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Professional Photographers in Eastbourne ( A ) 

William Atkinson - George Austin

 Leon Balk - Eugene Bampton - Ernest Beattie - Mr Bennett - John Berryman - Albert Best - Bijou Portrait Studio - Frederick Bourne - Herbert Briggs - William Brothwell - Henry Browne

 

William ATKINSON  (born c1858, Liverpool - died 1927, Great Paxton, Huntingdonshire)

Active as a photographer in Eastbourne from around 1891 to 1898.

[ABOVE] A portrait of William Atkinson taken at George Organ's photographic portrait studio at  215 The Grove, Hammersmith. (c1903).  Between 1905 and 1907, George Edward Organ (born 1872, Gloucester) was operating two photographic studios in the London area - one at 215 The Grove, Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith, the other at 62 Perry Vale, Forest Hill, Lewisham. It seems likely that William Atkinson managed G. E. Organ's branch studio at 62 Perry Vale, Lewisham, up until around 1908, when he took over the Perry Vale studio from his employer.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

 

[ABOVE] William Atkinson listed as a photographer at 62 Perry Vale, Forest Hill, London S.E. in the Trades Section of The Post Office London Directory for 1911. William Atkinson was recorded as a photographer at 62 Perry Vale until 1917. [ABOVE] William Atkinson listed as a photographer at 69 & 62A Perry Vale, Forest Hill, Lewisham London S.E. in Kelly's London Suburbs Street Directory (1914).

[ABOVE] A later portrait of William Atkinson taken at George Organ's photographic portrait studio at 215 The Grove, Hammersmith. (c1918).  The fact that William Atkinson and members of his family continued to have their portraits taken at George Organ's studio at 215 The Grove, Hammersmith after Atkinson closed his studio in Perry Vale, Lewisham, around 1918 suggests that the two photographers were still closely associated after the end of the First World War.  George Edward Organ (born 1872, Gloucester) remained in charge of the studio at  215 The Grove, Hammersmith until 1935. In 1926, George Edward Organ brought his son Richard Spring Organ (born 1908, Hammersmith) into the business and his studio in Hammersmith went under the name of  "G. E. Organ & Son" until 1932.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

William Atkinson was born in Liverpool around 1858. In his early twenties, William Atkinson was earning a living by painting portraits. When the 1881 census was taken, both William Atkinson and his brother George Atkinson (born c1856, Liverpool) were recorded on the census return as portrait painters. In 1881, William Atkinson was boarding, alongside his brother George, at the home of Mrs Sarah Armstrong, a farmer's widow who lived at 10 London Road Terrace, Botchergate, Carlisle, Cumberland. William Atkinson is described on the census return as a "Portrait Painter", aged 22.

[ABOVE] A self portrait by William Atkinson, painted in the early 1880s when he was working as a portrait painter in Cumberland. The 1881 census records twenty-two year old William Atkinson as a portrait painter lodging at a house in the Botchergate district of Carlisle. [ABOVE] William Atkinson's wife Sarah Jane Atkinson holding her baby son George Leslie Atkinson. Mrs Atkinson and her baby were photographed at her husband's portrait studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, towards the end of 1897.

[PICTURE: Courtesy of George & Jean Atkinson]

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

William Atkinson appears to have worked as an itinerant artist, travelling around the north of England painting portraits. From the Botchergate district of Carlisle, William Atkinson journeyed south towards the Lake District. At Haverthwaite, a village a few miles south of Lake Windermere, William Atkinson met Sarah Jane Bannister (born 1858, Sawtry, Huntingdonshire), a young domestic servant who was working as a nursemaid in the home Ann and Richard Heighway Kirby, the vicar of Haverthwaite. In 1884, William Atkinson and Sarah Jane Bannister travelled to Sarah's home village of Sawtry in Huntingdonshire, where the couple were married. [The marriage of William Atkinson and Sarah Jane Bannister was registered in the district of Huntingdon during the 2nd Quarter of 1884]. After their wedding in Huntingdonshire, William and Sarah Atkinson returned to Haverthwaite, where their first child Edith Mary Atkinson was born towards the end of 1885. [The birth of Edith Mary Atkinson was registered in the Cumbria / Lancashire district of Ulverston during the 4th Quarter of 1885]. A second child, a son named Charles Atkinson, was born in Ulverston, Lancashire (now Ulverston, Cumbria) the following year.

