Mystery of the chimney stacks
During the cataloguing of Ted Picken’s photographs, volunteer Tony Price came across the following intriguing photograph….
“In the Ted Picken box was a large photograph of a big house, completely burnt to the ground, with only three large chimney stacks standing.(PH/B/34/85/243) Two men are looking at the camera. Could one be the owner? Elsewhere in the box were several photographs of a large thatched house, being built. It dawned on me that the crowns of the three chimney stacks and their position to each other were the same – the newly built house and the burnt down one.”
“The photographs (PH/B/34/85/244-247) are of a newly built house. This was probably to the design of the architect Sir Ernest Newton, who had also worked in Church Stretton and Worcestershire. It was designed in the style of the Arts and Crafts Movement The photographs show a newly built large thatched house backing onto Oakhill Wood. At the time of the photograph the gardens are being planted out. Also there are workmen posing for the camera.”
“Looking at the burnt out photograph there is no furniture or household goods. Is it possible that the thatch caught fire before the house could be occupied?”
These fascinating images are part of a collection of over 500 photographs taken by Ted Picken, in Bucknell, which you can browse through online reference PH/B/34/85.
Tony and other volunteers have been cataloguing and digitising photographs and prints for several years now. Often this involves detailed research, especially if (as in the case above) the photographs aren’t identified. Solving similar mysteries and uncovering the the stories behind the images can be very satisfying. The work of the volunteers has opened up the photograph and print collections so that you can search and view images online. You can find out more about the Picken photographs on our ‘behind the scenes’ tour on 3 December 2019.