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James Rigby


James Rigby was one of my great grandfathers. He died five years before I was born, so I never knew him, but both my parents did. Following the death of his wife, he moved into 14 William Street with his sister, my granny.

His bread and butter work was painting and decorating, but he was a skilled signwriter. He could also produce the fancy paint effects called scumbling, where a varnish is used to simulate various wood grains, skilfully enough that my dad, a time-served joiner, had to look carefully to check whether it was real wood or not.

This photograph is the only one I have of him, but it is a cracker.

James Rigby (1879-1950)

The photo was taken with nothing more than a Kodak Box Brownie, indoors, without a flash. There is my great granddad, in his chair, with the newspaper and pack of Craven A to hand. The treasured items on the sideboard behind him are long disappeared, though I remember a couple of them being in relatives homes.

However I still have the brass tray and "crinoline lady" bell from the mantlepiece, and the pair to the Doulton plate on the chimney breast hangs on the wall of my parents' house.