Friday, 14 July 2017

Personal Histories

Ancestry searches!

We are slowly working our way through an old ledger that lists Winter's staff names, wages, and addresses, from November 1889 to May 1902.
Many of the entries are quite vague - no first name or initials, no job titles. But, there are contact addresses which do seem to get updated yearly.
It is sometimes tricky to read the handwriting but once you get your eye in it is possible to match up local street names.

The entries are divided in to male employees and female employees, listed mostly from highest to lowest paid. Cross referencing the names, dates, and addresses with the census in 1881, 1891, and 1901 we are able to pinpoint some of the staff.

Miss Tomkinson

One of the entries that piqued our interest was for Tomkinson. Miss Tomkinson is listed in the ledger from the beginning (Nov 1889), and so may have been working at Winters before this date.
According to the ledger, Miss Tomkinson's address is listed as 52 Dashwood Street, Normanton Road, Derby. If we look at the census for 1891, however, whilst we find a Tomkinson family at his address, no one is listed in any occupation that would suggest working at Winters.

We do know that the census takes place in April and coincidentally Tomkinson is absent in the wages ledger at this point.

From 10th January to 2nd May Tomkinson is listed as ill, and then as away with typhoid fever! How can we find out which Tomkinson this is? Is there someone missing in the 1891 census? We can trace the family back to the 1881 census and therein we find, at the age of 8 years, Julia Tomkinson. Was Julia still alive in 1891? Now armed with a firstname and year if birth based on her age we can search again for Julia in 1891 - and here she is:

Julia Tomkinson is resident in the Lime Tree Lane Convalescent Home in Matlock. She is listed as a 'photographic assistant', born in Derby.

So what becomes of Julia? She returns to work in May 1891 and continues to be employed at W. W. Winter until the end of November 1896.

We thought, perhaps she had left to be married but out of curiosity we checked the marriage records and the 1901 census. It appears she remained single and dedicated the rest of her working life to nursing. In 1901 she is working  at Rainhill Asylum in Lancashire, and by 1911 she is Head Nurse at Boreatton Park in Shropshire.
Our access to the census ends here but death records show Julia lives to a good age of 78. We can only speculate but perhaps Julia's experience in the convalescent home inspired her future move to nursing!


We are always looking for people who may be related to the Winter's extended family. Julia did not go on to have children but perhaps you are descended from one of her siblings (Laura, Albert, Bertha, Arthur)? Let us know!

Friday, 21 April 2017

In the Papers!

We have been excited and grateful to receive some local and national press coverage over the FORMAT17 Festival.
The Derby Telegraph have been supportive as always, as have BBC East Midlands. You can see one of our images on BBC Local Live with Gavin Bevis  (14:54, 7 Feb) , and there is a lovely piece on their news website covering the Derby Museums exhibition.

We have particularly had some lovely feedback from the Guardian article. A gentleman from France has been in touch to identify his Great Uncle from the Tickner photograph, and a lady from Spain has recognised her grandfather, Alf Goodere, from the newsagents.

We also spotted a new entry for W. W. Winter on Wikipedia quoting the Guardian article which was a typo. Winters was not in fact founded in 1865, and we can now confirm from a notice in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal that the original date for the business was 1852! This allows us to firmly place Winters as the longest continuously running photography studio in the world.
You can see a copy of the clipping from 31 March 1863 on our website

Last but not least, we came across this lovely blog post from 2014, 'My Great Aunt Norah's wartime diaries, 1938-1948' featuring a Winters portrait of a young woman - a great read for anyone interest in family history.

Friday, 31 March 2017


Well it's been a while since we blogged but a wonderful time for Winters!
We are very fortunate to be based in Derby, home of the international biennial FORMAT photography festival. Over last 12 months we have been working with Greg Hobson (Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum), Debbie Cooper (artist and curator), Jane Middleton-Smith (archivist), and Jonathan Wallis (Head of Museums at Derby Museums), and a handful of dedicated volunteers to bring together a fabulous exhibition as part of FORMAT17.


On display at Derby Museums from 25 February to 23 April 2017, the show has been curated under this years FORMAT theme of 'Habitat' and is titled 'People, Places & Things'.
Jonathan and Greg installing a Winters photograph of King Edward VII
We are delighted to say that after many weeks of long, hard days the exhibition is everything we had hoped and more. The images are superb - spanning 165 years of Winters originals from the first studio on the opposite side of Midland Road, and covering the 150 years at the purpose built studios at 45 Midland Road.
Some of the images on display at Derby Museum
The opening night was a real celebration of Winters and everyone who had worked so hard.

