The Grant Brothers
The Grant Brothers travelled far and wide to get extraordinary images for their editor back in London, as shown by this picture taken in a market in the persian city of Hamadan, Iran. For many reading the Daily Mirror back in Britain, images like these had never been seen before.
|The unique Grant Brothers were also known as the "Gheeryble Brothers of the Press" for their good-heartedness and warm attachment to one another.
Tom Grant the eldest of the three joined the Daily Mirror in early 1904 and became one of the pioneers of press photography in the UK.
His camera did much to portray history in the making and he had many adventures in the process including being the official photographer at the Mikado’s funeral 1912 and the Coronation of the King of Siam. He is quoted as saying "Always get your pictures before you raise your hat" when photographing the rich and the famous.
In 1917 Tom had been the official photographer with the Allied Forces in Salonica, when on his way home aboard the French transport Sontay in a convoy under the protection of two French gunboats, the vessel was struck by a torpedo. During the four minutes before the ship sank, Tom, ever the professional, returned to his cabin, grabbed his camera and took an amazing series of photographs.
As well as photographing the British Forces in Salonica, he also took part in the 1912-13 Balkan campaign, as did his brothers, though on different sides.
After this war Horace Grant returned to Fleet Street to maintain the family traditions, occasionally wrote for the Daily Mirror and later became the Picture Editor. He retired to Norfolk and continued to supply the newspaper with beautiful images of the Broads.
Bernard Grant joined the Daily Mirror late in 1906 and was inspired to take up a career as a newspaper photographer by the globetrotting adventures of his older brother:
"My own entry into Fleet Street came about through a journey my brother Tom made to Norway soon after he joined the staff of the newly established Daily Mirror. While there he took a photograph of King Haakon of Norway... and this duly filled the front page of the paper. I was greatly impressed by the picture and decided at once that I too would tour the world at someone else's expense."
Bernard was hired to chase the boat taking Crippen out to the Liner, which was to return him to the UK, despite the police trying to keep Crippen's embarkation a secret.
During 1912 Bernard was embedded with the Turkish forces during the Balkan Wars and witnessed the rout of the army. During the first world war he was conscripted into the RNAS in 1916 following the Battle of Jutland and travelled far and wide, appointed as an official war photographer, including all types of Naval vessels ranging from submarines to airships.
Bernard transferred to the RAF on the 1st April 1918 but left at the end of 1918 and returned to the Mirror. His post war work concentrated on Royal tours, hence his title as Fleet Street's most travelled photographer, and even taught the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) how to take pictures.
The brothers raced to France and Belgium at the beginning of the First World War and their images give us a great insight into the lives affected by the war, including civilians, local soldiers and from further afield, in particular the Indian army.
Bernard's race against time
In 1925 the Prince of Wales was due to tour Africa and South America and the Daily Mirror secretly sent two of its top photographers to cover the tour. Bernard Grant was sent to Sierra Leone and duly took the photographs but then had to get his images back to London before his rivals. Bernard caught the passenger ship Zaria back to London and once the ship had set sail, he presented himself to the captain and handed him a letter.
Before Bernard had left for Africa, he, the Mirror and the Shipping Line had agreed that the ship would alter course so it could pass the Portuguese coast. The captain was now let in on the secret.
To avoid the risk of other photographers aboard ship taking advantage, the captain kept the secret and did not inform his officers.
As the ship neared the coast Bernard sealed his glass plate negatives in a barrel and then attach a rubber inner tube. As the liner steamed up the Portuguese coast a tug approached the ship. Bernard’s fellow photographers look aghast as he threw the barrel down to the tug thinking that the he had finally succumbed to sunstroke. Little did they known the tug had been hired by the Mirror to collect the barrel from the liner and deliver it to Sir Alan Cobham and his aircraft at Lisbon airport.
Cobham flew the glass plates to the UK in under a day as the liner made it’s way across the Bay of Biscay.
All became clear as the photographers left the ship at Southampton. There on the front page of the Mirror were the pictures of the Prince's tour of Africa - a full day ahead of its rivals!
To see a selection of the Grant Brothers' images, click here...