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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sepia Saturday - Carters and Coalmen.

Each week, Sepia Saturday, provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

When I first saw this photographic prompt, my reaction was "This will not be for me".  Yet here I am writing a second posting. (See also "Forward with Flat Caps" ) It is amazing what you can pick out when you look more closely at a picture, that at first glance does not appeal.  

This time the truck in the picture reminded me of the Oldham family of Blackpool.  They  were carters and coal merchants for three generations - Joseph Prince Oldham (1855-1921), his son John William Oldham (1880-1939) and his granddaughter Elsie Smith, nee Oldham (1906-1989),

The business was founded around 1890, steadily became prosperous and in 1905 moved to near North Station, Blackpool in a house with a large yard, hay loft, tack room. and stabling for around 7 horses.

In the 1901 census Joseph (below) was described as a self-employed carter and coal merchant with his son John a coal wagon driver. An accident at the coal sidings in the railway station resulted in Joseph being blinded and he died in 1921, with his will, signed with his "mark".

Shortly before his death Joseph had purchased the first vehicle (below) which was used alongside the horses and carts. until the 1930's when two new vehicles were bought. May Day and the dressing of the horses with brasses was a colourful event remembered by the family.

The first Oldham road vehicle bought in 1921.

In 1921 son John William took over the business where workers included his brother-in-law George Butler  and Arthur Edward Stuart Smith who went on to marry John 's daughter Elsie.

On the death in 1939 of John William Oldham (right) his daughter Elsie (below) took the helm and saw the business through the difficult wartime years, combining it with her own hairdressing concern run from the family home. 

This vehicle (c.1936 )  wasw requisitioned during the Second World War by Government for use by  the Fire Service. It was neve returnedd

Lorry c. 1936

Elsie Oldham(1906-1989)
See the posting Bobbing, Shingling and Marcel Waves
The coal merchant business was eventually sold around 1948 to another local firm, thus ending over 50 years of the family concern.  

With thanks to Elsie's son, Stuart (my third cousin) for these photographs and family history.

 Find out how other bloggers have viewed the street theme prompt - click HERE


  1. We had a coalman in our village who delivered by horse and cart. Jimmy used the horse until he died, there was no way he was going to use those new fangled things and anyway you didn't need petrol coupons for a horse - especially one which knew when to start and where to stop. Interesting lorries though.

  2. Oh I have to laugh, about your first thoughts and here you are again, with another cool post too! Great photos!

  3. wow, what amazing history, I'm enthralled

  4. This is great! You just never know where things will lead on Sepia Saturday.

    Kathy M.

  5. The horse in the first picture looks huge, especially compared to the baby. The trucks with the lettering are very attractive.

  6. I like that photo of the child on the horse and cart. What a great shot to have as part of the family collection.

  7. Oh I am so glad you gave us a second instalment this week. Great photographs and a most fascinating description of the family and their business.

  8. Despite Alan's kind words above, I take it you are aware of the fact that a double posting requires a double subscription fee?
    I notice the little one riding the horse is doing so like a true lady: she does it the amazon way. Also the horse does a great job standing on just two legs.
    But what a great collection of family business pictures!

  9. Good for Elsie to run a coal business and beauty parlor, both. The dusty and the pristine, couldn't be more opposite.

  10. nice memories :) thanx for stopping by!

  11. I love the photos you use and the stories they tell. Have offered you the Libster Blog Award. Here's the link to check it out.


  12. i enjoyed this post as much as the first. We too had coalmen - well of course we did, we had coal! I come from Nottingham and was surrounded by mining families

  13. An interesting snippet of family history. I enjoyed reading it, thank you for sharing.

  14. There is a real sense of pride in the shine of the horse's tack and the motor lorry. I think the two for one posts are always a bargain. Thanks for the treat.

  15. Great post;Interesting, life as it comes and goes. Elsie was beautiful, clever and diligent.

  16. Lovely photos and so apt for the Sepia Saturday theme this week. You have such wonderful memorabilia and photos, it's a pleasure to see them. I was sad about the blinding at the railway yard.

  17. Thank you to everyone for such kind comments. It was an interesting post to write and it came together so well in line with this week's theme.


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