Mystery Winchester photographer identified

The photographs of W T Green have long been valued as a record of Winchester at the turn of the twentieth century, but his identity has remained a mystery until recently. Co-operation between the archivists of the City of Winchester Trust (CWT) and Winchester College has now brought to light his real name – Walter Thomas Greenland.

In his efforts to identify W T Green, Nick Hirst, of CWT, contacted Suzanne Foster who pinpointed a snippet of information in the Winchester College archives. The College had commissioned photographs by W T Green and there was a note on file to the effect that he was also known by the name Greenland.

Walter Thomas Greenland was born in Northamptonshire and first appears in Winchester in the 1901 census as a lodger at 28 Upper High Street. Warren’s 1902 directory shows Walter’s occupation to be that of ‘Navy and Army Tutor of Modern Languages’. During the years 1900-1904, Walter sold about 400 photographs to the Winchester printer Warren and Son. Warrens used the photographs to illustrate various local books including the popular ‘Winchester Illustrated’ which was published in 1903 and again in 1905. Mr Greenland continued to live in the Upper High Street and worked as a language tutor until his death in 1921.

One of the most attractive characteristics of W T Green’s work is the way many of his street scenes include people going about their business, giving a lively and realistic impression of the city which contrasts with the more formal images of some other photographers at this time.

Councillor Dominic Hiscock, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Prosperity, said: “W T Green’s work offers a fascinating insight into life in Winchester at the turn of the last century, capturing a crowd of children in Middle Brook Street, a group of Brothers of St Cross playing bowls, and men working on a roof in Hyde Street. His identification by our colleagues is an excellent example of cooperation between organisations in the city.”

Winchester City Council Museums are fortunate to hold in their collections many original albumen prints produced from Green’s glass plate negatives, including proofs for Warrens’ illustrations. The City Council is very grateful to Nick Hirst of the City of Winchester Trust for sharing the results of his research on W T Green.

These photographs, along with many others, can be viewed at the Historic Environment Centre in the Guildhall and copies can be purchased. Historic Environment Centre opening hours: Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm by appointment.