After the birth of his first two children, William Atkinson resumed his itinerant lifestyle. By 1890, William Atkinson and his family had reached Yorkshire, where their third child Hilda May Atkinson was born. [The birth of Hilda May Atkinson was registered in the district of Huddersfield during the 2nd Quarter of 1890].

[ABOVE] A portrait of Hilda May Atkinson (born 1890, Ulverston), photographed by her father, William Atkinson, at his Eastbourne studio around 1894. [ABOVE] A portrait of Hilda May Atkinson (born 1890, Ulverston), photographed at William Atkinson's studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, around 1894.

William Atkinson - Portrait Photographer in Eastbourne

By 1891, William Atkinson had settled in the Sussex seaside resort of Eastbourne, where he established himself as a portrait photographer. The 1891 census records William Atkinson as a thirty-two year old "Photographer" residing at a villa in Ocklynge Road, Eastbourne, with his wife, Sarah, and their three children - Edith (aged 5), Charles (aged 5) and Hilda (11 months). Initially, William Atkinson was employed by an established Eastbourne photographer (possibly by John Berryman of The Palace Studio, Eastbourne) but by 1894 he was running his own portrait studios in Eastbourne. William Atkinson operated two photographic studios in Eastbourne, one at 67 Grove Road, near the Town Hall and close to Eastbourne's Fire Station, and another at 56 Terminus Road, not far from Eastbourne's Railway Station. William Atkinson's studio at 56 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, known as the Palace Studio, closed around 1896, but he operated the studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne until about 1899.

In 1897, William and Sarah Atkinson's fourth child, a son named George Leslie Atkinson, was born in Eastbourne. [The birth of George Leslie Atkinson was registered in Eastbourne during 3rd Quarter of 1897]. Around 1899, William Atkinson sold his photographic studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne to two brothers Clement John Cordrey and Walter Sydney Cordrey.

William Atkinson career as a Professional Photographer after 1900

William Atkinson and his family eventually moved to Walthamstow in Essex, where William continued his career as a photographer. William Atkinson is recorded as a "Photographer", aged 42, in the 1901 census of Walthamstow. It appears that, around 1903, William Atkinson was employed as a photographer at a West London studio owned by a photographic artist named George Edward Organ (born 1872, Gloucester). In 1898, George Organ had taken over Douglas Fitzpatrick Windsor's photographic portrait studio at 215 The Grove, Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith. By 1905, George Organ was operating two photographic studios in the London area - one at 215 The Grove, Hammersmith, the other at 62 Perry Vale, Forest Hill, Lewisham. Evidence suggests that William Atkinson managed G. E. Organ's Perry Vale studio up until 1908, when he took over the studio from his employer. In 1911, William Atkinson is listed in Kelly's London County Suburbs Directory as the proprietor of G. E. Organ's former photographic studio at 62 Perry Vale, Forest Hill, Lewisham. When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911, William Atkinson, who is described on the census return as a 52 year old "Photographer", was residing at 99 Perry Vale, Forest Hill, London S.E., with his wife Sarah Jane and two of their children - twenty year old Hilda May and George Leslie Atkinson, at that time a 13 year old school boy. The Street Directory section of in Kelly's Post Office London County Suburbs Directory, published in 1914, records William Atkinson as a "Photographer" at 69 & 62A Perry Vale, Forest Hill, Lewisham. The 1916 and 1917 editions of the Post Office London Suburbs Directory lists William Atkinson as a "Photographer" solely at 62 Perry Vale, Forest Hill. It appears that William Atkinson's Perry Vale studio had closed by 1918.

William Atkinson and his wife Sarah Jane Atkinson retired to Great Paxton, a village near St Neots in Huntingdonshire. William Atkinson died in Great Paxton on 20th July 1927, at the age of 69. His widow, Mrs Sarah Jane Atkinson died in the Huntingdonshire district of St Neots during the 3rd Quarter of 1941 at the age of 83.

