Posts Tagged ‘photographer’

Peter Francis – his home and shop

October 10, 2015

Peter Francis almost became our village photographer by accident – or perhaps that should say by illness. He had been destined to be a part of the family butchery business but ill health found him unable to continue at that job. He fell back on his hobby, as a way of making a living and became a professional and very well respected photographer.

He and his wife, Bessie, had premises on Church Street. They had a retail shop, studio and dark room facilities. They lived in the flat above the shop.

Here is the building as many folks will remember it.


Peter Francis’ shop on Church Street in Market Lavington

The building is still there, of course, but now has only a residential function.

The windows display items for sale but also serve as a showcase for the work done by Peter and Bessie.


One of the shop windows features wedding photos

This one looks to feature recent wedding photos. Weddings were always good money spinners for photographers.

We can also spot a slide projector which reminds us of just how much photography has changed in the last twenty years.


The Photographer’s Shop

March 24, 2014

Market Lavington no longer has a photographer’s shop – something it had for 100 years or so in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We are pleased that a fairly recent photo of Peter Francis’s shop, which was on Church Street, has survived.

Peter Francis's shop on Church Street, market Lavington in about 1970

Peter Francis’s shop on Church Street, Market Lavington in about 1970

We are looking into a lost world here. The market for much of what was on sale (we don’t have an accurate date but estimate it at around 1970) has all but vanished. Photo albums fill the desk. These seem to be special occasions only items these days. Most people just post their thousands of images on a suitable website or just have them to view on their tablets – and it has to be said a tablet makes a very handy photo album. But we can pick out various items and just imagine a child saying, ‘Mummy, what is ….. ?’

Take this item.


Flashcubes? Weren’t they for use with instamatic cameras – the ones that tried to make it all very simple by having film in a cartridge?


And what’s developing and printing?


Yes that was when we used to use those strange lengths of a thing called film.


And cassettes? Ah yes, we used to be able to record sounds on them.

Digital photography and sound have more or less wiped out the competition in the last couple of decades. No wonder a village just can’t support a shop like this any more.

You Dirty Boys!

November 1, 2013

Today we have one of our more delightful photos. It shows Mrs Marion Burgess and two of her sons, Alan and Charlie. The photo was taken by Marion’s husband, Alf Burgess in around 1900. Alf earned his living as a professional photographer at the time

Marion Burgess and sons - Market Lavington, early 20th century

Marion Burgess and sons – Market Lavington, early 20th century

The picture was taken in the back garden of 13 High Street, Market Lavington. This was where the Burgess home was and also included the shop and Alf’s studio. It is clearly a posed photo for Mrs Burgess would surely never have scrubbed her boys with a brush as harsh as that one. It has to be said, too, that despite the caption which Alf has added, the boys look clean.

The garden is fascinating, looking more like a yard for heritage bricks, tubs and barrels than a garden. But no doubt all was as the Burgesses wanted and whilst it certainly looks like a bygone age, it also looks charming.

Who are they?

September 29, 2013

Today we look at another photo which has just been given to the museum. It is a fabulous studio portrait by Alf Burgess.

A delightful studio portrait by Alof Burgess of Market Lavington

A delightful studio portrait by Alf Burgess of Market Lavington

The photo was recently sold on an internet auction site.

Sadly, we do not know who the people were and we have no date for the photo. We’d love to identify the people and, as ever, we hope a blog reader might recognise these people.

Of course, they may not have been Market Lavington residents, but they were, presumably, comparatively local.

Let’s zoom in on the older lady.


Can you name this lovely lady?

She appears to have a fairly elderly face – but what clothes! Because the photo is monochrome, it is easy to see them as black – but we can’t be sure of that. However, the hat and the bodice of the dress are beautifully decorated.

Her hair looks to be rather severely parted and swept back. She’s a handsome lady.

The girl, on the other hand, looks to be a bit of a cheeky miss.


Who is this girl?

 She has an interesting, rather wild hair-do and again, a beautifully decorated top to her dress. And she holds an interesting basket.

What a great basket the girl carries

What a great basket the girl carries

It surely is a delightful photo. It will be wonderful if we can identify the people so do get in touch with any suggestions.

Photographer’s Negative Wallet

September 8, 2013

The little wallet which came back from the photographer or chemist – the one that held our holiday snaps – has all but vanished. The absolute deluge of photos taken these days are virtually all stored digitally and rapidly shared with one and all via all sorts of networking sites. Even the pleasure of a photograph album is something probably reserved for a wedding day and not much else.

But at least at a museum we can preserve some memories and here is one of our negative (and print) wallets.

Negative wallet - Peter Francis of Market Lavington

Negative wallet – Peter Francis of Market Lavington

The wallet has been produced by Kodak and our local photographer and processor has been able to over-stamp it with his name. So we know that inside were photos processed by Peter Francis. The envelope shows a black and white image of a girl swimming. It probably dates from about 1960.

Inside, the envelope has eight negatives and seven prints. All are of dogs and, it must be said, they do not look well exposed.


The wallet is used for Kodak adverts

The wallet is used for Kodak adverts

Kodak has taken the opportunity to advertise their film and suggest that you might want to get extra prints made. People who have processed black and white film will note that the large format negative shown looks rather on the thin side. It’ll be hard to get a quality print from that.

The film was taken by Mr and Mrs Elisha. They are names that will be well known to regular readers of this blog, both being at the heart of village life in so many ways.

The customers were the Elishas of Market Lavington

The customers were the Elishas of Market Lavington

The price seems very cheap for it is listed as 3/0½ – just over 15p in today’s money. That may be cheap, but these days we tend to regard photography as just about free. And we certainly expect it to be instant.

So the wallet is just a memory of a past time when, perhaps, people thought about what photos they were taking and shared them with just the special friends and family.

Another photo of the Burgess Brothers

June 18, 2013

Yes, we have seen photos of Burgess brothers before – and no wonder. Their father, Alfred, was the village photographer. But here we have a delightful photo which was both decorative and served a function, for it was used as a part of a fire screen.


Decoration used as part of a fire screen by the Burgess family of 13 High Street, Market Lavington

Decoration used as part of a fire screen by the Burgess family of 13 High Street, Market Lavington

The photo, we believe, is of two of Alfred and Marion Burgess’s sons. It has been produced in triangular form and decorated with flowers – a bit reminiscent of floraldecorations by canal boatmen. Sadly, one corner of the triangle has been lost, but it still makes an attreactive device.

Of course, with a little digital jiggery-pokery we can reconstruct the corner. We have cut and copied the bottom right hand corner and rotated it. If we spent hours, no doubt a better job could be done. We would not, normally, go in for reconstruction of the original

A little digital repair has been carried out.

A little digital repair has been carried out.

As to the date of this, there are a few options. On the back of the photo the date 31 08 09 is written. If that date is correct, then these look to be the youngest sons, Alan and Charles, born in about 1898 and 1900 respectively.

However, there is also a suggestion that the photo shows the oldest two boys, Robin and George who were born around 1880. If that is the case then the photo is older.

Let’s finish with a close up of the lads. There are family members who will, we hope, be able to sort us out on the identities.

Two Burgess brothers of Market Lavington - but which two?

Two Burgess brothers of Market Lavington – but which two?

Please do get in touch if you can help us.

Mrs Burgess and a baby

June 5, 2013

The Burgess family feature quite often in these pages. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of photos since two generations of the family were the professional photographers in the village. Here we see one of the older photos and it shows Marion Burgess, the Scottish born wife of Alfred. She is nursing a baby. The Burgess family lived at 13 High Street and Alfred had a studio in the back garden. This photo was taken there.

Mrs marion Burgess of 13, High Street, Market Lavington with one of her babies - late 19th century.

Mrs Marion Burgess of 13, High Street, Market Lavington with one of her babies – late 19th century.

The only date we have is ‘late nineteenth century’.  Alfred and Marion had six sons who could fit the bill here. Robert (also known as Robin) was born in 1889 followed by Alfred, John, Hugh, Alan and Charles. I wonder if any descendant out there in blogland might recognise which boy this one is.

Meanwhile, enjoy the beautiful gown the lad is wearing. Perhaps this was the Christening gown and in that case it may well have been worn by each boy in turn. Marion looks well dressed as well.

Alfred, the photographer died in 1918, but brothers Robin and Alfred (known as George) continued to trade as Burgess Brothers with Robin behind the camera and George in the darkroom.

Believe it or not?

April 8, 2013

Can we believe the written word? Often we can, but certainly not always. Today’s blog is a case in point.

