four) sisters is that they are “bookish”,  but also enjoy the seaside and horse riding; that there is a physical tenderness between the sisters, and between one of the grandmother’s and a sister.  Glimpses of their life is against a 1930s Europe of an already established Fascist government in Italy, an emerging National Socialist government in Germany,  revolutionary tensions between right and left in France in 1934, a civil war in Spain and a totalitarian Soviet Union.  Apart from strident idealists, religious or political, (who when in power fill prisons and erect concentration camps)  most folk quite reasonably wanted to get by without being constantly told what to do by their governments, asked to fight by their governments or heavily taxed by their governments.

The collection of film negatives seem to span a five year period from 1930/31 to 1935/36.

One of the earliest photographs: Three sisters and their mother, with an aunt or family friend. Circa early 1930s. 

One of the earliest photos of the three sisters, based on the height of the youngest sister. The bulges around her knees, underneath her socks, suggest bandages, possibly because of psoriasis.  (1.)

The younger sister with one of her elder sisters. Photo probably taken by the third sister.

Mum with one of the sisters.

One of the sisters seated, it is believed, near the front door of their home.

A beginning of term photo? The youngest girl holds a magazine that on the back cover has an advertisement for The Listener magazine.

Dad, two of the sisters, possibly family friends or relatives on an outing. Taken two or so years on from the previous photo.

Dad has a book and a camera tucked under his elbow. It is assumed, by his appearance,  that he is an academic, a scientist or a medical consultant. Dad only appears three times in this collection of photos, not necessarily because he is the one taking the photos. One camera is often used by one of the elder sisters – a camera that part of a frayed  light seal shows up in the negative. (This blemish has been removed in the digital clean up of the images.)  A second camera used – we don’t know by who – does not have this characteristic feature, and the lens is a touch sharper.

Part of the frayed light seal top right. This minor blemish has been removed in the digital clean up of the photos.

Mum with a Thermos flask and one of the older daughters, possibly, going by the patches of chalk, on the Sussex Downs.

The youngest sister at the same location with a young woman who may be the eldest sister or a cousin. We will also see the possible eldest sister or cousin in a Roedean photo, and in a photo from Switzerland.

Family friend or Uncle at the same picnic.

Family friend or Uncle at the same location.

A Formal Picnic with a Grandma

Some years before: Picnic in the countryside with fine bone china and a Sunbeam 20.9 Fixed Head Coupe, manufactured circa 1930. (2)

The formal picnic, rather than the family’s usual al fresco approach is probably due to the presence of Grandma, believed to be the mother’s Mother.

Grandma at the picnic and the car.

The family picnics were usually more al fresco.

The youngest daughter with, it is assumed, her other Granny. There is a strong facial similarity between the two.

The Seaside and Water

By the seaside.

By the seaside, two of the sisters, a sandcastle and the photographer’s shadow. Identified as Kynance Cove, Cornwall.  (See below)

This, and the photo above, is Kynance Cove, in Cornwall.  My thanks to David Milward for identifying the location of this beach.

Three girls in a punt.

One of the daughters with possibly the gent we saw in the earlier el fresco picnic photo. The river could be the Thames.

A year or two on, and Mum and her three daughters in a boat off, it is believed, the English coast. The daughter on the right has a book in her lap. The function of the weathered gent at the prow is not clear. Note the two chairs and probable lack of oar locks, which suggests there is an outboard motor.

Another  year or so on: one of the daughters in the sea, and a friend. School-friend?

Roedean School

Roedean: In the background the family Sunbeam 20.9 Fixed Head Coupe. The identity of the school girls is not clear, although the girl on the right is in two other family photos.

The photo above was possibly taken on the evening before the September start of the autumn term.  Note the long shadows, suggesting late afternoon or early evening.  It’s been a warm day too, the windows are wide open (even allowing for the then public school  ethos of plenty of fresh air). And a young hand is holding a plant sprig out of the rear car window.

A cousin or the eldest sister (of four sisters) by the Sunbeam 20.9 Fixed Head Coupe, Roedean School.

It can’t be ruled out that the girl above is the eldest sister. This is the second photograph we have seen of her, and there is a third one of her to come, taken in Switzerland.  Her absence from most of the photographs could be explained by her boarding at Roedean School. Although it is possible that the family lived in Sussex, it would not have been unusual – even up to the 1950s –  to send a child to a boarding school in the same county as the family lived.

Mixed cricket, on the cricket field near the cliff, Roedean School, Sussex.

It was the photo above that clinched it that the school was Roedean, besides the architecture of the building behind the school girls above. Roedean, built by chalk cliffs near Brighton, Sussex was started by the  Lawrence sisters in 1885. It was founded to prepare girls for entrance to the then newly opened women’s college at Cambridge Univeristy: Girton and Newnham.

Two girls out of doors, reading informally, Roedean.

Roedean girl in “civvies”  sitting on a balustrade.  Courts of some kind below.

A “candid” photo of “Miss” or a senior girl. Roedean.

 Image source unknown

 Image source unknown.

Three girls in school uniform. The girl closest to us is one of the older sisters.

Three girls in school uniform. The one in the middle is one of the older sisters.

Until we can identify their uniform we can not say that the girls are at Roedean. Even allowing for different summer uniform and rest of the year uniform, it does not conform to the pictures of the possible eldest sister’s uniform, nor the uniform of Roedean girls a few years laters, seen below, from circa 1943 when the school was evacuated to Keswick in Cumberland in the north of England. It is possible, but not known whether the Roedean uniform changed at the end of the 1930s.

