Friday, 13 June 2014

William Thomas Whiffin revisited (and some football fantasy)

I thought that it might be time to reconsider WTW; my original post seems to have caused some degree of interest in the man (and thanks to all those who were kind enough to comment and apologies for not replying personally to everyone - lack of time is a feeble excuse, I know, but it is true in this case), mainly, I suspect, on account of that surname, although hopefully also because of increasing interest in his skills as a photographer.

Not long ago it occurred to me that I'd never done the simple thing and searched for his name on the catalogue of The National Archives. Sure enough there he is: three entries in the records of the Copyright Office:

COPY 1/494/306:
'Photograph (cabinet) of George Newlands, Queens Park Rangers football team, nearly full face'.
Copyright owner and author of work: William Thomas Whiffin, 770 Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London.
Form completed: 14 February 1906. Registration stamp: 16 February 1906.

COPY 1/501/383: 'Photograph of a football team entitled "The Queen's Park Rangers" taken at Park Royal 8th Sept 1906'. Copyright owner and author of work: William Thomas Whiffin, 770 Harrow Road, Willesden, London.
Form completed: 25 September 1906. Registration stamp: 27 September 1906.

COPY 1/513/292: 'Photograph of Queen's Park Rangers Football Team with Directors'.
Copyright owner and author of work: William Thomas Whiffin, 770 Harrow Road, Willesden, London.
Form completed: 27 September 1907. Registration stamp: 28 September 1907.
I see that the apostrophe in Queen's appears to have been mislaid since the mid-1900s, which is a matter of regret, and why aren't teams prefixed with the definite article anymore: 'The Queen's Park Rangers', 'The Arsenal' 'The Villa', 'The City', etc. has a hearty and wholesome ring to it I think.
As far as I can tell, the COPY 1 series does not contain the actual photographs themselves, which is a great shame as I'd like to see them, but you just know from the descriptions alone that COPY 1/501/383 and COPY 1/513/292 are classics of their kind. I picture a team of ill-nourished and wiry men swallowed up by billowing shorts and thick jerseys, plenty of heavily greased centre partings (and the odd moustache), a ball that looks more suited for firing from a cannon than any sporting use, and let's not forget the inevitable fellow wearing a suit and bowler hat. In short, the sort of no-nonsense football team that the local meat pie magnate would have owned. I can even give a list of imaginary names for this fearsome side:
  1. Alf Cripps
  2. Bert ('bonecruncher') Prodgers
  3. Maurice Grimble
  4. Herbert Toutt
  5. Harry Gubbins
  6. Ted Smalls
  7. Archie Backhouse
  8. Fred Tunstall
  9. Walt Goldfinch
  10. Charles 'Charlie' Charles
  11. Arthur Gumbes (blessed with a cultured left foot)

Keeping the sub's bench warm we have Enoch Honeychurch, and the ashen-faced supremo in the bowler hat? Why Captain E. A. V. Carruthers (ICS, rtd) of course, who for some obscure reason has ended up managing a west London football team. Eat your heart out FIFA! 

But let's return from the slightly odd world of football fantasy 1906-style. In other news, I am pleased to say that a long-running project for a client based in the States has reached its conclusion with the private publication of the family history I researched and wrote for him. I can't claim the credit for the title - Salt Beef and a Side of Bacon (my suggestion was far more prosaic), and plaudits for the eye-catching design and layout are also due to others, but I was pleased with the fact that I researched and wrote the thing virtually from scratch - and it's always a moment of quiet pride to see your own name in print, to reread the occasional well-turned phrase and think, did I really come up with that!

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