Ted Picken and Bucknell
A blog post written by Anthony Price, volunteer researching photographs at Shropshire Archives. Tony was featured when Midlands Today visited Shropshire Archives (6 Sep 2018) and talked about the Picken photographs. He’ll be researching and writing more about this fascinating photographer in the future and at the same time we will be digitising the photographs.
Several large brown envelopes, marked ‘people’, ‘animals’ and ‘landscapes‘ containing more than 600 photographs found their way to my desk, from Ludlow Museum via the Archives at Shrewsbury. They were to reveal an interesting aspect of village life in Bucknell, in the first part of the 20th century, from births to deaths. The photographer, Edward, ‘Ted’ Picken, also proved to be an interesting man.
Bucknell is a small Shropshire village on the boarders of Wales and Herefordshire. The village is on the River Redlake, close to where it joins the River Teme. It still retains a Pub, Primary School and Railway Station. Close to Bucknell is the small Hamlet of Bedstone, also frequented by Ted, wielding his camera?
Edward ‘Ted’ Picken was born in 1879 at 4 Devonshire Street, Birmingham which was a back to back (see National Trust for this type of house in Birmingham). His father Matthias was a brass finisher and his mother Elizabeth (who died aged 93 in 1951). He was quite young the family moved to Bucknell, where they had purchased a grocers shop at the Old School House Teds father had died by 1901 and his mother took over the shop which she was to run for the next 50 years. The shop was moved to The Willows in around 1910. Ted was a labourer in the 1901 census by 1908 .he was selling and repairing boots and shoes from the old School House. Marrying in 1910, to a local girl Mary E Turner (1875-1938) He went on to be involved in many parts of village life, became the local photographer, running the local shop (together with his mother), sub post master. Was involved with the village garage. He also offered accommodation. A villager told me that he was also a wood carver – he would sit in front of his garage, carving. He became a widower in 1938 But he continued to be the sub post master, with his mother running the local store. He died in 1967.
The photographs (which will added to the online catalogue in due course) are proving interesting but frustrating. Ted took photographs of the villagers and views around the village and local area. But very few records were kept of who they were. Many of these photographs are mounted on card, with drawing pin holes, where they had been on display in his shop (hoping to sell copies?). I have managed to identify several photos of graves by comparing the position of the headstones in the Church yard then and now.
One photograph was to prove of interest to the writer, (who lives in east Shropshire), with a link back to his GG father. John Price was working with Mr Tangye, to form Tangye & Price, making gas engines in Smethwick. The photograph shows a Tangye gas engine, and on the back is a note that it was used for generating electricity for the shop/post office in Bucknell.
Things never change. The Ludlow Advertiser – (Saturday 22 November 1902 ) reported that Mrs Elizabeth Picken had a jar of sweets stolen from her shop. Two local boys were charged and taken before the court.they had a fine of 5s (25p) with 5s costs and where warned about their future behaviour.
While Tony was been working on these photographs, another volunteer, the now sadly departed Graham Brown, was helping to digitise a separate set of records from Ted Picken.
As part of the Archives digitisation programme, Graham was working on six boxes containing over 350 6” x 4” glass plate negatives, photographs made by Ted Picken, one time resident of Bucknell village and prolific photographer of its life and times.
Glass negatives were widely used between the 1880s and later 1920s before reliable film in sheet or roll form had come into general use. Ted Picken was born in 1879, so Grahams thought that it was reasonable to suggest that he could have begun his photographic career by the age of 20, around the turn of the century.
By research online Graham also found the existence of Bucknell in View, a 40-page booklet compiled by the Bucknell local history group and published in 1970. The book contains photographs taken during the first half of the 20th century, many reflecting the village’s appearance during the 19th century and earlier. Themes depicted include many aspects of Bucknell life, its people, buildings, activities and events and its surrounding rural environment.
The book’s introduction notes that the images included were ‘largely the work of one man . . . he was Mr Edward (Ted) Picken whose mother kept the village shop and post office at the turn of the century . . . his postcards were on sale in the post office.’
Copies of this book are now extremely difficult to find but there is one at Shropshire Archives (a later edition published with by the Bucknell Village History Group with Pentabus Community Project) ref qTE66.9. There appears to be relatively little correspondence between the images in the book and our glass negatives. This may mean that the book’s compilers at the time may have seen some of the prints made from our negatives but decided not to include them; or perhaps such prints were not available (or not even in existence) in which case there exists yet another rich store of old Bucknell photographs still to be made public.
There is clearly a wealth of previously unknown material in the two collections of prints and glass negatives. Staff and volunteers will be continuing to work on cataloguing and digitising these and they will be made available on the online catalogue. Tony will be continuing with his research into Ted Picken and we’ll post his findings on the blog.
Update: October 2010 – the Ted Picken photographs are now viewable on our online catalogue. Read more about how to find them on our latest blog post.