Evacuated Roedean girls in Keswick, circa 1943. Photo source unknown. 

Trip to Switzerland

On a cross channel boat, possibly to Ostende. The youngest daughter with scarf and book. Vacated chair on right – photo presumed to be taken by the third sister.

Burcht, near Antwerp in Flemish Belgium. Identification by window on left and hotel on right.

It is possible that the family motored through Belgium, Germany and then into Switzerland.  The following locations have not been identified, yet, though there is Flemish/Dutch style buildings in at least one.

As yet unidentified town, but with Dutch style architecture.

German autobahn.

The photo above has been taken, it seems, from a bridge spanning the built, but not as yet opened autobahn.

The family in an unidentified German speaking Swiss town. The father with his characteristic spectacles and bow tie, his wife to his right. Then to their right two, possibly three of the sisters. The ‘woman’ with the hat to the right of the mother is possibly the eldest daughter, that we saw in a photo taken on the Sussex Downs with the youngest girl, and also the photo taken of her in front of Roedean School. There is a facial similarity to the mother.  The lady on the left is possibly Swiss.

Unidentified Swiss town back gardens.

The sisters with perhaps their Swiss family hosts. This is quite a few years on from the first photo we saw at the beginning of this Post. The gent to the right has a similar sartorial garb as the father of the girls, suggesting he is a professional colleague of Dad’s. The girls to the left and right of the youngest daughter seem to be twins.

The – Swiss? – twins with the same dresses. We have already seen the lady with the glasses in the previous group photo.

Dad sketching in lower Alpine pasture. In the mid distance there is a woman sitting. One of his daughters?

Two of the sisters in mid Alpine pasture with their Swiss hostess, who we have seen in two previous photographs. The elder of the two girls has bruises or insect bites on her shin.

Youngest daughter centre in cafe table scene. Her mother to her left, and behind her, left to right, the fourth eldest sister (?) and one of her middle sisters.

There are photos of another trip abroad, in either Denmark or the German Baltic coast.

Dad with his pipe and bow tie and a dusty Sunbeam 20.9 Fixed Head Coupe. Dusty perhaps because of their trip to Switzerland. The identity of the “boy” and what seems a mechanic and their relationship to Dad, who has put on workers garb to protect his suit, is not clear. Although the family is comfortably off it doesn’t seem likely that they would keep a full-time chauffeur/mechanic in the 1930s.  Pre 1914, yes.

The Danish Coast or the German North Sea Coast

Possibly either Danish coast or German North Sea Coast.

The youngest daughter sitting on a bench by a thatched cottage. Believed to be by the Danish or German North Sea coast, circa 1935/36.

The youngest daughter and one of the middle sisters playing croquet near the Danish coast or the North Sea German coast.

Stooks of corn near the Danish Coast or the German North Sea Coast, circa 1935.

Back Home.

Believed to be Sussex. A field of  sheep and a chalk track.

Variant of  sheep photo above. Believed to be Sussex. Circa 1935.

Another family al fresco picnic, probably Sussex. The youngest daughter is centre, her mother to her left, and then the possible fourth, eldest daughter. One of the middle girls to the right. Unknown gents.

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Growing up: from circa 1931 to 1936.

Circa 1931.

Middle sister on a horse. Circa 1936.

Youngest (but growing up) sister on a horse. And smiling. Circa 1936.

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War.

“London’s Searchlights and Sound Locators Manned by A.T.S. By the beginning of 1942 there were searchlight batteries in the London Defence Area manned entirely by members of the A.T.S.; this group on a searchlight site is operating a sound locator, forerunner of radio-location.”   Photo Illustrated.  Source The Second Great War, Volume Six.

In December 1941 Britain was the first country to conscript unmarried women for war service in the Second World War, with a shortage in the Services, munitions, and aircraft production.  By July 1943 the upper age limit was extended to 51. The entry age had been set at 19. Many women volunteered for certain kinds of work or Services to try and avoid being conscripted to a job or Service they didn’t want.  Some parents would have concerns too as to where their daughters went, as the womens’ Services were tainted with notions of “Impropriety” (3).  Waafs were often called “officers ground-sheets”. (4)   If unmarried, all of the sisters would have been eligible for conscription. If any of the sisters had already started to work in the Civil Service or were training to be teachers they would be unmarried as married women were not allowed to work in the Civil Service or in teaching  – the “Marriage Bar”.  The ban in the UK was finally revoked in 1946.

“Liberation of Europe: W.A.A.F. nursing orderlies fly to France. These nursing orderlies are responsible for the general care of sick and injured personnel at R.A.F. hospitals and sick quarters. A number of airwomen escort patients in air ambulances.” Photo British Official Photograph.  Source Women in Uniform, D.Collett Wadge, Sampson Low, 1946. D. Collett Wadge was formerly the Senior Commander of the A.T.S.

“Airwoman (W.A.A.F.) at the control of a winch lorry used for raising and lowering barrage balloons; a steel grille protects her from injury.”  Photo Fox Photos.  Source The Second Great War, Volume Four.

“British nurses with the B.L.A. (British army of Liberation, afterwards designated the Army of the Rhine) worked in Normandy at the hospitals well up towards the front line. Shelling and bombing within half a mile of the hospital was no new experience. They wore battledress and lived in the same manner as the troops. The picture shows a group of Q.A.I.M.N.S officers carrying their kit past tents near the front-line hospital.”  Note their steel helmets they carry.  Photo British Official Photograph. Source Women in Uniform, D.Collett Wadge, Sampson Low, 1946.