 

William Atkinson's Photographic Portrait Studios in Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A photograph taken in 1898 showing the location of William Atkinson's Photographic Studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, between Baddeley & Hewer's Grocery Store and the shop of Charles Ion Cooper, Tea & Coffee Merchant. Eastbourne's Fire Station can be seen at the end of the road. The photographic studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, was opened by Eastbourne photographer John Berryman (born 1853, Wells, Somerset) in 1890. Berryman had previously established the Palace Studio at 58 Terminus Road, Eastbourne in 1887. Both Berryman's studios ended up in the hands of William Atkinson. In 1891, the Grove Road Studio passed to the photographer William Stanley. Around 1894, William Atkinson acquired both the Grove Road studio and John Berryman's former studio in Terminus Road. The 1895 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex lists the photographer William Atkinson as the proprietor of the photographic studios at 67 Grove Road and 56 Terminus Road, Eastbourne.

[ABOVE] A detail from the photo pictured on the left which shows the entrance to William Atkinson's photographic studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne. Samples of William Atkinson's photographic work frame the doorway which leads to the photographer's studio on the upper floor.  By 1899, Atkinson's photographic studio in Grove Road, Eastbourne had passed into the hands of brothers Clement John Cordrey and Walter Sydney Cordrey.
[ABOVE] The trade plate of William Atkinson, Photographer & Portrait Painter of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne as printed on the reverse of Atkinson's cabinet and carte-de-visite photographs in the late 1890s. William Atkinson's publicity indicates that he also took group portraits on location.
[ABOVE] A 19th century photograph of Terminus Road, Eastbourne, where  William Atkinson operated a photographic portrait studio during the 1890s.

William Atkinson's Photographic Studios in Eastbourne

[ABOVE] An advertisement from 1894 giving details of William Atkinson's two photographic studios in Eastbourne. ( The Eastbourne Chronicle, 29th September 1894). Atkinson established his first studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne around 1894. A second studio at 56 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, known as the Palace Studio, was opened later that same year. William Atkinson began his working career as a portrait painter and this advertisement bills him as a "Photographer and Portrait Painter". William Atkinson was not a high class photographer and his prices were relatively cheap. Atkinson charged 3s 6d for a dozen Midget Photographs, 5 shillings for a dozen carte-de-visite portraits and 10 shillings for a dozen portraits in Cabinet format. In the same period, Frederick Arthur Bourne (1860-1921), a photographer with a studio in Langney Road, Eastbourne, charged 8s 6d for a dozen carte-de-visite portraits and 17s 6d for a dozen Cabinet portraits. At 3/6 a dozen, Atkinson's Midget photographs were very reasonably priced. In contrast, James Ernest Stanborough, a Bexhill photographer, and John Henry Blomfield of Hastings both charged 4s 6d for twelve Midget cartes.

[LEFT] William Atkinson shown as the proprietor of the photographic studios at 67 Grove Road and 56 Terminus Road, Eastbourne in the 1895 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex.

[ABOVE]  A newspaper article in the Eastbourne Chronicle, dated 13th October 1894, reporting "a sad affair" at William Atkinson's Grove Road Studio, when Mrs Jane Eleanor Biron, aged 55, suffered a stroke during a photography session. Mrs Biron, the wife of Dublin-born barrister Robert John Biron, Q.C., died a day or so after her seizure. Mrs Biron was not posing for her own portrait when she was struck down. Mrs Biron had called in at William Atkinson's studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, to have a number of photographs taken of her pet dog. Mrs Biron was "suddenly seized with a paralytic stroke while in the act of posing the dog and fell down in an unconscious condition ". Mrs Biron's husband, Mr Robert John Biron, Q.C., died in London the following year at the age of 65.

1891 Census Return for William Atkinson & Family

1891 Census : Villa, Ocklynge Road, EASTBOURNE

NAME

 

OCCUPATION

AGE

PLACE OF BIRTH

William Atkinson Head

Photographer

32

Liverpool
Sarah Atkinson wife  

33

Huntingdonshire
Edith Atkinson daughter  

5

Lancashire
Charles Atkinson son  

5

Lancashire
Hilda Atkinson daughter  

11 months

Yorkshire
         
 

Portraits by William Atkinson of Grove Road, Eastbourne - Cartes-de-visite, Cabinets and Midget Photographs

[ABOVE] The trade plate of William Atkinson, Photographer & Portrait Painter, 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, taken from the reverse of a carte-de-visite photograph (c1894)

[ABOVE] A vignette portrait of a woman by William Atkinson of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne (c1894). Atkinson charged 5s 0d per dozen for his carte-de-visite photographs.

