Saturday, 24 April 2010

Sepia Saturday: A Pious Policeman?

This is Harry Baker, the elder brother of my great grandmother, Julia. Harry is a recent addition to the family tree and came to me, courtesy of another researcher of the Baker line of our family.

It’s an unusual picture – possibly a colour-tinted photograph – portraying Harry in his Sunday best.

I think Harry was born around 1860 and, according the census returns of 1891 and 1901, his listed occupation is that of ‘Railway Policeman’. Although my fellow researcher suspects this had something to do with railway signalling rather than upholding the law.

Information is scant but, sometime beyond 1901, he became the caretaker of Springfield Hall, Lambeth in London (later, known as Springfield Methodist Church).

One of Harry’s daughters, Alice, was married in Springfield Methodist Church in 1911. Sadly, she died three days after childbirth. An all too familiar tale in those days.

Apparently, the family continued to worship at Springfield for many years which, presumably, means that Harry and his family made the move from the sleepy little hamlet, just two miles from we live at present, to the ‘big smoke’. I’ve yet to discover whether his career with the railway led him away from his roots, or, given his role at Springfield, perhaps it was a higher calling.

More Sepia Saturday participants HERE

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges


  1. Wonderful how we can begin to re-branch our family trees through research!

  2. Harry looks the very soul of respectability. Handsome, too.

  3. Hi Martin

    your Harry does have a look of piety about him. He is dressed very well for a railway policeman don't you think?

    Happy days

  4. I Love The Colouring ! Although its a rather "formal" portrait, it gives a rare warmth to Harry.
    Happy S.S.

  5. The tinted photos are always magical I think--great information given the passage of time!

  6. You have quite some history on your hands, Martin! That is an amazing portrait. I always notice that most people declined to smile, back in the day. But I can see the faint hints of one lingering there, despite the semi-frown in the eyes. A lovely piece!


  7. Mm, handsome man - have those genes been passed down?!

  8. Lovely tinted photo...almost looks like a painting!

  9. they certainly didn't believe in smiling in those days, did they?

  10. Wonderful hand tinted portrait. Isn't it wonderful to connect with other branches of the family? The photos are always a big bonus.

  11. It is a wonderful photo. I can almost smell his lovely wool suit. Bless you

  12. Vicki - Yes, researching my family history has been a true labour of love for me.

    Nana Jo - He is a good looking fellow, isn't he? We, in the family, all agree that there is a strong resemblance shared with his nephew, my grandfather.

    Delwyn - I agree. This does strike me as a very formal picture. But it dates some time after his career with the railway, I'm sure.

    Tony - I love the colouring too. At first, I thought it was a painting.

    John - Thank you.

    Nevine - You picked up on that too. He does have a twinkle in his eye, doesn't he?

    jennyfreckles - Alas, Harry's genes have by-passed me. He is a distinguished looking chap though. That's for sure.

    Betsy - I see we're on the same wavelength. I thought that too.

    Friko - It seems that way doesn't it? Maybe having one's photograph taken then, was a serious business. Either that, or maybe people were conscious of the state of their teeth.

    willow - As we've said before, thank goodness for those early photographers.

    Leah - Isn't he though?

    Crystal Mary - Thank you. Now you mention it, I can smell that wool suit too.

  13. That photograph is amazing, as others have said. I have seen a number of hand-tinted and hand-coloured photographs before but none done so well as this one. Someone has spend a good amount of time on this one. I am sure they would be pleased that their efforts are now been shared with the world.

  14. My wife's uncle was a railway policeman for Canadian Pacific. It was quite an adventurous life.

    In this photo Harry reminds me of humorist Stephen Leacock.

  15. My thoughts already said, very nice stately gentleman. I wondered if the photo was perhaps a painting, nicely done. Never heard of Railway Policemen before, so I learned something new today.

  16. It's such an interesting portrait - reminds me of a colour-pencil sketch or, even pastels.

    Very nice photo to have in your possession.


  17. Everyone else has already said's such a beautiful photograph. I assumed it was an illustration. There might be more to his story because it is such a different and professional looking piece of art. Maybe he was more important than just a railway policeman or church caretaker.
    He certainly was a handsome and distinguished looking man.


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