“A Wren ship mechanic welding on bow door of landing craft”. Photo British Official Photograph. Source Women in Uniform, D.Collett Wadge, Sampson Low, 1946.

“A Wren steward waiting on naval officers in the wardroom which was once the library of a famous school.”  As Roedean School was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the War there is a sporting chance this is Roedean.  Photo British Official Photograph. Source Women in Uniform, Sampson Low, 1946.

“A Wren steward at work in a naval establishment”. This is possibly Roedean School. Photo British Official Photograph. Source Women in Uniform, Sampson Low, 1946.

“Radio Wrens coming off duty at a Royal Navy air station.”  Photo British Official Photograph. Source Women in Uniform, Sampson Low, 1946.

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Footnotes

  1. Psoriasis. Thanks to Elspeth Wight for suggesting the likely cause of the knee bulges.
  2. Sunbeam car. Thanks to Ian Reid for facilitating the identification of the Sunbeam car, and to members of the Austin A30 – A35 Owner’s Club for the identification.
  3. Impropriety. See The People’s War, Angus Calder, London, 1969.
  4. Officers ground-sheet. See You, You & You: The People Out of Step with World War 11, Pete Grafton, London, 1981.

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Help

If you spot a mistake, can identify a location, or have any suggestions do use the Leave a Comment facility at the bottom of this Post. Many thanks.

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The Elbe at Hamburg

The Elbe at Hamburg

photos by Pete Grafton.

The Elbe at Hamburg, 2014.

Park Fiction (Plastic Park), St Pauli, over-looking the Elbe, 2015.

Big boats on the Elbe, 2011.

Iced, Landungsbruken, 2002.

Iced (2), Landungsbruken, 2002.

Iced (3), Landungsbruken, 2002.

Iced (4) Landungsbruken, 2002.

Iced (5)  Landungsbruken, 2002.

Iced (6)   Landungsbruken, 2002.

Iced (7), Landungsbruken, 2002.

Elbe, Landungsbruken, 2014.

Elbe, Haben Geburtstag, May 2014.  Rickmer Rickmers foreground, Hamburg Elbe concert hall/Elbphilharmonie Hamburg background.

Elbe, Haben Geburtstag concert, May 2014.

Elbe Haben Geburtstag,  backing band, May 2014.

Strolling people, Elbe Haben Geburtstag, May 2014.

Ferry boat, Elbe, Hamburg, 2011.

Elbe vessel upstream from Blankenese, Hamburg. 2007.

Sandy foreshore, Elbe, near Hamburg, 2011.

Elbe shore building site, 2002.

Elbe shore building site (2), 2002.

Elbe shore building site (3), 2002.

Elbe shore building site (4), 2002.

Elbe shore building site (5), 2002.

Elbe reeds downstream from Wedel. 2001.

Elbe reeds (2) downstream from Wedel, 2001.

Elbe,  Uwe shipwreck, Falkensteiner Ufer, Hamburg, 2018.

The Uwe shipwreck, Falkensteiner Ufer, Elbe, Hamburg, 2018.

Muddy girl and wooden ship carcass (the Polstjernan), Falkensteiner Ufer, Elbe, Hamburg, 2018.

Idyll, Falkensteiner Ufer, Elbe, Hamburg, 2018.

The Photographer relaxes, Elbe 2009. photo Elspeth Wight.

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1950s Paris in Colour

1950s Paris in Colour

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A collection of slides from the Pete Grafton Collection.

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A mixture of slides (transparencies) of Paris from the 1950s, bought on ebay in 2008.   The Kodak Kodachrome transparencies were taken by American tourists to Paris between 1950 and 1958.  We know this as some slides are annotated with the date, as above, and the 1958 slides can be dated as that was the year  Kodak started to emboss the cardboard mount of the slide with the date they were processed.

The other slides in this collection were “ready-made”, from the same period, bought probably by mail order in the States, rather than from racks outside tourist spots in Paris.  The ready made slides were marketed by the American company Maston – “Maston’s Travels Around the World” series. They would be marketed in the likes of the American Photography magazine. You could travel the world from the comfort of your armchair using a 35mm slide viewer.

Argus slide viewer. Photo Source Pinterest

Maston’s probably used local freelance photographers to build up their library.

Maston. “Eiffel Tower, from New York Ave”.

Tourist. Eiffel tower, scooter & coach. 1958.

Tourist. East pillar, Eiffel Tower. 1958.

Tourist. Spar, Eiffel Tower. 1950 – 1957.

Tourist. “View from Eiffel”. 1950 – 1957.

Tourist. “Paris from Tower”. 1958.

Tourist. “Paris” (Ice cream vendor). 1958.

Maston. “Place de la Concorde.”

Tourist. “Concorde Square. 1953.”   The car with the red and black body paint is a Paris taxi.  This colouring of Paris taxis was characteristic of the period, and will be seen in further slides.

Tourist.  Champs d’Elysies. 1950 – 1957.

Tourist. Champs d’Elysies. 1958.

Maston. “Champs d’Elysies street scene”.

Tourist. Arc de Triumph. Circa 1953.

Tourist. “Arc de Triumph. July 1950”.

Tourist. “Paris. 1950”

Maston. “Luxembourg Palace and Park.”

Maston. “Church of the Madeleine.”

Maston. “Pantheon.”

Tourist. “Dome de Invalides” 1950 – 1957.

Maston. “Sacre-Coeur.”

Maston. “Montmatre Street.”

Tourist. “Monmartre”. 1958.

