When I was writing about the Broadway Theatre I was lucky enough to get into an email conversation with the daughter of Norman D’Alquen, local businessman and amateur photographer who took the picture of the theatre under construction in 1932. I found his history interesting and hope you do to.

Construction of Town Hall Extension Image from Crownbrook Flickr

Norman D’Alquen’s grandfather was from Arnsberg (Prussia). He came to live in Fulham when he was expelled from the country after “associating with communists” at Bonn University in the 1830s.

Norman’s father Frederick E G D’Alquen moved to south London and established his business in 1888.  Whilst living at 19 Sunderland Rd he opened a shop at 107 Sydenham Road, trading as a gas, electric and hot water engineer/fitter.  The shop operated from about 1905-1907.

In about 1918 Frederick bought one of the shops opposite their house at Sunderland Road and moved his business there.

4 Sunderland Road Image credit Crownbrook

In the 1920s the family moved home to nearby Rockbourne Road but continued to run the shop at 4 Sunderland Road. After Frederick died in 1932 the family continued to run the business, extending it into the building next door at 2 Sunderland Road.

The business was carried on by Norman and in 1941 he moved the shop to 8 Sunderland Rd and lived above it with his new wife. He opened this up under the name of J & N D’Alquen but his elder brother John was in the army at the time and stayed in the military for the rest of his working life, so he was a sleeping partner.

Dressed up for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 Image credit Crownbrook

Norman D’Alquen expanded his shop to 10 Sunderland Rd too and continued to run a successful business there selling electrical goods and acting as an electrical contractor rewiring houses etc. until the late 1960s.

When firms like Comet began to dominate the market Norman gradually ran down the business as he was approaching retirement anyway. There was still one shop in the name of N D’Alquen in 1984 when he died.

Norman was an amateur photographer with his own darkroom. Despite running a full time business he still found time to take some amazing photographs that have helped to give us a view into the past.

Norman’s daughter has a Flickr page with many pictures taken by Norman or other members of the D’Alquen family.

Two of the most fascinating pictures are of a tram that crashed into a church on Standstead Road.

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