Joseph Potts

The family photos that I've got represent a selection that my mum had that she got from her grandparents. So they're kind of part of a family history that's been passed on through photos.

Charles Edward and Marjorie Potts, 1927
Charles Edward and Marjorie Potts, 1927

This first photo must have been when my grandparents got married which was in about 1927. They were very young. My grandmother was about 18 or 19 years old, and he was a couple of years older, they both came from Blackheath. She fell pregnant and so they had to get married. Their names were Marjorie And Charles Edward Potts

Marjorie came from a jeweller’s shop in Blackheath, while Charles’ family owned a forge works in Blackheath. They had met at school and married in Blackheath.

By the time I knew them, they'd had four daughters, and they'd seen a lot of life. They hadn't moved far from Blackheath. They went to Halesowen and then to Quinton.

Brochure 1955

George Potts and Co. used to make shovels and spades and were kind of in their prime selling them to the army and things like that in both World Wars. They had inherited it from their father who started the business up, I think it was at least 20 people working there if not more. And they made proper traditionally crafted steel and wood jobs. It closed down in the 1960s, they went bust after cheap imports really undercut them. I think that was it in the end. My granddad ran it with his brother who had no children and my granddad had four daughters and they weren't looking to go into the business.

Charles Edward and Marjorie Potts, Bude 1963
Charles Edward Potts, Bournemouth 1957

My grandparents had made such big decisions by that age of 19 and 20. My grandmother was going to go to university. She got a place at Birmingham University, but because of her pregnancy and marriage situation granddad wanted her to stay at home and so that's what happened. They were the love of each other's lives really. She was very bright and he was very bright too. He was into playing the piano and probably business wasn't really his main love. He used to like listening to Wagner loud on the stereo.

My grandmother never had a job, she kind of ran the household as best she could. Her educational aspirations not gone anywhere, but she had a fantastic brain for poetry or philosophy. She and my granddad would read each other lines from Shakespeare. They used to like going to Stratford to the theatre.

Granddad taught me how to mow lawns. I used to massage my Gran's back for her bad chest and asthma. They died within a year of each other, within three months of each other in 1986. And Granddad had been ill for quite a while, but then my grandmother died first, kind of unexpectedly, after a long drawn out asthma attack.

Jenny Potts with her parents in the background, 1952
Left to Right: Judith, Isobel, Charles Edward and Jenny Potts, Bournemouth 1956

In the first photo is my mum, Jenny. It's very atmospheric - she looks very sunny and there's a slight disposition with the grandparents at the back.

She was born 1943 and she's still alive. She's survived two brain tumours, one when she was a teenager and one in the mid - 1970s. When she was 17 she went to Ruskin College of Art in Oxford for a year. In her early twenties she studied art at Margaret St in Birmingham

The second photo is of my granddad and three of his daughters. Judy on the left, Isabel in the middle and my mom on the right. So Judy died about 10 years, about 2012, and Izzy this year (2019).

Charles Edward and his daughter Jenny Potts, Ridgacre Road, Quinton, 1965

This is on the terrace of my grandparents' house - granddad looking quite lively. This is in Quinton. My mum looks late teens. I don't know if it's just before she had the operation or afterwards. I think it's before. She does look like me, that's definitely the Potts' face, it's the Potts' nose. She looks a bit like my cousin Matthew as well. She was a painter. She just used to go into her own world drawing and painting. That that was her way of expressing herself. Being the youngest of four daughters, I think she kind of found it hard to get heard and so that's kind of the world she went into.

She applied to the Royal College of Art in London, but didn't get in and ended up doing a teacher training degree, which is what she did, rather than pursuing her own art.

Joseph Potts, Torquay 1981
Left to right: Marjorie, Charles Edward, Joseph and Jenny Potts, Carters Lane, Halesowen, 1984

The first photo is me, probably aged seven at Torquey on holiday where we used to go to many years running. I do actually remember that photo was taken with a Discman camera that I'd had for Christmas that year. And so I was going into photos a bit then. Posing on the rocks.

I had a very happy childhood growing up in Quinton with a very loving family, but no contact with my dad at all. And that's something that, it took me quite a long time to understand that I was missing something compared to what other people had had. It was just different from what the traditional nuclear family might be.

We lived at my grandparents’ house until I was about six. They didn't really have a hands-on approach with me. I was more kind of left to fairly free rein.

The second photo is probably a year or two before my grandparents died and they'd moved house to a smaller house. And I remember that backyard and mowing the lawn there. She did her best and I think it was hard for her being a single mum and then living on a council estate and having different worlds to live in. But she did that as well.

I think it makes you think about how oneself is ageing and so when you look at photos of yourself and you suddenly you realize that you're in this holding pattern at different stages. When you see the archive of the family from where how young I used to be and it's this, just it's the ageing process and you suddenly realize that you're in that, in it as well.

Growing up with a dad, but having a granddad, yes certainly I sees some aspects of him in myself, like sitting and listening to music intensely. I think I do get that from him, that side of the family and also my mother's latent kind of artistic qualities.

And it's always, she was always the youngest and now she's the last one standing. So that's the kind of, the end of the line for the Potts. So technically I'm the last Potts of this family. So if I don't have children, there will be no more Potts from this branch.

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