Maston. “Notre Dame Gardens”.

Tourist. Fishing by the Seine and Notre Dame. 1958.

Tourist. The Seine and bookstalls. 1958.

Maston. “Bookstalls – River Seine, Notre Dame background”

Tourist. Book stall. 1958.

Tourist.  1950 – 1957.

Tourist. “Flower Market. 1953.”

Mastons. “Rue des Barre’s Pass.”  (Rue des Barres, Paris 4, is between Quai de l’Hotel de Ville and Rue de Rivoli)

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Colour Photos of 1950s France

 at petegrafton.com

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Christmas Time in Paris, Hamburg, Scotland & England

By Monckebergstr., Hamburg,  December, 2002

Christmas Time in Paris, Hamburg, Scotland & England.

Exchange Place, Glasgow, December, 2003

La Défense, Paris, December, 2010.

La Défense, Paris, December, 2010

Central London, December, 2013

La Défense, Paris  2010

By Monckebergstr., Hamburg, December 2003

La Défense, Paris, December, 2010

Leicester Square, London, December, 2013

St Pauli, Hamburg, December, 2013

St Pauli, Hamburg, December, 2010.

BHV Department Store, Rue de la Verrerie, Paris, December,  2010

Turkey judging, Dartmouth, Devon, December, 2012

Au Bon Marché department store,  December, 2010

Christmas window display, Au Bon Marché, Paris, December, 2010

Deli, High Street, Peebles, Scotland, December, 2002.

Leicester Square, London, December, 2013

Leiccester Square, London, December, 2013

Leicester Square, London, December, 2013

Leicester Square, London, December,  2013

Leicester Square, London, December,  2013

Altona Bus Station, Hamburg, December, 2003

Double decker bus, London, December, 2014

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof,  December, 2004

Yeovil Junction railway station tea room, Somerset, England, December, 2014

Tank engine, Paignton, Devon, England, December 2011

 

Royal Castle Hotel, Dartmouth, Devon, England, December, 2012

Rue de Sèvres, Paris, December, 2010

 Rue de Sèvres, Paris, December,  2010

Mistletoe, Dartmouth, Devon, England, December, 2012

Ottenser Hauptstrasse., Altona, Hamburg, December, 2002

Grosse Bergstrasse, Altona, Hamburg December, 2011

Ottenser Hauptstrasse, Altona, Hamburg, December, 2011

Mercado, Ottenser Hauptstrasse, Altona, Hamburg December, 2011

Ottenser Hauptstrasse, Altona, Hamburg, December, 2003

Ottenser Hauptstrasse, Altona, Hamburg, December, 2017

Ottenser Hauptstrasse, Altona, Hamburg, December, 2016

Teignmouth, Devon, England, December, 2012

Rathausmarkt, Hamburg, December, 2003

By Monckebergstrasse, Hamburg, December, 2003

Ottenser Hauptstrasse, Altona, Hamburg, December, 2016

Dawlish, Devon, England, December, 2013

Biggar, Scotland, December 2017.

Biggar, Scotland, December, 2017.

30 December, 2017, Biggar, Scotland.

30 December, 2014, Dawlish, Devon, England.

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Buchenwald Concentration Camp, June 2009

Buchenwald Concentration Camp, June 2009.

photos Pete Grafton

Former railway track leading to Buchenwald concentration camp.

The No. 6  bus to Buchenwald. Weimar, June 2009.

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Buchenwald Concentration Camp is on a wooded hill near the town of Weimar in eastern Germany. It is a 10 km (6 mile) bus ride from the town.  The camp was built in 1937 and liberated by American troops in April 1945. Between 1937 and 1945 it is estimated that 56,545 inmates died, from being shot, hung, worked to death or from illness.

Former goods sidings at Weimar railway station. Some transits for Buchenwald left from here.

Site of railway track leading into Buchenwald. The railway was built by Buchenwald prisoners.

Buchenwald railway track. Work on memorial stones to those that died.

Memorial stones to four of the estimated 56,000 who died at Buchenwald.

Journey’s end: the Buchenwald terminus of the railway line. In the foreground a few artifacts found during the ‘restoration’ of the line.

The main entrance gate to Buchenwald concentration camp: Jedem Das Seine – To Each His Own.

Medical examination slab, Buchenwald.

Sink, crematorium complex, Buchenwald.

Floor of wash-up surgical area, crematorium complex, Buchenwald.

Visitor in the surgical wash-up area photographing former prisoners of Buchenwald.

Crematorium ovens, Buchenwald.

Crematorium ovens, a bouquet of flowers and a little girl, Buchenwald.

Reproduction from Visitors “Comments” book: “Danke Hitler – Thanks Hitler“, and  below it,  a Deutsche Volksunion sticker.

Gents urinals in the Buchenwald visitor centre.

Empty coat-hangers in the Buchenwald Visitor Centre cafeteria.

Visitor Centre foreground and SS NCO barracks in the background, Buchenwald.

“Effects, clothing and equipment depot building”, Buchenwald.

Levelled area of prisoners buildings, Buchenwald.

Levelled prisoners buildings, looking towards Stores Depot building, Buchenwald.

Levelled ground of prisoners buildings, looking towards main entrance of the camp, Buchenwald.

Boot scrape amongst levelled ground at Buchenwald.

Rear view of the Crematorium, Buchenwald. Note the “No Smoking ” sign and the “No dogs” sign. The  concentration camp guard-dog kennels are still intact.  The kennels are near the SS NCO barracks, shown to the rear of the photo of the Visitor Centre entrance.

