Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Location Of Warwick Brookes' (1843-1929) First Studio

Here we have a photograph of Cathedral Steps, Victoria Terrace, Manchester, circa 1870's. To the right of the steps, a sign "Warwick Brookes" can be seen attached to the front wall of the building, above the first floor window. There appears to be furniture stacked around of the ground floor entrance.

We know that Cathedral Steps was the address of Warwick Brookes', (my 1st cousin 3X removed), first studio before he relocated to 350 Oxford Road for the remainder of his career. We also know that he married Mary Simpole, (Granny Brookes), and she was the daughter of Charles Simpole, a furniture dealer. A search of the business directories and censuses around that time shows that Charles Simpole occupied premises also at Cathedral Steps, (Cathedral Yard), and operated his furniture business from there.

Making an assumption from the detail within this photograph, it now appears to us, from this chance purchase from eBay today, this may well be how the two of them met, and the rest is history. They went on to have three children, also mentioned on this website - Warwick Brookes MP 1875-1935, Blanche Brookes 1872-1959, and Gordon Byron Brookes 1880-1916.

The photographer's cousin, also Warwick Brookes 1854-1922, (my great grandfather's brother), also ran his own photographic studio from Victoria Street, as did Le Chevalier Lafosse at various points around that time. The younger Brookes moved on to a studio in Marple Bridge, and Lafosse moved both his studio and home to Knolls House, Higher Broughton, Salford.

Although mounted on original card, and not marked on the front, I would like to think the image of his studio might have been taken by Brookes himself. Probably true - why would a photographer take an image of another's studio premises?

Manchester Cathedral and Victoria Terrace c1870's
Blanche's wedding, 8th August 1894. to Eugen Sandow, at Manchester Cathedral. Top left, Warwick MP, (brother), centre William Sinclair, (Archdeacon of London), 2nd right Florenz Ziegfeld Jnr. Right Eugen Sandow. Boy sitting below Blanche, centre, Gordon Byron, (brother). I am fairly certain that Blanche's father Warwick Brookes is far left, and her mother Mary is far right.


Peter Berry said...

I have since confirmed that this was in fact how Warwick Brookes photographer met his wife, Mary Simpole, whose father owned the furniture shop in the same building. When this was eventually demolished I have now been told by a direct family member that Brookes purchased the steps where they did their courting and installed them in the back yard of their home and studio at 350 Oxford Road. I also now have a photograph of the couple sat on the same steps, now installed at their home, much later in their lives.

Johnny said...

Hi, great piece of family history you've done. I came across it whilst researching into some interesting Warwick Brookes (of 350 Oxford Road) Cabinet cards I picked up a while back. They appear to depict some arabic subjects going from their clothes and the inscription on the rear which also gives a date of 1891. Would you be interested to see them?