HISTORY FEATURE: The junk shop photo album detective

HISTORY FEATURE: The junk shop photo album detective

By Michael Upton | 28/04/2022

HISTORY FEATURE: The junk shop photo album detective


DO YOU recognise any of the faces in these photos — or perhaps the classic car being driven?

The Advertiser has been asked to help reunite an album of photos dating back more than 100 years with its rightful owners, who may hail from the Rotherham area.

Tim Witcher, who lives in Hertfordshire, said the album had come into his family’s possession when his mum snapped it up in a junk shop.

After a little detective work, Tim managed to firm up the Yorkshire connection and identity several Rotherham area locations, including Tickhill and Wentworth, as well as some further afield, such as Whitby and Carcroft.

The album also contains a photo of a birthday cake, and a classic car dating back 100 years.

Tim established the car pictured was registered to a Mexborough address in the 1920s.

He said he was keen to hear from anyone who thought the people in the series of photos might be their ancestors and wished to take a closer look at the album.

“My mum came across this photo album in an antique shop in Gloucestershire about 15 years ago,” he said. “She just liked buying old things.

“When I saw it several years later, she wanted me to try to trace any family to return the album.

“When my mum passed away, I came into possession of the album.”

Tim added: “I phoned up a couple of different places in Yorkshire, a couple of museums, and they helped me to identify some of the locations and landmarks.

“I have been able to identify several of the photo locations, including St Leonard’s House Hospital in Tickhill, All Saints’ Church in Carcroft, Boulby Bank, Whitby, Tickhill Buttercross and Holy Trinity Church in Wentworth.

“There is also a street procession photo, possibly relating to King George V’s coronation, as well as several family photos.”

Part of Tim’s research focused on the Phoenix two-seater touring car which is being driven in one of the photos.

“It was built in 1908 and registered in 1910,” he said. “The owner listed in 1921 was Mr Stuart W Nicholson, who lived at the Ferry Boat Inn in Church Street, Mexborough.

“I have found another report which shows Stuart Nicholson in 1930 living in 3 Cowper Road, Mexborough.

“I know that Stuart owned the car in 1921 until it was scrapped. He might or might not have owned it before so the pictures could be his or whoever owned the car previously.

“The car was registered in Yorkshire so I made enquiries about some of the landmarks.”

Tim said he would love to ensure the photos found their way “home”, adding: “The people pictured may have children, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren in the same area.

“The album is quite battered but the pictures are quite reasonable quality.

“It’s around two thirds of A4 size and the photos are two inches by three inches.

“They don’t look like holiday snaps — most of them are family photos.

“In one, there is a birthday cake saying Arnold’s 23rd birthday so the family must have had or known someone called Arnold.”

The Nicholson connection could be a big clue — or a red herring, Tim said.

“I started looking at heritage sites and found there was a lot of Nicholson family but the line was lost after the Second World War,” he said.

“It could be the person who owned this car was connected or just that they found it interesting and took a picture of it.

“It may be that the Nicholson family died off in the war and there was no-one to pass the album onto.”

Tim said he would be keen to hear from anyone who could shed light on the photos and help him trace who it should now belong to.

You can get in touch by emailing newsdesk@rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk or calling 01709 379247.



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