On my Work for current project page, I have uploaded the transcript between myself and a friend, an amateur genealogist, historian and researcher Sarah Spink. The conversations took place in September and October this year after I asked her to help me find out more about the people in the album. I stopped the genealogy research eventually as it was becoming immensely time consuming at the expense of my own practical work. It’s definitely something I am considering continuing with and developing in the future – presently my output is partly fact and partly fiction; if I am able to discover more about characters in appropriated albums the balance could shift.
Through this process we narrowed down who Fred and Doris (Dolly) were, and confirmed when and where they were married. We were unable to find out what Macintosh House was, and in the time we had, who John Coles was, and who the three RAF men were. One we knew to be called Wood. I bought an RAF shirt and used it as a background in some of my still life images. From an online auction I purchased genuine RAF jacket buttons, but the piece de resistance was a genuine RAF Victory Medal, assigned to WS Wood. I don’t know if they are the same person. It enriches the narrative to imagine that they are; with more time I like to hope that I could have found out one way or the other. The small piece of ribbon included is also a genuine and would have been issued with the medal. I could find no reference to an RAF station called Goole, but on reflection this could be where the house in the photograph was taken.
We could only speculate on the identity of some of the characters. There are a couple of photographs which I believe to be Fred. I also believe that Fred was part of a friendship group of young men, with the earliest pictures recorded here being in the early 1920s.
Having discovered a name on the reverse of one image (by shining a torch through the back of the page), it’s been possible to ascertain who I believe was the owner of the album. Jimmy was a popular and well travelled young man, both at home and in Europe. It’s possible that his wife was called Elsie, and that John Coles was either their child or one of their close friends’.
The photographs in the album were not in strict chronological order, and although Sarah and I accounted for this, it wasn’t until I started taking it apart and cutting it up a few days ago that I saw connections for the first time, which led to some re-evaluations in my thinking. For example, there is a photo of Jimmy and his wife sitting on the steps of a caravan in 1927, which I thought could possibly be a honeymoon picture due to their closeness and the date being a couple of years before the birth of John Coles. There is also an empty page with the writing ‘Caravan’. As the photo has been removed I believe it was a treasured memory for someone in the family. After cutting the album up and rearranging the photos I discovered another of the same caravan steps, taken at the same time, but appearing to be in a mirror image, with the same woman and a female friend. So, unlikely to be a honeymoon.
When our conversations first started, Sarah questioned whether Fred and Doris’ wedding actually was in the summer, due to their guests’ attire. Her comment, ‘big coats for July’ has become the working title of my project. We know that the wedding did take place in the summer time, perhaps it was unseasonably cold.
I have printed our conversations and included them in my book dummy, as the initial research around the album informed the way I worked, and what I chose to include.