[ABOVE] The photographer's wife Mrs Sarah Jane Atkinson holding their baby son George Leslie Atkinson. Mrs Atkinson and her baby were photographed at her husband's portrait studio at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, towards the end of 1897.  [PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

Midget Photographs

[ABOVE] A midget portrait of a girl by William Atkinson of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne (c1897). William Atkinson charged 3s 6d per dozen for his midget photographs. [ABOVE] A midget portrait of a young woman wearing a straw boater by William Atkinson of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne (c1897).

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a woman by William Atkinson of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne. (c1894). Atkinson charged 5s 0d per dozen for his carte-de-visite photographs.

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young child, probably photographed by William Atkinson at his Palace Studio at 56 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. (c1894)

 

Carte-de-visite Portraits by William Atkinson of 56 Terminus Road and 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A vignette portrait of a school boy photographed by William Atkinson of  Eastbourne (c1894). This portrait might have been taken at Atkinson's studio in Terminus Road, Eastbourne. [ABOVE] A vignette portrait of an unknown woman photographed by William Atkinson of  Eastbourne (c1895).This portrait might have been taken at Atkinson's studio in Terminus Road, Eastbourne. [ABOVE] The trade plate of William Atkinson, Photographer & Portrait Painter, 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, taken from the reverse of a carte-de-visite photograph (c1898) [ABOVE] A vignette portrait of an unknown woman photographed by William Atkinson of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne (c1898). By 1898, Atkinson had sold his Palace Studio at 56 Terminus Road, Eastbourne.
 

Portrait of Rose Pennegar (1875-1932) by William Atkinson of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne

[ABOVE] The reverse of the studio portrait of Rose Pennegar (Mrs Rose Skinner) photographed at the studio of William Atkinson at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne. The photograph dates from around 1895, the year of  Rose's marriage to Edwin Skinner. [ABOVE] A studio portrait of Rose Pennegar (born 1875, Tudeley, Kent) photographed by William Atkinson of 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne around 1895, the year of her marriage to Edwin Skinner (born 1874, Maidstone, Kent), a fishmonger of Tunbridge Wells. [ABOVE] A detail from the portrait of twenty year old Rose Pennegar (born 1875, Tudeley, Kent). As Rose Pennegar married fishmonger Edwin Skinner in Tunbridge Wells in 1895 this photograph might have been taken when newly wed Rose was on honeymoon in Eastbourne with her husband.
Rose (Rosina) Pennegar was born in Tudeley, a small village near Tonbridge, Kent in 1875 [The birth of Rose Pennegar was registered under the name of 'Rosina Ann Pennigar' in the Kent district of Tunbridge during the 1st Quarter of 1875]. It appears that Rose Pennegar was the first child of the union between William Pennegar and Edith Emily Batchelor. Rose's mother, Edith Emily  Batchelor was born in Pembury, Kent, around 1852. [The birth of Emily Batchelor was registered in Tunbridge during the 4th Quarter of 1852]. In 1871, Edith Emily Batchelor married William Pennegar. [The marriage between Emily Batchelor and William Pennegar was registered in the district of Tonbridge during the 3rd Quarter of 1871. Strangely, the marriage appears to have been registered again during the following Quarter]. Emily Edith Batchelor's husband was probably the William Pennegar who was born in the Sussex district of Ticehurst around 1843.

William Pennegar and (Edith) Emily Batchelor produced two children - William Thomas Pennegar who was born in Pembury, Kent, during the 4th Quarter of 1872 and Rosina ("Rose") Pennegar who was born in the small Kent village of Tudeley in 1875].

Sometime between 1874 and 1880, William Pennegar disappears from the historical record. Presumably, William Pennegar had died sometime around 1875, the year his daughter 'Rose' Pennegar was born. I cannot trace a record of the death of William Pennegar between 1874 and 1880, but he is not recorded in the 1881 census and so might have been deceased by April 1881. Another possibility is that William Pennegar deserted his family and went abroad. What is clear from the historical records is that by the end of 1880 (Edith) Emily Batchelor had found a new partner by the name of Samuel Thrift. The 1881 census records Emily  and her two children, William Pennegar junior, aged 8, and six year old Rosina Pennegar sharing the home of Samuel Thrift at Lilly Arch, Capel, Kent. The head of the household, Samuel Thrift, is described as a thirty-four year old "agricultural labourer". Emily, the former Mrs Pennegar, is recorded on the census return as Mrs Emily Thrift, the wife of Samuel Thrift (born 1847, Brenchley, Kent). I have not found a record of her marriage to Samuel Thrift, but Edith (Emily) was already the mother of a 5 month old baby named Ellen Thrift. [The birth of Ellen Margaret Thrift was registered in the the Kent district of Tunbridge during the 4th Quarter of 1880].

