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View Full Version : Gandolfi: pilgrimmage to the sites of the Gandolfi workshops



GPX
31-Dec-2014, 02:41
I live quite near the places where Gandolfi cameras were made. So I plan to visit them and photograph them with my Gandolfi.

The earliest Gandolfi site (1885) was at 15a Kensington Place in Notting Hill in London. That is a little street with little old houses (which are now very expensive), mostly unchanged since 1885. I used to live near there and must have walked past the Gandolfi site often. So that one should be easy to find and photograph. I think that is where Louis Gandolfi made my Gandolfi Universal camera.

The next site was 752 Old Kent Road, London. That is a large road in a fairly downmarket part of town. I think the Gandolfi site is now a Toys R Us superstore, so nothing remains of the original workshop. But at least I can photograph the approximate location.

The third site is difficult. It is said to be 84 Hall Road, Peckham Rye, London. But there is no Hall Road in Peckham Rye or anywhere near there. That one is going to take some detective work. Anyone know anything about it?

The fourth site, 2 Borland Road, Peckam, is the main one where Gandolfis were made for many years by the sons of Louis Gandolfi. I pass near it often on the train into central London. Google Maps reveals that the workshop is still there. It looks like it has been converted into someone's garage, but it is clearly still the same building. Below is the well-known old photo of it, and the current Google Map view of it.

Anyway, it may take me a while to do it, but I'll post updates here when I do. Any info on the Gandolfi sites would be much appreciated!

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cowanw
31-Dec-2014, 08:24
Maybe 84 Park Hall Road, which isn't too far away from Peckham Rye.

GPX
31-Dec-2014, 09:02
Thanks for that. In fact that turns out to be a road I drive down often, I never noticed it is called Park Hall Road. It seems too far from Peckham, but I'll have a look just in case no 84 looks like a possible old works site.

Sevo
31-Dec-2014, 09:27
The next site was 752 Old Kent Road, London. That is a large road in a fairly downmarket part of town. I think the Gandolfi site is now a Toys R Us superstore, so nothing remains of the original workshop. But at least I can photograph the approximate location.

The upper parts of Old Kent road have been almost completely rebuilt since my London days - but IIRC the way to New Cross went pass an endless stretch of wasteland thereabouts even in the eighties.



The third site is difficult. It is said to be 84 Hall Road, Peckham Rye, London. But there is no Hall Road in Peckham Rye or anywhere near there. That one is going to take some detective work. Anyone know anything about it?


I used to be very familiar with the area, but don't remember it. There must have been many Hall Roads all over London, and Peckham may have lost its to a renaming in some attempt to rid London of ambiguous place names, or it may have vanished under one of the cleared and by now redeveloped areas. My first guess will be that it might have been going past wherever Peckham had its town hall - my second, that that might have been somewhere close to the junction of Rye Lane and High Street, as everybody considered that the centre (but Peckham in itself being not older than 19th century, it might also have been at the centre of one of the towns that merged into Peckham).

GPX
20-Jun-2015, 14:01
I went to 15a Kensington Place yesterday, the location of the first Gandolfi workshop, from 1885. That would have been where my Gandolfi Universal was made. There is not much to see there, to be honest. Number 15 is a terrace house, with 14 and 16 on either side, and no room for there have been a separate 15a. So I guess 15a was the basement of number 15. I believe that was a very common arrangement in those days, most of the basements in the area were artisan's workshops. (Now they are all multi-millionaires' houses, how times change!) Anyway, here are a couple of digi snaps.
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brighamr
20-Jun-2015, 18:33
Hi GPX

nice idea

84 hall road was renamed 84 cheltenham rd Nunhead
theres also Gandolfi st in Peckham named after them
I'm pretty sure that i read that 15a kensington place was over a tobacconists which dose not look like the house you have found
but I can't find that link anywhere at the moment

best

robin

Bill_1856
20-Jun-2015, 19:42
Why?

Jonathan Barlow
21-Jun-2015, 20:01
Why not?

Steven Tribe
22-Jun-2015, 01:02
Apart from WW 2's devastation, the London LCC ( under pressure from the Post Office ) reduced the number of duplicate names in the London Postal area. The last effort took place in the 1930's and involved over 3,700 names. Obviously, there were plenty of Hall Roads and perhaps a few Kensington Places as well and perhaps only the "smartest" retained it's name!

GPX
22-Jun-2015, 04:06
Robin, thanks for the excellent information. 84 Hall Road being renamed Cheltenham Road is a part of the puzzle I never solved.

