Nina Carroll 1980

Speight's Corner

The Victorian building Speight’s Corner on the London Road, designed by J A Gotch, was the photographic studio of Charles Eyles Speight (1871 -1939). When Charles was about 30 he moved into the studio in 1900 which was built in 1886. He was already working in Kettering with his first studio at 10 The Broadway. The building – known by some as Gotch’s folly – was built in stone with large display windows and a corner entrance surrounded by a balcony within an arch and a carved finial suggesting a bird in flight standing out against the sky.

Charles was the fourth of the six sons and two daughters of Edward Hall Speight who all became photographers. Edward Speight was a master at Rugby School but then became a professional photographer in Rugby in 1872, seeing this as a business with a real future and lined up his six sons and told them they would all be photographers when they grew up! And so it turned out, creating a photographic dynasty.

Charles showed expertise with both children and animal portraiture, and portraits for the fashionable ‘Cartes de Visite’. He took note of the postcard boom and provided photographs for cards showing the life of Kettering town and industries for local stores and the Library. He also took photographs for charity appeals, hospitals, the town’s Operatic society, social clubs, and wedding and family portraits as family heirlooms. During the war he photographed service personnel and the Grafton Underwood aerodrome in 1939. He was always interested in the latest technology, cameras, printing and had a telephone in the new studio. In 1907 he married Louisa Collings and they had two daughters. Helen, the youngest, carried on the business after Charles’s death in 1939. She undertook all the photographic work at the Corby Steel Works and Weetabix factory. She retired from the business in 1950.

Kettering Manor House Museum has a number of Charles Speight’s and Helen Speight’s photographs in its collection.

Researched by Maura Bright

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