Good Friday Tilemaking

A few days ago we were searching the online catalogue for some tile-related information when we spotted the words “Good Friday” in our results. Not ones to ignore such a timely coincidence we decided to take a closer look, finding a letter to John Campbell containing a multitude of connections to other items in the Archive. Lovely stuff!

The letter (SD 1705/MS3364) is written by William Salmon, a 68 year old tilemaker who previously worked for the Campbell Tile Company and who is now “hoping you may have a small offering with a little light work” to “help my Pension out”. Alongside the enquiry for work are reminiscences of his time with the company – which happens to be celebrating its Diamond Jubilee at the time – including the reference to Good Friday which initially caught our eye:

The first tile I think was made on Good Friday 1875

Later on in the letter William mentions that he earned 6 shillings for “carrying the workspeoples’ knives and forks” at the coming of age of John Fitzherbert Campbell, remarking that it was a “grand dinner and tea in a marquee on the front lawn of the Hotel Rudyard”. That connects nicely to SD 1705/MS3164, an invitation card for the occasion with the tickets for those two “grand” meals – and railway travel to and from Rudyard – still attached.

We can also link it to this family photograph taken in the doorway of the Hotel Rudyard during the coming-of-age celebrations. In it you can see John Fitzherbert Campbell standing in the centre of the group, his mother seated just below and to the left, and his father Colin Minton Campbell seated front-right with stick and hat in hand.

But, as is the case with the Minton Archive, there’s always one more connection to make. We also used this photograph at the beginning of our interactive timeline highlighting the wonderful diary entries of Louisa Jessie Campbell because it features both her and the object of her affections, Mr. Cotton. They’ve actually been married for over a year in this photograph – we’re leaving you to guess where in the group they might be!

Elsewhere in the letter William reminds Mr Campbell that his sister Mary was the first nurse he had after “Baby George” was born, and that he was also responsible for catching out a group of “Placers who faked the drawing and left fired tiles in”. None of these were “a straight man to his employers” in William’s mind and he recalls that the entire “band” was sacked the next morning.

Whenever these moments of happenstance occur we’re always excited to see where the catalogue will take us, even if it is leading us away from our original task. We hope you enjoyed following us on this little journey through the Archive – now, if only we could remember what we were doing before we got distracted!