Early in 1895, Edith Emily Pennegar's daughter, twenty-year old 'Rose' Pennegar married Edwin Skinner (born 1874, Maidstone, Kent), the youngest son of Roan and William Skinner, a carpenter who resided in Lewisham. When the 1901 census was taken, Edwin Skinner was recorded as a twenty-seven year old fishmonger living with his wife in the town of Tunbridge Wells. Sometime around 1906, Edwin and Rose Skinner, together with their young son William Skinner (born 1901, Tunbridge Wells, Kent), emigrated to Canada. Mrs Rose Skinner (formerly Pennegar) died in Brantford, Ontario, Canada in 1932 at the age of 57.

[ABOVE] A portrait of  young William Skinner (born 1901, Tunbridge Wells, Kent) , the son of  Rose Pennegar and Edwin Skinner of Tunbridge Wells, Kent. This portrait was taken around 1904 at the studio of Henry Jenkins (born 1835 Aylesbury, Bucks.), a photographer who owned the Alpha Studio at 40 Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells. Henry Jenkins was the father of the Worthing photographer Mrs Annie Gardiner, wife of Walter Gardiner.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Courtesy of Wanda Bellenie of Canada. Wanda is the great grand-daughter of Edwin and Rose Skinner - formerly Rosina Pennegar

 

Cabinet Portraits by William Atkinson of 56 Terminus Road and 67Grove Road, Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a young woman by William Atkinson of The Palace Studio, Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1896). William Atkinson charged 10s 0d per dozen for his cabinet photographs. [ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a young woman by William Atkinson of  67 Grove Road, Eastbourne (c1898).
   

The Children of William Atkinson and Sarah Jane Bannister

[ABOVE] A portrait of the photographer William Atkinson taken at George Organ's photographic portrait studio at 215 The Grove, Hammersmith after 1918..  [ABOVE]  Mrs Sarah Jane Atkinson, William Atkinson's wife, photographed with her cats and pet dog around 1912.     [PHOTOS: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

[ABOVE] A portrait of Hilda May Atkinson photographed at her father's studio at 62a Perry Vale, Forest Hill, London, S.E. around 1914. During the First World War, Hilda May Atkinson met Edward Joseph Mullen, a Canadian soldier stationed in England. Hilda May Atkinson married Edward Joseph Mullen in Lewisham during the 3rd Quarter of 1916.       [PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent] [ABOVE] A portrait of Edward Joseph Mullen (1893-1926), the Canadian soldier who married Hilda May Atkinson in Lewisham in 1916.  This portrait was taken around 1916 at George Organ's photographic portrait studio at 215 The Grove, Hammersmith. Edward Mullen survived the First World War but died in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on 3rd June 1926 at the age of 33.          [PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

[ABOVE]  Mrs Sarah Jane Atkinson, William Atkinson's wife, pictured in a studio setting around 1916.  Mrs Sarah Jane Atkinson died in the Huntingdonshire district of St Neots during the 3rd Quarter of 1941 at the age of 83.      

 [PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

[ABOVE]  A studio portrait of  one of William Atkinson's sons - presumably George Leslie Atkinson (born 1897, Eastbourne, Sussex).  George Leslie Atkinson would have been in his late teens when this photograph was taken around 1916. George's older brother Charles Atkinson was born in Ulverston (Lancashire/Cumbria) in 1886 and would have been aged about 30 when this photograph was taken.          [PHOTO: Courtesy of Pat Parent]

 

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Pat Parent for providing photographs of William Atkinson and his family. Pat Parent is the grand-daughter of Hilda May Atkinson, William Atkinson's youngest daughter. Thanks to George & Jean Atkinson for providing the self portrait painted by William Atkinson. Jean Atkinson's husband, George Atkinson, is the son of George Leslie Atkinson, William Atkinson's youngest son. Both Pat Parent and Jean Atkinson have supplied family history information relating to the Atkinson Family. Thanks to Frances Muncey, local historian of Eastbourne, for locating the newspaper article in the Eastbourne Chronicle of 13th October 1894, reporting Mrs Jane Biron's fatal seizure at William Atkinson's Grove Road Studio in Eastbourne.
 

