TATTOOIST BIOS

There were approx 30 professional Tattoo Artists that worked in Scotland between 1892 and 1985.

After 1985 there was an explosion of tattooists and it is nearly impossible to collate all the info on these new artists and shops.

The information on this website is solely concentrated on the pioneers of tattooing that either worked in Scotland during the early part of the 20th century, those that were born in Scotland and tattooed in other parts of the world and those that played some part in the history of Scottish Tattooing


Ted Frisco

Ted Frisco was born in Dublin, Ireland and had been a world traveller and wandered long before he found himself in Belfast appearing alongside the Vallars.TED FRISCO READY.1

He had been an avid seafarer with a great sense of adventure. He had apparently lived in Victoria, Australia and had acquired his first tattoos in Japan and the Bowery in New York.

On his travels around 1898 he had found himself in the busy English seaport of Liverpool. It was here that Ted Frisco met the famous Australian born Tattooist W.H.C. Ryan who was tattooing at Crouches Wonderland, 80 Lime Street, Liverpool. Ryan was renowned for his coloured work and offered ‘Ten permanent colours and tattooing by hand or electricity.’

Ted Frisco was so impressed with Ryan’s work that he began collecting an elaborated full colour bodysuit of tattoos. This decision would allow Ted Frisco to earn a good living as a tattooed showman, exhibiting his living art with some of the biggest waxwork and amusement operators throughout Britain and Ireland.RYAN

W.H.C. Ryan also sold tattooing equipment and advertised that ‘would-be tattooers could visit him and view Frisco’s tattooed body’ as well as having the opportunity to purchase the necessary equipment to enter the profession. Ted Frisco learned to tattoo from Ryan and began to work the major Waxworks, travelling exhibitions and sideshows.

In June 1903 Frisco had sailed to American on the Russian Ship Triton. Arriving in the USA on 7th June The Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper announced the arrival of the ‘coloured tattooed man’. He stayed in America only a few days, returning home aboard The Teutonic, arriving into Liverpool England on the 17th June 1903 just in time to accept an engagement to become the resident tattoo Artist at Carters Waxworks at 10 Castle Place, Belfast.

Here he would appear on the same bill as Stephen Vallar and Henrietta Rosene. He had been recruited to occupy the vacancy created by the departure of famed English tattoo Artist Professor Joe (Patrick) Kilbride who had been tattooing at Carters up until May that year.with vballars for website

Prof Joe Kilbride had departed from the hot seat at  Carters and was now tattooing at 115 Donegall Street, Belfast. He was planning bigger things than tattooing for J. C Carter in the Waxworks...he was advertising for an apprentice!!

Note: Please click here for information on Irish Tattoo Artists.

Ted Frisco tattooed at Carters for two further seasons in Belfast returning in 1904 and 1905. He also appeared in London exhibiting as a Tattooed man.  Around 1905 Ted Frisco decided that there was more money to be made in appearing as a tattooed showman and decided to pursue this career path.  He continued to work the Theatres, fairs and exhibitions but mostly as a tattooed showman for the next few years.


Joe Kitteridge Aberdeen 1906 - 1915

Tattooing!  That’s my business.  To have it done is yours…. so get a move on!’

kitteridge nuff sewd

This was one of the many newspaper adverts placed by tattooing legend Joe Kitteridge over a career that lasted 20 years.

Born Josiah Samuel Kitteridge in Acton, Middlesex, London in early 1871.  His mother died when he was 3 years old and he was brought up by his father who worked as a carpenter.  Josiah spent his early childhood years in and around the area of Brentford before travelling the world in search of a better life.

Like a lot of young men he had a sense for adventure and when he was 17 he travelled to Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1888.  He spent a year there and then seems to have migrated down under to Stratford, New Zealand around 1900.

It’s safe to assume that he also visited Australia on these travels as he later recalled in an newspaper interview how he was ‘initiated into the mysteries of the (tattooing) profession, by a Japanese couple while in Syd­ney, Australia.’  This may have not been entirely true (more likely an interesting 'backstory' that most tattooists invented) as there's evidence to show he had a business or personal connection with George Burchett on his return to England.

