Brislington Community Museum

Martin John Ridley (MJRB)

Photographer and postcard publisher Martin Ridley is - so far - known only to have produced a single picture of Brislington, a photograph of the heart of the village. He was based in Bournemouth (which gives its initial to the final letter of the abbreviation printed on his postcards: MJRB), Dorset, and published postcards of many places in the south of England, particularly Bristol and South Wales. He was a prolific photographer, leaving around 6,000 glass photographic plates when he died.

The 1861 census shows three-month old Martin (he was born in January 1861) living with his parents Mira (aged 28) and William (27, working as a timber and slate merchant) and two older siblings and a domestic servant, in Reading, Berkshire.

In 1881 the census shows the family living in the Liberty of Earley, Wokingham, Berkshire. Martin has three younger brothers and the household includes two domestic servants and a governess. Martin was working as a merchant's clerk, presumably in the family business - his father's occupation was cited as timber merchant.

In the second quarter of 1888 his marriage to Alice Browne was registered in Blything (which included Wrentham, see below), Suffolk. She was a year younger than he was, and born in the Suffolk village of Wrentham. The 1871 census shows her as the third daughter of Mary (50, born in Bermuda) and John (48, born in Norfolk), an independent minister of Wrentham Chapel.

In 1891 the census shows Martin and Alice living in Holdenhurst, a village northeast of Bournemouth. They had a son (aged 2) and daughter (1) and a domestic servant. Martin was now working as a photographer.

The 1901 census shows the family in Boscombe, Bournemouth, where Martin was an employer working as a photographic artist. Although they still had two children - a daughter (11) and son (4), their first son was no longer with them. A decade later the census shows the four of them living at the same address and confirmed that one child had died. Martin was an employer working as a photographic publisher. Their daughter Winifred was now 21 (she was born in Margate, Kent), and worked from home at photo printing and a colourist.

In June 1936, while living at the same address, Martin died. The register of 1939 shows his widow Alice at the same address, along with Winifred (whose occupation now was stated as housework), her (Alice's) sister-in-law, and four others including a housekeeper. Alice died at the same address in February 1950. Winifred, while living at a different address in Bournemouth, and still bearing her birth surname, died in July 1969.

Brislington postcard

The Square - Old Brislington, Bristol. Published in print by Fisher, Janet et al 1985, page 27. Earliest known picture: 1907.

Some notes

This is the first postcard of Brislington where it's possible we may actually know who painted the colour onto the postcard - or perhaps at least designed the colour scheme (for reproduction by others) - Winifred Ridley. Sadly, this postcard may yet remain unique in that respect.

Ken Taylor

We can't exhibit this postcard until we have permission from the copyright owner, and regrettably we don't yet know who that is.