The Kensington Place workshop being possibly over a tobacconists is interesting info. I visited the only Kensington Place currently in London, but it is possible there was another Kensington Place in the 1800s. The one I visited did have a lot of workshops in the 1800s, so it may well be the right place, but it doesn't look like the houses were ever shops like a tobacconist. Never easy is it?!

The one location that is easy is the last (and longest used) one, Borland Road. That building is still clearly there, you can see it on Google street view. I must visit that one soon.

Mark Sampson
22-Jun-2015, 07:44
This should be a fun project; when you are done please share the results with us. I'd love to see them.
I had a similar idea once, which was to photograph the lens manufacturing plants of Rochester, NY. But I moved away before getting very far with it.

GPX
23-Jun-2015, 04:28
It turns out that the 84 Hall Road (renamed Cheltenham Road) and 2 Borland Road workshops are just around the corner from each other. This is starting to make sense. The 84 Hall Road workshop is now a chemist shop. Here are the Google Streetview images of the two sites.
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Oren Grad
23-Jun-2015, 07:15
This is fun, but it's not really about cameras or accessories. Flipped a coin between "history" and "travel"; "history" won. Please do carry on!

Scott Sharp
13-Aug-2015, 07:20
According to the Gandolfi brochure I have these are the dates for the various workshops:

1885 Louis Gandolfi opens first workshop at 15a Kensington Place Westminster
1913 firm moves to Hall Road, Peckham Rye
1928 they moved again to what had been a Victorian hatpin works at Borland Road, Peckham Rye
where they remained until 1982.
1982 Gandolfi company was transferred to Brian Gould at Hampshire Design

Interesting project, more vintage photos for comparison if available would be welcome as well. Looking forward to seeing
the current photos of the sites made with your Gandolfi.

GPX
14-Aug-2015, 10:32
Thanks for the dates, very useful.

jb7
14-Aug-2015, 10:42
The next site was 752 Old Kent Road, London. That is a large road in a fairly downmarket part of town. I think the Gandolfi site is now a Toys R Us superstore, so nothing remains of the original workshop. But at least I can photograph the approximate location.

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Currently a car park for Toys are Us. I've parked there, buying Nerf Guns for the nephews; there's really nothing to see there anymore. On old map of London shows a row of buildings on that site, there is no memory of it now...

Perhaps a campaign for a Blue Plaque is in order...

Kevin Crisp
14-Aug-2015, 11:44
I think the new HQ of the Order of the Phoenix is in one of these places. It can be hard to see, though.

brighamr
13-Sep-2015, 14:12
hi GPX

looking thru an old magazine I saw a note from Fred saying he would be vacating the Borland rd factory
and that anybody wishing to contact him about
cameras should write to his home at 21 shelbury rd Peckham rye SE22 0NL
and that his son Louis was continuing to make the cameras at portway house west portway Andover

robin

GPX
14-Sep-2015, 02:42
That's excellent info! Do you know the date of the magazine?

GPX
14-Sep-2015, 02:50
Here is a picture of the houses on Shelbury Road according to Google street view. Exactly the sort of houses I would have expected really. I might do a "drive-by pilgrimage" some time.

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brighamr
15-Sep-2015, 14:08
it was a 1984 bjp gpx

GPX
16-Sep-2015, 00:04
Ah, thanks. Interesting that the son Louis Gandolfi (grandson of founder Louis Gandolfi) is mentioned as being involved in making cameras in Andover, I haven't heard of that before.

As an aside, while Googling "Louis Gandolfi Andover" (which found nothing) I found that there is a cafe in Glasgow called Cafe Gandolfi that is actually named after the camera business: www.cafegandolfi.com

brighamr
16-Sep-2015, 15:55
his son was a typo
should of said louis gandolfi and sons
they were at portray house west portray
andover tel 0264 61216 according to the clip

robin

GPX
17-Sep-2015, 01:01
Thanks for that clarification, much appreciated.

rahsoft
15-Oct-2015, 07:26
Hello GPX

My comment is a bit late as I only recently discovered it whilst browsing around for the gandolfis.
If you ever take any photos of the peckham site - I would be interested to see them.

I have been inside the workshop( the one you see in the photo you have included in the photo) a few times as a very young child, but my memory is unfortunately rather hazy of it.
in the black and white photo that you have posted you can see my great grandfather( 2nd from the left)- thomas.
I was asked in the early 1980s if I would consider being an apprentice for fred and arthur, but I was more interested in computers, how things may have been different if I had said yes.
My interest in our family was piqued a few months ago when the last of the gandolfi children, my grandmother( apart from one adopted child) died and I was left something made by Louis and handed down through the generations( and no it unfortunately wasn't a camera, and yes my father and I have been searching for an affordable camera momento to reflect his grandfather)

Kind Regards

GPX
16-Oct-2015, 00:12
Wonderful to hear from you!