We were looking through some old CDVs we had. CDV stands for Carte de Visite and they were quite a standard style of nineteenth century photograph. They measure 54 by 85 millimetres and were an ideal shape and size for a small full length portrait photo. They were exceedingly popular and it is no wonder we have quite a lot of them at Market Lavington Museum.

Here is one of them, a charming shot of two young lads.

Charming CDV showing two lads - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Charming CDV showing two lads – a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Our records do not tell us the names of the lads. Indeed, it is really the back of the photo which holds definite Market Lavington interest,

The photo is by A Burgess of Market Lavington

The photo is by A Burgess of Market Lavington

We’ll ignore that bit of hand writing at the top for a moment and consider the main features. Well straight away we can see that this was a studio photo by A Burgess of Market Lavington and that he could use the new instantaneous process when photographing children. He kept his negatives so copies could be made later. But actually, we can learn more from the general style of the back of this CDV. A wonderful website at allows us to date the backs of these old photos. From that we think this card dates to around the late 1880s and possibly into the early 1890s.

Now to that hand written bit at the top. It barely shows on the original CDV. The enhanced photo here makes it easy to read – Wally and Eric James. Presumably someone decided this was a photo of these two lads. There is certainly a similarity between the younger lad and another picture we have of Eric which you can see here.

But that photo dates from 1918. If this one is a similar age, it surely wouldn’t have been printed on 1880s card. We don’t think this photo can be Wally and Eric. But those brothers had a father called Walter who was born and raised in Market Lavington – born in 1879. He fits with the supposed age of the CDV. Sadly he had no brother called Eric. Walter’s brothers were Charles born in 1876 and Arthur born in 1885.

At present we have no way of knowing if those two lads are members of the James family. It will be a long shot, but perhaps someone out there in blogland can help.

Whoever the lads are we can admire the skills of our Alf Burgess, our Market Lavington photographer.

Mr Burgess gets a delivery

March 23, 2013

As a photographer, Alf Burgess would have been in frequent need of supplies. He’d have needed, in particular, the chemicals for developing and fixing film and prints. This label tells us that he got supplies from Johnathan Fallowfield of London.

Label on a delivery of photographic materials to Alf Burgess of Market Lavington

Label on a delivery of photographic materials to Alf Burgess of Market Lavington

The label was found in 1981 in the cellar of 13 High Street which was the Burgess home and photographic studio and shop from the 1870s. It is addressed to Mr A Burgess, Market Lavington, Wilts and was carried by the Great Western Railway.

There’s a fine history of the Jonathan Fallowfield company on the web at . From this we know the company moved to the 146 Charing Cross Road address on this label in 1890. Alf died in 1918, so we have a date window for this label.

But the label tells us more. The four stained holes in the corners and the central ones must have had tacks in them, holding the label to a wooden crate. The Burgesses must have kept the crate long enough for it to get woodworm. The very neat round holes in the label certainly have the look of worm holes. At some point the label must have fallen off the box – as rusting tacks failed. And then the label must have remained, down in that cellar, until the 1981 occupants found it.

We had no museum in 1981, but Peggy Gye was the acknowledged village historian and so it was given to her.

It’s only a label, but it tells a tale.

Robin and Queenie Burgess

February 23, 2013

Robin Burgess was one of the sons of Alf the photographer. He was born in the spring of 1888 and actually given the names Robert William. But he always seems to have been known as Robin.

When his dad died, in 1918, he and his brother, George took on the photography business and continued to run it for many a year.

In 1921 Robert W Burgess married Elizabeth K Burnett. Elizabeth was known as Bessie or Queenie – not unusual names for someone called Elizabeth. She hailed from Easterton and was the daughter of Henry who was the sub postmaster in Easterton.  A couple of her brothers became much respected craftsmen working in Market Lavington. She was some ten years younger than Robin.

Our picture shows the couple in about 1964. It is a colour photograph – that’s lovely because they still weren’t all that common back then.

Robin Burgess, Market Lavington photographer and his wife, Queenie in about 1964

Robin Burgess, Market Lavington photographer and his wife, Queenie in about 1964

Although the business was in Market Lavington, Robin and Queenie lived in Littleton Panell. Both are buried in Market Lavington churchyard. Queenie died in 1965. Robin followed in 1970.

It is known that they had a son, Eric, born in 1923 and we believe there were three grandsons.

We’d love to hear from any descendants.