Buchenwald concentration camp security van, 2009.

Buchenwald concentration camp Siemens/MAN standby emergency generator to maintain the electricity supply to the electrified fencing, perimeter searchlights and lighting within the camp.

Detail of the Siemens/MAN emergency standby generator – “MAN Dieselmotor”, Buchenwald.

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Soviet Camp No.2 Buchenwald 1945 – 1950.

Because of agreements made at conferences at Yalta (January 1945) and Potsdam (July 1945) between  the USA, UK and the USSR,  the American forces  were obliged to withdraw from Buchenwald and Weimar to a line approximately 275 km (170 miles) to the west, leaving behind an area that eventually became part of the DDR (the German Democratic Republic).  Soviet forces, including the Soviet equivalent of the German Gestapo, took over. At Buchenwald a concentration camp was set up by the Soviets, known as Soviet Camp No.2. The prisoners were alleged political or “class” enemies. It was run by the Soviets from 1945 until 1950.  It is estimated 7,113 prisoners died at the camp.  They were buried in unmarked mass graves in the surrounding woods. The camp was handed over to the Soviet satellite state the DDR in 1950.

“Stalin: The Best Friend of the German People” poster in the small exhibition area dedicated to Soviet Camp No. 2, Buchenwald.

Surviving perimeter concrete fence posts of  Soviet concentration camp No.2, Buchenwald.

After the collapse of the DDR in 1990 poles were erected marking the mass graves of those who died  in the Soviet Camp No.2 Buchenwald. This wooded area is near the railway track that leads into Buchenwald Concentration camp.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp 1937 – 1945: A Guide to the Historical Exhibition. Wallstein Verlag, 2004.  This is an essential in-depth book about those who were sent to Buchenwald, life inside the camp, and the  liberation of the camp in April 1945.

The No.6 bus returning from Buchenwald to Weimar.

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The photographs were taken over two days in June, 2009.  Photos taken by Pete Grafton.  For use of a photo or photos please use the Leave a Reply box below.

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Summer by the Sea, 1903 (Sheringham),

Summer by the Sea, 1903 (Sheringham).

Photos from the Pete Grafton Collection.

Sheringham beach, 1903.  From a family album of photos from a summer stay in Sheringham, Norfolk, 1903.

The photos were kept in a Kodak photo album.

“Sheringham” inscription, inside cover page of the Kodak photo album.

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“A Pretty Corner, Sheringham”.  Crop from a J.Salmon postcard, pre-1914, but published after the coming of the railway to Sheringham.

The railway came to Sheringham on the Norfolk coast in 1887.  This was quite late for coastal villages and small towns that were to become seaside holiday destinations. For instance, the railway came to Weston-super-Mare in 1841, Southport in 1848, Girvan in 1860 and Newquay in 1876.

Train in a Sheringham garden, 1903.  Photo from the Kodak family album.

Although two brick works are shown in the Sheringham area on a 1906 Ordnance Survey map it’s likely the railway brought the materials, and probably the men that built The Grand Hotel.    It opened  in 1898.

The Grand Hotel, Sheringham.   It had a ballroom, a billiards room, and a bowling green. 

Sheringham was typical of many British seaside resorts that developed quickly with the coming of a railway.  Where once there had been just fields and cottages, and “pretty corners”, or no corners at all seaside resorts sprang up.   There was a public – a population – ready and eager to soak up the sea, the sun (when it appeared) and the fun.

Crowds on North Pier, Blackpool, Lancashire, Easter, 1914.

Sheringham was a three and a quarter hour train journey from London Liverpool Street station, changing at Norwich.

London Liverpool Street station, morning rush-hour, pre-1914.

Because Sheringham was not close to industrial cities and towns the seaside holiday-makers were mostly middle class, and entrepeneurs were quick to build detached house with large gardens for summer lettings, or ownership.

A Sheringham house, with Mother, child and on the left, nanny/domestic servant.  Circa 1903.  From the Kodak family album.

London & North Eastern Railways map of train lines in the Norfolk and adjacent area, 1930.  Sheringham is at the top, near Cromer.

The original 1887 Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway line went from Norwich to Sheringham via Melton Constable and then on to Cromer Beach, where it terminated.  This crop is from how the local railway lines had developed by 1930, by which time they were owned by LNER.  Source LNER route map.

Page from the Kodak Sheringham photo album, 1903.

The Kodak London address on the inside cover of the Kodak photo album –  “43, Clerkenwell Road” – dates the album to 1903. The year before and the years after Kodak’s London address was different.  The album may have been old stock when bought by the wife or husband (featured in the photos that follow) but with the immense popularity of photography ushered in by roll film Kodak cameras, and the demand for photo albums to put them in, it is reasonable to assume that the photos that follow were taken in the summer of 1903 0r the summer of 1904.

Kodak camera promotion advertisement.  The Kodak woman with the distinct striped dress was introduced in their advertising in 1910.

Sheringham Beach, 1903.

The child with his back to us is one of the three children that the mother, and the father, (when he was down at the weekends) took photos of.  We know nothing about the family, beyond what we can speculate from the contents in the photos that follow.  They were probably renting the house (rather than owning it) for the summer;  they had a nanny/domestic servant and Dad, when we see him, seems to be a dapper middle class gent, and definitely not “trade”.  Most of those on the beach and elsewhere that we see are also middle class.  There is one exception, where the gent is possibly “trade”, and possibly from nearby Norwich.  It is assumed the other holidaymakers were mostly from London and the Home Counties.  The Kodak photo album was bought by Pete Grafton in 2008 in a second-hand bookshop.

