Saturday, 3 December 2016

Of grand pictures, the 1893 Cup Final and the jubilee of the 1832 Moorcock murders....... more from the camera of Mr Banks

Inside the Ryalands, circa 1900
Now Mr Banks can never be said to have missed an opportunity.

He was one of those self made Victorians who rose from humble beginnings to become a celebrated photographer capping his career with that seal of official approval which comes from the title “By Royal Appointment.”

He has caught my interest ever since my friend Sally began posting his photographs of Manchester in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

From 1873 and into the next century he recorded the great events of the city, along with the everyday life on the streets and portraits of the good and worthy of Manchester.

And ever mindful that all this was a job he was quick to turn his pictures into books.

Added to this he had a range of studios across the city and beyond including his first in Uppermill and one in Blackpool.

Much of his work like those of the newly opened Town Hall and later the Ship Canal captured that mix of civic pride and entrepreneurial drive which was the age.

Watching the 1893 Cup Final
But he was in touch with what people wanted and in the collections there are plenty of pictures of well known Manchester Streets and popular events, like this one at the Manchester Athletic Ground in Fallowfield.

“The Stadium opened in 1892 and I believe this photo is taken at the cup final match between Wolves and Everton in 1893 which according to one report had an attendance of 45,000 which was quite something given that he stadium had a capacity of 15,000. Fallowfield stadium was demolished in 1994 and is now Richmond Park Halls of Residence.”*

Mrs Simpson, circa 1882
Not that these were all.  In the early years he advertised a range of Valentine cards and continued to do the real commercial business of the individual and group portrait.

And by one of those wonderful coincidences I have two of the Simpson family who lived in Hulme, and ran a dairy business spanning the century from 1850 to the 1940s.

They are typical of the work Mr Banks produced and all of them come with his trade card on the reverse allowing you to clock the addresses of all his studios with a handy reference number should you wish to reorder your picture.

Here they are the grand and not so grand, striking the classic pose and using the studio props to celebrate a moment in their life.

The identities of many are lost with time but a few have survived with some details written on the back

Moorcock Inn, 1882
But as much as I find these fascinating it is the public pictures which draw you into his work and for me this one from 1882 near where he set up his first studio.

It is of the ‘Moorcock Inn‘, Bills o’ Jacks, Greenfield and was taken during the jubilee of the Moorcock Murders, which had happened on April 2nd 1832 when a landlord and his gamekeeper son were violently murdered at a remote pub on the edge of the bleak moorland above Greenfield near Saddleworth.**

But that of course is another story for another time.

But ever mindful of its commercial possibilities Mr Banks was there to exploit that Victorian passion for a gruesome murder and no doubt hoped that the jubilee of that event would add to his professional and financial standing.

Next; a little bit more on his life and some of his early adventures.

Pictures; picture of the inside of the Ryland’s Library, circa 1900 and  Manchester Athletic Ground, 1893,  courtesy of Sally Dervan, Ms Simpson from the collection of Ann Love date unknown, and the ‘Moorcock Inn‘, Bills o’ Jacks, Greenfield, 1882, courtesy of Saddleworth Museum, http://www.saddleworthmuseum.co.uk/

*Sally Dervan

**The Bill o' Jacks Murders, Mysterious Britain & Ireland,
http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/england/greater-manchester/folklore/the-bill-o-jacks-murders.html

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