'Harry Gordon Dorrett, Also Taking Part', by Ralph Rimmer
The Biography of
H. G. Dorrett
Who is Mr Dorrett? The Early Years The Photographer Business Success Photographic Success Acknowledgments
During this period Dorrett was living near to the studio with his father at 49, Comyn Road, Clapham Junction. In 1893 Martin was listed in an adjoining road at 9, Aliwal Road, Clapham Junction. At the time of their Joint enterprise, Martin described Dorrett as a fellow member of the West Surrey Photographic Society (3 p. 18) which met in the Battersea Public Library lecture hall. Paul Martin was a member of the committee. Joseph Gale, of The Camera Club, was the West Surrey P. S. President and the aforementioned George Davison of East Molesey was its Vice-President. Both were pictorialists who belonged to the brotherhood of the Linked Ring (5).
At the age of 26 years, Dorrett stood before the members of the West Surrey Photographic Society and developed some plates using pyro and ammonia as developers (6;7). In the same year, 1896, he produced a very acceptable negative of the forty society members present using acetylene gas as an illuminant for the exposure (8). Dorrett was co-judge for a competition of still life 'Fruits and Vegetables' at the West Surrey PS in 1899 (9).
On April 1st, 1899 Dorrett and Martin entered into a partnership and bought the premises of Fred Kingsbury, who had a photographic business at 16, Belle Vue Road, Upper Tooting (1 p. 63,64 ; 10) and for a short period also at 60, The Strand, in London ( 1 p.64;p.114 n. 126; 3 p. 18)
After a stuttering start sufficient progress had been made to feel secure enough to approach marriage. Paul Martin married in 1900. In 1902 Dorrett, then aged 32, married Ellen Edith Maud Nelson, aged 26, at St. Peter's Church, Dulwich, on September 8th. Her father , Henry Phillips Nelson, was described as an auctioneer and Dorrett's father as a bank official. The registrar had transposed the professions as Dorrett's father was still described as an auctioneer in 1905 when Ross Dorrett was married.
After his marriage, Harry Dorrett went to live at 'Sillwood', Nevis Road, Upper Tooting, SW 17, in one of the houses which had been built between 1890 and 1897. Martin was living in a conjoining road at 'St.Ives' Tunley Road. The partners were living close to each other and near to their work. By 1909/1910 Martin had moved to 55, Hosack Road, Balham, SW17, the next road to Nevis Road/Tunley Road, where he remained until the end of his life. By 1910 Dorrett was living at 12, Brookview Road, Streatham, SW16, opposite to Galloway of cough syrup fame.
While Martin had stayed near the Bellevue Road business, Dorrett had moved some considerable distance away and become one of the first persons to own a car in Brookview Road. The first owner of a car in the road was Dorrett's next door but one neighbour, Robert Clifford Chorley, an engineer with his own business at Clerkenwell. He had two children Michael and Joy. Joy (now Mrs. Joy Pegrum) remembers 'Uncle Harry' with affection and recalls his quiet manner. He patiently taught photographic technique to her mother, Mrs. Chorley, who took snapshots of her' various neighbours including Mr. and Mrs. Dorrett with their niece, Ivy Gertrude Nelson. The Dorretts did not have children of their own and they appear to have 'adopted' Ivy who was born on 30th June,1906, at New Barnet. She was the daughter of Henry Oliver Nelson, a bank clerk, Mrs. Dorrett’s brother.
Mrs. Chorley commissioned Dorrett to photograph her two children, Michael and Joy, soon after the birth of the latter. Mrs. Joy Pegrum recalls the visits of Dorrett to her house on other occasions. He would sit quietly but would occasionally punctuate the general conversation with wit and good humour. It was Mrs, Dorrett's "Aunt Nell", who was the more frequent visitor whose chattiness made up for Dorrett's tranquillity. She was forced to spend much time on her own because of Dorrett's attention to the requirements of his photographic work, especially at weekends.
This appeared to be in contradiction with the view that Jay had of Dorrett's contribution to the partnership. At a period when the business was able to hire a number of assistants it seemed to Jay (2 p.33) that Martin was the driving force who operated the studio and Dorrett was the partner who looked after the business and financial affairs. Among their multifarious photographic activities they included studio portraits, developing and printing for amateurs, photographic jewellery, such as lockets, and photo-badges. The photo-button craze had spread from America and became very lucrative for the partners during the 1914-1918 war when badges of generals sold especially well. They also produced unexceptional postcards of the local area for themselves and others. Their own postcards are identifiable by the inclusion of either 'Dorrett and Martin' or 'D&M' on the picture side of the cards.