The History of
the Postcard and Tenby Photographers
Postcard: F.B. Mason by G.W. Barnes
The Royal Photographic
Society Historical Group's Supplement Photographers in Dyfed 1857-1920,
compiled from South Wales Directories by Megan Colbourn BA, has
helped me in my search for examples of works of the local photographers
in Tenby and Pembrokeshire.
Photography arrived early in the counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire
and Pembrokeshire. 'In 1858 there were seven photographic artists
- one in Tenby, one in Pembroke Dock, one in Cardigan and four in
Haverfordwest. It was the regular flow of visitors to these towns
that provided potential customers. Apart from weekly markets, the
annual Portfield Fair at Haverfordwest drew those wishing to hire
labour or find work as well as those looking forward to the main
entertainment of the year. Pembroke Dock with its regular launchings
and the developing tourism of Tenby, and later Aberystwyth, relied
upon a considerable transient population.'
John Warr set up a business
in the High Street in Haverfordwest in 1857 and was the earliest
photographer to advertise his work. Five years later he moved to
a fashionable house and, as was common at the time, he
stood his customers in front of suitable scenery which constituted
classical balustrades and backcloths of romantic tree-lined rivers.
Photography in those days was a precarious business and many of
them moved around the country. A strong feature of the photographers
from the three counties mentioned is the way in which the trade
was kept within the family, being passed to widows and sons. There
were the Aces of Llanelli, the Trindalls of Pembroke Dock and Edward
Richard Gyde, plus nephew Henry Hicks Davies, of Aberystwyth.
Postcard: (Tinted.) Posted from Tenby 18th
The Carmarthen business
of Howell spread to Llandeilo, Lampeter and Laugharne. The family
of Charles Smith Allen of Tenby set up studios in Pembroke Dock,
Haverfordwest and Cardigan. His own studio stood on the harbour
in Tenby, where the printing frames overlooked the sea and sunlight
is shown on many earlier postcards.
The turn of the century was a peak time in the production of postcards
and photographs in Tenby. The photographers were dependent on the
visitors having their images taken whilst in town and usually had
their specific studios within which to take portraits or chose a
pitch in town near an open space or on the Esplanade to capture
local events, gatherings, incidents, or people promenading in their
Sunday best. Mortimer Allen supposedly stood on a ladder to take
his photographs, thus the distinctive style of his group shots.
The local photographers
usually took carte de visite, cabinet and postcard-sized images,
examples of which may be seen in this article. The advertising designs
on the backs of the cards are equally appealing! Illustrated guide
books were also an essential part of selling photographs and enhancing
income. The Allens of Tenby sold books of fifty photographic views
for five guineas to subscribers, each of whom could have two views
of his or her residence.
The last decade has seen the publication of books reflecting Tenby
through the postcard. The local photographers listed below contributed
a great deal to the recording of the life and history of Tenby and
Caldey Island. I have listed them in alphabetical order for the
ALLEN, Charles Smith,
Market Street, Tenby. Excelsior Studio, 1864-1871; Castle Street,
Castle Buildings, 1880; Priory Street, Cardigan, 1884-1891.
ALLEN, Harry Mortimer, Campbell Studio, High Street, 1891-1920.
BARNES, George William, Napleton House Studio, Warren Studio, 1891.
COLE, William Henry, South Sands, 1884.
JOWETT, R. Keeble, 'Lafayette, Tenby', Warren Street, 1901.
MEDCALF & EVANS, St. Julian Street, 1867-1873. SQUIBBS, Arthur,
George Street, Newquay, 1901; Warren Street, Tenby, 1914-1952.
STONE, Isaac CMU, Warren Street, 1871.
SYMONS, Robert, St. Julian Street, 1868-1891.
VILLIERS, George, Quay Street, 1880.
Postcard: Goscar Rock by H. Mortimer Allen
I have one personal treasure
produced by the photographer R. Keeble Jowett. It is one of Captain
Johnny Hampson who lived in Bridge Street at the Wheel House and
it was presented to George Ace, a local businessman and British
penny-farthing cycle champion, on January 23rd 1899. It is entitled
Light and Eventide and shows the captain seated at a table with
shafts of light pouring through a small window. A bible is open
in front of him and his nets are lying on an unmade floor. It's
a romantic image but considering the period in which this was taken,
it shows the art of a skilled photographer.
Copyright: Albie Smosarski 2000.
First published 2000 by Electric Future