Friday, 24 February 2012

Forest Gate, London, T. R. Page Bootmakers 1915

Forest Gate, London, T. R. Page Bootmakers 1915. With a postcard like this it is very pleasing to be able to identify not just the location of the shop depicted on the front of the postcard, but also the girl in the picture.

The message on the back says 'Dear Lily, I got home quite safe. I have sent you a photo of my house, but it is not as nice as yours. (I) hope you will enjoy your holiday. With love from Ethel.' The postcard has a clear postmark of 27th of May 1915. A different hand has written the recipient's address.

I bought this postcard recently as 'unknown, probably Forest Gate'. The postcard was inexpensive because the vendor had not taken the trouble to pinpoint the location. A few minutes searching the 1911 census provided all of the information we need to be able to identify the sender and location - Ethel Page, born 1907, daughter of Thomas and Eliza Page, 42 Dames Road, Forest Gate, London. Ethel would have been about seven or eight years old when this photograph was taken. Forest Gate is in East London and has never been considered a particularly salubrious area, especially when compared to leafy Crowthorne in Berkshire where Ethel's friend Lily lived. I wonder how Ethel became friends with Lily in her nice house in Crowthorne. Her friend Lily (Lilian Mabel Parsons) was born in 1904 in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

What we can see from the photograph is that Ethel is quite well dressed (see detailed shot below). She appears to be wearing a fur collar on her coat. We can clearly see her magnificent boots, presumably made by her father, Thomas Page. How many of us can afford custom hand-made boots these days?

Although Thomas Page's shop has been demolished long ago and replaced by modern dwellings, if you open the Google Street View in a new window or tab and have a wander around you can see buildings nearby which possess similar architectural features to Page's shop.

For more old photographs visit Sepia Saturday where the theme this week is 'shoes'.
Click the postcard images to enlarge.




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15 comments:

  1. Ethel was adorable. Good detective work. I guess sellers really don't have the time to do such detective work. As you suggested, I took a walk around, looked at the houses and stepped into the Cost cutter for some fruit and a Cadbury Turkish Delight, since they're hard to find here.

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  2. The little girl has some fancy fine shoes on here.

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  3. Oh I enjoyed that line,"I got home quite safe! She is a little darling too! Great work and presentation!

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  4. How lovely! Ethel is so smartly dressed, lovely boots. It's wonderful to be able to place the house and the people.
    Great find!

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  5. Ethel's boots look smarter that a lot worn by young girls today. Good detective work, Howard.

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  6. Smart work, Howard. Did you try the pub out?

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  7. You've gone above and beyond your usual Howard, and it's very much appreciated. This is a delightful little sliver of history about real people, though I too would love to know how the friendship flourished.

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  8. Interesting photo and research. The little girl and the storefront complement each other.

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  9. What a wonderful advertisement for mr. Page's shoes. His darling daughter was the perfect model.
    Nancy

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  10. I love the treatment, it brings together everything I love about old pictures A perfect example of a picture telling a story about the passage of time.

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  11. You chose the perfect word to describe Ethel's boots: they are fabulous.

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  12. What a cute postcard and photo. A sweet little story.

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  13. My favorite kind of photo postcard. It captures the time and the person together like a piece of amber.

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  14. This photo brought back old memories. I was born in Forest Gate in 1960 and lived very near to the bootmenders. Yes it was still there and I believe still in the Page family (although I have yet to confirm that.) The shop front was different to how I remember it but that mightve been due bomb damage as many buildings suffered in this area.
    You also mentioned about Forest Gate not being an affluent area. Thats not strictly true. Certainly, until the 1950s some parts of Forest Gate were rather well to do and Dames Rd was on the cusp of a real mix. When the photo of Ethel was taken, a number of the houses were owner occupied and had been purpose built with indoor bathrooms - so quite middle class. The terraces of shops were actually demolished around 1980 and the area has never been quite the same since.
    Thank you Howard for sharing this photo and yr research.

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  15. At that time Forest Gate was a very solubrious area..

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