GLASTONBURY CONSERVATION SOCIETY

Reprinted from Newsletter 144, dated 2016 April

Walter Tully, Glastonbury’s pioneer cameraman Adrian Pearse

In his High Street postcard from about 1900, Walter Tully’s skylit studio is on the top floor of the building second from right. Foreground is the old post office; Barclays Bank took it over about 1938 and changed its frontage.

Andrew Boatswain has been an enthusiastic collector of Glastonbury postcards for many years, bringing him into contact with the work of Walter Tully, a prolific Glastonbury photographer in the early days of the art.

  Andrew outlined Tully’s life and showed many slides of his work after the business part of Glastonbury Conservation Society’s annual general meeting on November 27.

    Tully, who styled himself as an artist and photographer, was born in Brixham, Devon, in 1847. His family moved to Burnham in the 1850s, and Walter settled in Glastonbury during the 1860s, at 4 High Street with his sister Ella. In 1871 he married Mary Skrine; they lived in Benedict Street, where their daughter Rosa was born in 1877 and Ella Mary in 1882 (died 1919). His wife died in 1886, and the following year Walter married Frances Brooks. He retired in 1927 and died in July 1934.

Walter Tully’s advertisement featured a photo of his High Street premises, with skylit studio on the top floor.

    The building at 19 High Street (where Dilliway & Dilliway now sells crafts from India) was his studio from 1895 until retirement. The top floor still has his wonderful skylight.

  Tully’s photographs give interesting insights into Glastonbury and its residents from 1870 until the late 1920s. From 1900 onwards he published picture postcards with local views. Frustratingly, many of the portraits do not name the people in them. Andrew showed the meeting examples spanning Tully’s career, including cartes-de-visite, cabinet photographs and postcards.

  Andrew’s own family moved to Glastonbury about 1925 and lived in the High Street. He now lives in Bere Lane.

The following appeared on the website but not in the printed newsletter
This studio portrait by Walter Tully is what is known as a Cabinet Card — the picture is 10.5 × 15cm. It shows two young men, who are probably brothers, dressed in their best. “What is the occasion?” Andrew Boatswain wonders. “I am guessing it is all about a wedding and one is the bridegroom and the other his best man. This photo could date from about 1905.

Glastonbury Conservation Society’s annual general meeting in November 2015 saw a collection of photos taken in town between 150 and 90 years ago by Walter Tully.

  Plying his trade in the early days of photography, Tully had a state-of-the-art studio with fine skylights at 19 High Street (the building that now houses the Dilliway & Dilliway shop selling crafts from India) until he retired in 1920.

  Andrew Boatswain showed the meeting slides of a number of Tully’s photos that he collected — studio portraits, views of local events, book illustrations and picture postcards. They give interesting insights into Glastonbury and its residents over those six decades.

  Frustratingly, however, many of the pictures remain anonymous — such as the two puzzling ones shown here. Can you give any clues?

Andrew Boatswain purchased this photograph (16 × 21cm) from Ohio in the United States. It shows three generations of a family, again dressed in their Sunday best. The costumes would date it about 1902. “Sadly, there is no clue as to the identity of the family members but I would love to know how this picture taken in Walter Tully’s Glastonbury studio ended up in Ohio. There has got to be a story there if only we could find it.”
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