Frederick William Biltcliffe 1882 – 1956
By 1889, Frederick William Biltcliffe’s father, Joshua Biltcliffe, had set up a photographic studio at the rear of his general store at 6 Bridge Street, Penistone, West Riding of Yorkshire.
Frederick (known as Fred) would have been familiar with and involved in the business as the family lived next door to the shop and the studio.
Sometime after the 1901 census, Frederick and his older brother John Thomas became photographers.
By 1904, at least two of Joshua’s four sons had officially joined the business which became known as Joshua Biltcliffe & Sons.
By 1904, Fred and J T were advertising in the style of Biltcliffe Brothers as photographers working out of 6 Bridge Street so the brothers and their father were both advertising separate photographic businesses working from the same address; Joshua until 1914 and the Biltcliffe Brothers until 1922.
At some stage around 1904 the business opened up a second studio in Skelmanthorpe, just a few miles away, and advertised under the name of J Biltcliffe & Sons until 1925.
Frederick took over the Skelmanthorpe studio in his sole name in 1926 and advertised it until 1938. It is not known if he continued his photographic career during and after the war.
As well as having a portrait studio, Fred and his father and his brother photographed most of the local activities and produced many of their photographs as postcards.
Fred died in 1956.
1891 – age 9, at 6 Bridge Street, Penistone, West Riding of Yorkshire with Joshua Biltcliffe (father), Mary Hannah Biltcliffe (mother), Ernest Arthur Biltcliffe, John Thomas Biltcliffe and Henry Biltcliffe (brothers)
1901 – age 18, at 6 Bridge Street, Penistone, West Riding of Yorkshire (occupation – carpet apprentice) with Joshua Biltcliffe (father), Mary Hannah Biltcliffe (mother), and his brothers Ernest Arthur Biltcliffe, John Thomas Biltcliffe and Henry Biltcliffe (all workers at Railway Company)
1911 – age 29, at Skelmanthorpe, West Riding of Yorkshire (occupation – photographer ?)
Frederick William Biltcliffe was born on the 5th October 1882 in Thurlstone, West Riding of Yorkshire and was the son of Joshua Biltcliffe, a steel works labourer, and Mary Hannah Biltcliffe (nee Wood). He had three older brothers, Ernest, John Thomas and Henry.
Fred eventually became a photographer in the family firm along with his older brother John Thomas Biltcliffe.
At some time prior to 1889, when Fred was seven years old, his father opened a studio in a small hut at The Prospect, Thurlstone and by 1889 had moved it to the town of Penistone where he opened a store at 6 Bridge Street. Fred’s father moved the studio hut from Thurlstone on the back of a cart and attached it to the rear of the store in what was known as Vernon Place (possibly also known as Vernon Terrace). A showroom, picture frame workshop and darkroom were also added. Fred and his brothers no doubt were involved in this big adventure.
The main shop sold musical items such as gramophones, sheet music and violin strings as well as more general items such as hosiery and school uniforms.
In 1889 Fred’s father advertised in trade directories as a photographer and continued to advertise as such until 1936.
Fred’s father, Joshua, was also very involved in music and in the church and he took a very active part in the Netherfield Congregational Church. Frederick must have got his musicality from his father as, later in life, he composed music and had some of it copyrighted.
In 1891, at the age of nine, Fred was living at home at 6 Bridge Street, Penistone with his father, his mother and his three brothers.
In the 1901 census the three older boys, all in their early 20s, were shown as working for the railway company and Frederick aged 18, the youngest, was a carpet apprentice.
As the Biltcliffe boys grew up they must have become involved in the shop and two of them, Fred and J T became particularly involved in the photography side of the business.
A shop (not a studio) was also opened at nearby Denby Dale.
The business at 6 Bridge Street continued to flourish and there was a row of 6 houses to the left of the shop which belonged to Fred’s brother, J T Biltcliffe.
In 1904, Joshua changed the name of the business to Biltcliffe & Sons and it continued in that style until 1936.
Also, by 1904, Fred and J T were advertising in the style of Biltcliffe Brothers as photographers working out of 6 Bridge Street so the brothers and their father were advertising two separate photographic businesses working from the same address.
