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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Sepia Saturday: A Carriage Drive with Chocolates & Whisky!!

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

I featured Carriages and Carts in a recent Sepia Saturday post.  As a result I heard from my cousin with a photograph (new to me) of his grandfather, John William Oldham.  

Here he is below on one of the horse drawn vehicles owned by  the family business of carters which I have featured before on my blog.   The adverts on the  wall are promoting McDougall's Flour  and a performance of Mendelssohn's  oratorio "Elijah" on the North Pier, Blackpool


The  Oldham family 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, Lancashire  in a house with a large yard, hay loft, tack room. and stabling for around 7 horses.

In the 1901 census Joseph  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".  

Beamish Open Air Museum, near Newcastle  is one of our favourite family outings. In 300 acres of countryside it recreates and explores the everyday life of people in North East England from around 1880 to 1950. with a  High Street of houses, shops &  trades, vintage trams and buses, a  colliery with a pit village,  farm, manor house and railway station.   Here is the stable yard, with advertising billboards.  

To  service the "inner man" (or woman) on a carriage drive, here are some billboards and adverts:

Back to a family connection,but still in North East England. My father-in-law John Robert Donaldson came from South Shields, County Durham (near Beamish).  He was a sign-writer and painter and here are two examples of his work in South Shields, with,  standing alongside,  his son Ian  who followed  in the family business.

Dating from just after the Second World War, it was painted directly onto the board, because of a shortage of paper.  Nowadays, amidst anti-smoking campaigns, this  advert for cigars  would be banned.  

The story here went that the railway company who owned the wall  eventually tried to paint over the advert, but the original paint kept showing through.

Having a well earned rest!  



  1. Hi Sue, I really enjoyed your post, loved all the old adverts but how sad to read about Joseph’s accident. Barbara

  2. Wonderful Sue. I love seeing all these old ads and the family stories makes it even more intereresting.

  3. What a splendid photo of John Oldham and his horse and cart. How you came to receive the photo is a wonderful story, the kind of connection we family historians always enjoy making.

  4. Great story Sue and I loved the signs.

  5. I love all the old advertising signs.

  6. That's so sad about Joseph being blinded. You didn't say at what age the accident happened? The advertisement promoting the performance of "Elijah" made me smile. I sang it with the Fresno Oratorio Society many years ago. Not sure I'd have the energy to do it now - especially sustaining all those high notes! It was quite the challenge even back then!

  7. I'd love to hear about the third generation of Carter's and how Elsie managed to run the business. Great ads.

    1. Many thanks, Helen for your kind comment. Elsie went on to marry one of the carters who managed the business on the death of her father, whilst Elsie ran a hairdressing business from the family home. I tell her entertaining story at http://scotsue-familyhistoryfun.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/bobbing-shingling-marcel-waves-workaday.html.

  8. The information on the Oldham family business is very interesting; such coal merchants used to be a central feature of all northern towns. Not been to Beamish for years - time for a return visit I think.

  9. Old documents have much more grandeur than our modern ones, don't they? This is a really interesting post. Thanks!

  10. Hence the origin of the surname "Carter." Nice post, Sue!

  11. Thanks for the insight into your family history - very interesting and the posters are great.

  12. I really enjoyed this Sue. That first photo is amazing. How wonderful that you have the old cheque still!

  13. That's great how you received that first photograph. I hope those weren't the only photographs of your father-law's work. So many of the old adverts are lost now, either painted over or built out.

  14. There was an old sign on the side of a building near here and the other day i went to get a photo of it because I knew we would have advertisments/signs as a prompt. I was so disappointed to find that it had been repainted and thereby lost it's charm.

  15. Sue, it's wonderful that you have the Oldham receipt -- or even just if the image of it, if that's all you have. If I ever make it to England I must visit the Beamish Open Air Museum. I have ancestors from the Newcastle area. I prefer the chocolate to the whiskey, please.

  16. If you cart things then you must be a carter. The things you learn on these blogs. It was a good business for them.


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