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By the Sea

“Sheringham is So….” 1903. 

Five years later: John Hassal’s artwork for the first “Skegness is So Bracing” poster, 1908.

Young boy – the young son of the family – on the beach, Sheringham, 1903.

Nanny/domestic servant, young son* sitting on the beach, his sister standing facing us and found on the beach beach-mate. The onlooking dog is not part of the family.

* It is strongly believed that despite the hat, and skirted garments the young child sitting on the beach is a boy, the son of the family.   There was a fashion of dressing small boys in dresses and other skirted garments from the late nineteenth century well into the Edwardian period.  This fashion did not survive the First World War. This fashion was separate from the velvet jackets and long hair style inspired by the novel Little Lord Fauntleroy.  The following photo, believed to have been taken in the USA in the late nineteenth century is an example of boys wearing dresses.

Studio photo of three boys in dresses. Late nineteenth century, believed to be USA. Photo source House of Mirth.

Boy in dress with dog, late nineteenth century. Unknown photo source.

Sister and her brother, Sheringham, 1903.

Older sister, her brother, and the younger sister with her back to us holding a dog.  In the sea,  Sheringham, 1903.

We will see a photo of the dog – a puppy, again, in the garden of the house it is presumed the family are renting for the summer.

Believed to be the Nanny/domestic servant, walking down to the sea with the young brother.  Photo believed to have been taken by Mum. Dad seemed to come down to Sheringham at the weekends.  Sheringham, 1903.

Believed to be Mum, in her swimsuit. Note the swimsuit detail on her shoulders, absent in the Nanny’s swimsuit.  Sheringham, 1903.

Mum with her son and daughter. Sheringham, 1903.

The beach at Sheringham had a mixture of stretches of sand, stretches of large pebbles, and a mixture of both.  Sheringham, 1903.

Brother and sister, with beach spades, pebble beach, cool summer day.  Sheringham, 1903.

Sandy beach with brother and his sisters.  Note the bather. Coolish day, Sheringham, 1903.

Dapper Dad, on the beach. It is believed he came down to Sheringham at weekends. 1903.

Dad with his daughters and son. Sheringham beach, 1903.

Dad with his younger daughter, outside their changing hut. Overcast cool day. The child and woman to their right have use of the adjoining beach hut.

Dad outside changing hut with his eldest daughter. The changing hut looks cheaply built. Would it survive a storm? The initials probably refer to the hirer of these huts.  Update:  The hut initials are those of local fisherman and Sheringham lifeboat crew member Jimmy Dumble who had a concession for beach huts on this section of the beach – West Beach.  My thanks to Tim Groves, chair of the Sheringham Museum Trust for this information. (1)

Nanny with the younger daughter and son. Note the beach changing huts in the background. Sheringham, 1903.

Nanny with the children in the water. Sheringham, 1903.

Younger daughter on a nice warm sea-side day, with rowing boat.  Note the finger print caused when the film was developed.   Sheringham, 1903.

Nanny with the little boy. Her facial dark skin colour is probably caused by the limitations of the then widely used Ortho film.  It was not good at capturing the different light tones and certain colours.  In some photos of the children their faces are accurately captured whilst their hands in the shadows can be very dark. The limitations of ortho film can be seen particularly in old photos of summer gardens where green vegetable leaves and orange flowers can be rendered almost black.

A sunnier beach day, Nanny with the little boy.

Snapshot taken by either Mum or Dad.  Note the Grand Hotel up on the left. The children, dressed very differently, are not the family children.

“The Promenade, Sheringham.”  A Jarrold’s Series postcard. No date.

Homeward bound.  The Nanny with the little boy in his perambulator, his younger sister on the grass bank. 

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House & Garden

The holiday home and garden. Mum, son and on the left, the nanny.  Sheringham, 1903.

The brick built house with cement rendering would have been built following the arrival of the railway in 1887.  There’s about ten years of climbing ivy growth on the house, which would roughly date it to 1893.  It’s a hot day with integral sun blinds out, and upstairs windows open.  There’s a curious ad-hoc net curtain, and curtain pieces set-up in the windows, as if they have been rigged up by the family, who it is assumed are renting for the summer. As there is a roll blind drawn three-quarters of the way down in the large upstairs window it is assumed the ad-hoc curtaining is to give some privacy, rather than pull curtains to, or blinds right down on hot sunny days.

The tree on the right is struggling.

There’s a soil pipe, seen rising above the guttering, next to a small open window, which will be the toilet.  Whether it fed into a septic tank or whether mains sewage had been installed for the new houses is not known.  House lighting would probably have been by gas, though many older houses and buildings in the town would still be lit by paraffin lamps.  The kitchen could possible have a gas oven, a relatively new innovation in those days. The town’s gas works (it’s assumed Sheringham had a gas works) would run on coal, originally brought to the town by coastal shipping, and then carted on by horses. With the coming of the railway, coal would be brought by train.  Local stations up and down the land had a siding or sidings and a coal yard, right up to the 1960s.  Even after many lines were axed, the coal yard would survive near the derelict country station.  Going by the double chimneys, there at least 6 fireplaces in the house, though one could be for a coal burning kitchen range.

In 1903 families would make their own amusement: cards, games, reading, singing and music, if there was a piano.  The “Talking Machine” –  the gramophone, was starting to become popular, but was not yet that widespread.  Few houses in 1903 had telephones, including even those of upper class folk, but there were three Royal Mail letter and postcard deliveries a day, and a telegram could be sent, say from London, and delivered to the house on the same day.

