Hastings Photography (1)

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A History of Professional Photography in Hastings and St. Leonards : Part One 1849-1863

[ABOVE] View of West Ascent, St. Leonards-on-Sea, showing, centre-right, The Assembly Rooms building with its four sturdy columns, pediment and portico in classical style. In the 1840s and 1850s, The Assembly Rooms were the centre of social activity in St Leonards. Around 1849, Richard Beauford began taking miniature daguerreotype portraits at the Assembly Rooms. Richard Beauford (real name Richard Brothers Finlayson) and his married sister, Mrs Maria King, appear to be the first professional photographers to operate in Hastings and St. Leonards. (From the print "View of West Ascent, Edlin's Royal Hotel & The Assembly Rooms" drawn by John Foulon and published by Charles Haywood Southall of The Library, St. Leonards-on-Sea (c1840).


In 1849, Richard Beauford (real name Richard Brothers Finlayson), who described himself as a ' Heliographist', began taking what he described as "Miniatureotype Portraits" at the Assembly Rooms in St. Leonards on Sea. Beauford was clearly making portraits using the Daguerreotype Process, but he studiously avoided using the term, probably fearing legal action from Richard Beard, the sole patentee of the daguerreotype process in England.

Around August 1850, Richard Beauford opened a second studio at 6 East Parade in Hastings. Early in 1851, Richard Beauford employed the services of his married sister, Mrs Maria King, a professional artist from London, to take portraits at his branch establishment in St Leonards. Mrs King, therefore, has a claim to be one of the earliest professional woman photographers in Sussex. ( William Constable was assisted by his two nieces, Caroline and Eliza Constable, at his Photographic Institution in Brighton during the 1850s and Madame Agnes Ruge is listed as a daguerreotype artist in the Trades Section of a Brighton Directory published in 1854).

In July 1853, Richard Beauford sold his Daguerreotype Portrait Gallery at 6 East Parade to Jacob Henry Connop (1834-1870), a painter and lithographic artist from London. In the Summer of 1854, the studio at 6 East parade was passed to William Thomas Golding (born 1832, Hastings), who had previously earned his living as an upholsterer.

By the Summer of 1854, two more daguerreotype artists, Mr D.Gates and Frederick Brookes had each set up photographic studios in Hastings. In April 1855, William Martin, described as a Photographic Artist and an Artist in Hair, was offering his customers in St Leonards the unique opportunity " to have their HAIR blended with their PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS." In the Summer of 1855, a journalist with the Hastings and St Leonard's Chronicle interviewed James Maginn, an itinerant photographic artist who had set up a studio at No.9 Wellington Place, opposite Wellington Square in Hastings. The Hastings reporter concluded that photographic portraits were now so cheap " that there are few families who are now without a 'portrait gallery' in the shape of a collection of photographic miniatures."

William Golding took photographic portraits at 6 East Parade, Hastings from about August 1854 to July 1857. In the summer of 1857, Golding let out the East Parade studio and Golding himself set up a new photographic studio in York Place, Hastings. Some time in 1858, William Golding entered into a partnership with Anthony Vicat (1823-1888).



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