George AUSTIN (born 1864, Bromley-by-Bow, London)

Active as a photographer in Eastbourne from around 1894 to around 1922.

[ABOVE] The trade plate of  George Austin, photographer, of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne (c1900).

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a woman by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne. Negative No. 9,603. (c1904)

[ABOVE] The trade plate of  George Austin, photographer, of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne (c1905).
George Edward Austin was born on 13th March 1864 in Bromley-by-Bow in the East London district of Poplar (1). George was the second son of Frances Geering and Frank (Francis) Austin, a rigger, possibly employed in the nearby East India Docks or the Millwall shipyards. As a "rigger" Frank Austin could also be employed to maintain the rigging of sailing ships and there is evidence that he did go to sea as member of a ship's crew (2).  Francis (Frank) Austin married Frances Geering (born c1836) in Stepney, East London in 1861. The couple settled in Bromley-by-Bow in the Poplar district of East London and produced three children - Francis James Austin (born 1862), George Edward Austin (born 1864) and Alice Austin (born 1866). Towards the end of 1865, not long after the conception of the couple's third child, Frank Austin died at the age 34. (The death of Francis Austin was recorded in the London district of Poplar during the 4th Quarter of 1865, Alice, his daughter, was born the following Summer). After the death of her husband, Mrs Frances Austin moved a short distance south to the Blackwall area of London and found work as domestic servant in order to support her three children.

When the 1881 census was taken, George Edward Austin was residing with his widowed mother and siblings in Green's House, Blackwall, on the western edge of the East India Docks. George's  mother Mrs Frances Austin, a widow of forty-five, is recorded as the Head of Household and she is entered on the census return as a "Housekeeper" or "House Cleaner". On the 1881 census the family name is spelt "Austen" rather than "Austin". George E. Austen (Austin) is described on the census return as a "joiner", aged 17. Francis Austin, George's nineteen year old brother was working as a basket maker, and fifteen year old Alice Austin was employed as a milliner. 

Around 1891, George Austin met Priscilla Massey (born 1857, Sheerness, Kent), the daughter of William Massey, a carpenter. When George Austin met Priscilla she went under the name Oswald, the surname of her common law husband. Priscilla had previously been married to a man named James Heer (Hur). Priscilla was only seventeen when she married James Heer early in 1875 and she had given birth to his daughter Ada some months before the wedding. [ Ada Prilly (Priscilla) Heer was born in the London district of Poplar during the Second Quarter of 1874. Priscilla Massey married James Hur (Heer) in Poplar during the First Quarter of 1875]. By 1878, Priscilla was living with a marine engineer named Oswald - either Henry "Harry" Oswald (born 1856, Stoke-on--Trent) or his younger brother, Thomas "Tom" Heath Oswald (born 1856, Stoke-on--Trent). Priscilla gave birth to a daughter named May Christina Oswald during the 3rd Quarter of 1878. At the time of the 1881 census, Priscilla was living under the name of "Priscilla Oswald" at 99 Abbott Road, London, not far from Cawdor Street, Bromley-by-Bow where George Austin and his family had once lived. "Priscilla Oswald" is described on the census return as a twenty-three year old "Marine Engineer's wife" with two children - six year old Ada Priscilla Oswald (who had been born as Ada Prilly Heer in 1874) and two year old May Christina Oswald, who had been born in Poplar during the 3rd Quarter of 1878. Priscilla is listed as "Head of Household" on the census return because her husband was living away from home ( Harry Oswald and Tom Heath Oswald, who both give their occupation as "Marine Engineer", were lodging at a boarding house in St Mary's, Southampton when the 1881 census was taken.

In 1891, Priscilla "Oswald" was pregnant with George Austin's child. George Austin's daughter was born early in 1892 and the birth was registered by Priscilla, the child's mother, under the name of Florence Austin Oswald during the 1st Quarter of 1892 in the London district of Poplar. George Austin did not marry the mother of his child until 1904.

(1) George Austin was born on 13th March 1864 at his parents' home at 25 Cawdor Street, Bromley-By-Bow, London. Information courtesy of Rendel Williams of Sussex Postcards Info.
(2) When George Austin married in 1904, he described his father on the marriage certificate as Francis Austin, Seaman (Deceased). Information courtesy of Rendel Williams
 
The Area of London where George Austin lived between 1864 and 1894  

[ABOVE] A nineteenth century map of Bromley-by Bow, showing part of the Abbott Estate on the edge of Bromley Marsh. George Austin was born on the Abbey Estate at No.25 Cawdor Street, Bromley-by-Bow on 13th March 1864. (Cawdor Street is located just below Desart Street in the centre of the map.

