Alfred Quinton Barton was one of nine children – and three sons - of Alfred Barton and Emma Ann Quinton, born at Newport in the Isle of Wight in 1889. He worked as a teacher and pharmacist before World War I, when he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a pharmacist. After the war the skills and experience gained encouraged him to set up as a pharmacist himself and he opened his first business at Cinderford in the Forest of Dean in 1920. His pharmacy work is detailed in an accompanying article by his daughter and alongside the pharmacy, Alfred provided photographic services, developing and printing photographs over many years.
His first photographic experiments appear to have been in 1913, probably when he was training as a pharmacist. The earliest photos of his that we have were taken on glass plate negatives and are still stored in the original box labelled “Holidays June 30 – Jul 14 ‘13”.
Alfred joined the Army in 1915 and there is no record of any further photographic work until the 1920s, after he opened his first pharmacy at Cinderford in 1920.
According to family knowledge he did not practice photography himself before 1923, when he was asked to photograph the opening of the Dilke Memorial Hospital in Cinderford. Apparently the photographs were quickly put on sale in the shop, and this commercial success encouraged him to experiment further with his own photography.
A small number of photos were taken between 1922 and 1926 on large glass plate negatives, but throughout the 1920s and ‘30s Alfred took many hundreds of other photographs, mainly of his family, and the children’s early years are extremely well documented. There is no evidence that he undertook commercial work as a photographer.
Between 1928 and 1931 Alfred also took and processed a series of home movies, which show the children at the seaside and playing in the garden. The films are presented on this website and some years ago were broadcast in a TV documentary series called ‘Home Movies’, where they were the oldest domestic films shown.
The Barton family - Summer 1930, On holiday at Palling on the Norfolk coast with Uncle Donald Tom and Aunt Mary Child