Brislington Community Museum

Little & Barber

These postcards from this Brislington publisher all carry an identical form of words on the back: "Little & Barber, Buyers of Old English Furniture and Works of Art. Arnos Castle, Brislington, Bristol." The business occupied not only what is now known as The Black Castle but also extensive grounds that included the bath house and colonnade (the latter was moved to Portmeirion, Wales, where it's known as the Bristol Colonnade), all built by William Reeve in the 1760s.

It's fortunate for us that one member of this partnership had a brother - Fred Little - who not only had a passion for old architecture, but was also a keen photographer. Fred took all the pictures that have appeared in the known postcards (he took more besides, but it's uncertain whether this antiques business published them).

Walter Barber

Walter was the only one of the three key figures known to have lived in Brislington. The 1881 Census shows he was born in 1880, in Bristol, to William and Selina Barber who, the Census says, were living in Hampton Terrace, Bedminster, Bristol. William was aged 30, was born in Ilminster, Somerset, and worked as a railway foreman; Selina was 26 and was born in Bristol; they had another son, some five years older than Walter.

The 1891 Census shows the parents and two children living in Dean Street in the parish of St Paul, Bristol. The father now worked as a railway superintendent (and now claims birth at Crewkerne, Somerset), the elder brother worked as a clerk at the Coal Wharf, and Walter was attending school.

In the summer of 1909 Walter married Alice Lapham in Bristol. She was born to Fanny and Alfred Lapham and baptised in Sept 1876 at the church of St Barnabas, Bristol. Her family lived at Campbell Street, and her father worked as a clothier's assistant.

The 1881 Census describes her family as living in City Road in the combined parishes of St James & St Paul, Bristol. Alfred, who was aged 28 and born in Bristol, was working as a salesman, and Fanny was aged 40 and was born at Pitchcombe, Gloucestershire. Alice had an elder brother and both had been born in Bristol.

The 1891 Census shows her family unchanged in its members but living at Raglan Road, Horfield, Bristol. Her father worked as a clothier's salesman. A decade later the 1901 Census shows her family at the same address although now Alice's brother was absent and they had a boarder. Alice was self-employed as a music teacher.

Alice and Walter's daughter Mary was baptised at the church of St Matthew, Cotham, Bristol, while the family lived at Springfield Road, Cotham; Walter was working as a carriage maker. The 1911 Census shows the family still living in Springfield Road, and describes Walter's occupation as a baby carriage dealer. In March 1919 the family was increased by the birth of Kenneth who was baptised the same month at the church of St Luke, Brislington. The family's address was given as Arnos Castle (currently known as The Black Castle), Brislington, and Walter worked as a dealer in fine art.

Sadly, in December 1937, while living at Redland Court Road, Redland, Bristol, Alice died. She left more than £900; Walter, at the time, worked as a dealer in fine arts.

The register of 1939 lists Walter as living in Queen's Court, Bristol, and working as a dealer in fine arts and antiques.

Arthur Little

Arthur William Little was born in July 1877, and his birth was registered in Bristol. The 1881 Census shows him living with his family at Castle Green, St Peter's, Bristol. His father, Frederick, was aged 42 and working as a School Board Officer, and was born at Bath, Somerset. His mother Mary, aged 43, was born in Bristol. The children living at home consisted of Arthur, who was attending school, his three older sisters, with the eldest being 21 years old, and a brother. His brother Fred, who was about four years older than Walter, would play a significant part in Brislington's postcard history as the photographer for at least a dozen postcards of The Black Castle, and all the known postcards published by the business partnership Little & Barber.

The 1891 Census shows the family living in Narrow Wine Street, still in St Peter's. None of Arthur's sisters were at home; his father had the same employment, and his mother was now said to have been born in Birmingham. A decade later the 1901 Census shows Arthur as self-employed as a clerk of St Peter's, working from the family home (still at 18 Narrow Wine Street). His mother was now widowed, and Fred completed the household (working as a self-employed photographer).

In the spring of 1904, the marriage of Arthur Little and Ellen Corbett was registered in Bristol. She had been baptised in Oct 1879 in the parish of Berkeley, Gloucestershire, and was the child of Margaret and Harcourt Corbet [sic]. The family lived in Berkeley, and her father worked as a chemist.

The Census of 1881 shows her family living on the High Street, Berkeley. Ellen's father was aged 33 and born in Bristol, and her mother was aged 28 and was born in Wales. Ellen had a brother two years her elder who had also been born in Berkeley. By 1891 her father had died, and in 1894 her mother remarried.

In Nov 1906 Ellen gave birth to a daughter who was born in Bristol and baptised the following month at the church of St Peter, where Arthur was sexton, he was also conducting business as an antiquarian. The family were living at 18 Narrow Wine Street, Bristol. The 1911 Census found the family of three living at Ninetree Hill, Cotham, Bristol. Arthur worked as an antique dealer.

The 1939 register records Arthur as a widower, still working as a dealer in antiques. Sadly, Arthur's death was recorded in the summer of 1959 at Bristol.

Their postcards

Black Castle - ARNO'S CASTLE. BRISTOL View of the Castle from the Meadows. Published online at Bristol Archives, and again at Bristol Archives. Earliest known picture: before July 1918.

Black Castle - ARNO'S CASTLE, BRISTOL. The Subterranean passage in 1911 now demolished. Published online at Bristol Archives. Earliest known picture: 08 Nov 1912.

Black Castle - ARNO'S CASTLE, BRISTOL. The Great Hall. Published online at Bristol Archives. Earliest known picture: before July 1918.

Black Castle - ARNO'S CASTLE, BRISTOL. Interior of the Roman Bath. Published online at Bristol Archives. Also published in print by Fisher, Janet et al 1987, page 32).

Black Castle - ARNO'S CASTLE, BRISTOL. The Roman Bath before Alterations. Published online at Bristol Archives. Also published in print by Fisher, Janet et al 1987, page 32).

Some notes

Few of the sampled postcards were sent through the postal system, but one has a clear postmark for Nov 1912 and refers to the subterranean passage under what is now the A4 Bath Road which, it says was demolished in 1911 (so this was commemorating a fairly recent event).

Some of the other known postcards are printed advising the purchaser that a halfpenny stamp was required, while others are apparently identical but without the price, which suggests they were printed after - or in anticipation of - the price rise (to one penny) on 3 Jun 1918.

The 1914 edition of Kelly's Directory of Bristol records Little & Barber as dealers in antique furniture at Arnos Castle, Brislington, and also as antique dealers at both 18 Narrow Wine Street, Bristol, and Arnos Castle.

Ken Taylor

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