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Unmarked & unremarkable German import. Photograph gallery
Ted and Lily Simmons 1935

The Living Image Camera Museum website came into existence, partly to celebrate the growing collection, but also to honour these two people, my Grandparents, Edward and Lily Simmons. The unremarkable German Import, just known as the DRP, recorded this image on their honeymoon in 1935 on the cliff walk at Shanklin IOW. A generation later I would get to meet them as their Grandson They smiled and laughed the same then, as they did throughout their long and happy lives and I remember them looking much the same until time took them from us. I still have the original negative, from which this fresh print was taken 65 years after it was taken.

Born in Southampton where he lived for most of his life, Edward's life was steered by the Edwardian ocean liners - for his father, Fred Simmons, was a steward with the White Star shipping line. Fred's normal ship was the SS Majestic, but being recently married and moving into a new property in Shirley, Fred took up the company's offer of a one off trip on a new liner which required experienced crew. For many reasons, crew were reluctant to leave their regular ships, as there was a long established tipping culture that permeated from the Stewards down throughout the ship, and these took time to establish to the benefit of all concerned. But the management were keen, as Fred could sing and dance, and would be an asset. They made a persuasive argument and Fred accepted. It was just one trip after all.

That ship was the RMS Titanic, she sailed into history April 1912 from Southampton, taking Fred with her, aged just 23.

Lily Poole

With his father dead and little income from his Mother Winifred, these were days before our enlightened Social Security, things must have looked grim. Fortunately public donations were sufficient for a fund to be set up for the orphans of the crew, from which Winifred and Edward became beneficiaries, this directly set up a chain of events the lead to Edward being educated, apprenticed as an upholsterer and locating his first Job in Bristol with a Co Operative Upholstery. During this time he made enough money to treat himself to the DRP folding camera, from an advert in a National Newspaper - as was common in those times. It was at his works in Bristol that he met the elegant lady we see here at right, Lily Poole. Clearly taken with her, he has produced this wonderful image c1935 with her in the poor quarters of her Bristol home where she lived with her parents and two sisters.

The DRP wasn't a particularly good camera, even when new. Revisiting the negatives in 2017, I see that it leaked light even then, and the Aplanat lens was prone to flare. But Grandad had a good eye and has timed this beautifully

Lily IOW 1935 Ted, IOW 1935

Married in 1935, they took their honeymoon at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, where Grandad again cajoled his DRP to make this nicely composed image of Grandma at work, for she was an inveterate writer of postcards, as was the way in those times. Grandma has returned the favour and captured Gramps on the next frame. The DRP leaking light badly and fogging the bottom right corner.

They travelled all around the UK their entire lives, never learning to drive, they used bicycles and latterly coach trips.

Grandad stayed an upholsterer all his working life, and returning to the Shirley area of Southampton where he had grown up he worked on the Ocean Liners, refitting the thousands of seats installed. He also did a spell with the Empire Flying Boats at Hythe.

Lily choosing Patch Lily Ted 1940

Anderson Shelter

At left, Lily around 1937 having to choose one puppy, one of these subsequently became the family dog "Patch".

Middle image, Lily and Edward had a daughter, Mary in 1939, here they all are in around 1940, visiting relatives in Bristol as WW2 got into its full swing.

The right hand image was taken back at Southampton, peering out of the newly dug Anderson air raid shelter. A wise move as the area was heavily bombed.

Mary and Patch 1940

Mary Simmons now one year old, with a somewhat larger "Patch" the doting and ever protecting hound.

Mary 1947

Mary in around 1947 sat on the gate outside a relative's house near Alton in Hampshire. The house still exists, although no longer in our family, now with loft conversions and stripped of the ivy covering. The gate has long since been replaced by a galvanized metal tubular one, but looking in the ditch, I spotted the original long hinge plates seen the in photograph, gently returning to the earth.

At the beach

With the war over, family life took in frequent trips to the local beaches, as the DRP records in Grandad's hands.

Linda South 1959

In time, Mary grew up to have her own family. Her daughter, Linda - my sister, seen here in 1959.

This appears to be the last occasion the old DRP was used by Grandad, to record his Grand daughter. 32 years after he bought the camera, it seems to have been retired to the drawer, for I cannot identify any later images from it.

mum, petroglyphs

Mary, my Mother - photographed in 2017 with the very same DRP on what was probably it's last outing. The poor old DRP is well passed its best, now 90 years old, it's makers had no expectations it would still exist in the 21st century, much less still be asked to take photographs. It's no surprise that Mum and I have a preoccupation with all things related to history, be it social, architectural, maritime, aviation, photographic, medical - the gift they passed to Mum and subsequently me, is priceless.

So the DRP has taken a photograph of the original owners daughter at the hand of his Grandson. There can't be too many cameras that can make that claim. This image was taken in Kazakhstan, a place Edward and Lily could only ever have read and dreamed about. The markings on the rocks are thousands of years old and known as Petroglyphs. There are hundred in this area, but here you can clearly see a man on horseback and a mountain goat. That very same light leak that fogged the images in 1935 continues to do it's work here.

Mum wrote a lovely book ostensibly for her Father to uncover the story of Fred, called "Titanic Threads", I dare say you can find a copy of it online if you search...

Teggies 2017

Me on the left and Mai on the right, shortly after we were married. It's an interesting comparison between the style of informal photographs between the one at top and this one. Also recorded by the DRP and its leak in Kazakhstan in 2017, this time by the daughter of the original owner.

Thank you Grandma and Gramps.

Thank you Mum.

Thank you, Tiggs.

And this is where the DRP's story ends.

Southampton Pier 1927

One final image, I believe taken with the first film Grandad put through his new camera in 1927, he was testing it out. It shows Southampton Pier.

If all the images seem fairly fresh, this is because Grandad kept all the negatives, and for this page they were either reprinted, or scanned directly from the original negative.

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