Devon_1930s_©_Nick_Stone_gutty_IMG_9926 1

Devon_1930s_©_Nick_Stone_gutty_IMG_9900Another set of odd negatives and plates I received a while ago via a very old friend Dave Guttridge. Dave is a photographer, musician and DJ by trade and also has an interest in the past, in particular shellac and the art of the gramophone. He found these while clearing some stuff up during a house move. I believe they came via his dad, who was also a professional photographer at the photographic unit. Dave has a massive archive of his own some of which we used on the Bridewell History Wall, one day when I get round to it I’m hoping to do something on here with some of it, as his records of late 1970s and 1980s bands are pretty formidable and really intriguing too.

These photos seem to date from between 1911 and 1939, they are the work of someone related to the French Family (and Cleaves family possibly too) who lived in Poundsgate near Newton Abbot in Devon. They appeared to work on or live on a farm, it looks like there is an older man with livestock and in the fields, a father or father-in-law, and I think whoever shot them would have been referred to as a gentleman photographer, had this been 50 years earlier. The combination of glass plates and negatives point at someone who took his hobby quite seriously assuming it was his hobby, some of the envelopes have fairly hefty notes on exposure and lighting, how much powder to fire the flash. Others on the contents which varies from an 11 inch Kohl Rabi to hayricks and maps. Some of the most interesting ones are what he terms micrographs (microscope photos) which look to be different types of geology they could almost be aerial photos of landscapes and fields. alongside these are photos of geological tables each one is annotated with whether shot by gaslight or not and for how long.


There’s an X-ray of a tooth with two cavities, farmers, family and picnics. It is in all a nice little look back into a world of a man and his young family, Edith E French, wife or mother? All living on a road in the moor. A man who had multiple interests, from making images to the subject of the images, something I can relate to as I’m sure a lot of us wanderers with cameras can. There is also one photo which is a selfie which is rather nice, no empty-headed pouting and gurning; the notes indicate he is trying out new lighting. And my favourite a trip to Challacombe stone row near Grimspound (identified by group sourcing from the nice people in the Prehistoric society). It shows the continuation of habitation, this man Mr French out on the moor.

If anyone has any further info please leave a comment.