Thursday, 26 May 2016

Uncovering one of our local photographers, A H Clarke .............where local history met family history

Now I have been fascinated by Harold Clarke who was one of our local commercial photographers.*

Barlow Moor Road, circa 1926
During the 1920s and 30s he recorded many scenes of Chorlton and they are a priceless snap shot of the area.

This one was taken by Harold Clarke of 83 Clarence Road Chorlton, and may have been part of a series issued by Lilywhite Ltd, of Brighouse, in Yorkshire.

There are 21 of his photographs in the Greater Manchester County Records collection dating from 1926 through to 1934 and some from 1926 carry a serial number close to the one in the picture.

All of which is an introduction to a story written by Tony Goulding, who has contributed to the blog before.

“Your posts using postcards produced by A H Clarke re-kindled in me an interest in my family history. A  H Clarke was my maternal grandfather. 

Miss Clarke's ration book, 1939
I had previously searched in vain for 83, Clarence Road where my mother was raised, as her ration book shows. 

I had not noticed the name change to Claridge Roadd. 

On a recent walk past the house I realised how close it was to the old brickworks and remembered how my mother had told me how she used to get into trouble for playing around them and the clay pits.

My grandfather was born in Reddith, Worcestershire in 1889, the son of William who owned tobacconist/photographers on the High St. 

His mother Bessie was a member of the Woodfield family prominent in the town both as needle factory owners and in local politics. 

Arthur Harold became a professional photographer. 

In the 1911 census he is recorded as working as a photographer’s assistant in Hitchin, Herts. He later moved back to Redditch, then after the break-up of his first marriage in the early 1920's lived for a little while in Toxteth, Liverpool, where my mother was born in 1927 before settling in  Chorlton in about 1930.

Book marks Central Ref, 1934
He was obviously quite enterprising at this time as can be seen by these bookmarks he produced of the newly opened Central Library.

Sometime in the early 1940's he both re-located the family home and ceased making his living solely from photography as a 1944 wedding certificate shows him as an Inland Revenue clerk residing at 5, Keppel Rd. 

It must remain a matter of conjecture whether this change was for personal reasons or was due to economic pressure on the photographic trade by the advance in camera ownership and the decline in postcard usage as a result of the increased availability of telephones. 

Of course any such difficulties would be exacerbated by war time shortages, rationing, and restrictions.

Finally it is ironic that I haven't got any photos of my grandfather, who died  in 1952; two years before I was born ------a man who must have taken 10's of 1,000's of them in his lifetime.”

And so there you have it a little bit more of the history of those who recorded our history.

© Tony Goulding May 2015

Pictures; from the collection of Harold Clark, Barlow Moor Road, circa 1926, from the Lloyd Collection, and the ration book and book mark courtesy of Tony Clarke.

*Harold Clarke,

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