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Victorian photographers in Ipswich: SAWYER, SMITH and WHITE

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Re: Victorian photographers in Ipswich: prints by WHITE of Ipswich and Felixstowe

Posted: 1451500286000
Classification: Query
The first of these photographs is a Cade & White carte de visite dated August 1882 (code numbered 72/29 by an eBay merchant). The figures posing on Felixstowe's eastern beach may be the photographer's wife Clara Maria (1847-1929) and some of their children, including Arthur Leslie White (1876-1963). From 1879 Clara's brother Alfred Henry Cade (1843-1927) ran the studio of their late father Robert Cade (1820-1879) at 4 Westgate Street, Cornhill, Ipswich, initially in partnership with brother-in-law John White. John left to take over Walter A. Smith's studio at 18 Brook Street by August 1883, as evidenced by the carte de visite of an unknown child (, reproduced here with the kind consent of James Morley.

John White's carte de visite dated March 1886 came to me by way of eBay in 2014, together with a similar portrait of the same man by Kerby & Son of Ipswich & Harwich, conveying this message to "Bro. Napier P.M" in 1893: "Hearty good wishes from JG" (or perhaps from JY or IG). Newspapers reveal that Brother James Napier (1850-1898) was a Past Master (P.M.) of the St Luke's Lodge No 225.

I am indebted to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry ( for details of John White's Masonic progress. In 1872, whilst working as a photographer in Mussoorie, Bengal, India, he was initiated in the Dalhousie Lodge No 639. On 14 May 1879, having moved to Ipswich, he described himself as an artist when he joined the St Luke’s Lodge No 225, from which he resigned in September 1887. He had joined another Ipswich lodge, the Prince of Wales Lodge No 959, in February 1881, rising to become its Master in 1884 and again in 1888, after attaining the rank of Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1886. He was also involved with the Royal Alexandra Chapter No 959 in Ipswich between 1885 and 1897. In 1895 he was First Principal of the Chapter as well as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies [Royal Arch].

If the sitter photographed in March 1886 was a fellow Freemason, he may have held the office of Inner Guard (I.G.). Whoever he was, he has served us well by dating negative number 55951 so precisely.

The portrait of the Watkins family may have been created in late 1893. Ethel Ada Watkins (1891-1963) is between her parents, Ipswich lime merchant Eldred Watkins (c.1861-1952) and Ada Sophia née Pickett (1865-1932). This cabinet print was found in Cambridge and kindly copied by Fading Images webmaster Les Waters (

This negative number suggests a date at least one year later than 1894, which I believe is indicated by the printer's code (_ Marion Imp. Paris _ _ _) according to the system elucidated by Roger Vaughan ( Marion's registered number for the stock design looks like 41.061. The unidentified lady in this cabinet photograph (bought recently from an eBid seller based near Bristol, in south-western England) closely resembles the next example, obtained from a different source.

This cabinet print appears to date from about 1900, when John White had studios in both Ipswich and Felixstowe. It was in an album of unknown origin, bought last year in Ipswich, containing several unidentified cartes de visite made by John White of 18 Brook Street in the 1890s.

Kelly's 1900 directory of Suffolk locates the studios at 13 Victoria Parade, Felixstowe, and 18 Upper Brook Street, Ipswich. The next edition, dated September 1904, lists John alone at 21 Victoria Parade (possibly the same premises, renumbered, on the western side of the southern section of Hamilton Road, Felixstowe) but John White & Son at 52 Butter Market, Ipswich (adjoining 18 Upper Brook Street). Annual Ipswich street directories from 1899/1900 to 1904 (helpfully checked by the Guildhall Library) all show simply John White at 52 Butter Market, and additionally at 18 Upper Brook Street in the 1899/1900 directory.

An advertisement by John White & Son in the first of Cowell's Handy Guides announced in 1907: "The Felixstowe Studio is now open for the Season." Cowell's Felixstowe directory for 1909 – the year of John's death – places his son Arthur Leslie White (1876-1963) at The Hut, Exeter Road, Walton, and their studio at 21 Hamilton Road (pages 97 & 161) or The Parade (p. 64). "White & Son, Felixstowe and Ipswich" are credited under a photograph of U.D.C. Chairman Frank William Mason on the fifth page of this directory ( but I have yet to see "& Son" appended on any of their cartes de visite, cabinet prints or postcards.

The business was still named John White & Son as late as 1912 in Kelly's county directory (at 21 Victoria Parade, Felixstowe, while photographic artist Arthur Leslie White was listed at 52 Butter Market, Ipswich). By 1914, in the third edition of Cowell's directory of the Felixstowe area, Arthur's studio was under his own name at 21 Victoria Parade. (No photographer is acknowledged for the portrait of the new Chairman of the Urban District Council, Charles Frederick Fisk, near the front of this edition.)

Although clearly much later than the Victorian period, this 6.5 x 9.5 cm print is from same album as 74814 and is included here to show that Arthur Leslie White (identifiable from his "ALW" monogram) continued to allocate numbers at his studio in Felixstowe from the series used by his father and their Brook Street predecessors in Ipswich.

Arthur was probably operating at 21 Victoria Parade (21 Hamilton Road) up to 1922, when he was still listed in Kelly's county directory but had disappeared from the local phone book. His niece Barbara or Betty Birch (1907-1998), who lived nearby, remembered helping him during the summer of 1923 in his shop at the bottom of South Hill, Felixstowe. He may have spent the next five years there, at 47 Undercliff Road West, before moving to the south coast of England. His new seafront premises at Bexhill, Sussex, were requisitioned by the military in 1940, so he returned to Suffolk and ran the Adolphus Tear studio at 2 The Walk, Ipswich, until about 1948. Arthur was certainly there in June 1945, when he was 69 and my mother was 17, as seen on the rear cover of a print numbered 45854. By 1952 he was back in Sussex, living at Willingdon. He died in an Eastbourne nursing home in 1963.
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David Gobbitt 1362406010000 
David Gobbitt 1362408075000 
David Gobbitt 1362499211000 
David Gobbitt 1382126204000 
David Gobbitt 1494591810000 
David Gobbitt 1362586801000 
David Gobbitt 1451500286000 
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