Gladstone Adams and my g-g-grandmother

By Sue Craig

Photo:Beryl with David Simkin

Beryl with David Simkin

Sue Craig

Photo:Tricia with David AND Geoff Mead

Tricia with David AND Geoff Mead

Sue Craig

Photo:Gladstone Adams' stamp

Gladstone Adams' stamp

Photo:Is this Julia Parker Battershell c1870?

Is this Julia Parker Battershell c1870?

Reproduced by Gladstone Adams

Photo:Is this my great-great-grandmother?

Is this my great-great-grandmother?

Reproduced by Gladstone Adams

Photo:My maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Ainsley

My maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Ainsley


Photo:My maternal grandfather, Robert McKinstry

My maternal grandfather, Robert McKinstry


On 20 May 2006, St George's church held an Open Day featuring music, singing, dancing, art and local history. There were bus trips with commentary around Kemptown and people dressed as historical figures strolled around the church as a string quartet played.

Geoff Mead gave a couple of fascinating talks on the life of Thomas Read Kemp, whose fortune(s) and vision had created the original Kemp Town, including the hospital and, of course, St George's church itself. David Simkin, too, was there to help visitors date their old photographs. If you haven't already looked at his website on Brighton's beach photographers, give yourself a treat and click here:

I took some very old photographs from my family album, including some glass negatives, but could I get near? First Beryl with all her wonderful archive, then Trish with her family tree (she has over 300 connections now). Not content with only having David, Trish had to enlist Geoff Mead as well!!

I finally squeezed myself in and showed David, first, the glass negatives of a christening. He thinks it's from around 1910 which COULD make it my father and my grandmother outside my great-grandfather's house in early 1912. I'm getting it reproduced so that I can confirm it.

I then showed David two photos in presentation folders stamped with the name of the photographer: Gladstone Adams. Almost immediately he told me that he thought they were reproductions of earlier photos showing the same woman - possibly around 1870 for the first and 1910 for the second. I thought it might be possible that they had been given to my grandmother, Elizabeth Ainsley when she married my grandfather, Robert McKinstry, in 1909. I was fairly sure that the photographs show my great-great-grandmother Julia Parker Battershell, but the records I've looked at online so far show that she died in 1893. So, it's a mystery. If anyone recognises her, please let me know.

David emailed me the following morning with some information he'd found on Gladstone Adams: he was born at 4 St Anne's Row in Newcastle on 16th May 1880 and on the 1901 census was described as a Photographer's Apprentice. He had his own studio by 1907, the year in which he was invited to record the Mauritania leaving the Tyne on her maiden voyage. Professionally, Gladstone Adams was a fine and popular early photographer, known locally as 'Glady Adams from Whitley Bay', where he had his photographic studio in Station Road. A keen amateur footballer, and a Newcastle United supporter, he was the official photographer for Newcastle United FC for several years. In 1908 he travelled down to Crystal Palace to watch his team play Wolves in the FA Cup Final (Wolves won). Cars were still something of a novelty in those days, so much so that the 1904 Daracq-Caron motor car he was travelling in was displayed in a showroom while he was there because so many people wanted to see it. On the return journey, which must have taken many hours, he had to keep getting out of the car to clear snow from the windscreen. This set him thinking... and 3 years later he patented the first windscreen wiper with Sloan & Lloyd Barnes, patent agents of Liverpool. According to this interesting site on Heritage Snippets, Gladstone Adams was the first person to register this invention; Prince Henry of Russia was to make a similar claim, but later in the year.

Not only that, but, according to Adams' son-in-law's website, in the First World War he "served in the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the RAF and one of his duties was to arrange the burial of Baron Manfred Von Richthofen, the 'Red Baron', after he had been shot down and killed".

So, the bloke who reproduced those photographs of my great-great-grandmother invented the windscreen wiper, photographed the Mauritania and arranged the Red Baron's funeral!! Now aren't you glad you know about Glady Adams?

This page was added on 13/06/2006.
Comments about this page

My Great Great Great Grandparents were Thomas McKinstry and Elizabeth Adams who married in 1842 in Ballynure, and their daughter, Mary was my Great Great Grandma who died in 1911.

I am in touch with a Joe Hunter in New Jersey whose Great Grandfather was also a Robert McKinstry also from Northern Ireland and we are currently investigating a connection as well as more of the McKinstry family in general.

Many McKinstry men have this widow's peak type hair as your Robert McKinstry does. If you would like more information about the Northern Ireland McKinstrys please contact me via email and also check out

By Fiona M Lewis
On 11/03/2008

Sue, by chance I came across this page and I hope you don't mind me communicating this way. I would love that photo to be our great great grandmother but I fear the nose is not quite correct. Julia P Battershell has a longer nose which is replicated in my grandmother Julia as well as my mother's. I have a feeling that the person might be great aunt Hilda Ainsley. Whoever it is she is very beautiful and comes across as a very warm person.

By Edward Llewellyn-Jones
On 04/09/2009

Sue - I have a photo of a family member in British Navy Uniform, a very young man, name unknown. On the back of the photo is printed Photographer Gladstone Adams, Newcastle on Tyne. I believe the photo may be of the late1800s or early 1900s. Do you know if there would be any records of photos that old?

By Fredericka R. (Green) Tappan
On 01/04/2011