Tattooing had become fashionable among the Victorian British gentry and was enjoying a strong period of popularity among the upper classes.  The newly introduced electric tattooing machine offered tattooists faster working techniques, and more scope to operate professionally.  George Burchett had embraced this new electric technology and had gone from part-time bootmaker/cobbler to full time tattoo artist in a few short years.  He opened his first shop at 438 Mile End Road, London.

By November 1903 Joe Kitteridge was tattooing out of the same address!. Whether he approached Burchett and asked to be trained/set up in the business of professional electric tattooing or if he simply occupied Burchett's old premises when he moved to Waterloo Road is not known at present.

kitteridge 1903 mile end road londow smaller

During that period of history there were very few professionals tattooing in Britain and Joe Kitteridge would find himself practicing his art among some of the early giants of tattooing. He would have need some pretty intense training or natural born skills to compete with those already working in London at that time.

His contemporaries would have included Sutherland MacDonald in Jermyn Street, Tom Riley in The Strand, Alfred South at Cockspur Street, George Burchett had moved to Waterloo Road, William McGrath was tattooing in Blackfriars Road, Edward James Taylor in East Rd, Walworth and William Thomas at West India Dock Road.

In 1906, With at least seven tattooists operating within a 15 mile radius of Woolwich, Joe must have found it too crowded. Newly married to Annie Elizabeth Newitt he decided to up-sticks and travel to the opposite end of the country. He'd spent 3 good years tattooing in London and it was now time to try his luck in another city.

Aberdeen

In 1906 he began tattooing in the City of Aberdeen on the far North Eastern shore of Scotland.

At this period of time Scotland only had one real tattooist of note: Prince Vallar who was based in Glasgow.  Other tattooists had visited Aberdeen before Joe Kitteridge but these were the ‘professors’, the travelling tattooists who worked the Waxworks, Zoos and Fairs for short periods of time before moving onto the next city.  These tattoo artists included ‘Professor Barelno’ from Edinburgh and Albert Edward Lloyd from Bow, London who tattooed for a season at Humber’s Waxworks 112 George Street.

Joe Kitteridge opened a tattoo parlour at 14 New Market Gallery, Aberdeen and worked here for a few years before moving a few doors along and working at  8 New Market Gallery.  He was a prolific advertiser and self publicist, well ahead of his time for back then, and his varied newspaper adverts announced ‘artistic tattooing in all colours/prices moderate/thousand of designs/master of the art etc.

market gallery

By 1910 Joe Kitteridge had formed a friendship with another English tattoo artist who had relocated to Scotland from Bishop Auckland. Professor George Norton was tattooing 70 miles further south of Kitteridge in the City of Dundee and the two struck up a friendship.

In 1911 Joe Kitteridge invited George Norton to tattoo with him (an early version of the ‘guest spot’) in his Aberdeen parlour. Joe took out several newspaper adverts announcing the arrival of Professor Norton and, not to be outdone or overshadowed, also bestowed the title of Professor on himself for the occasion!

The short engagement must have worked out well for both tattooists as later in the summer of 1912 they embarked on a trip to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands in order to capitalise on the booming herring industry. They tattooed at a small shop at 33 Commercial Road before returning to Aberdeen on the mainland after the summer season was over.

norton and kitteridge shetlands smaller

After another year in Dundee Professor Norton returned to England and was tattooing in Burnley in 1913.

Around 1914 Joe Kitteridge got himself into a spot of bother locally and subsequently found himself before the local Magistrate Baillie Young. He was fined £5 with the alternative of 30 days imprisonment. This must have left a sour taste in his mouth as he left the Granite City forever shortly after.

He returned to his old stomping ground of Woolwich around 1915 and was soon tattooing again at 89 High Street. He remained at this location until 26th August 1923, aged 49 when he sailed to Canada with his wife Anne onboard The Empress of Scotland. He sold the tattoo shop to Jim Goalen who worked at this address for the next 12 years or so.

Joe settled in Toronto Canada for the next 20 years until his death in 29 Nov 1941 aged 70.

It’s not known if he tattooed again while living in Canada but his death certificate states that his occupation was that of a ‘Seaman’. It’s safe to assume that he tattooed to supplement his income at night but there are no records of him owning a shop at this time.

Joe Kitteridge’s contribution to Scottish tattooing history cannot go unrecognised. He came up to Scotland and made a good living for the best part of a decade. He was a professional Tattoo Artist during an era when tattooing was still considered a magical, mystical, secret artform and he helped to popularise it in the north of Scotland. He was years ahead of his time when it came to self publicity, offering guest spots and travelling to tattoo in other areas. It’s a shame he’s not been more widely written about but seems to have been overshadowed by the achievements of Burchett, MacDonald, South and Riley.

Thanks Joe for all your efforts!


Professor George Norton - Dundee and Aberdeen 1910-1912

 

Sign writer, Magician, Army officer, multi-linguist, inventor and even a killer...some of the words used to describe Professor Norton tattoo Artist.

Every tattoo artist in the early part of the last century had a 'backstory', norton artwork

A colourful narrative providing a history or background that served to highlight how they’d arrived at their chosen profession.  Most were based on some loose facts and peppered with liberal amounts of fiction. This information was used to create an air of mystique and intrigue around the story of the tattoo artist’s life and journey.  Professor Norton’s was no exception and his backstory read like a script written for a Hollywood feature film.

There is no doubt that he was an all round talented, skilled, artistic and creative individual but he wasn’t born into a life of privilege.

George Norton was born George Huddleston in Bolton around 1880.  His early life involved a spell in The Bolton and County of Lancaster Certified Industrial School after his father, an iron dresser from Blackburn, had abandoned his wife and five children.

Norton's backstory suggests that he ran away to join Buffalo Bill's Circus (lot's of tattooist around this time made this exact same claim) and he learned to perform magic tricks and illusions and also picked up the trades and skills of both the sign writer and the tattoo artist.

Tattooing was beginning to become popular with the working classes throughout Britain and shops and makeshift parlours were popping up all over. There were at least 50 professionals making a living (of sorts) from tattooing by 1910.

This was the year that George Norton decided to relocate to Dundee, Scotland and began tattooing from a shop at 36 Greenmarket, a popular, busy location near the shores of the Firth of Tay. Dundee was booming economically at this point in history and was famous worldwide for its Jute, journalism, shipbuilding and jam.

norton dindee 1910 small

He worked at this location for 3 years, tattooing under the title of Professor Norton, Society tattooist. There’s no doubt that he would have also used his other acquired talents and skills to help boost his income and would have still been performing magic in the evenings and perhaps sign writing locally when required.

He also formed a close friendship with another English Tattoo Artist named Joe Kitteridge who had been tattooing in Aberdeen, Scotland since 1906.

Joe Kitteridge and Professor Norton must have hit it off as they tattooed together several times over the next few years in Aberdeen and Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

1912 was the final year that Norton tattooed in Scotland and in 1913 he was working in Burnley, Lancashire, England.  

The outbreak of the first Wold War began in 1914 and many young men were called up to fight. George Norton claimed that he was travelling in the United States of America at this time and near the end of the war had joined the American Expeditionary Force that landed in Arkhangelsk, Russia in 1918. It is said that he became fluent in Russian. This was also in conjunction with a talent for speaking Arabic, French and German.

Around 1920 he returned to Britain and later travelled over to Ireland, as a member of Sir Robert Fossett's Circus.

He met his first wife, a tattooed lady while performing in Ireland and legend has it that one evening while walking in a local park, they were both attacked by local youths. Professor Norton came to his wife's defence, killing one of the assailants. The local Police, accepting the killing was in self-defence, advised Norton to leave Ireland immediately for his own safety as the murdered man was a member of a local IRA unit. He quickly departed but left the tattooed lady behind.

He returned to the relative safety of County Durham and continued to sign write, perform illusions and magic trick and work as a Tattoo Artist.

He got married for a second time in 1929 to Martha Oakes and they lived in Shildon, County Durham. They had 7 children and for a few years lived in a caravan at Toft Hill, Bishop Auckland.

Around 1930 Britain was suffering the after effects of the Global Depression. Particularly hardest hit by economic problems were the industrial and mining areas in the north of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Tattooing was viewed as a luxury and the art fell into a slump. Few Tattoo Artists could make a living strictly from their trade alone and many worked part-time or only opened a few days a week to keep their hand in.

Around 1933 George Norton was working full-time as a sign writer for George Tallentire of Tow Law who owned local coachworks. Although he still tattooed in the evenings Professor Norton also accepted private engagements and performed at local fetes and fairs as a magician/illusionist.

In 1938 Professor Norton moved his family to Polar Terrace in Roddymoor, Crook a small mining village in County Durham. He continued working in the daytime as a sign writer, and was commission to refurbish a travelling fair that had been requisitioned by the British Army at the start of WW2.

The outbreak of WW2 saw a massive resurge for professional tattooists, working on squaddies and sailors heading off to fight in the war in Europe. Professor Norton tattooed lots of local soldiers from the Brancepeth Castle Camp and was revered as a naturally talented freehand tattoo artist who drew the designs straight onto the skin with ink.

After the war he lived and worked in Crook until his death in 1953. He is buried in Crook Cemetery.

Professor Norton once said he was born to live in a castle, but he ended his days in 1953 in a council house in Crook.

However, he’d lived an exciting and varied life and had had put all his talents to good use. He couldn’t ask for more than that.


Joe Kilbride - Bradford, Hull, Grimsby, Dublin, Belfast, London and New York.

joe kilbride png

 

Professor Joe Kilbride was born Joseph Charles Henderson in 30 Waile Street, Manningham, Bradford on 7 Jan 1869.

Joe’s father died when he was young and his mother Elizabeth remarried.  Joe did not get along with his new stepfather and decided to run away from home when he was aged 13 years old.  He was taken in by a well known Boxing family from Bradford named Kilbride whose surname Joe adopted and used throughout the rest of his life.

When he was in his late teens Joe Kilbride went to sea and served as a crew member on board the S.S Martello, an ocean going cargo ship registered in the port of Hull on England's East coast. This ship sailed to New York via Boston and would have offered young Joe a working passage to America's Eastern Coast.

Tattooing was entering a new dawn in the USA due to the arrival of electric machines. New York was home to Edwin Thomas and also Samuel O'Reilly who were tattooing at that time in the city. This could have been the starting point to Joe Kilbride's tattoo journey as he would almost certainly have encountered tattooing in the docks area of New York when he landed onshore.

He returned to Britain on board the S.S. Arizona arriving in Liverpool in August 1889.

Joe married his first wife Florence Columius Murphy in 1890 in Edinburgh, Scotland when he was 22 years old and they had 2 children: Joseph ‘Nunkie’ Kilbride and Elizabeth Ellen Kilbride.  On his marriage certificate he describes himself as a scenic artist. This occupation involved working within Theatres and Playhouses hand-painting stage sets and backdrops. It was a skilled occupation that was in high demand at the time.hannah kilbride picture for website

The marriage last around 9 years and in 1898 Joe got together with Irish girl Hannah Cronin who came from Cork, Ireland. 

Hannah would later go on to become known as ‘Madam Eileen the Tattooed Colleen’ and she performed and travelled on the circuit alongside Joe Kilbride. She was very heavily tattooed and is rumoured to have done some tattooing as well.

By 1901 Joe and Hannah were living in Morecombe on the North West of England as one of their children was born at that time in the area.

The first documented records of Professor Kilbride tattooing professionally are in Ireland in 1901. He had set up a tattoo studio in the docks area of Dublin and tattooed from a premises at 27 Lower Ormond Quay. His advertising at the time boasted that he’d been tattooing for around 15 years and that he’d tattooed in London and New York.