Mum, Son and daughters on the very large lawn of the house. Glimpse of another house built around the same time.  Photo most likely taken by Dad or the eldest daughter.  Sheringham, 1903.

Crop of the above photograph.  Mum, son and daughter in the garden.  Note the nanny/domestic servant in the background. It looks as if she is weeding a flower border. Sheringham, 1903.

This was a happy family, with a great sense of fun….

Oop-la!

The son on his toy train. Note the shadow of Dad’s peaked cap, as he takes the photo.

Nanny/domestic servant/wicket-keeper. Note the “at home” pinafore and the white cuffs she wears over her by-the-sea “Nanny” dress.  Nice swinging “hit it for 6” action from the batswoman.

“Out!”

Lovely to see the hint of a smile on the Nanny. She looks like a well liked/loved Nanny. Note her cap: this photo is taken on a different occasion from the cricket match.

The new puppy?

Crop from above photo.  Puppy dog, Sheringham, 1903.  Note the girls’ sandals.  We saw the puppy carried by the younger daughter in the sea in an earlier photo.

Son’s wardrobe adjustment by Mum…

… Adjusted.

It’s imagined that the house and the surrounding houses with these large gardens have been jostled in by shoe-horned homes since the 1970s where the gardens once were.  In fact, it’s possible some of these pre-1914  houses were demolished to maximise the amount of new homes that could be built on the site.

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Fishermen, Boats & Fishing

The coming of the railway to Sheringham in 1887 not only brought city and suburban middle class families to what had been a by-the-sea fishing hamlet, it also benefited the local fishermen.   Their catch of fresh crabs, lobsters and whelks, and cod were sent on the up train to the Billingsgate fish market in London.  The Wikipedia entry on Sheringham estimates that because of the coming of the railway the number of Sheringham fishing boats harvesting the sea reached a peak of 200.

Fisherman repairing lobster pot with promenading ladies in the background. Note what looks like a fairly new concrete slip, possibly for the lifeboat.  Photo by either Dad or Mum.  Update:  The building is the Henry Ramey Lifeboat House. My thanks to Brian Farrow of Sheringham RNLI for this information. (2)  Sheringham 1903.

Fishermen by their boats and view towards the lifeboat station.  This photo is believed to have been taken at the same time as the one above.  (Note the fisherman repairing his pot in the background, behind the boats.)   Sheringham, 1903.

The Sheringham Lifeboat. The son and his younger sister in the mid-ground. Update:  The lifeboat is most likely the William Bennett, in service 1886 – 1904.  It has been described as a very difficult boat to launch. For this information and identification of the Lifeboat House (see the two photos above) my thanks to Brian Farrow of the Sheringham RNLI  (2)  Sheringham 1903.

The Sheringham lifeboat William Bennet on Beach Road, and fishermen, with son and sister looking at the lifeboat. My thanks to Brian Farrow, Sheringham RNLI for this information. (2)    Sheringham, 1903.

Sheringham Lifeboat William Bennett, with the younger sister looking at a group of fisherman. By her dress we can tell that this photograph was taken on a warmer day than the previous photo. The girl in the foreground is probably a local girl. Note her different type of clothes  Also note the gas light. Lifeboat information from Brian Farrow, Sheringham RNLI.  (2)   Sheringham, 1903.

Sheringham summer visitors looking down at a probable hauling of nets.  Note  on the foreground right what seems to be the head and shoulders of Dad as he takes the photograph, a shadow of a lamp standard and then the long shadow of a boy. Mid summer’s evening,  Sheringham, 1903.

Crop of the above photo showing the onlookers and a bath chair. On the left, a fingerprint smudge from photo developing.

2nd crop of the main photo. Note the “For Sale” sign on the building on the right, and dogs.

Harvesting the sea at Sheringham. Visitors and fisherfolk on the beach. Photo taken on a different, overcast day to the photo above.  Note the wall (blurred, foreground) as in above photo. Sheringham,1903.

Fisherwomen on the beach, and typical type of fishing boat used at Sheringham.  1903.

Two fishing boats beached, and changing tents for the tourists. A woman reads a book and visitors on the beach.   A warm calm day.  Sheringham 1903.

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After the Storm

Photos after a storm, or a high tide with a strong on-shore wind.

Beach storm damage, Sheringham, summer, 1903.

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Here and There

The elder daughter side-saddle on a donkey. The boy will be earning some useful money. Note the ragged ends to his breeches. The school leaving age was 13 in 1903.  In agricultural areas many parents took their children temporary out of school for seasonal work, such as pea or fruit picking.  There were Truancy Officers, but the extra money coming into the household was an opportunity not to be missed, and would be looked forward to each year.   The boy in the photograph may well have left school in the summer of 1903.  He looks as if he could be 13.  

Nanny and the son, with arm of Mum, near the golf links above the town. Photo believed to have been taken by Dad.

A wonderful photo of the son at the same location. The photo is unusual, like the one above, because of the sky and white cloud detail, lacking in all the other photos in this collection.  This suggests that Dad has put a yellow filter over the lens, that brings out such detail.

A “candid” photo near the golf links above the town, with the Grand Hotel in the background. It’s a lovely study, and Dad, who probably took it, might have been “tickled pink” by the subject matter. It looks as if the gent is in “trade”. 