Have you seen the film "Gandolfi Family Business"? I know it exists, but I haven't figured out how to see it yet.

I think computing was probably a better career choice than camera making - it must have been a hard life. My Louis Gandolfi camera is such perfection of cabinet making it must have taken him ages to make it - even if he charged a lot for them it is hard to imagine he could have been making a big profit out of it. And the later "Peckham" era Gandolfi I have, well, by all accounts the brothers were struggling to meet demand yet also not exactly getting rich out of it. It just takes too much time to hand make a camera.

Please keep in touch!

Just out of interest here is a photo I took recently with my 4x5" Gandolfi camera (I was testing a prototype of a new instant film). The camera is rather well used - a lot of them went to art colleges and had a hard life - but still works fine.

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DKirk
16-Oct-2015, 05:30
Ah, thanks. Interesting that the son Louis Gandolfi (grandson of founder Louis Gandolfi) is mentioned as being involved in making cameras in Andover, I haven't heard of that before.

As an aside, while Googling "Louis Gandolfi Andover" (which found nothing) I found that there is a cafe in Glasgow called Cafe Gandolfi that is actually named after the camera business: www.cafegandolfi.com

Nice coffee there and great food too - service on occasion can be quite slow though, plus (not sure exactly which model) but there's a camera on a tripod by the between the last booth and the seating area.
Well worth a visit if you're up this neck of the woods.

BTW, love that picture of Angel - need to try to arrange a shoot with her at some point when funds are available.

rahsoft
16-Oct-2015, 05:49
Wonderful to hear from you!

Have you seen the film "Gandolfi Family Business"? I know it exists, but I haven't figured out how to see it yet.

I think computing was probably a better career choice than camera making - it must have been a hard life. My Louis Gandolfi camera is such perfection of cabinet making it must have taken him ages to make it - even if he charged a lot for them it is hard to imagine he could have been making a big profit out of it. And the later "Peckham" era Gandolfi I have, well, by all accounts the brothers were struggling to meet demand yet also not exactly getting rich out of it. It just takes too much time to hand make a camera.

Please keep in touch!

Just out of interest here is a photo I took recently with my 4x5" Gandolfi camera (I was testing a prototype of a new instant film). The camera is rather well used - a lot of them went to art colleges and had a hard life - but still works fine.

141056


ah.. I see you are following me on flickr then - i recognise the photo from your flickr profile

I would disagree that the brothers( family ) did not get rich. I Believe the majority of the money went into a trust to sponser photography students( didn't please my gran though).They could have been much richer, but felt the craft was important to them. I used to get the postage stamps from the orders they recieved from all over the world.


the gandolfi business video you can get off youtube ( they are two of them). I have taken a copy( plus the nationwide news article) off there as my copy on dvd( from my gran) is a rather bad vhs to dvd transfer.

the photo you took is quite beautiful . i notice there there is damage(?) at the top and the bottom. I Presume that is the wear and tear of the camera(?). the rest of your photostream is quite artistic and I see that BW/women is your genre :)


when I was about ten, my school visited a kodak factory in north west london and they had a small museum there. I saw one of my great grandfathers cameras there and i told the curator/tour guide "thats my familys camera.. my great grandfathers" I got the look of disbelief, the "yeah..right!!" and told my teacher. Later my teacher told my parents with a smirk about childrens imaginations. My father in his still strong american accent said yup, thats Thomas my late grandfather. cue jaw dropping from the teacher.


i would loved to found one of their cameras in Malaysia( from when it was malaya) because I lived there for several years( had a malay wife), it would have been the utlimate round trip. My in law family there were suprised by my heritage of the gandolfis plus my other being Bata( the shoe company- sorry shameless name dropping i know)





anyway I can be reached via flickr, as despite being a strong IT background I decided to keep low key.

My love of photgraphy may have been triggered by the family business( my father was not interested) been at it for about 35 plus years.

anyway hope you have many more years of pleasure from the camera. Kind of makes me proud that they brought joy to peoples lives.

Kind Regards

GPX
17-Oct-2015, 00:42
Thanks for the info, I'll look the video up. The photo has the odd top and bottom bits because it is an experimental 4x5" instant film called New55 where you have to peel the neg from positive.

Andrew O'Neill
17-Oct-2015, 21:47
The New55 looks much improved. I can't wait to get mine.

arca andy
18-Oct-2015, 16:21
Fascinating stuff chaps....great bit of London history....

case-ie
24-Nov-2015, 10:36
Very nice endeavour, I could be tempted in making a pelgrimmage and bring a good piece of wood to the old workshop . Nice read this and hope to see the pictures, really do.

