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The Studio of H.J. Whitlock of Birmingham

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Pictures sent to me by my visitors

I have attached a Henry Whitlock photo from an old family album. It is signed on the back by Henry Whitlock or a member of his family, Jemima Teague is my Great Grandmother. - Larry Perkins

Henry J. Whitlock, 11 New Street, Birmingham, UK, working as a photographer ( c. 1865 - 1891).
Henry Whitlock and family

Larger Version of this photo (114KB)

This is a christmas photograph taken by Whitlock and is believed to show Henry Whitlock the photographer with his family and sent on the 31 December 1885. Henry and his wife Eliza were both 50, he was born at Olney, Buckinghamshire in 1835 and she in Scotland. Their children were : Jessie (21) drawing, May (16) standing, Harry (14) sitting, Eva (12) on the floor, plus an unknown young man in the back of the photo (probably a son (18) who was a boarding school on the night of the census in 1881), they were all born in Birmingham.
Back of CDV
In the 1881 census the family had two servants: Jane Blackburn (22) born at London, Middlesex, England who was a General Domestic and Jemima Teague (25) born at Tenbury, Worcester, England their nurse. This carte de visite (CDV) was given to Jemima four years later in 1885. On the back of the card is written ' With Mrs Whitlock's love and good wishes for a Happy day. Decr 31/85'. The photo was passed down to her great grandson Larry Perkins in a family album.

The firm of H.J.Whitlock
by Roger Vaughan

Whitlock remained at the same address for 30 years in Birmingham. He started the business probably around 1864 when he was 29 years old (or perhaps 1862). By the late 1860s he was able to claim 'Photographer to the Queen' (with royal crest) though this was modified in the 1870s to 'By Special Appointment to the Queen' and in 1891 he had added 'and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales'. We can tell something about his studio for by about 1873 he had taken 34681 photos, an average of around 3000 a year and by 1892 he had taken 95312 photos also about 3000 a year, so business was steady at around 40 sittings a day, giving 12 minutes for each photo during an eight hour day - in winter this would not be possible - or about 30 minutes each if he ran two studios - which seems likely. Actual number of photos printed would be very much larger than the number written on the back of the carte, for each number relates to perhaps six or 12 identical copies, so he actually produced - by 1892 half a million to a million carte de visite ( I have 7 in my collection - RFV, CDVs usually were sold for 1/6 for 1, 3/- for 3, and 7/6 (37 and a half pence) for 12 in 1884]. So the business was worth 500 to 1000 a year in CDVs alone - a considerable sum in those days
Whitlock also took and sold photos of famous people, these would have been displayed in his shop window - one of these the M.P. for Birmingham, John Bright (1811 - 1889) he photographed in about 1868 and is in my collection, he also must have sold photos of the Queen and Prince of Wales.

By drawing a straight line graph using dates and Negative Numbers, the following estimate of dates was produced (probably correct within a year): View Graph and Number List

10,000 1864 - 1865 60,000 1881
20,000 1869 - 1870 70,000 1884
30,000 1872 80,000 1887
40,000 1875 90,000 1889
50,000 1878 100,000 1893

Below are the backs of some cartes to show the changes in style through time - they may have been printed locally, except the mid 1870s one that was produced by the famous firm of 'Marion. Imp. Paris' - this one is different from the rest in design, and does not fit into the sequence - he must have seen Marion's salesman who offered a good deal - afterwards he went back to his usual supplier, George Mason & Co..
 late1860s back
1870s back
early 1870s
1870s back
early 1880s
1885 back
1892 back

Another photographer Fredk Whitlock, Midland Buildings, New Street, High Street, Birmingham and Vine Cottage, Mosely Road, entrance Leopold Street, appears to have been working in the late 1860s or early 1870s and may have been a relation.
Written by R.F.Vaughan using notes from Larry Perkins November 2002

I thought you and your contributor would be interested in the following information on the Whitlock family of photographers.

David Simkin of Brighton, UK.

April 2004

Henry Joseph Whitlock was the son of Sarah ( born c1815, died 24 October 1862, Birmingham ) & Joseph Whitlock ( born 20 February 1806, Olney, Bucks - died 1857, Birmingham - death registered in Solihull in December Quarter of 1857 ).
Joseph Whitlock was one of the earliest photographic artists in Britain and the first to establish a permanent photographic studio in Birmingham. In 1842, Joseph Whitlock reportedly paid Richard Beard 1000 for a licence to take daguerreotype portraits in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire.
On Monday, 30 January 1843, Joseph Whitlock opened Birmingham's first daguerreotype studio at 120, New Street. At the same time, Whitlock opened a photographic portrait studio at the Royal Assembly Rooms in Leamington Spa. During 1843, Joseph Whitlock also opened studios in Coventry, Rugby, and Warwick. In January 1844, Whitlock opened a further studio at Northampton. In 1847, Joseph Whitlock had established a photographic studio at Bromley House, Angel Row, Nottingham. In 1849 and between 1851 and 1853 the studio worked under the partnership of Whitlock & Thompson. Only the studio in Birmingham proved successful. For the first seven years or so, Joseph Whitlock held a monopoly in making photographic portraits in Birmingham.
In 1852, Joseph Whitlock expanded his business in Birmingham and recruited his two sons Henry Joseph ( born c1835 Olney, Bucks ) and Frederick ( born c1839 Olney, Bucks. ) to assist him.

In 1855, Henry Joseph Whitlock left Birmingham to set up his own studio at 42 High Street, Worcester. His father, Joseph Whitlock continued to run the photographic studio in New Street, Birmingham, but he was dogged by ill health. Joseph's wife and sons became more involved in the running of the business as his health declined . When Joseph Whitlock died at the end of 1857 at the age of 51, the Birmingham studio, now at 110 New Street, passed to his widow Mrs Sarah Whitlock. On 24th October, 1862, Mrs Whitlock died at 110 New Street, Birmingham at the age of 47.
After the death of his parents, Henry Joseph Whitlock established a studio of his own at 11 New Street Birmingham. Henry J Whitlock was assisted by his two sons Arthur ( born 1865 Birmingham) [ the 20 year old lad standing at the back of the family portrait dated 1885 ] and Henry junior, aka Harry ( born c1871 Birmingham ).
Henry Joseph Whitlock founded the firm of H. J. Whitlock & Sons of Birmingham and Wolverhampton. A studio named Whitlock Brothers was operating in Wolverhampton at 63 Darlington Street in the early 1900s. Apparently the firm of Whitlock continued as a photographic business in Birmingham until the mid-1960s.

Henry Joseph Whitlock's younger brother, Frederick Whitlock ( born c1839 Olney, Bucks.) was also a photographer and established his own studio in New Street, Birmingham and later at Park Road, Sutton Coldfield. Frederick's two sons, Herbert ( born c 1870 Birmingham ) and Frederick junior ( c1874 Birmigham ) were both photographers. In 1901, Herbert Whitlock was working as a photographer alongside his father in Sutton Coldfield and his brother Frederick W. Whitlock was a photographer living in Oxford.

I hope the above is of interest. Perhaps you would like to forward the above information to Larry Perkins.

Many thanks David for the information - Roger.
17 April 2004

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R.F.Vaughan 2004