If this is true this would make him around 17 when he began working in the tattoo profession in around 1886. This ties up with his earlier sea adventures and visit to New York.

kilbride dublin 1901

 

In February 1903 he had moved to the North of Ireland and began tattooing at Carter’s Waxworks in Belfast.

kilbride at carters 1903

‘JC’ Carter was always on the lookout for good tattoo artists to work in his pitch and he regularly advertised in The Era Newspaper (a showbusiness trade paper) looking to secure the best artist around. Professor Laurence had tattooed there in 1902 and in 1903 Joe Kilbride was one of many skilled ‘professors’ who answered the call. But by April 1903 he had left Carters and had set up on his own account at 115 Donegall Street in Belfast City Centre.

Business must have been brisk. Over the coming summer months he found himself so busy that in August he placed an advert in the Belfast Newspaper offering the unique opportunity for a ‘young gentleman’ to work alongside him and learn the tattoo trade. Kilbride stated that there would be a small premium to be paid (naturally!) in advance but the lucky gentleman would soon be on a share of the profits once proficient at the art.

kilbride advert for apprentice

That month Professor Vallar and Madame Rosene were appearing at Carter’s Waxworks. It’s safe to assume that Prince Vallar’s father Stephen stumped up the cash to enroll his young 14 year old son as an apprentice to Joe Kilbride. These type of opportunities were few and far between and in those days this type af rare offer would have to be grasped with both hands. Prince Vallar’s father had been around enough showmen, entertainers and circus people in his career to know that a good Tattoo Artist would never be out of business and always in great demand.

It was a successful venture all round as by 1905 Prince had learned a sufficient amount of knowledge from Professor Kilbride to begin tattooing as a professional on his own account.

By 1905 Joe Kilbride was heading back to Bradford, England and Prince Vallar was off to begin his professional tattooing career in the Scottish Port of Greenock.

Joe and Hannah Kilbride began working in a tattoo parlour called Henderson’s Tattooing Saloon at 94 Manningham Lane, Bradford. His advert at the time announced that he also sold colours, designs and machines. Joe had a brother called William Henderson and there is a possibility that he was taught to tattoo by Joe or persuaded to put his name or money towards the new Tattooing Saloon.

 hendessons bradford without outline

Whatever the true background of this story is it looks like a short-lived endeavour as in 1906 Joe places an advert in the Era Newspaper announcing that he is now available to take up a position at a Waxworks or Permanent Exhibition as a previous arrangement was disappointing (Henderson’s tattooing Saloon?) He is contactable at his address at 9 Wellington Road, Pakefield, Lowestoff on the Suffolk coast.

It’s not known at present where they went after this period but one of their children Mary Kate was born in South Shields in 1909 so it’s safe to assume that Joe was living and tattooing in this area during this period.

In 1911 Joe and Hannah finally marry (he never divorced Florence!) and they are recorded in the Census as living at 5 Burnett’s Buildings, 266 Burgess Street, Grimsby. The census records Joe’s occupation as ‘labourer’ and Hannah’s as ‘tattoo Artist.

This is a recurring theme when researching tattooists from this vintage era. Many would simple deny they were tattooists, listing themselves instead as sign writers, commercial artists, showmen, booksellers and even coffee house proprietors! There’s no doubt that many of them were hiding a colourful past or hiding from someone. Many altered their age, marriage status and had multiple identities and aliases. It makes the research difficult at times but certainly interesting!

In June the following year Joe is back tattooing on familiar ground. He crossed the Irish Sea and was working at the Ponoptican Exhibition in High Street, Belfast, Ireland.

kilbride 1912 panopticon Belfast

In the following years very little is known about Joe Kilbride’s tattooing career.  He did tattoo for a while during WW1 in Islington, London but records after this period seem to fade out. It further complicates the research when the person in question changes their name or identity. Joe Kilbride had several aliases over his 50 year career including Professor Kilbride, Captain Kilbride, Joe Kilbride, Joe Paddy Kilbride, Pat Kilbride etc. Like the other tattooists featured on these pages there will be a perfectly good explanation behind this. It is wrong to speculate when we don't know the full facts but you can guess that they were hiding from someone or something that 'may' have happened in the past!