I came across my Gandolfi two weeks ago, did some research, saw the videos on youtube and knew I had to have it.
Watching the videos is like looking into a timelapse, magical.
The Camera, a 8x10 (Precision, I think) made me speechless. And maybe people will make fun of this, but it was like a person coming into my house. You have to approach it on personnel level. And it will answer you. Somebody made some Harry Potter fun in this thread but take it from me these Guys were really wizzards and poured soul in their cameras. You only have to listen to them.

GPX
25-Nov-2015, 01:21
Great to hear you got a Gandolfi. I plan to go to the workshop and photograph it soon ... bad weather and other commitments keep getting in the way, you know how it is ...

GPX
29-Nov-2015, 08:41
I went and photographed the Gandolfi workshop today despite bad weather. This is 2 Borland Road, the workshop where Fred and Arthur Gandolfi made the cameras for decades. My 4x5" Gandolfi seen in the pictures would have been made there. There is not much to see, to be honest; it is a mundane site. But you can still match it up to the old photos. Notice little details such as the pebble-dashing along the side does not reach the top because the Gandolfi sign used to be there (in other words, it must have been pebble-dashed when the sign was still in place). I'm not clear whether their workshop was just the flat-roofed building, or also the two-storey pitched-roofed building just visible behind it. The old film of Fred and Arthur at work gives the impression of a small space, so maybe they had just the "garage" we see in these photos.
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GPX
29-Nov-2015, 08:47
Here is 84 Hall Road (now 84 Cheltenham Road - it was renamed because there were too many Hall Roads in London). This was the Gandolfi workshop for quite a brief time before they moved to the main 2 Borland Road workshop. This is only a couple of hundred yards from the Borland Road workshop.
Also shown here is Fred Gandolfi's house at 21 Shelbury Road (I think it was also Arthur Gandolfi's house?). That is only about half a mile from the workshops, so I have an image in mind of them walking to work each morning.
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GPX
29-Nov-2015, 08:54
Here's an old picture of the Borland Road workshop for comparison. Any other pics would be greatly appreciated.
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rahsoft
30-Nov-2015, 06:50
Here's an old picture of the Borland Road workshop for comparison. Any other pics would be greatly appreciated.
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Hello gpx and thanks for the nice photos
the "garage" was the workshop and the two storey building was a living area, Fred or Arthur would do the admin work at the back in what is the kitchen or the lounge( its in one of the videos).
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these two photos you can find on the web

case-ie
30-Nov-2015, 15:29
I went and photographed the Gandolfi workshop today despite bad weather, Nice, but I expected you would use your Gandolfi.

GPX
1-Dec-2015, 01:34
Yes, I'm thinking of returning in better weather to use the Gandolfi. Except it won't be in the shot then of course!

Henry Suryo
1-Dec-2015, 02:19
I think they also used the upper storey of the back house as part of the workshop as shown in these stills from Ken Griffith's film of Thomas doing the brasswork.
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rahsoft
1-Dec-2015, 12:16
Ken Griffith's film of Thomas doing the brasswork

that will be thomas junior then - my great uncle :)

GPX
2-Dec-2015, 03:37
That's interesting. I still haven't managed to find that film anywhere, how did you get it?

Henry Suryo
2-Dec-2015, 13:34
I would love to find a copy too, the stills are from the website about the film :http://www.gandolfi-film.co.uk/images.html.

GPX
3-Dec-2015, 00:29
Two other videos here that I had not seen before, news items on Gandolfi:

https://youtu.be/lyEpbzPojmc

https://youtu.be/LyBEnSWghGE

Plus for the sake of completeness here is the other one previously discussed:

https://youtu.be/RJq04wKCKSY

But the movie-length one still eludes me...

rahsoft
16-Dec-2015, 18:18
Two other videos here that I had not seen before, news items on Gandolfi:

https://youtu.be/lyEpbzPojmc

https://youtu.be/LyBEnSWghGE

Plus for the sake of completeness here is the other one previously discussed:

https://youtu.be/RJq04wKCKSY

But the movie-length one still eludes me...

GPX, hello
the movie length one you are refferring to
I assume its the one called gandolfi the family business?( the one that you or henry took stills from ?)

I got my copy, a DVD( a video cassette transfer to DVD) from my gran when she passed away. She was given it I believe by the director Ken Griffins when he and david made the film. It is about an hour long( DVD also includes the shorter documentary), but the quality( typical wear and tear video tape) is not great. I DVD ripped a copy to my PC for preservation because the DVD is becoming unreadable.

if you want a copy you may have to contact ken griffins directly( its somewhere on a website out there- maybe phone only as they didn't want spam), I'm going to assume its video tape only like mine orginally was.