The great and the good from 1908 in need of a new home
THEY are photographs featuring the great and good of Derby at the turn of the 20th century.
And establishing some facts about them has become something of a mission for Frank Drenic. Now he is hoping that Bygones readers can help him with his research.
The group photograph and the frame comprising 19 individual portraits – titled "Members of the Derby Chamber of Commerce 1908" – used to grace the walls of the old Cooper Parry offices in Friar Gate.
Prior to the accountancy firm moving from Friar Gate to new premises on Pride Park, Mr Drenic tried to sell the photographs to raise money for one of Cooper Parry's charities but failed to engender any interest.
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Eventually, Mr Drenic, of French Street, Derby, made a donation to charity himself and took the pictures home as he was concerned they would end up being lost.
He has spent several months carrying out research into the men in the portraits.
His task was hampered by some of the names being so faint they were difficult to read. He went to the Local Studies Library in Iron Gate and to the offices of Derby and Nottingham Chamber of Commerce in his quest for information.
Looking at the individual portraits, from left to right, top to bottom, he thinks he has the names of all but one of the men. They are: William Saunders, Joseph Hill, T or J Yeomans, Edward M Cox, Charles Henry Mitchell, W Malin, N or R Sowter, Frank Moore, Jas Robine, Xavier Ley, Jesse Brown, David Sibbald, Henry Ranby, N Swindell, William Ford, GH Wheatcroft, Joseph Hull, Howard Marsh and, with the final name, he can only make out the initials JE.
So far, he has managed to establish some facts about 11 of the men. Some of the names will be instantly recognisable to our readers.
Mr Malin was chairman of department store Thurman and Malin in St Peter's Street. He was also chairman of the Derby Building Society and governor of the Royal School for the Deaf.
The connection with Cooper Parry comes with Mr Sowter. He was one of the directors of the firm when it was Cooper, Parry, Sowter and Watson.
Xavier Ley was owner and director of Leys Malleable Castings and Jesse Brown was of Brown's Foundry.
The name Henry Ranby will be familiar to all those who recall Ranby's Drapery store in Victoria Street, the predecessor of Debenhams.
And William Ford was the man behind Derby builders W Ford and Sons.
Mr Drenic has also discovered information about some of the men who are perhaps slightly less well known.
William Saunders was an accountant in Derby's Market Place and Joseph Hill was a councillor who was married to Mary Sowter (of the aforementioned Sowter family).
Charles Henry Mitchell was a company director and justice of the peace, who was also honorary secretary of the Royal Derby and Derbyshire Nursing Association and a trustee of the Derby Savings Bank.
David Sibbald was an accountant and father of James Sibbald, who established an accountancy business in Ashbourne Road, and Mr Swindell was of Swindell and Pearson patent attorneys.
The rest of the names are a mystery which Mr Drenic is hoping readers can solve. He is also keen to find a home for the photos. If you can offer any help, contact Bygones – our details are on Page 2.