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Derbyshire Photographers' Profiles
by Brett Payne, of Tauranga, New Zealand
William Potter

of Matlock Bath

William Potter became a photographer in his mid-30s, after having initially trained as a marble worker and subsequently run a business as a marble and spar (barytes) ornament manufacturer.  He and his wife ran the photographic studio and a "fancy repository" from premises in Derwent Parade, Matlock Bath for about 30 years, until at least 1908.

Go straight to Portfolio


William Potter was born in 1843 at Matlock, Derbyshire, son of William Potter senior (born c. 1815 Matlock), a market gardener and seedsman, and his wife Ann Gregory (born c. 1809 Ashover).

As a teenager William junior was an apprentice marble worker, and by 1864 (Kelly) he was listed as a "barytes manufacturer" in the nearby village of Cromford.  An 1870 directory (Harrod & Co.) listed him as a "manufacturer of spar, marble and malachite ornaments" back in Matlock.  In mid-1870 he married Louisa Spriggs (born c. 1848 St. John's Wood, London) in London.  The couple appear to have lived for a brief period at Dresden, near Longton in Staffordshire, as that was where their son Cecil William was born later that year.  By the time their second child Mary Louise was born in late 1875, they had moved back to Derbyshire, and Kelly's 1876 directory once again shows William as a spar & marble worker at Matlock dale.

Within the next five years, however, William Potter made a significant career change.  An 1881 directory (Kelly) and the April 1881 census show him as a draper's traveller & photographer, still at Matlock dale, while his wife was working as a "photographer's printer".  A photograph of Chatsworth House by William Potter, taken in the mid- to late 1870s, is included on this page.  William and Louisa then appear to have bought a shop in Matlock Bath, so that the Kelly's direcetory for 1887 and the 1891 Census both list Louisa as being the proprietress of a "fancy repository" at Derwent Parade.  By April 1891, they were living at Dale road in Matlock, and William merely described himself as a photographer.  Their son Cecil was helping in the shop, but sadly he died a year later.

The 1895 Kelly's directory shows William as a photographer with premises at Derwent Parade, and he was living at 5 Clarence terrace.  In addition, he described himself as a house agent, collector to the urban district council and an assistant overseer.  This occupational listing remained in 1899 (Kelly), although their residence had moved to 8 Rock Vale villas.  By the time of the 1901 Census, Louisa was working as a photographic painter.  William Potter continued to work as a photographer from the studio at Derwent Parade until at least 1908 (Kelly), although he did not have a listing in Kelly's 1912 trade directory. 


Portfolio
Image © & courtesy of David Simkin
Image © & courtesy of David Simkin
Chatsworth House, by W. Potter of Matlock, taken c. mid- to late 1870s
Format: Carte-de-visite
Image © & courtesy of David Simkin

Image © & courtesy of Denis Potter
Image © & courtesy of Denis Potter
4 Brunswood Terrace, by W. Potter of Matlock, unknown date
Size: 85mm x 53mm (photo), 104mm x 63mm (mount)
Format: Carte-de-visite
Image © & courtesy of Denis Potter

References
Images kindly provided by Denis Potter and David Simkin
1851 Census of Matlock & Matlock Bath - from Ann Andrews' Matlock & Matlock Bath Pages.
1861 Derbyshire Census - CDROM published by ArchiveCD Books
1871 Census of Matlock & Matlock Bath - from Ann Andrews' Matlock & Matlock Bath Pages.
1881 UK Census - online from the LDS church
1891 UK Census - online from Ancestry.com
1901 UK Census index - online from the PRO
FreeBMD
International Genealogical Index - online from the LDS church
North East Midland Photographic Record - Picture the Past
E.R. Kelly, M.A., F.S.S. (ed.) (1864) The Post Office Directory of the Counties of Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutlandshire, pub. Kelly and Co., London.
Harrod & Co. (1870) Postal & Commercial Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland & Staffordshire. University of Leicester's Digital Library of Historical Directories
E.R. Kelly, M.A. (ed.) (1876) The Post Office Directory of the Counties of Derby, Leicester, Rutland and Nottingham. pub. Kelly and Co., London, pp. 141-144. from Ann Andrews' Matlock & Matlock Bath Pages.
Anon (1881) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, pub. Kelly & Co., London.
Anon (1887) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, pub. Kelly & Co., London.
Anon (1891) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland & Nottinghamshire, pub. Kelly & Co., London. University of Leicester's Digital Library of Historical Directories
Anon (1895) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Kelly & Co. Limited, London.
Anon (1895) History, Topography, and Directory of Derbyshire, T. Bulmer & Co. - by kind courtesy of Sonia Addis-Smith
Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland pub. London, 1899, pp. 301-302. - from Ann Andrews' Matlock & Matlock Bath Pages.
Anon (1908)  Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, pub. London, pp. 328 - 330. - from Ann Andrews' Matlock & Matlock Bath Pages.
Anon (1912) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire 1912, Kelly's Directories Ltd., London.
Craven, Maxwell (ed.) (1993) Keene's Derby, Breedon Books, Derby, pp. 200-202. - by kind courtesy of Sonia Addis-Smith

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