Aberford Photography

R. O. Cockren, Aberford

I recently acquired an obvious studio portrait photograph of nineteenth century vintage of an elderly gentleman taken by the Aberford photographer R. O. Cockren, as below:

I have so far found that in 1834 listed in the Gazetteer of the County of York, a certain William Cockren was a Victualler at the Fox Inn, Aberford. Hmm! where was that? At the north of the village is/was the Royal Oak, south in the centre of the village just north of the Cock Beck bridge is the Arabian horse, a longstanding popular venue! On the south of the Cock at the junction of Cattle lane is the Swan Hotel/Inn, long famous for its ample food! At the brow of the hill south of St Ricarius church is a house with the name the “Former Rose & Crown”, then there was a pub on the opposite side of the main street near the Crown, and further south was a hostelry at the top of Bunkers Hill; that’s six in total, which fits with earlier references I’ve been given, so where was the Fox Inn?

Additional information from the 1834 Gazetteer states as follows: Coaches The mails for london and the North pass through the town at the hours named in the post office account.

The Lord Nelson, from Cockrem’s, (the Fox) to London, every Tu. Thu. & 4 mng. [morning] To Carlisle every Mon. Wed. & Fri. at 2 aftr. [afternoon]

Anyway it looks like our intrepid photographer may have been related to the victualler, grandson perhaps, and plied his trade at a location in Aberford. Other photographs appear from time to time on the net, by the same photographer, but sadly, he never put his address on the rear of his photos, see below:

Returning to the photo, the subject looks slightly in awe of his situation, or at least cautious! But then he was facing a large box camera on a tripod, with the photographer hiding under a black sheet, perhaps. I wonder what was the purpose of this portrait, a momento for his wife? Who knows; probably wearing his “best outfit”, along with the cravat and bowler hat, he is, judging by his hands a man used to hard toil. His beard is of the style of the period, a curious appendage! Of photographic interest is the back cloth with painted trees and in the foreground, to add realism is the very unlikely fence, made of very dry pieces of timber, that lack the decay of the same in the outside world.

If anyone knows anything further about Mr Cockrem and his photographic work I would love to hear from you.

2 replies on “R. O. Cockren, Aberford”

The photograph prompted me to make further enquiries of Aberford in the nineteenth century, especially regarding the passage through Aberford of the old coaches, mostly en-route between London and Carlisle and Glasgow. The London – Edinburgh coaches went via Sherburn in Elmet and Tadcaster, branching off from the Great North Road route after Ferrybridge. A full article on the coaching days of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century will be added to the main Parlington history site soon!

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