Preview at Derby Museum
We are receiving great feedback and some very welcome national coverage for the heritage trust and will update you on some of the articles that have been appearing! Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date :-)

Friday, 12 August 2016

Researching Antiques

What is it?

Sometimes the first question we have to ask when we uncover something new in the building is, 'What is it?'

Some designs haven't changed much over the years and so it is easy to recognise an old tripod or a film canister. Other times it's not as obvious.
This is our latest find:

We think we have it the right way up as there are castors still attached on one side. You can see the other set of castors on the floor which are made of iron.

Here it is close up:

E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.
Embossed on the iron is E. & H. T. Anthony & Co. / New York. The company ran from 1862 to 1902 when it merged with the Scovill and Adams Company and became Ansco. E. & H. T. Anthony & Company was the largest supplier and distributors of photographic supplies in the United States during the 19th century (see Wikipedia).
You can see a catalogue of their equipment online here but nothing matches up to the piece above.

Our best guess is an easel probably used for enlarging prints by mural printing. We're not, however, entirely confident in this and would love some help in identifying its use.
Some detailed images might help!

The hooks running down the edges are locked in place and there is a bracket on top of each side. We are assuming the sides would be joined together. There are cogs and teeth and a sort of keyhole cover too:

If you have any ideas please share them. It would be a great restoration project for us.
Thank you!
Comment or email us on

Friday, 10 June 2016

Derby Local Heritage

We were delighted to have a stand at this years 40th anniversary Derby Family History Festival held at Derby Central Library.
We were bowled over by the number of people attending and their enthusiam and send our thanks to the Derbyshire Family History Society.
We were able to talked about our archives and chat with many Derby people whose experience of family photography at Winters goes back a generation or two. We shared many of our original Carte de Visite and discussed our restoration services and the emotional value we place on old family photos. It was lovely to share the sense of family treasures!
Jane and Joanna at the Derby Family History Festival
We also started taking bookings for our FREE heritage tours as part of Heritage Open Days in September  2016 when we hope to be opening up a whole new room to the public for the first time!
As always these events involving the public are what make heritage a joy so do book on a tour with us (details can be found on our website
A Winters original Carte de Visite taken at Midland Road Derby
A Winters original photograph of Derby Central Library

Friday, 6 May 2016

The Iloca Stereogram

Look what we found this week!
A new old camera in our collection - an Iloca Stereo-Rapid.
Iloca produced cameras between 1948 and 1960 and the Stereo-Rapid (also known as Stereograms) came around from 1955.
On the front of the camera you can see 3D engraved into the metal. These wonderful cameras produced two images simultaneously which when viewed together created a 3D effect. The camera was used at Winters during weddings especially for the 'confetti shot'.
We haven't come across any stereoscopic prints yet but there is a current trend to turn stereoscopic images in to GIF files (images that move, like a short video). Here is a great example we found on
Is shows you the 3D effect achieved from having the same image taken from fractionally different angles via the two seperate lenses on the camera.

We also found a copy of the manual online, so know we have relearned how to use it we might just have to have a go! It will be on display with our other cameras for Heritage Open Days 2016.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Skilled Artworkers

Studio and Gallery

Walter William Winter advertised himself as as Artist in Photography. We are so used to being able to snap a photo on a camera or phone that we forget the artistry involved in producing a beautiful portrait. Winter came from a family of artists so it was natural for him to see photography as an art form. As such he fashioned his studio on Midland Road as a gallery including photography, landscape paintings and decorated ceramics. You can see the artworks on display in early photographs of the studio:

Art worker's Equipment

Photographs were originally retouched (altered and improved) directly on to the glass negative. Pencil marks would be used to smooth out a sitters skin, lightening under the eyes and contouring cheeks. To do this, art workers would use a range of pencils like the ones below.

This set was produced by the art supplies company Rowney & Co Ltd, who merged with Daler in 1983 to form Daler-Rowney.

Photographs could also be hand tinted prior to the development of colour printing. Usually printed in sepia, watercolour paints were then hand painted onto the photograph to produce a gently coloured image. At Winters both pans and tubes were used:

It is not known whether ceramics were hand painted at the studios. Winter would have seen the opening of Royal Crown Derby at its Osmaston Road site in 1877. However, we do have a gorgeous set of ceramic paints in the Winters collection dating from between 1859 and 1897.

The colour swatch names have been written in by hand.

All these lovely items will be on display at our open days and for private tours. You can keep up to date with our heriateg events by following Freinds of Winters on Facebook: