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Search for E.A. Bragg – May 2015 – Phil Nicholls

The Approach of Helston Flora Day!

e a bragg portraitFriday May 8th approaches and to all residents of Helston this means just one thing… Flora Day! Residing in the town myself I’ve come to love this annual festival as do the majority of my friends, one or two can take-it-or-leave-it, personally I can’t wait! I’m not going to talk about the details of the day here but if you know nothing of the event I suggest you take a quick look online, and, there are webcams at various points around the town this year if you can’t actually attend in person!

Photographer Edward Bragg spent a few of the pre-WW1 annual Flora Day celebrations in Helston and a number of his images of the event date 1905-1907 with a couple of later examples that seem to have been taken in 1909. Studying these pieces I was intrigued by the fact that he was shooting regularly across the years from one particular window.

He picked a prime spot high above the crowd giving a panoramic view across the bowling green and I wonder what his relationship with the occupants might have been? Sadly the view is now partially obscured by the clubhouse but the actual scene during the mid-day dance on Flora day is still eerily reminiscent of EAB’s captures.

floraday2014-4In preparation for a September exhibition of my re-shoots of Edward’s images of Helston I’m going to try and accurately re-capture this one particular vista. Looking toward the bowling green I aim to capture the passage of the town band followed by the mid-day dance on May 8th this year. I say re-capture as this will be my third attempt.

In 2013 I couldn’t quite figure out the angle to capture the dancers from, although, from a step-ladder I got pretty close and I’ve added the result here. In 2014 I finally got access to the house from which Edward was photographing the scene…..but, sadly, due to a cracked, double-glazed window (half full of water) I couldn’t get where I needed to be. The window just couldn’t be opened. 2015; take-3, fingers crossed, watch this space!

I’m including one more of Edward Bragg’s images at this point as it’s relevant to some of my early articles in this series. Once again, shot from his favourite site C.1906-07, we see respectful crowds around the perimeter of the green whilst the band, followed by The Lord Mayor passes through a crowd in the foreground; the relevance to my search for the visage of Edward Bragg?

Take a look at the photographers located to the background of Bragg’s photo-card. A hi-res scan reveals, I believe, Helston photographer Albert Hawke, a contemporary of our man Bragg. The search is now on for images taken on the day by Mr. Hawke which will show the house and window from which the original image was shot. This would be a unique sighting of EA Bragg at work; a photographer myself I’m aware that we rarely appear in photographs, we just take them.

ea bragg, flora day, helston, © phil nicholls photography

ea bragg, flora day, helston, © phil nicholls photography

So; as we approach May 8th, I shall be preparing to re-shoot a handful of these original images and plan to be at the window used year after year by Edward Bragg to site his tripod, the actual spot from which he captured those joyous pre-war Flora Day celebrations. The last image in this article shows the space he occupied and from which the images were all taken. Here it is today.

I just couldn’t resist including it as I find these empty spaces so haunting, so evocative. On this forthcoming day, If I stop, take a moment, perhaps cover my eyes…..I imagine the sounds entering the room to be indistinguishable from those that echoed around Edward Bragg just over a century ago.

Flora Day was obviously not part of the calendar during the years of The Great War and I believe 1919 saw its return with just a handful of dancers participating. I’m still collating the scraps of information I’ve been given on the subject and believe we ought to spare a thought as we celebrate Flora day during these centenary years; one hundred years ago the war was raging in Europe, 1915 saw Edward Bragg enlist, 1916 and he was gassed on the front, his career coming to an abrupt end.

ea bragg, flora day, phil nicholls photography

ea bragg, flora day, phil nicholls photography

My re-captures of EAB’s Helston will be shown in the museum here in the town during the first half of September. The results will also be viewable on the website and related facebook page.

To see more work by photographer Edward Albert Bragg please visit where you can follow a link to the related facebook page… and, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have something to add to this article or to the project in general. I welcome any thoughts.

Phil Nicholls, May 2015.


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  • Hi Phil
    I have thus forgotten about you just to inform you I have approximately 100 scrap books full
    of material genealogical material on the Bragg/Penrice family for the said county of Cumberland
    and Westmorland going back in time to the said reign of King Richard 1st
    Henry Bragg my great grand father fathers name was indeed Joseph Penrice of the township
    of Distington in Cumberland his father was indeed Jeremiah for the same parish deemed Distington
    Henry Bragg senior met his nativity for the year 1840 the true said son of Joseph Penrice Joseph
    Penrice was indeed the true son of Jeremiah Penrice He Joseph Penrice met his nativity for the
    1808/1809 My great grandfather by profession was deemed a joiner and wheelright who thus resided
    in the Preston Quarter between Saint Bees parish and the sea port of Whitehaven on the Cumbrian
    coast Mr Henry Bragg had a large family one being my Great Uncle Henry Bragg who I am given
    to understand emigrated to New York in the said state of New York during the first years of the 1900’s
    My Grandfather Edward Albert Bragg was born in Lindal in Lancashire for the year 1877/1878
    He was a very clever child and thus completed his training as a joiner in his 17th year
    His father married twice to a woman deemed Mary Crabb Her father was indeed in the Cinematic
    Industry and for a time resident for the township of Bolton Lancashire
    My grandfather went to the prestigous grammar school in Ulverston whille there he thus became
    acquianted with the Jefferson especial master Stanley Jefferson the second half of Mr Oliver
    Hardy Stan Luaral was good in language presentation hopeless in the sciences My grandfather
    came to the conclusion that Master Stanley Jefferson was work-shy and at the same time bone
    idle this could explain how it was that Stan Laurel this fled to America to avoid hard work
    I have now ordered my grandfathers Military Career and for the years 1918 late 1918 until late 1919
    He was transfered from Naval Military Artilary to Administration with an improvement in his rank
    I will have to close for now
    Kind regards John Oliver Penrice Edwards RHS

    P.S. My home address is Old Park Lane Oldbury West Midland B69 4TP (Not Park Lane in London)

  • Hi Philip
    I have been reading your articles on my grand father Edward Albert Bragg who
    thus resided at the following places as follows:

    a) Falmouth
    b) Illogan
    c)Worth Maltraver’s in Dorset
    d)Hazalbury Bryan the same
    I hope you can now appreciate that my grand father took many
    pamoramic wide views of his regiment probably the Lancashire Regiment
    for the years between 1915 to 1919
    It looks to my judgement his was an officer thus serving during the 1914 – 1919
    First World War
    Just to inform you he took a most professional phtograph of himself his wife
    Mrs Elizabeth Bragg nee Richards with his actual true daughter Marianne Bragg
    either at Illogan Church Town in Cornwall failing this at Southport in the said county
    of Lancashire for the years between 1900 – 1901
    My grandfather thus moved to Cornwall with his family during the last days of 1900
    after contracting a bout of Rheumatic Fever and arrived at the Illogan parish for
    the new year 1901 My email address is
    My former profession was a cabinet maker You will get a fall email report as to Edward
    Albert Bragg and Family the week after next kind regards John Oliver Penrice Edwards

    • John, fabulous. Thanks for making contact and I will be in touch via email later this week….but here’s a brief reply which you may intercept first.
      Thanks Roseland Online for making these connections happen – another piece of the jigsaw is found!

      • Hi Phil
        I have gathered a lot of evidence with reference to the sister of Edward Albert Bragg
        who in his time was indeed a professional photographer before and during the First
        World War Edward Albert Bragg sisters name was indeed Martha A Bragg who met
        her nativity at Whitehaven during the early /middle 1860’s She is indeed the eldest
        child of Henry Bragg senior and his said wife Mary Bragg nee Thompson
        She was indeed in domestic service for the census’s 1881 and 1891 Then thus
        became a trained nurse before emigrating to South Africa and thence to Namibia
        She married a Friederich von During a Count and surgeon this marrige thus took place
        between the years 1909 – 1913
        She thus supported her husband during the Great War as a senior nurse
        Von During was a Officer in the above conflict He was the one who witnessed the
        extermination through the camera during the early 1900’s 1904-1905 He probably
        had a son as to his Christian name
        After the war Martha von During came back to England in 1923 and resided at hove in Sussex
        Shewas a woman of Independant Means and was given eleven guinea’s by Mary of Tec the wife
        of King George V She passed away in 1928/1929 at Hove and my Uncle made the funeral arrangements
        Kind regards John Oliver Edwards

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