Also, at sometime around 1904, a studio was opened at Skelmanthorpe in the name of J Biltcliffe & Sons. Skelmanthorpe is a large village eight miles to the north of Penistone and Frederick appears to have been the leading operator there and eventually ran it in his own name whilst J T took a more leading role in the Penistone studio.
In 1907, Fred married 25 year old Marion Cartwright at Wortley near Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire. In the following year their only child, Constance Mary Biltcliffe, was born at Penistone. Constance, known as Connie, lived a long life – until 1998.
Connie had a dog – a rather clever dog! Although to date it appears that he never advertised in any trade directories.
In 1914, Fred would have been 32 years old. The Great War of 1914 – 1918 would have altered many people’s lives. However, for some reason, neither Fred Biltcliffe nor his photographer brother, John Thomas Biltcliffe, served in WW1; nor is there any record of his other two brothers being called up. This is unexplained as, initially, men between the ages of 19 and 38, at least 5 foot 6 inches tall and with chest measurements of at least 34 inches were accepted. However, many of those rejected in the first wave of enlistments were later accepted when standards were revised.
Fred Biltcliffe, like his father and his brother, recorded most of the local events such as gatherings, festivals and sports activities as well as weddings etc. He left behind a wonderful social record of the district during the first half of the 20th century. Many of the pictures were produced as postcards and many still exist today – see below.
Fred must have cycled hundreds of miles a year throughout the district capturing local ‘scoops’ like the visit of Cody’s aeroplane to Penistone in 1909, the Penistone viaduct wreck of 191, the Royal visit in 1912 and the opening of the Penistone Carnegie library in 1913 as well as photographing meetings, gatherings, sports and weddings.
Of course, Fred also took lots of pictures of his family. The charming portrait below shows his daughter Connie with her cousin Charlie (the son of John Thomas Biltcliffe). Cousin Charlie is on a rather elaborate bicycle – whether it was his or it was a studio prop is not known.
Fred was also something of a marksman and won a shooting medal awarded by the National Rifle Association. It has the engraving 1500 1500 on it which probably indicates the type of competition that it was awarded for. The date 1860 relates to when the National Rifle Association was founded; not when the medal was awarded. The medal is shown below and is attached to a sterling silver watch chain.
In 1925, Fred very sadly lost his elder brother, Ernest, at the relatively young age of 48.
Fred continued to take photographs until at least 1938 when he appears to have stopped advertising in trade directories. Maybe this was because of the imminence of WW2.
As well as being a photographer, Frederick William Biltcliffe was a Special Constable, including during WW2, the period from 1940 to 1945. At that time he was about 60 years old. The picture below shows him in his uniform.
Frederick was awarded a long service medal for being a Special Constable. The medal has a bar on it dated 1940 on one side and 1945 on the other side and Fred is shown wearing it in the portrait above. The medal can be seen in more detail below.
Whether or not Fred carried on with his photographic career after the war is not known but it is most likely that he did.
Fred died in 1956 at the age of 74 in the Upper Agbrigg area of the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Fred had a father who was a photographer – see Joshua Biltcliffe
Fred also had a brother who was a photographer – see John Thomas Biltcliffe
Father Joshua Biltcliffe born Penistone (1853-1937)
Mother Mary Hannah Biltcliffe (nee Wood) born Penistone (1855–1901)
Born 5 October 1882 in Thurlstone, West Riding of Yorkshire
Married 1907 to Marion Cartwright (1882-1911) at Wortley, West Riding of Yorkshire
Child 1 Constance Mary Biltcliffe born 1908 at Penistone, West Riding of Yorkshire. Died 1998.
Died 1956, aged 74, in Upper Agbrigg area, West Riding of Yorkshire.
Compiled by Ron Cosens © www.cartedevisite.co.uk
- Sheila Baker – email@example.com granddaughter of John Thomas Biltcliffe, family historian, who provided some of the information for the life story above
- Sandy Barrie for trade directory information
- Marcel Safier for additional research
- Ron Cosens for images from the Victorian Image Collection
Frederick William Biltcliffe – Gallery
Below are examples of the Fred’s / Biltcliffe Brothers’ photography