[ABOVE] Cassell's map of Bromley-by Bow, Poplar and Blackwall in the Docklands area of London (1863). George Austin was living in a block of apartments (B) in the area of the East India Docks in 1881.

[ABOVE] A nineteenth century photograph of Poplar High Street,  a shopping parade near the East India Docks district, where George Austin lived with his mother and siblings in the period of the late 1870s and early 1880s.

[ABOVE] Edward Stanford's coloured map of The Port of London (c1904) showing the dock areas in the East End of London. George Austin spent the early part of his life in the area of the East India Docks shown in the top-centre of the map.

 
 
George Austin's Photographic Career in Eastbourne (1894-1922)

[ABOVE] A tinted postcard view of the seaside resort of Eastbourne, where George Austin worked as a photographer from 1894 until around 1922. This view Eastbourne's Parade and seafront was taken from the Wish Tower, the area where George Austin worked as a beach photographer in the mid-1890s.

[ABOVE] The trade plate of  George Austin, photographer, of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne (c1918)
In the early 1890s George Austin was in his mid twenties and working as joiner in the carpentry trade. Although he was not married to "Priscilla Oswald", George Austin did take responsibility for Florence, the daughter who was born to Priscilla in 1892. ( Priscilla was probably still legally married to James Heer and although she posed as the wife of Mr Oswald, the marine engineer, and gave birth to his child, May Christina Oswald, in 1879, there is no record of a marriage ceremony between her and Mr Oswald).

George Austin appears to have given up the idea of a full-time career as a carpenter & joiner and by the 1890s he was supplementing his work in the woodworking trade with photography. By 1894, George Austin was working as a beach photographer in the Sussex seaside resort of Eastbourne. In the year 1894, the Eastbourne Watch Committee granted a photography licence to George Austin, permitting him to operate a "Photographic Stand" on Eastbourne's seafront. The Minutes of the Eastbourne Watch Committee records that Photographic Stand No. 2 ,"near The Wish Tower", was granted to "Mr George Austen (sic)" .

Local trade directories show that George Austin was operating a photographic portrait studio at 54 Terminus Road, Eastbourne from around 1896. ( Arthur T. Gill in his survey "Photographers in Eastbourne, 1877-1910" records G. Austin at 54 Terminus Road for the period 1896-1897 ). Around 1899, George Austin established a photographic studio at 70 Seaside Road, Eastbourne, where he was to remain for over twenty years.

The 1901 census records George Austin, his common-law wife Priscilla and their nine year old daughter Florence residing at 70 Seaside Road, Eastbourne. On the census return, George E. Austin is recorded as a "Photographer (Employer) at home". Priscilla, who is described on the census return as George Austin's "wife", gives her age as thirty-six, when in fact she was nearly seven years older than her "husband" and approaching her 44th birthday. Florence, the daughter fathered by George Austin, is entered on the census return as Florence Austin, although at the time of her birth in 1892, her name was registered as Florence Austin Oswald. George Austin did not marry Priscilla Austin until the Autumn of 1904. The marriage of George Edward Austin and Mrs Priscilla Heer took place at St Leonard's Church, Bromley-by-Bow on 19th October 1904 (3). On the marriage certificate, Priscilla is described as a "widow", so the couple might have delayed their marriage until there was confirmation that Priscilla's first husband had died. Mr Oswald, Priscilla's common-law husband, had by this time married another woman. [Henry Oswald had married Margaret (Mary) Ellen Mahoney in Liverpool in 1889 and had settled in the welsh town of Newport, while his brother Thomas Heath Oswald had married Louise Bessie Young in 1884 and was living in Wanstead, Essex].

George Austin operated the photographic portrait studio at 70 Seaside Road, Eastbourne from 1899 until around 1922. A local trade directory of 1904 also lists George Austin as the proprietor of a photographic studio at 53d Terminus Road, Eastbourne (George Austin was based at 54 Terminus Road, Eastbourne between 1896 and 1897). George Austin is last recorded as a photographer in Eastbourne in Kelly's 1922 Directory of Sussex. The 1924 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex does not list George Austin under the heading of 'Photographers' in the Trades Section of the directory for that year.

