Thursday, 13 April 2017

From Finland ........ with a story

Now, all too often old family photographs have lost the story that gives them a purpose.

Usually it is simply that there are no names on the back, the date has been omitted and there is no reference to where the picture was taken.

All of which means that within two and certainly three generations the people and the event has been lost forever, and the picture runs the risk of being thrown away.

But not so with this one.

It was sent to me by Andy Robertson who wrote “I am sending this picture because I think you may like it. It is of Percy Albert Sharples (1857-1915) and family in their house in Tampere, Finland.

My wife's great great great grandfather was John Sharples (1814-1876).  He was an overlooker in a mill around Ashton/Stalybridge in 1841. 

Between 1844 and 1847 he, his wife Mary and young family migrated to Tampere, Finland where he became the weaving and spinning master at the rather impressive Finlayson mill.  I suspect he probably ran the show on the shop floor.

John and his growing family remained in Finland but rather surprisingly by 1861 his two eldest surviving sons Solomon my wife's great great grandfather who was born in 1837 and Arthur born five years later were back in Manchester living with family members. 

By 1871 the third son John Edwin who had been born in 1849 was also back in Manchester, leaving the fourth surviving son Percy Albert 1857) and the Sharples’ three daughters in Finland.”

It is a remarkable story and points to the willingness of people to migrate to follow work and better their position.

Usually we assume the migrations were to the Americas, Australasia or Africa while places closer to home were ignored.

But given that countries across the mainland of Europe were also going through their own industrial revolutions, it made perfect sense for Mr Sharples to settle in Finland, leaving me only to wonder if he was invited or went off his own volition.

The picture is also a fine introduction into furniture and fittings of a home middle class home in Finland at the beginning of the 20th century.

I particularly like the ornate design of the piece of furniture behind them along with the wall paper.

But I could't leave the story without returning to John Sharples and his wife who had worked in the mills of Lancashire and settled for a new life in Finland.

I don't have a date but here are pictures of both John and his wife which will have been taken in Finland.
Location; Finland

Picture; in Finland circa 1905 from the collection of Andy Robertson


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