In the 1920's he had reinvented himself as Pat Kilbride, a show promoter putting on plays and performances featuring Queenie Morris in the lead role. queenie morris

Queenie Morris was a famous Irish comedienne, actress, variety performer and tattooed lady. She was a seasoned entertainer who worked on the variety circuit all over Britain (even appearing alongside Professor George Norton) and Ireland.

Joe Kilbride had tattooed her extensively and he had enjoyed some extensive press coverage and notoriety in regards to that claim. He had postcards printed up with her image on them and these were used to advertise both Joe's artwork and Queenie's tattooed bodysuit. (Pictured Right|) 

He had completed a full colour vista of the Last Supper across her back as well as covering her body with elaborate full colour designs. This also gained her great publicity and kept her in work for many years in Variety and exhibiting on the showbusiness circuit. She became romantically involved with Joe, who had now seperated from Hannah (Madam Eileen the Tattooed Colleen) and in the later years of his life Joe and Queenie were married.

Joe's story is similar in many ways to the other tattooists featured on these pages. There's always an early hardship or family upheaval, a mysterious background to their early life, travel to foreign parts, showbusiness links, several marriages and multiple identities and aliases. The itinerant nature of tattooing at the time meant that there was rarely a settled home life or routine for the artist. The tattooists of of the early 1900's had to adapt, travel extensively and self-promote themselves on a constant basis.

The only option left open to most professional tattooists who wanted to make a living from their art was to open a permenant tattoo shop in one city, port or seaside location and tattoo there exclusively. This was the route Joe Kilbride took at the end of his career. He gave up the constant travelling, the promoting of shows and plays and eventually settle in Rhyl in Wales.

Joe tattooed at Victoria Tattooing Saloon on Vale Road and died there aged 74 in 1945.

kilbrides card

 

Joe Kilbride had been a sailor, scenic artist, show promoter and was a pioneer tattoo artist.


 charles advertCharles Smith - various Scottish locations 1903 -1925

Tinsmith, Sailor, Soldier…Tattoo Artist!

Career choices were pretty much set in stone in Hesley, Yorkshire when Charles Clement Augustus Smith was born on 22nd May 1871.charles smith

You either left school and began working in the Coal Mining industry or toiled all day in the Tin Mines. The other possible career opportunities open to a young man in those days was to go to sea as a member of the Royal or Merchant Navy. If that life did not appeal, you always had the option to join the Military and serve as a soldier in one of Britain’s many foreign wars.

Charles Smith did all of these occupations in his early lifetime but it’s what he did in his later years that make him stand out above his peers.

Charles became a pioneering Tattoo Artist.

But his journey into tattooing was not forged in the Tin Mining industry which he entered in 1885 aged 14 years old.  He saw a life of hardship and toil ahead of himself and decided to take charge of his own destiny.

On 2nd October 1886 Charles signed up as an able-bodied seaman with the Merchant Navy for a four year term, serving onboard the S.S Westgate sailing out of Liverpool.  

As a 15 year old boy, away from home for the first time in his life, it must have been an overwhelming experience for him but one which would offer more exotic opportunities.

The S.S Westgate was a regular visitor to America and, like many young seamen of that period; Charles would have certainly visited New York on his travels.  When his ship docked in port it’s safe to assume that he would have encountered tattooing of some form. 

Any sailor who was lucky enough to land in New York around this time would also be among the first to be exposed to the new exciting phenomenon of tattooing by electricity. This technology was being used and sold by pioneering US tattoo artists such as Samuel O’Reilly.

This is a common scenario that has repeated itself my times during this tattoo history research.

One of the first stops for a seaman when he arrived in a new port or country was to seek out the local bars, brothels and tattoo parlours.