  (3) Information regarding George Austin's marriage courtesy of Rendel Williams of Sussex Postcards Info.
   

Carte-de-visite and Cabinet Portraits by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a woman standing by a rustic fence by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne. Negative No. 5,518 (c1902).

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a woman standing by a plant stand, photographed by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne. Negative No.9,713 (c1904).

Negative Numbers

 DATES approx.

 0001 - 5,000

1894-1900

 5,000 - 10,000

1900-1904

10,000 - 15,000

1904-1910

15,000 - 20,000

1910-1916

20,000 - 30,000

1916-1922

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of an unknown  man by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne (c1902).

 

George Austin's Boarding House Postcards (from the postcard collection of Brian Partridge)

[ABOVE] A postcard format photograph of holidaymakers outside an unidentified Eastbourne Boarding House, photographed by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne on 23rd August 1910. The young woman wearing the striped tie, who is featured in the picture postcard opposite, which was taken the week before, poses in the ground floor window of the boarding house.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Brian Partridge]

Between 1904 and 1922, George Austin produced a number of photographic picture postcards, taken at his studio and on location. Austin's speciality appears to have been picture postcards depicting  holiday makers outside boarding houses or small hotels in Eastbourne. George Austin also photographed family groups outside their own homes and took outdoor group portraits of sports teams.

 
[ABOVE] A postcard format photograph of holidaymakers outside the "Angles", a boarding establishment in Eastbourne, photographed by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne on 14th August 1911.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Brian Partridge]

 
[ABOVE] A detail from a George Austin picture postcard showing a group of  holidaymakers outside an unidentified Eastbourne boarding house. This group was photographed by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne on 12th September 1913.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Brian Partridge]

 

[ABOVE] Detail from a picture postcard of holidaymakers outside the Kynance Boarding House, 67 Royal Parade, Eastbourne, photographed by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne on 16th August 1910. The date of the photograph (16-8-10) can be seen in the bottom left-hand corner of the photograph. The young woman wearing the striped tie who is standing in front of the wall on the left, also appears in the picture postcard opposite.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Brian Partridge]

 

[ABOVE] A detail from George Austin's photograph of the Angles Boarding Establishment in Eastbourne, showing a group of holidaymakers gathered in front of the entrance to the boarding house. The original group photograph was taken on 14th August 1911. (The complete image of the picture postcard is shown in the illustration on the left)

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Brian Partridge]

 
Click on the link below to view a selection of boarding house picture postcards produced by George Austin of Eastbourne between 1910 and 1914 :

George Austin's Photographs of Eastbourne Boarding Houses

 

Photographs by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A group portrait of four young women dressed in white, photographed by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne. Negative No. 24,290. (c1917). The group portrait suggests a photograph to mark the girls' Confirmation ( this Christian ceremony generally takes place when girls are in their teens ) - the white dresses and the jewellery worn by the two girls in the centre also suggests a confirmation ceremony. The girl at centre-right appears to be wearing a "Confirmation locket" and the girl standing to her right is also wearing jewellery that could mark a girl's confirmation.  At least one of the girls in the picture is believed to be a member of the Walker/Boardman families of Hailsham and Eastbourne.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Joyce and Ray Hooker]

 

Click on the link below to view a selection of portraits taken at George Austin's Studio in Seaside, Eastbourne :

George Austin Gallery

 

Click on the link below to view a group portrait of the Hylands Family, photographed at George Austin's Eastbourne Studio

Hylands Family Group by George Austin (c1901)

 
Click on the link below to view a selection of picture postcards produced by George Austin of Eastbourne (1904 -1922) :

George Austin's Picture Postcards

 

Acknowledgements

I am particularly grateful to Rendel Williams, author of the website Sussex Postcards Info, for supplying additional information about George Austin's life and family. Thanks to Joyce Hooker and Ray Hooker for providing the studio group photograph by George Austin of 70 Seaside, Eastbourne. Thanks also to Brian Partridge for providing picture postcards by George Austin taken from his own personal picture postcard collection.
 
To read another account of George Austin's life and photographic career and view further examples of George Austin's picture postcards, go to Rendel Williams' excellent website Sussex Postcards Info by clicking on the link below :

George Edwin Austin on Sussex Postcards Info

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