W T Green - Walter Thomas Greenland

Walter Thomas Greenland

Hampshire Cultural Trust are fortunate to hold in their collections many original albumen prints produced from the glass plate negatives of the early twentieth century photographer W T Green. For decades his identity puzzled the Museums curators here, but in the spring of 2010 cooperation between the archivists of the City of Winchester Trust and Winchester College brought to light for us his real name - Walter Thomas Greenland.

He was born to Thomas, a curate in Northamptonshire and his wife Martha in 1851, and spent his early life in the Midlands and eastern England. In 1891 he was a tutor of modern languages in Lincolnshire, but a decade later he had moved to Winchester and was renting rooms at 28 Upper High Street, part of a neat brick terrace close to the London and South Western railway line. Photography appears to have been a sideline for Mr Greenland, whose occupation is again recorded as tutor in 1911. He continued to live in Upper High Street until his death in 1921.

During the years 1900-1904 he sold reproduction rights to about four hundred photographs to the Winchester printer Warren and Son, a firm which still occupies the same premises at 85 High Street today as it did over a hundred years ago. Warrens used the photographs to illustrate various local books including the popular "Winchester Illustrated" which was published in 1903 and again in 1905. The Museums' collection includes proofs for some of these illustrations with instructions to the printer written on the reverse as to the size of the block to be used and, occasionally, treatment of the image such as "Please make word 'MOTOR' come out less distinctive." Airbrushing is not a new concept.

A small handwritten notebook held at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies in Winchester records W T Green's business dealings with Warren and Son; he evidently used the name Green for his photographic work. In the notebook each photograph is given a number and a brief title; the sum charged is noted, and on occasion payment is signed for over a one penny stamp. The most common sum quoted for a photograph is five shillings, but this was sometimes increased to six shillings, seven and sixpence, or as much as ten shillings. Often but not invariably the higher rate reflected a location other than Winchester. W T Green went as far afield as the New Forest and Christchurch, the Devil's Punchbowl and Farnham as well as to towns and villages in the Winchester area such as Alresford, Bishop's Waltham, Easton, Selborne, Cheriton and Hursley.

Although he was not a full time professional photographer W T Green had a very good eye for composition, and one of the most attractive characteristics of his work is the way many of his street scenes include people going about their business, giving a lively and realistic impression of everyday life which contrasts with the more formal images of some other photographers at this time.