Another “candid photo”, this time of canoodling couples on the beach at Yarmouth, 1892.  Yarmouth is further down the coast from Sheringham. This type of “behaviour” would not be permissible for the middle class seaside visitor, and would rarely be seen, if at all, in 1903 Sheringham.  Photo: Paul Martin. (1)

The son in his summer finery in a lane. Going by the details, it’s reasonably sure that the house in the background is the same house that he and his sisters, his  Mum and Dad nanny/domestic and the puppy are staying in.  The two white painted posts will be an entrance into the garden, near where the photo was taken of the manicured gravel path, with Mum and his two sisters and the puppy dog on the lawn.  Houses seen beyond the garden in some of the garden photos will be over to the right (unseen). 

The two sisters gingerly crossing a trickle of a stream. In the background it looks as if the Fair has come to Sheringham.  The tents and horse-drawn vehicles are in too good a condition for it to be a gypsy camp.

Crop from the above photograph.

Cattle and ducks, or geese, in a field, from the same outing, going by the clothes. The function of the lone pole is a mystery. Sheringham, 1903.

Sunny but windy.

“And dolly came too”. Family walk in the nearby countryside, with nanny pushing the perambulator. Dolly has her own  perambulator. This dolly perambulator is seen in one of the photos taken in the garden. Dad would have taken this photo.

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There is still a train service to Sheringham from London via Norwich. The Sheringham Grand Hotel was demolished in 1974.  The Sheringham fishing fleet and the men have almost disappeared.  The Wikipedia entry for Sheringham says that there are now just eight boats operated single-handedly.

And the family in the photo above and the Nanny, and Dad?  Nothing, as yet, is known about them.  There were two World Wars to come.  Was Dad conscripted into the First World War?  The son would have been about 39 when the Second World War began. Did the nanny work in ammunitions in the First World War and earn a lot more money than being a nanny/domestic?  And did Mum volunteer for the Voluntary Aid Detachments – the VADs?

After the First World War  the fashion for dressing young middle class boys in dresses and skirted garments ceased, whilst young women bobbed their hair audaciously – boyishly -short and their chest was minimised.

If Nanny, or the daughters or the son had had children their surviving grandchildren would now be in the 70s to mid 90s age range, and there would be great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren texting, Messaging each other,  ordering their grocery and clothes online and phoning for Indian curries and Italian pizzas to be delivered to their door.  They’re mostly drinking French, Californian and Australian wines along with Czech pilsner.  They’re driving German, French, Japanese and South Korean cars, and they Skype and Facetime each other –  relatives and friends in Australia, or those taking a holiday on the hot seaside beaches of Majorca and Miami.

But, despite all the changes, dollies still go on outings,  and puppy-dogs still bring warmth and delight to households.

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Footnote

(1)  sheringhammuseum.co.uk

(2) sheringhamlifeboat.co.uk

(3) See Victorian Candid Camera: Paul Martin 1864 – 1944, edited by Bill Jay, David & Charles, 1973.

Further Reading

The Snapshot Photograph: the rise of popular photography 1888 – 1939, Brian Coe and Paul Gates,  Ash & Grant, 1977.

The Seaside by Sarah Howell, Studio Vista, 1974.

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If you spot mistakes of fact or can add further information to these photos of Sheringham, do please get in touch using the Leave a Reply box below. Thank-you.

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With the exception of Pin Interest, for use of these photos from the Sheringham 1903 Family Photo Album contact Pete Grafton in the Contact Box at the foot of this Post.

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Trees/Tree

Trees/Tree

photos by Pete Grafton

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Central Paris, France, 2008.

Albi, France, 2001.

Sannox beach, Isle of Arran, Scotland, 2004.

Beach near Formby, England, 2007.

Biggar, Scotland, 2011.

Climpy, near Forth, Scotland, 2003

Clyde valley, Scotland, 2003.

Clyde valley blossom, Scotland, 1999.

Old plum orchard, Clyde valley, Scotland, 1999.

Currie, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2003.

Dawlish, Devon, England, 2014.

Frosted leaves, Climpy, near Forth, Scotland, 2003.

Frosted trees, near New Lanark, Scotland, 2001.

Hamburg Altona, 2000.

Inverewe, Wester Ross, Scotland, 2007.

Near Bellagio, Italy, 2002.

Lausanne, Switzerland, 2010.

Mouse Water, Lanark, Scotland, 2002.

Gorge, Mouse Water, Lanark, Scotland, 2002.

Near Rockcliffe, Scotland, 2002.

Near Beattock Summit, Scotland, 2004.

Near Biggar, Scotland, 2010.

Park, central Gothenburg, Sweden, 2003.

Pisa airport, Italy, 2005.

Quai de Bourbon, Paris, France, 2010.

Rowan, near Crawfordjohn, Scotland, 2005.

Sannox Bay, Isle of Arran, Scotland, 2006.

Sannox Golf Course, Isle of Arran, Scotland, 2004.

Silver birch, Carnwath, Scotland, 2009.

Hamburg suburb, Germany,  2000.

“Elephant trunk”, near Morpeth, England, 2005.

Hamburg Altona, Germany, 2005.

Selkirk, Scotland, 2010.

Belsay Gardens, near Morpeth, England, 2005.

Lochranza, Isle of Arran, Scotland, 2006.

North Medwin by Waulkmill, Scotland, 2001.

Tree near the former bus station, Bath, England, 2002.

Tree bark near the Elbe, Hamburg, Germany, 2002.

Crawford Common, Scotland, Summer, 2002.

Crawford Common, Scotland, winter 2002.

Village tree, Midi region, France, 2001.

Midi region, France, 2001.

Vallorbe, Switzerland, 2010.

Clyde Valley, 2000.

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