Does anyone recognise this Christmas baby?......

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MAY I enlist the help of Dispatch readers in identifying the baby in the photograph, and possibly his parents and grandparents.

The portrait was taken by W.H.Cumming, a well-established photographer in the Weymouth and Dorchester area.

It came into my possession when my mother died in 1982. A poem on the reverse says: “To gan-gan and grandpa; With love for a Happy Christmas; From Daryl, Eugene, Peter; Christmas 1947”.

To display a photo of her own, she had purchased the frame from a stall on Hucknall Market, complete with baby picture, in 1963.

I am not sure if, at the time, she realised that where the front cover had been folded to the back, it concealed a letter, written 100 years earlier in 1863 by Knud Graah. It was addressed to a former acquaintance who had set up a mill for him in Sweden.

Graah (1817-1909) was an industrial pioneer born in Thisted, Denmark. Early in the 1840s, he had been studying in Manchester, becoming familiar with the textile industry there and where he appears to heve met his friend.

Connections with Hucknall are tenuous at best. However it is possible that, as Graah’s friend, had a mill in the same town as one John Hargreaves, they were acquainted. John may be a descendant of James Hargreaves, who arrived from Blackburn in 1798 and set up works in the Nottingham area.

The cotton, spinning and weaving industries of that time were close-knit and faced together the new laws concering trade, imports, mill standards and care and payment of their workers.

How does this little boy connect with this past? Or is he just saying Happy Christmas to his grandparents?


Newton Close,

Harpenden, Hertfordshire.