Jerome Limited

and the use of

Paper Negatives



Jeromes used paper negatives.

Were they supplied by Gratispool?


Answer 1

Both Gratispool and Jerome used paper negative film, but I have found no evidence that Gratispool supplied Jerome.

I found two interesting pages on the internet, while searching for the answer to this question.  See below.


This web page gives a brief history of Jerome 's business.

The site includes:

-   a photo of the outside of Jerome's Studio in Liverpool (early-1950s)

-   a photo of the inside of Jerome's Studio in Liverpool (1960)

-  a brief account by Geoff Welding telling of his experience working for Jerome in the early-1960s, and the equipment in use there, then.
(Incidentally, Geoff, aged 17, appears in the 'Jerome interior' picture above)

-   photos of packets of film,  'The Jerome Spool ', 1/6 each.

-  the comment: "'Jerome' high street studios used a similar type of paper negative film to that used by Gratispool. It seems probable that Geoffrey Stead 'borrowed' this cost saving idea when he began his Gratispool company."

-   reference to the cost of Jerome studio portraits:
-     10d (4p) each for a postcard portrait in the mid-1930s
-  12/6d (62.5p) for an enlarged colour print in the early-1960s.

- mention of Jerome studios in Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle,  Southend-on-Sea and Wolverhampton.   There is speculation that Jerome's first studio may have been in Wolverhampton.  That's where the Jerome Head Office in 1960.


This web page gives a brief history of the Gratispool business.

The site includes:

-   illustrations from a large collection of packaging and film cartons used by Gratispool from the 1930s onwards.

-  reference to Geoffrey Stead. He lived in Bradford, Yorkshire, and met his wife, Edrei Frances, when she was Manager of the Jerome studio in Leeds.  They married in 1931.  Geoffrey carried out his own photographic processing business in Leeds, then went on to found the Gratispool business around 1934. ***

-  comments on Gratispool becoming established in Glasgow as well as Leeds in the 1930s, and moving their operation entirely to Glasgow following a fire in their Leeds premises in the late-1940s.

Gratispool had kiosks at the British Empire Exhibition in Glasgow in 1938, offering "Development 6d (2.5p), Postcard Prints 2d (1p) each." ***

There is also a photograph of Gratispool's film processing laboratory in Glasgow (1970s).

-   a history of the company's development until it was eventually sold to 3M's Photographic Division in 1981, then sold off in parts in 1986. ***

***  This is a very brief summary.  Please read the Gratispool web page for a fuller story.


Answer 2

Geoff Welding, who worked for the Jerome studio in Liverpool in 1960, knows of no evidence to suggest that material might have been supplied by Gratispool to Jerome.

Geoff writes:

"Gratispool was never mentioned at our branch and I would have picked up on it if it had been because I used Gratispool services years earlier in my school days.

The paper negatives for use in Jerome Studio's were in fact supplied by  Kodak.  The Liverpool branch used the empty Kodak boxes to keep the developed paper negatives in later.  These went back many years."

Geoff Welding:  November 17, 2007


Answer 3

Ron Houslip (who was involved with Gratispool from the early 1960s and later went on to become their Sales Director) says in the 'Photographic Processor'  magazine, Dec 1979:

"In 1934, ... the old Criterion company were supplying the bromide paper negative material (to Gratispool)." 

"(After WW2) Kodak were supplying the paper negative material for the roll films."

Maurice Fisher writes:

"Brian Coe's book 'Cameras' has an indexed item: 'Criterion (Plates, Papers & Films) Ltd'

It's strange that if Criterion were making plates and films in the 1920s and 1930s, supplying Gratispool (and maybe Jerome), they weren't absorbed into Ilford Ltd, as most other small companies of this type seem to have been by 1930ish."

Maurice concludes:

"I agree that there appears to be no known tie-up between Jerome and Gratispool, apart from Edrei Stead (née Frances) working at Jerome, Leeds, prior to her husband Geoffrey Stead setting up Gratispool. 

The only other factor in common is that both companies used paper film stock and so printed from paper negatives.  But, while I suspect their film suppliers may well have been the same (Criterion then Kodak ??), I expect that Jerome & Gratispool operated independently and neither supplied the other."

Maurice Fisher:  November 17, 2007


Processing Gratispool Film Today

Gratispool Developing & Printing Wallet


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