28th February 2023
It was great to welcome Martin Hayes to the Quaker Meeting House. Martin is the County Local Studies Librarian at West Sussex Library & Archive Services.
Martin has given several interesting talks about the local area, including many old photographs, but for us he themed the evening on Worthing Camera Club with specific focus on some of its founders. Some of the initial photographs showcased a few of their photowalks. The trip to Bosham in 1910 was particularly noteworthy. The surnames Patching, Tate, Gardiner, Loader and Watts were of particular interest.
Martin covered the work done throughout the last 120 years to conserve the photographic history of Worthing and West Sussex. Starting with the first collection, “the Miscellaneous Photographs”. The very first Worthing Library core collection was started by Miss Marion Frost. It has since been added to by many archivists, including Martin from the 1980s. In 2020 it was digitally scanned and transferred to the West Sussex Records Office.
Miss Marion Frost started as an assistant librarian in 1897, defied her bosses and successfully obtained a grant equivalent today of £500k from the American billionaire Andrew Carnegie to part finance a new library. The new library was opened in 1908 and is now the town’s Museum. Her achievements were recognised in 1919 and she was promoted to Librarian. Marion is believed to be one of the first females in charge of a library service in the UK. She converted a room in 1924 to showcase the local history collections and it was this that probably led to the donations of books and old photographs of the area. For more information about Marion see: bbcrewind.co.uk
Martin showed some of the oldest photos in the Miscellaneous Collection; boys playing cricket at Lancing Grammar school (South Street); and views east and west from the Grammar school. All taken between 1857 and 1860.
Next we were shown some Lantern slides from Jack Watts (one of WCC’s founders) dating between 1880 and 1940. Included in Jack Watts’ records was a photo by Edmund Crouch, another member of Worthing CC and the person who initiated the Regnum Crouch Trophy.
Next we were treated to a few of the photos from the Walter Gardiner collection. Whilst it is called the Walter Gardiner collection it was his wife Annie Jenkins, who was the early creative driving force behind the company. She had worked from the age of 12 in her father’s shop, a curious combination of hairdresser’s and photographer’s, and became a skilled photographer and colourist. Walter had ambitions to be a shopkeeper or businessman and after their marriage, they emigrated to Australia. Their business struggled and so they returned to Britain within 6 years, starting their photography business. Annie recognised the need for publicity for their new business and she had 10 photographs accepted at the Royal Photographic Society’s exhibitions in 1894 & 1895 (Walter had only two).
Martin showed several of these early Gardiner portraits, taken in a studio using only natural light.
Walter and Annie’s sons William and Frank continued the business and we were shown several images of the local area taken by them. We were also shown some of the Gardiner collection from the 1960s including their commercial photography.
The next collection Martin presented was the Loader family collection. Their photographs included the images of Worthing Pier following the “Great Easter Sunday Gale of 1913”, the pier reopening and an image of the Worthing WWI recruitment office in 1914.
This was a fascinating evening and everyone found it both entertaining and informative. Many of the photos shown, more information and more photographs can be found online at West Sussex Past Pictures