The sailor was usually in search of a permanent reminder of his home, sweetheart or a token tattoo to commemorate his visit to the foreign land. The savvy, established Tattoo Artists that operated in these establishments would offer electric tattooing in several colours. They catered for this type of customer and would tattoo sailing shiips, Anchors and hula girls non-stop until the fleet had returned to the ship and departed for home. Some tattooists would also sell equipment to would-be tattooers. They offered to furnish any interested party with a full box of equipment to enable them to enter the trade for themselves…for a substantial fee.

Machines, colours, designs and stencils were all openly sold and promoted. This unique business opportunity was embraced by many visiting sailors.There would be plenty of quiet time at sea on your return journey to hone your craft. There would also be plenty of willing, would-be customers among your shipmates to practice upon!!

Charles Smith must have decided to spend his hard earned Navy wages on tattooing equipment as official records show that after 3 years (in 1989) at sea he had deserted his post on-board The Westgate and had run away in search for his next adventure.

 He had actually returned home to Sheffield and married Caroline Broderick in 1890.

charles advert2

charles advert

By 1901 Charles had began tattooing professionally at 22 Bamforth Street, Sheffield.  Very few other tattooers were actually operating at this point in time and if we look at the timeline of British tattooing, Charles Smith was among the top 10 of the early pioneers of the art in Britain at the time.  

However, soon the opportunity of further foreign travel and adventure lured him away from his wife, tattooing and home life in Sheffield once again.

In Sept 1901 he had enlisted (along with another 6000 like minded souls) as a private in the Yorkshire and Lancaster regiment.  The Second Boer war was in full swing in South Africa. The regiment supplied troops for the war campaign from its initial outbreak in 1899 until its final conclusion 1902. There's little doubt that he would have taken his tattooing equipment with him.

Tom Riley a fellow Yorkshireman and leading tattooist had also did the same thing and amassed a small fortune tattooing soldiers and officers while serving with the Imperial Yeomanry.

After demobilisation Charles returned to civilian life. 1903 saw both Caroline and Charles now living and working in the Scottish city of Glasgow.  Charles had decided that tattooing would be his true calling and began working exclusively on the Waxworks and Circus circuit.

Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh were all breeding grounds for this popular new type of entertainment.  A competent Tattooer could make a lucrative living moving from one pitch to the next. There were not enough good tattooists at the time to satisfy the demand of the waxworks promoters. A good tattooist could command a handsome fee for his work.

Charles worked in all the major Scottish cities for the next 3 years, always pursuing the best possible remuneration for his artistic skills.

The constant moving from town to town and the lack of routine was stressful and Charles and Caroline drifted apart in 1909.  He was working at this time in the popular Marine Gardens attraction park in Edinburgh and commuted around the main Scottish cities, tattooing in the winter off-season.

By 10th August 1914 WW1 was looming, Charles was living and working in Aberdeen and had enlisted in the Royal Navy. He signed up to serve onboard HMS Halcyon, a torpedo gunboat that was converted to a minesweeper. He completed his Military service in 1919 without incident and was soon back in the city of Aberdeen.

At the time Aberdeen had witnessed its fair share of visiting tattooing Professors.

Balerno, Norton, Whittingham, Harvey and Lloyd had all tattooed in the city at some point in the previous 20 years. There was also the imposing legacy of the famous Woolwich tattoo artist Joe Kitteridge who’d worked at New Market Gallery for nearly 10 years. When Kitteridge had departed, his space at The New Market Gallery was occupied by Charles Briley who worked there until 1919.

When Charles Smith returned from active service to Aberdeen he looked to return to his old trade.He may have approached Briley to buy him out of his stance as the records show that Charles Smith tattooed at New Market gallery for the next 6 years until his death in 1925 aged 54 years old.

Charles Smith's memory must be commemorated for the part he played in tattooing in the early part of the 20th century.  As young man he’d already travelled the seven seas, fought in the Second Boer War and also served in the Royal Navy during WW1. This was in addition to being a successful professional tattoo artist in Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lots More Coming soon.